Florida Atlantic University Researchers Say Florida’s Republican and Democrat Voters Nearly Agree on Climate Change

"There's no planet B" sign

Research from Florida Atlantic University suggests that Florida’s Republican and Democrat voters nearly agree on the existence of climate change but differ on the cause. According to the researchers, approximately nine out of 10 Florida Republicans believe climate change exists. Approximately 96 percent of Florida Democrat voters agree.

Regarding the cause of climate change, half of Florida Republicans believe it is a man-made issue, while nearly 75 percent of Florida Democrat voters would concur.

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Florida Bill Could Expand Hope Scholarship Access

Florida Sen. Manny Diaz (R-FL-36) is sponsoring legislation that would expand opportunities for students to be able to attend a school of their choice through a voucher program. SB 506 would amend the Hope Scholarship program to permit students who attend school districts who are not complying with state law to apply for the program and receive a voucher.

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Florida School Board Association Withdraws from National Association

The Florida School Board Association (FSBA) announced they have withdrawn from their affiliation with the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The announcement comes as 26 state school board associations have either cut ties or distanced themselves from the parent organization.

The impetus for the withdrawal stems from the NSBA’s letter to the federal government asking for intervention at local school board meetings. Attorney General Merrick Garland took the NSBA up on their recommendations and announced they would be launching investigations into parents at school board meetings.

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Supervisor of Elections Claims Third Party Groups Responsible Florida Voter Registration Forgeries

Last week, the Florida Capital Star reported on two Duval County, Florida men being charged and arrested for fraudulently registering dead people to vote. It was revealed that the two men were working as employees for a petition and canvassing company, Grassfire.

Since the story broke, Grassfire has said they hired the two men in June 2021 to work as petitioners, not to register voters.

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Florida Lawmakers Looking to Expand Health Insurance for Children

Florida’s lawmakers are considering expanding state-funded health insurance for children. The idea has gained traction among Republicans and Democrats, and two competing proposals would increase the amount of money beneficiaries can make.

Currently, families making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the state’s program, KidCare. However, the same families do not qualify for Medicaid.

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Florida Supreme Court Calls for Additional State Appeals Court

Florida Supreme Court Building

The Florida Supreme Court is calling for creating a sixth state appeals court. One of their reasons for making the call is “serious underrepresentation” of appellate judges from Jacksonville.

“The creation of a new district court, like any other significant change in the judicial system, would be accompanied by some degree of internal disruption, but we conclude that any such internal disruption in the district courts associated with the creation of a sixth district court would be short-lived and would be outweighed by the benefit of enhanced public trust and confidence,” said the Florida Supreme Court’s majority opinion shared by Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Jorge Labarga, Alan Lawson, Carlos Muniz and John Couriel.

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Judge Denies Stay on Seminole Gaming Compact Ruling

A federal judge has denied a stay on the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s sports betting compact with the State of Florida. A ruling earlier in the week blocked the agreement between the tribe and the state.

As of Thursday, the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Sportsbook was still operational and accepting sports bets.

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Florida Men Charged with Falsifying Voter Registration Forms

Two Jacksonville men have been charged with registering dead people to vote. Devin Deangelo King and Jordan Rayeshaun Daniels have both been arrested, and the motive does not appear to be political, but personal financial gain.

“This was a group working with what we call a third-party organization,” said Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan. “… We did not see anything political about it. It was, I think, people who were greedy. There’s an incentive there to get as many as you can in.”

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Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Don Gaetz Extortion Effort

A Florida man, Stephen Alford, has plead guilty regarding his involvement in attempting to extort $25 million from Congressman Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL-1) father, former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz.

The latest development is part of a sex trafficking investigation where Stephen Alford attempted to secure a presidential pardon for Matt Gaetz, as Gaetz continues to face questions surrounding his friendship with former Seminole County, Fla. tax collector Joel Greenberg and Gaetz’s involvement into allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old arranged by Greenberg.

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Republicans Overtake Democrats in Florida Voter Registration

For the first time in the state of Florida’s history, Republicans now outnumber Democrats in official voter registration totals. According to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, there are 5,118,657 registered Republicans and 5,114,039 registered Democrats.

The Florida Capital Star reported as early as September that Democrats weree poised to lose their lead. As recent as 10 years ago, Democrats held a 700,000-voter registration advantage.

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Florida Judge Exonerates Groveland Four

Four men who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1949 have been posthumously exonerated. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the three-member cabinet also posthumously pardoned the men in 2019.

