Florida’s DeSantis Seeks Tax Relief in Proposed $114 Billion Budget

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Tallahassee Wednesday to discuss his “Framework for Freedom” budget.

DeSantis’ proposed $114.8 billion budget contains some tax relief measures as the economy in the Sunshine State has performed far better than other states. Last year the state surplus was over $20 billion, and DeSantis stated that this money needs to go back to the people.

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Leon County Commissioner: The AP African American History Course Is ‘Trash’

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a black Florida Democrat, said the AP African American Studies course is “trash,” siding with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in opposition to the class due to its focus on queer and feminist ideology.

Florida rejected the College Board AP course from the state’s curriculum last month because it was “filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law,” State Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. said.

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DeSantis Pledges to Defund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Florida Public Universities

Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pledged to defund all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs at public universities during a Tuesday press conference in Bradenton, Florida.

DeSantis outlined several higher education reforms for state public universities including defunding DEI programs, which he referred to as “ideological” and “political filters,” readdressing required courses to teach western civilization and restructure tenure review. Tuesday’s announcement expanded on the administration’s recent work to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding so-called woke initiatives on college campuses. 

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Florida Auditor General Wants Sworn Law Enforcement Officers Added to Her Office

Florida Auditor General Sherrill Norman would support the addition of sworn law enforcement officers to her office by lawmakers. 

These officers can help state auditors by making arrests and maintaining transparency over the state and local governments and their stewardship of taxpayer funds. At present, Norman doesn’t have any in her office like Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber as one example.

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DeSantis Facing Lawsuit over Ban on African-American Studies

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is facing a lawsuit from three high school students over his Education Department’s decision to ban an Advanced Placement (AP) course on African-American studies.

As reported by NPR, the lawsuit was announced on Wednesday by State Representative Fentrice Driskell (D-Fla.). Speaking at a press conference, Driskell said that “by rejecting the African American history pilot program, Ron DeSantis has clearly demonstrated that he wants to dictate whose history does — and doesn’t — belong.”

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DOJ Indicts Radical Activists for Attacking Florida Pro-Life Facilities

Following attacks on over 78 pro-life groups across the nation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has finally indicted two pro-abortion activists for attacking pro-life facilities in Florida.

Twenty-seven-year-old Caleb Freestone and 23-year-old Amber Smith-Stewart “targeted pregnancy resource facilities and vandalized those facilities with spray-painted threats,” according to the DOJ. The threatening language that the two used to vandalize the pro-life facilities mirrors that of the terrorist group Jane’s Revenge.

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Florida’s DeSantis Announces Sweeping Reforms That Include ‘Teacher Bill of Rights’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a news conference in Jacksonville on Monday to propose sweeping changes to education, including a Teacher’s Bill of Rights which will empower educators to be leaders in their classrooms.

In the proposed legislation, teachers will have their paychecks protected, while $1 billion will go towards teacher pay increases. School board members will have a maximum term of eight years, instead of twelve.

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Florida Legislative Committee Wants Accountability from Audited Entities

Florida State Capitol

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee met in Tallahassee Thursday to discuss issues that have been found in some school districts, municipalities and private entities that have repeatedly not been addressed and also discussed ways to ensure more compliance.

According to Auditor General Sherrill Norman, who was in attendance during the most recent committee meeting, she and her staff were asked to produce “a list of things that would help address the barriers we had in completing our work.”

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DeSantis, State Legislature to Further Limit Chinese Influence in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s considering banning Chinese entities from purchasing property in Florida and that the state legislature was looking at ways to further restrict the communist country’s influence in Florida.

“We don’t want to have holdings [in Florida] by hostile nations. If you look at the Chinese communist Party, they’ve been very active gobbling up land … and when they have interests that are opposed to ours and we see how they have wielded their authority especially with President Xi [Jinping], who’s taken a much more Marxist-Leninist turn, that is not in the best interest of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farm land, owning land close to military bases.”

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Audit Finds Florida City Has Fixed 23 Out of 31 Problem Areas from 2020 Report

A follow-up audit for the city of Palm Bay by the State of Florida Auditor General found the city of Palm Bay has corrected all but eight of the 31 issues found in the 2020 report.

