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Will Amendment 8 get kicked off the ballot? Stay tuned

A court hearing Friday raised more questions than answers over who can control public schools, and whether a Constitutional amendment over the issue should be kicked off the November 6 ballot.Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper said he expects to rule Monday morning on the fate of so-called Amendment 8 -- though it’s likely that a decision either way would lead to an appeal.The stakes are high for critics and opponents of Amendment 8, which represents a legal, political and philosophical battle over who should have the authority over public schools – local boards or some other entity.Proponents...

New York University waiving tuition for all med school students, New York Times reports....

The New York University School of Medicine announced Thursday in a surprise move that it would cover tuition for all its students regardless of need or merit, the New York Times reports.N.Y.U. cited growing concerns about student financial debt, the story said, and comes at a time when affordability has become more and more of a contentious topic surrounding higher education.About 62 percent of graduates from the school leave with some debt and the average debt incurred in 2017 was $184,000 per student, according to the story.The plan to cover tuition will go into effect immediately and will cover...

CDC releases data on 2017 opioid overdoses. The numbers don’t look good.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new data on drug overdose deaths in the last year nationwide and the numbers are not promising. Since January 2015, deaths from opioid overdoses have increased by the thousands and spiked in October with 47,801 reported deaths nationwide.This year began with a reported 47,232 people dead in the U.S. from opioids. That’s a little over 1,500 people overdosing a day.The Florida numbers aren’t much different – a reported 5,179 people died from opioids in Florida in January 2017 compared to 5,428 in January of this year. That’s almost 200 people...

Stop the lying: Verify academic credentials for all candidates

Many political junkies and non-junkies know by now that Florida state House candidate Melissa Howard went to great lengths – including displaying a fake diploma -- to conceal that she didn’t have a college degree from Miami University (Oh.)At first, she refused to drop out of the race, but then she did. The whole sordid tale became a national story and is highlighted in a recent commentary by Sarasota Herald-Tribune political editor Zac Anderson.Anderson writes:But it wasn’t lying about her degree that made Howard’s story so sensational, it was the lengths she went to try to defend that lie....

Five Florida cities ranked top 10 best places to retire, WalletHub reports

Orlando is the best city to retire to in the nation, according to a recent WalletHub study. Newark, NJ was the worst.The study looked at the “retirement-friendliness” of 182 cities across the nation and compared affordability, activities, quality of life and healthcare. The report assumed people would live on a fixed income.Orlando came in at No. 7 for how affordable it is to live there. Four other Florida cities fall into the top 10 – Tampa (3), Ft. Lauderdale (5), Miami (7) and Cape Coral (9).Cape Coral is one of the cities nationwide with the highest percentage of people...

State audit: Ineligible kids get private-school scholarships anyway

Some Florida students who weren’t eligible for private-school scholarships got the money anyway, due to “human errors” and outdated information used to calculate awards, a new state audit shows.The nonprofit Step Up for Students, Inc., acknowledged concerns and made a variety of fixes, in part saying that “appropriate corrective actions were taken with individual team members,” according to responses provided in the audit released earlier this month by Florida’s Auditor General office.Step Up provides hundreds of millions of dollars in private-school scholarships to low-income and working-class families annually, using factors such as household income and federal poverty levels to...

Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottcamp – now an oil industry spokesman – falsely...

Former Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottcamp told a room full of reporters in Tallahassee that oil from the 2010 BP oil spill “didn’t even reach the shores of Florida” – a claim people who witnessed the black goo washing up on Panhandle beaches would dispute.Kottcamp’s former boss – Gov. Charlie Crist, would also have a hard time defending Kottcamp’s claim: Crist was photographed by the Pensacola News Journal on oil-slicked Casino Beach in Pensacola and also visited the disaster with former President Barack Obama.After Kottcamp made the statement, a reporter asked about it again, and Kottcamp said “tarballs are...

Candidates for Florida’s top legal job suing each other

Although Hillsborough County-based attorney Ryan Torrens is a heavy underdog in the race for Florida Attorney General against his opponent Sean Shaw, he’s not going down without a fight.Torrens filed suit this week against his opponent. Shaw had already filed a lawsuit against Torrens. The primary is two weeks away, so it’s unclear how the legal matters will affect things.Shaw filed a lawsuit last month in Leon County court calling for a judge to toss Torrens from the August 28 ballot, claiming that his opponent accepted an illegal campaign contribution to cover his qualifying fee to enter the contest.Specifically,...

Group plans voter registration drive at 43 college campuses

Progressive group NextGen Florida plans to register thousands of students during the next few weeks on 43 college campuses across the state – including Florida State University, the University of Florida and University of Central Florida. Organizers will partner voter registration efforts with festivals, food, giveaways and other games, as well as a get out the vote initiative for the Aug. 28 primary.The effort represents the organization’s faith in the “youth vote,” an unknown variable in this year’s midterm election results. Some scholars are skeptical of high young voter turnout while others say young voters will have more of...

Lawsuit seeks to knock six amendments off November ballot

Two people, including former Florida Supreme Court justice Harry Lee Anstead, filed suit Tuesday at the Florida Supreme Court to knock six amendments submitted by the Constitution Revision Commission off the Nov. 6 ballot.The case takes aim at amendments 6-11, which include one to extend school board term limits and another that would ban offshore oil drilling along Florida’s coasts.A response from the state Secretary of State is expected by 5 p.m. Monday.The lawsuit argues that because of how the Constitutional Revision Commission “bundled” some of the ballot questions - meaning one amendment includes two different measures - voters...

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