Thousands of Central Florida students walk out calling for end to gun violence: Central Florida students joined nationwide school walkouts last week to call for an end to gun violence and honor the 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. At Apopka High School in west Orange County, Julio Cesar "J.C." Martinez and his friends helped organize their school's walkout and distribute a flier with voting information and a demand for the reinstatement of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban. "The main reason these solutions are being blocked is because they're not listening to the voices of the people but the money of the gun lobby," the 17-year-old junior said. "We're taking measures to not forget this time."
Pedestrian bridge at FIU collapses, killing drivers and one worker: Six people are dead after a newly installed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University suddenly collapsed, crushing the cars trapped beneath and leaving workers injured. It's not clear yet exactly what caused the collapse, though the Miami Herald reported workers had done "stress tests" and had tightened the bridge's structural cables right before it came down last Thursday. The bridge's design engineer had also reported a crack in the bridge to state officials. The construction companies involved with the bridge reportedly had been accused of unsafe practices in the past, including another incident where a bridge collapsed on workers.
More Floridians are using HIV prevention protocol, but state still behind other regions: More people in Florida are using an HIV prevention drug protocol, but the Sunshine State still lags behind other regions of the country despite having one of the nation's highest rates of new infections. A new interactive data map released by AIDSVu shows that about 32 out of every 100,000 people in Florida were PrEP users in 2016. Compared to Southern states, Florida's rate was pretty high, but it paled in comparison to states in the Northeast like New York, where 76 out of every 100,000 people uses PrEP. While HIV rates have plummeted nationwide, Florida had the second-highest rate of HIV diagnoses among adults and adolescents in 2015.
Kilsheimer falls short, Leary wins big in Central Florida elections: In Apopka, Mayor Joe Kilsheimer lost his re-election bid to Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson, while next door in Ocoee, George Oliver III was elected, becoming the first African-American to be elected to the City Commission. In Winter Park, Mayor Steve Leary won his re-election bid, handily beating his challenger, Jim Fitch.
Gun control among issues Florida's constitutional panel will consider: Florida voters could be asked to vote on several gun control issues on the November ballot, including an age limit for purchasing guns, waiting periods for background checks, a bump stock prohibition and a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Proposals were submitted to the state's Constitution Revision Commission after the National Rifle Association sued Florida following Gov. Rick Scott's signing of a $400 million school safety and gun control package. The measures would need approval from 22 members of the 37-member commission and eventually would require backing from 60 percent of Florida voters.