From extended COVID-19 shutdowns to unexpected government fines, owners of alcohol-related businesses in North Carolina have faced special challenges in the past year. John Trump, Carolina Journal managing editor, recaps some of the industry’s key concerns. Bar owners and operators across North Carolina filed lawsuits just before the Christmas holiday. The suits challenge the executive orders Gov. Roy Cooper has used during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep bars shuttered. Jessica Thompson, attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, discusses the suit she filed on behalf of owners of a popular Greenville bar. It has been closed for more than nine months because of government mandates. The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to decriminalize marijuana. Among those objected: U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-9th District. During a speech on the House floor, Bishop outlined his concerns about potential negative consequences of changing marijuana’s legal status. Voters selected Mark Robinson to serve as North Carolina’s first black lieutenant governor. The second-highest-ranking office in state government’s executive branch marks Robinson’s first job as an elected official. During a recent online forum for the John Locke Foundation, Robinson highlighted his top priorities for his new role. The head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality, Secretary Michael Regan, has been nominated to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President-elect Joe Biden. Former DEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart, now a John Locke Foundation senior fellow, discusses Regan’s potential impact at the EPA. Van der Vaart also discusses his own reappointment to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.