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• From our Fresh Take Florida team: Local congressional candidates capitalized on the University of Florida’s recent ban of the historic and racially-tinged “Gator Bait” chant by using it as a campaign tactic. Judson Sapp, running for a seat in the 3rd congressional district, has marketed himself as pro-“Gator Bait.” (WUFT News)
• Florida Times-Union ($): Clay County sheriff says he’ll deputize every gun owner if deputies can’t handle protesters. “Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels vowed to put down any protests that aren’t peaceful with the full force of his office and with the help of gun-owning residents.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): Lightning sparks Levy wildfire, FHP urges caution. “Forest Service officials were battling a number of lighting-caused fires, including a large one in Levy County.”
• Gilchrist County Journal: Watermelon season huge success in Gilchrist and Levy Counties.“Watermelon growers in Gilchrist and Levy Counties were pleased with the outcome of the 2020 watermelon season.”
• Florida Storms: Holiday Weekend Forecast Includes the Return of Rainier Pattern in Florida. “An uptick in afternoon thunderstorm chances are expected in most locations, and portions of Central and North Florida may see heavier and longer lasting episodes of rain Saturday and Sunday.”
• Mayo Free Press: Florida weeklies merge with Valdosta Daily Times. “The Suwannee Democrat in Live Oak, The Jasper News and The Mayo Free Press announced today they will merge with their sister south Georgia newspaper, the Valdosta Daily Times, effective immediately.”
• Programming note: The Point will return to your inbox on Monday, following the holiday weekend.
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Around the state today
• From our Fresh Take Florida Team: On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted Gov. Ron DeSantis an injunction, freezing a judge’s ruling of a long-awaited case to decide whether or not felons in Florida should be eligible to vote with outstanding court fees. The deadline to register for the upcoming Florida primaries is less than three weeks away. (WUFT News)
• WCTV: Florida bar exam moves to online format in August 2020.“The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has announced it will administer an online bar examination on August 18, 2020.”
• Politico: Florida to rescue ‘essential’ online education programs after veto. “The emergency rescue, which sidesteps Florida law and suggests that state officials were unprepared for the far-reaching fallout of the veto, was announced by the State University System Board of Governors and UWF just hours before the cuts took hold at midnight Tuesday.”
• Miami Herald ($): Facing shortages of beds and remdesivir, South Florida hospitals halt elective surgeries. “The surge threatens once again to overwhelm hospitals in the regions where the virus has struck hardest, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties.”
• Pensacola News Journal ($): Escambia County down to three ICU beds at area hospitals. “The numbers leave Escambia County with one of the lowest rates of available ICU beds in the state of Florid with 2.54% of beds available.”
• WJCT: Duval Public Schools Will Spend $4 Million On Protective Desk Barriers For Students. “Duval County students returning to the classroom this fall will sit behind protective barriers meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.”
• News Service of Florida: Gov. DeSantis again extends moratorium on foreclosures, evictions in Florida. “DeSantis made the announcement just hours before an earlier extension was scheduled to expire.”
• Bay News 9: Vice President Mike Pence Visiting Tampa on Thursday. “Pence will now travel to Tampa (today) to meet with Governor Ron DeSantis regarding the efforts the state is making to combat COVID-19.”
• Florida Phoenix: Amid unrest and turmoil across the country, FL’s private historically black colleges get a major boost in state dollars. “The new funding adds up to $30.4 million for the three schools.”
• Sarasota Herald-Tribune ($): Longboat Key pipe may have dumped 28 million gallons of sewage into Sarasota Bay. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Tuesday that, in addition to upping pollution fines by 50%, specifies that each day the source of pollution knowingly goes unaddressed will constitute a new offense. It’s unclear whether the law would apply to this spill or what penalties Longboat Key might face.”