ICYMI: Florida lawmakers will allow pre-rolled smokable marijuana, a Lakeland kid's arrest goes national, plus other news


Florida lawmakers will allow smokable marijuana, but only with pre-rolled joints: Committees in the House and Senate advanced legislation to nix Florida's ban on smoking medical marijuana, following an ultimatum issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis shortly after the Republican took office. DeSantis threatened to drop the state's appeal of a court decision that found the smoking ban ran afoul of a constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Lawmakers have until March 15 to address the issue.

Florida's signature rules for main ballot impose a "serious burden" on right to vote, court rules: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a state law requiring voters' signatures on mail-in ballots to match the signatures on file with elections officials imposes "a serious burden on the right to vote." Under state law, voters whose mail-in ballots are received by 5 p.m. the day before the election have an opportunity to "cure" rejected ballots by providing documentation to elections supervisors to show that they are who they claim to be. But people whose mail-in ballots are received after that, or voters who cast provisional ballots on Election Day, do not.

State Rep. Randy Fine suggested UCF should be shut down over improper spending: Rep. Randy Fine actually suggested last week that the University of Central Florida should be shut down for five to 10 years over the school's misuse of at least $38 million to erect a campus building. A Florida House subcommittee is looking into UCF's spending amid an ethics probe into the college's improper use of state funds to build Trevor Colbourn Hall. The move by UCF violated state policy, which restricted the money to instruction, research, libraries, student services or maintenance. An investigation by a state House committee found the "misdirection" of almost $85 million in funds between 2013 and 2018.

No civilians were shot by Orlando officers during the Pulse nightclub shooting, state attorney says: A review of the shooting found that Orlando Police, Orange County Sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement fired more than 180 shots during the incident that began when a gunman stormed Pulse on June 12. None of those bullets hit the 49 victims who were killed or any survivors, according to the state attorney's office.

A Lakeland boy was arrested after refusing to stand for the "racist" Pledge of Allegiance: An 11-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly being disruptive after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because the flag and national anthem are "racist." The confrontation began when a substitute teacher asked a class at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy to stand for the pledge. The student told the substitute that "the flag was racist and the national anthem was offensive to black people." Forcing public school children to salute the flag or say the pledge has been unconstitutional since 1943, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it's a violation of free speech.