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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DeSantis Likely to Support Texas-Style Abortion Legislation

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week he could see himself supporting Texas-style abortion legislation. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a “heartbeat bill” banning abortions as early as six weeks, which is considered the time when a fetus develops a heartbeat and can be heard through an ultrasound.

The Texas bill, SB 8, officially came into effect on September 1 after the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) denied an appeal from abortion providers.

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Florida Rep. Byron Donalds Calls on Biden to Resign

Congressman Byron Donalds (R-19) has called on President Joe Biden to resign in the wake of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban.

“It has become clear that President Biden has lost complete and total confidence of the American people through his haphazard decision to withdraw from Afghanistan,” Donalds said in an exclusive statement to the Daily Caller.

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Albritton Wins Florida Senate President Race for 2024

Florida’s Senate Republicans have selected Sen. Ben Albritton (R-26) to be the Senate President for the 2024-2026 term. Currently, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10), will serve as Senate President until Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28) takes over for the 2023-2024 legislative sessions.

“It’s a real honor and privilege for me to have earned the support of my colleagues in the Senate,” Albritton said to Florida Politics. “Senator Manny Diaz is a valued colleague and a friend, who puts people above politics. We share a vision for the future of Florida, and we’ll work together in the years ahead to advance policies that are in the best interest of the state of Florida.”

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Albritton Wins Florida Senate President Race for 2024

Florida’s Senate Republicans have selected Sen. Ben Albritton (R-26) to be the Senate President for the 2024-2026 term. Currently, Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-10), will serve as Senate President until Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-28) takes over for the 2023-2024 legislative sessions.

“It’s a real honor and privilege for me to have earned the support of my colleagues in the Senate,” Albritton said to Florida Politics. “Senator Manny Diaz is a valued colleague and a friend, who puts people above politics. We share a vision for the future of Florida, and we’ll work together in the years ahead to advance policies that are in the best interest of the state of Florida.”

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Florida State Senator Joe Gruters Cleared of Sexual Harassment Allegations

Florida State senator and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, Sen. Joe Gruters (R-23) has been cleared of sexual harassment allegations after reports circulated earlier this week.

Florida Politics initially reported the allegations, and POLITICO stated the allegations came from four Republican Party officials and one other source who claimed Gruters sexually harassed a male aide in January who drove Gruters home from a bar in Tallahassee during Spring’s legislative session. A complaint was immediately filed with the state.

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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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Florida Chamber Releases Report Card for Lawmakers

Last week, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released their annual Legislative Report Card which reviews Florida’s lawmakers’ efforts during the legislative session and tabulates corresponding grade. The lawmakers’ grades are determined by alignment to Florida Chamber priorities and Where We Stand, another annual publication detailing the policy positions of the Florida Chamber heading into each legislative session.

For the 2021 Legislative Session, 88 lawmakers earned an “A” and 39 earned failing grades.

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Florida Democrats Prepping for 2022 Challenges

Stephanie Murphy, Nikki Fried and Val Demings

Republicans have dominated Florida Democrats for nearly 30 years, where currently only one statewide elected post is occupied by a Democrat: Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. With Fried all but officially running against Governor Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL-10) challenging Sen. Marco Rubio for his Senate seat in 2022, Florida Democrats are having to rearrange who is going to be running for open positions and the potential political losses those candidates could face.

If Fried continues on her current trajectory for a likely gubernatorial bid, Democrats might lose the only statewide post they have. Fried won in 2018, weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated the agriculture-rich areas of the Florida Panhandle, which saw diminished Republican Panhandle voter turnout compared to the rest of the state. Fried won the race narrowly by approximately 6,000 votes.

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National Republican Groups Joining Fight to Defend Florida’s Election Law

people voting

The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee are joining the fight to defend the recently signed election law in Florida. The two organizations filed motions to intervene in two lawsuits against the law.

The law, known as SB 90 while in the Florida Legislature, is designed to curb the chances of fraudulent elections in Florida, but critics immediately called it “Jim Crow” tactics. Civil rights groups immediately filed lawsuits against it calling it a “backlash to Black voters.”

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Florida Voting Law Implements Grand Jury Recommendations

Ron DeSantis

Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 90 into law. The bill, addressing elections, has been derided as a “Jim Crow” tactic and characterized as voter suppression by political opponents. However, in 2012, a grand jury taking part in an election fraud case in Miami-Dade County provided a list of recommendations to lawmakers to crack down on absentee ballot-related voter fraud. A number of those grand jury recommendations were included in SB 90.

DeSantis has praised the bill saying Florida has some of the “strongest election integrity measures” in the country.

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Nikki Fried Announces ‘Something New’ for June 1

Earlier this week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a video where she is planning on making a major announcement, and “something new” is coming on June 1.
In the video, clips of Fried tout her resume as the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida as well as rumors of her being an early frontrunner to challenge Governor Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race in 2022.

