Poll Shows Plurality of Floridians Support Mask Mandates

In a new poll from St. Pete Polls taken from Aug. 2nd through 3rd, 62 percent of likely Florida voters support mask mandates for schoolchildren.

The poll was conducted after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced the signing of an executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s public schools. The order also directed the state to craft penalties and punishments for school districts who choose to ignore the state’s directive and impose a mandate regardless.

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Biden, DeSantis Exchange Jabs over Handling of COVID

President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been exchanging verbal punches at one another over each other’s handling of the COVID pandemic.
Biden criticized DeSantis on Tuesday for opposing mask mandates and for vaccine passports, specifically noting DeSantis’ fight with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over vaccine passports for the cruise industry.

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Parkland Victims Could Receive $25 Million

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Florida State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-23) is filing a bill which would direct the Broward County School Board to pay out as much at $25 million to the victims and families of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

The bill would only allow for 51 people to be eligible to receive the payments, 34 survivors and 14 families of students and teachers killed.

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State Says Fried’s Claims About Florida’s COVID Data Are Baseless

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has claimed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Department of Health (FDOH) is not reporting Florida’s COVID data to the CDC in a timely fashion.
Fried has since begun doing her own daily COVID briefings after DeSantis moved them to weekly occurrences.

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Cruise Industry Resumes Out of Florida

Florida’s cruise industry has been in the middle of legal battles and a resurgence in COVID cases in Florida, but the cruises have resumed for some cruise lines out of Florida.

Royal Caribbean launched a test voyage, and four of the passengers, all of which are vaccinated, have tested positive for COVID. After quarantining and tested negative, they were allowed to disembark in Freeport, Bahamas.

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Candidate in Florida Special Election Puts Millions in Campaign

Numerous candidates are vying for a Congressional seat in South Florida left vacant by the late Congressman Alcee Hastings, but only one is putting millions of her own dollars into her campaign.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, CEO of Trinity Health Care Services in Miramar, has contributed $2.3 million of her own finances into her campaign, which is $1 million more than seven other Democratic candidates have raised, combined. Cherfilus-McCormick is prepared to contribute more if need be.

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DeSantis to Issue Executive Order over Masks in Florida Schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) held a conference Friday where he said he will be issuing an executive order “protecting the rights of parents” permitting them to make decisions about masking their children in this upcoming school year and banning school mask mandates.

“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis feels Florida’s parents should be allowed to decide about masking issues for their own child’s safety.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Joins Chorus to Overturn Roe v. Wade

U.S. Supreme Court

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) called on the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to overturn the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion in a brief signed on by 10 other Republican governors, in hopes to make abortion a state issue.

The brief provides arguments for why abortion should be left to the states by citing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and how the brief says abortion is not protected by the amendment.

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Fried Suspends Weapons Permits of Florida January 6 Protestors

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried suspended 22 concealed weapons permits for Floridians involved at the January 6 U.S. Capitol breach. The names of the permit holders were not revealed, which is in accordance with the law, but Fried offered a statement calling the January 6 incidents “treason” and “domestic terrorism.”

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DeSantis Announces $250M for Florida’s Ports

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) announced $250 million in funding for Florida’s ports to help with economic recovery as a result of decreased revenue last year.

“Not only are Florida ports a key economic driver for their surrounding communities, but also for our state as a whole,” said DeSantis. “From the cruise industry, to cargo, to supporting military operations, our ports provide nearly 1 million jobs for Floridians. This $250 million investment in our ports is a commitment to our future economic prosperity for generations to come.”

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Warns Against Federal Mask Requirement Recommendations for Kids

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has continued his fight with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky put forward new recommendations for K-12 school systems to require masks for the upcoming school year regardless of vaccination status.

The CDC has changed its tune, once again, after COVID cases have risen over the last few weeks and the school year is fast approaching for many across the country.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Unwavering While Facing COVID Spike

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has maintained Florida will not go back into lockdown and will not implement mask mandates, however Jacksonville doctor Dr. Sunil Joshi is calling on DeSantis to order Florida back into a state of emergency.

