Rubio, Demings Race Heating Up

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

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

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DeSantis Sets Fundraising Record

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

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

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Gubernatorial Hopeful Crist Calls DeSantis Supporters ‘Toothless’

Charlie Crist

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

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

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Florida Legislature Passes Congressional Redistricting Map, Democrats Protest

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

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

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Florida Democrats Criticize Congressional Redistricting as Legislature Reconvenes

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

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DeSantis Signs 15-Week Abortion Ban

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a 15-week abortion ban into law Thursday, marking two days in a row of significant pro-life victories in the Sunshine State. Wednesday, a Florida circuit judge upheld Florida’s 24-hour waiting period for women who were seeking abortions.

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Florida Voter Fraud Case Leads to 10 Individuals Charged

Person voting in poll booth

Ten former jail inmates at the Alachua County jail are facing felony voter fraud charges after they have been accused of registering to vote and successfully casting a ballot in the 2020 presidential election. All voter registrations have been revoked.

Initially, when reports came out about five former inmates illegally voting there were two Democrats, one Republican, and two more unaffiliated voters.

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Florida Judge Expected to Uphold Pro-Life Law

A Leon County, Fla. circuit judge, Angela Dempsey, is expected to uphold a 2015 Florida law requiring women seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours before going through the procedure. Dempsey indicated her decision earlier this week on Wednesday.

The order would be another indicator of a trend, nationally, of pro-life judicial and legislative victories. Even in predominately left-leaning states like Connecticut, its first ever March for Life garnered thousands of attendants.

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USA Today Columnist Mocks Florida Lawmaker’s Home Being Damaged by Tornado

A USA Today opinion columnist called a Florida lawmaker a “rotten bigot” and said God destroyed part of the lawmaker’s home. Michael J. Stern, the columnist, recently tweeted on Wednesday that he did not believe in God, but the news of Florida State Rep. Joe Harding’s (R-Williston) home being seriously damaged was causing him to reconsider.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Touts Legislative Victories

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted many of the conservative policy victories and personal legislative victories in a speech Monday. The speech took place during the closing of the 2022 Florida legislative session. The session, this year, had been described as a “culture war” and DeSantis and Florida’s Republicans passed a number of priorities.

One of the hallmarks were DeSantis dubbing this year’s session as “year of the parent in the state of Florida.”

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National Republican Group Seeking to Defend Florida Legislation

Ron DeSantis of Florida

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) announced in a memo that their 2022 priorities are to defend legislative victories by Republicans in states like Florida and the priorities of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). In the memo, the committee derided the efforts of the President Joe Biden administration.

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Florida Legislature Set to Pass Election Integrity Bill

The Florida House is set to vote on SB 524, which establishes an election security office under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The bill has been placed on the third reading calendar, which means the next step is final vote for the bill.

The bill has already been passed by the Florida Senate with a vote of 24-14. The bill was largely considered along party lines and was a proposal from DeSantis back in November.

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Florida Legislature Passes ‘Fatherhood’ Bill

Chris Sprowls of Florida

The Florida legislature has passed HB 7065, sending the bill to the desk of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The bill establishes “fatherhood” programs with a total of $70 million to address Florida’s “fatherhood crisis.”

The Florida Senate previously voted on the bill and unanimously approved it, as did the House with a vote of 117-0 in favor.

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DeSantis Makes Final Pitch for Constitutional Carry

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), when speaking to reporters last week, said if constitutional carry were passed, he would sign it. DeSantis directly responded with “put it on my desk, I’ll sign it.”

The Florida Capital Star has previously reported that the bill, HB 103, was likely dead last month. Historically, bills that do not receive much backing after the halfway point in the legislative session will likely die. In the case of the constitutional carry legislation, it has yet to make it out of committee or have a Senate companion sponsor.

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Joe Biden Says He ‘Will Not Stand for’ a Florida 15-Week Abortion Ban

President Joe Biden took to Twitter Friday to state he “will not stand for” the 15-week abortion ban approved by the Republican-led Florida legislature Thursday night.

“Last night, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed a dangerous bill that will severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health care,” Biden posted. “My Administration will not stand for the continued erosion of women’s constitutional rights.”

