PARKLAND, Fla. — Parents of children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gathered in front of the school Monday afternoon to beseech Florida legislators to pass “common sense” laws to make schools safer, including more mental health resources and funding for more secure schools.

The appeal came as Tallahassee lawmakers debated the state’s response to Florida’s worst-ever school shooting.

Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina Petty was killed, read a statement declaring that the parents are unified in pushing for safer schools.

Petty said the parents want the Legislature to take action, ticking off these priorities: Number one, enhance the safety and security at schools. Number two, keep guns away from those who pose a risk to themselves or others, and number three, improve access to mental health resources for at-risk youths.

He said these are measures that Gov. Rick Scott has advocated since the mass shooting.

Petty also thanked community for support.

“Please know that the incredible support is deeply appreciated and has made a lasting impact on our lives,” he said.

Students who survived the Feb. 14 rampage that left 14 students and three adults dead have staunchly advocated that lawmakers at the state and national level take decisive action. In full-throated fashion, including during a town hall sponsored by CNN, they have offered a range of proposals, from raising from 18 to 21 the legal age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle like the one used by shooter Nikolas Cruz to banning the guns outright.

They have traveled to both Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers and President Donald Trump.

“Our message is simple, we must be the last families to lose a loved one to mass murder in a school,” Petty said. “This time must be different and we demand action.”

—Miami Herald


Missouri House probe of Gov. Greitens starts Tuesday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri House panel investigating Gov. Eric Greitens’ extramarital affair and its accompanying legal woes will hold its first hearing Tuesday.

The initial meeting of the seven-member committee, which was approved on a unanimous vote of the Legislature’s lower chamber last week, is expected to be open to the public.

But, following that, discussions that could determine whether Greitens is impeached and removed from office could be closed until the committee finishes its work within its 40 allotted days.

The formation of the panel was triggered by Greitens’ arrest in St. Louis on Feb. 22 on a felony invasion of privacy charge for taking a picture of his hairdresser who was at least partially nude in such a way that the picture could be seen on a computer.

As part of the rules approved by the full House, commission chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said the panel can close meetings to the public when taking testimony from witnesses.

“If we are taking witness testimony, the hearing is going to be closed,” Barnes told his colleagues last week.

If the House were to vote to impeach the governor, the Missouri Constitution requires the Senate to select seven judges to try the case against him that would lead to his removal from office.

Barnes has cautioned that the committee was not formed specifically to impeach Greitens, a Republican who took office in 2016.

“The task of this committee is to conduct a fair, thorough and timely investigation, and to do so without any pre-ordained results,” Barnes said.

The panel, which includes three lawyers and two former law enforcement officers, also are barred from discussing the investigation.

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch


South Carolina’s ‘parody marriage’ bill loses one of its sponsors

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The day after Valentine’s Day, six South Carolina legislators introduced “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act,” also known as the ‘parody marriage’ bill, to the House that would amend the definition of what constitutes marriage in the Palmetto State.

Since then, one of the representatives whose name was at the top of the potential legislation has asked to be removed as a sponsor.

Rep. Rick Martin removed himself from the list of sponsors of the controversial bill, which has drawn criticism from the LGBT community. There was nothing on the Newberry Republican’s website saying why Martin, who removed himself from the list on Feb. 22, is no longer a sponsor for the bill.

The State House representatives who are still sponsoring the bill are all Republicans.

The “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act” was introduced Feb. 15 and would draw a line between what its sponsors deem is “marriage” and what is considered “parody marriage.”

According to the bill, “parody marriage means any form of marriage that does not involve one man and one woman. Marriage means a union of one man and one woman.”

By that definition, any LGBT marriage would be a “parody marriage.”

Essentially, the bill would make it so South Carolina would not legally recognize any marriage not between one man and one woman.

—The State (Columbia, S.C.)


North and South Korea reach ‘satisfactory’ agreement, Pyongyang says

SEOUL, South Korea — Talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and a South Korean delegation reached a “satisfactory” agreement, North Korean state media reported on Tuesday.

Kim hosted the 10-member South Korean delegation, including President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser, Chung Eui Yong, at a dinner on Monday night and held an “openhearted talk” with them, KCNA reported.

The discussions included a possible summit, ways of “easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula” and of continuing a dialogue, KCNA wrote in an English-language article.

The event marked the first time that Kim has met with high-ranking officials from the South since he took office in 2011 and comes after Kim Yo Jong, Kim’s sister, visited South Korea in February during the Winter Olympics.

It is hoped the meeting will pave the way for talks between Pyongyang and the United States.

Kim’s rarely seen wife, Ri Sol Ju, and Kim Yo Jong also attended the dinner, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

No details of the reported “agreement” were immediately available.



Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.