DeSantis Signs Bill into Law Increasing Penalties for Illegally Selling, Distributing Opioids in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that increases penalties for those who illegally sell and distribute opioids in Florida. It expands on a statewide strategy launched in 2019 to combat the opioid epidemic through education, treatment, prevention, recovery and law enforcement efforts.

“Floridians of all walks of life have witnessed the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic across our state,” DeSantis said. “While the Biden administration has failed to stop the flow of dangerous drugs, including fentanyl, across our southern border, we are taking action in Florida to lower both the demand and the supply of illicit and illegal drugs.”

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Okaloosa County Received $3.2 Million to Expand Manufacturing Operations at Shoal River Ranch Gigasite

Okaloosa County received $3.2 million to expand operations at the Shoal River Ranch industrial gigasite, a massive 10,000-acre site near Eglin and Hurlburt Field Air Forces bases.

The funds were made available through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and will go toward expanding roads, rail lines, and utility infrastructure in an area located seven miles east of Crestview with access to Interstate 10, Highway 90, and the Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad.

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DeSantis Approves Numerous Budget Items

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), this week, approved millions of dollars that were debated during the 2022 Legislative Session’s budget conferences. One of the largest recipients of state dollars is cancer research who will be receiving $100 million.

At a press conference on Wednesday, DeSantis made the announcement alongside his wife, First Lady Casey DeSantis, who battled breast cancer.

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Biden Reverses Course on Cuba Policy, Florida Officials Condemn

President Joe Biden (D) announced this week the United States will be loosening restrictions on Marxist countries, namely Cuba and Venezuela. Travel restrictions will be lightened to Cuba and flights will be authorized to Cuban cities outside of Havana and travel will be permitted for educational purposes.

In reaction, Florida Republicans and Democrats have condemned the actions saying that going soft on the dictatorial regimes will only embolden Castro and Maduro.

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DeSantis Signs Bill Banning Protests in Front of Private Residences

The governor of Florida Monday signed a bill into law that bans Floridians from protesting outside of private residences. 

“Sending unruly mobs to private residences, like we have seen with the angry crowds in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices, is inappropriate,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said just before signing HB 1571 into law. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”

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Judge Lifts Stay in Florida Congressional Redistricting Case

Florida Judge Layne Smith lifted a stay on an injunction against his ruling related to Florida’s congressional redistricting case. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the State of Florida appealed Smith’s original ruling that said the proposed and passed congressional redistricting maps were unconstitutional.

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Rubio, Demings Race Heating Up

The senatorial race between Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL-10) is beginning to heat up with each trading jabs. While Demings has not officially received the Democrat nomination, much Democrat support, fundraising, and polling is coalescing around Demings.

Demings recently went on the attack against Rubio calling him an abortion “extremist.”

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Florida Gas Prices Hit New Record

According to AAA-The Auto Club Group, the Florida average price for gasoline reached a new record high of $4.49 per gallon on Sunday.

The latest price beats the previous record of $4.38 per gallon set back in March soon after Russia invaded Ukraine. Before this year, the record high was $4.08 per gallon, which was set back in 2008.

Florida’s average price jumped about 30 cents in the past week. The state average is now $1.60 per gallon more than a year ago. It now costs $67 for a full 15-gallon tank of gas. That’s $24 more than what drivers paid this time last year.

Based on the gasolinemiserindex.com website, Florida consumers are paying $889 more annually on gasoline when compared to spending last year. The is approximately 21% higher than the $735 the average American family is spending this year.

“Drivers are dealing with unprecedented pain at the pump and things could soon get worse before they get better,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We saw more big gains in the gasoline futures market late last week, which could trickle down to yet another 10-20 cent jump at the pump in the near future.”

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Florida Tourism Numbers Break Record in First Quarter

An analysis by Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, showed that Florida attracted a record number of tourists during the first three months of 2022. The numbers, which were released this past Friday, surpassed totals reported for similar time periods before the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the hospitality and leisure industry.

The analysis estimates that 35.982 million people traveled to Florida between the start of January and the end of March. Florida has now recorded four consecutive quarters attracting more than 30 million visitors.