Joshi, an immunologist, said the rise in hospitalizations should be enough to force Florida back to consider how serious the virus still is.

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South Florida Caravan Traveling to D.C. Seeking Help for Cuba

Vehicles on the road in Washington D.C. area

A caravan of people from South Florida are traveling to Washington D.C. to implore the U.S. government for assistance in ending the communist regime, who have controlled Cuba since 1958.

“We want support for a humanitarian intervention in our country,” Yoan David Gonzalez, a member of the caravan said. “The Castro Communist regime is letting our people die, the number of deaths from coronavirus and all the repression that has been seen in recent days is no secret to anyone.”

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Democrats Search for Candidates to Challenge Miami Republicans

Florida Senate Capitol

Just over 15 months from the 2022 midterms, Florida Democrats have yet to find candidates who could take back seats lost to Miami Republicans in 2020.

Former Congresswomen Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell who represented Florida’s 26th and 27th congressional districts, lost their South Florida seats as a result of the big Republican turnout in Florida in 2020. Former President Donald J. Trump expanded on his 2016 election margin by winning Florida by over three percentage points. 

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Florida Business Groups Back Equality Act

Florida businesses and business groups have thrown their weight behind the passage of the Equality Act, a bill in Congress which would extend protected civil rights status to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among the groups joining the chorus is the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Places Ben & Jerry’s on Boycott List

On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called on the State Board of Administration (SBA) to place Ben & Jerry’s on the Continued Examination Companies that Boycott Israel List as well as the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.

DeSantis called on the SBA by way of letter to show the historic relationship between Florida and the nation of Israel, and the “commitment to a swift response to those who discriminate against the Israeli people.”

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DeSantis Says No Lockdowns or School Mask Mandates in Florida

In a press conference yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took time to comment on the upcoming school year saying school mask mandates and lockdowns will not be happening in Florida.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called DeSantis’ comments “greatly concerning” and said her kids were used to wearing masks.

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Florida State Senator Joe Gruters Cleared of Sexual Harassment Allegations

Florida State senator and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Sen. Joe Gruters (R-23) has been cleared of sexual harassment allegations after reports circulated earlier this week.

Florida Politics initially reported the allegations, and POLITICO stated the allegations came from four Republican Party officials and one other source who claimed Gruters sexually harassed a male aide in January who drove Gruters home from a bar in Tallahassee during Spring’s legislative session. A complaint was immediately filed with the state.

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Hillsborough School District Renews Four Charter Schools After Fight With State

The Hillsborough County School Board announced its decision to renew charters for four charter schools after the State of Florida was threatening legal action. The school board initially opted to not renew the charters but reversed its decision this week.

Of the reasons the school board initially decided to not renew the charters was a claim that the schools were not meeting the needs of special needs students.

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Florida’s Doctors, Patients Face New Smokable Medical Marijuana Rules

Doctors and patients in Florida may be unaware of the new rules that took effect last week for smokable medical marijuana. Patients must resign a standardized consent form, which includes a new portion that explains the dangers of smoking near oxygen tanks and notifying patients of risks to exposure to mold in the marijuana.

Physicians are now required to conduct full, in-person assessments of the a patient including family, social history, and if they are pregnant.

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Florida’s West Coast Still Inundated With Red Tide

red tide

Red tide is continuing to linger along the western coastline of Florida, leading to hundreds of tons of dead marine life. The Florida Capital Star previously reported on the red tide surge in the Tampa Bay area around the time of Tropical Storm Elsa, but the tide has not yet abated.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) has been collected over 100 samples of water around the Tampa Bay area last week and found high concentrations of Karenia brevis, a bacteria known to be prevalent during red tide surges.

