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Daystarter: Florida lawmakers renew push to arm teachers; Reginald Roundtree discusses termination; Rays pitchers and catchers report today

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Published Feb. 13

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• It'll cool down a bit with highs around 64, according to the National Weather Service. A cold front also rolled in overnight, bringing with it a wet morning. That should clear up in the afternoon, and expect temperatures to drop to a low of 48 this evening.

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• Nearly one year ago, lawmakers stood on the floor of the Florida Legislature and wept while they debated how they should respond to the Feb. 14 Parkland massacre. In the House, the debate lasted eight hours. Lawmakers have revived the idea of arming teachers — and it is gaining support, despite continued opposition from across Florida.

• Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday marked the latest in a series of private redevelopment projects. The newest venture is a dual-branded Hyatt hotel on what used to be a parking lot next to Tampa City Hall. The project is scheduled to be done in late 2020 in time for the Super Bowl to return to Tampa.

Mold problems at on-base housing has bedeviled many families at MacDill Air Force base who have complained about the substandard conditions they're been forced to live with. Now two of MacDill's senior enlisted leaders tell Howard Altman about the mold and health problems they and their families experienced at the Tampa base, which will be part of Congressional hearings that start today on the problems of privatized housing on military bases.

• Several University of South Florida leaders on Tuesday publicly voiced favor of a consolidation model that would preserve uniqueness and strong leadership at the institution's smaller campuses in St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Megan Reeves reports that those comments at a Board of Trustees meeting likely calmed fears that those campuses might become "instructional sites" stripping them of independence from the USF Tampa campus.

• A bill that would allow Florida's teachers to carry guns in schools passed its first committee along party lines Tuesday. Emily Mahoney reports from Tallahassee on how that is setting up what could be one of the most heated debates of the 2019 legislative session.

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• Tampa Bay's housing market had another good year in 2018 — but not nearly as good as it has been. Real estate reporter Susan Taylor Martin reports that prices continued to rise in all four bay area counties, but the rate of increase has been cut in half since 2016. Sales also lagged, which some believe indicates a shift into a buyer's market.

• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.

• Former WTSP-Ch. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree defended his career and ethics during a radio interview Monday, the first time he's spoken publicly since he was fired from the TV station. Kathryn Varn reports that Roundtree told WFLA radio's PM Tampa Bay show that the station's ethical concerns are just a cover for the real reason he was fired: age discrimination against Roundtree and others at the station.

• A new bill that would allow smoking of medical marijuana in the form of pre-rolled filtered cigarettes from dispensaries was heard Tuesday in the Florida House's Health and Human Services Committee. Samantha Gross reports on the deadline Gov. Ron DeSantis set for the Legislature to amend Florida law and allow smoking of medical marijuana — otherwise he'll do it himself.

• The Pinellas County School Board unanimously approved an agreement with the teachers union Tuesday, reports Megan Reeves, finalizing raises and better working conditions for the 7,200 employees who staff its classrooms.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.

• Wire fox terriers are still King at the Westminster Dog Club. A wire fox from Brazil who's won big in Europe became America's top dog, beating out a crowd-pleasing longhaired dachshund and popular Sussex spaniel. There were some boos — along with modest cheers — at Madison Square Garden when judge Peter Green pointed at the 7-year-old King as some controversy ensued.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

• Spring training is here. Plan your spring training trips by using the Times' handy 2019 spring training guide for Grapefruit League schedules, maps and daily planners.

Nikita Kucherov is back. There was never a reason for panic, but you can release the slight tension in your raised shoulders after watching the Lightning past Flames Tuesday's game.

• The Rays start spring training at Charlotte Sports Park, and Marc Topkin reports on the five things the Rays' braintrust revealed about this coming season. Follow Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays and get all the latest Rays' spring training news.

• Pitchers and catchers reported for spring training on Tuesday, and for Rays fans its a chance to meet all the fresh faces the front office acquired this offseason. But Topkin asks: how long will they last?

Rays open spring training on the defensive about openers. Rays pitchers, execs feel good about what they're doing despite criticisms from Jeff Samardzija

• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup: Click here for the latest news throughout the season and get the updates on @Twitter from beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• The Bucs have a new head coach. Keep up with all the offseason changes and get ready for the NFL draft by following the Times' Bucs page which is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• For the latest Rays news, click here and follow baseball writer Marc Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• Keep up with coverage of Gators' athletics this winter by following beat writer Matt Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

• Get the latest sports news, reaction and anaylsis from Times sportswriter Rick Stroud and the rest of the crew on the Bucs, Bulls, Lightning, Gators, 'Noles and Rays via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

Don't just write the right way — write the Lane way. Keep up with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lane DeGregory's podcast, WriteLane, and learn about her approach to the craft of storytelling.

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