“Our Q1 visitation estimates show that 2022 is shaping up to be another amazing year for Florida tourism,” said Dana Young, VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO. “In addition to breaking more pre-pandemic records domestically, we are seeing an exponential rebound in Orlando as well as our international numbers, which we expect to continue in the months ahead.

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Sen. Scott Ends Week of Sparring with Biden by Launching New Ad

After a week of sparring with President Joe Biden and the Biden administration, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) launched a new ad that highlights his plan for the future of America.

“How do you destroy the economy?” Scott asks rhetorically in the ad. “Look around. Joe Biden and the ‘woke Democrats are doing it.”

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Florida Judge Set to Block DeSantis’ Congressional Maps

Congressional maps proposed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and pushed through the Florida Legislature during the 2022 Special Session are set to be blocked by a Florida judge. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith said he would make the order official either Thursday or Friday.

Smith said he would order the construction of new maps since, he said, the DeSantis-proposed maps were discriminatory against black voters in Congressional District 5, in North Florida.

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DeSantis Sets Fundraising Record

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) set a new 2022 gubernatorial campaign fundraising record. During April, DeSantis raised approximately $10.5 million. Around $2.3 million was raised by his reelection campaign and $8.2 million was raised by DeSantis’ political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

In total, DeSantis has raised over $113 million for the election cycle, which is over 10 times the amount of his next closest competitor, Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13).

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Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed Against DeSantis over Reedy Creek Special Status Abolishment

A lawsuit filed be residents of Orange and Osceola counties against Gov. Ron DeSantis in the wake of the Governor’s battle with Disney has been struck down. 

Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida Cecilia Maria Altonaga Tuesday issued her order summarily dismissing the lawsuit, which challenged DeSantis after he stripped Reedy Creek, home to Disney’s theme park, of its special status. 

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State of Florida Attorneys Respond to Redistricting Lawsuit

Attorneys representing the State of Florida, particularly Secretary of State Laurel Lee, issued an 18-page document consisting of their arguments against the groups filing suit. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith is scheduled to hear a request for a temporary injunction to block the maps from proceeding.

Much of the focus of the redistricting process has been centered around District 5 currently held by Congressman Al Lawson (D-FL-5). Civil rights groups and Lawson have said that the new map backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “infected by racial discrimination” for eliminating a historic minority majority voting district.

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Florida at Center of Bid to Slow Musk’s Purchase of Twitter

Florida is once again at the center of a Twitter war, this time by an Orlando pension fund attempting to slow its purchase after Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was looking into ways it can potentially “hold accountable” Twitter’s board of directors.

The city of Orlando’s Police Pension Fund filed a class action lawsuit May 6 in an attempt to block or slow the sale of Twitter. It argues Delaware law prevents billionaire Elon Musk from immediately purchasing Twitter because it alleges he’s “an invested stockholder.”

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Charlie Crist Rakes In $1 Million for April, DeSantis Polls Well in North Carolina

Florida’s two likely gubernatorial candidates have had successful months in preparation for the 2022 election. Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) pulled in another $1 million during the month of April and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) finished second in a hypothetical GOP presidential poll in North Carolina.

Crist issued a press release and indicated the million-dollar month was from contributions from both his campaign and his Friends of Charlie Crist political committee. It is unclear how much money is coming from each entity. However, individual donors who give less than $50 consist of approximately 44,000 of the contributions and the large donations are funneled through the political committee.

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DeSantis: Florida Prepared If U.S. Heads into Recession

Gov. Ron DeSantis, when suggesting President Joe Biden’s economic policies will “plunge the United States into a recession,” says Florida will be prepared.

At a news conference this week announcing funding for flood control and water management projects in Lee County, he said that while inflation continues to worsen, Florida’s economy is strong, with revenue exceeding expectations.

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DeSantis Signs Largest Tax Relief Bill in Florida History with More Than $1.2 Billion in Savings

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed the largest tax relief bill in Florida history, delivering $1.2 billion in savings to Floridians.

DeSantis signed HB 7071 into law, which includes permanent tax relief through a range of sales tax exemptions, corporate income tax credit expansions, and ad valorem tax and exemption provisions. They are expected to generate an additional $190 million in tax savings over two years and $140 million annually thereafter.

