Ron DeSantis Is Courting Donors in Trump’s Old Stomping Grounds: Report

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is vying for New York donors by positioning himself as the electable GOP candidate for president in 2024, according to Politico.

The governor has been reaching out to and meeting with high-dollar donors in the state over the past few months ahead of his likely presidential announcement, which is expected to come following Florida’s legislative session in May, Politico reported. DeSantis paid a visit to Republican donor and billionaire Ronald Lauder’s home in Long Island where he insisted he is the only GOP contender who could beat President Joe Biden.

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Florida House Committee Passes Bill to Increase State Pension Benefits

Critics say a bill that would increase retirement benefits for beneficiaries of the state’s defined-benefit pension system could put the system’s financials in future jeopardy.

House Bill 239, which passed favorably through the House Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday, will increase retirement benefits for the 629,073 members of the Florida Retirement System and 151,913 current retirees.

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DeSantis-Aligned Super PAC Taps Another Former Trump Aide

Never Back Down, the political action committee (PAC) that intends on recruiting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president in 2024, hired a strategic communications director – another former aide to President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.

Matt Wolking, former deputy communications director for the 2020 Trump campaign, will join the super PAC founded by former Trump official Ken Cuccinelli, according to the NYT. Wolking also served as a spokesman for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in his 2021 campaign.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Legislation He Calls ‘Largest Expansion of School Choice in History of These United States’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday in Miami that establishes an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program under which every family in the state can receive up to $8,000 to cover education expenses outside of the public school system. “The state of Florida is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice,” DeSantis said at a press conference.

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Illegal Immigrants Turn to Hang Gliders Unlawful Entry to the U.S.

As more foreign nationals are caught attempting to illegally enter Florida and are repatriated to their country or port of origin, a new method to bypass law enforcement efforts by sea is underway by air: hang gliders.

On Saturday, two Cuban nationals landed at the Key West International Airport using a powered hang glider. They were taken into custody by Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who then turned them over to U.S. Border Patrol. No injuries were reported, the sheriff’s office said.

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DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Program into Florida Law

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation into law on Monday creating a universal school choice program.

House Bill 1, sponsored by the Education Quality Subcommittee, establishes an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program under which every family is eligible to receive up to $8,000 to cover education expenses outside of the public school system. The vouchers will be distributed on a “priority” basis, with families of four making less than $51,000 annually receiving the funds first.

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DeSantis to Reward Teachers with $3K Bonus for Refresher Training on Civics

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants Florida teachers to emphasize civic education and reward those who do with a $3,000 bonus.

The second-term Republican held a news conference in Orange Park Thursday to discuss the importance of teaching American civics and how it is being better implemented in Florida for school students.

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Report: Miami Has Highest Taxpayer Burden of Florida’s Largest Cities

Miami has the highest taxpayer burden out of Florida’s four largest cities, according to an analysis from Truth in Accounting.

In its annual report that assesses the financial health of the 75 most populous U.S. cities, TIA found that two-thirds of them didn’t have enough money to pay their bills. Their combined debt totals $266.5 billion; combined pension debt totals $109.8 billion; and combined OPEB (other post-employment benefits) debt totals $168.7 billion.

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LGBT Activists, Parents Sue Florida over Gender Transition Ban for Kids

Four families backed by multiple LGBT activist groups filed a federal lawsuit against Florida on Thursday, challenging its new rule banning gender transition procedures for minors.

The ban, which took effect on March 16, prohibits minors from accessing surgical sex change procedures, puberty blockers and hormone therapy. Four parents, along with several LGBT and left-wing activist groups, filed the lawsuit against Florida’s Surgeon General Thursday on behalf of their children who they claim are transgender, arguing the ban is a violation of parents’ rights to “make medical decisions to ensure the health and wellbeing of their adolescent children,” according to the complaint.

