Poll Shows Plurality of Floridians Support Mask Mandates

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

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

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Parkland Victims Could Receive $25 Million

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

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

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

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

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

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Cruise Industry Resumes Out of Florida

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

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

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Governor DeSantis Calls for Reduction in Toll Rates for Garcon Point Bridge

Garcon Point Bridge

Toll rates for the Garcon Point Bridge in Milton, Florida, will be practically cut in half after Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to reduce the rates to match FDOT facilities across the state. 

For drivers with SunPass, the rate will be reduced from $4.50 to $2.30, and for drivers paying cash, the rate will reduce from $5 to $2.75.

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Governor DeSantis Signs Executive Order Banning Mask Mandates in Florida Schools

Governor DeSantis praised Florida parents’ “freedom to choose” before signing an executive order (EO 21-175) Friday, stopping Florida schools from issuing mask mandates for students.

The executive order cites HB 241, known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” that expanded upon the rights parents have regarding their children’s education, health, and upbringing. For example, the decision to not make their kids wear a mask. 

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DeSantis to Issue Executive Order over Masks in Florida Schools

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

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

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

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Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics Backs Masks in Schools

Two women at table together, wearing masks

A group known as the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) representing over 2,500 pediatricians across the state released a statement Thursday backing the use of masks in schools. 

With the delta variant causing a influx of COVID-19 cases across the state, Thursday’s announcement resembles the FCAAP’s recommendations from this time last year before the 2020-2021 school year but with the inclusion of vaccination protocols.

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

U.S. Supreme Court

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

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

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Florida Local Officials Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination for Government Employees

Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida, government officials for Leon and Orange counties have decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination a condition for employment for their workers. 

On Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an executive order for the requirement while Leon County Administrator Vince Long notified employees through email.

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DeSantis Announces $250M for Florida’s Ports

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

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

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

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

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

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Unwavering While Facing COVID Spike

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

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

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Lawsuit Filed to Restore Federal Unemployment Assistance in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis

A lawsuit against Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), and its Director Dane Eagle was filed on Sunday in attempt to bring back the $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance to Floridians. 

The federal assistance was suppose to be available through September 6th but was cut off on June 26th by DeSantis and the DEO under the “Return to Work” initiative. 

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Governor DeSantis Receives More Criticism on Anti-Riot Law

Governor Ron DeSantis has been criticized for being hypocritical for the lack of enforcement of the “anti-riot” law against Cuban protesters who marched on multiple highways in Florida.

Given the fact that the new law made it a felony offense to block traffic while protesting, multiple African American leaders saw the lack of arrests as “selective enforcement” by DeSantis and law enforcement. 

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Nikki Fried Encourages DeSantis to Form Task Force Following Surfside Tragedy

In response to the Surfside condo collapse, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried held a press conference Friday to encourage the Legislature to update regulations for condominiums and establish a task force to examine said regulations to prevent future tragedies. 

Fried also announced the steps being taken to address consumer and homeowner complaints through Florida’s Division of Consumer Services (FDCS), as well as their dedication to weed out fraudulent charities in relation to the condo collapse. 

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

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

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

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DeSantis Says No Lockdowns or School Mask Mandates in Florida

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

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

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Governor DeSantis Celebrates $270 Million for Literacy Initiatives in Florida

Almost a month after it was signed, HB 3, which dedicates $271 million in literacy initiatives throughout Florida, was celebrated on Thursday by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill created the state’s first statewide book distribution program known as “New Worlds Reading Initiative” (NWRI), which will provide and deliver free “high-quality” books to the home of elementary school students who are reading below grade level.

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Governor DeSantis Praises $21 Billion Settlement to Combat Opioid Crisis

Governor Ron DeSantis praised a multi-state agreement between three of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the nation, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, worth $21 billion.

DeSantis also praised a separate agreement by Johnson and Johnson who will pay $5 billion over the next nine years. The agreements will aim to settle litigation regarding the opioid crisis in not only Florida, but the nation as a whole. 

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Florida’s West Coast Still Inundated With Red Tide

red tide

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

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

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Injunction Blocking CDC Guidelines for Cruise Ship Industry Lifted by Circuit Court of Appeals

Aerial shot of several cruise ships in the ocean, clear water.

The future of Florida’s cruise ship industry remains in question after a panel of three judges for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, or suspension, on a preliminary injunction blocking the CDC’s authority in allowing cruise ships to set sail.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday in Tampa issued the now-lifted injunction in June after siding with the state that the CDC’s guidelines overstepped its legal authority to control an entire industry.

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Governor DeSantis Celebrates the Signing of The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act

A lion with its cub

Two weeks after it was signed into law, Governor DeSantis celebrated the approval of SB 976, otherwise known as The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act.

The Act directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to promote and encourage investments towards the protection and enhancement of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. 

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Florida Department of Health Reports Spike in Covid Cases

Staff if Florida Health Department

The Florida Department of Health (FDOE) reported a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases for the week that ended July 15th, making it the second week in a row that the number of cases increased. 

The FDOE reported 45,604 new cases from July 9th to July 15th which increased the COVID-19 positivity rate from 7.8% to 11.5%. The number of COVID-19 deaths during that week was 59. 

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The Dismantling of Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund Begins

Ron DeSantis

An endowment fund for health programs and education in Florida started being dismantled after HB 5011 was signed by DeSantis in June, and taken into effect on July 1st. 

