Saturday News: Melting snowflakes

NC LEGISLATURE TO INSTALL AIRPORT-LIKE SECURITY CHECKPOINTS: After decades of open access, tighter security measures will be put in place at the Legislative Building next week. Metal detectors and X-ray machines will be installed at the entrances to the building, and the public will be screened before entry, Paul Coble, who oversees operations of the legislative complex, said in a news release Friday. "The Legislative Building for the General Assembly has always been the 'People’s Building,' and all members of the public, including daily school group tours, will continue to have access to their government and the legislative process," Coble wrote in the release. "Our goal is to make the building safe for all who have business with the General Assembly, as well as for the members, staff, press and citizens of the State of North Carolina."

RUSH LIMBAUGH ATTACKS WAKE COUNTY SCHOOL OVER WHITE PRIVILEGE HANDOUT: Conservatives around the country are attacking the Wake County school system, a Raleigh elementary school and the school's PTA over a handout about white privilege that was sent home with students. There's been national attention since a minority parent at Hunter Elementary School complained this week that her 8-year-old son brought home a handout on understanding the concept of white privilege — the idea that white people get certain benefits due to their skin color. School officials say the handout from Hunter's PTA was only intended for parents. But conservatives, including radio show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Todd Starnes, are accusing local school leaders of trying to politically indoctrinate students.

FOUR WAKE COUNTY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS MAY NEED SPECIAL ELECTION: Although absentee ballots are already in the mail and early voting for the May primary starts in less than two weeks, a three-judge panel is weighing whether four House districts in Wake County are legal. Last year, state lawmakers redrew House and Senate districts after federal courts found some of the districts in their 2011 maps to be racial gerrymanders. Instead of just fixing the unconstitutional districts, however, they also redrew the lines for a number of other districts, including House districts 36, 37, 40 and 41 in Wake County. The NAACP and other plaintiffs said that violated the state constitution, which prohibits redrawing districts between the census every 10 years unless ordered to do so by the courts.

GOP CONGRESSMAN PULLS OUT HIS GUN WITH MOMS DEMAND ACTION SITTING AT HIS TABLE: Norman said a group of Mothers Demand Action attended his meeting at Rock Hill Diner on Cherry Road. He said they pressed him to support gun control legislation. Norman said there are laws already on the books that need to be enforced first. “I pulled it out to make a point that guns don’t shoot,” he said. “People shoot.” Norman said he put the gun on the restaurant table for “maybe a minute, or two minutes” and told the women they should have a gun. “He told us it was loaded, and he kept asking us, do you feel safer now?” she said. She said she felt angry at the time, because she said Norman didn’t know any of their histories with gun violence. “We were kind of shocked and appalled,” she said.

EPA'S SCOTT PRUITT SPENDS MILLIONS ON MASSIVE SECURITY DETAIL: Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes to protect him. Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time security detail that is three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent. New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job. Pruitt, 49, was closely aligned with the oil and gas industry as Oklahoma’s state attorney general before being tapped by Trump. Trump has praised Pruitt’s relentless efforts to scrap, delay or rewrite Obama-era environmental regulations. He also has championed budget cuts and staff reductions at the agency so deep that even Republican budget hawks in Congress refused to implement them.