DeSantis Signs Bill into Law Increasing Penalties for Illegally Selling, Distributing Opioids in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that increases penalties for those who illegally sell and distribute opioids in Florida. It expands on a statewide strategy launched in 2019 to combat the opioid epidemic through education, treatment, prevention, recovery and law enforcement efforts.

“Floridians of all walks of life have witnessed the destruction caused by the opioid epidemic across our state,” DeSantis said. “While the Biden administration has failed to stop the flow of dangerous drugs, including fentanyl, across our southern border, we are taking action in Florida to lower both the demand and the supply of illicit and illegal drugs.”

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Commentary: Demons Have Captured the Naples United Church of Christ

It is hard to imagine how, other than through demonic influence, a Christian church and its pastor could come to be the force behind an effort to use the church and the public schools to recruit young people between the ages of 12 and 18 into a homosexual and transgender “pride conference.”

Florida’s Voice reported the event will feature a “drag show” as an “exploration of LGBTQ-related issues facing today’s youth.” Attendees are asked to enter their pronouns and the name of their school.

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DeSantis Signs Largest Tax Relief Bill in Florida History with More Than $1.2 Billion in Savings

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed the largest tax relief bill in Florida history, delivering $1.2 billion in savings to Floridians.

DeSantis signed HB 7071 into law, which includes permanent tax relief through a range of sales tax exemptions, corporate income tax credit expansions, and ad valorem tax and exemption provisions. They are expected to generate an additional $190 million in tax savings over two years and $140 million annually thereafter.

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Disney Executive Who Led Company Response to Florida Bill Leaves Position After Just Three Months

The Disney executive who helped the company develop its response to Florida’s parental rights bill has left his position after just three months on the job, according to media reports.

Geoff Morrell, who as corporate affairs chief led the company in its ill-fated response to the Florida bill that critics labeled “Don’t Say Gay,” called the job “not the right fit” in a letter to his team obtained by media outlets.

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New Study Shows Red States Handled COVID-19 Better Than Blue States

A new study by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity found that states led by Republicans did a better job than Democrat-led states at managing the coronavirus and keeping their states from slumping into an economic and social recession.

As reported by The Daily Caller, the three states that ranked the worst in mortality, economy, and schooling during the COVID pandemic were New Jersey, New York, and California, all of which had implemented some of the strictest lockdown measures in the nation. By contrast, the states that ranked the highest were Utah, Vermont, and Nebraska.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill to Guarantee Visitation Rights for Patients and Their Families

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the No Patient Left Alone Act into law Wednesday. The bill guarantees that Floridians can visit their loved ones in hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities regardless of a public health emergency.

In Florida, and nationwide, families have been kept apart as loved ones died in hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities due to coronavirus safety protocols. In late 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reinstated federal visitation protections for long-term care facilities, which includes waiving visitation policies for hospitals allowing them to prohibit patient visitation.

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DeSantis Vows to Send Illegals to Biden’s Home State of Delaware

On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) promised to enact a new policy that will see all illegal aliens in the state bussed up to Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware.

As reported by Fox News, DeSantis made the announcement shortly after signing the No Patients Left Behind Act into law. After signing the bill into law, he voiced his opposition to the Biden Administration’s plans to end Title 42, the highly successful Trump-era policy that largely shut down immigration into the country due to the health risk of so many illegals flooding into the country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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21 States Join Lawsuit to End Federal Mask Mandate on Airplanes, Public Transportation

Twenty-one states have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s continued mask mandate on public transportation, including on airplanes.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody are leading the effort. Moody filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida along with 20 other attorneys general. DeSantis said the mask mandate was misguided and heavy-handed.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Requiring Curriculum Transparency

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Friday that requires Florida school districts to be transparent in the selection of instructional materials, including library and reading materials.

As a part of the “Year of the Parent,” a commitment DeSantis has made to prioritize parental rights, DeSantis signed HB 1467, which includes several protections for parents, such as requiring school districts to allow parents to review all books in the school library, all required classroom book lists, and any instructional materials teachers use.

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Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Ending End-of-Year Florida Standards Assessment Test

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signed SB 1048 into law, which replaces the Florida Standards Assessment test, the major end-of-year exam students take with a new assessment called Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST).

He announced the new system at Florosa Elementary School in Okaloosa County along with parents and teachers. Okaloosa County was among the first where students attended in-person instruction while students throughout the country were still at home, DeSantis said.

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New Hampshire State Senate Set to Vote on House-Passed Redistricting Proposal

New Hampshire State Capitol

The New Hampshire State Senate is set to vote on the House-approved redistricting plan on Thursday.