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Florida Congressman Leads Letter to DHS Head over ‘Disinformation Governance Board’

A Republican U.S. Congressman from Florida Thursday issued a letter, signed by 170 colleagues, to the head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after that executive branch agency announced the formation of a chilling new board aimed at tackling “disinformation.”

“The creation of this Disinformation Governance Board is an alarming attempt by the Biden administration to use the Department as a political tool,” said Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL-15) of the letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “DHS has no business determining what is and is not disinformation. This ‘Ministry of Truth’ will undermine the public’s confidence in the Department’s mission to protect the homeland and will tarnish its reputation. This is especially concerning as Americans continue to suffer a drug epidemic and have safety concerns with DHS’s failure to properly secure our border.”

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Abortions Are Down in Florida

Recent data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) shows abortions numbers are down in Florida from year-to-year. Records indicate there have been just over 16,500 abortions so far in 2022, and if the trend continues, would be a 38 percent decrease from 2021.

During 2021, there were 79,811 abortions, which was a 6.6 percent increase from 2020. The data also showed that the overwhelming majority of abortions performed were elective which backs up other data points from across the country.

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Florida Officials React to SCOTUS Leak

In the wake of the national news that an initial draft of a United States Supreme Court decision had been leaked to the public indicating the high court’s intentions to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case, Florida officials have both been chanting and jeering the news. Florida’s anti-abortion politicians have said this could be a good indicator, while pro-abortionists are worried this will lead to more restrictive abortion laws.

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Democrat Officials Think DeSantis Might Be ‘Unstoppable’

Ron DeSantis

Democrat operatives are continually showing signs that they feel they cannot win in Florida in the 2022 gubernatorial election observing that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seems “unstoppable.” A recent report from Politico showed that Democrats in Florida and Washington, D.C. are not feeling confident, the latter determining how many resources will be sent to the Sunshine State to attempt to unseat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

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DeSantis Hints at Special Session for Constitutional Carry

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), once again, made a plea for the Florida Legislature to get a constitutional carry bill to his desk. He made the promise to get the policy push done by the time he is no longer governor and even floated the idea of a special session to get it done.

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Florida Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist Says Biden Will Go Down as ‘One of the Best’

In a question-and-answer article with the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) said President Joe Biden (D) will go down as “one of the best [presidents] we’ve ever had.” His comments come as he has become the Democrat frontrunner for the 2022 Florida Democrat gubernatorial primary.

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Nikki Fried Campaign Consultant Acknowledges Overwhelming Republican Electoral Advantage, Says Fried Is the Answer

Kevin Cate, the campaign consultant for Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried, recently noted the Republican electoral advantage facing Democrats running for statewide office. Cate previously worked on the 2014 Charlie Crist campaign and the 2018 Andrew Gillum campaign for Florida governor.

In a series of tweets, Cate provided his “perspective on the Florida Democratic primary for Governor and the general election environment.”

Cate tweeted, ” I cannot stress enough how tough of an environment the general will be.”

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DeSantis Teases Additional Legislation Regarding Disney’s Tax Status

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was a featured guest on Fox News’ Ingraham Angle hosted by Laura Ingraham and said his administration is working on additional legislation to address Disney’s tax status after the Florida Legislature repealed the 1960s-era law that established the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The district allowed Disney to operate relatively autonomously with the ability to tax at its own rate, provide its own police, and supervise its own utilities. Florida Republicans have indicated that the repeal of the improvement district was long overdue.

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Petition to Discharge Rep. Steube’s Transgender Sports Bill Garners More than 60 Signatures in House

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives this week are working to force a floor vote a bill authored by a Florida Congressman that would ban biological males from competing in female athletics. 

“I, Jim Banks, move to discharge the Committee on Education and Labor from the consideration of the bill (H.R. 426) entitled, a bill to provide that for purposes of determining compliance with title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be recognized based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth, which was referred to said committee January 21st, 2021, in support of which motion the undersigned Members of the House of Representatives affix their signatures…” said a Discharge Petition authored by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN-03). 

