Florida Bill Would Override Prohibition on Local Bans for Plastic Bags

Linda Stewart

A Florida lawmaker is hoping a new bill recently filed will bring about an end to plastic bags and other single-use plastics if passed.

Senate Bill 498 is sponsored by state Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando. It would amend two Florida statutes and remove the preemption of local laws regarding the regulation of containers, wrappings, or plastic bags.

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Florida Expanding Semiconductor Manufacturing Capabilities with $28 Million in Grants

In another push to reduce reliance on China and other foreign entities, Florida is expanding its semiconductor manufacturing capability.

More than $28 million was recently awarded through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to expand semiconductor manufacturing and chip manufacturing through five workforce development projects. The awards are part of a $50 million initiative Gov. Ron DeSantis launched in September dedicated to supporting Florida’s semiconductor industry. It expands on grants awarded last year to entities in Osceola County.

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Florida Bar Seeks to Suspend License of Attorney for Exercising His Free Speech Describing His Opponent in Florida State’s Attorney Race

State bars are coming under criticism for aggressively going after conservative attorneys and disciplining them, while looking the other way when it comes to legal abuses by left-wing attorneys. The Florida State Bar is pursuing disciplinary charges against decorated veteran Chris Crowley over remarks he made about his opponent Amira D. Fox in 2018 when he was campaigning against her for Office of the State Attorney in Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit. Most state bars have an ethics rule, adopted from the American Bar Association’s model rules, that restricts attorneys from criticizing public officials, candidates for office, and judges.

A Florida attorney familiar with the case, who preferred not to be identified due to fear of retaliation, told The Arizona Sun Times, “The Florida Bar is now a political organization dominated by the progressive left. The Florida Bar picks and chooses which political speech to go after, depending on who is politically connected. This is a disgrace to the legal profession.” The source said Fox is part of the establishment.

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Florida Lawmakers Aim to Cut Red Tape for Public Schools with New Legislation

Florida lawmakers have filed a new bill to cut red tape for certain aspects of public and charter school assessments, accountability, instruction and education choice.

Senate Bill 7004 was introduced by the Florida Senate Committee on Education Pre-K-12 and builds on the deregulation of public schools provision in House Bill 1, providing additional authority to school districts related to pre kindergarten programs, school improvements, assessments, reporting and instructional materials.

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Florida Lawmakers Examine Streamlining of State’s Workforce Development Programs

Florida lawmakers took a closer look last week at a 2021 law that is supposed to streamline and make the state’s workforce development system more accountable.

The Florida House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee met on Nov. 15 to discuss the implementation of the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act.

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Sponsors in These 29 Florida Counties Received over 10,000 Unaccompanied Minors

Border Surge

In the past fiscal year, Florida received 10,542 unaccompanied children (UACs) from the border, many of whom were brought into the country illegally, according to data published by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, tasked with oversight of and caring for the children.

Florida received the third greatest number behind Texas and California as it has almost every year. UAC data has been reported since fiscal 2015.

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Stacey Abrams’ Brother-in-Law Arrested on Human Trafficking Charges

Jimmie Gardner

The brother-in-law of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was arrested on human trafficking charges, Florida authorities said.

Jimmie Gardner, 57, allegedly met a 16-year-old girl in a Tampa hotel and attempted to pay her for sex, according to a Friday release by the State Attorney’s Office for the 13th Judicial Circuit. He was charged with one felony count of human trafficking for commercial sexual activity (victim less than 18), according to a court document obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Florida’s DeSantis Signs Bills from Recently-Concluded Special Session

Ron DeSantis Signing Bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed all of the bills passed this week during the Florida Legislature’s special session.

The special session was called in response to several pressing issues, including communities in need of relief from recent Hurricane Idalia, increasing access to education funding for disabled children and violence that has erupted in the Middle East.

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DeSantis Signs Trade Agreement with Great Britain

Ron DeSantis UK

Roughly six months after visiting with British leaders in London, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week Florida is expanding its business partnerships with the United Kingdom.

The governor announced on Tuesday that he and the UK Secretary of State for Business and Trade Kemi Badenoch, MP, signed a memorandum of understanding to increase trade and bilateral investment, strengthen business ties and grow academic partnerships.