New Hampshire is one of four remaining states that have yet to complete their congressional redistricting process. The others are Louisiana, Florida, and Missouri.

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Peter D’Abrasco of The Star News Network Discusses the Florida Anti-Grooming Bill with Stephen K. Bannon on WarRoom

group of kids outside during the day playing spike ball

Thursday morning on WarRoom Battleground, host Bannon welcomed The Star News Network’s Pete D’Abrasco to the show to talk about the anti-grooming legislation passed in Florida.

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Democrats Currently Lead in National Redistricting Efforts with Four States Still Completing Process

Democrats currently have the lead in redistricting efforts with four states still working on new maps.

Forty states, 46 if the states that have one congressional district are included, have finished the process of drawing new maps for U.S. House of Representatives districts. Only Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, and New Hampshire have yet to finish their redistricting process.

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Democrats Currently Lead in National Redistricting Efforts with Four States Still Completing Process

Democrats currently have the lead in redistricting efforts with four states still working on new maps.

Forty states, 46 if the states that have one congressional district are included, have finished the process of drawing new maps for U.S. House of Representatives districts. Only Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, and New Hampshire have yet to finish their redistricting process.

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Another Voter Fraud Investigation in Florida

The Gadsden County Supervisor of Elections and the Florida Department of State have initiated an investigation into possible voter fraud related to 23 voters. The investigation is reviewing the votes casts by  four sexual predators and 19 sex offenders in the 2020 Gadsden County General Election.

Voting records indicate 19 of the 23 voters under investigation were registered as Democrats. Three were registered with no party affiliation, and one was registered as a Republican. Also, public records reveal that 10 voted via absentee ballots, seven early-voted, and six voted in person.

The allegations are similar to other situations across the state. For example, The Florida Capital Star recently reported about felons voting in Leon County, which borders Gadsden County to the west.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told The Florida Capital Star that he started the process of removing seven felons from the Leon County voter registration system. Earley noted that all seven voted in the 2020 general election.

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Analysis: Florida Among the Top Governor’s Races to Watch This Year

Democrats four years ago rode a blue wave to governors’ mansions across the country, flipping Republican-held seats in the Midwest, Northeast and West alike.

Now, however, many of those governors face Republican challengers amid a political environment that looks potentially promising for the GOP, meaning that contentious races may lie ahead in some of the nation’s most pivotal battleground states. Republicans have already had two strong showings in states that lean Democratic, flipping the governor’s seat in Virginia and coming surprisingly close in New Jersey, a state that voted for President Joe Biden by 16 points in 2020.

Governors in less competitive states are also facing primary challengers from the left and right, making for multiple bitter, closely-followed primaries between candidates from different wings of the same party.

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Data From Around the World – Including Antarctica – Show Omicron Favoring the Fully Vaccinated

The coronavirus has reached remote Antarctica, striking most of the 25 Belgian staffers at a research station, despite all of them being fully vaccinated, passing multiple PCR tests, and quarantining before arrival.

Two thirds of the researchers working in Belgium’s Princess Elisabeth Polar Station have caught Covid, the Daily Telegraph reported, “proving there is no escape from the global pandemic.”

None of the cases are severe, according to the Telegraph. There are two emergency doctors at the station monitoring the situation.

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Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Vacations to Florida, Escapes NYC Lockdowns

While COVID-19 cases surged in New York City, Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was pictured vacationing in Florida, National Review reported.

Ocasio-Cortez was spotted drinking cocktails outside of a restaurant in Miami Beach on Thursday while New York City reported a record high number of COVID-19 cases, National Review reported. Ocasio-Cortez represents New York’s 14th congressional district, which includes parts of the Bronx and Queens.

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Commentary: Escape to a Good State, but Don’t Ruin It

My elementary and high school teachers never did a good job of explaining American federalism. They left me and, I suspect, many of my fellow students confused. Perhaps they were a little confused themselves: If the federal government’s laws are supreme and can overrule state’s laws, why not just have all laws uniformly adopted at the federal level?

The federal government was not, of course, intended to be what it has become: the daily manager of every citizen’s life. The founders envisioned a federal government that remained in the background, available when it was necessary to get all the states fighting together to win a war, present to help explain a unified foreign policy, and above all to guarantee that goods and people could flow freely from one state to another with no impediment. (That last point is the reason for the interstate commerce clause.) Any national government more aggressive than that would never have been adopted by the liberty-minded states that had just won the Revolutionary War, and even that proved a hard sell: Two years and the addition of a Bill of Rights were required before a sufficient number of states were willing to ratify.

