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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Following Florida, Georgia Will Give $1,000 COVID Bonuses to First Responders

Silhouette of a firefighter in uniform

Gov. Brian P. Kemp (R) announced Monday that frontline public safety employees will receive $1000 bonuses for working during the COVID-19 pandemic, following Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) who similarly rewarded his public safety employees in May. 

“As long as I am governor and as long as these members of the general assembly here with me today continue to serve under this gold dome, we will stand with our public safety officials, period,” Kemp said of the decision. 

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All Bets Are Off on Mobile Sports Wagering Being Legal in Florida on October 15

Under the Florida-Seminole Tribe gaming compact signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved by lawmakers in May, mobile online sports wagering becomes officially legal in the Sunshine State on Oct. 15.

But after two Florida pari-mutuels filed a motion in federal court late Tuesday to block the sports wagering component of the 30-year gaming deal from being implemented, don’t bet on it.

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Feds Trim Florida’s Monoclonal Antibody Allotment After State Fueled National Surge in Demand

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has spent two months cross-crossing the state promoting sites and clinics that offer monoclonal antibody treatments, an increasingly popular alternative to vaccines for protection from COVID-19.

In fact, so popular that last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHS), while increasing overall supplies by 50%, from 100,000 to 150,000 doses a week nationwide, but capping the number of doses being delivered to Florida and six other Southern states that had previously consumed more than 70% of the nation’s monoclonal antibody treatments.

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States Prepare for Limits on Key COVID Treatment, Criticize Federal Rationing

Gov Ron SeSantis

Demand for a key COVID-19 treatment has led to a nationwide shortage, and as President Joe Biden’s administration rations how much each state receives, some governors are pushing back over having to decide how to use their limited supplies.

Many states are warning their residents that the treatment may not be available, and some are discussing offering it only to unvaccinated individuals. On Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, warned his states’ residents that there is “not going to be enough” of the treatment.

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DeSantis Demands Feds Account for All People ‘Resettled’ in Florida

During the first six months of 2021, more than 6,250 “unaccompanied alien minors” were transported to Florida by the federal government and released to sponsors with little oversight, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Other than that, the governor says there’s little information provided by the federal government about where people detained for attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border are being housed and how many are now in Florida.

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Florida Board of Education Gives School Districts 48 Hours to Comply with Mask Order

The Florida Board of Education has notified officials at two school districts that they must comply with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates within 48 hours or face financial penalties.

In a letter sent on Friday, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said both Broward County and Alachua County must comply with the order.

“It is important to remember that this issue is about ensuring local school board members, elected politicians, follow the law. These public officials have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida. We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow,” Corcoran said in a statement.

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Texas Starts Jailing Illegal Aliens on State Charges of Trespassing

Texas authorities announced on Thursday that state law enforcement has begun the process of arresting and jailing illegal aliens who cross the border on state trespassing charges, in a new effort to crack down on illegal immigration where the federal government is failing to do so, ABC News reports.

This latest step follows up on the promises of Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas), who first vowed in June to step up enforcement of immigration laws in the state in direct response to the Biden Administration’s open-borders approach. Abbott also declared that the state would continue building the border wall that was started by President Donald Trump, on which Biden had halted construction after taking power.

The arrested illegals are being detained at a state prison in the city of Dilley, roughly 100 miles north of the border. All of the illegals who have been arrested thus far are single adult men, who are the most likely to be a threat to society. The prison in question is capable of holding up to 950 illegals, but Abbott said in a visit to the border on Saturday that “the state jail commission has worked out a way to jail far more people than are currently being jailed.”

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Commentary: Florida’s DeSantis Is America’s Great Right Hope

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gavin Newsom of California, and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan shatter everything they touch. Ron DeSantis, conversely, seems to get everything right. The Florida Republican has emerged as America’s governor. 

“We’re standing with our folks. We’re going to do the right thing. We leaned into it, and we stood strong,” DeSantis told Fox News host Tucker Carlson recently.

Rather than snip a tax, kill a regulation, and then doze off, as too many Republicans have done, DeSantis is a tireless, full-spectrum conservative. He has authorized a host of economic, cultural, and law enforcement initiatives that are buoying Florida and transforming him into the Great Right Hope.

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California Bans State-Funded Travel to Florida

California added Florida to a list of states where state-funded travel is prohibited, largely due to the fact the states have laws that supposedly “discriminate” against LGBTQ individuals.

In 2016, the California state legislature passed Assembly Bill 1887, which allows the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta to revoke state-funded travel to the areas if the state enacts laws that allow discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

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President Joe Biden to Visit Collapsed Building in South Florida

President Joe Biden will travel to Miami-Dade County, Florida on Thursday to examine the site of the muti-story building that collapsed to ruble — leaving nearly a dozen dead and over 100 still missing.

