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Thu-Mar-2019 Luke Bryan, Toby Keith and other country radio stars mosey into Kissimmee for Country Thunder

The ever-growing Country Thunder festival franchise has finally expanded southward to Florida and is bringing some heavy starpower to Kissimmee’s Osceola Heritage Park on a level with Daytona’s Country 500. The three-day festival is sure to make one hell of a first impression with its troika of headliners – Luke Bryan, Toby Keith and Luke Combs.…

Thu-Mar-2019 Florida Film Festival at the Enzian will screen more films than ever before this year

The Florida Film Festival announced tonight that it will screen 184 films (54 features and 130 shorts) at its 28th annual event, more than ever before.

The festival will open on April 12 with a "first look" at director Todd Thompson’s Woman in Motion (a documentary about the contribution of women and minorities to NASA, partially shot in Florida) and will conclude on April 21 with Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Films will screen at Maitland’s Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village 20.

One of the highlights will be a 20th-anniversary celebration of The Blair Witch Project, the first Orlando-produced feature to play the Sundance Film Festival.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Critics blast Florida GOP effort to make ex-felons pay fees before restoring rights as 'modern poll tax'

Felons would have to clear up any financial obligations, including court costs, fees and fines, before having their voting rights restored, under a House proposal castigated by critics Tuesday as a modern take on Jim Crow-era poll taxes designed to keep black voters from participating in elections.

In a strict party-line vote following heated testimony, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee signed off on the measure aimed at clarifying parts of a constitutional amendment approved by voters in November.

The amendment, which appeared on the ballot as Amendment 4, granted “automatic” restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.” The amendment excluded people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.”

While some proponents maintain the measure does not require any legislative action, state and local elections officials, clerks of courts, prosecutors and others have asked the Legislature for guidance in interpreting what specific crimes qualify as exceptions and what is required for felons to have completed their sentences.

Under the House plan, felons convicted of first- or second-degree murder or about three dozen sex-related crimes, including cyberstalking, would be excluded from the automatic restoration of rights.

But an even-more controversial part of the House bill (PCB CRJ 19-03) dealing with felons’ financial obligations drew rebukes from civil rights advocates, Democrats and others who claim the plan disenfranchises voters.

“It’s a non-starter for me,” Rep. Michael Grieco, a Miami Beach Democrat who is a lawyer, said, adding he believes “there are efforts being made to purposely misinterpret” the Constitution.

“An overwhelming” number of states deal with restoration of voting rights “with no problem, but we seem to be fumbling around with a basic issue,” Grieco said.

Under the House plan approved by a 10-6 vote, felons would have to pay off all restitution, court fines and fees, including those that have been continued through civil judgments, such as liens. “Returning citizens,” the term used by backers of the constitutional amendment, would also have to pay “any cost of supervision.”

And before inmates are released, the proposal would require the Department of Corrections or county jail staff members to provide “an accounting of all outstanding financial obligations imposed by a court, the department, or the Florida Commission on Offender Review” for each felony conviction.

House Criminal Justice Chairman James Grant, R-Tampa, defended the legislation, saying it follows the language in the amendment.

“When a petition process leads to a constitutional amendment, we as legislators do not have the luxury, the latitude or the freedom to play the ‘what if’ game, to play the ‘edit the language’ game,” Grant, a lawyer, said.

But Neil Volz, political director of a committee that backed the amendment, said the Florida Commission on \Offender Review currently does not take into consideration court costs, fees or fines when considering applications for clemency.

“It does not include costs outside of what the sentence was given by the judge,” Volz told the panel.

The House proposal would “move the line” of what completion of sentence means and “will restrict the ability to vote for thousands of Floridians, especially people who are poor, especially people of color,” he argued.

Kara Gross, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, argued that the bill is “contrary to the voters’ will” expressed in the amendment because it “maintains lifetime disenfranchisement for non-violent, relatively low-level offenses.”

But, saying the amendment’s own lawyer told the Florida Supreme Court that court costs and fees could be considered as part of sentences, an angry Grant riffed on one opponent’s use of the words “near arrogance” to describe the House’s stance on financial obligations.

“Near arrogance is ignoring testimony in front of the Supreme Court and pretending it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“Near arrogance is suggesting this is a poll tax,” which “inherently diminishes … what a poll tax actually was,” Grant added.