Palm Bay city Manager Suzanna Sherman responded to the Auditor General and detailed the findings that needed to be addressed, but had not yet been fully corrected.

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Florida House Speaker Demands Information on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion ‘Prevalence’ on College Campuses

Republican House Speaker Paul Renner of Florida requested Thursday that state public colleges and universities submit documentation about the “prevalence” of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) offices and programs on campus, Florida’s Voice reported.

The requests were delivered to every president’s office in the Florida College System and the State University System, according to Florida’s Voice. The request furthers a demand from Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Dec. 28 which required colleges and universities to submit a report detailing the amount of state funding used on DEI and critical race theory programs.

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DeSantis Wants to ‘Further Advance Protections for Innocent Life’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who signed a 15-week abortion ban into law last year, wants more protections for Florida’s unborn babies.

“The upcoming 2023 Florida legislative session starts in March, and we look forward to working with the Florida Legislature to further advance protections for innocent life,” press secretary Bryan Griffin shared with The Daily Signal on Tuesday afternoon.

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Report Shows Florida’s Pension System Facing Headwinds

The Florida Retirement System has shrunk over the last year and some analysts are saying that it will not survive on its current course, with new legislation likely not to have much of an impact.

According to the Department of Management Service’s annual comprehensive financial report, the Florida Retirement System has had a net income loss of $21,773,027 in the 2022 fiscal year, after beginning the year at $202,082,182,546 and ending the year at $180,226,404,807.

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AG Moody: ‘Bombshell New Evidence’ in Florida’s Lawsuit over Biden Deportation Policies

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said her office received “bombshell new evidence” that the Biden administration “wrongfully withheld” from her office until just days before they went to trial on Monday.

Her office filed a lawsuit last year against the Biden administration over altering federal immigration deportation policy, including expanding a parole program President Joe Biden announced last week that he planned to expand. Moody is asking the court to halt the administration’s implementation of the policy, arguing it violates federal law and is unconstitutional.

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Conservative Christopher Rufo Among the Appointees to New College of Florida’s Board of Trustees by Gov. DeSantis

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed conservative activist Christopher Rufo and five other people to the New College of Florida Board of Trustees with the goal of restructuring the university’s curriculum to a “classical liberal arts model.”

Rufo, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and filmmaker known for his activism against Critical Race Theory, was appointed on Friday along with Hillsdale College Professor Matthew Spalding, Claremont-McKenna College Professor Charles Kesler, former Emory University Professor Mark Bauerlein, Inspiration Academy founder Jason Speir and attorney Debra Jenks. 

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Florida AG Urges Biden to Demand Action from Mexico Counterpart to Combat Fentanyl Crisis

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called on President Joe Biden on Friday to “confront Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” and “demand action” to stop the flow of illicit fentanyl being brought into the U.S. from Mexico by the Sinaloa Cartel and its gang affiliates.

The presidents are scheduled to meet in Mexico City on Monday.

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Chicago School Audit Finds Nearly 500 Sexual Complaints Filed in 2022

Chicago school officials this week revealed that the school system recorded nearly 500 sexual complaints over the last year, with investigators stressing their inability to respond to a majority of all complaints they receive.

The Chicago Board of Education Office of Inspector General said in its 2022 annual report that it received 470 “sexual allegation” complaints over the course of FY2022.

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DeSantis Activates National Guard to Take on Migration Crisis

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that he would activate the state National Guard to help the federal government address the rising tide of illegal migrants entering the nation through the Florida Keys.

An archipelago situated in the state’s southeast, the islands provide a critical landing point for many migrants traveling to the United States via the Caribbean Sea.

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DeSantis Admin Orders Florida Universities to Provide Information on How They’re Pushing Woke Programming

Florida colleges and universities are required to submit information detailing how they use state resources to support diversity, equity and inclusion programming, according to a memo from the state’s Office of Budget and Policy obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

All colleges and universities within the Florida College System and the State University System must submit a report explaining how they use state-given resources to provide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and critical race theory (CRT) programs, according to the memo, which was sent by Office of Budget and Policy Director Chris Spencer to Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz and State University System of Florida Chancellor Raymond Rodrigues. Florida state law requires oversight over higher education curricula, requiring officials to “identify the degree programs offered by public postsecondary educational institutions.”