Further, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden will thank first responders for sacrifices and attempt to comfort families who have fallen victim to the tragedy.

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Florida Judge Hears Arguments over New Social Media Law

A federal judge is hearing arguments between online-industry groups NetChoice and Computer & Communications Industry Association and the state of Florida.

The online groups, representing big tech giants, argue that the new law imposed under Governor Ron DeSantis is unconstitutional.

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DeSantis Signs Bill to End Toll Road Expansion

Sunrise Toll Plaza

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill on Thursday that will reverse the toll road expansion proposed earlier in the year.

The bill, SB 100, sent by the state legislature to DeSantis’s desk earlier this month will end the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program and the specific provisions associated with it. 

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Bill Introduced by Rep. Harshbarger Would Ban Federal Vaccine Passports

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger (R-TN-01) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that would prohibit the federal use of a COVID-19 vaccine passport or any other similar required proof of vaccination.

“Vaccine passports are a restriction on individual liberties, period,” Harshbarger said of the attempts by some governments to require proof of vaccination in certain circumstances. 

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Mediation Talks Between Florida, CDC Unsuccessful in Cruise Ship Battle

People boarding a cruise ship

Mediation talks between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Florida have been unsuccessful, as the federal agency and the state duke it out in court over who controls the cruise ship industry’s return to business as usual. 

“Settlement talks have ended in the legal battle between Florida and the federal government about restrictions on the cruise-ship industry,” according to WKMG. “U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli, who has served as a mediator, said in a court filing Friday that a settlement conference was unsuccessful.”

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DeSantis Signs School Choice Bill

Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill to expand school choice and education options. Some have said it could be the largest school choice expansion among any state in the country.
The bill will expand eligibility to for school vouchers to low-income students and students with unique abilities. Approximately 60,000 Florida students, including military kids, foster children, and adopted students, will now be eligible to receive vouchers to attend private, charter, or other home schooling.

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Florida Bans Biological Men from Competing in Women’s Sports

Women's volleyball game

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday banning biological males from women’s sports.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act prohibits biological males from participating in athletic teams or sports designated for female students and requires that a student’s school or institution “request a certain health examination and consent form or other statement from the student’s health care provider to verify the student’s biological sex under certain circumstances.”

“The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act will empower Florida women & girls to be able to compete on a level playing field,” DeSantis tweeted Tuesday. “This will help ensure that opportunities for things like college scholarships will be protected for female athletes for years to come.”

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Florida TaxWatch Releases Budget ‘Turkey’ Report

Turkey with $100 bills in the background

Yesterday Florida TaxWatch released their annual Budget Turkey Watch Report, a report designed to ensure budget oversight and accountability toward Florida’s elected leaders. The report is a compilation of “Budget Turkeys,” which are described as “local member projects, placed in individual line-items or accompanying proviso language that are added to the final appropriations bill without being fully scrutinized and subjected to the budget process.”

The 16-page report highlights the millions of dollars spent by the Florida Legislature added to the overall state budget without the same “deliberation, debate, and accountability they deserve.”

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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 Teacher Fired for Violating DeSantis Critical Race Theory Ban

A Florida teacher was fired for refusing to remove a Black Lives Matter banner from outside her classroom, a direct violation of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) teaching ban implemented by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year.

“Governor DeSantis has made clear his position on CRT. It is divisive, irrational, and has no place in our classrooms. CRT is rooted in Marxism, an anti-American ideology that has caused untold suffering and death everywhere it has been implemented. Moreover, CRT teaches discrimination based on ethnicity and racial background,” Executive Office of the Governor Press Secretary Christina Pushaw told The Epoch Times.

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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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DeSantis Leads Fundraising Effort by Wide Margin

Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis’ political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, in 2021, has raised over $23 million, and nearly $14 million of the total was raised during April alone. During April, the campaign received primarily two large sums of money, one was for over $5 million from Chicago-based hedge funder Kenneth Griffin, and the other was a $2.8 million donation from the Republican Governors’ Association. Griffin was one of DeSantis’ primary contributors to his 2018 gubernatorial run.

DeSantis has not formally filed the paperwork to run for reelection in 2022, but the account is ramping up donations, indicating a DeSantis campaign is likely imminent.

Over 30 contributions came in totaling over $50,000, 139 contributions over $25,000, and 86 contributions of $100 to $500.

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DeSantis Interview Raises More Presidential Rumors

Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the featured guest in a town hall discussion entitled “Leading to Liberty” for Sean Spicer’s program Spicer & Co. on Newsmax. In the hour-long interview, DeSantis fielded questions from Spicer and the audience ranging in topics from Florida’s COVID response, illegal immigration, and education.

Political pundits who watched the interview said it felt more like an informercial for a possible 2024 presidential run, but others said he made his case for reelection in 2022.