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Florida House Passes Bill Making Churches Essential

The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill classifying religious institutions as “essential” during states of emergency. The bill was a result of the COVID pandemic, which saw many churches across the country forced to shut down due to pandemic-related conditions.

SB 254 already passed through the Senate in January with predominantly bipartisan support. Only three state senators – Sen. Lori Berman (D-Lantana), Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Palm Beach County), and Sen. Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) – voted against the measure.

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Florida Lawmakers Fast-Track Illegal Alien Crackdown Bill

Florida lawmakers have been advancing a bill and its companion, rather quickly, through House and Senate committees so that it can be heard for a vote on each chamber’s floor. HB 1335 by Florida State Rep. John Snyder (R-Stuart) has been described as an expansion to a 2019 Florida law passed that banned sanctuary cities.

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Florida Senate Set to Vote on Fatherhood Bill

The Florida Senate is set to hear HB 7065, a priority piece of legislation for Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor), that would designate $70 million for addressing Florida’s “fatherhood crisis.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved the bill and full Senate consideration is its next stop.

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Florida Governor DeSantis Proposes Second Congressional Redistricting Map

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) submitted a second round of maps for congressional redistricting earlier this week. It comes as the redistricting process has been stalled in the Florida Legislature.

The most controversial part of DeSantis’ first submission was the inclusion of boundaries eliminating District 5 as it currently stands, held by Congressman Al Lawson (R-FL-5), which stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville along Florida’s northern boundary with Georgia.

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Florida House Votes ‘Yes’ to Enact Term Limits on School Boards

The Florida House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that will enact term limits on elected public school board members. CS/BS 1467 by Florida Representative Sam Garrison (R-District 18) originally included a provision that would have eliminated salaries for school board members. However, that provision was axed after an late-arriving amendment.

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Florida Constitutional Carry Bill Likely Dead

Florida’s constitutional carry bill, HB 103, is likely dead, as the Florida legislature is over halfway through its 2022 Legislative Session, which concludes the first week of March. The bill has yet to be heard by its first committee stop or received companion Senate legislation. Rarely do bills get fast-tracked through the legislature if they have not even reached committee.

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White House Enters Debate on Florida’s ‘Individual Freedom’ Bill

President Joe Biden (D) and the White House entered the debate focused on Florida House Bill 7 by Representative Bryan Avila (R-District 111). On Twitter Tuesday, both the White House account and the president’s account chimed in, criticizing Florida’s Republican lawmakers for their support of the legislation.

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Florida State Senate Approves Memorial to Increase National Guard Personnel

Currently operating under personnel totals appropriate to Florida’s population in 1958, a memorial passed by the Florida Senate would ask the federal government to consider increasing the size of the Florida National Guard.

SM 826 sponsored by State Sen. Tom Wright (R-FL-14) would “impel the United States National Guard Bureau to examine the resource allocations of the Florida National Guard and allow an increase in its force structure.”

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Florida Bill Legalizing Food Theft Amended, Passes Committee

Florida State Sen. Jim Boyd (R-FL-21) sponsored legislation that would crack down on organized retail theft, but included a provision that would have legalized theft of food items so long as the thief consumed the food.

Critics of the legislation quickly pointed out that the provision in the bill resembled Proposition 47 in California, which was adopted in 2014. The proposition made thefts of $950 or less a misdemeanor.

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Poll Shows Floridians Like State’s Direction

A new statewide Florida poll shows most Floridians feel the state is heading in the right direction. The poll was conducted at the tail end of 2021, lasting from November 30 through December 9 and was facilitated by TargetSmart.

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Florida Lawmakers Considering Bill to Limit Voter Registration Access

A bill in the Florida Legislature sponsored by State Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-FL-17) would move to protect private voter information from being accessed in public view. The intention is to keep third party voter registration groups from obtaining private information.

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Constitutional Carry Gaining Traction in Florida Legislature

Earlier this week, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-FL-10) indicated he would support a constitutional carry bill if the Senate were to take up that kind of legislation. Historically, Florida Republicans have been hesitant to take up expanding gun rights during the legislative session.

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Businesses Could Sue Over Local Ordinances Under New Florida Proposal

Florida lawmakers are considering a legislative proposal that would permit businesses to sue local governments over ordinances or mandates that lead to a revenue loss of 15 percent or more. SB 280 would require local governments to do business impact analyses when considering imposing ordinances.

