In today's top three takeaways:
Governor DeSantis got everything he asked the state legislature for in his state of the state speech. The creation of a Resiliency Task Force. Expanding school choice and bonuses for teachers and first responders. Also, COVID-19 liability protections for businesses and organizations. Plus, enhanced election integrity standards. Banning vaccine passports and limitations on emergency declarations by governments at all levels. The “Anti-riot” legislation. Online sales tax collection by out-of-state businesses. And lastly, regulations on big tech firms that censor political speech.
To say it was a successful session from the governor’s perspective is an understatement. We’ve seen a vast difference in the three sessions under the DeSantis administration as compared to his predecessor Rick Scott. Despite Republicans holding control of the state government for the entirety of Scott’s eight years, there were often fierce battles over key issues leaving the governor often compromising on his agenda. Not DeSantis, he got more of everything. This includes the special session to take up his new Seminole Compact two weeks from now.
Now, let's move on to my second takeaway, Florida Agriculture Commissioner, aka wannabe governor, Nikki Fried. She got nothing she wanted. Or so it would seem. Interestingly, in a year with a record budget totaling $101.5 billion, Fried's Agriculture department saw a cut in funding of $11 million making it the only department to not receive record funding.
A conversation in certain circles has included the observed trend of Nikki using her post, and the resources of the Agriculture Department she’s tasked with running, to promote herself along with running a counter-messaging campaign within the state. Objectively, it’s hard to argue that point and it’s clear there was a message sent to Commissioner Fried by the state legislature.
Quoting Fried: This is the most disheartening session I’ve ever watched. What’s helpful for Floridians in this regard, is that if Nikki does run for governor there will be crystal clear differences for voters to decide on. If you already like the direction Florida’s been heading under Governor DeSantis, you'll love this next year. Next year’s governor’s race will be the clearest example Floridians will have seen.
My last takeaway is good news to start your week. Florida’s trend of new COVID-19 cases has declined for 11-consecutive days falling below 5,000 daily cases for the first time since March 27th. With over half of all Floridians having either been vaccinated with at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and/or having already had the virus, the trend is likely to continue as it’s increasingly looking like the Spring Break induced surge in cases has the potential to be the final surge of the pandemic in Florida.
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