Questions About Nikki Fried Begin to Surface

Nikki Fried

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has long been rumored to be challenging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the 2022 gubernatorial race but has yet to make a campaign launch official.

However, last week, on Twitter, she made an announcement indicating “something new” is coming on June 1 through a video.
Since she posted the video, news and political commentary about Fried and her personal relationships, business interests, potential ethical questions, and how they all fit together have entered the conversation in light of an impending campaign launch.

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Nikki Fried Demands Answers About Piney Point, Environmental ‘Ticking Time Bombs’

The State of Florida is set to put $115 million into the clean-up of the Piney Point phosphate plant in Manatee County after a reservoir leak led to sulfate emissions, evacuations over a potential reservoir wall collapse, and a potential flood leading to contaminated water in Manatee County. Now, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is asking Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein what his agency knows about other potential environmental disasters.

Due to a leak in early April, 200 million gallons of wastewater were dumped into Tampa Bay, and its impact is still unknown. Discharges from Piney Point stopped on April 9, and DEP teams have been monitoring the discharge site to see if it resumes. So far, no more discharges have taken place.

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Florida Legislature Sends Vaping Regulations to DeSantis

Jackie Toledo

The Florida Legislature passed SB 1080, installing new vaping regulations, sending it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill will also raise the smoking and vaping age to 21, falling in line with federal standards.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Jackie Toldeo (R-60) said the bill is necessary to encourage Florida’s youth to stop vaping.

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Florida Bill Allows Colleges, Universities to Sponsor Charter Schools

On Monday, the Florida Senate passed SB 1028 which would allow Florida’s colleges and universities to sponsor an unlimited number of charter schools. Under current law, colleges and universities can, through the Florida Department of Education’s approval, sponsor one school.

A state university is permitted to work with a school district to develop a charter school but can only sponsor one. Now, there is no limit to the amount of charter schools an institution can sponsor.

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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 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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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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Orange County Seeks to Relax Mask Mandate by June

Jerry Demings

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said the municipality is putting together a plan to relax its mask mandate by as early as June.
“We are working with the department of health on a plan to phase reducing requirements of wearing facial coverings and social distancing,” Demings said. “We are reviewing how CDC requirements are evolving along with COVID infection data and a plan will be announced soon.”

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DeSantis Signs Anti-Riot Legislation

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1, known as the “anti-riot” bill into law during a press conference in Winter Haven.

Surrounding DeSantis was Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and other deputies where DeSantis said, “If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There’s just nothing even close.”

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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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Gubernatorial Candidate Cox Rolls Out Big Tech Accountability Plan

Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) announced a plan Wednesday to hold Big Tech accountable for protecting free speech. The plan expands regulation and enforcement with transparency requirements, bans on de-platforming elected officials, and $100,000-per-day fines for violating tech companies.

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Florida State Representative Randy Fine Discusses His Recent Letter to Governor DeSantis Addressing Big Tech

Friday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Florida State Representative Randy Fine to the newsmakers line to talk about his recent letter to Governor DeSantis on Big Tech.

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Asks Supreme Court to Define ‘Completion of Sentence’ in Felon-Voting Dispute

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the Florida Supreme Court to issue an advisory opinion on whether convicted felons must pay all fines and fees before their voting rights are restored under Amendment 4, the November 2018 ballot measure approved by 64.5 percent of state voters.

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Urged to Sign Turnpike Plan by Business While Environmentalists Virulently Oppose

by John Haughey   A bill approving a decade-long, multi-billion dollar plan to extend three toll roads into rural “corridors” was formally sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis Monday as opponents intensified demands he veto the measure and launched a week of scheduled protests. DeSantis has 10 working days to veto…

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