redistricting Senate case on fast track
The Legislature has asked the Florida Supreme Court to throw out a legal challenge to its 2012 redistricting plan for the state Senate. The high court put the case on a fast track Monday, setting tight deadlines for additional filings. Former Justice Raoul Cantero submitted the petition on behalf of the House and Senate on Friday. Cantero argued that only the Supreme Court can decide legislative redistricting cases and that the justices already have done so. He's asking the high court to order a trial judge to dismiss a challenge to the Senate map lodged by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause, National Council of La Raza and several individual plaintiffs. The justices ordered the plaintiffs to respond by Feb. 28 and gave the Legislature until March 5 to reply.
Manatee photos lead to arrest
A 21-year-old Fort Pierce man is facing charges of harassing a manatee calf during a visit last month to Taylor Creek in Okeechobee County. The Palm Beach Post reports that Ryan William Waterman was arrested after photos were posted on a Facebook page of him and two young children petting a manatee calf. One shows him lifting the calf partly out of the water and another shows a child sitting on the manatee. State law forbids people to injure, harm, harass, capture or try to capture manatees. In November, authorities arrested Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez for riding a manatee along the coastal waters of Fort De Soto Park.
Backup plan for replacing FCAT
Education Commissioner Tony Bennett told the State Board of Education on Monday that within a couple of months he'll present a contingency plan in case the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test replacement is sidelined or delayed by problems that have begun to emerge. "That is a risk, which is why I believe it's always good management to have a Plan B," said Bennett, at his first board meeting Monday. The new test is being developed by a 23-state consortium known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges or Careers, or PARCC. The new test is being designed in conjunction with the adoption of Common Core State Standards by Florida and 44 other states. Another consortium known as Smarter Balance is developing an exam geared more toward instructional purposes than accountability such as grading schools and evaluating teacher performance, the focus of PARCC. Florida's goal is to have the new standards and tests fully in place within the next 18 months.
Scratch-Off sets a Lottery record
The Florida Lottery says Scratch-Off ticket sales have set a new record. The Florida Lottery announced Monday that sales for the week ending Feb. 17 exceeded $64.7 million. That breaks last week's record of $63 million, making it the highest single-week Scratch-Off sales achieved in the Lottery's quarter-century.