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Wisconsin 2020 Election Investigation to Continue

Robin Vos

The investigation into Wisconsin’s 2020 election won’t end until lawmakers are certain about the legal authority to issue subpoenas by the state’s special investigator.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Tuesday issued a statement explaining why he is extending former Supreme Court Justice Mike Gableman’s special investigation once again.

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Herschel Walker Leads Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock by 10 Points in Another General Election Poll

In a new poll released by Grassroots Targeting on Monday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker leads Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) by 10 percentage points.

Walker leads Warnock by 10.4 percentage points or 51.4 percent to 41 percent in the poll.

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DeSantis Calls Out So-Called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Moniker and Migrating Californians Staining Red States Blue

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) was a featured guest with conservative commentator Ben Shapiro and participated in a Q&A segment. In it, DeSantis tells some of the back story behind the recently signed Parental Rights in Education bill as well as deriding Californians for their main export being ideology.

DeSantis specifically pointed out the number of California companies who are moving to states like Texas and Florida and who are bringing their employees with them.

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Florida House Rep Accuses Candace Owens of Supporting DeSantis for ‘Coins’

In what appears to be a racially-motivated attack, a member of the Florida House of Representatives attacked conservative commentator Candace Owens for her support of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

“He knows how to break the law, violate constitutional rights, lie and bully. There I fixed it for you @RealCandaceO You should be ashamed of what #DeSantisDestroysFlorida is doing to Black communities in Florida. But of course…get them coins girls,” said State Rep. Angie Nixon (D-District 14) on Twitter.

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DeSantis Signs Election Integrity Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill earlier Monday related to election integrity. The Florida Legislature prioritized the legislation in order to ensure Florida’s elections process is safe and secure.

DeSantis signed SB 524, which creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State and will “investigate election law violations and increasing penalties for violations of election laws.”

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Gubernatorial Hopeful Crist Calls DeSantis Supporters ‘Toothless’

Charlie Crist

In a video circulated across social media sites, Florida Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) referred to supporters of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as “toothless.” Crist is trying to outlast other Democrat candidates for the 2022 Florida gubernatorial nomination to eventually face off against DeSantis in the November general election.

In the video, Crist is speaking at an event and said DeSantis is trying to score “political points.”

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DeSantis Signs Bill Banning ‘Woke Indoctrination,’ Critical Race Theory from Workplaces, Public Schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 7 into law Friday, the first bill in the nation that bans “corporate wokeness” and Critical Race Theory from being used or taught in the workplace and public classrooms.

The bill includes provisions to prevent discriminatory instruction in the workplace and in public schools and defines individual freedoms “based on the fundamental truth that all individuals are equal before the law and have inalienable rights,” the governor’s office said.

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Gov. DeSantis Recommends New Florida Education Commissioner

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recommended Florida State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (R – Hialeah Gardens) to succeed current Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. Corcoran himself was a former Florida House Speaker who is seeking to spend time with family and announced his resignation effective at the end of April.

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Florida Legislature Passes Congressional Redistricting Map, Democrats Protest

A number of Florida’s House Democrats staged a protest on the floor of the Florida House to voice their opposition to Republicans’ efforts around congressional redistricting yesterday. Due to the protest, the Florida House’s procedures were temporarily halted. However, the protest was short-lived, and the House proceeded to approve Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) proposed congressional map.

The Florida Senate had already approved the map, and the House was the map’s final stop.

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Gov. DeSantis Signs Legislation to Strip Walt Disney Company of Self-Governing Status

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation on Friday to strip Walt Disney World’s special status that granted the amusement park broad powers to self-govern.

The old agreement, which took place in 1967, has permitted the venue to work as a quasi-governmental agency and maintain the same authority as a county government.

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Probable Cause Found in Blystone Financial-Reporting Probe; Election Commission Books Expedited Hearing One Day Before Election

Joe Blystone

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) found probable cause to further investigate and decide two complaints filed against Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone’s campaign and booked a full-panel hearing for May 2, one day before the primary election.

Thursday, a Probable Cause panel comprised of commissioners D. Michael Crites (R), Charleta B. Tavares (D) and Ernest C. Knight (I) voted unanimously on an expedited investigation into cases that allege the Canal Winchester farmer and restauranteur improperly reported campaign contributions and expenditures and spent campaign funds for personal use.

