Florida Five: Students can’t ‘opt out’ of testing says commissioner, Woman in ‘stand your ground’ case freed

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

homeschool lawFlorida: No option to opt out – Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart reiterated this week that student participation in state exams are “mandatory” and that consequences exist for teachers, schools and districts who help students “opt out” of required exams. School districts could losing funding, and educators who encourage, allow or fail to report “opt out” instances could face disciplinary action. In addition, superintendents who fail to report such acts of misconduct “could result in discipline, including forfeiture of salary,” the letter says. Read more

Woman in Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ case released from jail – A woman who claimed self-defense after prosecutors say she fired a gun at her estranged husband and his two sons will be released from prison as part of a plea agreement for time served. Marissa Alexander on Tuesday was sentenced to the 1,095 days she has already served in jail after pleading guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for the 2010 shooting. Read more

Re-redistricted maps product of Democratic meddling, Legislature tells Court – Attorneys for the Florida Legislature are calling the Florida Supreme Court to reject proposed redistricting maps submitted by voting-rights groups. Their argument: the maps are a product of influence by Democratic “partisan operatives and political consultants.” In a court filing on Monday, lawyers representing the House and Senate are asking to discard the maps weeks before the Court hears arguments on the constitutionality of redistricting approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Read more

Florida without oranges – More than a century ago, Martha Sue Hawkins’ ancestors homesteaded on this flat land in central Florida. Her grandfather planted the first orange groves in the 1900s, and then her father added more trees as Americans started getting used to the idea of orange juice on their breakfast tables. By the time Martha Sue and her husband Richard Skinner took over the property, they had 2,600 trees stretching out across 15 acres in neat rows, and made a handy profit selling the oranges to processing plants each year, which would make the fruit into juice. But in 2012, the Skinners pulled up every single tree. Read more

Senate bill attempts to impose new penalties for inmate abuse and neglect – As Florida’s prisons face increased scrutiny about suspicious inmate deaths, cover-ups, and questionable medical care, a state Senate committee is proposing new safeguards for prisoners. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up a broad piece of legislation when it meets next Monday that the chairman says is “a first step” aimed at resetting a prison culture in rife with allegations about excessive force and negligent medical care. “I thought we should memorialize certain ideas that would help the Department of Corrections do a better job of being safety and protecting inmates as well as corrections officers, staff, and residents of the state,’’ said Sen. Greg Evers, a Crestview Republican and chairman of the committee. Read more

Special election primary results:

Paul Renner decisively wins House District 24 GOP primary

Travis Hutson defeats Doc Renuart to win Senate District 6 primary

Cyndi Stevenson Edges Mike Davis in Open House GOP Primary

For more Florida political news, visit BPR’s FLORIDA NEWS page


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