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Local and State News Update

Here’s a local news update for October 22nd from WFIT, Florida Today, and the Florida News Exchange.

Lee Blasts Attempt to Scuttle Constitutional Amendment

With millions of votes already cast in the November general election, Secretary of State Laurel Lee this week asked the Florida Supreme Court to reject a last-minute attempt to kill a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul the state’s primary-election system.

Lee’s attorneys blasted an emergency petition filed last week that seeks to block the proposal, known as Amendment Three.

The petition contends the proposed changes in the primary system could make it harder to elect Black candidates.

If passed November 3rd, Amendment Three would allow voters to cast ballots in primary elections regardless of party affiliation.

The two candidates getting the most votes in each primary would advance to the general election.

Lee’s attorneys say the state doesn’t take a position on the merits of the arguments raised in the petition --- but that they should have been raised months ago, instead of after voting had already started.

Glenn Burhans, who chairs the group pushing Amendment Three, agrees.

“They are trying to stop an election reform in the middle of an election, as the Secretary noted, it would cause incredible confusion amongst the electorate.”

The state Republican and Democratic parties have fought the amendment, including arguing at the Supreme Court late last year that the measure should not be allowed to go before voters.

The Supreme Court, which reviews the wording of ballot measures to make sure they meet legal standards such as not being misleading, voted four to one in March to allow the amendment to go on the November ballot.

Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act Filed In Congress

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act was filed in Congress this week the measure is aimed at protecting the country's oceans.

The bill has a long list of initiatives, like... prohibiting oil and gas leasing in all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, promoting offshore wind energy, and restoring 30 percent of our oceans by 2030.

Democratic Representative Kathy Castor of Tampa, who also chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, supports the measure.

"So this is part of the roadmap to solving the climate crisis. // We know, based upon our outreach to stakeholders and scientists all across the country, that we do not have time to waste."

Representative Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, is the bill's sponsor.

He says the coronavirus pandemic has made this a more urgent matter.

"I think now there's a bigger focus on science and what that dictates. And that's to our favor."

The representatives say there are several bipartisan pieces of legislation in the measure that give it a good chance of passing

Brightline to build underpasses on the Beachline in Cocoa

Brightline, the privately funded passenger-rail company plans to launch a new 170-mile service between Orlando and West Palm Beach by the end of 2022.

On the Space Coast, Brightline will utilize a "box-jacking" method in Cocoa to install an underpass for higher-speed trains beneath the Beachline Expressway, a few hundred feet west of U.S. 1. Construction is scheduled for the first quarter of next year during two successive "pushes" — one beneath the Beachline's eastbound lanes and one beneath the westbound lanes. The highway will remain open to traffic, and traffic will shift lanes during the project.

For updates on these stories and more visit www.FloridaToday.com

Terri Wright has held the position of General Manager at WFIT since 1998.