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DeSantis Signs Firefighter Cancer Benefits

May 6, 2019

After the proposal received unanimous support in the Legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will expand benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with 21 types of cancers. 

Updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

In a stunning and historic Kentucky Derby upset, the horse that crossed the finish line first was not the one that was declared the winner.

Maximum Security, the favorite entering the race and the only undefeated horse in the field, outpaced the competition on the muddy track at Churchill Downs and appeared to have won the 145th Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:03.93.

Then an objection was lodged. For several tense minutes in Louisville, some 150,000 people in rain-soaked ponchos and fancy hats waited for a verdict.

The first All Things Considered studio in 1972.
NPR

While "Morning Edition" is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, let's not forget its older sibling, "All Things Considered." NPR's flagship news program made its debut May 3, 1971.

ProCon.org

Seeking to carry out a November constitutional amendment, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored, an issue that’s been a sticking point as lawmakers grappled with one of this year’s most controversial pieces of legislation. 

Lawmakers Pass ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Ban

May 3, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

Legislation that would give Florida one of the strictest laws in the nation against so-called sanctuary cities is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, giving him a chance to fulfill a key campaign promise. 

Governor Ron DeSantis says he backs Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as President. This follows multiple conversations between DeSantis and National Security Director John Bolton.  

Partners across the state are recognizing May as National Foster Care Month in Florida. The state has about 5,400 licensed foster homes, and there’s a need for more. Now, two bills relating to child welfare have passed the Florida Legislature and are headed to the governor’s desk.

"Many of you know that I served for 20 years in the United States military, and I’ve learned a thing or two about moving,” said Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers), telling House members about moving 13 times and being deployed to various countries.

“That was my choice, and I at least had a chance to voice my preference during the assignment process," Roach said. "That is not the case in Florida for our 24-thousand children who are languishing in Florida’s foster care system. 60 percent of those children have been in the process for 12 months or longer.”

Killing a law enforcement canine or horse in Florida will now come with a more severe penalty, up to triple the prison time. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Wednesday flanked by officers and their four-legged partners.

forecasted rainfall for florida
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

A non-tropical disturbance is expected to approach Florida Thursday and Friday, producing summer-like downpours and thunderstorms across much of the state.

A non-tropical disturbance is expected to approach Florida Thursday and Friday, producing summer-like downpours and thunderstorms across much of the state.

The National Hurricane Center is not forecasting this disturbance to become tropical as it approaches Florida, although it does have a “low chance” of becoming a tropical depression or storm as it moves away from Florida this weekend.

Budget Chiefs Finalize State Spending Plan

May 1, 2019
State Capitol
News Service of Florida

House and Senate budget chiefs agreed Tuesday to a roughly $90 billion budget deal, but lawmakers will not end the 2019 legislative session on time. 

A key elections bill backed by the state’s supervisors heading for final votes. The measure is meant to address issues stemming from the 2018 election but Democrats say it doesn’t do enough.

greyhounds racing on a track
Cathy Carter / WUSF Public Media

On a recent afternoon at the Sarasota Kennel Club, the track’s grandstand is mostly empty, but for a handful of spectators leaning against a wire fence and sipping beer from plastic cups as a mechanical rabbit buzzes by.  

@pitbull / Twitter

Legislative budget negotiators have reached a deal to extend the life of the Visit Florida tourism agency, which had been set to expire in October. 

Environmentalists Wary Of Bleak Florida Forever Budget

Apr 29, 2019

As negotiations for the state’s yearly budget get closer and closer to a resolution, one line item has environmentalists shaking their heads.

The initial offer for funding Florida’s premier land acquisition program, Florida Forever, is less than half what some expected going into budget negotiations.

Pinellas County bus passengers will get to keep all of their routes -- for now. Members of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's board decided last week to hold off on proposed route cuts.

In Satellite Beach, homes perch atop a sand dune, left exposed after a series of storms and hurricanes washed away a sea wall.
Amy Green / WMFE

A ban in Florida on the words “climate change” appears to be ending.

The DeSantis administration is showing new leadership where state government has been absent in the past.

Budget Leads Major Issues In Florida Legislature's Last Week

Apr 28, 2019
Florida Capitol
Michael Rivera

The Florida Legislature careens into its final scheduled week with a host of major issues still to be settled, including a roughly $90 billion state budget that is the only bill lawmakers are required to pass.

A JEA crew works on power restoration in the Egrets Bluee area after Hurricane Irma in Sept. 2017.
JEA

Utilities would have to come up with a 10-year plan to strengthen and bury power lines and be allowed to pass along the cost to customers under a bill passed by the Florida Senate.

Gabrielle Monroe gives testimony as to why she is against Senate Bill 540.
The Florida Channel

Survivors of human trafficking are divided on two bills in the legislature.

“I am a survivor of childhood sex trafficking,” said Gabrielle Monroe of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Behind Bars. She spoke out this week against Senate Bill 540, which is designed to stop human trafficking. “I also was arrested in 2004 on the charges of prostitution.”

A controversial bill that bans local governments from adopting or practicing sanctuary city policies is moving forward, but it comes with some new amendments.

California Seeks Lessons From Florida For Fire Evacuations

Apr 27, 2019
South Floridians evacuate in Sept. 2017 when Hurricane Irma seemed to be heading for Miami.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald

With Hurricane Michael strengthening as it took aim at Florida's Panhandle, Mark Bowen and his employees watched the live footage through tears.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission met in Tampa in May 2017.
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Florida voters could have a chance to abolish a commission that meets every 20 years to suggest changes to the state constitution.

State Leaders Study Late Proposal For A Gambling Compact

Apr 26, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis and his staff continued Wednesday to scrutinize a proposed gambling agreement, but the odds of closing out what some lawmakers have called a “three-dimensional game of chess” grow dimmer as the clock winds down on the legislative session.

After weeks of negotiations, Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe reached a tentative deal on Tuesday. DeSantis and House Speaker José Oliva received an outline of the agreement, known as a “compact,” on Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis favors a House plan to crack down on texting while driving, as the Senate on Wednesday delayed for at least a day a separate measure that would only allow motorists to use hands-free wireless devices while on the road.

Firefighter Cancer Benefits Get Final Approval

Apr 25, 2019

The House on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would expand benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with 21 types of cancer, sending the high-profile measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

A divided Florida House has approved a bill that bans sanctuary cities for immigrants. It was met with heated debate from Democrats.

The bill would ban so-called “sanctuary cities” for immigrants in Florida counties and punish local officials who don’t cooperate with federal authorities. Municipalities that enforce such policies may be fined up to $5,000 per day.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Cord Byrd (R-Nassau) with the intention of reducing crime in Florida.

The Senate punted on voting on its big school choice bill Wednesday, as amendments to the measure continue to pour in. But, the chamber did make a significant change to its PreK-12 education budget, moving closer to the House.

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum agreed Wednesday to pay a $5,000 fine in a settlement reached with a state ethics-commission attorney, who agreed to drop four of five charges of ethics violations related to trips to Costa Rica and New York, a boat ride around the Statue of Liberty and a ticket to the Broadway hit, “Hamilton.”

Spook Hill in Lake Wales has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Google Maps

Put your car in neutral and watch as you mysteriously cruise uphill at Lake Wales’ gravity-defying roadway, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places earlier this month.

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