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Disney World Florida to Host World’s Largest LGBT+ Conference

Walt Disney World in Florida will host an LGBT+ conference this fall that organizers are calling the world’s largest  – as the resort and state GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis continue to spar over sexual-orientation and gender-identity issues.

Out & Equal, an activist group that promotes equality for LGBT+ people in the workplace, is hosting its 2023 Workplace Summit for three days in September, according to the organization’s website. The group says the summit “is the largest LGBTQ+ conference in the world, with more than 5,000 attendees every year.”

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Florida Rep. Kat Cammack Says There Should Never Be Another Bank Bailout

Florida GOP Rep. Kat Cammack says that there should not be a bank bailout after the recent bank failures because ultimately, the price will fall on the American people. 

“There should absolutely never be a bank bailout ever again,” Cammack said on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast. “We saw the failures of that years ago and now we’re staring down the barrel of another meltdown and contagion because there’s poor management.”

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DeSantis Proposes Ban on Central Bank Digital Currency to Prevent ‘Woke Ideology’

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on his Legislature to pass a bill that would prohibit any federally adopted Central Bank Digital Currency from being used in the state.

“A federally controlled Central Bank Digital Currency is the most recent way the Davos elites are attempting to backdoor woke ideology like Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) into the United States financial system, threatening individual privacy and economic freedom,” DeSantis’ office said Monday, taking aim at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in an announcement about the proposal.

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Florida College Provost Who Clashed with Conservative Trustees Steps Down

The New College of Florida (NCF) announced on Monday that an official who sparred with newly appointed conservative trustees earlier this year stepped down from her position, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Provost Suzanne Sherman stepped down from her position after serving in the role since 2020, according to the college website. Sherman clashed with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis-appointed trustees Christopher Rufo and Eddie Speir when they refused to cancel a Jan. 25 town hall meeting after receiving a death threat, and Rufo told reporters before the meeting that the board would reconsider college leadership because what he saw “demonstrated here was cowardice, not leadership,” according to the Herald-Tribune.

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Florida Senate Committee Approves Measure to Expand Telehealth Practice

by Andrew Powell   The Florida Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met on Wednesday and approved a bill to revise the definition of telehealth by allowing audio-only patient services. Telehealth is a service that connects consumers in rural areas with health professionals from the comfort and convenience of their homes.…

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Florida Heartbeat Bill Approved by House Subcommittee and Advances

A Florida House subcommittee approved a bill Thursday that would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, a move that advances the legislation to the state House Health and Human Services Committee for a hearing.

The House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee voted 13-5 in support of HB7, a measure that would protect most unborn babies from abortion at generally six weeks after a heartbeat is detected.

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Florida House Committee Approves ‘Teacher Bill of Rights’ Measure

The Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved three bills that are designed to reform the Sunshine State’s civil litigation system.

House Bill 1035, also known as the “Teachers Bill of Rights,” was presented by state Rep. Karen Gonzalez-Pittman, R-Tampa, who stated that education is a fundamental value of the people of Florida.

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Florida Audit Shows Issues with Charter School Management and Transparency

A recent Florida audit of the state’s charter school administration still shows a lack of oversight and business dealings that could be seen as conflicts of interest.

The Florida Auditor General recently released a follow-up report into the day-to-day management and transparency of charter schools in the Sunshine State and there were several issues that still needed to be addressed.

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HHS Audit Finds Florida’s Foster Care System Didn’t Properly Report Missing Children

An audit recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General gave the state of Florida low marks for its stewardship of children in its foster care system.

The OIG audit found that state agencies were failing to properly report missing foster care children in accordance with federal law and some didn’t report them missing at all.

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Florida AG Slams Biden After White House Says No Need to Designate Cartels as Terrorists

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called President Joe Biden “trafficker-in-chief” Thursday in response to a White House spokesperson saying there’s no need to designate Mexican cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “Designating these cartels as FTOs would not grant us any additional authorities that we don’t really have at this time. The United States has powerful sanctions authorities specifically designated to combat narcotics trafficking organizations and the individuals and entities that enable them.”