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Florida Lawmakers File Immigration Enforcement Bill

Florida Republican lawmakers Sen. Aaron Bean (R-FL-4) and Rep. John Snyder (R-FL-82) filed companion bills to enhance Florida’s illegal immigration enforcement. The bill would expand an already existent ban on sanctuary cities, municipalities that protect illegal immigrants from immigration enforcement.

The bill would also prohibit state and local government from contracting with transportation companies that have been transported illegal aliens across state lines into Florida.

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Florida Legislative Proposal Could Lead to Cameras in Public School Classrooms

Florida State Rep. Bob Rommel (R-FL-106) is sponsoring legislation that would require public school teachers to wear microphones and be video recorded in classrooms. The live stream of the classroom would also become available for public viewing.

The text of the bill also provides stipulations for if there is an interruption in the video feed.

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State Rep. Sabatini Removed from House Committee for Unexcused Absences

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-FL-7) has been removed from a the Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee in the Florida House. He received two unexcused absences from the committee, when committee members are only allowed one.

Sabatini requested an excused absence from committee chair Thad Altman the day before his absence on October 21. He did not respond to Altman’s follow-up asking for an explanation.

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Florida Atlantic University Researchers Say Florida’s Republican and Democrat Voters Nearly Agree on Climate Change

"There's no planet B" sign

Research from Florida Atlantic University suggests that Florida’s Republican and Democrat voters nearly agree on the existence of climate change but differ on the cause. According to the researchers, approximately nine out of 10 Florida Republicans believe climate change exists. Approximately 96 percent of Florida Democrat voters agree.

Regarding the cause of climate change, half of Florida Republicans believe it is a man-made issue, while nearly 75 percent of Florida Democrat voters would concur.

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Florida Bill Could Expand Hope Scholarship Access

Florida Sen. Manny Diaz (R-FL-36) is sponsoring legislation that would expand opportunities for students to be able to attend a school of their choice through a voucher program. SB 506 would amend the Hope Scholarship program to permit students who attend school districts who are not complying with state law to apply for the program and receive a voucher.

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Florida Lawmakers Looking to Expand Health Insurance for Children

Florida’s lawmakers are considering expanding state-funded health insurance for children. The idea has gained traction among Republicans and Democrats, and two competing proposals would increase the amount of money beneficiaries can make.

Currently, families making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the state’s program, KidCare. However, the same families do not qualify for Medicaid.

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Republicans Overtake Democrats in Florida Voter Registration

For the first time in the state of Florida’s history, Republicans now outnumber Democrats in official voter registration totals. According to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, there are 5,118,657 registered Republicans and 5,114,039 registered Democrats.

The Florida Capital Star reported as early as September that Democrats weree poised to lose their lead. As recent as 10 years ago, Democrats held a 700,000-voter registration advantage.

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Florida-Style OSHA Bill Ready to be Heard on House Floor

A bill that would create a state counterpart to the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) is primed and ready to be considered on the floor of the Florida House. While the bill would not create the new state department outright, it would develop a plan to seek federal approval to create it.

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Florida Special Session Over Vaccine Mandates Begins This Week

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called for a special session over vaccine mandates and mask mandates last month, the Florida Legislature convened for the first time yesterday and will continue to meet until Friday.

The goal of the special session for Florida’s in-power Republicans is to curb the scale of the vaccine mandates coming from the President Joe Biden administration. DeSantis has remained vocally opposed to Floridians losing their jobs over Biden’s OSHA rule.

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First Maps of Florida’s New Congressional Districts Released

Florida State Capitol

The first look at Florida’s new congressional maps have been released, and Florida’s newest district could have Polk County existing within its own congressional district. Florida currently has 27 districts but gained one after the 2020 census.

Congressional District 15, which is currently occupied by Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL-15), represents northern Polk County, southern Lake County, and an eastern portion of Hillsborough County. Franklin could be inclined to run for re-election in the newest congressional district as he is a resident of Lakeland, Polk County’s largest city.