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Florida Chief Financial Officer Patronis Announces Reelection Bid

Jimmy Patronis

Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced his reelection bid for 2022. Patronis made the announcement by posting a video entitled “Let’s Keep Florida Open,” where he touted his work to get Florida’s economy back open after the COVID pandemic. Patronis and his family own the famous Capt. Anderson’s restaurant in Panama City, a point he made in the video while highlighting the work his family did to provide all they could for the families they employed during the pandemic.

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Florida’s Transgender Athlete Ban Resurrected

Florida Republicans resurrected a ban on transgender women from competing in women’s sports and attached it to a bill related to charter schools. Last week, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-22) said her bill, which would’ve banned transgendered athletes from women’s sports, was unlikely to  move forward due to constitutional requirements to balance the budget.

However, Stargel did not resurrect the bill, but Rep. Kaylee Tuck (R-55), added the ban as an amendment to SB 1028. Stargel did voice her support for Tuck’s amendment.

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Florida House Passes Bipartisan Police Reform Bill

The Florida House passed HB 7051 unanimously, a police reform bill, designed to be a bipartisan, compromise piece of legislation satisfying the requests of conservatives as well as social justice advocates.

One of the main staples of the bill is amending current use-of-force protocol for law enforcement officers. Each police force and law enforcement agency in the state will now be required to have a use-of-force standard. This would, in essence, create a statewide minimum standard, including methods to de-escalate situations. Chokeholds are banned unless the officer “perceives an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death.” If another officer is witnessing excessive use of force, they will now be required to intervene.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Bills to Curb Foreign Influence

Florida House Chamber

The Florida Legislature is working through two pieces of legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence in Florida’s colleges and universities, primarily research institutions.

The Florida House has already passed HB 7017 unanimously and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The bill will require state agencies and political subdivisions to disclose foreign grants and donations of over $50,000 or more to the state. Also, all donations of any size will be required to be reported from seven hostile nations. Among those nations deemed hostile are: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.

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Parental Bill of Rights Legislation Heads to DeSantis’ Desk

The Florida Legislature passed a bill instituting a “parental bill of rights” and sent it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill, HB 241, worked its way through the Florida House and then passed through the Florida Senate on Thursday. It was passed on a nearly party-line vote, with Sen. Lauren Book (D-32), the lone Democrat, siding with Republicans and voting to approve the bill.

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Florida Anti-Riot Law Facing Court Challenge

Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, known as the “anti-riot bill” on Monday, and is now facing a constitutional challenge. The challenge was filed Wednesday and the civil rights attorneys behind the challenge are saying the new laws unconstitutionally “seek to arrest the peaceful expression of free speech.”

The bill is designed to enhance penalties for criminals committing acts of violence during riots.

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Florida House Hearing Police Reform Bill

The Florida House is taking up a bipartisan, compromise police reform bill today. The bill would increase the amount of training for law enforcement officers and correctional officers.

The bill, HB 7051, has been a product of House Republican leadership, the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, and key voices within law enforcement to try and limit the use of chokeholds only under instances when on-site officers perceive immediate threats of serious bodily injury or death to themselves or other people. It would also require other officers to intervene when they witness other officers using excessive force.

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Sen. Lauren Book to Lead Florida Senate Democrats4

Sen. Lauren Book (D-32) has been tabbed as the new leader of the Florida Senate Democrats. Sen. Perry Thurston (D-33), a high ranking Senate Democrat, announced his intentions to run in the special election for the late-Alcee Hastings’ seat in Congress, making the way for Book to be heir-apparent.

Book, 36, has served in the Florida Senate since 2016 when she ran unopposed for the Senate’s 32nd district.

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DeSantis Signs E-Fairness Bill

Just before midnight Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 50 instituting sales tax requirements for online retailers, into law. 

The bill requires out-of-state online retailers to collect and report sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians. The tax will bring in an estimated $1 billion in revenue, as well as limit taxes paid by Floridians and Florida businesses.

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Florida Legislature Hearing Elections Reform Bills

Dennis Baxley

The Florida House is hearing an elections reform package and the Florida Senate is hearing a bill amending Florida’s election law related to ballot drop-boxes and absentee ballot signature verification.

Sen. Dennis Baxley’s (R-12) SB 90 passed the Senate Rules Committee by a 10-7 vote, and Baxley said the bill is well-intentioned designed to protect Florida’s voters and the integrity of Florida’s elections.

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Transgender Bill Likely Dead in Florida Legislature

A bill creating limited access for transgender women competing in women’s sports is likely dead according to its sponsor, Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-22).
Stargel released the statement yesterday after she postponed her bill in its final committee stop saying she is having to direct her attention to Florida’s constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

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