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DayStarter: A damp start to a dry, sunny day; PolitiFact sifts through last night's GOP debate, and the Legislature starts wrapping things up

Good morning. 10Weather WTSP chief meteorologist Jim Van Fleet is tracking a few showers, storms and some thunder moving across Tampa Bay this morning. But any rain will be scattered, severe weather seems unlikely and the day will quickly become clear and sunny. Expect weekend high temperatures in the upper 70s or low 80s.

• Waking up and wondering about the Republican presidential debate? We've got a water cooler breakdown for you that covers everything you really need to know. But who was bending the truth? Do polls really show John Kasich beating Hillary Clinton by a wider margin than any of his rivals? Does Marco Rubio really have the No. 1 absentee record in the Senate? Did Donald Trump actually write ten checks to support Hillary Clinton's political campaigns? Browse the rest of PolitiFact.com's Truth-O-Meter roundup this morning.

• Are Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz 'natural born citizens'? A Broward County judge will hear a case this morning challenging their eligibility to run for president. The crux of the case: the meaning of the phrase "natural born citizen" and how it applies to the two Republican senators. Rubio was born in Miami in 1971 to Cuban immigrants who became citizens a few years later. Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban-born father and American mother, who moved to Texas when Cruz was four. But most legal experts say that the phrase means someone who is a citizen at birth. Also, the Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by Congress three years after the Constitution was written, stated that children born abroad to U.S. citizens were natural born citizens.

• Friday is no longer a slow day for the Florida Legislature as it moves quickly to wrap up its annual session. The state House will talk about ridesharing companies and the state's gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe (though gambling is not moving forward in the Senate). The Senate will debate alimony and divorce laws, medical marijuana and abortion restrictions. Budget talks continue between both chambers. Keep up at tampabay.com/politics and The Buzz.

• Lawmakers approved a crucial rewrite of Florida's death penalty sentencing law yesterday, hoping it passes muster after the current version was recently declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the state Senate, now heads to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature. Florida has the nation's second largest death row population with 389 inmates. But executions have been on hold since Jan. 12 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's sentencing law as a violation of a defendant's constitutional right to trial by jury because the jury's role was advisory.

• The Florida Department of Transportation is doing something that hasn't been done anywhere else in the United States: adding a higher-priced toll lane to a toll road. Construction has already started on a major widening of the Veterans Expressway in Tampa. When the project is finished in 2018, two lanes will be added in each direction: one a general use toll lane, the other an express toll lane that will cost at least an extra 25 cents per trip.

• Longtime St. Petersburg Times columnist Hubert Mizell, whose strong connection with readers and imposing physique helped him evolve as a giant in his craft during a golden era of sportswriting, died at 1:15 p.m. yesterday with his family by his side at his Gainesville home. For 27 years, Mr. Mizell chronicled Tampa Bay sports as the area grew into the big leagues. He had been ill with cancer of the blood, kidney problems, diabetes and congestive heart disease, his son, Kevin, said.

• Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made 33 saves in a tight game last night before two late goals put the game away for the Bolts. When the final horn sounded on what ended up as a 4-1 victory, Tampa Bay had extended its current winning streak to eight games, tying a franchise record set in the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup-winning season.

• The Rays' Corey Dickerson hit a home run to rightfield in the second inning of yesterday's 10-3 spring training game win over the Orioles that landed on the roof of the player development building — by the time it stopped rolling, the team said it had traveled 569 feet from home plate. Dickerson had his head down as he rounded the bases, so the Rays' new designated hitter couldn't fully appreciate just how far his two-run homer went. "They were really pumped up," he said of his teammates, enjoying what would end up being a 17-hit attack, including seven doubles, in a 10-3 win over the Orioles. "I think this team's really excited right now. We're really enjoying getting to know each other. We can't wait for the season to start, and we've got a lot of excitement. … That's what you look for in spring training, to feel good."

• The U.S. women's soccer team slogged through much of its match against England at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium last night, unable to maintain any real offensive rhythm. The 13,027 in attendance at Raymond James Stadium, the largest to watch the women's national team play in Tampa, was growing quieter by the minute and increasingly restless. Then came Crystal Dunn.

Plan your weekend! Our critics have the top picks for date nights and things to do with kids from the Strawberry Festival to Beer Week, the huge Gasparilla Festival of the Arts to top professionals skateboarders here at the Skatepark of Tampa.

• Here are the top things to do today around Tampa Bay, from pro skateboarders showing off tricks at the Skatepark of Tampa to the first of the SunLit Festival's loads of events for bookworms celebrating literature.

• Wallet tight? No problem. Here are five things to do under $5 this week, including tonight's kickoff of the SunLit celebration of literature with eight writers in a "live literary combat."

[10Weather WTSP]

[10Weather WTSP]

DayStarter: A damp start to a dry, sunny day; PolitiFact sifts through last night's GOP debate, and the Legislature starts wrapping things up 03/04/16 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2016 10:36am]
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