June General Revenue in Florida Exceeds Economic Forecasts

Florida’s Historic Capitol and Florida State Capitol

The Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) reported just under $4.1 billion in general revenue (GR) for the month of June to cap off the 2020-2021 fiscal year (FY).

On Monday, the EDR released the report that shows $975.7 million (31.2%) more than the forecasted amount of $3.124 billion, which was updated on April 6th during the EDR’s last General Revenue Estimating Conference (GREC) for the 2020-2021 FY.  

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U.S. Senator Marco Rubio Criticizes Media for COVID-19 Hysteria

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio criticized the media for causing “hysteria” among Americans over the new rise in COVID-19 cases that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said is the pandemic of the unvaccinated. 

According to CDC data, on Thursday and Friday of last week combined, there were almost 40,000 new cases reported in Florida, which is almost 32% of all cases that were recorded across the country during the same time.

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Governor DeSantis Calls for Reduction in Toll Rates for Garcon Point Bridge

Garcon Point Bridge

Toll rates for the Garcon Point Bridge in Milton, Florida, will be practically cut in half after Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to reduce the rates to match FDOT facilities across the state. 

For drivers with SunPass, the rate will be reduced from $4.50 to $2.30, and for drivers paying cash, the rate will reduce from $5 to $2.75.

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Three Major Florida Corporations Change COVID-19 Policies to Match CDC Guidelines

Major Florida Corporations, Publix, Disney World, and Universal Orlando, have updated their COVID-19 policies to coordinate with the new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. 

The new CDC guidelines have reversed course due to the surge in delta variant cases across the nation, with Florida being responsible for one-fifth of those cases. 

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Florida Standards Assessments Results Show Decline in Math and English

Close up of a pencil on top of a multiple choice exam paper

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) released the 2021 Florida Standards Assessments (FSAs) scores Thursday, which showed a decline in passing scores for students in both English and math.

 The 2021 scores are in comparison to the 2019 scores, given the fact that the FSAs were not administered in spring 2020 due to school closures at the beginning of the pandemic. 

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Governor DeSantis Signs Executive Order Banning Mask Mandates in Florida Schools

Governor DeSantis praised Florida parents’ “freedom to choose” before signing an executive order (EO 21-175) Friday, stopping Florida schools from issuing mask mandates for students.

The executive order cites HB 241, known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” that expanded upon the rights parents have regarding their children’s education, health, and upbringing. For example, the decision to not make their kids wear a mask. 

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Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Backs Masks in Schools

Two women at table together, wearing masks

A group known as the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) representing over 2,500 pediatricians across the state released a statement Thursday backing the use of masks in schools. 

With the delta variant causing a influx of COVID-19 cases across the state, Thursday’s announcement resembles the FCAAP’s recommendations from this time last year before the 2020-2021 school year but with the inclusion of vaccination protocols.

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Florida Local Officials Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination for Government Employees

Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida, government officials for Leon and Orange counties have decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination a condition for employment for their workers. 

On Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an executive order for the requirement while Leon County Administrator Vince Long notified employees through email.

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The State University System of Florida Encourages Students to Get Vaccinated

The State University System of Florida (SUSF) released a letter to students across the state entering the 2021 fall semester, encouraging them to get the Covid-19 vaccine prior to arriving to campus in August. 

Although the letter does not require students to get vaccinated, the low vaccination rate in Florida and the rise in delta variant cases have given university Presidents the reason for concern. 

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Eleven Florida Mayors Sign Letter to Congress Calling for Immigration Reform

Out of 84 mayors across 28 states who signed a letter to Congress calling for immigration policy reform through budget reconciliation, 11 were from Florida with 10 being from South Florida.

We Are Home, an organization that advocates for immigration reform, created the letter part of a campaign to create “pathways to citizenship” for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, essential workers, and their families.

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Lawsuit Filed to Restore Federal Unemployment Assistance in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis

A lawsuit against Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), and its Director Dane Eagle was filed on Sunday in attempt to bring back the $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance to Floridians. 

The federal assistance was suppose to be available through September 6th but was cut off on June 26th by DeSantis and the DEO under the “Return to Work” initiative. 

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Governor DeSantis Receives More Criticism on Anti-Riot Law

Governor Ron DeSantis has been criticized for being hypocritical for the lack of enforcement of the “anti-riot” law against Cuban protesters who marched on multiple highways in Florida.

Given the fact that the new law made it a felony offense to block traffic while protesting, multiple African American leaders saw the lack of arrests as “selective enforcement” by DeSantis and law enforcement. 

