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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Florida Solar Initiative Moving Forward

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Floridians for Solar Choice constitutional amendment effort is moving quickly to get on the 2016 ballot. Backers say they've gathered more than 100,000 signatures, exceeding the 10 percent necessary to submit the language to the state Supreme Court.

Stephen Smith, board member with Floridians for Solar Choice and executive director of the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says the amendment would invalidate a law that gives utility companies a monopoly on the sale of solar electricity.

"Florida is one of only four states that explicitly prohibits what are called third-party sales, or allows somebody besides the monopoly utility to sell you electricity generated from solar power," he says. "This would correct that barrier by removing it."

Florida Power and Light and several other utilities have come out against the amendment. Last week, state Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a brief with the court in opposition, saying the proposal lacks consumer protections and contains unclear language.

Smith says the amendment would make it possible for small solar companies to offer homeowners financing packages, so consumers could get rooftop solar with little to no upfront costs.

"The monopoly utilities in the state really don't want to see that much rooftop solar, because that means people aren't buying more power from them," she says. "They have done nothing to really encourage and stimulate that segment of the market."

The Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the initiative September 1.


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