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Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Florida

Spilled pill bottle on table top with a spoon underneath

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses are on the rise in Florida. Specifically, the death toll rose by about 37 percent from 2019 to 2020 in Florida.

One of the most notable trends was the amount of synthetic opioid fentanyl in Florida, and how so many people have become dependent upon drugs to cope with the COVID pandemic and economic hardship.

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Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump Takes on White Teen’s Case

American Attorney Benjamin Crump

Attorney Ben Crump, based out of Tallahassee, Fla., and Rev. Al Sharpton announced they are taking up the case of Hunter Brittain, a white teenager killed by police last month in Arkansas.

Crump, “Black America’s Attorney General,” and Sharpton were invited to Brittain’s memorial service, where Sharpton gave the eulogy.

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Jobless Claims Falling in Florida

Man In Suit

A new report from the U.S. Department of Labor shows jobless claims in Florida are down from the week ending on July 3. There were 6,739 jobless claims filed by July 3, down to 6,430 for the week ending on July 10.

Across the country, 360,000 new claims were filed, which is down 26,000 from the previous week. This is the lowest the country has seen its jobless claims since the start of the pandemic, indicating the recovery of the economy is slowly getting back to pre-pandemic levels.

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Disney Moving Thousands of Jobs to Florida

The Walt Disney Company announced they are moving around 2,000 jobs from California to a new campus in Florida, which has yet to be built. It will be in Lake Nona, and the move will take approximately 18 months.

“Florida’s business-friendly climate” was one of the main reasons they decided to make the move while California’s lockdown measures have shuttered Disneyland’s doors for three months.

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Citizens Property Insurance Raising Rates

"For Rent" sign in window of building

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is raising their rates after its board of directors met on Wednesday. The rate increase is a result of a new state law signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and will vary across Florida, but the increase still requires approval from the Office of Insurance Regulation.

“These necessary adjustments reflect the efforts of the Florida Legislature to return Citizens to its role as a residual insurance company,” Citizens Chairman Carlos Beruff said in a press release. “Unfortunately, we have become the first choice, or only choice, in too many regions of the state.”

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BLM Questioning Enforcement of Florida’s Anti-Riot Law

Black Lives Matter activists have been asking questions about Florida’s new law, dubbed as the “anti-riot” law as a result of the many anti-communist protests taking place across Florida.

The law enhances penalties for criminals committing acts of violence during a protest as well protestors could be charged with felonies if they block roadways. A driver may also be granted immunity if they drive through protestors blocking a road.

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Norwegian Cruises Challenges Florida’s Vaccine Passport Ban

People boarding a cruise ship

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has filed a lawsuit against Florida’s new law banning vaccine passports and they will abandon the state entirely if the law is not reversed.

“The result would be a devastating, unrecoverable loss for everyone—not only for NCLH’s business but also for tens of thousands of passengers, employees, and stakeholders who all benefit from NCLH resuming safe operations as planned,” the lawsuit says. “The only way NCLH could maintain its protocols and operations as currently planned is by abandoning Florida altogether.”

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DraftKings and FanDuel Put Millions on Florida Constitutional Amendment

The sports betting areas inside the casinos are like trading floors.

Draft Kings and FanDuel have each contributed $10 million to the Florida Educational Champions political committee who are funding a ballot initiative which would legalize sports betting in Florida.

The chairman of the political committee, David Johnson, took time to thank the sports betting companies for their contributions to the committee.

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DeSantis Announces Grants for Florida Rural Communities

A home in rural Florida

Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced $29 million development grants for small and rural communities.

A total of 42 communities are eligible for the grants, and to qualify the towns have to have a population of under 50,000 or be in an unincorporated county with less than 200,000.

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DeSantis Backs Cuban Protestors, Media and Democrats Blame COVID

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Sunday on Twitter, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) extended his support to the Cuban protestors voicing their opposition to the communist regime who seized control of the government when the Cuban Revolution ended in 1958.

“Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana,” DeSantis said. “The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies”

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Red Tide Resurging Along Tampa Bay Coastline

Shoreline in Tampa Bay, Florida

Red Tide is hitting the Tampa Bay area and this flare up predated Tropical Storm Elsa, although the storm might have increased its severity.

According to Tampa area officials, 15,000 dead fish were collected on Jul. 9 alone, and over a total of 25,000 dead fish have been collected in the 10 days leading up to the ninth. St. Petersburg officials have over 120 employees working to remove dead fish, while the numbers are increasing daily.

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Opening Capitol Police Field Offices Raises Questions About Jurisdiction

U.S. Capitol Police car

Six months after the incidents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced they will be opening two field offices. One will be in Florida and another in California to investigate threats against members of Congress.

The Florida field office will be located in Tampa, despite Tallahassee being Florida’s capital city. USCP selected the two states because they said it is where a large portion of threats originate.

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Florida Supreme Court to Hear Tobacco Industry Case

The Florida Supreme Court announced they will be taking up a case potentially making it harder to sue cigarette companies.

Florida’s high court decided to hear the case after the 1st District Court of Appeals overturned a verdict in a 2006 class-action lawsuit which saw individuals had the ability to sue cigarette companies for potentially misleading information regarding the dangers of smoking.

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Florida Law Appealed by Gun Rights Group

Rick Scott

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an appeal in federal court after a judge upheld a Florida law banning Floridians under 21 from purchasing a firearm.

The law was passed in 2018 by the Florida Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott raising the purchasing age as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

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Florida Realtors Back Affordable Housing Constitutional Amendment

The Florida Realtors group has thrown their weight behind a 2022 ballot proposal they would like to see become a Florida constitutional amendment.

The political committee, Floridians for Housing, is putting the proposal forward after the Florida Legislature has worked for years to allocate affordable housing funds for other issues. Specifically, the ballot initiative would “dedicate 25 percent” of revenue generated from documentary-stamp taxes to be budgeted exclusively for affordable housing.

Documentary-stamp taxes are collected, in part, via real estate transactions and real estate groups have been frustrated with the legislature for years for rerouting affordable-housing tax dollars.

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Florida’s May Revenues Exceed Expectations

Florida’s Historic Capitol and Florida State Capitol

State revenue projections for Florida in May have exceeded expectations, according to a new report from state economists. May’s state income reflected a tenth straight month of revenue exceeding state projections, which economists say is a good sign despite the cost of products and goods going up. 

The Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research announced $3.6 billion in general revenue. The original projections had the state raking in over one-half million dollars less.

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Appellate Court to Decide Florida’s Cruise Industry Fight with CDC

Cruise ship next to dock

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing a case between the State of Florida and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over cruise industry COVID-related restrictions.

Last month, a federal district judge sided with Florida and issued an immediate injunction against the CDC-imposed COVID restrictions on the cruise industry, halting the restrictions temporarily.

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Seminole Gaming Compact Facing Legal Challenges

The newly minted gaming compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida is already facing a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

The lawsuit says the Seminole Tribe’s claim to being the sports-betting hub, which is still illegal in Florida, creates complications due to gamblers being able to place bets on Seminole servers but while not being on tribal land.

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Tropical Storm Elsa Heading to Florida

Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make landfall in Cuba and part of the Florida Keys before heading to mainland Florida. The storm will be bringing approximately 60 mile-per-hour winds and will drop five to ten inches of rain in Cuba.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 15 Florida counties, with nine million Floridians being under tropical storm watches and warnings.

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SCOTUS to Take Up Florida Medicaid Case

United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of the United States has announced they will be taking up a legal battle over a decade in the making regarding how much money a state can recoup after a legal settlement.
The issue revolves around Gianinna Gallardo, who was struck by a bus in 2008 and suffered drastic injuries. Gallardo’s parents reached an $800,000 legal settlement, and the accident left Gallardo in a vegetative state.

