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Briefs | The Phoenix Flyer

COVID-19 infections reach the 60,000 mark for the first time in Florida

A day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced "Phase 2" of reopening Florida and loosening restrictions that impact daily life, the state for the first time reached the 60,000 mark in COVID-19 infections.The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported exactly 60,183 infections — up from 58,764 on Wednesday.The death toll was reported as 2,607 deaths, up from 2,566 the day before.DeSantis had excluded the big southeast counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach from the Phase 2 plan that includes reopening bars, movie theaters and other activities, with limitations.Those three counties have been at the epicenter of the coronavirus...

DeSantis finally addresses Florida protests; reports ‘largely peaceful’ demonstrations

Days after Floridians began protesting police brutality, Gov. Ron DeSantis condemned the killing of George Floyd but added that Florida has "zero tolerance" for rioting and looting.“Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting & looting. George Floyd’s murder was appalling & the MN perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our communities,” DeSantis tweeted Monday evening.Earlier, DeSantis had remained silent on the world-wide protests against police brutality, even as other Florida public officials commented on the matter.In his tweet, he included a screenshot of a press release: “Governor...
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Gov. DeSantis extends moratorium on evictions, foreclosure with hours to spare

Gov. Rob DeSantis extended his moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures about five hours before it was set to expire just after midnight on Tuesday.The executive order was time-stamped at 7:06 p.m. Eastern Time Monday. DeSantis’ previous order would have lapsed at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.The protection for renters and homeowners now will last until July 1.Asked Friday about his intentions, the governor said, “I haven’t decided yet” but would “pretty soon.”It marks the second extension for the moratorium, first authorized on April 2 and extended on May 14. Legally, the order suspends enforcement of statutes governing evictions and...

Nikki Fried seeks sanction of state House member over Twitter threat to ‘protesters’

Democratic Florida Cabinet member Nikki Fried appealed to the Republican leaders of the state House to discipline Rep. Anthony Sabatini of Lake County for using Twitter to threaten violence against police-brutality “protesters” should they venture into his area.In a letter to House Speaker Jose Oliva and Speaker-designate Chris Sprowls, Fried cited the “historic tensions” within the country since the death in police custody of George Floyd, an African American, in Minneapolis and subsequent unrest.“On May 31, Representative Anthony Sabatini, who represents the people of House District 32, posted to social media encouraging those who encounter protestors in the Lake...

Veterans’ Affairs chief Danny Burgess resigning to run for the Florida Senate

Danny Burgess is resigning as executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs, just a year and a half after Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved the position.Burgess plans to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Tom Lee.In a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis posted on his department website, Burgess wrote that he was acting “with a heavy heart filled with gratitude” toward the governor and “the men and women who wear the uniform.”“I will remain an advocate for veterans — from the battlefield, to their homecoming, and beyond,” Burgess wrote.“At...

‘Above-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season expected, with a tax holiday to stock up on supplies

The first day of hurricane season begins Monday, with experts projecting a busy Atlantic hurricane season. Meanwhile, Floridians can take advantage of the state's hurricane sales tax holiday to stock up on supplies. The tax holiday began on May 29 and will continue to June 4. The Florida Department of Revenue released a list of disaster preparedness items that qualify for the hurricane sales tax holiday. Items such as reusable ice packs, batteries, radios, and portable generators and similar may be exempt from sales tax until June 4, depending on price. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shortened to NOAA, reports a “busy” 2020...

Two years later, relief for timber losses due to Hurricane Michael is authorized

A state-federal agreement securing $380.7 million in federal grants for north Florida’s timber industry is finally official, authorizing payments to qualified timber growers to begin this fall, two years after Hurricane Michael destroyed forests worth $1.3 billion.The rare Category 5 hurricane in October 2018 cut a tornado-like swath through 11 rural counties, destroying an estimated 500-550 million pine trees, weighing 72 million tons, and devastating the region's leading economic driver. The hurricane left thousands of people in the rural region homeless and jobless.The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the timber disaster grants last fall. On Friday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner...

Senators ask Gov. DeSantis to accept judge’s ruling covering return of felons’ voting rights

Two Democratic state senators have urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to give up his defense of a state law pinning former felon’s voting rights under Amendment 4 on their ability to pay “legal financial obligations” even if they don’t have enough money.“This is the type of system we would expect to read about in the darkest chapters of our nation’s history, not in our morning newspapers,” Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa and Sen. Lori Berman of Palm Beach County wrote in a letter to DeSantis dated Thursday.“Florida should join the rest of the country in expanding the right to vote,...

Due to steep losses, FL farmers are eligible for federal coronavirus relief

Florida farmers who have had crops, dairy and livestock go to waste during the pandemic are eligible for federal relief, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.The USDA will administer $16 billion in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) funding to help American farmers, said Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried.Fried’s office estimated that farmers in Florida sustained more than $522 million in crop losses alone through mid-April because their biggest buyers – restaurants, schools, theme parks – were closed to resist the spread of coronavirus, leaving them with more produce than they could sell.Fried said competition from...

Gov. DeSantis orders flags lowered in memory of COVID-19 victims

U.S. and state flags flying over state properties will be lowered to half-staff for the duration of the Memorial Day weekend to commemorate the people who died because of COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced.The governor’s office issued a memorandum to that effect in line with a similar edict from President Trump, “as a mark of respect for the victims of the novel coronavirus pandemic.”The governor’s order will apply to “all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the State of Florida” through sunset on Sunday.“May God be with the victims of this pandemic and bring aid and...

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