The Point, March 3, 2021: What Florida’s Governor Said As The 2021 Session Opened

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• WUFT News: Gainesville Resident Melia Speed Spotlights Local Black Leaders. “…Speed decided to elevate her usual celebration of Black History Month on Facebook. Almost each day in February this year, Speed spotlighted one Black leader in the local area. ‘It’s a bunch of people that don’t know the value that we have right here in Gainesville,’ Speed said. ‘I feel there’s a lot of people that don’t know the history of how much we have accomplished.'”

• WUFT News: Updates To PPP Loans Aim to Reach Businesses With 20 Employees Or Less. “Alyssa Brown, vice president of public policy for the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, said in the first rounds of PPP loans, 3,700 businesses in Alachua County received them, totaling about $267 million in funding and helping to save thousands of jobs. ‘We’re not out of the woods, but I think the first two rounds have definitely been helpful to businesses,’ she said.”

• WUFT News: Community College Enrollment Plummeting, Impacting Gainesville Residents. “In the fall of 2020, Santa Fe College recorded a 12 percent decrease in enrollment, while the College of Central Florida in Ocala saw a decline of more than seven percent. They’re part of the national trend of falling enrollment at community colleges. Recent studies done by the National Student Clearinghouse show that enrollment at community colleges has dropped by over 10 percent nationwide this past fall semester.”

• WUFT News: Committee Discusses Historical Marker To Commemorate Victims Of Lynching In Gainesville. “The Confederate soldier statue that once stood outside the Alachua County Administration building will be replaced with a historical marker at the end of May.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville Church Provides Playground For Children With Special Needs. “In Luke’s gospel, Jesus welcomes all children with arms wide open. In Gainesville, a Methodist church decided to do the same with the opening of an inclusive playground — a place where all kids can come and have the same chance to have fun.”

• WUFT News: UF Study Makes New Discoveries About Transportation Bike Racks. “Remote sensors put on Gainesville’s Regional Transit System buses tracked when bike racks were being used. “

• WUFT News: Suspect In 1994 Gainesville Murder Cold Case Accepts Plea Deal, Shortened Prison Sentence. “Following a plea deal agreed to in Alachua County Circuit Criminal Court on Feb. 23, Francis Palazzi was sentenced to just over six years in prison for the murder of Jamal McGowan 27 years ago.”


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Around the state today

• Fresh Take Florida: ‘Calamitous Reality’: Florida Governor Speaks On Virus, Vaccines, Elections And Black Lives Matter To Open 2021 Session. “Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed success Tuesday for his own handling of the pandemic and urged state lawmakers to pass reliably conservative measures, including what he described as ‘anti-rioting’ proposals, changes to election rules and limits on social media companies kicking users off their platforms.”

• Associated Press: Florida Legislature Gavels Into Session With Key Bills Looming. “Both chambers, which are controlled by solid Republican majorities, will be helmed by new leaders: House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson.”

• WFSU: Health Care Costs Under Scrutiny As Florida Lawmakers Look For Ways To Save. “The number of people depending on Medicaid in Florida has increased by 20% since the start of the pandemic. Medicaid is the state and federal program that provides insurance for the lowest income Americans. Right as costs for the program have increased, state revenues have taken a hit. Now, as lawmakers prepare to hammer out a budget this legislative session, healthcare cuts could be part of that discussion.”

• WFSU: Here Are Three Criminal Justice Bills Drawing Attention Ahead Of Florida’s 2021 Legislative Session. “Florida lawmakers appear set to dive into criminal justice issues during the 2021 legislative session. On the list: creating new criminal offenses, changing how and when a minor can be tried in adult court and where gun license holders can take their weapons.”

• Florida Politics: Poll shows Ron DeSantis reelection prospects looking good. “Gov. Ron DeSantis has early position to win reelection against either Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried or Rep. Charlie Crist next year, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.”

• NPR News: The Florida Democratic Party Has A Problem: It’s Broke And Disorganized. “In Florida and states across the country, Democrats are worried. That may seem odd following an election in which President Biden won the White House and Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate. But in other races, Republicans did well in 2020, picking up seats in Congress and state legislatures. That was especially true in Florida.”

• WTSP-Tampa: Evictions in Florida are reaching pre-pandemic levels: Is the state heading toward a crisis? “Despite a federal moratorium in place, thousands of Floridians are still receiving notices to leave their homes.”

• WUSF: Florida Reports Highest Number Of New Coronavirus Cases In A Week. “That data could be have been skewed by the the state reporting the results of only 33,559 tests Sunday, more than 85,000 fewer than the daily average for the last two weeks.”

• New York Times ($): Miami Says It Can Adapt to Rising Seas. Not Everyone Is Convinced. “Officials in Miami-Dade County, where climate models predict two feet or more of sea-level rise by 2060, have released an upbeat strategy for living with more water, one that focused on elevating homes and roads, more dense construction farther inland and creating more open space for flooding in low-lying areas.”

• Panama City News Herald ($): Ongoing Panhandle wildfire threat from Hurricane Michael debris sparks new state campaign. “During a press conference Thursday in Tallahassee, members of the forest service said in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, there is still a threat to life, homes and communities. More than 2.8 million trees were destroyed during the Category 5 storm and much remains on the ground today, ready to burn, a forest service press release states.”

• WFLA-Tampa: ‘Keep doing what you’re doing’: Spring breakers thank DeSantis for keeping state open. “Those who are visiting say they were attracted to visiting the Sunshine State, Tampa Bay in particular, because there’s plenty of space with endless beautiful beaches ranked nationally. There’s also lots and lots of fresh air, which visitors admit they’re craving after being cooped up during the pandemic.”


From NPR News

• National: Biden Says U.S. Will Have Vaccine Supply For All Adults By May, Prioritizes Teachers

• National: Wray Defends FBI’s Intelligence Sharing Ahead Of Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

• World: White House Slaps Sanctions On Russia Over Navalny Poisoning

• World: Iran Rejects U.S. Offer To Hold Direct Nuclear Talks

• Politics: High Noon For The Future Of The Voting Rights Act At The Supreme Court

• Race: Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Activist And Power Broker, Dies At 85

• Books: Looking Again At A Doctor’s Old Rhymes, Seuss Works Haven’t Kept Up With The Times

• Health: 5 Medical Appointments You Should Stop Putting Off

• Science: Reading A Letter That’s Been Sealed For More Than 300 Years — Without Opening It

About today’s curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to emagoc@wuft.org.

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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