The latest news and developments to help you get ready for the day ahead.
SENATE SET TO CONFIRM EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS BY NARROW MARGIN
The Senate is poised to confirm President Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary by the narrowest possible margin, with Vice President Mike Pence expected to break a 50-50 tie. The vote planned around noon comes an all-night speaking marathon by Democrats on the Senate floor, in a show of opposition to the nominee, Betsy DeVos.
STATE, FEDERAL LAWYERS SQUARE OFF IN COURT OVER TRUMP TRAVEL BAN
State and federal lawyers will argue before a panel of federal appellate court judges today in the pitched fight over President Donald Trump's travel and refugee ban that could reach the Supreme Court. The federal government maintains the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, while states suing Trump say his executive order is unconstitutional.
FEBRUARY RESTAURANT OPENINGS IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA
February is the month for lovers, and the case remains true for food lovers in the Tampa Bay area. This month, in addition to a few grand opening parties, look for whiskey-infused syrup at a St. Pete coffee bar, a healthy quick-casual concept in Tampa from a former Buccaneer and a craft burger assembly line in Wesley Chapel.
'IT'S NOT SODOM AND GOMORRAH,' BUT BUSINESS THRIVES ON CONSENTING COUPLES
[CHRIS URSO | Times]
Eyz Wide Shut, a big purple building without windows in an industrial area on East Adamo Drive in Brandon, is divided in half, each with separate entrances — a nightclub on one side and on the other, a motel licensed by Hillsborough County where each week. Dozens of couples and a handful of singles spend $15 to $85 to get into the "couples' playground for the sexually adventurous."
HOUSE TARGETS 23 'FLAWED' INCENTIVES FOR PERMANENT ELIMINATION
The suddenly endangered Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida are getting all the attention, but a House plan to overhaul state economic development programs would wipe 23 specific incentives off the books, Steve Bousquet writes. The House bill is an assault on Gov. Rick Scott's taxpayer-funded tool kit to attract jobs, as a House analysis says the incentives Scott supports are "impediments to normal market forces, operating in a manner where government selects winners and losers."
SUGAR GROWERS TO STATE: NO SALE ON OUR FARMLAND SOUTH OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE
Sugar cane growers and other farmers who own some of the largest parcels of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area say they won't willingly sell their land to build a water-holding reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, setting up a possible stand-off in the power struggle over the future of Everglades clean-up.
HARAMBE-SHAPED CHEETO SELLS FOR NEARLY $100K
[Fat Kid Deals via Twitter]
A Cheeto that resembles the shape of Harambe, the famous-turned-cult gorilla who was killed last year at the Cincinnati Zoo, sold on eBay overnight for $99,900. The internet, promptly, reacted as expected.
GRADEBOOK PODCAST: KURT BROWNING ON OVER-TESTING AND 'HIGH STAKES-NESS'
Tampa Bay Times education writer Jeff Solochek talks about Florida's high-stakes school accountability system with Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning. Recently, Browning was one of several superintendents to tell lawmakers that the state has gone too far, with an over-emphasis on testing that robs schools of time and resources. Listen to their lively 10-minute discussion in the latest Gradebook podcast.