Daystarter: National spotlight on Jane Castor; Biden announces 2020 bid; Rick Stroud answers your Bucs draft questions; how CBD blew up faster than Florida could regulate it

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Published April 25
Updated April 25

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

• The humidity is slowly returning day-by-day as it gets closer and closer to summertime weather, according to the National Weather Service. Expect mid to upper 80s today. It’ll be a bit cloudier to take the edge off the humidity but the next chance of showers won’t come until Friday.

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida’s best newspaper and its redesigned website tampabay.com.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including concerts by Patti LaBelle and country’s Big and Rich come to town, in addition to opening night for the Sunscreen Film Festival.

• Jane Castor isn’t just the talk of the town, or the bay area, or even Twitter. Tampa’s new mayor has gone nationwide after her historic win on Tuesday night, after getting congratulatory calls from New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttgieg, appearing on MSNBC and being celebrated by LGBTQ activists. It’s as though a new political star has been born in Tampa, writes Charlie Frago and Steven Contorno.

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally launches 2020 presidential campaign and joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest in a video posted on Twitter, declaring, “We are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”

• It didn’t take long for Tampa’s new mayor to wade into one of the thorniest issues in Tampa Bay: Castor thinks the Tampa Bay Rays should play in Tampa. But St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has a very different view, reports Charlie Frago and Josh Solomon.

• It also appears that Castor, a former police chief, will keep current Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan on as the city’s top cop, reports Tony Marrero and Charlie Frago.

• After hours of debate, the Florida House on Wednesday passed along party lines its version of a bill implementing Amendment 4, which was supposed to restore the right to vote to more than a million former felons. But the House version would actually require all court fines, fees and restitution to be paid before felons can vote, which could prevent hundreds of thousands of felons from voting. That sets up a showdown with the Florida Senate, reports Lawrence Mower and Emily L. Mahoney.

• Florida’s richest man is Thomas Peterffy, a supporter of President Donald Trump who served on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign finance team. He also happens to own most of Taylor County, which is prime real estate for a proposed toll road that is a priority of Florida Senate President Bill Galvano. Road builders, home builders, engineers and other interests are poised to reap billions by what would be Florida’s largest expansion of toll roads in half a century, reports Langston Taylor and Lawrence Mower.

• Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed Wednesday to pay a $5,000 fine in a settlement reached with a state ethics-commission attorney, who agreed to drop four of five charges of ethics violations related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty and a ticket to the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” The accusations against Gillum became a theme for now-Gov. Ron DeSantis during a heated campaign leading to November’s election.

Commercial trucks are banned from Ybor, the change was made possible by the connector between Interstate 4 and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway that provides a route to and from the port without passing through Ybor.

Chick-fil-A is celebrating the opening of two new locations on May 2. Chick-fil-A Uptown District is located at 2811 E. Fowler Ave. And Chick-Fil-A Wesley Chapel is located at 28295 S.R. 54.

• A conversation with Tampa’s Alan Donn, top national award winner from Keep America Beautiful. The volunteer’s efforts over more than 25 years with his wife, Dorothy Holle, co-workers and other community members have resulted in the removal of almost 190,000 pounds of litter and debris from entering local waterways.

• In a mixed ruling recently a federal judge decided a years-long legal dispute that started over signs and seats in the Sweet Sage Cafe should go to trial. A Federal judge William F. Jung rules spat between Sweet Sage Cafe, North Redington Beach, he found that a section of the town’s business tax code violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the allegation of a First Amendment violation by the town should be resolved in a trial.

• Archaeological study of the Chucochatti settlement gets support from Brooksville City Council members. They discussed that this month before voting unanimously to support an archeological study that aims to pinpoint the long-gone village of Chucochatti, which historians believe was the ancestral home of the Seminole people.

• Rifle manufacturer Adams Arms missed its target. The Odessa company will be auctioned April 30 as a turn-key operation after a lender said it was owed $5.1 million. The assets include all accounts, patents, trademarks, investment documents, furniture, fixtures and equipment.

How CBD blew up faster than Florida could regulate it. The CBD boom was sparked in part by a change in federal law late last year. Despite murky state laws, local retailers are cashing in on hemp before legislators pass clear guidelines.

• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.

• Pinellas County’s bus agency, which is struggling with a looming deficit, voted Wednesday not to cut any routes — yet. But Caitlin Johnston reports that board members are hoping to find an additional $5 million in annual money that would allow them to continue service on a handful of bus routes throughout the county, otherwise the routes in St. Petersburg, Seminole, Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Safety Harbor have been slated for elimination.

• Will serial killer Bobby Joe Long finally pay the ultimate price for killing at least eight women in the Tampa Bay area in the early 1980s? Dan Sullivan writes that Gov. Rick DeSantis has signed a death waiver for Long, has been awaiting execution on Florida’s Death Row for 34 years — ever since 1985.

• 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.

Bar review: The Vortex Bar and Game Room is a St. Pete dive rebooted Classic games, nostalgia and 15 brews on tap? Consider it a hangout.

Local craft beer of the week: Shadow on the Sun, Wild Rover Brewing.

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

Florida State’s NFL draft: Brian Burns will be a first-round pick ... and that might be it for the Seminoles. Florida State’s football program might follow its worst two-year stretch in four decades with one of its worst NFL draft classes ever.

• It’s NFL draft time. Spend the day with Times sportswriter Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD). Start with the Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast then join Stroud for a live chat at 11 a.m. on tampabay.com. Stroud also will join “The Insiders” on WDAE-FM 95.3 for a special draft edition live from noon to 1 p.m. at Oak & Stone Restaurant in St. Petersburg.

• Former Armwood star Byron Cowart has evolved into an NFL draft prospect. His reserve of inner fuel is always at his fingertips, stored on his iPhone for easy retrieval.

• Who will be there when the Bucs use the fifth pick in tonight’s NFL draft? It could be LSU linebacker Devin White. Rick Stroud writes that White might be that rare middle linebacker worthy of not just a top 10 pick, but maybe even a top five pick.

• Then again, columnist Martin Fennelly asks if the guy the Bucs should actually draft is Kentucky outsider linebacker Josh Allen instead, the tall, rangy, super quick, super strong edge rusher ready to fly high in the new 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

• Follow the Times’ NFL draft coverage with Stroud, Eduardo A. Encina (@eddieintheyard) and columnists John Romano and Martin Fennelly as the Bucs make their first-round pick tonight.

• After the Rays’ 10-2 loss against Kansas City Wednesday, John Romano writes that the team got an unsubtle reminder that there are a lot of calendar pages between now and the playoffs. Keep up with all the Rays’ news by following Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays).

• Where do the Lightning go being swept out of the first-round of the NHL Playoffs. Check out the Times throughout the offseason to see how Tampa Bay puts the pieces back together and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari

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