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Wows Iowans at Packed ‘Book Tour’ Event

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may still be mulling over a run for president, but the Republican looked and sounded every bit a contender for the GOP presidential nomination Friday evening in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

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Florida House Committee Approves Two Election-Related Bills

The Florida House Ethics, Elections and Open Government Subcommittee approved two election-related bills and another bill that would allow the recall of county officials by voters at their meeting on Wednesday.

House Joint Resolution 31 was presented by state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, who said the resolution would allow voters to change the Florida Constitution to require members of a district school board to be subject to a partisan election.

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Florida Republican Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Limit After Six Weeks

Republican lawmakers in Florida filed bills Tuesday that would ban abortion after six weeks pregnancy.

On the first day of the legislative session, GOP legislators introduced such bills to the House and Senate – with a Republican supermajority – that would cut down the abortion window from the previously approved 15-week mark. The bills also allow for exceptions in the case that a mother was raped or fell victim to incest so long as they could prove such a crime.

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In Florida County, Felons Vote Illegally, Ballots Cast on Behalf of Long-Dead, Whistleblower Claims

Election issues continue in Orange County, Fla., where, a whistleblower alleges, felons illegally voted, deceased voters requested and received mail-in ballots, voter addresses are changed without the voters requesting it, and multiple ballots are allowed to be dropped off without question. 

In a new affidavit filed with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Brian Freid, a whistleblower in the Orange County Supervisor of Elections (SOE) office, alleges that since the SOE was notified last year by the state’s Office of Election Crimes and Security that felons illegally voted in the county in the 2020 election, there have been “no apparent changes implemented … to effectively ensure this does not happen again in the future.”

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University of Florida Reports Significant Increase in Trans-Identifying Students, Sex Change Treatments in Response to DeSantis Audit

University of Florida (UF) health centers reported an uptick in the number of transgender patients, fulfilling a request by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration in January, UF student newspaper the Independent Florida Alligator reported.

The Florida Office of Policy and Budget sent a memo to university leaders on Jan. 11 demanding reports about the number of patients treated for gender dysphoria at affiliated health centers. UF Health reported an increase in sex change treatments including puberty blocker prescription, hormone therapy, surgery and behavioral services at its various clinics since 2018, according to the reports obtained by the Alligator.

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Report: Florida’s Tourism Industry Will Continue Post-COVID Recovery

With the exception of a dip during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Florida’s tourism industry has continued to grow since 2019 and predictions are that the good times will continue to roll for the Sunshine State.

A report from Visit Florida, showed that the Sunshine State had approximately 33.2 million visitors in total during the fourth quarter of 2022. This is 6% higher than the same time period in 2021, and 7.8% higher than October 2019 through December 2019.

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Florida Bills Filed to Expand Protection for Human Trafficking Victims

Two bills have been filed in the Florida Legislature in advance of the upcoming session that would extend protections for human trafficking victims in court proceedings, including for minors or victims of certain crimes.

The bills filed by state Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Tampa, and state Rep. Taylor Yarkosky, R-Clermont, Senate Bill 1208 and House Bill 1037, respectively, have the support of Attorney General Ashley Moody.

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Florida Lawmakers to Tackle School Choice Expansion in New Session

Florida’s Legislature will be serving up a smorgasbord of issues during the upcoming 60-day regular session that begins on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said many times that Florida is the place where “woke goes to die” and passage of laws to stop it tops the agenda for the Republican supermajority in 2023.

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DeSantis-Backed College Trustees Eliminate Diversity Office

The New College of Florida (NCF) Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to disband an office tasked with advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on campus, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

The trustees voted to abolish the Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence, which prioritized diversity, community outreach and inclusivity, during Tuesday’s board meeting and will offer its four employees new jobs at the college, according to the Tribune. The board also voted to eliminate the use of diversity statements in the hiring process and to ask interim President Richard Corcoran, former state education commissioner, to issue a ban on employee diversity training.

