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Today’s Florida stories
• WUFT News: ‘There is always room for growth’: Cynthia Chestnut rejoins Gainesville City Commission. “Chestnut, 72, assumed the position previously held by Gail Johnson, who announced her resignation in August. Chestnut first ran for the seat in the November special election, but it wasn’t until the Jan. 25 runoff that she won over newcomer Matt Howland.”
• WFSU: Senate President is open to talks on House plan to punish school districts that kept mask mandates. “(Wilton) Simpson said he expects part of the debate to center on whether there’s a difference between running afoul of an executive order compared to a law. After some districts defied Desantis’ order, lawmakers met in a special session to codify the order in state law.”
• WUFT News: New research suggests delays in autism diagnosis for Black children may reflect providers’ racial biases. “Black children usually obtain a diagnosis for autism one and a half years later than white children, after many more provider visits. They are also more likely to get misdiagnosed first with intellectual disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders, creating an even longer delay. Torica Exume leads a team of researchers at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida Atlantic University who have dedicated the last year to answering the question: Why?”
• USA Today Network ($): A $3.3 billion gulf: Here are the budget fault lines dividing the Florida House and Senate. “A $3.3 billion gap sounds like a lot. But it’s easier to grasp – and for lawmakers to narrow – when viewed as smaller differences scattered across scores of spending priorities and involving a few million dollars here and there.”
• News Service of Florida: Senate passes revamped water bill. “With a key lawmaker saying he wanted to clarify and counter ‘purposeful misinformation,’ the Senate on Thursday changed a controversial measure that critics said could affect Everglades restoration projects.”
• Florida Politics: Gov. DeSantis signs emergency rainy day fund into law. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the first bills of the 2022 Legislative Session on Thursday — two proposals creating a $500 million rainy day fund in the Governor’s name. … The fund will provide DeSantis — and subsequent governors — with a designated pot of money to use during a state of emergency.”
• Politico: ‘Bad blood’: Florida Republicans defy DeSantis. “According to more than a dozen state lawmakers, members of the governor’s administration and Florida political operatives, the conflicts stem from DeSantis using hard-nosed tactics to strong-arm the Legislature, disagreements between lawmakers and the governor’s new chief of staff and DeSantis’ lobbying campaign to pressure Simpson to pass a long-stalled anti-union bill. That effort peaked after conservative groups contacted by the governor’s team bought $75,000 in ads against Simpson in his own district.”
• Gainesville Sun ($): Remote public comment is on pace to cost Gainesville taxpayers $130K this year alone. “Gainesville officials, however, haven’t publicly said yet whether they will follow Alachua County’s decision to scrap the service, a useful tool that has allowed people to have their voices heard in government meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
• Associated Press: Florida transportation secretary Kevin Thibault resigns to take airport job. “Florida’s secretary of transportation is stepping down to take over as CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, officials said.”
• Miami Herald ($): In Florida, home of the 97-year-old inmate, prison healthcare costs spiraling. “The average age of Florida prisoners has climbed from 32 in 1996 to 42 today, according to Florida Department of Corrections records. At the moment, Florida is currently incarcerating inmates as old as 97, prison officials said. They would not identify the 97-year-old.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.