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Category: State News

LT GOVERNOR TALKS ELECTIONS BILL, COVID ACTIONS WITH WEEKLY

A 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee brought more than 260 pieces of legislation to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for signature. Last week, the governor signed two bills related to the state’s elections and COVID-19 recovery, which also saw two executive orders.  Joining DeSantis in his signature of election legislation, Senate Bill 90, during a press conference in West Palm Beach last week was the state’s No. 2 in charge, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. The first Hispanic female lieutenant governor, elected in 2018, Nuñez was tuned in to the issues during the session.  With the signing...

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KEYS SCHOOL BOARD QUESTIONS AFFORDABILITY OF EMPLOYEE HOUSING

School officials are still planning to build 20 units of employee housing next to Sugarloaf School, but pumped the brakes during an April 27 update, demanding more information from the project’s for-profit developers, Gorman & Co. School board members liked the appearance of the apartment complex, but questioned the  affordability. A one-bedroom unit would cost $1,700 to $2,100 per month, Two-bedroom units would cost $2,000 to $2500 and three-bedroom units would cost $2,400 to $2,900 per month, based on the employee’s salary and how it compares to the AMI, or area median income, which...

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KEY WEST’S CRUISE SHIP QUESTION WAITS ON GOVERNOR

Will cruise ships return to Key West? Can the city change its charter to limit large ships?  The answers lie with Gov. Ron DeSantis, who will decide in the coming weeks whether to approve or veto a statewide transportation bill that would prohibit all ports, including Key West, from restricting maritime commerce in any way. The transportation bill, known as Senate Bill 1194, passed the state legislature last week in a late-night vote. DeSantis has 30 days from that passage to either sign the bill into law or veto it.  A veto would leave open the door for Key West to regulate the ships...

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LOCAL MASK MANDATE ENDS, PER PAIR OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS

Mask-wearing mandates and other local government COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and individuals in Florida are no longer in effect, per a pair of executive orders signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 3.  Business owners can still require masks when patrons enter their establishments, but DeSantis’ orders override any approved decision-making and oversight by city and county governments over COVID measures that infringe on rights or liberties.  The first executive order signed by DeSantis suspends all local COVID-19 restrictions and mandates on individuals and businesses through the end of...

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TALLAHASSEE ROUNDUP: LEGISLATIVE SESSION ENDS FRIDAY

A 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee is nearing the end. While some bills related to election administration and social media are making progress, other pieces of legislation are stalling — not to mention a $100 billion budget that still must be approved. Session is set to end Friday, April 30, as legislators work to get their bills to the finish line.  SENATE BILL 90 — ELECTION ADMINISTRATION Passing through the Senate via a 23-17 vote on April 26, the bill sponsored by Dennis Baxley, who represents Sumter, Lake and Marion counties, puts tighter regulations on vote-by-mail ballots. The...

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BREAKING NEWS: LEGISLATURE SAYS KEY WEST CAN’T LIMIT CRUISE SHIPS

Key West’s effort to ban large cruise ships is on death row, the governor its only lifeline. A single signature by Gov. Ron DeSantis will bring a breathless end to Key West’s cruise ship debate today. If DeSantis approves the bill passed by the Florida House late Wednesday night, cruise ships of all sizes will continue coming to Key West. If DeSantis instead vetoes the bill, Key West’s Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships will prevail. But a veto is unlikely given the breadth of the transportation bill that contains the cruise ship legislation.  Just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, the Florida House...

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SCHOOLS ON TAP TO GET $20 MILLION IN FEDERAL AID

Just as many U.S. citizens have been receiving stimulus payments from the federal government throughout this pandemic, the Monroe County School District has received emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had at its elementary and secondary schools.  According to Amber Archer Acevedo, coordinator of community relations for Monroe County School District, the district so far has received $1.3 million for the first round of stimulus payments. The district has also applied for and will probably be approved for a $5.8 million second-round stimulus payment.  In the near future,...

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LEGISLATION RELATED TO KEYS MOVE AHEAD IN TALLAHASSEE

Key bills await consideration as legislative session in Tallahassee draws to a close. The last day is scheduled for April 30, and the race is on to get bills approved for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.  Members in the House and Senate continue to mull funding requests for key environmental projects to measures that create civil liability protections for individuals and businesses against COVID-19-related claims.  Among the notable requests is $20 million for the Florida Keys Stewardship Act, which supports ongoing water quality projects and land acquisition in the island chain. Passed by the...

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BREAKING NEWS: STATE SENATE PASSES BILL TO VOID KEY WEST CRUISE SHIP REDUCTION

The Florida Senate on Thursday passed the bill that voids Key West’s initiative to significantly reduce the number of cruise ships that can visit the island city. Senate Bill 426, entitled “State Preemption of Seaport Regulations,” passed the state senate with a 25 to 14 vote, with one senator not voting. Florida Keys State Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, a Republican, voted against the bill that prohibits Key West from restricting the size, type and capacity of ships that visit its port. The bill still has to pass the Florida House of Representatives before becoming law, and the...

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SCHOOL DISTRICT PONDERS STATE GRADES

Monroe County school officials say they are undecided about whether to seek the annual grade assigned to the district by the state, until they see what other districts plan to do. The grade affects staff bonuses and state funding. At the April 13 meeting, the school board also heard that the long-awaited renovation of the Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium is a year away. Under an April 9 emergency order, state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told school districts that the state is waiving some course requirements due to the pandemic: High school seniors in Florida will be able to graduate...

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