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The Associated Press

A  Pasco County man is facing charges that he impersonated a law enforcement officer during an attempt to get discounted doughnuts.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies say 48-year-old Charles T. "Chuck" Barry tried to use the ploy twice recently at a Tampa-area Dunkin' Donuts.

They say the first time he showed the clerk a badge and a holstered gun, telling him, "See, I am a cop!"

When he returned the next day, the manager wrote down his license plate number.

You might soon be able to go 75 on I-75.

Two Florida state senators want to let motorists drive faster on the state's highways.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, are filing a bill that would allow the state to raise the speed limit up to 75 miles per hour on some highways.

Brandes said his bill would allow the state to raise the limit if traffic engineers believe is it safe. He noted that the state has not reviewed its speed limit since 1996.

St. Petersburg police arrested a 15-year-old girl on Thursday for cyberbullying after she allegedly sent hundreds of threatening text messages to three other 15-year-old girls who are students at her high school.

Officials said the girl was charged with three counts of aggravated stalking. The Associated Press is not naming her because she is a minor.

Detectives said the girl sent several hundred threatening texts to three victims over the course of about 8 days. Many of the messages were death threats, police said, and many contained expletives.

A panel of Florida legislators on Thursday easily defeated an effort to repeal the state's controversial "stand your ground law" Thursday following hours of passionate testimony.

The vote by a committee of the Republican-controlled House, which seemed unlikely just a few months ago, comes after the trial of George Zimmerman renewed scrutiny of the self-defense law that was first passed in 2005.

Former Republican governor-turned Democrat Charlie Crist took the first step Friday toward attempting to reclaim his old job with a new party, paving the way for a bitter contest that will be one of the most watched in the nation.

Crist filed paperwork to get in the race and is now the front-runner to represent Democrats against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most unpopular chief executives in the country. Scott, though, will be well-financed and is expected to spend as much as $25 million in attack ads against Crist.

Florida's top legislative leaders are coming out against a push to allow the use of marijuana for medical reasons.

House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz announced Wednesday that they will ask the Florida Supreme Court to block the proposed amendment.

In a memo Gaetz said after consulting with senate staff he had concluded that the medical marijuana amendment would mislead voters.

The Republican legislators are joining Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in their opposition to the amendment. Bondi last week asked the court to block the measure.

John Sajo

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is challenging a proposal to allow the use of medical marijuana in the state. 

Bondi criticized the proposed amendment in a filing she made Thursday to the Florida Supreme Court. By law, the attorney general asks the court to review proposed amendments.

The Supreme Court could throw out the amendment if it agrees with Bondi.

The Republican attorney general called the amendment misleading. Bondi told the court that if passed by voters the measure would allow marijuana use in limitless situations.

The mother of a 12-year-old Florida girl who jumped to her death after being bullied for months is exploring her legal options, her attorneys said Thursday.

Attorneys for Rebecca Sedwick's mother have taken no legal action yet, but they haven't ruled out suing Polk County schools or the parents of two middle school girls who were arrested in connection with Sedwick's death, they said.

"It's a difficult process," said David Henry, lead attorney for Tricia Norman. "There are a number of other children who also participated."

At least seven inmates in Florida have used forged documents in attempts to escape from prison, including two killers who were mistakenly freed because of the paperwork, authorities said Tuesday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement planned a news conference Tuesday to provide details about the phony paperwork. Agency spokeswoman Gretel Plessinger said so far they have discovered seven prisoners tried to escape with forged documents.

The heirs of a well-known figure in the Florida citrus industry are giving up control of a company that remains one of the state's largest private landowners.

Two New York-based agricultural companies are spending $137.8 million to purchase shares of Alico Inc. now held by the heirs of Ben Hill Griffin Jr.

Alico owns nearly 131,000 acres of land spread across five Florida counties — including Alachua, Collier, Lee and Polk — that are used for citrus groves, sugar cane and cattle ranching.

With two convicted killers back in custody, authorities say they are seeking to find out who made the phony court documents that led to their mistaken release and rocked Florida's judicial system.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, were captured Saturday night without incident in Panama City Beach. Hours earlier, their families had held a news conference, urging them to surrender.

"Now that we have them in custody, we're hoping to get something from the interviews with them," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said.

Two convicted killers serving life in a Florida prison were mistakenly freed in the last three weeks after forged court documents reduced their sentences, authorities said. Relatives picked up one inmate while the other was given a bus ticket and dropped off at a bus station.

Now a manhunt is on for Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, both 34, who were released separately from the Carrabelle prison in the Panhandle. Jenkins was let out Sept. 27; Walker was freed Oct. 8.

The Associated Press

Senate leaders announced a last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after a partial, 16-day shutdown. Congress raced to pass the measure by day’s end.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared on the news that the threat of default was fading, flirting with a 200-point gain in morning trading.

“This is a time for reconciliation,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of the agreement he had forged with the GOP leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Florida is ending this year's storm season with some good news.

The state-created fund that backs up private insurers in Florida remains in the best financial shape it has been since it was created 20 years ago.

New estimates drawn by financial consultants and Wall Street firms suggest the fund can borrow enough money to cover its obligations for the hurricane season that ends next month. Insurers are required to purchase coverage from the fund.

After 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide last month, one of her tormenters continued to make comments about her online, even bragging about the bullying, a sheriff said Tuesday.

The especially callous remark hastened the arrest of a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl who were primarily responsible for bullying Rebecca, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. They were charged with stalking and released to their parents.

The federal government shutdown that has already led to furloughed employees, closed national parks and commissaries could soon start to ripple through Florida's schools and state government.

The administration of Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday ordered all agencies to refrain from using any state money to cover expenses that are supposed to be picked up by the federal government.

The state has a $74 billion budget, but more than 35 percent of the money comes from federal funds.

Tropical Storm Karen continued losing strength Saturday as it headed toward the central Gulf Coast, but forecasters were still expecting it to bring significant rain and potential flooding to low-lying areas.

The National Hurricane Center reported at 2 a.m. Saturday that Karen's maximum sustained winds had dropped to 40 mph, making it a weak tropical storm. The storm was moving west-northwest at 10 mph to 15 mph.

Forecasters expect the center of Karen to be near the southeast Louisiana coast on Saturday night, when they say there is a slight chance of strengthening.

The Associated Press/NOAA

Tropical Storm Karen is poised to become the first named storm to hit the U.S. during what had been a relatively quiet hurricane season.

Karen is forecast to lash the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend as a weak hurricane or tropical storm. A hurricane watch is in effect from Grand Isle, La., to west of Destin, Fla. A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Louisiana coast from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River, including the New Orleans area.

After three years of bashing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republican governors were surprisingly mute on the first day consumers could shop for insurance policies through online marketplaces.

But in the 36 mostly Republican states that left the operation of their exchanges to the federal government, consumer interest Tuesday was high, while Democrats and advocacy groups took the lead in promoting the latest provision of the law.

Florida charged ahead Tuesday with a lawsuit against the state of Georgia that accuses its northern neighbor of consuming too much fresh water from a river system that serves three Southeastern states.

The legal action filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court is an escalation in a legal dispute lasting more than two decades.

The lawsuit is not a surprise since Gov. Rick Scott announced in August that the state was preparing one.

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