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The Point, April 30, 2021: What's In Florida's New Election Reform Legislation?

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Today's top Florida stories

• WUSF: Florida's New Invasive Reptile Rules Have Breeders Leaving And Activists Rejoicing. "As of April 29, pet owners cannot purchase tegu lizards or green iguanas, among other nonnative reptiles newly prohibited. Those who already own them, must get them registered and microchipped." Listen to our podcast today to hear more behind this story or read about its expected local effects in our November report.

• Gainesville Sun ($): Suburban Heights residents puzzled by development proposal. "Seemingly out of nowhere, (Gainesville city) commissioners voted to allow a multistory, urban mixed-use development with commercial and retail businesses on the bottom floors and housing upstairs, including affordable units."

• WUFT News: From Wi-Fi Hotspots To Language Learning, Alachua County Library District Serves Community During Pandemic. "...the library district noticed its digital checkouts increased (during the pandemic) by 20%. For the first time, they had more than 1 million digital checkouts in a single fiscal year..."

• WUFT News: Back To Nature: Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery Finds Life Through Death. "2020 was Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery’s busiest year to date. One of just a few conservation burial grounds in the United States, Prairie Creek’s mission is to 'provide a natural burial choice that conserves land and reunites people with the Earth.'"

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Around the state today

• NPR News: Florida Legislature Approves Election Reform Bill That Includes Restrictions. "Both chambers of Florida's state legislature approved new election reforms Thursday that would place restrictions on ballot drop boxes and residents' ability to vote by mail. It's the latest Republican-led effort to alter state voting rules following record-breaking turnout during the 2020 election."

• WESH-Orlando: Senate approves former Sen. Bill Nelson to head NASA. "The decision was unanimous. Nelson is a former astronaut himself. He was in space in the 80s and as a lawmaker was instrumental in the passage of space-related legislation."

• Spectrum News: Fully vaccinated Floridians shouldn’t be told to wear masks or avoid crowds anymore, state surgeon general says. "'Continuing COVID-19 restrictions on individuals, with no end in sight, including long-term use of face coverings and withdrawal from social and recreational gatherings, pose a risk of adverse and unintended consequences,' Dr. Scott Rivkees wrote."

• Palm Beach Post ($): COVID-19: Florida lags behind other big states in vaccinating public. "About 34% of residents ages 18 and older were fully vaccinated, the CDC reported. That's lower than large states such as New York (41%), Michigan (38%), and California and Illinois — 37% each, the same share of adults nationwide — and on par with Texas (34%)."

• Fresh Take Florida: Founder Of Disputed Publix Subs Twitter Account Reveals New Details Of Fight With Grocery Chain. "In an exclusive interview, Bryan Dickey, 26, said he plans to 'see what happens' as he keeps updating the @PubSubs_on_sale Twitter account, which has nearly 40,000 followers. That happened after an outpouring of support on social media and vitriol directed at Publix Super Markets Inc. after details of a trademark showdown emerged earlier this week."

• Associated Press: Florida’s transgender sports proposal sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. "Under the proposal in Florida, a transgender student athlete would have to affirm her biological sex by supplying proof such as a birth certificate."

• Florida Politics: Lakes, creeks sue state under Orange County’s ‘rights of nature’ rule. "As allowed under a radical, untested legal theory dating to the 1970s, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and a developer are being sued by Wilde Cypress Branch, Boggy Branch, Crosby Island Marsh, Lake Hart, and Lake Mary Jane, along with (Charles) O’Neal, who is best known as president of the conservation organization Speak Up Wekiva."

• WLRN: After Parkland School Shooting, Runcie's Days As Broward Superintendent Were Numbered. "Runcie nearly made it to the 10-year mark but, as it turned out, his days as the leader of the nation's sixth-largest school district would be numbered after the biggest challenge — and tragedy — of his career: the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland."

• Spectrum News: CDC: Cruises in U.S. waters could resume this summer. "Cruise voyages in U.S. waters could resume by midsummer under an updated Conditional Sailing Order released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

• Daytona Beach News-Journal ($): DeSantis-Seminole gambling deal is likely to face legal pushback. "While state lawmakers and pari-mutuel operators were praising Gov. Ron DeSantis' announcement late last week, lawsuits challenging it appear inevitable and an attorney who specializes in the industry said federal law is clear: Sports betting is not legal under the structure of the deal."

• Tallahassee Democrat ($): FSU quarterback outraged at Florida lawmakers delaying student-athletes being able to profit from name, image, likeness. "The bill still would have to be signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who championed the student-athlete NIL (name, image, and likeness) issue."

• WFTS-Tampa Bay: COVID-19 detection dog helps screen visitors at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. "Buffy, the two-year-old yellow lab, is trained to sniff out COVID-19. After hospital visitors go through the temperature check and initial COVID screening questions, Buffy sniffs the visitor. If she detects COVID-19 she will lay down."

From NPR News

• Health: CVS To Offer In-Store Mental Health Counseling

• Health: FDA Moves To Ban Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars

• Health: You're Vaccinated. Congrats! Now What Can You Do Safely?

• National: New York City, Former COVID-19 Epicenter, To 'Fully Reopen' On July 1

• National: Behind The Demographics Shifts That Are Reshaping Political Power In The U.S.

• Business: No College, No Problem. Some Employers Drop Degree Requirements To Diversify Staffs

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.

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