Charlie Crist Criticizes Florida Gov. DeSantis in Recent Interview

Charlie Crist on CBS interview

In an interview by Jim DeFede for CBS News Miami, former Florida Governor and current U.S. Representative Charlie Crist criticized Ron DeSantis while discussing his run for Governor in 2022. Crist criticized DeSantis’ actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the transgender sports bill and Medicaid expansion. He also indicated DeSantis was an “uncaring person.”

Crist was asked if DeSantis deserves credit for shutting down nursing homes and assisted living facilities (ATFs) that resulted in a low death toll for senior citizens. Crist deflected the question by bashing DeSantis for not advocating social distancing and wearing a mask while also putting an emphasis on the 36,000 Floridians who died from COVID-19.

After being asked again if DeSantis deserves credit for his decision, Crist stated, “Maybe so, it’s good to get a couple of things right, but it’s better to do more right.”

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FDLE Ends Investigation of Mike Bloomberg $16 Million Donation

Mike Bloomberg

After months of controversy regarding voter fraud allegations and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg during the 2020 presidential election, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) ended its investigation regarding the $16 million donation made by Bloomberg to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) in September 2020.

The investigation was requested by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody along with other elected officials in Florida to expose what they thought was an illegal attempt to persuade people whose voting rights were restored through the FRRC to vote Democrat in the presidential election.

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Florida Unemployment Claims Trending Down

Governor DeSantis lifted the COVID-19 restrictions in the state of Florida and industries look to begin returning back to normalcy starting with the issue regarding unemployment claims. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, for the week that ended May 1st, 2020, there were approximately 18,355 first-time unemployment claims in Florida and 116,304 unemployment claims by individuals who had already filed an initial unemployment claim, also known as insured claims. 

 The 18,355 initial unemployment claims from that week is a 9,662 decrease from the 28,017 initial claims from the week before and the number of insured claims decreased from 129,628 in that same week. The decrease in new claims reflects the national number of new claims during that week which was 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the prior week and the lowest number of initial claims since March 14th, 2020 when the number of new claims was only 256,000. 

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‘Operation Dirty Water’ Leads to Major Drug Bust in Florida’s Polk County

The Polk County sheriff’s office along with the U.S. Border Control and other federal agencies have seized 120 gallons of liquid methamphetamine and other narcotics as a result of a transnational investigation named “Operation Dirty Water.” Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County says that the operation was ran by “mastermind” Brian Stanton out of the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta with connection to the Juarez drug cartel in Mexico.

Operation Dirty Water began in January after a shipment from Ontario, Canada containing 2,500 Xanax pills was intercepted by law enforcement on its way to Winter Haven, Florida where detectives then determined and arrested Amber Cayson as the individual who was suppose to receive the shipment. In her home, law enforcement officials found 24 pounds worth of marijuana edibles, 2.4 pounds of marijuana flower, and a pound of methamphetamine.

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Governor DeSantis Announces Reinstatement of Work Search Requirements

On Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that on May 30th, he will be reinstating the work search requirements for jobless Floridians seeking unemployment benefits. In April, DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) extended the work search waivers through May 29th which allows applicants to receive benefits without reporting their weekly search for jobs to the DEO in the form of job applications.

Before the waivers were established in March 2020, individuals who were unemployed and looking for benefits had to complete and report five job applications to a registered career center or directly to the DEO. With the reinstatement of the work search requirements at the end of the month, and the denial of SB 1906 that would have increased the amount of weekly benefits and decreased the number of job applications required to report on a weekly basis, the process in attaining unemployment benefits will go back to how it was before the pandemic. 

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DeSantis Announces Special Election to Replace Congressman Alcee Hastings

On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would sign an executive order to set the date for the special election to replace recently deceased Congressman Alcee Hastings who represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District.  The date scheduled for the special primary election is November 2nd, 2021; and January 11th, 2022 for the special general election.

Since the death of Hastings, Democrats have been pressing DeSantis to set the dates for the special election. One candidate, Rev. Elvin Dowling, filed a federal lawsuit to force DeSantis into setting the date. In past circumstances when a special election was necessary, the average amount of time between a seat becoming vacant and being filled is approximately 4 months, whereas the seat left vacant by Hastings will remain unfilled for approximately 9 months.

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Former State Attorney Aramis Ayala Looks to Challenge Senator Marco Rubio

On Monday, May 3rd, former Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced on Twitter that she will be running for the U.S. Senate against current Senator Marco Rubio in 2022.