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Gov. DeSantis Says Florida Got Shortchanged in Infrastructure Package

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Florida did not get a full share of cash from the recently passed trillion-dollar infrastructure package. He criticized the bill as a whole, but also noted that Florida might not be getting the same amount as other states.

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Florida Democrats Oppose, Criticize Special Session

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called a special session over President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate and Florida Democrats are criticizing the effort. DeSantis has, numerous times, worked to ban mask mandates in Florida’s schools and vaccine mandates, and is seeking the Florida Legislature to codify those bans even further.

“I think that we need to be making sure that people are healthy and safe, and that they can go to work and that our economy is booming, and that businesses are able to do what they need to do,” said Florida State Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL-32).

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Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry Forecasts Political Future

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is term limited in his current post, but he has already begun teasing his future political plans.

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming political season. 2022 & 2023 are coming at us fast,” Curry tweeted. “I’m as rested, rejuvenated & ready to roll as ever. & I’ve been in the middle of some tough campaigns. Elections matter. I am older, wiser, more experienced and have more energy & stamina now than any campaign I’ve been in or apart of. Got into this with purpose many years ago and will see it through.”

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Florida’s Supervisors of Elections Ask Officials to Tone Down Presidential Election Rhetoric

A group of Florida’s Supervisors of Elections have signed on to a letter entitled “Our Democracy, Our Priority” where they are asking officials across Florida to ease off of the rhetoric regarding questions of the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

They are asking Floridians to accept the results of the election: that then-President Donald Trump won Florida and President Joe Biden was elected president.

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DeSantis Calls for Special Session over Vaccine Mandates

Ron DeSantis giving speech on saving Florida jobs

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for a special legislative session to resolve the issue of vaccine mandates in Florida. On Twitter, DeSantis said no one should lose their job over a vaccine.

“I am calling the Florida Legislature back for a Special Session to pursue stronger protections for Floridians against federal government mandates,” DeSantis said. “No one should lose their job over a COVID shot.”

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Columbus Day Sentiment Splits Florida’s Political Landscape

  Monday was the federally recognized Christopher Columbus Day, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a declaration commemorating the historical event of Columbus’ landing in the New World. “Christopher Columbus displayed courage, determination, and perseverance when he sailed the ocean blue more than 500 years ago,” DeSantis tweeted. “Happy Columbus…

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Florida Congressional Republicans Support Gun Confiscation Bill

A number of notable Florida congressional Republicans voted in favor of H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act, but included in the bill is a gun confiscation provision commonly referred to as a “Red Flag law” directed towards military members.

Within the text of the bill, gun confiscation would be permitted under a military court order and the court would be able to prevent a member of the United States armed forces from owning a firearm.

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Florida Lawmaker Proposes Film Industry Incentives

Florida State Rep. Dana Trabulsy (R-FL-84) has filed legislation with the intention of reviving Florida’s television, media, and film industry. Trabulsy filed HB 217 which would create the Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted Rebate program within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).  

Companies that produce shows in Florida would be eligible for the rebate, which would cover the lesser value of either 23 percent of the total cost of the production, or $2 million.

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State Rep. Paul Renner Selected as Next Florida House Speaker

Florida State Rep. Paul Renner (R-FL-24) has been selected as the next Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. Renner will succeed current Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-FL-65) when Sprowls’ term ends after the 2022 legislative session.

After being selected, Renner touted traditional conservative policies, and moving toward policies rooted in freedom rather than a vision of moving away from freedom.

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Florida Lawmakers Launch Congressional Redistricting

Florida Senate Capitol

As a result of the 2020 census, Florida will gain one additional congressional seat, and Florida lawmakers will begin the process to redraw district lines in the upcoming fall committee weeks with the 2022 legislative session beginning in January.

“Prior to the start of the 2022 Regular Session the Legislature will hold interim committee meetings, at which time the committees that conduct the redistricting and reapportionment processes may meet,” according to the Florida Senate’s redistricting site.

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Florida Democrats Close to Losing Voter Registration Advantage

Florida’s Republican Party is close to catching Florida’s Democrats in terms of voter registrations. The Democrat Party of Florida once held a 700,000-voter registration advantage, and now only holds approximately a 23,000-voter advantage.

According to POLITICO Florida, Florida’s Democrats have known about it for years, but little could be done to maintain their once large margin.

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