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North Carolina Republicans want to continue tweaking voters' experience at the ballot by allowing candidates for the Supreme Court and local school boards to publicly run with the support of their political party. 

A state legislative committee on Tuesday gave the first nod to two proposals that would make partisan the races for the state’s two highest courts—the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals—and the state’s 115 school districts.

While Democratic resisted a bill making judicial races partisan, it was the plan for local school board races that split Republicans.

The Screen Gems Studios is the largest facility of its kind in the U.S., east of Los Angeles.
Jeff Tiberii

For more than 30 years, the Wilmington area has been a hub for the filming of movies, TV shows and commercials.  Dawson’s Creek and Iron Man 3 are among the hundreds of productions cast in the region.

But earlier this year, a tax credit designed to incentivize the industry expired. Now business owners say with only a few productions remaining, the economic effects are significant.

Port City Signs is a small shop situated along a busy road in this coastal community. It has been around since the 1940s, printing signs, vehicle wraps or decals, and other art.

Filming of This is My Home Now.
Siera Schubach-Mariah, Dunn Kramer, Dean MacLeod

Some of the first Montagnard immigrants, people from a mountain region of Southeast Asia, to came to North Carolina in 1986 and 1987. They were granted refugee status in recognition of their support to the U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam War. But since then, the newest immigrants have made their way to America because they were fleeing religious and political prosecution. TheMontagnard families live in two worlds: one that is still close to the traditions and ways of their homeland and the other in modern American society.

Logo for the RiverRun International Film Festival
riverrunfilm.com

The 17th annual RiverRun International Film Festival returns to Winston-Salem this month. 

I Don't Do Boxes is a new LGBTQ magazine created by and for queer youth.
idontdoboxes.org

I Don't Do Boxes is a new magazine that explores and documents the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender experience in the southeast United States. The magazine was founded and edited by the youth-led media program QueerLab. Each issue is designed to provide a unique look at what it means to be queer in the South by tackling topics like identifying as LGBTQ in school or the power of documenting LGBTQ voices.

Black and white photo of band on couch.
thegenuinemusic.com

The Genuine is a four-piece band from Winston-Salem. The band originally began as a project of husband and wife Mathew Allivato and Katelyn Allivato née Brouwer, but now includes an electric guitar, piano and percussion. They are one of the many bands performing at Phuzz Phest in Winston-Salem April 17th -19th, and they will preview their festival performance with a live in-studio performance.

Illustration: Cadeceus
Flickr user takomabibelot

North Carolina lawmakers got the first granular look at the state’s Medicaid program in 20 years, showing the program’s improving financial condition but continuing major debts to medical providers.

The audit found the Medicaid fund balance was $350 million in the red for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014—almost $59 million better than a year earlier.
 

Photo: Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on stage in Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas spoke to a cheering and applauding crowd in Raleigh on Monday, largely criticizing the foreign policy record of newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
 

Cruz, in his first appearance in North Carolina since announcing his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, sought to blur distinctions between Clinton and the President, taking apart events during and after Clinton’s tenure as President Obama's first Secretary of State.

Cynthia Bulik

Cynthia Bulik grew up as a lover of international language and culture. She was the first in her family to leave the dry cleaning business and go to college, and she was determined to study diplomacy and international relations. But when she was required to take a psychology class her freshman year at The University of Notre Dame, it changed the course of her life.

Photo: The North Carolina General Assembly's Legislative Building
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina lawmakers are back in session today following their spring recess.

One question this week is whether the Senate will take up the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Bills like this one have sent political tidal waves across the country. Critics say they would allow businesses to discriminate against certain groups, such as gay people.

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