The Point, Feb. 17, 2022: Florida Legislature moves toward banning most abortions after 15 weeks


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• Ocala Gazette: Judge orders Ocala to send out notices to all who paid illegal fire fee tax about final hearing and their refunds. “A judge last week provided some clarity to the burning question of how Ocala residents and businesses, past and present, will be able to get back almost $80 million in fire fees they were made to pay years ago under a tax that was later found to be illegal.”

• Mainstreet Daily News: Alachua schools will share spring break with UF. “The School Board of Alachua County made the decision at its regular meeting, making this the first time that UF and ACPS align the week off. According to the calendar, the break will be a week earlier than usual for the ACPS, running from March 13 to March 17, 2023.”

• WUFT News: Gainesville advisory board members didn’t like parts of the first proposal to redesign West University Avenue’s traffic flow. “The board’s vice chair, Michael Palmer, said he felt the designers overlooked the transportation needs of Gainesville residents in favor of University of Florida students and staff.”

• WUFT News: Traveling exhibit sheds light on the Holocaust during visit to north central Florida. “The freight car’s U.S. leg of the North American tour began in December and made its way Monday and Tuesday to the outside of Jewish organization University of Florida Hillel’s building across University Avenue near Ben Griffith Stadium.”

• WUFT News: Supply shortages are impacting Gainesville-area hunger relief programs. “With vastly cheaper prices than other suppliers, food banks are a go-to spot for many hunger relief programs. But price increases and grocery store shortages serve as a reminder that the amount and type of product available at food banks is variable, said Raquel Simon-Petley, the director of advocacy and strategic planning at Feeding Florida.”

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Around the state

• WFSU: A bill that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks passed on the House floor just after midnight as protestors were blocked from the chamber. “House speaker Chris Sprowls instructed the sergeants to clear the chamber and after a brief recess lawmakers returned to vote—passing the bill 78-39.”

• Florida Politics: Florida Supreme Court won’t need to hear oral arguments on legislative maps. “The Senate on Feb. 3 passed a bill that combined both the Senate map (S 9058) and the House map (H 8013) in a single piece of legislation. Attorney General Ashley Moody on Feb. 9 petitioned the Supreme Court for a high-level review of the maps and asked for a summary judgment.”

• News4Jax: Publix says fully vaccinated workers don’t have to wear masks. “Publix does not require customers to wear face coverings but does encourage all to ‘do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.’ Publix isn’t the only one loosening protocols. Fully vaccinated Walmart and Sam’s Club employees were also told they will not have to wear a mask.”

• Tallahassee Democrat ($): Florida bill that penalizes districts could cost Tallahassee schools their security chief. “Leon County Schools administrators have started tallying up which jobs might be at risk if Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature yank millions from the school district for defying the governor’s ban on mask mandates. One would be the person in charge of keeping students safe.”

• Pensacola News Journal ($): Northwest Florida solar companies say new bill will pull the plug on their growing industry. “As the cost of solar panels has come down in recent years, Florida’s regulations surrounding net metering have made it financially feasible for many people to begin installing them on their homes. Net metering allows people with solar panels to ‘sell’ back excess energy they generate to the electric utility provider.”

• Associated Press: Recent deaths have railroads pleading for people to stop dangerous crossings. “Tuesday night’s death was the ninth involving Florida’s privately owned passenger railroad since it resumed operations in November after an 18-month shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the 57th since Brightline began test runs in 2017, giving it the worst per-mile fatality rate in the nation, according to an ongoing Associated Press analysis that began in 2019.”

• WMFE: Osceola County public school teachers get Spring Break bonus, raises in an attempt to slow turnover. “The Osceola County School Board voted this week to approve the one-time $500 bonuses and a $15 dollar minimum wage for employees. The bonuses will be handed out ahead of Spring Break and the raises will take effect July 1, 2022.”

• WFLA-Tampa: Local businesses anticipate economic impact as MLB lockout delays spring training. “Local businesses, fans, and part-time stadium workers are fearing disputes between Major League Baseball players and team owners will get in the way of the much-anticipated spring training games.”

• WJCT: At long last, recycling will return April 4 in Jacksonville. “Curbside recycling pickup will return to Jacksonville on April 4, exactly six months after the city suspended the service to focus on missed garbage and yard waste collections.”

• WLRN: Blocking ‘Bikini Beach’? Keys officials want to screen the view from part of U.S. 1. “‘They call it up there bikini beach and they also call it lookie-loo beach,’ said Monroe Sheriff Rick Ramsay. ‘We have people that are in a 55-mile-an-hour zone and are dropping down to 30, 35 miles an hour just for that, to look at the boats and, presumably, the swimmers.'”

From NPR News

• Health: The politics of getting to the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic

• Business: Companies tell employees it’s time to return to the workplace

• World: Russia’s claim that it was pulling troops back from Ukraine is ‘false,’ official says

• Politics: U.S. investigation finds that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke misused position

• Politics: The John Durham filing that set off conservative media, explained

• National: Racist, violent evidence presented in federal trial against Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

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

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news

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