Charlotte, NC

Thursday in Charlotte: SC bans transgender athletes, rising travel costs, Budd bludgeons McCrory and more

Collin Cunningham

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotteans! It is Thursday, May 19 and a 30% chance of rain in today's forecast is met with a high of 93 and low of 69. Rain chances persist but are less likely this weekend, allowing readers to check out the Carolina BBQ Festival at Camp North End on Sunday or visit hidden oases with the Secret Gardens of Fourth Ward 2022 tour both days.

Ahead of that, we tell readers about South Carolina's looming ban on transgender athletes in academic sports after Gov. Henry McMaster put his name on a new bill on Monday. Charlotteans may want to start planning summer travel now as airfare and fuel both rise in price, and we assess the ongoing infant formula shortage. Today's Roundup also returns to yesterday's election results to recap Republican Rep. Tedd Budd's win over former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory in a U.S. Senate primary before describing a few more weekend events.

But first, feedback: We want to hear from you to help improve the Roundup. Have a suggestion for changes or new daily features, or want to sound off on a recent story? Drop us a line in the comments section.

1. Academic athletics ban: SC Gov. signs bill that would bar transgender students from playing

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Supporters of bans against transgender student athletes march in Austin, Texas in September of 2020.(Tamir Khalifa/Getty Images)

What happened: South Carolina students enrolled in public, K-12 schools or universities and colleges are no longer allowed to play on women's teams at their respective schools if they identify as transgender due to Gov. Henry McMaster's decision to sign Bill 4608 on Monday.

Referred to by supporters as the "Save Women's Sports Act," the bill provides "assumptions concerning the correctness of biological gender statements on official birth certificates of students, to require gender based on coeducational designation of certain public school sports teams."

Why it matters: Under the bill, student-athletes would only be allowed to play for teams that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

Supporters of the law, including McMaster, hold that sticking to the gender boundaries stipulated in the bill would maintain the integrity of women's sports. The Human Rights Campaign announced on Monday that it rejects such logic as a "discriminatory attack on transgender students that are just trying to fit in and play sports with their peers" and warn of mental health implications.

While McMaster usually accompanies his legislature sign-offs with a tweet or press release, the 43 bills he signed into law earlier this week did not get such treatment. Monday's signature makes the Palmetto State the 17th in the United States to prevent student-athletes from crossing gender barriers.

2. Price hikes: Assessing the latest airfare and fuel costs in NC, plus the state's response to infant formula shortage

As North Carolina's stock of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations trend upwards, per Wednesday metrics from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, so too do the costs of travel options in the Old North State.

Gas gauge: Over the past month, the average per-gallon price of gas has risen by over $1.50 in North Carolina. April 12 costs from AAA put the state at $3.85 for each gallon, but prices reported by the same authority on Thursday put the new total at $4.37 for the same unit, an increase of nearly 35%. Those increasing costs have forced some local business owners to reduce operations in order to mitigate mileage, per Spectrum Local News.

Those numbers could reach new heights before Memorial Day weekend between May 27 and 29, when GasBuddy predicts some of the highest holiday pump prices to date.

Airfare scare: Renovations aren't the only changes underway at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where travelers have also recently contended with long lines. According to WFAE, departing ticket prices have skyrocketed since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps due in part to the Transportation Security Administration repealing its mask mandate in April.

Anyone who wants to fly to the capital of France this summer can expect to pay $1,800, while closer destinations, such as Mexico City, will set travelers back $1,200. A quick search on Kayak reveals that even domestic destinations like San Diego could cost upwards of $1,000 for a round trip. Anyone who wants to ensure their wallet doesn't get drained at Charlotte Douglas can check out The Charlotte Observer's guide on cutting commuting costs.

Formula fallout: The formula giveaway event held by Charlotte's StarMed Healthcare on Tuesday resulted in hundreds of families receiving enough food to keep 1,100 babies in sustenance for at least a week, per WBTV. How, then, are North Carolina entities working to make infant formula available in the future? The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is referring families to the state's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Also known as WIC, the initiative plans to order a large amount of formula and dole it out to eligible families. Specific plans for handing out the formula have yet to be announced, but the NCDHHS has said that WIC increased formula orders by 525% between January and April. For those unable to apply for WIC, the health department recommends reaching out to health care providers, food pantries or grassroots groups committed to sharing formula.

3. McCrory manhandled: Former NC governor announces end of political career after loss to Trump-backed Budd

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After serving as NC's governor from 2013 to 2017, Pat McCrory declared his political career over after losing to Rep. Ted Budd on Tuesday.(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The backing of former President Donald Trump may not have been enough to propel Rep. Madison Cawthorn to victory in Tuesday's Republican primary for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, but at least one Trump-stumped candidate did find success in North Carolina. Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina's 13th Congressional District looks to enter the U.S. Senate after defeating ex-Gov. Pat McCrory by a 444,829-185,586 vote margin in the primary.

Also backing Budd were Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Jim Jordan, as well as state Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and political action committee Club for Growth, which has also netted wins for Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul. Speaking at a rally in the Old North State on April 5, the former president said he was "very proud of [Budd]" and called him "by far the best candidate in the race."

Budd has not said what will become of the gun range and store he possesses in Rural Hall, North Carolina if he wins the Senate seat.

McCrory, whose lead in the polls dinwdled after Trump vouched for Budd last summer, compared himself to fictional spy Jason Bourne after losing on Tuesday, WFAE reported.

4. Weekend events: Dessert competition, family friendly funny, Crayola IDEAWorks exhibit, 3 5Ks and ore to do in Charlotte, May 20-22

With good weather expected to hold for at least part of the weekend (Saturday carries a 48% chance of rain and Sunday has a 30% likelihood) here are the times and locations where residents of the Queen City can make the most of it. Click the links beside each event to learn more about how to attend and purcahse tickets.

Friday, May 20:

Saturday, May 21:

Sunday, May 22:

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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