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Nikki Fried Encourages DeSantis to Form Task Force Following Surfside Tragedy

In response to the Surfside condo collapse, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried held a press conference Friday to encourage the Legislature to update regulations for condominiums and establish a task force to examine said regulations to prevent future tragedies. 

Fried also announced the steps being taken to address consumer and homeowner complaints through Florida’s Division of Consumer Services (FDCS), as well as their dedication to weed out fraudulent charities in relation to the condo collapse. 

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U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr. Endorses Charlie Crist for Florida Governor in 2022

U.S. Representative for Florida’s 5th Congressional District, Al Lawson Jr., announced his endorsement of 2022 Gubernatorial candidate and current U.S. Representative, Charlie Crist on Thursday. 

Lawson, a Democrat, was re-elected to his third term in 2020 and has represented the 5th Congressional District in North Florida since 2017. Before Congress, Lawson represented North Florida for 28 years in the state legislature.

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Governor DeSantis Celebrates $270 Million for Literacy Initiatives in Florida

Almost a month after it was signed, HB 3, which dedicates $271 million in literacy initiatives throughout Florida, was celebrated on Thursday by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill created the state’s first statewide book distribution program known as “New Worlds Reading Initiative” (NWRI), which will provide and deliver free “high-quality” books to the home of elementary school students who are reading below grade level.

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Governor DeSantis Praises $21 Billion Settlement to Combat Opioid Crisis

Governor Ron DeSantis praised a multi-state agreement between three of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the nation, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, worth $21 billion.

DeSantis also praised a separate agreement by Johnson and Johnson who will pay $5 billion over the next nine years. The agreements will aim to settle litigation regarding the opioid crisis in not only Florida, but the nation as a whole. 

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With Less Border Restrictions, Canadian Tourism in Florida Could Increase

The number of international travelers coming to Florida is expected to increase after Canada loosened its COVID-19 border restrictions allowing vaccinated travelers in and out of the country. 

Policy coordinator for the governor’s Office of Policy and Budget, Holger Ciupalo, said that he expects the White House to “follow suit” with Canada and match their border policy in the next three weeks. 

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Florida First District Court of Appeal Dismisses Digital Ballot Lawsuit

Eight county elections supervisors were dismissed by the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Florida from a lawsuit proposing the requirement for county elections offices to save digital copies of paper ballots during elections, also known as Digital Ballot Copies.   

The suit was filed by The Florida Democratic Party and Democratic lawmakers against Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews, and the “Supervisors”. 

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Injunction Blocking CDC Guidelines for Cruise Ship Industry Lifted by Circuit Court of Appeals

Aerial shot of several cruise ships in the ocean, clear water.

The future of Florida’s cruise ship industry remains in question after a panel of three judges for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, or suspension, on a preliminary injunction blocking the CDC’s authority in allowing cruise ships to set sail.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday in Tampa issued the now-lifted injunction in June after siding with the state that the CDC’s guidelines overstepped its legal authority to control an entire industry.

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Governor DeSantis Celebrates the Signing of The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act

A lion with its cub

Two weeks after it was signed into law, Governor DeSantis celebrated the approval of SB 976, otherwise known as The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

The Act directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to promote and encourage investments towards the protection and enhancement of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. 

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Florida Department of Health Reports Spike in Covid Cases

Staff if Florida Health Department

The Florida Department of Health (FDOE) reported a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases for the week that ended July 15th, making it the second week in a row that the number of cases increased. 

The FDOE reported 45,604 new cases from July 9th to July 15th which increased the COVID-19 positivity rate from 7.8% to 11.5%. The number of COVID-19 deaths during that week was 59. 

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The Dismantling of Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund Begins

Ron DeSantis

An endowment fund for health programs and education in Florida started being dismantled after HB 5011 was signed by DeSantis in June, and taken into effect on July 1st. 

HB 5011 issued the termination of the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund (LCEF) and directed the State Board of Administration to liquidate and transfer the funds into the Budget Stabilization Fund by June 30th, 2022. 

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Governor Ron DeSantis Joins Texas Governor Greg Abbott for Border Crisis Briefing

Governor Abbott Hosts Florida Governor DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis joined Governor Greg Abbott in Texas for briefing to address the current crisis that is currently happening at the border since the Biden administration lifted multiple border policies issued by former President Trump. 

Florida was the first state to provide help at the border after Governor DeSantis deployed law enforcement in June. 

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Marco Rubio Criticizes Black Lives Matter Statement on Cuba Crisis

Marco Rubio

Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio criticized the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization after it posted a statement on Instagram Wednesday night, blaming the U.S. government for the current and historical crisis in Cuba.

In addition to pointing fingers at the U.S., the statement also highlights its praise and support of the Communist regime in Cuba because of the country’s so-called history of protecting “Black revolutionaries.”

