GOP BILL WOULD ARM SOME TEACHERS AND GIVE THEM ARREST POWERS: The School Security Act of 2019, filed Wednesday, would boost the salaries of teachers who underwent specialized police training to carry firearms on campus. The same bill was filed last year and died in committee, but Sen. Jerry Tillman, one of the new sponsors of Senate Bill 192, said that the climate has changed to give the legislation more support this year. The School Security Act would offer a 5 percent salary boost to up to 3,000 teachers who complete the state’s training programs and become “teacher resource officers.” These teacher resource officers would have the same arrest powers on campus as a school resource officer, who is a certified law enforcement officer assigned to work in schools.
GOVERNOR'S BUDGET PROPOSAL EXPANDS MEDICAID, FEEDS STUDENTS: Cooper's budget also phases out the Opportunity Scholarships school voucher program – existing recipients could keep receiving vouchers until they graduate, but no new entries to the program would be allowed – eliminates the $50 teachers pay now toward substitutes when they take a personal leave day and eliminates co-pays for the free and reduced-price school meals program, making school breakfasts and lunches free for all 115,000 children who qualify for the program. The $25.2 billion in spending would mark a 5.4 percent increase over the $23.9 billion in the 2018-19 budget. Cooper said he assembled the plan without calling for any tax increases, although he does fund Medicaid expansion through assessments on hospitals and insurers.
MARK WALKER WANTS COLLEGE ATHLETES TO MAKE MONEY FROM ENDORSEMENTS: The NCAA must allow student-athletes to use their name, image and likeness, opening the door for players to profit while in school, under new federal legislation proposed by a member of Republican House leadership. The bill, to be introduced by Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina next week, would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code to remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness. “Signing on with a university, if you’re a student-athlete, should not be (a) moratorium on your rights as an individual. This is the time and the moment to be able to push back and defend the rights of these young adults,” said Walker, a former college athlete and vice chair of the Republican conference.
HOMELAND SECURITY TARGETED JOURNALISTS TRYING TO COVER CARAVAN: The documents, in the form of dossiers and screenshots, were provided to NBC 7 Investigates by a Homeland Security source on the condition of anonymity, the station reported. Those listed as warranting secondary screening included 10 journalists — seven of them U.S. citizens — a U.S. attorney and 47 people from various countries labeled as organizers, instigators or "unknown," the station said. The intelligence-gathering efforts were done under the umbrella of "Operation Secure Line," which was designed to monitor the caravan of thousands of people who began making their way north from Central America late last year to seek asylum in the United States, the source told the TV station. The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the operation. "This is an outrageous violation of the First Amendment," attorney Esha Bhandari said. "The government cannot use the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs."
U.S. TRADE DEFICIT SOARS UNDER TRUMP'S RECKLESS POLICIES: America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history last year as the United States imported a record number of products, including from China, widening the deficit to $891.3 billion and delivering a setback to President Trump’s goal of narrowing that gap. The increase was driven by some factors outside Mr. Trump’s control, like a global economic slowdown and the relative strength of the United States dollar, both of which weakened overseas demand for American goods. But the widening gap was also exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which has been largely financed by government borrowing, and the trade war he escalated last year. The tax cuts are also helping to swell the federal budget deficit, which Mr. Trump similarly pledged to reduce — and, in fact, eliminate — as a candidate. On Tuesday, Treasury Department figures showed the budget deficit widening, and it is on track to top $1 trillion this fiscal year.