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After Resisting Policy Change, Florida School District Now Bans Boys from Using Girls’ Bathrooms

After refusing to change its transgender policy for five years, a Florida school district will now require students to use bathrooms on the basis of biological sex rather than gender identity, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Pasco County school district Superintendent Kurt Browning announced Tuesday that the district changed its policy to mandate restroom and locker room use on the basis of biological sex, with private bathroom access for transgender students, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The policy change comes after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a Florida school district’s policy of separating restrooms by “biological sex” instead of gender identity.

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More than 500 People Apprehended off Key West Since New Year’s Eve

More than 500 foreign nationals were apprehended after attempting to illegally enter Florida on the first two days of the year, an unpreceded number, officials say. They arrived by boat mostly off the coast of the Florida Keys, prompting multiple agencies to issue warnings to Floridians and a national park was forced to close to the public.

The record number of apprehensions in first two days of the year was after the Miami Border Patrol Sector reported a more than a 500% increase in apprehensions in fiscal year 2022.

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Interim Meetings This Week in Preparation for Florida’s 2023 Legislative Session

Florida Senate and House committees are having interim meetings this week to kick off the new legislative session for 2023, and several new committees will be meeting for the first time – and chaired by freshman Republicans.

Originally, the interim meetings were set to take place from Dec. 12-16, but were postponed and instead replaced with a special session. Lawmakers took the opportunity during that special session to address the growing issue of property insurance costs in Florida, as well as recovery after Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole ripped through the Sunshine State in September 2022.

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Florida Achieved Economic Milestones in 2022

Florida’s economy reached many milestones in 2022, including recording it’s second lowest unemployment rate in state history and reaching record levels of job creation and budget reserves. It also closed 2022 with nearly $22 billion in surplus, the highest in state history, and decreased its debt by $1.3 billion.

“By keeping Florida free and open, we have created a positive economic environment and invested in our state’s workforce and communities,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said of the state’s economic progress. He’s touted Florida leading the U.S. “in net migration and talent attraction” while “other states continue to struggle at the hands of poor leadership; people and businesses are flocking to Florida.”

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Disney Issues Warning to Park-Goers after Fights Increase Among Guests

Disney reminded its guests to be on their best behavior and show “common courtesy” to other guests in the parks after there has been an increase in fights among visitors.

Disneyland and Walt Disney World added courtesy sections to the “Know Before You Go” section on their website, reminding guests that any unruly behavior could get them kicked out of the park.

“We ask all who come to this happy place to treat others with respect, kindness, and compassion. To help guests have a safe and enjoyable experience, we regularly update our Disneyland resort rules,” reads the Disneyland website.

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Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia Among 18 States Banning Social Media App TikTok from State Devices

Following South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem’s lead, nearly half of U.S. states have put restrictions on or banned the use of Chinese-based social media app TikTok.

At least 19 states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utha, Virginia and West Virginia.

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New Legislation for Florida Landlords Takes Effect January 1, Meant to Keep Tenants Safer

Landlords in Florida will have a new set of rules to abide by come Jan. 1 when new legislation goes into effect.

Senate Bill 898, also known as ‘Miya’s Law’, is named after Miya Marcano, a 19-year-old student who was killed in her apartment complex in Orlando in 2021 by a maintenance worker who had access to a master key. The law was designed by lawmakers to provide more safety measures for tenants by keeping records of who has access to a tenant’s property.

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2022 Saw More California Businesses Relocate to Florida

Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s invitation to Floridians to move to California ahead of the November election, California businesses continue to leave, and increasingly to Florida.

While their top relocation destination is overwhelmingly Texas, several major companies have relocated to Florida since Newsom’s been in office.

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Florida Considers Lowering Abortion Ban from 15 Weeks to 12 Weeks

Changes could be coming to Florida’s abortion laws after the incoming senate president, Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, said she would like to see Florida’s abortion ban go from 15 weeks’ gestation to 12 weeks’ gestation.

The state of Florida banned abortion in 1900, but that ban was overturned in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade case. That ruling itself was overturned by the Supreme Court in June. Anticipating that decision, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis moved to ban abortions from 15 weeks’ gestation, with the law making no exceptions for cases pertaining to rape and incest.