Prosecutors motioned to vacate the convictions of Charles Greenlee and Walter Irvin and the charges against Ernest Thomas and Samuel Shepherd.

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Latest Polls Show DeSantis, Rubio Outperforming Democratic Challengers

In a newest poll from St. Pete Polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is outperforming his likely Democratic challengers in a hypothetical head-to-head general election. According to the poll, DeSantis would defeat Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) 50.6-44.8 percent. DeSantis would also defeat Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) 51.2-42.3 percent.

Surprisingly, in the matchup between DeSantis and Crist, DeSantis outperformed Crist among young voters by carrying 57.5 percent of likely voters aged 18-29. The youngest age bracket saw the most swing in favor for DeSantis.

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Grassroots Parental Rights Group ‘Moms for Liberty’ Began in Florida

A new advocacy group, Moms for Liberty (MFL), was founded by two former Florida school board members who sought a new organization to unite parents against what they see as destructive policies being perpetuated in the public school system.

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Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody Investigating Meta/Facebook Marketing Practices Related to Minors

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) announced she is launching an investigation against Meta, the company previously known as Facebook before its recent rebrand. Moody is joining seven other attorneys general in launching an investigation into its targeted marketing practices toward children and teenagers.

“We have serious concerns about how social media is impacting the lives of young people in this country, and as a mother, I want to know how Facebook/Meta is targeting youth and what strategies this Big Tech giant is using to entice children and teens to lengthen engagement on its platforms,” Moody said in an official statement. “I am proud to lead these efforts with our partner states to find out if Meta violated any consumer protection laws and put our children at risk.”

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Flagler County Book Sparks National Controversy over Obscenity Laws

The Flagler County Sheriffs’ Office

The Flagler County Sheriffs’ Office is investigating as to whether or not obscenity laws might have been violated after social media brought a book to the attention of the Flagler County School Board. The book is entitled “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir Manifesto” and tells the story of a young adult who is black and queer.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bills Requiring Vaccine Alternatives for Employees

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed four bills yesterday requiring Florida businesses to accommodate their employees’ alternative to getting the COVID shot. DeSantis used language along the lines of “protecting Florida jobs rather than many supporters of DeSantis using language like “medical freedom.”

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Florida House Passes Bill Ensuring Penalties Related to Vaccine Mandate

The Florida House passed HB 1B in its special session yesterday, ensuring businesses would be penalized if they require an employee gets a vaccine mandate. The bill was largely passed along party lines, however, one Democrat, Rep. James Bush (D-FL-109) joined Republicans by voting in the affirmative.

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Florida-Style OSHA Bill Ready to be Heard on House Floor

A bill that would create a state counterpart to the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) is primed and ready to be considered on the floor of the Florida House. While the bill would not create the new state department outright, it would develop a plan to seek federal approval to create it.

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Florida’s Business Community Not Supportive of Vaccine Mandate Bans

Young girl getting vaccine

As Florida’s special session regarding vaccine mandates began yesterday, Florida’s business community shares concerns and opposition to the prospect of vaccine mandate bans.  

Leading Age Florida represents continuing care retirement communities, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities. Leading Age CEO, Steve Bahmer, said it is not possible for the facilities his organization represents to be in compliance with state and federal law unless there is a carve out.

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Florida Special Session Over Vaccine Mandates Begins This Week

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called for a special session over vaccine mandates and mask mandates last month, the Florida Legislature convened for the first time yesterday and will continue to meet until Friday.

The goal of the special session for Florida’s in-power Republicans is to curb the scale of the vaccine mandates coming from the President Joe Biden administration. DeSantis has remained vocally opposed to Floridians losing their jobs over Biden’s OSHA rule.

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Florida Police Union Endorses DeSantis

The Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA), the largest police union in the state, announced they are endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his 2022 gubernatorial reelection bid. The PBA represents more than 30,000 law enforcement and corrections officers.

PBA President John Kazanjian offered the organization’s support through a formal statement.

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First Maps of Florida’s New Congressional Districts Released

Florida State Capitol

The first look at Florida’s new congressional maps have been released, and Florida’s newest district could have Polk County existing within its own congressional district. Florida currently has 27 districts but gained one after the 2020 census.

Congressional District 15, which is currently occupied by Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL-15), represents northern Polk County, southern Lake County, and an eastern portion of Hillsborough County. Franklin could be inclined to run for re-election in the newest congressional district as he is a resident of Lakeland, Polk County’s largest city.