DeSantis was on the offensive at times throughout the night, criticizing President Joe Biden’s first few months in the White House, but also theorizing where Florida would be right now if he had not been elected in 2018.

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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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Poll: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Leads Competitors by 10 Points

On Wednesday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a poll showing Governor Ron DeSantis leads each of his potential Democratic competitors by at least double-digit points in the 2022 gubernatorial race.

In a hypothetical head-to-head general election, DeSantis leads Rep. Charlie Crist 51-41. Against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the same scenario, DeSantis leads 51-39, and against Rep. Val Demings, DeSantis leads 53-38.

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Election Reform Law Faces Immediate Lawsuits

Governor Ron DeSantis signed an elections reform bill into law Thursday and opposition groups have already filed lawsuits against it. The new law, known as SB90, sets in place limits on access to ballot drop boxes and well as requiring those same ballot drop boxes to be monitored by an employee of the supervisor of elections’ office.

Additionally, voters who wish to request an absentee ballot will have to do so each general election cycle.

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Governor DeSantis Signs Florida Elections Reform Bill

Ron DeSantis

On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an elections reform bill into law, causing much debate over the new law’s contents.

The bill, SB 90, designed to ensure election integrity, has been the subject of debate for weeks since the Florida Legislature was passing the bill through committees. The bill will install new requirements for ballot drop boxes as well as mail-in voting, specifically voters who wish to vote absentee will have to ask for a ballot each general election cycle. Also, the drop boxes will need to be staffed by an employee from the supervisor of elections’ office whenever the box is receiving ballots, and times to access the drop boxes will be limited.

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Florida Legislature Passed Insurance Reform, Industry Future Uncertain

After weeks of debate, Florida lawmakers passed insurance reform bills at the tail end of session. In the end, lawmakers passed legislation potentially leading to rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Legislators also took steps to reduce the amount of roof-damage claims and lawsuits due to concerns of hurricane damage claims being filed long after the storm.

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Florida Teachers’ Unions Fought Against Raises

The pandemic has made it clear to parents that teachers’ unions don’t represent the interests of students. And while, in theory, the union should serve the interests of teachers, in practice they have another master: the Democratic Party. When these interests don’t align, the result can be fascinating political contortions – as when Florida teachers’ unions fought against pay raises provided by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.

In October 2019, DeSantis declared that 2020 would be the “year of the teacher.” Despite the massive budgetary uncertainty presented by COVID, in March 2020 DeSantis requested $600 million for teacher raises and $300 million for teacher bonuses. The legislature delivered $500 million for raises and $100 million for bonuses, which Jacob Oliva, chancellor of the Division of Public Schools in the Florida Department of Education, described as “the single largest compensation increase ever in Florida and a statement to the nation that Florida is elevating the teaching profession.”

One might expect teachers’ unions to applaud DeSantis and call on other governors to follow his lead. Instead, some local teachers’ unions actually fought against the raises, effectively keeping money out of their own members’ pockets.

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Florida Congressman Charlie Crist Announces a Run for Governor

Charlie Crist

U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist (R-13) announced he is running for governor in 2022. He is the first major Democratic opponent for Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Florida has a governor that’s only focused on his future, not yours,” said Crist in a campaign launch video.

Florida Democrats have reacted positively to Crist’s announcement, including St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman who has been a vocal opponent to DeSantis and praised Crist.

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Charlie Crist Making ‘Major Announcement’ Tuesday

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (R-13) is set to make a “major announcement” from St. Petersburg. It has been rumored he is announcing his candidacy for governor, evidenced by Crist teasing a run back in February.

In an interview with Jim DeFede on Facing South Florida, Crist said he is focused on his work in Congress, but he’s open to launching a campaign.

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Florida Legislature Passes $101.5 Billion Budget

Florida Senate Capitol

Friday marked the last day of the legislative session, and the state legislature agreed upon a record-setting budget bill. 

“State lawmakers on Friday signed off on a record $101.5 billion on the state budget that has left both Republicans and Democrats happy — mostly,” The Tampa Bay Times reported. 

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Florida State University Failed to Disclose Foreign Relationships, USDOE Opens Inquiry

Florida State University

Florida State University (FSU) failed to disclose foreign relationships, gifts, or contracts among university entities and now faces a U.S. Department of Education (DOE) inquiry.

In a letter obtained by the Florida Capital Star to FSU President John Thrasher on January 15, the DOE notified the university of an inquiry into potential violations of Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

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Florida Congresswoman Demings Defends Ohio Officer in Fatal Shooting

Val Demings

U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings (D-FL-10) defended the police officer involved in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

Demings appeared on the CBS Sunday program Face the Nation and said the officer had to make a split-second call, and the officer ended up saving a life in the process.

