By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotte! If you didn't wake up with a layer of sweat between you and your sheets this morning, let us be the first to tell you: It is Wednesday, Nov. 17, and today marks a return to warmer weather in Charlotte. This Queen City Roundup previews the weather through the weekend and shares stories about North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who is taking legal action and launching investigations into prominent e-cigarette manufacturers.
In other state government news, Gov. Roy Cooper said he would sign the proposed North Carolina budget yesterday, so we'll be taking a look at what's inside. And rounding out the roundup is the return of our way-too early holiday preview, taking a look at the best holiday-themed light displays illuminating Charlotte, from NoDA to South End.
1. Juul lawsuit and Puff Bar investigation: AG Stein wants to see e-cig companies go up in smoke
What happened: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced a salvo of legal action against e-cigarette manufacturers on Tuesday, including a lawsuit against Juul and an investigation into Puff Bar, the company whose disposable vape products have come to outsell Juul's. Per WRAL, Stein also said that a total of 20 companies are being investigated, including 15 North Carolina vape stores.
Why it matters: This is the second time Stein has used his legal leverage against vape companies. A 2019 lawsuit issued by Stein against Juul resulted in a $40 million payout for the state earlier this year, and school districts like the Wake County Public School System have followed in Stein's, well, wake. During a press conference announcing the investigation, Stein said lawmakers were particularly worried about kid-friendly vape flavors.
2. Raises for teachers, state employees and $6B in capital projects: Gov. Cooper said he will sign proposed budget
What happened: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that he would approve a $25.9 billion budget after it was approved in the Senate, 40-8. The Republican-led legislature proposed the two-year budget on Monday. It authorizes 5% pay raises for state employees and teachers, a minimum wage bump bringing community college employees up to $15 an hour and federally funded bonuses for teachers and North Carolina employees. It pledges an additional $1.5 billion for the state's K-12 education budget
In terms of capital improvement projects, the budget allocates $6 billion for infrastructure repair and down debt repayments and $1 billion to increase broadband access. Check out yesterday's roundup to learn what the Biden administration's $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure deal has in store for North Carolina.
Why it matters: The Tar Heel State is the only in the Union that has not yet approved a budget for the next two years. While it performed well in the state Senate, ABC11 reports some Democrat lawmakers are opposed to the budget, which is $2 billion less than the one that Cooper, a Democrat, proposed in March. It also lacks proposed language that would have expanded Medicaid to 372,400 uninsured North Carolinians, an area that has seen a lot of focus from the governor.
3. 70s in November: Warmer weather returns Wednesday, cold expected for the weekend
What's happening: It's the week before Thanksgiving, and the Queen City is set to see highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s this afternoon. The week will gradually see Charlotte return to colder temperatures, but never quite as low as the 30s and 40s that started off Monday and Tuesday. This evening will see things dip down to the 50s with a 9% chance of rain, followed by another mid-70s high and high-50s low expected on Thursday.
Weekend warriors will be pleased to note that temperatures will only slide slightly, into the mid-50s, on Saturday and Sunday, with low temperatures of 31 and 34 expected for those days. An umbrella will be recommended by the time we hit Monday when a high of 62 and a low of 27 carries a 49% chance of rainfall.
Why it matters: A lot of people will be traveling for next week's holiday. Temperatures in Charlotte are expected to hover around the mid-60s early next week and through Thanksgiving, so holiday travel should be safe and easy.
4. (Still) Way-too-early Queen City Holiday preview: The best light displays in Charlotte
It may be a bit more appropriate now, but there are those out there who would say we're probably still way too early with our preview of holiday events in the Queen City. But those Grinch-like naysayers can turn away for now, and the rest of us can enjoy the best and brightest of Charlotte's holiday light setups.
- WinterFest at Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte/Fort Mill — select nights from Nov. 13 to Jan. 9
Scarowinds might keep amusement park visitors frightened in October, but from November to December the park’s Winterfest seeks to fill guests’ faces with awe. It costs $24.99 per person to view this display, which also allows visitors to purchase festive food from the park’s stalls and attend a Wonderland Parade. Live music will help Charlotteans get into the Christmas spirit as they gaze at thousands of LEDs.
- Queen Family Christmas at 3943 Black Sycamore Drive in Charlotte — every night through Dec. 25
This family-run display has been making Queen City residents smile in Charlotte’s Montibello neighborhood for years, filling an entire front yard with inflatable characters in holiday attire and wrapping bushes in every flavor of light imaginable. On Dec. 18, the Queens are set to ratchet things up a notch by holding a live nativity display. Any donations the family collects go to the Charlotte rescue mission.
- McAdenville Christmas Town USA — Dec. 1-26, 5:30 to 10 p.m.
Now in its 66th year, this display presents visitors with an entire municipality of lights to browse, as well as two additional events: a Yule Log Ceremony and Parade on the first night of the display and a Christmas Town Festival on Dec. 16. Charlotte residents will have to drive about 20 minutes toward Gastonia to see these bulbs, but they’re ones you won’t want to miss.