Florida clemency panel gives felons path to regain vote
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Board of Executive Clemency have voted to allow felons with unpaid financial legal obligations fines to apply to have their voting rights restored when they complete their sentences. The board's action Tuesday provides felons with outstanding legal financial obligations another avenue to regain access to the ballot box. It comes amid continuing legal clashes over a voter-approved measure known as Amendment 4. Disputes soon erupted after lawmakers last year specified that only felons who have satisfied all conditions of their sentences could regain access to the ballot box under Amendment 4, which was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2018.
SCHOOL SHOOTING-FLORIDA-BOARD OF EDUCATION
School shooting victim's dad named to Florida school board
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The father of a student slain in Florida's 2018 high school massacre is being appointed to the state Board of Education. Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he has appointed Ryan Petty to the board, which oversees education policy in the state. Petty's 14-year-old daughter Alaina was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Petty already serves on the state commission investigating the shooting and has been an outspoken critic of policies that he believes allowed Nikolas Cruz, who is charged in the shootings, to attend the school.
Florida creates task force on sea-level rise
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers have created a task force that will investigate how best to protect the state's 1,350 miles of coastline amid rising sea levels. The action represents a marked change from just a few years ago, when the issue of climate change was virtually ignored. It's a signature issue for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is calling for greater focus on the matter. A natural resources panel in the state House on Tuesday voted unanimously to advance legislation that would establish the task force, as well as create a statewide Office of Resiliency.
Cold-stunned iguanas expected to fall from Florida trees
MIAMI (AP) — The National Weather Service routinely warns people about falling rain, snow and hail, but temperatures are dropping so low in South Florida the forecasters are warning residents about falling iguanas. NWS Miami posted Tuesday on its official Twitter that residents shouldn't be surprised if they see iguanas falling from trees as lows drop into the 30s and 40s. The low temperatures stun the invasive reptiles, but the iguanas won't necessarily die. That means many will wake up as temperatures rise Wednesday. Iguanas aren't dangerous or aggressive to humans, but they damage seawalls, sidewalks, landscape foliage and can dig lengthy tunnels.
Bloomberg calls for Trump's removal in new impeachment ad
NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is launching a new impeachment-focused television ad calling on the Senate to remove President Donald Trump from office. The ad will run in 27 states, including several with vulnerable Republican senators and a handful that vote on March 3, known as Super Tuesday. Bloomberg is skipping the early voting states and focusing his efforts on a strong showing in the delegate-rich states that come next. He's already spent more than $200 million of his own money on his campaign, by hiring staff and running television ads in several dozen states.
ELECTION 2020-BIDEN-BLACK CAUCUS
Biden widens Black Caucus support after Harris, Booker exits
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden continued to run up his advantage among black political leaders Tuesday. Four Congressional Black Caucus members announced their support for the former vice president, including three who’d previously backed either Kamala Harris or Cory Booker. Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop is making his first public declaration of support in the Democratic primary. New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne previously backed Booker. Florida Reps. Alcee Hastings and Frederica Wilson previously backed Harris. Payne, Hastings and Wilson are the first Black Caucus members to pick new candidates after Booker and Harris, at one time the most high-profile black candidates, ended their campaigns.
SCHOOL THREAT ARREST
Sheriff: Boy made online threats to shoot up his school
DELTONA, Fla. (AP) — A 13-year-old Florida boy is accused of making threats to shoot up his middle school. Volusia County Sheriff's officials say the teen was arrested Saturday after tips began pouring into investigators. They traced an Instagram account where the threats were made to the teen's home. He told investigators he was only joking but he was arrested on a charge of making written threats to kill or cause a mass shooting. He was taken to a juvenile justice facility. The sheriff's office is continuing to investigate.
Reports: Flooding risks could devalue Florida real estate
MIAMI (AP) — Two new reports say flooding due to climate change-related sea level rising and the erosion of natural barriers pose substantial economic risks to Florida, particularly to the value of South Florida real estate. A report released last week by McKinsey Global Institute says that based on past trends, losses from flooding in Florida could devalue vulnerable homes by $30 billion to $80 billion by 2050. A separate report from the climate-risk analytics firm Jupiter Intelligence says the percentage of vulnerable oceanfront properties affected by extreme flooding will rise in Miami-Dade County from 5% in 2019 to 98% by 2050.
Actor Will Smith goes undercover as Lyft driver in Miami
MIAMI (AP) — Four Florida passengers were in for a shock when actor Will Smith answered their Lyft call and gave them a ride around town. The actor was in Miami promoting his new movie, “Bad Boys for Life,” over the weekend. He picked up four riders in a 2020 Porsche Taycan, occasionally getting into the attitude of his movie character detective Mike Lowry and encouraging passengers to do imitation as his partner in crime. Smith made one of his passengers FaceTime with his girlfriend during the trip after the man said his girlfriend watched the original movie weekly.
Florida lawmakers weigh raising age for smoking, vaping