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Judge Halts Florida Law Capping Contributions for Ballot Initiatives

A federal judge on Thursday blocked a Florida law capping contributions to political committees behind ballot initiatives which become constitutional amendments. The law would have capped the donation limit at $3,000.

Florida’s Constitution is one of the most amended state constitutions in the country, and right-leaning groups and lawmakers have worked to try and ensure Florida’s constitution is “not for sale” to the highest fundraiser or special interests.

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SCOTUS Ruling Backs Florida’s Election Reforms

Woman voting at booth

On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in a case backing a new set of voting reform laws signed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. In their decision, SCOTUS signaled support for measures taken by states like Florida in their attempt to clamp down on election and voter fraud.

The Florida Legislature, lead by Republicans, passed an election reform bill and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed it into law on May 6. The bill sets in place new requirements for ballot drop boxes and mail-in voting.

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Florida Colleges Shielded from COVID Related Lawsuits

Florida State University

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill exempting Florida’s colleges and universities from COVID-related lawsuits. The schools would be shielded from those seeking to sue the school based on decisions made to close campuses forcing students online.

“The Legislature finds that during the COVID-19 public health emergency, educational institutions had little choice but to close or restrict access to their campuses in an effort to protect the health of their students, educators, staff and communities,” the bill read.

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DeSantis Vetoes Four Bills, Including PIP Repeal and Civic Literacy Education

On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced he vetoed four bills. The bill most notably being struck was SB 54, a bill related to motor vehicle insurance due to the bill potentially having “unintended consequences,” the DeSantis team said.

The bill was a repeal which would have eliminated no-fault PIP system and would have required more than $25,000 worth of mandatory bodily injury coverage. Florida’s lawmakers supported the legislation, but the insurance lobby argued the repeal could lead to more uninsured drivers.

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Florida Law Banning Firearm Sales to People Under 21 Years Old Upheld

Last week, a federal judge upheld Florida’s law banning firearm sales to under 21 years old. The law was passed as part of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act which raised the purchasing age to 21. Previously, Floridians 18 to 20 were permitted to purchase firearms.

The judge, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, reluctantly upheld the law based on the Eleventh Circuit’s Second Amendment precedent but warned about the potential damage to 18-to-20-year-olds’ Second Amendment rights.

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Florida’s Senate Democrats Struggle with Infighting

Former Florida Senate Democrat Caucus Leader Sen. Gary Farmer (D-34) is continuing to criticize his fellow Democratic lawmakers even after he was ousted as their leader and replaced with Sen. Lauren Book (D-32).

Farmer and Book are both Democrats from Broward County, and Farmer is accusing his colleagues of “throwing votes” to Republican lawmakers and is questioning their motives.

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Mainstream Media Politicizes Florida Condo Collapse

Washington Post reporter Hannah Dreier posted a series of tweets over the weekend pushing a politicized perspective on the Surfside, Fla. condo collapse.

Dreier’s claim is that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did not give permission for FEMA provide on-the-ground aid for a full day. Dreier’s tweets have since been debunked.

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Florida District Judge Halts Discriminatory Program by Biden Administration

Earlier this week, Florida District Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the Biden administration. The lawsuit was initiated by a farmer who said a debt relief program to “socially disadvantaged farmers” is discriminatory.

In the $1.9 billion stimulus packaged signed by Biden earlier this year, approximately $4 billion of the plan is designated to assist exclusively farmers of color for debt relief through direct payments up to 120 percent of the farmer’s outstanding debt.

The order by Howard prevents the USDA from distributing the payments directly to farmers enrolled in the program.

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Richard McCullough Officially Tapped as FSU’s President

Earlier this week, the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) officially tapped Harvard Vice Provost for Research, Richard McCullough, as the next president at Florida State University (FSU).

He was confirmed by the board to succeed outgoing president John Thrasher and will be starting with a base salary of $700,000 per year with a car allowance up to $1,000 per month.

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