HB 5011 issued the termination of the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund (LCEF) and directed the State Board of Administration to liquidate and transfer the funds into the Budget Stabilization Fund by June 30th, 2022. 

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Governor Ron DeSantis Joins Texas Governor Greg Abbott for Border Crisis Briefing

Governor Abbott Hosts Florida Governor DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis joined Governor Greg Abbott in Texas for briefing to address the current crisis that is currently happening at the border since the Biden administration lifted multiple border policies issued by former President Trump. 

Florida was the first state to provide help at the border after Governor DeSantis deployed law enforcement in June. 

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Jobless Claims Falling in Florida

Man In Suit

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

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

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Disney Moving Thousands of Jobs to Florida

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

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

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Citizens Property Insurance Raising Rates

"For Rent" sign in window of building

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

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

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Governor DeSantis Questioned About Cuban Protests and Anti-Riot Law

Gov. Ron Desantis making remarks on behalf of the Cuban protests

After multiple Cuban protests across the state of Florida made their way to the streets and highways, Governor DeSantis was questioned about the protesters who were breaking the “anti-riot” law.

At a news conference on Thursday, DeSantis alluded that the Cuban protesters broke the law but were not arrested because of the peaceful nature of the protests. 

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Florida Department of Education Adopts New Education Standards

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) adopted new education standards regarding how topics like Holocaust Education, Civics and Government, Character Education, and Substance Abuse Prevention, will be taught in schools.

In the press release on Wednesday, the DOE stated that the new standards are set to strengthen Florida’s education standards which are already “nationally recognized.”

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Governor DeSantis Sends Letter to Biden Requesting Help with Internet Access in Cuba

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Wednesday requesting the federal assiatance to aid Cuba in providing internet access to the country.

The request comes amid the protests in Cuba and some parts of the U.S. advocating for a change to the oppressive dictatorship that has been affecting Cuban citizens for decades.

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BLM Questioning Enforcement of Florida’s Anti-Riot Law

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

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

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State of Florida Appeals Social Media Law Injunction

The law banning social media and big tech companies from “deplatforming” or “cancelling” political candidates on the internet was blocked by a federal judge a day before the law was to take effect.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a 31-page order on June 30th outlining his decision to approve an injunction filed by tech companies, NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

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Norwegian Cruises Challenges Florida’s Vaccine Passport Ban

People boarding a cruise ship

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

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

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DeSantis Announces Grants for Florida Rural Communities

A home in rural Florida

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

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

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DeSantis Backs Cuban Protestors, Media and Democrats Blame COVID

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

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

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

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Governor DeSantis Announces Property-Tax Relief for Families of Surfside Victims

Governor Ron DeSantis announced property-tax relief for the families of victims and survivors of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside in the early morning of June 24.

The announcement was made during a news conference that included statements from Governor DeSantis, South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

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

Cruise ship next to dock

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

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

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Florida Supreme Court Denies to Review Case Related to Mask Mandate

A motion proposing a temporary injunction against a Palm Beach County Emergency Order (EO-12) involving a mask mandate, was denied for review by the Florida Supreme Court Friday.

The proposal was initially rejected by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals in January and sent for the “discretionary jurisdiction” of the Supreme Court in February.

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U.S. Department of Education Questions DeSantis Teacher Bonus Plan

Th U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has questioned Governor Desantis’ announcement to give Florida teachers a $1,000 bonus for returning to the classroom for the upcoming school year.

On Wednesday, the USDOE sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, that claimed the approved bonuses do not fit the eligible guidelines set by federal agency, as reported by the Associated Press (AP). 

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Judge Halts Florida Law Capping Contributions for Ballot Initiatives

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

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

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SCOTUS Ruling Backs Florida’s Election Reforms

Woman voting at booth

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

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

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Florida Colleges Shielded from COVID Related Lawsuits

Florida State University

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

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

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Police Reform Bill Signed into Law by Governor DeSantis

After a unanimous vote from the Florida Senate and House of Representatives in April, HB 7051 (otherwise known as the Police Reform Bill), was signed into law Tuesday by Governor DeSantis.

As the bill title states, the law will create better protocols regarding law enforcement applicants, as well as amend others such as the use-of-force protocol.

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

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

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

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Mainstream Media Politicizes Florida Condo Collapse

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

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

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New Workforce Program Approved by Governor DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

A bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis will establish a new workforce program in Florida that will focus on creating a network of employment resources for students while they are in school.

The bill, HB 1507, aims to create an easier transition for students who do not plan on taking the college route to gain successful careers.

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Governor DeSantis Will Appoint Two More Florida Public Service Commissioners

Florida State Capitol

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) to submit applications to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council.

The Council will interview all the candidates and determine a select few for Governor Ron DeSantis to choose from in his decision to fill positions of two current members of the PSC, whose terms expire in January 2022.

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DeSantis Continues Fundraising Spree with Small Contributions

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis raised more than $800,000 in the first two weeks of June, largely by small contributions from outside Florida. While touting some high-dollar donations, the recent fundraising influx has come from approximately 1,200 donors, including around 1,000 people who have given less than $1,000.

DeSantis’ popularity has gained traction nationally and is reflected by the states where his political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, has been receiving donations. Many conservatives and Republican voters have looked to DeSantis as a leader for his handling of COVID, the signing of “pro-law enforcement” legislation, banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports, banning Critical Race Theory, and prioritizing religious freedom.

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