6-week abortion ban signed into law
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the 6 week abortion ban into law last night shortly before midnight. Yesterday, the Florida House passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks. WMNF’s Chris Young reports that this is the most restrictive abortion bill in recent state history. Whether the six-week limit takes effect will be determined by how the Florida Supreme Court decides a challenge to last year’s 15-week law.
Child rape offense punishable by death now
The Florida House voted yesterday to add child rape of children under the age of 12 as an offense punishable by death. Herman Lindsey is the Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, and is the 23rd innocent person released from Florida’s death row. He said the bill would hearken back to an era where alleged rapists could be sentenced to death prior to cases banning the practice in 1977.
A bill was passed that would eliminate jury’s opinions before judges impose death sentences
The Florida House yesterday gave final approval to a bill that would eliminate a requirement for unanimous jury recommendations before judges can impose death sentences, sending the issue to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign. The bill passed the Senate last month and would allow death sentences with the recommendation of eight out of 12 jurors. Judges would have discretion after receiving jury recommendations of death. But they would have to explain in written orders their reasoning. Juries would still have to be unanimous in finding defendants guilty before sentencing could begin. The House voted 80-30 to pass the bill. Louis Bernard Gaskin became the 101st person executed in the state of Florida Wednesday night after being sentenced to death for the murder of a north Florida couple. Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty held vigils across the state during the execution to voice their opposition to capital punishment, including at a busy intersection in Pinellas County. One mass shooter was sentenced to life in prison last year after killing 17 students at a high school in Parkland, FL, with three jurors recommending life for the shooter, prompting the bill at hand. WMNF spoke with Reverend David Franks, who questioned the effectiveness of the punishment as a deterrent given the recent rise in mass shootings.
Travel advisory for LGBTQ-plus members and others for Florida
Equality Florida released a travel advisory for members of the LGBTQ-plus community on Wednesday. The group says it’s so people can decide whether or not it’s safe to visit or move to the state. The NAACP and the Florida Immigrant Coalition also recently issued similar advisories. All three groups are worried about legislation state lawmakers are considering that they say targets their communities. But University of South Florida associate professor of Political Communication Joshua Scacco says these warnings could be “sending a signal” to people to start speaking out. Scacco adds that most businesses will wait for the actual passage of bills into law before taking a stand.
Storm in South Florida
South Florida has begun draining streets and otherwise cleaning up after a storm dumped more than 2 feet of rain in a matter of hours. The rains caused widespread flooding, closed the Fort Lauderdale airport, and turned streets into rivers. The city issued a state of emergency. The National Weather Service says up to 25 inches of rain fell near Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. The airport is expected to reopen this morning. The rains started Monday, with the heaviest downpours coming Wednesday afternoon and evening. The Red Cross arrived yesterday morning to help residents.