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Florida Gov. DeSantis signs controversial ‘anti-riot’ bill into law

Florida Gov. DeSantis signs controversial ‘anti-riot’ bill into law

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s controversial “anti-riot” bill into law on Monday, a measure that vastly increases law enforcement’s powers to crack down on civil unrest. The bill, which passed mostly along partisan lines, has been criticized by Democrats and civil rights groups as unconstitutional for infringing on the First Amendment’s right to protest. Advertisement “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,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Winter Haven...

Apr 19
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Florida Senate passes ‘anti-riot’ bill, sends it to DeSantis to sign into law

Florida Senate passes ‘anti-riot’ bill, sends it to DeSantis to sign into law

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate on Thursday approved an “anti-riot” bill championed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, sending it to him for signature into law over the objections of Democrats and civil rights groups who say the measure infringes on the fundamental First Amendment right to protest. The hotly debated measure passed 23-17, largely along partisan lines. Advertisement The parts of the bill (HB 1 ) that most upset Democrats grant civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road; prevent people arrested for rioting or offenses committed during a riot...

Apr 15
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DeSantis’ ban of vaccine passports could lead to showdown with businesses in Florida

DeSantis’ ban of vaccine passports could lead to showdown with businesses in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban of vaccine passports could lead to a showdown with businesses in Florida. Vaccination passports have become a new ideological battleground of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis joining the fray by issuing an order banning their use by both local governments and businesses. But already, businesses ranging from cruise lines to sports teams have announced they’re planning to require some kind of proof of vaccination for entry into their ships or arenas. Advertisement And with the Biden administration ruling out issuing federal passports, that means...

Apr 15
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Ocoee Democrat, GOP House Speaker join together to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms

Ocoee Democrat, GOP House Speaker join together to extend Medicaid coverage for new moms

TALLAHASSEE – Women who get Medicaid coverage during their pregnancy in Florida lose it two months after delivery if they don’t otherwise qualify for Medicaid. Ocoee Democratic Rep. Kamia Brown has sought to change that since taking office in 2016, and this year she’s gained a powerful ally: House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “If it wasn’t for the hard work that (Rep. Brown) has done to pave the path for this the work that we have been able to do here today … would not be possible,” said Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, during a March 23 press conference to unveil the plan. Advertisement Sprowls, along...

Apr 5
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Florida leaders poised to cut affordable housing to pay for sewers, sea-level rise

Florida leaders poised to cut affordable housing to pay for sewers, sea-level rise

TALLAHASSEE – Florida lawmakers have moved a step closer to diverting money intended for affordable housing to pay for new programs to combat sea-level rise, over the objections of housing program advocates who argue the pandemic has created a greater need for housing programs. House and Senate budget panels passed bills, HB 5401 and SB 2512, on Wednesday that would sweep two-thirds of the money that would go into affordable housing into grant programs for wastewater treatment projects and to address the problems caused by sea-level rise in cities throughout the state. Advertisement For the...

Apr 1
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Orlando state Sen. Bracy releases video amid hints at running for governor

Orlando state Sen. Bracy releases video amid hints at running for governor

TALLAHASSEE — Orlando Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy, who is considering a run for governor in 2022, released a Tuesday, another indicator that he’s inching closer to a bid for the governor’s mansion. The nearly two-minute spot features Bracy talking about the toll of the pandemic on the state and the need for a governor to work in a bipartisan way, although he doesn’t mention Gov. Ron DeSantis by name. Advertisement “Loved ones are dying, jobs have disappeared; people are scared and looking for answers,” Bracy says. “To solve these problems we have to change course ... we need a governor...

Mar 23
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Three years after Parkland shootings, political stalemate over gun bills endures in Tallahassee

Three years after Parkland shootings, political stalemate over gun bills endures in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — Three years after the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland spurred a vocal group of students to demand gun law changes, the debate over firearms has been all but muted in the state Capitol. In the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018, shootings that left 17 students and faculty dead and another 17 wounded, lawmakers passed a bill that beefed up school security and imposed gun control measures. They banned bump stocks and the sale of firearms to those under 21 and put a three-day waiting period on all firearm purchases, the first gun reforms passed by the GOP...

Feb 12
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Police search Florida Capitol after bomb threat, but nothing found

Police search Florida Capitol after bomb threat, but nothing found

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Capitol building received a bomb threat early Thursday morning, but law enforcement officials working overnight did not find any explosive device. The building was closed until 9 a.m. to state workers “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The FDLE alert stated the Capitol complex is secure but noted it remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advertisement Capitol Police were made aware of the threat before 3 a.m., and began sweeping the building and surrounding Capitol complex. The FBI’s Joint...

January 21, 2021
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DeSantis says Rebekah Jones ‘has issues,’ blasts news media over state police raid

DeSantis says Rebekah Jones ‘has issues,’ blasts news media over state police raid

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released body camera footage from the search warrant executed on the home of fired data scientist Rebekah Jones. TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday slammed news media outlets for their coverage of the state police raid on Rebekah Jones’ home and said the former Department of Health data scientist “has issues.” His comments came after a panel discussion decrying the stigma over mental health issues. Advertisement “She was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job,” DeSantis said of Jones. “None of the stuff that she’s said was ever proven....

December 11, 2020
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Bill to bar arrests of children under 7 in Florida caught in police reform standoff

Bill to bar arrests of children under 7 in Florida caught in police reform standoff

TALLAHASSEE – A plan in the Legislature to prohibit the arrest of children younger than 7 in most instances, inspired by an incident involving an Orlando 6-year-old in 2019, is once again caught up in a larger bill in the last days of the legislative session. The measure died last year in the final days of the session because it was part of a school safety bill that tanked amid disagreements between House and Senate leaders. This year, the provision is contained in a comprehensive police reform bill that Black lawmakers especially have been pushing for as a response to the murder of George...

Apr 24
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