“To compare that to this is a slap in the face to every single person who was a free citizen told it would cost a dollar or more to vote.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Orlando's Parliament House has been listed for sale at $16.5 million

Orlando's iconic 44-year-old LGBTQ resort, Parliament House, has been listed for sale at $16.5 million with commercial real estate brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.…

Wed-Mar-2019 ICE issued false detainer requests for hundreds of U.S. citizens at a Miami jail, ACLU finds

Over the span of two years, federal immigration officials issued 420 false "detainer requests" to U.S. citizens being held at the Miami-Dade County jail, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

The report claims the database used by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, mistakenly identified inmates at the local jail as potential candidates for deportation, despite Miami's own records indicating they were citizens.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Austin's Coffee debuts pop-up at The Falcon bar in Thornton Park next month

Coffee drinkers and craft beer lovers unite. The Falcon bar in Thornton Park will be home to a satellite Austin's Coffee pop-up next month.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Florida investigated sexual abuse claims at the Homestead child migrant detention camp

Florida’s child-welfare agency has investigated six cases of alleged child sexual abuse at a federal migrant shelter in South Florida in less than year, including allegations involving caregivers.

The data, obtained by The News Service of Florida as part of a public records request, outlines allegations at the Homestead temporary migrant children’s shelter just south of Miami. The facility was reopened by the federal government last March as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border enforcement policy, which swelled the number of migrant children being housed in facilities like the one in Homestead.

Since then, the Florida Department of Children and Families has investigated sexual-abuse claims at the facility, including two allegations that state records say involved staff and legal guardians caring for migrant children.…

Wed-Mar-2019 United We Brunch returns to the Orchid Garden with a huge spread of Orlando's brunch bites

What sort of misanthropic curmudgeon doesn’t like brunch? Sure, some folks might not be a fan of a spicy Bloody Mary or a bottomless mimosa, stacks of buttermilk pancakes or a righteously stuffed breakfast burrito.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Spooky Empire's spring iteration brings horror and sci-fi celebs to Orlando's International Drive

The convention so nice it happens twice – per year – returns to the Wyndham this weekend.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Central Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy is officially running for a third term

Two-term U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced Tuesday she is filing to run for re-election in Florida's 7th Congressional District.

"It's official: I'm running for re-election," the Winter Park Democrat tweeted yesterday afternoon from her campaign account.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Get a first look at Orlando rapper Skip's new music video for 'Red vs. Blue'

Orlando rapper and Second Subject affiliate Skip today releases a music video for the single "Red vs. Blue," taken from the upcoming reissue of his album Until the Very End, and we've got an exclusive first look at it!

Originally released in 2010 with production from Swamburger, Until the Very End was well received at the time, but soon after Skip would set aside rapping to focus on design and film work.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Taylor Dayne to play a Velvet Sessions concert benefiting the OnePulse Foundation

The Velvet Sessions at Universal's Hard Rock Hotel are unique opportunities to get up close and personal with the musicians playing.…

Wed-Mar-2019 Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum plans to launch a voter drive in Florida

With nearly $4 million left unspent in his campaign's unofficial political committee's war-chest, Politico reports, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum appears to be ready to launch a voter registration drive.

Calling it a "major announcement," for weeks, the former Tallahassee mayor has dangled what many have assumed to be a potential bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

However, Gillum reportedly intends to kickoff a voter registration program in Florida.…

Wed-Mar-2019 22 free concerts happening in Orlando this week

Wednesday, March 20:
Eugene Snowden's Ten Pints of Truth 10 p.m. at Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave.
The Daniel Heitz Band 10:30 p.m. at Tanqueray's, 100 S. Orange Ave.
Not Your Parents' Record Collection 9 pm at Iron Cow, 2438 E. Robinson St.

Thursday, March 21:
Leisure Chief 10:30 p.m. at Tanqueray's, 100 S. Orange Ave.
Thursday Jazz Jams 8 p.m. at Austin's Coffee, 929 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park.
Kaleigh Baker 10 p.m. at Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave.
Songwriter Night with Jonnie Morgan 7 pm at The Hourglass Brewery, 480 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood.

Friday, March 22:
Crux: Mathe[w]matic, Audromeda, Melancholy Firecracker, Malek
9 pm at Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall, 1016 N. Mills Ave.
Jessica Delacruz & Friends Benefit Concert 8 pm at Orlando Brewing, 1301 Atlanta Ave.
M.A.N.D.Y. 9 pm at Celine Orlando, 22 S. Magnolia Ave.
The Renegades 9 pm at The Nook on Robinson, 2432 E. Robinson St.

Saturday, March 23:
Sacred Owls, Snailmate, Warm Like Winter 9 pm at Grumpy's Underground Lounge, 1018 N. Mills Ave.
TTN, Danny Feedback's Crack Rock Opera, Ray Brazen, Bobby Clock & the Soda Pops, Space Force 10 pm at Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave.

