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Groups blast Legislature’s proposed new toll road plan as “worst ever” bill

Fifty-six community and environmental groups sent a letter to state senators Monday opposing the Florida Legislature’s proposed bill to create a new statewide network of toll roads.Sierra Club’s Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone called the toll road bill “the worst environmental bill that I have seen in 20 years.”The toll road bill is a top priority for Republican Florida Senate President Bill Galvano of Bradenton. The multi-billion-dollar, years-long proposal is up for consideration before the full Senate on Tuesday.“These corridors would essentially put a bullseye on some of the last best natural conservation and agriculture land in Florida,” said Paul...

Environmentalists to DeSantis: Do more to reduce fossil fuel use

On Earth Day’s 49th anniversary, a coalition of environmental organizations in Florida brought a five-page letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, outlying what the new governor could  be doing to address climate change.Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said her group is encouraged at DeSantis’ statements on protecting the state’s water and continuing Everglades restoration.“We’re hopeful that he’s now setting his sights towards establishing some really forward-thinking clean energy policies for Florida,” she said at a press conference in the Capitol. Florida Conservation Voters is one of 11 different organizations who signed on to the letter.In his proposed...

South Florida man arrested for threatening Dems in Congress

Editor's Note: This report is from the Michigan Advance, a partner of the Florida Phoenix in the Newsroom networkA South Florida man has been arrested for making threats against several members of Congress.A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida identifies John Kless as having left threatening voicemails with the office of U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) and two presidential candidates: U.S. Rep. and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).According to the complaint, Kless called Tlaib’s office on Tuesday morning and called the Muslim congresswoman “Taliban.” He allegedly said her...

Judge: Florida Department of Corrections must treat all prisoners with hepatitis C

A federal judge has issued a final order declaring that the state’s Department of Corrections (FDC) must provide treatment to all incarcerated people with hepatitis C, including those at the earliest stages of the disease.U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling issued on Thursday completes a case that began in May of 2017, when the Florida Justice Institute filed a lawsuit against the Dept. Of Corrections on behalf of three prisoners. The suit accused the department of failing to provide jailed people with proper hepatitis C medications.In October  2017, Walker held a five-day evidentiary hearing on the case where medical...
Capitol

From “no collusion” to “evidence of corruption:” FL lawmakers in Congress divided on Mueller...

Florida lawmakers in Congress are splintered along party lines over findings in the long-awaited Mueller report that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election -- which isn’t unusual in the partisan bickering of Washington, D.C.“Special Counsel Mueller has found staggering evidence of corruption, abuse of power, and obstruction of justice by President Trump and his associates,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, of the Orlando area, said in a press release.In contrast, Republican Rep. Daniel Webster, who represents Central Florida communities, released a statement saying: “For the last two years, Robert Mueller along with a team of 19 lawyers;...

Getting unemployment compensation could save domestic violence victims; legislation could make that happen

Carolyn Siegelman says the violent abuse she endured from her ex-husband was so severe that there were nights that she went to sleep not knowing if she would wake up alive.She says she wrote a letter to let people know about the violence, to be opened in the event that she were murdered.Siegelman ultimately did leave her husband back in 2003, but she says that if she could have quit her job and collected unemployment, she would have been able to get out of her tortured relationship much earlier. That’s why she is championing a bill that has passed...

Florida to FBI: If you think our elections system was hacked, tell us what...

Florida’s election overseers insisted Thursday that the state’s 2016 elections process had not been hacked by the Russians, notwithstanding a suggestion by special counsel Robert Mueller that Russian security agents (the GRU)  cracked at least one county’s system.The Florida county is not identified in the Mueller report.“We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government,” the report says on Page 51. It adds, however that Mueller’s team did not independently verify that possibility.“The Florida Department of State has no knowledge or evidence of any...
Catholic school

New Senate voucher program suddenly changes, allowing more kids and wealthier families to take...

Early in the legislative session, Republican senators proposed a new voucher program that would start out by serving up to 15,000 students from low-income families.But by Thursday, the program called the Family Empowerment Scholarship had changed dramatically. It would allow up to 18,000 students to take part in 2019-20, and let wealthier families get scholarships so their kids can attend religious and other private schools with public dollars.The changes come as lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee were trying to grasp what was happening next, as controversy continues over the new voucher program that would be financed by traditional...
mexico beach

College coaching icons join North Florida lawmakers in calling for Hurricane Michael relief funding

With both Congress and the Florida Legislature yet to pass disaster relief funding for Panhandle residents devastated by last fall’s Hurricane Michael, who better to try to rally state lawmakers to dig deep than some of the most legendary college football coaches in state history?That’s sort of what happened at the Capitol on Thursday. While former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden was unable to attend a press conference to discuss state disaster relief funds because of a family member’s wedding, former University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier made the trek to Tallahassee to make the ask to state...
Florida Supreme Court

FL Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady issues order to cut restrictions on public court...

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles T. Canady has come to the aid of Floridians who want to see public records stashed in county courthouses around the state.In an order released this week, Canady rewrote the rules for access to the records, erasing a requirement imposed by circuit clerks who were demanding restrictions that often delayed access to records being requested by citizens.The change came after the Florida Phoenix published details of courthouse rules around Florida that have been limiting online and in-person access to records.When a member of the public wanted to access a record online, they were forced...

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