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UAW Ratifies Five-Year Contract with Mack Trucks

United Auto Workers union members ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with Mack Trucks covering about 3,900 employees at facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

“The new agreement guarantees significant wage growth and delivers excellent benefits for our employees and their families,” Mack President Stephen Roy said in a statement. “At the same time, it will safeguard our competitiveness and allow us to continue making the necessary investments in our people, plants and products.”

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Florida Senator Criticizes Senate Democrats for Blocking Effort to Deport Hamas Sympathizers

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., blasted Democrats Thursday for blocking his motion to deport terrorist sympathizers in the U.S. on visas.

Rubio has led this effort to “revoke visas and initiate deportation proceedings for any foreign national who has endorsed or espoused terrorist activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or any another foreign terrorist organization.”

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Florida Lawmakers Could Examine Enhanced Regulations for Condominiums

Florida lawmakers might take a look at enhancing regulatory powers over the state’s massive condominium industry. 

The Florida Senate Committee on Regulated Industries held a panel Tuesday to discuss condominium governance and regulation.

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Florida School District Audits Reveal Numerous Oversight Issues: Report

The Florida Auditor General examined significant findings and financial trends in district school board audit reports and found issues needing correction, such as weaknesses in financial oversight and information technology security.

The report covered audits for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, and found several weaknesses in internal controls, for example, audits found instances of noncompliance with laws, rules or regulations. These were found in 43 of the 67 audit reports.

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Senators Marco Rubio and JD Vance Send Letter to U.S. Census Bureau About Its Plan of Adding Gender, Sexuality Questions for Those Ages 15 and Up

The U.S. Census Bureau is under fire for embracing progressive ideology around gender and sexuality and pushing for taxpayer dollars to fund it.

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and JD Vance, R-Ohio, sent a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Santos calling on him to rescind its plan to incorporate a gender identity and sexuality questions to the American Community Survey, which goes to more than 3.5 million Americans each year.

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Florida Lawmakers Pass Iran Sanctions, Hurricane Relief Bills in Special Session

The Florida Legislature wrapped up its special session after several new measures were passed, including sanctions on Iran, protections for the state’s Jewish community and relief funds for those affected by Hurricane Idalia.

Senate Resolution 8C, House Resolution 9C and HR 11C all would express support for the State of Israel and its right to exist as a sovereign nation with the right to defend itself against attacks from terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The resolutions passed unanimously.

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Florida University System Bans Funding Political ‘Activism,’ Programs That Segregate by Race or Sex

The State University System of Florida’s Board of Governors approved regulations Thursday that will prohibit using state funds for race- or sex-based programs, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 266 into law in June, which prohibits the funding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for higher education, in the state. The new regulations defines DEI as “any program, campus activity, or policy that classifies individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation” and promotes different treatments of people based on those factors, according to Inside Higher Ed.

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Electric Vehicle Registration Fee Recharging for Next Florida Session

As more electric vehicles hit the highways, states are worried about fuel tax collections headed in the opposite direction.

States, including Florida, are considering or have been already enacted, annual registration fees to ensure owners of electrics pay a fair share of the cost of maintaining the roads, highways and bridges, said Doug Shinkle, who oversees the transportation program for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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Florida Lawmakers Review New Teacher and Workforce Incentive Programs

The Florida House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education discussed workforce incentives, teacher incentives and apprenticeship programs Tuesday night.

Kevin O’Farrell, Chancellor of the Division Career and Adult Education at the Florida Department of Education provided the subcommittee with an update and a presentation on funding programs across Florida.

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Trump Beats DeSantis in Florida Presidential Primary: Poll

Former President Donald Trump is leading Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in their home state primary by nearly 40 points, according to a Tuesday poll.

Trump is beating DeSantis 60% to 21% among a crowded Republican primary field in Florida’s primary, according to a University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab survey. Several Republican state officials in Florida recently flipped their endorsements from DeSantis to Trump over the weekend, Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida threw his support behind the former president and the state party did away with its loyalty pledge, backed by the governor, to support the eventual nominee to participate in its primary.

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Florida Lawmakers Have Full Slate of Bills for Special Session

The Florida Legislature’s special session began Monday, with lawmakers aiming to work through several issues facing the state.

