Here are the top five latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.
FLORIDA SCHOOL MASSACRE PANEL RECOMMENDS ARMING TEACHERS WITH CONCEALED WEAPONS
The panel investigating the Florida high school massacre recommended Wednesday that teachers who volunteer and undergo extensive background checks and training be allowed to carry concealed guns on campus to stop future shootings. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission voted 13-1 to recommend the Legislature allow the arming of teachers, saying it's not enough to have one or two police officers or armed guards on campus. Florida law adopted after the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 dead allows districts to arm non-teaching staff members such as principals, librarians and custodians - 13 of the 67 districts do, mostly in rural parts of the state.
RON DESANTIS SAYS AMENDMENT 4 SHOULD BE DELAYED UNTIL HE SIGNS BILL FROM LAWMAKERS
In an interview with the Palm Beach Post's George Bennett, Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis said that Amendment 4, which was approved by 64.6 percent (or 5.2 million) of Florida voters, shouldn't go into effect as intended by the people who wrote the ballot measure. Instead, DeSantis said the amendment, which would restore voting rights for most ex-felons who have served their sentences, should take effect after state lawmakers pass "implementing language" in a bill that is then sent to him for his signature. That means at least a two month delay in restoring felon rights. Advocates of Amendment 4, like the American Civil Liberties Union, say the measure should go into effect in Jan. 8, but session doesn't start until March 5.
AS NEXT EXECUTION LOOMS, FLORIDA DEBATES THE DRUGS IT USES TO KILL
The last time Florida carried out an execution, witnesses said the condemned man - Eric Branch - screamed and thrashed as lethal chemicals coursed through his veins. Whether Branch's final acts that February night were theater or a response to severe pain has fueled new death row appeals in the 10 months since. When the brown curtain rises once again inside the state's death chamber tonight, whatever follows will surely be scrutinized in what is a long-running debate over the state's lethal injection methods. Barring an unlikely last-minute stay, Jose Antonio Jimenez will be strapped to a gurney at 6 p.m. and injected with a lethal combination of chemicals. Jimenez, 55, was condemned for the 1992 stabbing of 63-year-old Phyllis Minas, a court clerk slain after she caught Jimenez burglarizing her North Miami apartment.
ST. PETERSBURG TO VOTE ON STRAW BAN
St. Petersburg's City Council is set to take a final vote today on an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic straws as well as expanded polystyrene, more commonly known by brand Styrofoam. If it passes in its proposed form, here's how the ordinance would work: The first year would make St. Petersburg a straw-by-request-only city, meaning restaurants could only give plastic straws to customers who ask for them. After that first year, though, restaurants would be prohibited from offering straws at all. There would be no penalties for violating the ordinance during that first year, plus three months. After that, first violations would result in a $40 fine. Any subsequent violation within a year of the first violation would result in an $80 fine.
GOALIE ANDREI VASILEVSKIY TO RETURN FOR LIGHTNING TONIGHT AGAINST TORONTO
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy will make his return in net tonight against Toronto, head coach Jon Cooper confirmed after the morning skate. Vasilevskiy missed 14 games after fracturing his left foot during a practice in Pittsburgh. The Lightning went 12-2 without him and is on a seven-game win streak. "It feels great," captain Steven Stamkos said about having Vasilevskiy back. "He's been our MVP for a long time on this team. I know it was hard for him to watch all those games. Louis (Domingue) stepped up and the team stepped up in front of him. "Stamkos also cautioned that the Lightning can't step back and figure that Vasilevskiy will take care of everything-"even though he usually does."