BC-FL--Florida Story of the Year Ballot,ADVISORY, FL

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Associated Press

Posted on December 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Editors:

It's time to vote on the top Florida story of 2012. The story will run between Christmas and New Year's Day. The stories are listed in random order.

Please mark your top 10 choices from 1 to 10 with the top story being No. 1 and email your completed ballot to tspencer(at)ap.org. Please, just one ballot per newspaper or station. If you have any questions, contact News Editor Terry Spencer at tspencer(at)ap.org or 305-594-5825. The deadline is Dec. 21.

___ Former Congressman Sam M. Gibbons, who served 17 terms from Tampa and rose to head the powerful Ways and Means Committee before his retirement, dies.

___ Four workers are killed when a parking garage collapses while under construction at Miami Dade College.

___ Florida voters reject eight of 11 proposed state constitutional amendments on November's ballot, including proposals pushed by conservatives that would have further restricted abortion, allowed taxpayer funding of religious schools, capped state revenue and put the state on record as opposed to Obamacare.

___ Florida avoids a direct hit from a hurricane for the seventh straight year.

___ Tampa hosts the Republican National Convention as Mitt Romney is nominated inside while outside the streets remained calm with few arrests.

___ A 25-year-old man from the former Yugoslavia is charged with an alleged plot to attack crowded locations in the Tampa area, including night clubs, with a car bomb, assault rifle and other explosives.

___ The Miami Marlins open their new taxpayer-supported stadium to much hoopla but they still finish in last place, leading to the firing of their manager Ozzie Guillen and the trading of most of their high-priced players.

___ Florida's unemployed rate dipped to 8.5 percent in October, its lowest mark in nearly four years and down almost 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

___ Thirteen Florida A&M marching band members are charged in connection with the 2011 hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, the band is suspended from performing for at least a year and the school's president resigns.

___ Mitt Romney wins the state's presidential primary, a key moment in his march to the Republican nomination.

___ The Florida Legislature passes another austere budget although the $70 billion plan adds $1 billion for public schools a year after Gov. Rick Scott backed a massive cut.

___ A Tampa socialite tells an FBI agent about emails she received telling her to stay away from CIA Director David Petraeus, resulting in an investigation that uncovers Petraeus' affair with his biographer and costs him his job.

___ The Legislature again rejects a push by major casino companies to allow expanded gambling in South Florida.

___ An obscure legislative panel approves a plan to privatize medical care at Florida's prisons, a move that is immediately challenged in the courts by public employee unions.

___ Eleven people die in a I-75 pileup near Gainesville minutes after the Florida Highway Patrol reopened the highway, which had been closed for smoke and fog.

___ A study showed that invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades are gobbling up raccoons, rabbits, opossums and other mammals with such persistence that the animals' populations have suffered precipitous declines.

___ A bus crashes into an overpass at Miami International Airport, killing two people and injuring more than two dozen.

___ Gov. Rick Scott wants Florida's community and state colleges to develop bargain four-year degrees costing no more than $10,000, which would advance their move into an area that once was the sole domain of the state's public universities.

___ Florida Sen. Marco Rubio gets passed over for the Republican vice presidential nod but emerges from the election as one of the GOP's future stars.

___ A combination of tough new laws and a high-profile law enforcement crackdown is chipping away at Florida's dubious distinction as the nation's leading illicit source of powerful prescription painkillers for drug addicts and dealers.

___ Florida's general election is marred by long lines at the polls and a long count in the presidential race.

___ Florida voters narrowly prefer President Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney as the Democratic candidate carries the state for the third time in the last five elections.

___The Miami Heat, led by the big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, win the franchise's second NBA title.

___ Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist becomes a Democrat, leading to speculation that he will challenge Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

___ A Florida Panhandle tourism director commits suicide after being caught stealing taxpayer money to buy a $710,000 yacht and purchase a home.

___ Freshmen Republican congressmen Allen West, a national tea party favorite, and David Rivera, whose term was marked by scandal, both lose their re-election bids.

___ NASA launches twin satellites rocketed into orbit on a quest to explore Earth's treacherous radiation belts and protect the planet from solar outbursts.

___ New constitutional amendments that barred gerrymandering resulted in more competitive races for Congress and the Legislature.

___ A new state law allows school districts to implement prayers and other inspirational messages in the classroom, but none take up the offer because of the threat of lawsuit.

___ The head of Florida's economic development agency resigns amid questions about receiving jobless benefits before he was hired by Gov. Rick Scott.

___ The management of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. tries to shed policies but also comes under attack for firing employees charged with keeping an eye on expenses after they reported alleged wrongdoing by staff.

___ Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson easily wins re-election, defeating Republican Congressman Connie Mack IV.

___Tropical Storm Debby causes millions of dollars of damage by bringing heavy rain and flooding to north Florida.

__ Donna Summers, the Queen of Disco, dies in Florida at age 63.

___ A Broward County man chokes to death after winning a cockroach eating contest.

___ A first-of-its-kind commercial supply ship completed a successful mission to the International Space Station, opening a new era of dollar-driven spaceflight.

___ A South Florida man is shot and killed by police after chewing the face off a homeless man on a Miami causeway.

___ The Legislature passes a measure requiring public employees to contribute to their pension funds, but it is blocked for now by the courts after being challenged by unions.

___Three Florida Supreme Court justices easily win their retention races, defeating an effort by the state Republican Party to remove them from office.

___ The U.S. Supreme Court upholds President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan, rejecting an appeal by Florida and other states.

___ Sanford neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shoots teenager Trayvon Martin, setting off a national debate about the state's so-called "stand your ground law" and leading to Zimmerman's eventual arrest on second-degree murder charges.

___ The Florida Gators football team returns to national prominence, posting an 11-1 regular season record, earning a trip to the Sugar Bowl.

___ Gov. Rick Scott softens his stance on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul after the election, saying he is willing to negotiate the state's participation.

___ The Legislature approves the opening of Florida Polytechnic University, the state's 12th public university, in Lakeland.

___ Florida enacts a ban on state and local governments from hiring companies that do business in Cuba or Syria.

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