With the help from George Soros, a billionaire who contributed $1.4 million into political committees supporting her, Ayala was the first African American State Attorney in Florida’s history after a surprising defeat over  former State Attorney Jeff Ashton in 2016. Once in office, controversy swarmed as she banned prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty in her district. Although Ayala was seen as a pioneer in anti-death penalty reform to Democrats, Republicans criticized her actions and pushed for the Florida Supreme Court decision in 2017 that established that the death penalty may not be refused in capital murder cases.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Extends Deadline for Unemployment Benefits

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

On April 25th, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), extended the deadline for work search and work registration waivers that made unemployment benefits more easily attainable to unemployed Floridians in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result of the pandemic causing unemployment to increase, these unemployment benefit waivers were originally issued in March 2020 as part of the state of emergency that was established in Florida by Governor DeSantis that was originally set to expire on April 24th, 2021.

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Florida Senate Passes Elections Bill, Restrictions on Social Media Platforms

On Monday, April 26th, 2021, the Florida Senate voted 23 to 17 in favor of of a controversial bill (SB 90) regarding election administration and its tightening grip on mail-in voting. SB 90 includes changes to the current Election Code like, supervising and reducing the number of mail-in ballot drop boxes used by a supervisor of elections, and requiring voters to submit an application for a mail-in ballot every two years rather than every four years. 

 Democrats in the Florida Senate who voted against the bill say that SB 90 retains voting restrictions that that are unnecessary and will have disproportionate negative effect on Hispanic, Black, and older voters. They also commented on how the proposed measures of the bill is in reaction to the voting fraud allegations made by former President Trump in the 2020 elections. 

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Florida Senate Approves Three ‘Sales-Tax Holidays’ for Summer 2021

Florida’s Historic Capitol and Florida State Capitol

On April 23rd, 2021, the Florida House of Representatives voted 109 to 3 for a bill (HB 7061) that was originally proposed by the Ways and Means Committee on April 18th, to provide multiple sales-tax “holidays” and other tax-related adjustments developed to explicitly impact both businesses and families alike.

 If the bill is successfully passed, the first sales-tax holiday would be the “Disaster Preparedness” holiday from May 28th, 2021, through June 3rd, 2021 that allows supplies specifically for disaster preparedness to be exempt from sales-tax and county discretionary sales surtaxes. Items exempt include:

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‘Moment of Silence’ Bill Approved by Florida Senate

Florida Senate Capitol

On Thursday, April 22, 2021, the Florida Senate approved a “moment of silence” bill (HB 529) that was previously approved by the Florida House of Representatives on March 18th of this year regarding the requirement of all school districts to enforce a 1-2 minute moment of silence for students of all grades at the beginning of each school day, specifically during first-period class times.

The House approved the bill with a 94-24 vote while the Senate approved the bill with a 32-6 vote. After Thursdays approval, the bill moves on to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis where he will make final actions regarding the bill.

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FL Senate Votes 40-0 to Approve Increased Unemployment Benefits

On Thursday April 22, 2021, The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill (SB 1906) that will increase the benefits for unemployed Floridians. From a maximum weekly payment of $275 to $375, the bill also increases the maximum amount of weeks a recipient can receive these benefits  from 12 weeks to 14 weeks and is calculated monthly rather than annually. The maximum amount of benefits a recipient receives in a benefit year jumps from $6,325 to $9,375.

As far as aspects of the bill regarding recipient application, it allows for applicants to use a “base period” that is different than the one that the individual is in, at the time of applying. Instead of the required base period that includes the wages made in the last year up until the time of the application, an applicant can now choose the most recent base period that is prior to the one that the he or she is in.

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Governor DeSantis Announces Advancement of Everglades Reservoir Project

Earlier today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis met with Chairmen of the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Chauncey Goss, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein, and CEO of The Everglades Foundation, Eric Eikenburg to announce a unanimously approved agreement between the SFWMD Governing Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will advance the construction of phase two of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.

The EAA Reservoir Project includes two major phases or ‘features’ according to Governor DeSantis: one being a treatment wetland that cleans water, and 10,500 acre above-ground reservoir that will store excess water from lake Okeechobee. Governor DeSantis noted that they “initiated the final phase of construction for the C43 reservoir” and were “near completion of the C44 reservoir and storm-water treatment area” that began initial construction in April of 2020 which was 12 months earlier than scheduled.

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