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Southeast High School in Bradenton tweeted that recent graduates Albert Ales and Zachary Morris were killed Friday while exploring in Peru.
Southeast High School

Two teens who recently graduated from high school in Bradenton have died in a crash while traveling in Peru.

An American flag blows in the wind.
Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day weekend is a time to reflect and relax. There are many events happening across Florida and the United States in honor of  the holiday. Below, you will find plenty of parades, concerts, and commemorative events to fill your weekend.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tax bill Wednesday that is estimated to save Florida families nearly $47 million during two sales tax holidays. Another part of the bill is expected to save commercial real estate renters more than $64 million by reducing the tax rate.

This is the first time Sirena Saul is meeting Jason Louis in person. They’ve only been in touch by phone.

Louis, a high school senior at Miami Norland, gives Saul a tight hug and they get to work—shopping for a prom suit at Harrell’s Fine Fashions and Tuxedo Central in Lauderhill. 

Saul tells him she’s paying for everything: his suit, shoes, tickets to prom and a photographer.

Describing it as a “top priority,” Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday directed Secretary of State Laurel Lee to immediately start a review of the security of state and county elections systems after disclosures about Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign.

In a one-page letter to Lee, the state’s top elections official, DeSantis indicated the review will focus on cybersecurity and involve all 67 counties.

Construction equipment in a yard
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

Nearly two-thirds of Florida –some 6.7 million customers - lost power during 2017’s Hurricane Irma. Utilities blamed most of those outages on falling trees and debris that knocked over power lines.

To strengthen the electrical grid against future storms, Florida Power and Light is moving more power lines underground.

By The Numbers: Florida’s Death Penalty

May 22, 2019

Serial killer Bobby Joe Long is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Thursday at Florida State Prison in the 1984 murder of Michelle Simms in Hillsborough County. 

Questions Raised Over Florida Cabinet Meeting In Israel

May 22, 2019

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is going to Israel with a large contingent of business leaders — not surprisingly, especially as the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. But DeSantis' plan to hold a meeting with his elected Cabinet while he's there has raised concerns about whether officials are violating the state's open-meeting laws. 

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made a campaign stop in South Florida on Monday, meeting with local students and holding a fundraiser in Wynwood where he discussed several national issues affecting the region.

During a nearly 20-minute speech in front of more than 70 people, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said his candidacy marks an opportunity to “change the channel” in Washington and make politics more accountable.

a marker at Payne Park in Sarasota
Sarasota City Government

It's back to the drawing board for the Sarasota Orchestra.

Monday night, the Sarasota City Commission voted down the art organization's proposal to build a new 2,500 seat concert hall on seven acres of city-owned Payne Park.

Earlier today the Florida Democratic Party announced the launch of a voter protection program as a result of the recently passed amendment four bill and other perceived voter suppression tactics in past elections.

State Representative Evan Jenne called for negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida to reinstate the annual payments of an estimated $350 million suspended by the tribe after a failure to reach an agreement about the future of gambling in the state. "That's just too much money to be left out there unaccounted for in our budget," said the legislator. 

More than 100 inmates condemned to death could face a major upheaval, as a revamped Florida Supreme Court ponders whether to undo a 2016 ruling that allowed nearly half of the state’s Death Row prisoners to have their death sentences revisited.

Subtropical Storm Andrea's projected path as of 6 p.m. Monday.
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The National Hurricane Center has begun advisories on Subtropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Lake Okeechobee’s Lower Level Debated Among Stakeholders

May 20, 2019

Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s “Liquid Heart,” and people who depend on it for irrigation, drinking water, recreation and their livelihoods are often in conflict on how to take care of it.

This year, the conflict has heated up because the Army Corps of Engineers has been keeping the level lower than usual. Some say it will save the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers from toxic algae blooms. Others claim it risks a devastating water shortage.

In a call with reporters from across the state on Friday, Florida Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer said he recognizes Florida’s ongoing struggle with harmful algal blooms and will make water quality issues his priority moving forward.

