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News State / Region

Supreme Court to take up issue in April

The first two months of having same-sex marriage legalized in North Carolina didn't boost marriage licenses or the funds associated therein in Macon County. Same-sex marriage, which was legalized in North Carolina in October, has sent couples to the Register of Deeds office, with licenses being sought the day it became legal, but other than an immediate burst of business, hasn't caused any additional traffic for local offices.

In 2012, Macon County's Register of Deeds office issued 341 marriage license, which accounted for $20,460 for the office. In 2013, the office issued 363 marriage licenses, totaling $21,780. In 2014, the first year same-sex marriage was legal in the state, Macon County issued 358 licenses, 22 of which were for same-sex couples, for a total of $21,480, according to Jana Smith with the Macon County Register of Deeds office.

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U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins has announced that the Western District of North Carolina (WDNC) collected $22,164,212.92 in criminal and civil actions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. Of this amount, WDNC collected $9,677,978.82 in criminal actions and $12,486,234.10 in civil actions.

Note that in measuring collections recovered in FY 2014, the figures necessarily include some cases that were resolved in previous years but the proceeds were collected in FY 2014. Similarly, the FY 2014 figures do not include some cases resolved in the 2014 fiscal year, for which collections will begin in FY 2015.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced last month that the Justice Department collected $24.7 billion in civil and criminal actions in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014. The more than $24 billion in collections in FY 2014 represents nearly eight and a half times the appropriated $2.91 billion budget for the 94 U.S. Attorney’s offices and the main litigating divisions in that same period.

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With the beginning of a new year, the State Highway Patrol will be placing an emphasis on DWI enforcement and the reduction of alcohol related collisions. The patrol will also be proactive in providing more educational programs to motorist about the importance of not driving while impaired, providing a special focus on teenage drivers.

In 2014, the Highway Patrol investigated 5,460 alcohol related collisions contributing to 3,697 reported injuries. Also as a result, 181 people were killed, reflecting a 20 percent decrease from the 228 people killed in 2013.

Throughout the state, troopers made 20,012 DWI arrests, averting an increase in the number of alcohol related collisions. Along with alcohol related violations, the patrol made 2,390 drug charges, some of which led to impaired motorist due to illegal drugs.

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After rejecting a request from insurance companies for statewide average homeowners insurance rate increase of 26 percent, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin approved increases in specific areas of the state in late December.

Although Goodwin called for a zero-percent statewide overall average change in homeowners insurance rates, effective June 1, 2015, the Department of Insurance reports that a 14.2 percent increase was approved for Macon, Jackson, Graham, Clay, and Cherokee counties. According to the Department of Insurance, insurance companies originally sought a 25.9 percent increase in those counties.

Haywood, Madison, Swain and Transylvania counties will see an even larger increase. While insurance companies requested a 28.3 percent increase, Goodwin granted the territory a 16.7 percent increase.

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