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It has been my habit to go to sleep in one year and wake up in the next, and I did just that as 2023 transitioned into 2024. It feels fresh and clean to find oneself not only in a new day but with an entirely new year stretching out before us. But I have questions, many questions, and more than a little trepidation for 2024.

The elephant smack in the middle of 2024’s living room is the coming election cycle, with offices up for grabs from President of the United States to Cumberland County Register of Deeds. I feel safe saying there are precious few Americans of any political stripe looking forward to the major races.

The Presidential contest is shaping up to be a rematch between two wildly unpopular candidates, one preoccupied with the 91 felony charges facing him, and the other struggling to convince voters he has done a good job. “Mud” is not a strong enough word to describe what awaits us in the Presidential race.

Closer to home, the N.C. Governor’s race also looks like a doozy, likely pitting a former state Senator and two-term Attorney General against our current Lieutenant Governor, who speaks with fire but has not a hint of executive experience. This one, too, is not going to be pretty for all sorts of reasons.

While politics will dominate 2024, our daily lives are impacted by other factors, some of which matter a great deal to some of us and others that affect us not at all.

The North Carolina General Assembly, like most state legislatures, enacted new laws that take effect at the first of the year, and here are several that may be of interest.

More and more of us now drive electric vehicles or aspire to do so, and the cost of doing so is going up. State registration fees for EVs rose from $140 to $180 with the new year and will increase to $215 in July. The higher fees are because EV owners do not pay gasoline taxes to support road maintenance, so the legislature is trying to make up for that.

To no one’s surprise, the General Assembly continued its efforts to restrict voting by enacting additional changes in election laws in 2023. Remember to take your ID to the polls this year, and if you are registering to vote in North Carolina or want to cast an absentee ballot, be sure to check 2024’s stiffer requirements.

And, in its wisdom, the General Assembly also loosened the regulations for teenaged drivers to become licensed. It remains to be seen whether this was a good idea, but various highway safety organizations opposed the changes.

In our own community, a veteran local journalist recently posed this question to me. Now that Congress and the US Department of Defense have rechristened Fort Bragg, originally named in honor of a Confederate general, to Fort Liberty, should Bragg Boulevard and Fort Bragg Road also be renamed?

Could we? Will we? What on earth would we name them?

And finally, preoccupied as we now seem to be with celebrity at all levels, what about Taylor Swift? Will she stay with her current football star boyfriend or will she go her merry way, telling us all about it in song?

Welcome to 2024! Fingers crossed that it will be healthy and happy for all of us, and stay tuned!

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