Florida voters may get a say over casino gambling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court is signing off on a proposed constitutional amendment that would require voter approval for new casinos.

A divided court ruled 4-2 on Thursday that the amendment was not misleading and sticks to one subject. Backers of the amendment will still need to gather another 700,000 signatures to make the 2018 ballot.

The amendment is being pushed by gambling opponents who want to make sure that the Florida Legislature cannot approve casino gambling without voter approval. State legislators have considered proposals to expand casinos the last several years.

Two Supreme Court justices argued that the amendment was misleading because it is unclear how it would affect counties where voters have approved slot machines for local dog and horse tracks. That includes the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court is approving the language of a proposed ballot initiative seeking to automatically restore voting rights for most felons once they complete their sentences.

The court ruled Thursday that the initiative can be put on the 2018 ballot with its current language. The effort, though, is still a long way from receiving enough signatures to be included on the ballot.

If it does make the ballot and at least 60 percent of voters approve, felons would have their voting rights restored once the finish their sentences, including probation or parole.

People who commit murder or felony sexual offenses wouldn’t be eligible for automatic voting rights restoration.

The group proposing the ballot initiative still needs to gather nearly 700,000 voter signatures.

FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) — Firefighters are getting ready for a wildfire that’s burned 35 square miles (91 sq. kilometers) of public land near the Georgia-Florida state line to spread northward in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Leland Bass of the Georgia Forestry Commission said Thursday forecasters expect winds in the coming days to push the fire deeper into the refuge, where lightning sparked the blaze April 6. Firefighters have been fortifying fire breaks along the swamp edge in an effort to keep flames from spreading to nearby communities.

Crews are also working to protect structures inside the refuge. Bass said hoses and sprinklers have been set up around cabins in Stephen C. Foster State Park. And a 1927 home built by settlers on Chesser Island inside the swamp is being wrapped in fire-retardant material.