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NRA lobbyist argues against reasonable gun regulations, driverless shuttles, and more Orlando news 

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer argues against constitutional amendment banning assault weapons. A lobbyist for the National Rifle Association wants to stop a proposed constitutional amendment preventing the possession and sale of assault weapons. Marion Hammer appeared before state economists two times in one week arguing the proposal would ban all rifles and shotguns if approved by voters. She claimed it would have a negative impact on more than 150 major gun manufacturers in the state. Her argument points to economic drawbacks of the amendment, which Democratic lawmakers argue will save lives. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference is reviewing the potential economic impacts, and still has meetings slated for early September.

Driverless shuttles are coming to Lake Nona. In September, the Lake Nona community will see the region's first "autonomous shuttles." Two will begin operating on a route between Lake Nona Town Center – the site of Pixon Apartments – and the Laureate Park Village Center. The shuttles are operated by Beep, an autonomous bus service. They were manufactured by NAVYA, a French company that also specializes in autonomous vehicles. The shuttles for the time being will have an attendant on site due to current laws requiring their presence. About 10 passengers can fit in each shuttle, which will go no more than 15 mph.

Polk County nurses reportedly threatened with termination over speaking Spanish at work. Seven Puerto Rican nurses with the Department of Health in Polk County say they have been threatened with termination for speaking Spanish on the job. They work at the Haines City clinic, and said in a press release on the incident that they were actually in part hired because they were bilingual. They have filed a complaint with human resources at the clinic and wrote a letter to the Health Department headquarters in Tallahassee. Health department officials said in an emailed statement that they received the complaint but could not comment on a pending investigation. "The Florida Department of Health is committed to a fair and respectful environment that is free from any form of discrimination," a statement from officials said.

Bipartisan bill to remove statute of limitations for minors reporting sexual assaults refiled in the state senate. State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) has refiled her bill seeking to remove time limits for minors that want to report sexual assaults. Teens aged 16 and 17 have a "three-year window" to report such crimes, but Senate Bill 170 would allow those aged 15 to 18 to prosecute alleged abusers at any time. Stewart filed the same bill – then SB 130 – in December 2018. At that time, the bill passed the criminal justice committee but died in the judiciary committee. Stewart's office directly named now-deceased billionaire Jeffrey Epstein as the type of figure this law hopes to protect victims against. The bill has bipartisan support. It was co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville.

Funding uncertain for new mental health instruction requirement for Florida students. The Florida Department of Education passed a new rule requiring five hours of mental health instruction for all students from 6th to 12th grade last month. School board member Angie Gallo confirmed to Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, that it was an unfunded mandate at a recent Orange County legislative delegation. It also remains unclear what the program will look like at schools. The initial announcement stated that instruction will give students the tools to spot signs and symptoms of mental illness, give guidelines on how to speak to other students who may be struggling, and provide information on what resources they should seek out for help.


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