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The top stories near you
• The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report about the Jan. 3 crash on Interstate 75 near Gainesville that killed seven people. Three of those were children wearing seatbelts in a van headed to Disney World. (AP)
• An Ocala rapper is in the Alachua County Jail after putting out a song that the Sheriff’s Office says threatened a shooting on the University of Florida campus. The question in the case is how far free speech protection would extend over the lyric. (The Alligator, Gainesville Sun)
• We’ve reported multiple stories in the past two years about possible lead contamination in school drinking water and what’s being done to prevent it. The Florida Phoenix notes that a statewide fix has yet to be considered in the Florida House.
• The City of Alachua will have a runoff election for its mayoral seat later this month. (WUFT News)
• Congressman Ted Yoho is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s apparent desire to allow oil drilling off the state’s coast, despite opposition from many state Republicans: “He would have a price to pay for that.” (Politico)
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Around the state today
• Implementing digital license plates in Florida might seem like an intriguing idea, but our Fresh Take Florida reporters started asking if paying $250,000 in a state appropriation to a former used car salesman in Kansas with tax liens and a history of bankruptcy (among other problems) was the right approach. A House committee has not yet considered the appropriations request. (WUFT News)
• Florida is likely to soon issue its 2-millionth concealed weapon permit — the most of any state in the U.S. (WUFT News)
• The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission yesterday listened to parents who had to wait agonizing hours on Feb. 14, 2018, to hear whether their children had survived the massacre at the school. “It was like waiting to be slaughtered,” one recalled. (Sun Sentinel)
• This week marked the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle. The Panama City News Herald reported a deep, multipart series on the struggle so far, as well as the failure of Congress to appropriate any disaster relief money.
• More than 2.3 million gallons of untreated sewage have been spilled in Alachua County during the past decade, a fact highlighted in this excellent GateHouse investigation on the statewide problem.
• U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is giving his first quarter salary (about $43,000) to Puerto Rico relief organizations. (Florida Politics)
• This does not appear to be the year when firefighters get help from a legislative session for their fight against cancer. (WFSU)
• The Constitution Revision Commission might have proposed its last set of amendments ever in 2018. The state Senate is pushing to let voters abolish the panel. (Florida Politics)
• A reporter in The Keys describes the bizarre and painful experience of attempting to interview a Hurricane Irma survivor, only to have the person’s dog nearly rip his face off. (FLKeysNews)
News from NPR
• Science: Earth Sees First Image Of A Black Hole
• World: Julian Assange Arrested In London