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Florida Trade Secret Revamp, Crackdown on Foreign Research Theft Set for Adoption

Bills revising Florida’s trade secret law and placing enhanced disclosure requirements on sources of foreign grants for university, medical and high-tech researchers are set for adoption by the House and Senate.

The bills are a response to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call for lawmakers to adopt legislation to thwart attempts by foreign governments to infiltrate agencies and universities to steal trade secrets.

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Commentary: Just Say No to Vaccine Passports

We all desperately want normal lives again. And I’m not talking about the finnicky “new normal” that accommodates Aunt Karen’s irrational fear of leaving her house. I’m talking about “normal normal,” where people crowd into concert halls with standing room only, restaurants operate crowded tables at 120 percent capacity, and cruise ship buffets shove food and alcohol down my throat like it’s Fat Tuesday, all day, every day. Ah … don’t you miss 2019? I sure do.

It was only a matter of time before some in our society turned the national COVID experiment into an excuse to say, “Papers, please.” That’s right — the so-called vaccine passport is now emerging in the United States. It’s an app that is advertised as a way to help people do the things they miss doing from pre-pandemic times. Want to feel completely safe in your favorite store, and surround yourself with others who, like you, have rolled up their sleeve and gotten the vaccine? There’s an app for that. Just scan your QR code and enter feeling sanctimoniously sanitized.

Last week, New York became the first state to offer such a vaccine verification app. The state-sanctioned app, called Excelsior Pass, claims to let participants “Attend sporting events, arts performances and more! Excelsior Pass supports a safe reopening of New York by providing a free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results.” Well that sounds fun to me! Sign me up!

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DeSantis Slams Critical Race Theory, Says Florida Schools Will Exclude ‘Unsubstantiated Theories’ from Curriculum

During a press conference in Palm Harbor, Florida on Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his administration is banning “Critical Race Theory” from being taught in Florida schools.

The governor made the announcement while describing a new civics education initiative aimed at teaching students “foundational concepts” in America, rather than “unsubstantiated theories.”

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All Star Panelist Roger Simon Reflects on Being a Journalist at CPAC and the Cancelling of Dr. Seuss

Tuesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed The Epoch Times columnist and all-panelist Roger Simon to the studio to discuss the energy at CPAC and the cancellation of Dr. Seuss.

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After Defying COVID Groupthink, Big Tech Censors, DeSantis Hosts CPAC as Rising GOP Star for 2024

When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis takes the stage to deliver a welcoming address at the Conservative Political Action Conference on his home field in Orlando Friday, it will be as a fast-rising force in the conservative movement and an increasingly plausible and popular contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.

DeSantis will be followed in the spotlight on the first full day of CPAC 2021 by a succession of marquee GOP names vying to woo the party’s conservative base at the movement’s signature annual gathering of the tribes. Among them will be potential 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls and aspiring heirs to the leadership of their party’s populist conservative wing, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley, of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, respectively.

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Florida Official Will Direct Offices to Ignore Governor’s Plan to Lower Flags to Honor Rush Limbaugh

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried issued a press release on Monday stating that she will direct offices within her purview not to lower flags to half-staff in honor of the recently deceased conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

The announcement from the Democrat comes after Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had previously indicated that flags would be lowered to half-staff to honor the late conservative icon.

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Commentary: For Seniors, the Difference Between Florida and New York Is a Matter of Life and Death

Florida has the largest percentage of seniors 65-years-old and older in its population most vulnerable to the Chinese coronavirus among larger states and second nationwide, at 20.5 percent, or 4.3 million. Yet it has a relatively low mortality rate for a large state for the China-originated COVID-19 pandemic, at just 2,660, according to data from the Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Florida Officials, Congressional Delegation Demand FBI Disclose Election-Hack Details

by John Haughey   Russian hackers gained access to voter information files in Washington County, a sparsely populated Republican-dominated Panhandle county, where 77 percent of its 11,000 votes cast in the 2016 presidential election went to Donald Trump. The revelation was reported by The Washington Post Thursday night, citing two…

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Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis Set to Sign Cost-Reducing Drug Importation Bill

by Evie Fordham   Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears set to sign a bill creating a program to import prescription drugs from Canada after the Republican-backed legislation passed the state Senate. The bill passed the GOP-controlled Florida House 93-22 on April 11, reported The Associated Press. The Washington Examiner characterized the legislation…

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More Than Two Dozen Possible Graves Found at Florida’s Infamous Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys

by Neetu Chandak   More than two dozen possible graves were discovered during a cleanup at a defunct Florida school, infamous for abusing children. A subcontractor found the 27 “‘anomalies’ consistent with possible graves” at the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in March, a letter from Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said…

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Florida’s Universal Education Choice Moment

by Lindsey M. Burke   Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that the state legislature intends to establish Equal Opportunity Scholarships designed to end the current waiting list on the tax credit scholarship program – a move the Republican chief executive supports. The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship – which provides scholarships…

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