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Report: Florida Named the Second-Freest State in U.S.

Only a state with the motto “Live Free or Die” is freer than the Sunshine State. 

That’s according to the nonprofit CATO Institute’s annual Freedom in the 50 States report, which compares states based on different aspects of autonomy and choice in key policy areas. The report uses hundreds of variables to gauge states on fiscal, regulatory and personal terms.

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Grassroots Parental Rights Group ‘Moms for Liberty’ Began in Florida

A new advocacy group, Moms for Liberty (MFL), was founded by two former Florida school board members who sought a new organization to unite parents against what they see as destructive policies being perpetuated in the public school system.

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State Attorney Generals Launch Investigation into Instagram’s Effects on Kids

Young person on Instagram

A bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general launched a probe into Instagram on Thursday to examine whether the company violated state-level consumer protection laws.

The states are investigating whether Meta (formerly known as Facebook), which owns Instagram, promoted the image-sharing platform “to children and young adults” despite being aware of its negative effects, according to statements from the attorneys general. The probe cites internal Facebook communications and research leaked by former Facebook employee Frances Haugen and published by The Wall Street Journal showing Meta was aware that use of Instagram could contribute to body image and mental health issues among teens.

“When social media platforms treat our children as mere commodities to manipulate for longer screen time engagement and data extraction, it becomes imperative for state attorneys general to engage our investigative authority under our consumer protection laws,” Republican Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said in a statement.

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DeSantis: Florida Republicans Overtake Democrats in Voter Registration

Ron DeSantis speaks on bad policy with the national government

This past Friday, in a speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that Republicans have surpassed Democrats in Florida voter registration numbers for the first time in the state’s history.

“Today, and it’ll probably be fully publicized very soon, today for the first time in the history of Florida we’ve now overtaken Democrats,” DeSantis said. “There are more registered Republicans in Florida than Democrats.”

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City of Tallahassee Backs Abortion Resolution, Critical of ‘Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers’

An abortion resolution is on the October 28th Tallahassee City Commission agenda after being pulled from the agenda of a previous meeting. The resolution supports abortion rights and is critical of abortion restrictions and pregnancy centers.

The text of the resolution is provided below.

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Flooding Could Wipe Out 25 Percent of Critical Infrastructure: Report

About 25% of critical infrastructure in the U.S., or 36,000 facilities, is at serious risk of being rendered inoperable as a result of flooding over the next three decades, according to an industry report released Monday.

American infrastructure such as police stations, airports, hospitals, wastewater treatment facilities, churches and schools were all considered in the analysis, according to First Street Foundation, the group that published the first-of-its-kind report. The U.S. is “ill-prepared” for a scenario where major flooding events become more commonplace, the report concluded.

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State of Florida Submits Plan to Spend $7 Billion in Education Funds

Young boy sitting in a library, reading

The State of Florida has officially submitted its education plan to the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) outlining how the state intends to spend $7 billion in education funding stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Approximately $2.3 billion was being withheld from the state because the state did not apply for the money. Florida notably became the last state in the county to apply for its final third apportionment from the U.S. DOE.

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Commentary: The Left Can Finally Admit What It Wants

I remember a staggering conversation with my high school lunch table in the early 2000s. Everyone agreed with one kid’s statement that there was nothing special about living in America: Life in Canada, or anywhere else, would be identical except for maybe the weather.

At the time, I wondered what was going to happen to America when all these kids grew up. What happens when America’s young adults, far from having any intellectual commitment to freedom, don’t even understand what life would be like without it?

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Florida Senate President Proposes Prison Shutdowns

To combat staffing shortages and high turnover rates of correctional officers in the state, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson proposed prison shutdowns in a recent interview. Simpson said that the Florida Department of Corrections should shut down prisons to save money, rather than ask for more resources from the Florida legislature. 

In the interview with The News Service of Florida, Simpson criticized the state prison system by blaming the staff shortages and high turnover rates on the “lack of vision” by state prison leaders. 

“We are not just going to write a bigger check because they think they need it. That is not going to happen. They’re going to have to do the right thing. We are not going to waste the taxpayers’ dollars,” Simpson said.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Says Washington Dysfunction Hurting Florida Transportation Projects

In a press release on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis called attention to the impacts congressional inaction and dysfunction are beginning to have on transportation projects in Florida.

“Yet again, the delays in Washington are impacting the lives of Floridians,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “It is unacceptable that Congress or the Biden Administration would use highway construction as a bargaining chip and leave Florida taxpayers to foot the bill. This is even more proof that the Democrats in leadership don’t want to help people, they don’t want to get anything done, they just want to follow a political agenda.”