Sunday, March 24:
Ancient Sun 10:30 p.m. at Tanqueray's, 100 S. Orange Ave.
A Disco Afternoon With Dave Cannalte 3 pm at Remix, 1217 N. Mills Ave.
Fryer Festival: Blink-180 Deux, Subliminal Doubt 4 pm at The Waterfront, 4201 S. Orange Ave.
Waff 4 pm at Celine Orlando, 22 S. Magnolia Ave.

Monday, March 25:
Open Mic Hip-Hop
9:30 p.m. at Austin's Coffee, 929 W. Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park.
Open Mic Mondays 6:30 p.m. at West End Trading Company, 202 S. Sanford Ave., Sanford.
Reggae Mondae: Florida Man 10:30 p.m. at Tanqueray's, 100 S. Orange Ave.

Tuesday, March 26:
The Groove Orient
10:30 p.m. at Tanqueray's, 100 S. Orange Ave.
3D 10:30 pm at Lil Indies, 1036 N. Mills Ave.

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Wed-Mar-2019 Activists thrown from hearing on Florida bill requiring minors to get parental consent before abortion

Florida could block teenagers from getting abortions unless their parents agree, under a bill that began moving forward Tuesday in the Republican-dominated House.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee voted along mostly partisan lines for the proposal (HB 1335), which goes beyond current requirements that call for parents to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. Tuesday’s vote followed a confrontation between lawmakers and audience members, which led to two people being removed from a committee room.

The legislation, if ultimately approved, could spark a lawsuit that could wind up before a revamped Florida Supreme Court.

Bill sponsor Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, said her bill was not about creating a test case for the court but is about pursuing issues she believes in.…

Tue-Mar-2019 McQueens Social Lounge will open this spring in downtown Orlando

The folks behind Bullitt Bar will be opening McQueens Social Lounge in downtown Orlando this spring 2019.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Legoland Florida, SeaWorld Orlando gear up to open reimagined kids areas next week

2019 will be one of the most memorable years ever for Orlando tourism.

A brand-new water park is slated to open on Highway 192 at the new Margaritaville, Universal is opening the first major Wizarding World ride not featuring Harry Potter and Disney is planning a full year of new offerings at Hollywood Studios ending with the massive new Stars Wars: Galaxy's Edge land.

But before any of those projects open two other big new additions will be welcoming guests.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Volusia County unanimously approves animal abuse registry

A countywide animal abuse registry scored unanimous approval Monday by members of the Volusia County Council.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Florida's Space Coast firms are offering a new apprenticeship program

The Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program (SCCAP) will be holding a town hall meeting near the Kennedy Space Center next week for students to learn more about becoming an apprentice with local space and defense firms.

The group will meet Wednesday, March 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Space Life Sciences Lab, 505 Odyssey Way, on Merritt Island, which is outside the restricted area of the space center.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Florida lawmakers want to punish owners who abandon their pets during hurricanes

People who leave pets restrained outside and unattended during natural or manmade disasters would face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $5,000, under a measure approved Monday by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Sponsor Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, said the proposal (SB 1738), which would create a first-degree misdemeanor, is in reaction to actions by pet owners in hurricanes Matthew, Irma and Michael.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Coffee at The Robinson is coming soon to downtown Orlando

Coffee addicts will soon have a new place to find their caffeine fix in downtown Orlando.

Coffee at The Robinson will be located on the ground floor of its alcoholic companion, The Robinson Cocktail Room, at 61 E. Pine St.

Coffee at The Robinson lists no opening date, but signs on its windows say, "Coming Soon." Orlando Weekly reached out to the owners for more information, and we'll update this story if we hear back.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Psych rock stars Unknown Mortal Orchestra announce Orlando show this summer

Psychedelic soundscapers Unknown Mortal Orchestra have added a surprise debut Orlando show to their slate of North American shows and festival gigs this year, set to kick off in April.

The cult-favorite ensemble has been relatively quiet since wrapping up their last tour and releasing exclusive instrumental track "SB-06" as a Christmas present to fans at the end of 2017.…

Tue-Mar-2019 YMCA of Central Florida releases new designs for family center in Orlando's Packing District

The YMCA of Central Florida released new designs of the family center planned for Orlando's Packing District in a Tuesday announcement about the development team that will lead the construction of its 23rd location.

General contractors for the two-story, 27,000-square-foot family center will include Brasfield & Gorrie, engineering firm GAI Consultants and architecture firm RLF.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Country star Jessie James Decker to play Orlando in May

Country singer and lifestyle brand Jessie James Decker is set to return to the concert stage after a two-year absence starting this April.…

Tue-Mar-2019 Juice bike share squeezed out of Orlando

Juice Bike Share has been squeezed out of Orlando, with service ending March 24.

Juice, which launched in 2015 as the first public bike share program in Orlando, has already begun removing dock stations after its contract with the city ended, according to an email sent to members Monday.…

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