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Florida Investigates Christmas-Themed Drag Show for ‘All Ages’

On Tuesday, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) announced that it would launch an investigation into a performing arts center that hosted a drag show targeted towards little children.

As reported by the Daily Caller, the investigation is focusing on the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, which hosted the “Drag Queen Christmas” event the day after Christmas; advertisements for the event have since been removed from the center’s website, but archived versions remain available on the Internet.

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Kari Lake Appeals Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit

Kari Lake, the Arizona Republican nominee for governor, is appealing a Maricopa County judge’s dismissal of her lawsuit challenging her defeat to Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is currently serving as secretary of state. 

In a notice of appeal filed Tuesday, Lake asked the Arizona Superior Court to reconsider all 10 counts that she brought up in her original lawsuit as well as the attorneys’ fees she was ordered to pay.

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Florida COVID-19 Committee Members Emphasize Importance of Restoring Public Trust Related to Vaccine

In response to Gov. Ron DeSantis creating a new Public Health Integrity Committee and filing a petition for a statewide grand jury to investigate potential crimes related to the COVID-19 vaccine, seven doctors on the committee expressed their support for the only governor in America taking such a stand.

The members of the new committee include Jay Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, Martin Kuldorff, PhD, Tracy Beth Høeg, MD, PhD, Joseph Fraiman, MD, Christine Stabell Benn, MD, PhD, Bret Weinstein, PhD, and Steven Templeton, PhD.

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Miami Sector Border Patrol Reported a 500 Percent Increase in Apprehensions in Fiscal 2022

Border Patrol agents in the Miami Sector have reported a 500% increase in apprehensions in fiscal year 2022.

From September 1, 2021, to October 31, 2022, agents apprehended 2,350 foreign nationals attempting to illegally enter Florida by sea. The majority were Cubans.

They also interdicted 131 maritime smuggling events, a 330% increase from fiscal 2921, Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said.

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Census: Texas Leads U.S. with Largest Population Gains, Florida Leads with Fastest Population Growth

Texas and Florida lead the U.S. in population growth, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

Texas saw the largest population gain in the U.S. Florida had the largest percentage increase and the fastest population growth, according to the data.

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Kari Lake Says Appeal Coming Following Dismissal from Superior Court Judge

Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake had her election challenge completely dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson Saturday. Following the ruling, Lake tweeted that an appeal would be coming.

“My Election Case provided the world with evidence that proves our elections are run outside of the law. This Judge did not rule in our favor. However, for the sake of restoring faith and honesty in our elections, I will appeal his ruling,” tweeted Lake.

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Florida Supreme Court Approves Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Request for Investigation Into COVID Shot Injuries

The Florida Supreme Court approved Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) request to impanel a grand jury to review evidence regarding COVID shot injuries and misconduct in his state.

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Day Two of Kari Lake Election Challenge Trial Sees More Witnesses, Closing Arguments from Both Sides

The court battle challenging the validity of the certified outcome of Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election entered its second day Thursday under Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, with attorneys for Republican Kari Lake, Democrat Katie Hobbs, and Maricopa County presenting their final arguments in the trial. Lake seeks to…

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Sen. Ron Johnson Argues to Eliminate $9.8 Billion in Earmarks From $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Bill

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) joined with his colleagues Senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Rand Paul (R-KY) to oppose the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill and argue for an amendment that would eliminate all earmarks.

“Thousands of individual projects here, both Democrat and Republican,” Johnson said Tuesday during a press conference

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Day One of Kari Lake Election Contest Trial Sees Testimony from Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Election Integrity Expert Heather Honey

The first of two days of oral arguments from Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake’s challenge of the 2022 general election outcome began Wednesday morning, overseen by Judge Peter Thompson in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Testimonies were heard from several officials and experts.

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Florida Finishing 2022 with Record $22 Billion Surplus

The state of Florida is reporting a $21.8 billion surplus in 2022, the highest in state history. The state also decreased its debt by $1.3 billion this year, according to a newly published State Debt Report from the State of Florida Division of Bond Finance.

According to the report, Florida decreased its debt by $1.3 billion, increased its revenues by 17% ($8.5 billion), and maintained its AAA bond rating primarily because of its strong growing economy.