And DeSantis is not alone in his criticism.

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DeSantis Administration Responds to Leon County Vaccination Mandate

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has responded to the reminder letters sent this week by Leon County Government informing employees that without proof of a COVID vaccination they would be terminated on October 4, 2021.

In response to Leon County’s communication, the letter from FDOH Division Director David Woodlief to County Administrator Vince Long seeks information about those impacted by Leon County’s vaccine mandate policy.

Specifically, FDOH is seeking the names of employees that received the letters and the names of employees who submitted documentation as proof of vaccination.

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Florida to Appeal Federal Judge’s Ruling Declaring ‘Sanctuary City’ Ban Unconstitutional

Florida will appeal a federal judge’s injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing its two-year-old “sanctuary cities” ban.

U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge Beth Bloom Tuesday released a 110-page ruling declaring portions 2019’s Senate Bill 168 are unconstitutional and that the measure was adopted by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislative with “discriminatory motives.”

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Florida’s Unemployment Rate Falls, Remains Below National Rate

Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent in August, down 0.1 percent from the July reported rate of 5.1 percent.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Florida has experienced 16 consecutive months of job growth, gaining 19,400 private sector jobs over the month. In total, Florida has gained 990,400 jobs since April 2020.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, Florida’s unemployment rate is decreasing,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “This positive sign shows that Floridians are returning to work and Florida’s economy continues to provide opportunities for meaningful employment. I look forward to working with Floridians to continue these economic successes.”

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DeSantis Dismisses Talk of 2024 Presidential Bid, but Continues to Campaign Across the Country

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to dismiss the chatter about a run for high office in 2024.

“I just do my job and we work hard,” the governor said in a recent in-state press event. “I hear all this stuff,nand honestly it’s nonsense.”

He also said “speculation” to the contrary is “purely manufactured.”

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Florida School Board Member Advocates for Student Vaccine Incentives

During a special Leon County School Board (LCSB) meeting on Thursday, Board member Rosanne Wood initiated a discussion about vaccine incentives focused on Leon County School (LCS) employees and students. The initiative could provide a monetary incentive for employees and students to get vaccinated.

Board member Wood opened the discussion by stating, “since we are the educators of Leon County, we need to be doing a better job of educating our kids, parents, and our families of the importance of this vaccine…”

Wood mentioned that SAIL High School is holding a vaccine clinic and will be offering Starbucks gift cards and Amazon gift cards to students and employees who get vaccinated.

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States Banning Mask Mandates Could Face Civil Rights Probes, on Biden’s Directive

President Biden is ratcheting up opposition to Republican governors blocking COVID mask mandates in schools, putting in charge the Education Department, which is raising the possibility of using its civil rights arm to oppose such policies.

Biden on Wednesday ordered Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “assess all available tools” that can be used against states that fail to protect students amid surging coronavirus cases.

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Commentary: A January 6 Detainee Speaks Out

Joe Biden’s Justice Department notched another victory last week in the agency’s sprawling investigation into the January 6 protest on Capitol Hill against Biden’s presidency.

On Wednesday, Michael Curzio pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building. The government offered the plea deal to Curzio’s court-appointed attorney in June; Curzio faced four misdemeanor charges, including trespassing and disorderly conduct, for his role in the Capitol breach.

Curzio will pay the government “restitution” in the amount of $500 to help pay for the nearly $1.5 million in damages the building reportedly sustained. (The Architect of the Capitol initially said the protest caused $30 million in damages but prosecutors have set the figure far lower.)

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Partnership Boosts Supply Chain Resiliency for Florida’s $56B Manufacturing Industry

Aerial shot of downtown Miami, Florida

According to an April-June McKinsey Global Survey poll of 60 senior supply-chain executives from across the nation, 73% encountered a shortage of suppliers – not just supplies – and 75% faced production/distribution shortfalls during the 2020 height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Florida’s 21,000 manufacturers – not to mention farmers, restauranteurs, hoteliers, retailers – were also affected by pandemic-induced supply disruptions, as they were by Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018.

To mitigate disruption for the state’s $56 billion manufacturing industry, which employs about 400,000 Floridians, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), Space Florida and FloridaMakes have formed Connex Florida, an online database to link manufacturers connect with prospective suppliers and develop business opportunities.

