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Voting-rights allies claim victory in battle over campus voting sites

Students may vote early at on-campus sites after all, now that Florida’s chief elections officer has agreed to authorize local elections supervisors to set up such sites.The League of Women Voters of Florida announced Friday that a legal fight launched in 2018 along with the Andrew Goodman Foundation and eight young Florida voters has ended in a settlement.In that settlement, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee lifts restrictions that barred elections supervisors from setting up early-voting sites on college and university campuses.Lee is required to advise elections supervisors throughout Florida that they are free to place early voting stations...

New congressional panel to police COVID-19 relief spending

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced plans Thursday to form a new committee charged with overseeing the more than $2 trillion the federal government is spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will consist of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, Pelosi said, and will be chaired by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.).“We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work,” Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues. “Congress has taken an important step in meeting this crisis...

Florida Trucking Association: ‘The demand is high right now’

With stores running out of items quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida needs truck drivers, according to state agencies and the Florida Trucking Association.“A lot of companies are increasing hiring, the demand is high right now,” Alix Miller, vice president of the Florida Trucking Association, said in a phone interview. The statewide organization represents trucking companies and vendors.She said the group is working with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Florida Department of Transportation “to take steps to get new drivers.”“We are on the phone with them almost every day,” she said.Meanwhile, with Florida...

27 more deaths, following 16 the day before; more than 8,000 COVID-19 infections

The Florida Department of Health posted 27 deaths Thursday afternoon, the largest group of deaths reported thus far as the state tracks the death toll and COVID-19 infections in Florida.Today's 27 deaths push the death toll to 128 in Florida and comes after Wednesday's 16 deaths in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, Manatee and Lee.The 27 deaths Thursday are in twelve counties: Broward, Clay, Dade, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.The number of infections rose to 8,010, up from 7,773 Wednesday, a difference of 237 infections.If similar increases continue, or go higher, Florida could see...

Federal prison infections double overnight; 12 FL prison staff have COVID-19

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in federal prisons doubled in one day, from 28 on Tuesday to 57 on Wednesday, although none were reported in Florida, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.The number of confirmed infected employees rose from 24 to 37, also with none in Florida. The bureau's report was dated Wednesday; by noon Thursday, it had not been updated.The Florida Department of Corrections still reports no confirmed cases among its 96,000 inmates and no new cases among staff Wednesday after reporting this week that 12 employees were infected and off duty. Florida has 144 state prisons, employing...

Unemployment claims soar in Florida as COVID-19 outbreak shuts down the state’s economy

The COVID-19 crisis has tripled the number of Florida workers filing new claims for unemployment in the last week, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor.Some 227,000 jobless workers in Florida filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending on March 28, the report shows. It compares to the 74,313 claims filed in the prior week. More than 300,000 workers have filed for unemployment in the last two weeks in the nation’s third-largest state.Nationally, 6.6 million people filed new unemployment claims in the last week, for a two-week total of more than 10 million, the...

Congress preps for next round of coronavirus relief

WASHINGTON — Congress is gearing up for additional coronavirus response legislation that aims to build on the first three massive relief packages.The next bill could include huge infrastructure projects, and U.S. House Democrats are pushing to include some of their top priorities that were sliced off the sweeping $2 trillion bill during negotiations with Senate Republicans.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has characterized strengthening national infrastructure as a key avenue for bipartisan action. President Donald Trump has also pushed for a massive infrastructure investment, although previous attempts to find broad bipartisan compromise on the issue have failed in recent years.“For a...

Florida loses a federal appeals court ruling on the state’s felon voting law

Update:Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called for the state to move forward with the implementation of Amendment 4 that would allow felons to regain their voting rights."Floridians overwhelmingly voted to pass Amendment 4 over 500 days ago. Governor Ron DeSantis please do the right thing, stop the legal maneuvering, and let returning citizens register to vote," Rizzo said in a statement on Wednesday.Here's the prior report:A federal appellate court on Tuesday rejected Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to have the court reconsider a ruling that found that Florida felons who have served their time but can't pay...

FL Democrats launch texting campaign to encourage more voters to vote by mail

With the COVID-19 crisis casting doubt on in-person voting, Florida Democrats plan to text more than 1 million voters this week encouraging them to register to vote by mail in the upcoming elections.“Florida Democrats have long invested in boosting vote-by-mail turnout among unlikely voters, and this method of remove voting is increasingly important in the face of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Florida Democratic Party said in a statement.The state party will work in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee in the texting campaign.“We need to modernize our voting systems to protect voters, and our partnership with the DNC to...

In COVID-19 crisis, Tampa Bay Times will reduce print edition delivery to Wednesdays and...

The Tampa Bay Times, a prominent Florida newspaper dating back to more than a century, will reduce print edition delivery to Wednesdays and Sundays, as the newspaper faces steep cuts in revenue in the COVID-19 crisis.The change will begin next week. The electronic version will continue daily, so readers can read on phones, tablets and computers."While we are in the depths of this pandemic, we simply cannot afford to produce the ink-and-paper version every day," chairman and CEO Paul Tash said an an announcement to subscribers."In the last two weeks, retailers have cancelled more than $1-million in advertising they...

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