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Florida Unemployment Rate Lowest in 10 Largest States

Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.6% in November, the lowest of the 10 largest states in the U.S. and 1.1 percentage points lower than the national rate. It was also the 24th consecutive month that Florida’s unemployment rate remained below the national rate.

In November, Florida continued to exceed the national job growth rate for the 20th consecutive month; its employers have added jobs for 31 consecutive months.

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Judge Rules Kari Lake Election Contest Will Go to Trial

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ruled late Monday that Kari Lake’s election contest lawsuit will go to trial on Wednesday.

The judge’s ruling came hours after attorneys for the defendants–Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors–and the plaintiff, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, delivered oral arguments in court on both sides of the defendants’ motion to dismiss all ten counts set forward in Lake’s 70 page lawsuit.

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DeSantis Signs Toll Relief, Disaster Relief and Property Insurance Bills into Law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three bills into law passed by the state legislature during a recently convened special legislative session. The new laws provide “the most significant property insurance reform in recent history,” disaster assistance to those impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole and extend toll relief to commuters.

On Friday, he signed SB 2-A, to help stabilize the state’s property insurance market, increase competition, and strengthen consumer protections.

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Senate Fiscal Hawks Scott, Johnson, Lee, and Paul Call for an End to Pandemic Spending

While hagglers appeared to have reached a bipartisan framework agreement on a full-year omnibus spending plan, fiscal hawks like Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are asking an important question: Why haven’t we gone back to normal spending now that the pandemic is over?

On Thursday, the Senate easily passed a a one-week continuing resolution, keeping the government funded through December 23. A worked-over spending plan is expected to be unveiled Monday, as negotiations continue in the shadow of another government shutdown threat in the days before the Christmas break.

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Illegal Entries into Vermont Surge in November

Foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S. are increasingly entering through Vermont at an unprecedented rate.

In October, the Swanton Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes all of Vermont, saw a 676% increase in apprehensions of illegal foreign nationals compared to last year, according to Border Patrol data. Agents apprehended 334 people from 19 countries in October, and the “upward trend continues,” Swanton Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Robert Garcia said.

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Orange Juice Prices Set to Rise After Florida Citrus Crops Damaged by Hurricanes and Disease

After Hurricanes Ian and Nicole ravaged Florida causing billions of dollars in damage, the state’s citrus growers are expecting smaller yields. As a result, the price of America’s favorite breakfast beverage, orange juice, is expected to rise in price as supply drops.

Frozen orange juice concentrate was already down in production for the 2020-2021 season and on-tree crop values were down nearly half from the 2016-2017 season, hitting a 10-year low. This season’s yield is predicted to be the lowest in 80 years.

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Florida State Rep. Eskamani Files Bill to Get Rid of Diaper Sales Tax

A bill has been refiled that could permanently nix Florida’s sales tax from diapers and adult incontinence products.

Florida state Rep. Anna V. Eskamani filed House Bill 29, a continuation of an already existing sales tax exemption for children’s diapers, that are tax-free until June 30, 2023. If passed, the exemption would be expanded to also help reduce the cost for the elderly, their families, and those who use adult diapers and other incontinence products.

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Zuckerbucks-Backed Group Back in Wisconsin

The liberal voting activist group that dumped $350 million of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s money on local election offices during the 2020 presidential election is back again with another $80 million to give over the next five years.

And Wisconsin once again will be front and center in the Center for Tech and Civic Life’s “generosity.”

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Florida Leads Nation in Parent-Led Education

Florida ranked first in the United States for parental involvement in education, according to the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index.

The index is released annually and measures the policies that exist in each state. Those policies are ranked by whether they allowed parental choice in what their child’s education would be, and if the needs of the student and their families were considered first.

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DeSantis Announces Plan to Empanel Grand Jury to Investigate Wrongdoing Linked to COVID-19 Shots

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that he has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to empanel a statewide grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” linked to the COVID-19 shots to bring accountability to those who have engaged in misconduct.

In its petition to the state Supreme Court, the DeSantis administration said that the “pharmaceutical industry has a notorious history of misleading the public for financial gain” and the grand jury will probe “the development, promotion, and distribution of vaccines purported to prevent COVID-19 infection, symptoms, and transmission.”

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