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Florida Surgeon General Criticizes Federal Directives Related to Treatment for Gender Dysphoria

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) provided guidance Wednesday on treating gender dysphoria for children and adolescents in response to information recently provided by the federal government.

The FDOH press release noted that “gender dysphoria is characterized by a strong, persistent cross-gender identification associated with anxiety, depression, irritability, and often a wish to live as a gender different from the one associated with the sex assigned at birth.”

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued a statement criticizing the federal directives.

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Florida Cabinet Officials Take Shots at Biden over Mask Mandate ‘Misery’ and Medical Marijuana Patients’ Rights

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) are both taking shots at President Joe Biden’s administration simultaneously. While each official’s reasoning for opposition to the Biden administration is rooted in different policy priorities, it shows a unique circumstance in which Fried and DeSantis, who are usually at opposite ends of the spectrum, are directing their angst to Washington.

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DeSantis Signs Bill to Increase Transparency in College Curriculum

Florida’s governor Tuesday signed into law a bill that will increase transparency into the curriculum at state-funded colleges, as well as updated guidelines for tenured faculty members.

SB 7044, signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis (R), ensures that colleges are openly disclosing textbooks, syllabi, and other course-related material on their websites. This way, the bill says, prospective students, as well as parents, can see what students are being taught.

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Florida Democrats Criticize Congressional Redistricting as Legislature Reconvenes

Numerous Florida Democrats and officials criticized the Florida Legislature’s process to approve the new congressional maps as the legislature reconvened Monday. Legislative leaders, last week announced they would be working on the new maps entirely proposed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) office and would not be creating their own.

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Florida School Superintendent Uses Misleading CNN Fact-Check to Discredit Parental Rights Bill

At a recent Leon County School Board meeting, Superintendent Rocky Hanna used a misleading CNN fact-check to publicly criticize Governor DeSantis’ rationale for the Parental Rights in Education bill, while ignoring facts related to a lawsuit filed against the school district.

The CNN fact-check uses selective comments from a DeSantis press conference, related to an incident which took place at a Leon County middle school, to question the rationale for the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The incident involved the failure of school officials to notify parents about a meeting with their daughter concerning gender issues. The parents have filed a federal lawsuit against the Leon County School Board.

Hanna, reading DeSantis’s comments from the CNN fact-check, said that “none of this happened, none of this is true, it is all fabricated…”

While DeSantis’s comments about the specifics of the incident were partly inaccurate, Hanna ignored facts that were consistent with the comments made by DeSantis.

What Hanna did not reveal in his comments to the school board is that school officials initiated an interview with the student as part of a  “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan” without including the parents.

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DeSantis Calls Special Session to Review Disney’s ‘Special District’ Status

In what is being viewed as an escalation in the conflict between Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and The Walt Disney Company, the Florida governor has called a special legislative session to review a 1968 law – designed for the company – that allows it to govern itself. 

According to a proclamation from the governor’s office, “it is necessary to review such independent special districts to ensure that they are appropriately serving the public interest,” and that it is “also necessary to consider whether such independent special districts should be subject to special law requirements of the Florida Constitution of 1968.”

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New Report Shows Florida Unemployment Dropping

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) released their monthly unemployment figures and the state’s unemployment rate is continuing to drop. Conversely, Florida is also seeing consistent job growth from month-to-month.

According to the report, Florida’s adjusted unemployment rate was 3.2 percent in March, which was a decrease by 0.1 percent from the previous month. The national unemployment rate was hovering around 3.6 percent.

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Florida Among the 21 States Suing the Biden Administration over Lifting Title 42 Restrictions at the Southern Border

The State of Georgia, led by Attorney General Chris Carr joined a 21-state coalition, which filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration to block the federal government from ending Title 42.

Title 42 is a public health order from the Trump administration that allowed border officials to turn away individuals due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Arizona Creates Task Force to Address Infrastructure, Utilize Federal Funding

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Thursday launched a new task force to address the state’s infrastructure needs and appropriate federal funding administered to the state through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The legislation, which was approved on a bipartisan basis, will allocate $1.2 trillion to states to repair and upgrade critical infrastructure needs, like roads and bridges.

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