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Lawmakers in the Senate today passed a bill that would implement Amendment 4, which allows certain felons to vote. But as Blaise Gainey reports proponents of the amendment say it’s self-enacting and the bill passed today isn’t needed and may not meet constitutional muster.

A new report has found that six in 10 employed adults in South Florida are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. That’s the highest of any metro area in the country.

Florida authorities have recovered a hot air balloon stolen from its owner in Indiana.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office got a tip Saturday from police in Bloomington, Indiana, that the stolen balloon had been spotted at The Villages Hot Air Balloon Festival.

There were two headline "principal conclusions" out of Attorney General William Barr's publicly released letter to Congress about the now-concluded Russia probe conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller:

  1. It "did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election."

Felons in Florida would have to settle pending fines and fees before having their voting rights restored, according to a proposal currently making its way through the legislature. Critics say that flies directly in the face of Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment passed in November, and amounts to a modern day “poll tax.”

Emmet Jopling Bondurant II knew about the civil rights movement when he was a student at the University of Georgia in the 1950s, but he didn't join it.

"I was trying to get through college," the burly, white-haired 82-year-old said in an interview. "And I'm embarrassed to say I was not involved. I should have been involved much sooner."

But, as a 26-year-old lawyer, he soon took part in one of the most important voting rights cases before the Supreme Court in the 1960s — one that ultimately required states to put equal numbers of people in congressional districts.

Polar Plunge participants wait to enter the pool at Adventure Island on Saturday, March 23.
Ashley Lisenby / WUSF Public Media

Teams and costume-clad swimmers walked, ran and jumped into the 'cold' waters of Adventure Island on Saturday as part of the first Tampa Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics Florida. 

A monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee has been moved from Lakeland's Munn Park.
Florida Archeological Network

A statue of a Confederate soldier is being removed from Lakeland's Munn Park, after standing at the center of the park for 109 years.

Aldo Puccini

The St. Petersburg Police opened a new $78.5 million headquarters on Friday that will modernize the force and enhance training for its officers. 

The storm names Florence and Michael have officially been retired by the World Meteorological Organization’s Region IV Hurricane Committee, which includes the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Florence hit Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on September 14, 2018. The storm claimed 51 lives and caused severe flooding in much of the Carolinas and Virginia. It is considered one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes to ever hit the Carolinas.

More than a year after the Parkland high school shooting, emotions continue to run high at the Florida Capitol as lawmakers consider school-safety proposals that would expand a controversial “school guardian” program and allow trained teachers to be armed.

The House Education Committee on Thursday approved its version of the bill (PCB EDC 19-02) along party lines, following heated back-and-forth between Republican lawmakers who support the guardian program and teachers who testified that they oppose having colleagues carry guns.

Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum laid out a vision of “registering and engaging” one million new voters across Florida over the next few years at an event in Miami Gardens on Wednesday.

KATHEA PINTO VIA FLICKR

For nine consecutive years, Sarasota County has maintained a top spot in a national report that looks at county health outcomes and compares it to the rest of the nation.

Tuesday was Coding Day at the capitol as part of an initiative to promote computer science education.

Students, some in elementary school, are lined up at computers getting ready to show off their work to state leaders.

“We need more computer scientists. We need more data scientists, and in the state of Florida alone there are 8,000 computing jobs open, not necessarily all for computer scientists," says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Philanthropies for Microsoft. "Some of them are for individuals who might have a philosophy degree or a poetry degree and take a one-year certificate class.”

Public commenters gave lawmakers an earful today when the implementing bill for 2018’s Amendment 4 came up in a House committee meeting. The amendment allows certain felons to vote. But that raises the question which felons can’t vote?

State wildlife investigators announced Tuesday that they've wrapped up a two-year investigation targeting what they say is a criminal conspiracy in the spiny lobster fishing industry.

Lobster is Florida's most valuable commercial fishery, with landings usually worth more than $40 million a year.

Investigators went undercover and conducted surveillance in what they called "Operation Thimblerig." Thimblerig is another term for shell game.

Three people face felony charges including racketeering, fraud and identity theft.

Children in Florida public schools would be taught about the dangers and warning signs of human trafficking under a bill moving in the state House. 

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the legislature to provide 77 full time employees to help process background checks for gun licensing.

Federal prosecutors say a Florida man helped rich and famous parents get their kids into colleges with bribes and fake test scores. We took a closer look at the college admissions scandal with John Delaney, Former Jacksonville Mayor and President Emeritus of the University of North Florida; and Colleen Wright, Education Reporter for the Miami Herald.

Jonchuck family photo

No one disputes John Jonchuck dropped his 5-year-old daughter from a St. Petersburg bridge to her death four years ago, but whether he is a murderer or insane will soon be up to a jury to decide.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

Tampa area Muslims are mourning the deaths of at least 49 people in attacks on a pair of mosques in New Zealand Friday.

Hassan Shibly, attorney and chief executive director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Tampa, took to social media early Friday morning to share his thoughts.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, seen in a file photo.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the sheriff who he suspended and accused of failing to prevent the Parkland school shooting. 

A number of bills that would make changes to Florida’s alcohol rules are moving through the legislature. But many of them make exceptions to the state’s three tier system that separates manufactures, distributors and vendors.

Lawmakers are pushing forward with plans to continue carving up millions of dollars voters more than four years ago directed to be spent on land and water protection, despite environmentalists’ concerns about the way the money is being used to help the Indian River Lagoon and Apalachicola Bay.

A bill that would prohibit local governments from regulating any requirements imposed on employers relating to minimum wage and conditions of employment cleared its first hurdle in the Florida Senate Tuesday in a party line vote.

Test-Taker In College Scheme Suspended From Bradenton’s IMG Academy

Mar 14, 2019
IMG academy
Google Maps

A Bradenton prep school administrator has been suspended from his job after he was accused of taking college admissions tests for students as part of a scheme in which wealthy parents bribed coaches and others to get their children into elite universities.

fmpolice.com

Authorities in Fort Myers say they're trying to find out who knocked down a controversial bust of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

America's big drugmakers and pharmacy chains are scrambling to respond to hundreds of lawsuits tied to the deadly opioid epidemic. Billions of dollars are at stake if the companies are found liable for fueling the crisis.

Even before judgments are rendered, companies like Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and CVS are already suffering damage to their reputations as evidence in civil suits reveals more about their internal workings.

House Panel Gives Go-Ahead To Gun Bills

Mar 13, 2019

A House panel Tuesday advanced two gun bills, backed by the National Rifle Association, that are reopening a debate about whether people with concealed-weapons licenses should be able to carry guns on school campuses used by churches and store firearms in vehicles on school property. 

People who are homeless and have low incomes receive clothes from volunteers at University Mall in Tampa on March, 12.
Ashley Lisenby / WUSF Public Media

People who are homeless and those who earn lower incomes came to receive food, clothes and other social services at University Mall in Tampa on Tuesday.

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