Jim Saunders - News Service of Florida

Jim Saunders is the Executive Editor of The News Service Of Florida.

cigarette butt on sidewalk
Sudipto Sarkar via Flickr

TALLAHASSEE — For the second week in a row, Florida Supreme Court justices have ruled against the tobacco industry's attempts to fend off costly lawsuits about illnesses and deaths linked to smoking.

headshot
Corrine Brown

A federal court will hear arguments next week in Congresswoman Corrine Brown's battle against a redistricting plan that would force her to run in a dramatically reshaped district stretching across 200 miles of North Florida.

Trump, Clinton headshots
Gage Skidmore / State Department

Presidential candidates and their supporters tried to rally voters across Florida on Monday, the last day before primary elections that could decide the future of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and boost the momentum of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT News

In a last-ditch effort to mobilize voters ahead of tomorrow’s Florida primary, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio met with supporters in Jacksonville’s San Marco neighborhood, alongside Mayor Lenny Curry.

Planned Parenthood clinic in Jacksonville
Google Maps

Updated: 4:15 p.m. Friday, March 11:

In the latest round in Florida's abortion battles, lawmakers Wednesday gave final approval to a bill that would increase clinic regulations and bar public funding for organizations associated with abortion clinics.

Scott Olson / Getty Images/ NPR

Buoyed by support from women and older voters, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a comfortable lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary in Florida, a new poll shows.

The Quinnipiac University poll, released Friday morning, found that Clinton leads Sanders by a margin of 59 percent to 33 percent among likely Florida Democratic voters. The new numbers come less than three weeks before Florida's March 15 presidential primaries.

Capitol building
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Florida's 60-day legislative session is halfway done.

Most of the major issues remain unresolved after weeks of lawmakers debating bills in committees. 

protesters holding "no fracking way" signs
Progress Ohio via Flickr

After an intense debate spread over two days, the Florida House last week approved a bill that would revamp regulation of the controversial oil and gas drilling process known as "fracking."

The bill, in part, would bar local governments from imposing moratoriums on fracking, while requiring the state Department of Environmental Protection to undertake a wide-ranging study that would include looking at potential risks and economic benefits of the process.

marijuana plant
Brett Levin / Flickr

In a key step for supporters of legalizing medical marijuana, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would go on the November 2016 ballot.

Justices said the proposal, spearheaded by the group People United for Medical Marijuana, meets legal tests that include dealing with a single subject and having a clearly worded ballot title and summary. The Supreme Court does not consider the merits of proposed constitutional amendments but reviews them, in part, to make sure voters would not be misled.

baby's shoulder
Lisa Williams via Flickr

Nearly a year after same-sex marriages started in Florida, a legal decision could be looming in a dispute about birth certificates for children of same-sex couples.

Two couples and an advocacy group asked a federal judge last week to require the Florida Department of Health to list both spouses on birth certificates of children born into same-sex marriages, as the department typically does when married parents are a man and a woman.

FPL

State regulators will hear arguments Tuesday on a proposal by Florida Power & Light to build a power plant in Okeechobee County, but critics question the need for the nearly $1.2 billion project.

FPL contends the natural-gas plant is the "best, most cost-effective option" to meet a need for additional power generation starting in 2019. The project, designed as what is known as a combined-cycle plant, would be built on an undeveloped site owned by FPL in northeast Okeechobee County.

Dorm interior
University of Florida

A state appeals court Friday rejected arguments by a gun-rights group that sought to overturn a University of Florida ban on firearms in residence halls and other university housing.

The group Florida Carry Inc. argued that people have a right to possess guns in their homes, including in university housing. But a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld an Alachua County circuit judge's ruling last year that sided with the Gainesville university.

Just days before lawmakers go into a special session to redraw Senate lines, a federal judge this week tossed out a challenge to the way Florida has carried out redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010.

Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected arguments by Republican Party leaders from Walton and Pasco counties who contended that their First Amendment rights are being violated amid long-running legal and political battles about Senate and congressional maps.

State of Florida

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has asked a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of redistricting standards approved by voters in 2010, saying he doesn't enforce the "Fair Districts" requirements.

Floridians for Solar Choice

In a battle involving two solar-energy ballot initiatives, a political committee backed by major utilities collected $335,000 in August — and had raised $798,000 in less than two months, according to a newly filed finance report.

The group, known as Consumers for Smart Solar, also had nearly $400,000 in the bank as September began.

Meanwhile, rival group Floridians for Solar Choice, which awaits a state Supreme Court decision on its proposed ballot language, appeared to be living almost paycheck-to-paycheck based on a financial report filed Thursday.

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