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The top stories near you
• A WUFT reporter followed Gainesville March For Our Lives as its members boarded buses for Tallahassee. The 30 members gathered with other groups from Orlando and Tampa to protest a bill that would arm teachers. (WUFT News)
• A bill co-signed by state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, could reduce prison time for those who complete the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. State law requires that inmates must serve at least 85% of their sentences and factors gain time into early release. Senate Bill 642, if passed, would allow some inmates to leave prison earlier, under certain conditions. Prisoners can already get out on good behavior, though they don’t have to prove they’ve bettered themselves, sometimes resulting in recidivism — returning to their negative actions. Florida’s recidivism rate is about 65% after five years. (Gainesville Sun)
• Two men are accused of trafficking more than 100 grams of meth. GPD officers pulled over Mark Christopher Menendez, of Gainesville, and Ronnie Ray Lewis Jr., of Deltona, and began writing them a warning for speeding and driving too close to another car when the officer noticed Menendez try to hide something: 5.2 grams of meth in a bag. The officer found 193 more grams of meth in the car along with meth pipes scales and needles. Both men are held with a $51,000 bond. (The Alligator)
• After 4 local dog attacks in the past six months, the Gainesville City Commission wants to reassure citizens that their neighborhoods are safe. Animal Services hopes to create an irresponsible owner clause and update other ordinances to help prevent future incidents. The clause would flag owners whose dogs have gotten loose or have been involved in attacks. (The Alligator)
• Andrew Gillum will be a keynote speaker on May 9 for a scholarship fundraiser in Gainesville. The former Democratic gubernatorial nominee will be paid $10,000 from Gainesville Regional Utilities’ general operating fund. Money raised from the event will go toward underrepresented, potential engineering students from Alachua County who hope to attend Santa Fe College or the University of Florida. (Gainesville Sun)
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Around the state today
• New legislation could make it easier for officers to pull over those who text and drive. The State Affairs Committee came to a consensus that would shift texting while driving from a “secondary” offense to a “primary” offense. Currently, police can only cite motorists for texting behind the wheel if they are pulled over for other reasons. The proposal is ready to be heard by the full House. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
• A Polk County family is accusing Legoland of discrimination by not allowing their 9-year-old son to access more than half the park’s attractions because of his prosthetic legs. They say this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act. (Orlando Weekly)
• Two women are suing Disney because they say they were paid less and overlooked for promotions compared to their male coworkers. Their attorney Lori Andrus says the outcome of the case could change the way the company handles salaries for workers in Orlando, like making pay ranges more transparent. (WMFE)
• Royal Caribbean is canceling three cruise dates after a crane apparently slammed into a vessel as it sat in dry dock in Freeport, on Monday. Oasis of the Seas will not sail on April 7, 14, or 21 as the ship undergoes maintenance. Eight people were injured in the crane accident, none in serious condition. (Florida Today)
• The Sarasota City Commission allowed city officials to negotiate the price of the Coastal Behavior Healthcare building. The commission, which will have the final say on the purchase, authorized staff to negotiate to buy the two-story, 12,626-square-foot building for no more than $2.8 million — its market value — though it is marketed for $2.9 million. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)