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Out-Of-State Corporations Pour Millions into Florida Gambling Ballot Initiative

Sports Book Betting

DraftKings and FanDuel have contributed to more than $20 million to fund a ballot initiative hoping to expand gambling in Florida. The ballot measure would legalize sports betting at all pari-mutuels, professional sports stadiums and arenas, and throughout the state where betters could have access to a mobile sports betting platform.

After the two corporations were left out of the negotiations between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, leading to the Seminole Gaming Compact, the political action committee, Florida Education Champions, is backing this 2022 ballot initiative.

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Feds Defends Seminole Gaming Compact, Says It Is Not a Violation of Federal Law

Attorneys for the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) have issued a 33-page court document earlier this week saying they did not feel the new Seminole Gaming Compact, signed by the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The new compact allows the Seminole Tribe to be the primary facilitator of sports betting in the state. The betting takes place on a downloadable app for smartphones, leading to questions about its legality since the betting does not have to take place on tribal land.

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White House Criticizes Florida’s Special Session on Vaccine Mandates

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the efforts of Florida’s Republican leadership to ban vaccine mandates in the upcoming special legislative session. The special session begins next Monday and runs through Friday.

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Tallahassee Businessman J.T. Burnette Sentenced to Three Years After Public Corruption Probe

Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this week over public corruption charges. Burnette will also have to pay a $1.25 million fine.

He was found guilty on five charges including extortion and bribery during his trial in August.

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Gov. DeSantis Proposes Sweeping Changes to Florida’s Education Budget

Ron DeSantis of Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed sweeping education changes that would impact Florida’s budget. He proposes $1,000 bonuses for teachers, $600 million to raise minimum teacher salaries to $47,500, increased per-student funding to $8,000, and ending the annual standardized testing requirement called the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA).

DeSantis had already provided $1,000 bonuses for teachers over the summer for their work during the COVID school year and said he wants to do it again to “keep that momentum going.”

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Gov. DeSantis Says Florida Got Shortchanged in Infrastructure Package

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida did not get a full share of cash from the recently passed trillion-dollar infrastructure package. He criticized the bill as a whole, but also noted that Florida might not be getting the same amount as other states.

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Florida School Districts Appealing Mask Mandate Ban Decision

After a federal judge sided with the State of Florida and the Florida Department of Health (DOH) over its rulemaking authority regarding mask mandate ban and quarantine rules for students, the school districts who initially sued the state are filing an appeal.

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Florida Legislation Might Not Completely Ban Vaccine Mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for a special session in order to ban vaccine mandates and mask mandates, but the legislation being proposed are not going as far as DeSantis initially called for.

One of the bills would require employers to provide alternatives to vaccination, and another bill would allow parents to sue school boards or districts over mask mandates. DeSantis has touted the slate of bills in next week’s special session as some of the “strongest protections for both private and public sector employees anywhere in the country.”

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Florida Democrats Working to Repeal Transgender Athlete Ban

Kristen Arrington and Gary Farmer

Florida State Rep. Kristen Aston Arrington (D-FL-43) filed a companion bill to Florida Sen. Gary Farmer’s (D-FL-34) SB 212 to repeal a transgender athlete ban from last legislative session.

Last legislative session, Florida Republicans passed a transgender athlete ban which banned transgender women from competing in women’s sports in high school and college, and athletic participation is determined by sex assigned on a birth certificate. The ban, which many in the Florida Capitol thought was dead, was resurrected by Florida Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-FL-55).

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Gov. Ron DeSantis Officially Files for Reelection, Roger Stone Threatens to Run for Governor

Ron DeSantis and Roger Stone

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announces yesterday he is officially running for reelection, and Roger Stone is threatening to run for governor if DeSantis does not complete his second term. Stone said to CBS4 Miami that he would likely run as a Libertarian or a third party candidate.

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University of Florida Backtracks, Permits Professors to Testify

The University of Florida has completely backtracked on its policy to prevent three professors from testifying in a state legal challenge. The university originally said the professors’ testimony would be a conflict of interest given the university is funded by state dollars.

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Florida Judge Sides with State on Mask Mandates, Against Local School Districts

A judge within the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings ruled that the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has the authority to make the rules for public school students regarding quarantines and mask mandates.

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Federal Prosecutors Seeking Hefty Sentence for Felon Connected to Trulieve

Federal prosecutors are seeking a hefty fine for J.T. Burnette after he was found guilty on five public corruption charges in August. The government issued a memo saying Burnette participated in extortion and bribery for so long and was unremorseful that the sentence should be extended.