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Florida Republican Pushes Bill That Could Eliminate State Democratic Party

A Florida Republican this week introduced a bill to require the state Division of Elections to reject the electoral filings of a political party that previously advocated for slavery.

Dubbed “The Ultimate Cancel Act,” state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia’s plan would automatically notify members of a “canceled” party that it had been dissolved and to change their party affiliations to “no party affiliation,” NBC News reported.

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Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Warns NewsGuard Against ‘Disinformation’ Attack on Conservative Groups

Jimmy Patronis, the state of Florida’s chief financial officer, is warning the top executives of a so-called “disinformation” tracking group it’s playing with fire in targeting conservative organizations in what has been described as a defunding campaign. In a letter to NewsGuard CEOs and Editors-in-Chiefs Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz,…

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Record Apprehensions Continue off Florida Coast

A record number of foreign nationals attempting to enter Florida illegally by sea continue to be apprehended by federal, state and local law enforcement agents who are breaking up violent altercations, rescuing people from overloaded and sinking boats, and arresting MS-13 gang members and child sex offenders – the majority of whom are single military age men.

U.S. Coast Guard crews have apprehended a record number of Cubans attempting to enter Florida illegally. Since Oct. 1, 2022, they’ve apprehended 5,740 Cubans. That’s nearly as many as they did in all of fiscal 2022 – 6,182.

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DeSantis Signs Bill Ending Disney’s Special Self-Governing Status

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill ending the Walt Disney Company’s special self-governing status.

“Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” DeSantis said in an announcement about the new law, which came largely in response to Disney’s advocacy against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, called the “Don’t say gay bill” by critics.

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Florida County GOP Passes Resolution to ‘Ban the Jab’ and Confiscate the Doses

The Lee County Republican Party Executive Committee passed a  resolution Tuesday night, asking the Florida Legislature to outlaw the COVID injections and the Attorney General’s Office to confiscate all doses within the state.

The “Ban the Jab” resolution, which passed with the required two-thirds majority, will now head to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk (where he can ignore it) and to the State Legislature.

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Hospital Costs for Foreign Nationals Illegally in Florida Total $340 Million in Fiscal ’21

Taxpayers spent nearly $340 million for foreign nationals illegally in the U.S. who were admitted to Florida hospitals during fiscal 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office says. This is after taxpayers spent $312 million on illegal foreign nationals admitted to Florida hospitals in fiscal 2020.

According to the findings, donations from charities were used to help pay for illegal foreign nationals’ hospital bills.

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Florida Seeks to Replace SAT with CLT, Following Classical Education Trend

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ feud with the College Board is calling attention to alternatives in standardized testing methods, including the Classical Learning Test (CLT).

DeSantis began pushing back against the College Board, which administers the SAT entrance exam and Advanced Placement (AP) curricula, in January when his administration rejected the trial-run of the AP African American Studies course in the state of Florida.

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Florida’s DeSantis Announces New Initiative to Combat Illegal Immigration

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday an extensive legislative plan to address the border crisis.

His proposal comes as record numbers of foreign nationals have illegally entered through the southern border and made their way to Florida or are continuing to be apprehended by state and federal law enforcement officers as they attempt to enter Florida illegally by sea.

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Florida Lawmakers Discuss Effects of Benefit Cliffs on Low Income Families

The Florida House Subcommittee on Children, Families and Seniors met in Tallahassee Wednesday and discussed the phenomena of benefit cliffs with several programs and how they can provide a disincentive for work.

The subcommittee was given a presentation on the barriers that are present for Florida families, with the main focus being benefit cliffs — which refers to the sudden and often unexpected decrease in public benefits due to a small increase in earnings.

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Florida Senate Education Committee Approves School Choice Bill

The Florida Senate Education Committee approved a bill that will further expand education choice in the Sunshine State on Tuesday.

Education Committee Chairman Corey Simon, R-Tallahassee, introduced Senate Bill 202 which will give additional access and support to parents and students.