Tampa Bus Driver Stabbed To Death

May 19, 2019
A driver of a Tampa HART bus was stabbed and killed Saturday on N. Nebraska Avenue.
Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 5:50 p.m.

Tampa Police say a city bus driver was stabbed and killed Saturday by a suspect they say was a passenger. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

Feds To Release Hundreds Of Immigrants In Broward, Palm Beach Counties

May 17, 2019
Group of immigrants waiving small United States flags.
Obama White House Archive

The federal government plans to release hundreds of migrants into Broward and Palm Beach counties starting next week, blindsiding Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. 

Researchers with state teachers’ union the Florida Education Association are estimating Florida’s new plan for a private school voucher program will come with a huge price tag. 

More visitors are coming to the sunshine state, according to new figures released by the state. But the state is losing ground on tourists from out of the country.

Florida announced today that 35.7 million visitors came to Florida in the first quarter – a new record.

“As we work to diversify Florida’s economy, it is critical that we keep visitation to Florida, and the revenue it generates, healthy and robust,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis in a press release.

Alligator on a runway at MacDill Airforce Base
Facebook / MacDill Airforce Base

Staff at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa had to bring in a front-end loader to remove an alligator that was lounging on a runway.

‘Bump Stock’ Ban Lawsuit Tossed Out

May 16, 2019
 Slide Fire Solutions SSAK-47-XRS-RH Bump Fire Stock mounted on a GP WASR-10/36 AK-47.
WASR / Wikimedia Commons

More than a year after the Florida Legislature passed gun restrictions, a Leon County circuit judge has dismissed a lawsuit that alleged a ban on “bump stocks” was an unconstitutional taking of property. 

DeSantis Calls For Pre-K Improvements

May 16, 2019

Pointing to a new report showing 42 percent of children who participated in the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program were not ready for kindergarten, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday directed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to come up with a plan for improvements.  

Business from cannabis is growing fast in Florida; some of it regulated tightly, and some of it without rules. But all of it comes with cash that the banking industry is reluctant to touch. 

 

The first legal industrial hemp seeds in decades are growing now in South Florida soil.

CBD is showing up in ice cream, gummy bears and cocktails, but the state says the products are illegal.

Visit Florida Signs Off On Budget Cuts

May 16, 2019

Faced with a “prove-it” year to state lawmakers, the board of Florida’s tourism-marketing arm on Wednesday approved a 30 percent payroll cut.

A reluctant Visit Florida Board of Directors agreed to slash payroll by $3.65 million, and strategic marketing by $17.8 million, with an acknowledgement the agency must do a better job of selling itself to lawmakers, particularly in the House, which sought to eliminate the public-private agency during this year’s legislative session.

Visit Florida survived in the session -- but took a 34 percent funding cut.

When Amendment 4 passed last November, many people thought it would give over a million people with felony convictions the right to vote in Florida. 

Prison Guards Eyed For Immigration Enforcement

May 15, 2019
The state may have to pay millions of dollars more in treatment costs for inmates infected with hepatitis C.
Florida Department of Corrections

The head of Florida’s prison system last month told a top federal immigration official he would like to launch a pilot program that would deputize state correctional officers as immigration agents in an effort to “identify and process criminal aliens.” 

FPL Backed On Tax Cuts, Irma Costs

May 15, 2019
elineart / Flickr

State regulators Tuesday approved a plan by Florida Power & Light to use federal tax savings to cover costs of restoring power after Hurricane Irma, despite criticism that the tax money should be used to lower customers’ base electric rates. 

Updated at 6:23 p.m. ET Wednesday

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a controversial bill that bans nearly all abortions into law Wednesday evening.

It's considered the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. The law makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions at any stage of a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is threatened or there is a lethal fetal anomaly.

Under the new law, doctors in the state face felony jail time up to 99 years if convicted. But a woman would not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.

"Veto! Veto! Veto!"

A group of about two dozen protesters chanted in front of the Tri-Rail station in Hollywood Tuesday. Together, they represented a handful of environmental groups that have been writing letters and calling Gov. Ron DeSantis's office, asking him to veto two bills on his desk.

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