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The top stories near you
• While driving on the University of Florida campus yesterday, the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic bus experienced power issues and the driver lost control of the brakes. Gainesville Fire Rescue’s hazmat team was called to the scene to contain a diesel leak from the bus. No one was injured. (WUFT News)
• Although the primary election is still 10 months away, five candidates have already filed to run for the two District 1 Marion County School Board seats that will be vacant in the 2020 election. (Ocala Star-Banner)
• A Gainesville man was the first person in Florida to receive a new spinal implant to reduce head-to-toe chronic pain. The implant, a small battery pack placed under the skin of the lower back with a set of wires that extend up the spine, produces low amounts of electrical energy to help ease pain. Unlike other pain-reducing implants, which have to be charged several times per week, it has been approved by the FDA for up to 10 years of use without recharging. (The Alligator)
• The Waldo city council introduced a new ordinance that adds a 10% utility tax on the purchase of water in the city. Although Waldo residents are not happy with the tax increase, there is not much council members can do if they want to Waldo’s water utility is to remain under the city’s control. (WUFT News)
• Two 15-year-old Buchholz high school students were arrested after they sent death threats and images of guns to other students. They’re in a juvenile detention center on charges of intimidation by a written threat to commit bodily injury and communication to commit a felony. “They may have thought this was funny or a joke, but obviously it’s not funny or a joke,” said Art Forgey, Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson. “Any threat of violence is taken very seriously.” (The Alligator)
• Blood spatter analysis has been the focus of both state prosecutors and the defense attorneys in the trial of Michael Reuschel, a Gainesville man accused of trying to stab his wife and himself in February 2018 and then making it look like an intruder did it. Judge William Davis said the court will today hold a jury conference, with closing to follow on Wednesday. (WUFT News)
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Around the state today
• Florida lawmakers are fast-tracking proposals to undo local regulation of sunscreen after Key West banned the sale of sunscreens that contains chemicals that damage coral reefs. Florida ranks second in the nation for the highest rate of new melanoma cases, and state officials worry that the ban may send mixed signals about the importance of wearing sunscreen. (News Service of Florida)
• Florida Blue announced that starting Feb. 1, Affordable Care Act customers will have access to $100 in transportation benefits from Lyft as part of the benefits package in individual health insurance policies. The insurance company wants to ensure that lack of transportation doesn’t hinder policyholders from accessing needed health-care services. (NWF Daily News)
• Florida saw 62 hepatitis A cases reported last week, making the total number of cases this year 2,970, as of Saturday. Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees directed $3 million in additional funding to county health departments to help with the state’s vaccine efforts. (WFSU)
• A Republican state senator and Democratic state representative filed identical bills that would require public high schools to offer elective classes in the study of religion. The bill would require the courses to maintain religious neutrality and accommodate diverse religious views. (Orlando Weekly)
• Gov. Ron DeSantis announced yesterday the launch of FloridaHealthPriceFinder.com, where Floridians can view the average costs and breakdown of medical services. “If you look at how people behave in most aspects of their lives, they kind of have a sense of how much something costs and they make decisions accordingly,” DeSantis said. “That’s really not been the case with health care.”(Florida Politics)
• A researcher at Delaware State University discovered how songbirds can predict hurricane season. He found that the length of the birds’ breeding season and the average number of eggs in each nest can signal whether the storm season will be normal, show or overly active. “It turns out that in years they stop breeding earlier, there’s more tropical storm activity on their migration route,” said Christopher Heckscher who found the link between the birds and tropical storm activity. (Florida Today)
• The 2019 sea turtle nesting season ended with a rare sighting of an endangered leatherback sea turtle nest and a record number of loggerhead and greens on 35 miles of Southwest Florida beaches. Nesting season, from May 1 to Oct. 31, saw 182 greens and a record-shattering 4,926 loggerheads make their way into the water. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
• Under Florida law, people are not allowed to purchase any firecrackers or fireworks containing explosive or flammable compounds, however, they can buy and use aerial and explosive devices if they sign a waiver saying they will use the fireworks to frighten birds from agricultural work and fish hatcheries. Some Florida officials are working to change this law by allowing the use of fireworks by individuals on Memorial Day and Independence Day. (WJCT)