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More Than 200 People Arrested in Human Sex Trafficking Ring in Florida

A multiagency operation led to the arrest of more than 200 people allegedly engaging in human trafficking in Polk County, Florida. More than half of the victims were smuggled into the U.S. illegally through the southern border, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

Of the 24 victims identified as being trafficked, “14 of these females are illegally in this country,” Judd said. “Did you hear that? Did you hear clearly what I said?

“Fourteen of them are here illegally in the country. To me the bombshell is 13 of them are Cuban, one is Mexican, all of them came to us through the southern border.”

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Florida Officials Find Escambia County Misused Tourism Tax Funds

A recent report from the Florida Auditor General has turned up three issues regarding the use of taxes retained by the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners and Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller.

Florida state law allows counties to levy and impose five separate local option taxes, referred to as the Tourist Development Tax, which allows rates of up to 6% of each dollar collected from short-term rentals of up to six months.

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Federal Judge Tosses Challenge to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a challenge to a Florida law that restricts the discussion of sexuality and gender identity with younger students, and that critics have maligned as an anti-LGBT “Don’t Say Gay” law.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor determined that the group of Florida students, parents and teachers who brought the challenge failed to prove that they had standing to bring the case to the federal bench.

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Florida’s Medical Marijuana Program Has Grown 71 Percent in the Past Two Years

According to the official in charge of Florida’s medical marijuana program, the number of active patients has increased 71% over the past two years.

Christopher Kimball, the Director of the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, provided statistics to the Florida House Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee Tallahassee Wednesday as they discussed the medical marijuana industry in the Sunshine State.

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Florida’s DeSantis, Legislative Leaders Push for Reforms Against Frivolous Lawsuits

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and legislative leaders want reforms to take on frivolous lawsuits and put a stop to what the governor calls “predatory” practices by trial lawyers.

DeSantis held a news conference in Jacksonville Tuesday with House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples about the proposals which would eliminate one-way attorney fees and fee multipliers for all lines of insurance, modernize Florida’s “bad faith” law, and put caps on damage claims to protect small businesses.

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Senators JD Vance, Marco Rubio Send Letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Demanding Answers on East Palestine Train Derailment

Ohio Senator JD Vance (R-OH) and Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday amid the ongoing situation surrounding the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

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Florida’s DeSantis Wants to Restrict Politically Motivated Investment Policies

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the Legislature to restrict politically motivated banking and investment policies with taxpayer funds and protect Floridians from discrimination from the banking industry in the upcoming session.

DeSantis held a news conference in Naples Monday to discuss legislative proposals to address environmental, social and governance investment policies. While ESG was prohibited in investment decisions for the state’s pension program through the State Board of Administration last year, DeSantis wants more restrictions.

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Southern Florida Continues to See Record Apprehensions, Gotaways of Illegal Immigrants

In January, Border Patrol agents apprehended 1,402 foreign nationals illegally entering Florida, according to preliminary data obtained by The Center Square from a Border Patrol agent on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. 

They also reported 58 gotaways, those who were known and reported to have illegally entered and got evaded capture by law enforcement. Combined, these totaled 1,460.

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Florida Will No Longer Ask Students About Menstrual History on Medical Form Required to Play Sports

Florida schools will no longer ask student-athletes to share their menstrual histories to play high school sports, after an effort to make the optional questions mandatory.

The state’s High School Athletic Association’s board of directors voted 14-2 Thursday in an emergency session to adopt a proposal to remove the questions from a pre-participation physical evaluation form, according to NBC News. 

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Florida Lawmakers Conclude Special Session, Strip Away Disney’s Special Status

The Florida Legislature concluded its special session on Friday, passing bills regarding Disney’s autonomy, transport of foreign nationals and election fraud.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner said at a news conference before the House’s final meeting that the special session was successful and that lawmakers addressed “the complete abdication by the federal government in defending our border and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants so that the state can take action to protect our citizens.”

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