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Democratic Governors Association Not Eager to Challenge DeSantis

Ron DeSantis

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) will likely not be writing large checks to Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial challengers to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) are the most likely candidates to face off against DeSantis in a general election.

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Florida Seeking Injunction Against Biden Vaccine Mandate

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) is seeking an injunction against the federal government and President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate. The mandate would require federal contract workers to be vaccinated against COVID. Moody’s lawyers filed a motion for an injunction in federal court in Tampa.

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University of Florida Professors Fighting School’s Testifying Pro Bono Order

Three University of Florida professors are going to be fighting their employer’s order over testifying in a State of Florida election integrity law challenge. UF previously banned them altogether from testifying but backtracked their position and said they would permit the professors to testify if they remained unpaid.

“Prohibiting professors from giving standard expert testimony, and instead only allowing pro bono testimony, undermines their credibility as expert witnesses and chills their speech,” said the attorneys representing the professors.

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Florida Democrats Oppose, Criticize Special Session

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called a special session over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate and Florida Democrats are criticizing the effort. DeSantis has, numerous times, worked to ban mask mandates in Florida’s schools and vaccine mandates, and is seeking the Florida Legislature to codify those bans even further.

“I think that we need to be making sure that people are healthy and safe, and that they can go to work and that our economy is booming, and that businesses are able to do what they need to do,” said Florida State Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL-32).

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Seminole Tribe Kicks off Sports Betting in Florida

The Seminole Tribe of Florida kicked off their recently approved online sports betting platform in Florida even during legal challenges. The Tribe rolled out the new entertainment option with little press.

The launch of the new platform, which operates through an app downloadable for smart devices, allows users to place bets and wagers on professional sports teams.

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Florida Will Lose Millions over 2020 Census Undercount

As a result of an undercount in the 2020 census, Florida is projected to lose millions of dollars, and as much as $88 million in Medicaid payments alone. Florida is set to gain a seat in Congress as the population count indicates a substantial enough growth, but the undercounting will not affect congressional seats, just funding.

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Marco Rubio Proposing GOP Divorce from Big Business

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is calling for Republicans to break from big business in policy and polities when he spoke at the National Conservatism Conference yesterday. He also penned an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel saying America’s largest companies have peddled “anti-American ideologies” and “wokeness” which has contributed to America’s growing partisan divide.

Rubio comments from the conference were pared down into another op-ed posted in The American Conservative where he said if conservatives do not fight back using “corporate patriotism,” Rubio said “we would lose America.”

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University of Florida Now Says Professors Can Testify in Election Law Case if Unpaid

The University of Florida (UF) has modified their previous position prohibiting faculty and staff participating in activities in a professional capacity deemed against the interests of, or in conflict with, the state of Florida.

The Ocala Star Banner reported late Sunday that UF would allow three professors to serve as expert witnesses in a case that challenges a new state law restricting voting access if they are not paid and don’t use university time or resources.

Previously, the university stated that three professors connected to the lawsuit challenging Florida’s new election integrity law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier in 2021 would not be allowed to appear as expert witnesses.

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Tallahassee Police Chief Under Fire for Attending Evangelical Conference

Lawrence Revell Named Tallahassee Police Chief

Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell spoke at a law enforcement retreat in North Carolina hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and LGBT advocacy groups are calling for Revell to be removed from his post.

The groups are calling the BGEA “one of the nation’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ+ Christian right groups.”

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Defends Florida Surgeon General After Ladapo’s Spat with Polsky

Gov. Ron DeSantis stands behind newest appointed Surgeon General: Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) defended Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo after he and State Sen. Tina Polsky had a back-and-forth over mask wearing that garnered much attention across statewide media.

Ladapo initially came under fire for not wearing a mask in a scheduled meeting with Polsky (D-FL-29) who cited her recent breast cancer diagnosis as the basis for her request. Ladapo preferred to not wear a mask and asked if they could meet outside, but Polsky insisted on meeting in her own office.

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Florida Republicans Unite Against Biden Vaccine Mandates Ahead of Special Session

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called for a special session last week to legislatively oppose President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates, the date has now been set and Florida’s top Republicans have said they are unified in their message and intent alongside DeSantis.

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-FL-65) and Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-FL-10) issued a joint message ahead of the special session set to run from November 15 through November 19.

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