School shooting suspect’s medical records an issue

(18 Jan 2019) Lawyers for Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz say his confidential medical records were improperly disclosed to a state investigative panel. (Jan. 18)

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For Florida’s Felons, The Fight To Regain Their Voting Rights Is Just Starting (HBO)

More than 1.4 million convicted felons gained the right to vote back after Florida passed an amendment to its constitution last year. But getting the amendment passed was just the first hurdle for advocates hoping to re-enfranchise those citizens.

Now, some are worried that calls by Republican leaders in the state to pass legislation clarifying the amendment could end up undercutting it.

Ion Sancho, who served as the Leon County, Fla. Supervisor of Elections for nearly three decades, told VICE News that Florida has been the “genesis of the modern era of voter suppression tactics” — and that talk from GOP state lawmakers about legislating the amendment could be yet another example.

“I am anticipating that they’re going to try to slow-walk it,” he said of Republicans in the state legislature. “They’re going to try to put any kind of impediment they can. “

So far, there are no specific proposals on the table concerning the amendment from Florida legislators. But state Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, says he and other skeptics of the amendment are simply considering options to make it easier for both ex-felons and state officials to verify who’s eligible.

“Whatever we’re doing is going to be about compliance,” he said. “Anything we would do would be how do we validate that…so that there is not mishap or an opening for mischief.”

Baxley pointed to the fact that there is currently no centralized database in Florida where ex-felons can confirm that they’ve finished all the terms of their sentence, a requirement to be able to register under the new amendment. Supervisors of Elections also can’t independently confirm eligibility, and were given no guidance from the Secretary of State on how to implement the amendment.

Still, advocates of the change say they’re ready for any attempts to slow-walk the law, and willing to fight such efforts in court. In the meantime, says Demetrius Jifunza, an ex-felon who fought for the amendment and registered the first day he was eligible, advocates for the amendment are going to focus their efforts on getting people registered and involved in politics — so they can combat any attempts to take their rights away again.

“So, you know, it’s politics and it’s Florida. I mean you could snowball things, put language into something to hold things up,” he acknowledged.

But Jifunza added: “The only way to combat that is if we stay on top of things.”

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Non-profits step in to protect Florida’s National Parks

Amid America’s longest Government shutdown, facilities in Florida’s National Parks are functioning, thanks to the intervention of non-governmental organizations.

Protests and closures across the US amid shutdown

(11 Jan 2019) Protests in North Carolina and closure of an airport terminal in Florida marked day 21 of the federal government shutdown. (Jan. 11)

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Rick Scott sworn in as Florida’s freshman senator

(8 Jan 2019) Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida was sworn Tuesday, several days after the freshman class of Senate legislators, after serving the final days of his term as governor. (Jan. 8)

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Felons emotional as they register to vote in Fla.

(8 Jan 2019) The right to vote was restored for most Florida felons as of Tuesday, increasing the pool of eligible voters by as many as 1.4 million people in a battleground state infamous for its narrow margins in key elections (Jan. 8)

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Former convicts register to vote after gaining right in Florida

Former convicts register to vote after the US State of Florida’s electorate ends a measure banning suffrage for people with felony convictions. Some 1.4 million people in the state can now begin registering.

Volunteers in Florida step up during shutdown

(4 Jan 2019) The partial government shutdown has wreaked havoc at some national parks. Furloughed workers meaning maintenance of restrooms and trash removal has all but stopped at some national parks. But, volunteers are stepping up in Florida (Jan. 4)

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AP Top Stories January 4 A

(4 Jan 2019) Here’s the latest for Friday January 4th: House passes plan to reopen government; Collision kills 7 on interstate in Florida; Man in custody in Texas after 3 children found dead; Chinese rover rolls onto moon surface.

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