Florida Congressman Byron Donalds Slams Critical Race Theory

Byron Donalds

  U.S. Representative Byron Donalds, from Florida’s 19th congressional district, recently slammed Critical Race Theory in an opinion article from a very personal perspective. Donalds, who is African-American, has a White wife and biracial children. Donalds, like many other critics of CRT, views the movement as tool of the left…

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Governor DeSantis Trails Florida Cabinet Members in Net Worth

Recently filed financial disclosure forms filed by state-wide elected leaders show that the net worth of Florida Governor Ron Desantis is significantly less than Florida’s three cabinet members.

The financial disclosure forms, known as Form 6, are required to be filed annually by state elected officials and some state employees. The forms were due to the Florida Commission on Ethics by July 1, 2021.

Desantis reported a 2020 net worth of $348,832 on his Form 6 filed on June 20, 2021. This is up 16.5% from the $291,449 reported for 2019.

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Report: Charlie Crist Used Condo Repeal Bill to ‘Woo’ Democratic Voters

A report from 2010 indicates that then Governor Charlie Crist signed a condo repeal bill, which is now being investigated for playing a role in the Surfside condo collapse, to “woo” democratic voters in his race for the U.S Senate.

The report, published in the Palm Beach Post on June 25th, 2010, stated that “Gov. Charlie Crist was on the photo-op express Thursday signing the same bill three times in a two-hour period.”

The bill, SB 1196, was sold as a way to “help distressed condominium associations” during a down real estate market by repealing certain regulations that were put in place in 2008.

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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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DraftKings and FanDuel Back Amendment to Allow Sports Betting in Florida

Two of the largest companies in the daily fantasy sports industry, DraftKings and FanDuel, are backing a political committee’s efforts to legalize sports betting. The political committee, Florida Education Champions, is proposing an amendment that will allow sports betting at professional sports venues, pari-mutual facilities and through online platforms. The amendment would also raise money for education.

The amendment, as detailed on the Division of Elections website, states that if betting revenues are taxed, the monies would be required to go to the state Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

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Florida Gas Prices Up 48 Percent over Last 12 Months

According to publicly available data, average gas prices in Florida have increased approximately 48.0% over the last 12 months. The current price of a gallon of regular gas, as of June 20, was $2.96. This is up from $2.00 per gallon reported one year ago.

The chart below shows the 12-months trend of average gas prices for the United States and Florida. Since March 11, 2021, the average price of gas in Florida has trended below the national average. As of June 20, the U.S. average is $3.07 per gallon.

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Nikki Fried Amends Financial Disclosure Ahead of Campaign Announcement

For the second time in less than two years Nikki Fried – the current Florida Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate – has amended her 2018 financial disclosure form filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The latest amendment, filed on May 28, 2021, comes just days before she officially announced she would be running for governor.

The amendment relates to her gross income in part D of the form. Fried changed the amount of income she received from Igniting Florida to $351,480.

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Florida State University President Search Cut to Three

The Florida State University

The Florida State University president search has been cut to three candidates as the university’s presidential search committee decided to focus on traditional candidates after two days of interviews.

Making the list were Richard McCullough, Harvard University’s vice president for research; Robert Blouin, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s executive vice chancellor and provost; and Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte, Tulane University’s vice president for research and a professor of pediatrics at its medical school.

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Florida Residential Home Sales Up, Inventory Shrinks

homes

Data released by the Florida Realtors shows that the number of single-family residential home sales (78,353) increased 23.1% in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the number of homes sold (65,602) in first quarter in 2020.

The increase continues a hot resale market which began during the third quarter of 2020 with a 13.7% increase followed by a 23.6% in forth quarter of 2020.

Prices also saw double digit increases during the first quarter of 2021. The median price increased 17.6% to $317,500 in 2021 from $270,000 in 2020. Also, the average price increased 31.7% to $481,591 in 2021 from $365,765 in 2020.

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Florida State University Narrows List of Presidential Candidates

Florida State University

The Florida State University Presidential Search Committee met Friday to discuss applicants for the President’s position and narrowed the list. The committee has invited nine individuals to interview with the committee. In-person interviews with the selected candidates will take place May 14-15, 2021, at the Augustus B. Turnbull Florida State Conference Center.