Florida lawmakers will be tackling a series of bills ranging from disaster relief to the expansion of school vouchers for children with disabilities. Other bills could impose sanctions on businesses involved with Iran.

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DeSantis Responds to Florida Republican Senator Endorsing Trump

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded Friday to Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida’s endorsement of former President Donald Trump during an interview with Fox News.

The GOP senator and previous Florida governor decided not to endorse his successor, and instead threw his support behind Trump on Thursday. DeSantis was asked directly about the endorsement, and reports that Republican state lawmakers in Florida would also soon flock to Trump, and told Fox News’ Sandra Smith that there’s still time to shore up support for his campaign before voting starts.

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‘It’s Coming’: Florida GOP Elected Officials to Turn on DeSantis, Endorse Trump: Report

Republican elected officials in Florida are expected to flip their endorsements from Gov. Ron DeSantis to former President Donald Trump next week, NBC News reported Wednesday.

After DeSantis received the backing of 99 state legislators, allies of the former president have orchestrated an effort in the state to switch them to Trump, two sources familiar told NBC News. As many as six of the state’s GOP elected officials will likely announce their support for Trump as early as next week after the Florida Freedom Summit Saturday and amid the third GOP presidential debate Wednesday in Miami, which the former president is skipping to hold a rally in the state.

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Disney: DeSantis Administration Engaged in an Ongoing ‘Constitutional Mutiny’

The Walt Disney Company responded Monday to the state of Florida’s motion to get its lawsuit dismissed over what the company says is a violation of its free speech rights. 

The court filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida says that Gov. Ron DeSantis “and his allies are engaged in an ongoing constitutional mutiny,” adding that the state openly rejects the First Amendment rule that a state cannot use official powers to punish opposing political views.

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Florida Warns Morningstar-Sustainalytics, Alleges Anti-Israel Policies

The state of Florida has placed another company, Morningstar-Sustainalytics, on its list of “Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel.” The company, which rejects the accusation, has 90 days to respond or be subjected to Florida’s divestment and contract prohibitions.

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Florida State Senate Minority Leader Files Pro-Abortion Legislation

Florida’s Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book has filed three pro-abortion bills for the 2024 legislative season.

Senate Bill 256 focuses on crisis pregnancy centers – clinics that provide a variety of reproductive services for free to the community, including prenatal care and anti-abortion counseling. The clinics are not required to be licensed or inspected and Book, D-Plantation, wants regulation.

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Florida Republican Raises the Alarm after 17 Chinese Nationals Apprehended in District

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez raised the alarm after 17 Chinese nationals were apprehended in Key Largo, which is inside his district.

“Florida Highway Patrol and U.S. Border Agents detained 17 Chinese nationals after illegally making landfall in Key Largo – my district,” Gimenez said on Thursday.

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Florida Democratic Leader Files Pro-Abortion Legislation

Florida’s Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book has filed three pro-abortion bills for the 2024 legislative season.

Senate Bill 256 focuses on crisis pregnancy centers – clinics that provide a variety of reproductive services for free to the community, including prenatal care and anti-abortion counseling. The clinics are not required to be licensed or inspected and Book, D-Plantation, wants regulation.

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Florida Bill Would Allow Nonviolent Offenders to Receive Parole

A new bill has been filed in the Florida Legislature that would allow nonviolent offenders to receive parole after serving a certain amount of prison time.

House Bill 223 is sponsored by state Rep. Alina Garcia, R-Miami, and would make provisions for parole granted to nonviolent prisoners under certain circumstances while retaining jurisdiction for courts.

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Florida Surgeon General Recommends Against COVID-19 Booster Shots for People Under 65

On Monday, the Surgeon General of Florida recommended against the COVID-19 booster for individuals under 65, making Florida the first state to advise its residents to avoid the risky shots.

In a bulletin and video statement aimed at health care providers, Dr. Joseph Ladapo said that based on all the available data, the booster shots—formulated for the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant—are not worth the risk.

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DeSantis Admin Orders Universities Remove Pro-Palestine Student Orgs for Openly Supporting ‘Terrorism’

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration ordered two major universities in Florida to remove Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters from campus Wednesday, citing the organizations’ support for “terrorism.”

