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Florida kids trade cigs for vapes, a push for chemical-free sunscreen, teachers’ starting pay rising, and other news you may have missed 

Judge rules Florida cannot deny felons their voting rights if they're unable to pay financial obligations: U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, in a 55-page ruling, said people cannot be denied the right to vote if they are "genuinely unable" to pay financial obligations. But his preliminary injunction applies only to plaintiffs named in the case, not more broadly to other felons who might be affected. Hinkle pointed to the need for state officials to come up with an administrative process in which felons could try to prove that they are unable to pay financial obligations and should be able to vote.

State Sen. Linda Stewart wants Floridians to know she does not oppose sunscreen: Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart is defending legislation that would prohibit the use of sunscreen containing chemicals found harmful to coral reefs. Stewart wants the public to know her bill would require over-the-counter sunscreen sold in Florida to be free of oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals shown to contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs. "Some companies would rather ignore the environmental impacts to protect their bottom line," said Stewart. "My legislation offers a way to protect our skin while preserving our environment."

The number of Floridians diagnosed with Hepatitis A this year is about to hit 2,800: Florida had 53 newly reported hepatitis A cases last week, bringing the total number of cases this year to 2,791 as of mid-October, numbers from the state Department of Health show. The areas with the biggest upticks were Volusia and Citrus counties. Orange County has had 172 cases so far in 2019.

Florida House starts looking for money to raise teacher starting pay to $47,000: A House education panel has begun delving into the issue of raising teacher pay, with a key lawmaker saying that while "everything is on the table," the panel still needs to figure out where the money would come from. Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed raising the minimum starting salary of Florida teachers to $47,500, a proposal with an estimated $603 million price tag. State Rep. Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater) said it remains unclear exactly how the Legislature would be able to pay for increasing teacher salaries and whether lawmakers would be able to bypass county school boards, which negotiate contracts with teachers.

Florida kids are smoking less tobacco but vaping more, which is pretty stupid: The use of tobacco products among Florida's youth is at an all-time low, but that good news is offset by significant increases in the number of children who vape, a state advisory panel was told last week. The results of the 2019 Florida Youth Tobacco survey of 10,844 high-school and middle-school students showed that 1.5 percent reported smoking tobacco cigarettes in the previous 30 days. But 16.6 percent reported using electronic-cigarette products in the previous 30 days, which was more than a 5 percent increase over the prior year. "I'm almost distraught looking at this information," said Jim Howell, a former Department of Health secretary who is a member of the Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Advisory Council, after hearing the survey results.

This story appeared in the Oct. 23, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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