The Committee announced the interviews and meetings will continue to be livestreamed. For those who wish to attend in person, plans have been made to offer very limited seating. The agenda will include public comment. Once the search firm has finalized the interview schedule, it will be made available.

Following first-round interviews with the FSU Presidential Search Advisory Committee on May 14-15, the committee anticipates hosting a series of open candidate forums for faculty, staff and students during the week of May 17.

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Governor DeSantis Signs Bill Raising Smoking, Vaping Age

Jackie Toledo

On Friday, Governor DeSantis signed a bill that will establish a regulatory framework for the sale of electronic cigarettes. The bill (SB 1080), which will take effect Oct. 1, will also raise the state’s legal age to vape and smoke tobacco to 21. In 2019, Congress passed legislation raising the federal age limit to 21.

House sponsor Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, said during the debate over the bill that it is aimed at preventing minors from using electronic cigarettes.

“This bill is necessary to stop youth vaping,” Toledo said. “This legislation is a step in the right direction, demonstrating Florida’s commitment to work with regulators and stakeholders to combat underage use.”

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New Ballot Initiative Law Challenged in Federal Court

One day after Governor DeSantis signed a bill related to ballot initiatives, a federal lawsuit was filed on Saturday seeking to have the new law ruled invalid.

The new law limits individual contributions to groups promoting ballot initiatives to $3,000. The limit is in effect until the Florida Supreme Court approves the placement of an initiative on the ballot. In Florida, voters can change the constitution by getting proposals approved for the ballot and then receiving over 60-percent of support during an election.

Republicans who supported the legislation, argued it was needed to keep special interest money from influencing the initiatives that voters see on the ballot.

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Florida’s First Black Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Hatchett, Dies at 88

The Florida Supreme Court announced on Saturday that former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph W. Hatchett died in Tallahassee on Friday, April 30, 2021 at age 88.

Hatchett became the first African American to serve on Florida’s highest court when he was appointed by Governor Reubin Askew in 1975. Hatchett was Florida’s 65th Justice since statehood was granted in 1845.

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Florida Police Related Shooting Deaths Up 52 Percent in 2020

People rioting

In a year that saw a social justice movement, a pandemic, and an increase in violent crime, police relating shooting deaths in Florida in 2020 were up 51.5 % when compared to the previous five years. In contrast, police related shootings nationwide were up just 3.4%.

The numbers come from the Washington Post police related shooting database which began logging information in 2015. The data shows that from 2015 to 2019 Florida averaged approximately 61.4 police related shooting deaths per year. In 2020, there were 93 police related shooting deaths, a 51.5% increase.

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Florida Bill Allows Students Athletes to Profit Beginning in July

In the waning moments of the 2021 Florida legislative session, elected officials amended a bill (SB 1028) that will allow college and university athletes to profit from their names and images beginning July 1, 2021.

On Wednesday lawmakers added a provision that would have pushed back the effective date of the name, image and likeness law until 2022 due to concerns with the NCAA.

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Two Florida Cities Consider Guaranteed Income Policies

Lauren Poe

The guaranteed income movement – which advocates for providing cash to low-income families with no restrictions on how they can spend it – is coming to Florida.

This year the Gainesville City Commission voted to implement a guaranteed income pilot program slated to begin in October. Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe has been part of a national initiative, “Mayors for a Guaranteed Income,” to supply monthly, direct cash payments to people who are struggling. The Gainesville pilot program would begin by giving cash to people with criminal records and who are looking to rehabilitate their lives.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried Addresses Marijuana, DeSantis, and Democrats

Nikki Fried

  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried recently appeared on Facing South Florida, with Jim DeFede and responded to questions related to medical marijuana, Governor DeSantis and her political future. Provided below is a summary of the interview. Jim Defede: You ran on legalizing medicinal marijuana and you want to move…

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Nikki Fried’s Ties to the Cannabis Industry

Commissioner Nikki Fried

  Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is a former marijuana lobbyist, has failed to address her financial ties to the marijuana industry as she advocates for legalization and uses her position to influence medical marijuana legislation. While legacy media looks the other way, other reporting has revealed connections that…

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