Multiple student organizations at elite colleges and universities signed open letters or held rallies in support of Palestinians following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel, including the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. The chancellor of Florida’s university system, Ray Rodrigues, called on the colleges to disband SJP chapters Tuesday following their declaration of support for Palestinians, alleging they violated Florida’s antisemitism laws.

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Florida Unemployment Rate Is Lowest Among Nation’s Most Populated States

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has a seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 2.8% and ranks 14th overall, sharing a spot with Kansas and Hawaii.

Of the five largest states by population — California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania — Florida has the lowest unemployment rate. At the same time, New York, Texas and California all sit above the national average of 3.8%.

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Florida Legislature Calls Special Session to Pass Additional Sanctions on Iran

The Florida Legislature has called a special legislative session to expand sanctions on Iran, express support for Israel and advance several legislative priorities.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner issued a joint proclamation on Friday outlining eight agenda items including prioritizing tax relief and other financial assistance related to damages resulting from Hurricane Idalia. Other items on the agenda include expanding funding for recovery efforts related to natural disasters and expanding school choice for students with special needs.

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‘It’s Time to Cowboy Up’: Rick Scott Announces Largest Ad Buy of Any 2024 GOP Senate Candidate So Far

Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida announced a $3 million ad buy on Thursday, the largest of any 2024 Republican Senate candidate to date.

Scott, who defeated then-Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida in 2018 following a contentious recount battle, previously served two terms as governor of Florida, and he faces a challenge from former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is the current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. “The game is now rigged against hardworking Americans who still believe in this country, believe in God and the American values of hard work, patriotism and self-reliance,” Scott says in the ad.

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Rick Scott Opponent Drops Out of Senate Race to Challenge Vulnerable GOP Congressman

A Democratic opponent of Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida in the state’s 2024 election has withdrawn from the race to challenge a Republican member of the House of Representatives, instead.

Phil Ehr, a U.S. Navy veteran and former Democratic candidate against Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida in 2020, announced Wednesday that he would run to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez of Florida. Ehr’s withdrawal makes former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida the favorite in a crowded field to win the primary, according to polling.

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Florida Universities Leader Says Protesters May Have Broken the Law with Reported Calls to Wipe Israel ‘Off the Map’

Ray Rodrigues, the chancellor of the State University System of Florida, issued a memo Friday to university presidents warning that pro-Palestinian protesters, who allegedly called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” may have violated Florida law, according to an email obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at Florida State University (FSU) hosted a protest on Oct. 11 advocating for “Palestinian resistance” just days after Hamas, a U.S.-designated Palestinian terrorist organization, attacked Israel, killing over 1,300 and wounding thousands, according to Florida’s Voice. Rodrigues said in his memo that allegations had been made that protesters called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and warned university presidents, if true, the behavior would “not be tolerated.”

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Florida Moves to Fly Stranded Americans Out of Israel

After Hamas attacked Israel, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the state would be advancing greater sanctions against Iran. He also declared a state of emergency and issued an executive order to activate the national and state guard and other agencies to help bring Americans home who are stranded in Israel. 

According to some news reports, there are roughly 20,000 Americans, including many, who are stranded in Israel. They are unable to get out because of commercial flight cancellations and other travel and logistics disruptions due to the ongoing war with Hamas. 

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Officials Say Recent Reforms Could Help Florida’s Property Insurance Market

Florida homeowners’ policies are becoming more expensive, but officials say improvements are in the offing as more companies enter the market.

On Tuesday, the Florida Senate’s Committee on Banking and Insurance heard an update from the state’s insurance commissioner and the state’s property insurer of last resort.

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Florida Bill Would Ban Practice of Citizen’s Arrest

A new bill has been filed that would ban the practice of citizen’s arrest in Florida, but will likely find resistance in a Republican-dominated Legislature.

House Bill 27 is sponsored by Rep. Christopher Benjamin, D-Miami Gardens, and would prohibit citizen’s arrests while specifying exceptions. In the bill’s text, it states that a private person who is not in law enforcement is unable to arrest another citizen for any perceived violations of state law.

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DeSantis Announces Plan to Expand Sanctions on Iran

Within days of Hamas attacking Israel, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state plans to increase sanctions against the Iranian regime. The new sanctions include expanding the industries on Florida’s scrutinized companies list and strengthening Florida’s position against states that sponsor terror.

