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The top stories near you
• Early voting started Saturday for Gainesville’s election to decide its next mayor and District 4 city commissioner. Here’s a reminder of each candidate on the ballot for mayor. University of Florida students, who typically don’t participate in large numbers during city elections but who now have an early voting location on campus, could help decide both races. (WUFT News, The Alligator)
• The truancy rate is increasing in some Marion County schools, leading district officials to go to court to seek a solution. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• A trio of non-profit organizations in Gainesville put together a pamphlet to connect those who don’t speak English with resources they might need in the community. It stems from an incident last April between an alleged victim of domestic violence and Gainesville police that’s now back in the news. (WUFT News)
• Alachua County students might be able to take a discrete math course if the Florida Department of Education approves it. (WUFT News)
• Arts programs statewide suffered large cuts in state grant funding following the 2018 legislative session. This year, they’re seeking a restoration up to $61 million in the state budget. (WUFT News, WMFE)
• A story to brighten your Monday: Riley Belcher is a 2-year-old from Belleview who has been selected as an ambassador for Down syndrome awareness. “They tell you about all the things that can go wrong and all the things that your child won’t be able to do,” her mother says. “They make it seem like a burden. In reality, she’s the farthest thing from a burden.” Read more inspiring stories from our series, “Florida Good.” (WUFT News)
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Around the state today
• President Donald Trump visited Florida this weekend and, while here, approved a huge federal reimbursement package to help pay for Hurricane Michael’s destruction. Some local governments in the Panhandle are making their last debris pickup efforts this month. (Palm Beach Post, Panama City News Herald)
• In other Trump news from Palm Beach County, the Miami Herald reported Friday that the founder of a chain of day spas — one of which police say New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited — has made herself quite close to the president and other leading Republicans, especially a few in Florida. (Miami Herald)
• The Florida legislature is considering compensating families of the Parkland victims as much as $160 million. (Sun Sentinel)
• “It feels good to ban the straw but the practical impact is very small on the plastics issue and potentially very significant impact on the consumer,” a restaurant industry lobbyist tells WLRN. Plastic straw bans (or a ban on the bans) are likely to stay a hot topic during the rest of the 2019 session.
• Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has something up his sleeve that he wants to tell people next week. (Florida Politics)