Court: Florida docs allowed to ask patients about guns
MIAMI (AP) — A federal appeals court has cleared the way for Florida doctors to talk with patients about whether they own guns.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that key provisions of a 2011 law that restricted such speech violate the First Amendment.
Three-judge panels of the same court had issued conflicting rulings in a long-running challenge to the law brought by 11,000 medical providers and others. The case has become known as Docs vs. Glocks.
Backed by Gov. Rick Scott, the law prohibited doctors from asking patients about gun ownership unless it was medically necessary. Doctors say asking about guns is a safety issue and could save lives.
While ruling that much of the law violates free-speech rights, the court said some parts could remain in place.
Undercover officers suspended following alcohol allegations
JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Three undercover narcotics officers in Florida have been suspended and charged with evidence tampering after authorities say three beer cans were removed from their vehicle the night one of them fatally shot a man during an attempted drug buy.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said during a news conference Thursday that the shooting remains under review, but an attempted robbery that prompted the Feb. 6 shooting of 22-year-old Jerome Keith Allen appeared to have happened, and wasn’t made up.
Williams says one of the beer cans had been opened. He says no blood tests were conducted after the shooting, because there was initially no evidence of alcohol being involved.
Police weren’t immediately identifying the three undercover officers or their races. Jail records from previous arrests say Allen was black.
Troubled Florida school district to use charter schools
GAINESVILLE (AP) — A small rural county in Florida’s Panhandle is going to become the first district in the state to have all of its students attend a charter school.
The State Board of Education on Thursday voted to approve a turnaround plan for Jefferson County schools that calls for turning over day-to-day operations to a charter school management company in the fall of 2017.
Jefferson County schools have struggled with declining enrollment, budget troubles and students being held back. State officials have demanded plans to address its problems.
Before voting yes, some board members expressed skepticism about whether or not hiring a charter school company will work.
Charter schools are public schools run by a private board.
Under the proposal, two schools with less than 800 students total would be consolidated into one charter school.
Florida abortion waiting period law temporarily blocked
TALLAHASSEE (AP) — A state Supreme Court order blocking enforcement of Florida’s 24-hour abortion waiting period will remain in place while a lower court determines whether the law is constitutional.
The Florida Supreme Court issued its ruling Thursday, leaving in place its order from 10 months ago.
The court said there’s a strong likelihood that a lower court will determine the law is unconstitutional and the state provided no evidence that the law addresses a compelling state interest.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the waiting period into law in 2015 and it was quickly blocked by a lower court after the ACLU sued. But an appeals court lifted the injunction a year ago and the law was in effect until the Supreme Court temporarily blocked it two months later.
Woman accused of performing sex act in courthouse arrested
JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Authorities say they’ve arrested a 26-year-old woman accused of performing a sex act inside a Florida courthouse and then posting a video online.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records show Brittney Lahcell Jones was arrested Wednesday.
The Florida Times-Union reports Jones and 35-year-old Jeremiah Isiah Robinson had been wanted on a charge of a lascivious act. The newspaper reported a video surfaced online in January showing a woman performing oral sex on a man in front of what appeared to be a courtroom.
The newspaper reported Jones was being arraigned on a drug charge at the time in the Duval County Courthouse. A message on her Twitter account said, “Found a way to get my charges dropped.”
Police say Robinson turned himself in. Records don’t show whether either has an attorney.
Florida House panel votes to withdraw from refugee program
TALLAHASSEE (AP) — Florida could withdraw from the nation’s refugee resettlement program under a bill now moving in the Republican-controlled Florida House.
A House panel voted Thursday along party lines in favor of the measure (HB 427) sponsored by Rep. David Santiago, a Republican from Deltona.
The legislation wouldn’t prevent refugees from coming to Florida.
But Santiago says he’s pushing the bill amid concerns federal authorities aren’t sharing enough information about the refugees coming into the state. Last year more than 62,000 people were resettled in Florida but roughly 90 percent of them are from Cuba, according to a House analysis.
The state currently receives more than $257 million in federal grants to provide services to refugees.
There is not a Senate version of the bill so it’s unclear if it will pass.