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Today’s Florida stories
• Florida Storms: Wind chill, freeze alerts expand ahead of bitterly cold holiday weekend. “Cold weather alerts are in place across much of Florida ahead of the arrival of plunging temperatures in time for the holiday weekend.”
• Associated Press: Florida’s high court OKs grand jury probe of COVID-19 vaccines. “The Florida Supreme Court will convene a grand jury at Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ request to investigate any wrongdoing with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines, the court announced Thursday. The Republican governor, who is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024, earlier this month called for the investigation. He suggested it would be in part aimed to jog loose more information from pharmaceutical companies about the vaccines and potential side effects.”
• News Service of Florida: Citizens CEO announces retirement, a week after state insurance commissioner said he will resign. “(Barry) Gilway, 77, who said he had been in the insurance business for 52 years, became president and CEO in June 2012. During the past two years, he has led Citizens through a tumultuous period in the property-insurance market, with Citizens seeing its policy count soar to 1.14 million as private carriers dropped policies and raised rates because of financial losses.”
• WUFT News: Gainesville’s first trans minister makes a mark through social justice initiatives. “The Rev. Christe Lunsford knew from a young age they had a spiritual calling. After growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, Lunsford, now 55, began seminary preparatory school at 19 years old. But when they came out as transgender, they were met with opposition that pushed them away from organized religion entirely.”
• Florida Politics: Gov. DeSantis appointee rejoining Broward County School Board in place of elected candidate. “A 27-year-old felony conviction will prevent an elected member of the Broward County School Board from taking his seat and a previous appointee of Gov. Ron DeSantis will take his spot, the Governor’s Office announced Thursday.”
• News Service of Florida: By the numbers: County abortion totals in Florida during 2022. “A new state report shows that, as of Dec. 2, Florida totaled 68,217 abortions this year. That was up from 61,956 abortions as of Nov. 1 and 57,067 abortions as of Oct. 4. Statewide, there were 79,817 performed in 2021 and 74,868 in 2020.”
• WFSU-Tallahassee: Two GOP leaders vie to chair the Republican Party of Florida. “Outgoing party chair Joe Gruters will leave early next year to run for treasurer of the Republican National Committee. … The two candidates in the race so far are Sarasota County State Committeeman Christian Ziegler and Leon County GOP Chair Evan Power.”
• News4Jax: Gov. DeSantis appoints St. Augustine businessman to board of commissioners following death of member. “Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday announced the appointment of Roy Alaimo to the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners. Alaimo was appointed to take the place of Commissioner Paul Waldron who died in October.”
• WLRN-Miami: Elderly woman charged over ‘mercy killing’ of endangered Key deer. “A 77-year-old Keys woman shot and killed one of the endangered Key deer that only live in the Lower Keys, federal prosecutors said. But several locals consider the shooting a mercy killing for a buck that residents were watching slowly die while they waited for wildlife agencies to respond to their calls for help. Wendy C. Kilheffer, of Big Pine Key, could face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted of taking an endangered species, a misdemeanor.”
• Bradenton Herald ($): They brought over a dozen churches together to make change in Bradenton. Here’s how. “The priority was clear: Churchgoers are struggling to afford places to live and they’re worried about the lasting impact caused by misdemeanor crimes on an arrest record. Throughout 2022, STREAM pushed for — and won — some of the policy changes that alleviate the systemic issues worrying its members. In the process, the group has caught the attention of Manatee County’s top politicians.”
• Scheduling note: The Point will return to your inbox on Tuesday, Dec. 27, following the Christmas holiday.
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From NPR News
• National: A massive winter storm is sweeping across the U.S., making holiday travel dangerous
• Politics: Fox News’ Sean Hannity says he knew all along Trump lost the election
• World: Russia responds to Zelenskyy’s visit by accusing the U.S. of a proxy war in Ukraine
• World: Madrid students bring joy — and money — to people all over Spain
• Business: How life got pricier (and, yes, cheaper!) this year — in 7 charts
• Business: A Chick-Fil-A location is fined for giving workers meals instead of money
• Animals: Can dogs smell time? Just ask Donut the dog
Ethan Magoc curated today’s edition of The Point.