DeSantis said that as the federal government has eased sanctions on Iran and funded state-sponsored terrorism by sending billions of U.S. taxpayer money to Iran and restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians that was previously halted by the Trump administration, Florida is taking the opposite approach.

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Florida Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court to Intervene in Proposed Abortion Amendment

Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody of Florida asked the state Supreme Court Monday to review language for a proposed abortion amendment that would enshrine the practice up to viability, according to The National Desk.

The amendment was submitted by Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF) and has amassed 0ver 400,000 of the 891,523 signatures needed by Feb. 1 to get the amendment on the November 2024 ballot, according to The National Desk. Moody has been vocal in her opposition to the amendment and told the court Monday that she felt FPF’s proposed language did not “satisfy the legal requirements” for a spot on the ballot.

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Florida Supreme Court Ponders Definition of a Riot in 2021 State Law

The Florida Supreme Court is pondering the definition of a riot related to a law passed in 2021 designed to prevent violent protests like those seen in 2020 after the death of George Floyd.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, Jacksonville/Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams, and Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony were named as defendants in the 2021 lawsuit filed by Dream Defenders and other social justice groups including Black Lives Matter.

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Expert: Florida Needs Only a Few Changes for a Perfect Education Freedom Score

According to a recent report, Florida is the nation’s best for education freedom, but one expert says only minor changes are needed for a perfect score.

The American Legislative Exchange Council recently put Florida at the top of its 2023 ALEC Index of State Education Freedom: A 50-State Guide to Parental Empowerment rankings.

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Florida Sues Biden Admin over Threats to Withhold Funds Following Union Law

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging that the Biden administration threatened to withhold grant funding over a new state union law, according to an office press release.

The suit claims that the federal government is violating the Spending Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act by threatening to withhold more than $800 million in funding for not complying with federal union laws after the state passed SB 256 earlier this year, according to a press release from Moody’s office. SB 256 places a number of restrictions on public unions, including a prohibition from using government resources to deduct union dues from certain workers’ paychecks, requiring unions to notify members of the cost of membership and requiring unions to undergo annual audits and financial disclosures, according to a press release.

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Trump Leads DeSantis by 35 Points in Florida: Poll

Former President Donald Trump holds a commanding lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in their shared state of residence.

Trump claimed the support of 57% of Republican voters in the Sunshine State to the governor’s 22% in a recent poll from Tony Fabrizio, who surveys for a pro-Trump super PAC. Fabrizio conducted this survey for a private client, according to The Messenger.

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Ron DeSantis Rakes In $15 Million During Third Fundraising Quarter

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday his campaign brought in $15 million during the third fundraising quarter, according to a press release.

DeSantis is the first 2024 GOP presidential candidate who has announced the figures ahead of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing deadline on Oct. 15. The governor raised just over $20 million during his first fundraising quarter as a presidential candidate, and entered this fundraising quarter with $12.2 million cash on hand.

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Florida Bill Proposes a Change to State’s Cosmetology License Application

Crime convictions three years before applying for barber or cosmetologist licensure would not be held against the applicants under a proposal from an Orlando state senator.

Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said she is “giving these important common sense policies that represent my constituency’s interests one last push towards the finish line.” Senate Bill 42 is similar to past efforts that have failed in the last two legislative sessions.

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Report Gives Florida Nation’s Best Overall Grade for Education Freedom

After a legislative session where Florida lawmakers passed universal school choice, the state was recognized as the nation’s best in a recent report for its policies on education. 

The nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council, which previously published the Report Card on American Education over the past 25 years, has a new publication, The Index of State Education Freedom: A 50-State Guide to Parental Empowerment.

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Transportation Analyst: Private Rail Line Between Miami and Orlando Is ‘Promising’

A privately funded passenger rail line that launched last week between Miami and Orlando holds great promise, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation told The Center Square.

“It shows what can really be done if you approach it as a true business venture,” said Poole, the foundation’s director of transportation policy.

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Report: Jacksonville Uses Green Infrastructure to Combat Flooding

A recent report from Florida TaxWatch proposes new measures to help combat storm water runoff and reduce flooding through the use of green infrastructure.

Over the past few years, the Sunshine State has had its fair share of severe storms, as recently as August, when Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend region of the state, causing widespread flooding to coastal towns.

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