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Governor DeSantis Questioned About Cuban Protests and Anti-Riot Law

Gov. Ron Desantis making remarks on behalf of the Cuban protests

After multiple Cuban protests across the state of Florida made their way to the streets and highways, Governor DeSantis was questioned about the protesters who were breaking the “anti-riot” law.

At a news conference on Thursday, DeSantis alluded that the Cuban protesters broke the law but were not arrested because of the peaceful nature of the protests. 

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Florida Department of Education Adopts New Education Standards

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) adopted new education standards regarding how topics like Holocaust Education, Civics and Government, Character Education, and Substance Abuse Prevention, will be taught in schools.

In the press release on Wednesday, the DOE stated that the new standards are set to strengthen Florida’s education standards which are already “nationally recognized.”

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Governor DeSantis Sends Letter to Biden Requesting Help with Internet Access in Cuba

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday requesting the federal assiatance to aid Cuba in providing internet access to the country.

The request comes amid the protests in Cuba and some parts of the U.S. advocating for a change to the oppressive dictatorship that has been affecting Cuban citizens for decades.

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State of Florida Appeals Social Media Law Injunction

The law banning social media and big tech companies from “deplatforming” or “cancelling” political candidates on the internet was blocked by a federal judge a day before the law was to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a 31-page order on June 30th outlining his decision to approve an injunction filed by tech companies, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

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Florida Citrus Industry Yields Down in 2020-2021 Season

Close up of oranges

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that citrus growers in Florida produced under the expected yield for the 2020-2021 growing season that ended on Monday.

According to a release by the USDA on Monday, the total yield of all oranges in 2020-2021 was 52.8 million 90-pound boxes, 4.2 million fewer boxes than what the pre-season forecast in October 2020 predicted at 57 million.

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Broward County Man Connected to the Assassination of Haiti’s President

Christian Emmanuel Sanon

Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a self-proclaimed doctor who lives in Broward County, Florida, has been arrested for being one of the masterminds behind the brutal assassination of Haitian President, Jovenel Moïse on July 7th.

The head of Haiti’s police force, Léon Charles, says that Sanon is responsible for recruiting the gunmen involved in killing the President through a firm that provides politicians with security.

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Florida Roofing Company Files Lawsuit Against New Property Insurance Law

A construction company out of Hillsborough County, Gale Force Roofing and Restoration, LLC, challenged the new property-insurance law in Florida that took effect on July 1st.

The case, filed in June and reviewed by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Friday, argues that a section of the new law (SB 76) violates the company’s first amendment rights by prohibiting them from certain advertisements that encourage homeowners to file roof-damage insurance claims.

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Val Demings Announces $4.6 Million Raised in First Quarter of Her Campaign

U.S. Representative Val Demings of Florida’s 10th Congressional District has raised $4.6 million in the first quarter of her campaign to unseat Marco Rubio as Senator in 2022.

Neither Demings or Rubio have officially submitted their campaign finances to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for quarter two, but both parties have released information regarding what those numbers should look like when they do.

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The Florida Bar Creates Task Force in Response to Surfside Building Collapse

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

The Florida Bar announced the creation of the Condominium Law and Policy on Life Safety Task Force, in response to the recent events in Surfside.

The Task Force will aid the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis by reviewing “all aspects of Florida condominium law, development, association operations, and maintenance,” to determine if changes are needed to “minimize the likelihood of a similar tragedy,” the news release stated.

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Governor DeSantis Announces Property-Tax Relief for Families of Surfside Victims

Governor Ron DeSantis announced property-tax relief for the families of victims and survivors of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside in the early morning of June 24.

The announcement was made during a news conference that included statements from Governor DeSantis, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

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Nikki Fried Misses Deadline for 2020 Financial Disclosure

Florida’s Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried has failed to publicly disclose her 2020 financial interests to the Florida Commission on Ethics (FCOE) by last week’s July 1st deadline.

Disclosure of financial interest is required by all constitutional officers as well as candidates for constitutional offices, and is submitted through what is known as Form 6.

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U.S. Capitol Police Announce Field Offices in Florida and California

As a result of an increase in threats to members of Congress since January’s Capitol riot, the United States Capitol Police (USCP) announced its plan to establish field offices in Florida and California to investigate said threats.

As clarified in an email sent to the News Service of Florida, the specific locations within the two states will be the Tampa and San Francisco areas.

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Florida Supreme Court Denies to Review Case Related to Mask Mandate

A motion proposing a temporary injunction against a Palm Beach County Emergency Order (EO-12) involving a mask mandate, was denied for review by the Florida Supreme Court Friday.

