Axios Raleigh

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🦫 Situational awareness: Animal control rescued a beaver, lovingly nicknamed Barry, who was swimming around the waterway by Durham's American Tobacco Campus yesterday β€”Β seven-ish hours after he was first spotted. (N&O)

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Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 906 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Republicans eye stricter abortion laws

Animated gif of two elephants involved in a tug of war with their trunks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

North Carolina Republicans are eyeing abortion restrictions that go beyond the state's 20-week ban, and for the first time in years, the party has a fair shot at passing them into law.

  • But lawmakers have yet to decide how far they'll go.

Why it matters: Where Republicans end up on the issue could change North Carolina's status as the least restrictive state for the procedure in the South, halting the wave of abortion-seekers who have flocked to the state since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.

  • The dueling factions of the party, however, may make it difficult for any abortion restrictions to make it to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's desk this year or next.
  • "This is going to be one of the hardest bills that we consider this session," said Republican House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell.

State of play: Republicans in each chamber have honed in on two potential proposals: One that would restrict abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which Republican House Speaker Tim Moore has publicly backed, and another that would ban them after the first trimester, which Senate leader Phil Berger supports.

  • Both leaders are in favor of exceptions for incest, rape and the life of the mother.

Context: Cooper would likely veto any measure to restrict abortions. But Republicans won an "effective" supermajority in the legislature in November and would need only the help of one Democrat to override his veto.

Be smart: Both House and Senate Republicans are expected to each propose their own legislation on the issue, but, as of now, the caucuses have yet to vote on which restrictions to propose.

Lucille's thought bubble: It looks like Republicans are more likely to unite behind a ban after the first trimester of pregnancy, with exceptions, based on chatter I'm hearing from lawmakers, lobbyists and others.

  • But the legislative session is just beginning, and the winds could shift at any moment.

The bottom line: We may see more extreme abortion restrictions filed this year, too, but anything other than a fetal heartbeat ban or a post-first trimester ban probably won't pass.

  • We'll let you know if that changes.

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2. Egg-flation hits the shelves

Data: Instacart; Map: Axios Visuals

If you're like us, you were probably shocked by how much a carton of eggs costs on your last grocery run.

  • The average price for a dozen large eggs in the U.S. hit a record high of $4.25 in December, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports. In North Carolina, the average was $5.60 β€” 32% higher than the national average.

The big picture: An outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, that began in February 2022 is a key factor in the price hikes.

  • The outbreak has killed approximately 60 million birds, which includes 41 million commercial egg-laying hens, Karyn Rispoli, editor of the Egg Price Current for Urner Barry, recently told Axios.
  • Egg farms are recovering but there are 6% fewer hens laying eggs, Emily Metz, American Egg Board president & CEO, said in a statement to Axios, citing recent USDA data.

What's next: A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which tracks the eggs market, found that prices are beginning to decline again, as shoppers began balking at prices.

  • The USDA said the price declines will "slowly" make their way to the grocery shelves.
  • As of Jan. 27, the national average for a dozen large eggs was $3.99, per the USDA.

Related: IMF raises global growth forecasts as inflation eases

3. The Tea: Spilling the news

Illustration of a spilled teacup with tea spilling out, and "The Tea" written in the the spilled liquid.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

πŸ‘©β€βš–οΈ Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein could go to mediation. (Carolina Journal)

πŸ“ˆ The Liberty Warehouse Apartments in downtown Durham were bought by investment firm MEAG for $89 million this month. Five years ago, the apartments changed hands for $69 million. (Triangle Business JournalπŸ”’)

🏈 The Atlantic Coast Conference is asking its members to not schedule road football games against non-Power 5 schools, as the ACC wants to create stronger schedules and better TV opportunities. (News & Observer πŸ”’)

4. A bar free of alcohol

An Umbrella Dry Bar pop-up at State of Beer in Raleigh earlier this month. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Dry January comes to a close today. But the zero-proof trend continues.

Driving the news: Umbrella Dry Bar, a brainchild of Meg Paradise, is hosting a menu release event at the cocktail bar Killjoy tonight.

  • The zero-proof cocktails it will serve include variations on the paloma, espresso martini and Aperol spritz.

Catch up quick: Paradise has been hosting pop-ups around Raleigh all month. She hopes to find a permanent spot to open.

What we're watching: Mocktails are having a moment, and an industry of non-alcoholic spirit-makers is beginning to blossom, Marketplace reported last year.

  • But while more bars are offering alcohol-free versions of their drinks, few places exist that offer what Umbrella wants to do in Raleigh.

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5. πŸ“… February concert calendar

Party like it's 1994 because Hootie is back. Photo: Randy Holmes via Getty Images

Here are some of the best shows happening in the Triangle in February:

🀠 Feb. 2-4: Raleigh's alt-country rockers American Aquarium plays three nights in a row at Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh.

🎸 Feb 9-11: Legendary jam band Widespread Panic plays a three-night stand at DPAC.

πŸŽ™οΈ Feb. 11: Asheville's stellar singer-songwriter Angel Olsen plays the Carolina Theatre in Durham.

🎢 Feb. 25: Acclaimed folk-pop singer Weyes Blood, Cat's Cradle in Carrboro.

🎸 Feb. 16: Metal band August Burns Red brings their 20th anniversary tour to The Ritz in Raleigh.

🐟 Feb 17: Hootie & the Blowfish, PNC Arena.

🎀 Feb 22: Brandi Carlile, DPAC.

🎻 Feb. 24-25: Mozart's "Requiem," Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh.

πŸŽ™οΈ Feb. 25: K. Michelle, The Ritz in Raleigh.

🎹 Feb 26: R&B duo DVSN, The Ritz in Raleigh.

😨 Zachery is watching "The Last of Us" on HBO.

πŸ’¨ Lucille has been rewatching "That '70s Show," and she highly recommends it if you need a comforting throwback.

✌️ Tell your friends to subscribe to your favorite newsletter, which also happens to be written by two 90s kids.

Thanks t0 Jen Ashley and Michael Graff for edits and Lucia Maher for copy edits.