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Florida Man Receives Eight Month Prison Term in First Felony Sentence from January 6 Capitol Breach

Close up of Capitol with Trump and America flag in the wind

AFlorida man, who breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Monday. Paul Allard Hodgkins pleaded guilty last month to one count of obstructing an official proceeding – Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

Prosecutors, who asked for an 18-month sentence, argued that Hodgkins, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy.”

“Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself. The damage that was caused that way was way beyond a several-hour delay of the vote certification. It is a damage that will persist in this country for several decades,” said U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss of Washington, DC.

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Florida Medicaid Enrollment Tops 4.8 Million, Surpassing Forecasted Growth

Florida State Capitol

Florida’s Medicaid enrollment increased by 1% in June with 48,468 low-income residents qualifying for subsidized health care, according to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

As of June 30, there were 4,846,412 low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians enrolled in Medicaid, an increase of more than 730,000 since June 2020, AHCA documents in its June enrollment report.

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Commentary: Florida Woman Received a $100,000 Fine for Parking on Her Own Property

Car Tire In Driveway

There’s nothing worse than when you’re having a bad day and come back to your car to find a parking ticket on your windshield. Except, maybe, if that ticket was for $100,000, and you got it for parking on your own property.

That’s what happened to Sandy Martinez, a resident of Lantana, Florida. Teaming up with attorneys at the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice (IJ), she is suing the town over a parking violation fine assigned to her that totaled more than $100,000.

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Opening Capitol Police Field Offices Raises Questions About Jurisdiction

U.S. Capitol Police car

Six months after the incidents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced they will be opening two field offices. One will be in Florida and another in California to investigate threats against members of Congress.

The Florida field office will be located in Tampa, despite Tallahassee being Florida’s capital city. USCP selected the two states because they said it is where a large portion of threats originate.

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Florida Law Appealed by Gun Rights Group

Rick Scott

The National Rifle Association (NRA) filed an appeal in federal court after a judge upheld a Florida law banning Floridians under 21 from purchasing a firearm.

The law was passed in 2018 by the Florida Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott raising the purchasing age as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

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Tropical Storm Elsa Heading to Florida

Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make landfall in Cuba and part of the Florida Keys before heading to mainland Florida. The storm will be bringing approximately 60 mile-per-hour winds and will drop five to ten inches of rain in Cuba.  

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for 15 Florida counties, with nine million Floridians being under tropical storm watches and warnings.

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Florida COVID Cases Up, Deaths Continue to Decrease

The latest state reports show that Florida COVID cases and the positivity rate increased during the week ending July 1st. Also, hospitalizations remained the same, while deaths continue to decrease.

The state reported 15,978 cases during the week ending July 1st, compared to 11,807 cases for the week ending June 25th. The increase follows a consistent downward trend since the state reported approximately 37,000 cases for the April 23rd week. New cases reached a low during the June 11th week with 10,459.

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Florida Braces for Booming, Banging Return to July 4th ‘Normal’

fireworks

Independence Day 2020 was a lackluster affair for many, made all the sadder by attempts to celebrate July 4 amid pandemic-induced isolation without the parades, public firework shows and other communal and family gatherings that traditionally accompany the summer holiday.

The city of Miami and others staged “virtual fireworks displays” and at least 60 Florida communities made attempts to stage public events, including socially distanced parades, but with about 80% of traditional observations canceled, July 4, 2020, was nothing to celebrate.

Not so for July 4, 2021.

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Another Judge Temporarily Blocks Biden’s Debt Relief Program Exclusively for Farmers of Color

Silhouette of man on a tractor during golden hour

A federal judge in Florida temporarily halted President Joe Biden’s $4 billion debt relief program exclusively for farmers of color, saying in a Wednesday order that the program was racially discriminatory.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard sided with Scott Wynn, a Florida-based white farmer who sued to block the program in May. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) program was originally passed in March as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with the intention of providing relief to “socially disadvantaged farmers.”

“Section 1005’s rigid, categorical, race-based qualification for relief is the antithesis of flexibility,” Howard wrote. “The debt relief provision applies strictly on racial grounds irrespective of any other factor.”

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Just 14 States Had Positive Job Growth in May

Just 14 states saw positive employment growth between April and May while the majority of the growth was concentrated in a handful of states, according to the Department of Labor.

Fourteen states led by California, Florida and Texas experienced significant job growth, 35 states experienced stagnant job growth and Wyoming saw a decline in employment last month, according to a Department of Labor report released Wednesday. Overall, the unemployment rates in 21 states decreased between April and May while every state’s employment improved compared to May 2020.

While the U.S. continues to report increased job growth, the report showed that the vast majority of the growth has come from about a dozen states.

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