The proposal was initially rejected by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals in January and sent for the “discretionary jurisdiction” of the Supreme Court in February.

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Nikki Fried Announces $813,000 in Campaign Funds Raised in June

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Florida’s current Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried released the amount of funds she was able to raise in the first month of her campaign.

Compared to other candidates like fellow Democrat Charlie Crist, and current Governor Ron DeSantis, Fried significantly trails both in total cash on hand towards campaigning.

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Biden Nominates Former Florida State Senator for U.S. Labor Department Appointment

Jose Javier Rodriguez

A former Florida Senator and Democrat, José Javier Rodriguez, was nominated by President Joe Biden for Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration (ETA) for the U.S. Department of Labor.

 Rodriquez served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2012 to 2016, and served on the Florida Senate from 2016 to 2020, representing Districts 112 and 37 respectively.

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U.S. Department of Education Questions DeSantis Teacher Bonus Plan

Th U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has questioned Governor Desantis’ announcement to give Florida teachers a $1,000 bonus for returning to the classroom for the upcoming school year.

On Wednesday, the USDOE sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, that claimed the approved bonuses do not fit the eligible guidelines set by federal agency, as reported by the Associated Press (AP). 

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Initial Unemployment Claims in Florida Decrease

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reported a decrease in unemployment claims in Florida for the week that ended June 26th, the last day jobless Floridians were able to receive federal unemployment assistance.

Data released Thursday by the DOL shows 6,086 new claims for that week, a decrease of 7,667 claims from the week that ended on June 19th.

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Police Reform Bill Signed into Law by Governor DeSantis

After a unanimous vote from the Florida Senate and House of Representatives in April, HB 7051 (otherwise known as the Police Reform Bill), was signed into law Tuesday by Governor DeSantis.

As the bill title states, the law will create better protocols regarding law enforcement applicants, as well as amend others such as the use-of-force protocol.

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Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Charges Against Former Florida Department of Health Employee Rebekah Jones

Rebekah Jones

In response to a motion to drop criminal charges against former Florida Department of Health (FDOH) employee Rebekah Jones, Leon County circuit judge Francis Allman denied dismissal of the charges.

Jones is being charged for illegally accessing a FDOH computer system and sending a group message encouraging other employees to accuse DeSantis and the FDOH of covering up COVID-19 data regarding cases and deaths.

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Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani to Hire Nine New Staff Members for ‘People Power of Florida’

A political committee focused on voting registration, established by Florida Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani, will add nine paid staff members for the upcoming 2022 election.

The goal of the committee, known as People Power of Florida, is to register 25,000 new voters before November 2022, in accordance to Eskamani’s voter registration training program she announced last week.

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Governor DeSantis Deploys Florida Law Enforcement to Help with Border Crisis

Border Surge

Governor DeSantis announced the deployment of Florida law enforcement officials and equipment to provide assistance to the border crisis presented in a joint letter by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.

 Over 50 Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have already made their way to Texas. 

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New Workforce Program Approved by Governor DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

A bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis will establish a new workforce program in Florida that will focus on creating a network of employment resources for students while they are in school.

The bill, HB 1507, aims to create an easier transition for students who do not plan on taking the college route to gain successful careers.

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Governor DeSantis Will Appoint Two More Florida Public Service Commissioners

Florida State Capitol

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to submit applications to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council.

The Council will interview all the candidates and determine a select few for Governor Ron DeSantis to choose from in his decision to fill positions of two current members of the PSC, whose terms expire in January 2022.

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Florida DOE Releases 2021 Third Grade Testing Results

Third grade students who were able to attend in-person teaching had “more consistent learning outcomes” in English Language Arts (ELA), according to the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).

The FDOE made an announcement Tuesday based off ELA results in the Grade 3 Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) between Spring 2019 and Spring 2021.

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Medical Marijuana License Reserved for African American Farmer

A $50 million medical marijuana treatment center (MMTC) license will soon be reserved for an African American farmer after Florida’s Supreme Court upheld a 2017 law that included a provision designating such application to litigants in the Pigford vs. Glickman lawsuit from 1999.

The class action lawsuit accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture of discrimination against African American farmers when allocating farm loans and other financial assistance from 1981-1996, which was settled in favor of the farmers.

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Governor DeSantis Announces $51 Million Towards Alzheimer’s and Dementia Research

Old person in a wheelchair

Governor Ron DeSantis announced $51 million in funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research, according to a press release from the Governor’s Office Monday.

The release highlights a $12 million increase for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year and how Florida is the only state in the nation that Alzheimer’s and related dementias are a specific priority in its State Health Improvement Plan.

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