Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich, a former Senate minority leader, says she supports a proposed ballot initiative that would legalize medical-marijuana in Florida. Former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is expected to officially begin his gubernatorial run as a Democrat on Monday, also has expressed support for the proposed constitutional amendment. While Rich and Crist back the amendment, some of the state’s top Republicans are trying to keep the issue off the November 2014 ballot. Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, made a filing with the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday that supported Attorney General Pam Bondi’s attempt to block the constitutional amendment. The Republicans contend that the ballot language would deceive voters about the reach of the amendment. The ballot proposal has been spearheaded by Orlando trial lawyer and Democratic donor John Morgan, whose firm employs Crist. The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the ballot language Dec. 5.
DOE: 19,000 Common Core comments received
More than 19,000 comments about the state’s education standards poured in during the last month, according to the Florida Department of Education. The agency took the comments — during three public hearings around the state and through email and on its website — as part of Gov. Rick Scott’s effort to defuse controversy over the “Common Core State Standards,” a set of benchmarks for student learning.
Last month, Scott issued an executive order calling for the state to review its standards in the wake of conservative complaints that Common Core is an attempt by the federal government to take over education. The national benchmarks were developed by a coalition of state officials. State Board of Education members are set to hear about the comments at a Nov. 19 meeting, though no immediate action is expected.
Mother faces child abuse, prostitution charges
Authorities in Osceola County say a mother solicited her three teen daughters for prostitution.
Jail records show 50-year-old Paula Howard was arrested and charged on Thursday with child abuse, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, among other charges. She’s being held on $36,000 bond. The girls have been placed into protective custody.
A sheriff’s office statement says deputies received information that Howard was soliciting her daughters — ages 16, 17, and 18 — for prostitution. When undercover deputies were at a bus stop Thursday afternoon in Kissimmee, Howard waved them down and motioned for her daughters to approach the car. Authorities say the girls offered sexual acts in exchange for money before getting into their vehicles.
Boaters cautioned to watch for migrating manatees
As manatees begin their annual migration to warmer waters, state wildlife officials are cautioning boaters to slow down and watch out for these slow-moving mammals.
The migration along rivers, canals, bays and coastlines is the animals’ instinctual response to winter’s approach and surviving the cold, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement. The average adult manatee is 1,000 pounds and 10-feet long, but may be difficult to spot despite its size.
Many seasonal manatee protection speed zone posted across the state go into effect Nov. 15. The FWC asked residents and visitors to report sick, injured, entangled or dead manatees to wildlife officials.
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