WMNF’s daily digest of news headlines for Friday, March 24th, 2023

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School choice expansion

All school-aged kids in Florida will soon be eligible for private school funding or money to use on other education-related services. Florida lawmakers have sent a massive school choice expansion to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk. Lynn Hatter reports.

“Don’t say gay” law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration wants to extend a ban on classroom discussions surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation. Regan McCarthy reports the proposal would expand the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law through 12th grade.

“Parents’ rights” bill

House Republicans will press forward today with legislation to give parents more input on what is taught in public schools, even as critics decry the so called “parents’ rights” bill as a burdensome proposal that would fuel a far-right movement that has resulted in book bans and rewrites of history curricula across the country. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has made the bill a top priority. House Freedom Caucus members attempted to add extreme amendments to the bill like a call to abolish the Department of Education, a requirement that schools report transgender athletes who participate in women’s sports, and an endorsement of vouchers that would send public funds to private schools. Democrats also raised alarm that the bill as written would force schools to out LGBTQ students to their families, which can sometimes lead to abuse or abandonment.

Bill to lower age to buy firearms

After a contentious debate yesterday the Florida House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would lower the legal age to purchase a rifle or long gun from 21 to 18. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports, it comes five years after the state raised the age to 21.

Proposal to carry guns without concealed-weapons license

A controversial proposal that would allow people to carry guns without state concealed-weapons licenses is poised to pass the House on today. The Republican-controlled House took up the measure yesterday and positioned it for a vote. The bill would allow people to carry concealed firearms without going through the current licensing steps, including undergoing background screening and receiving training. Democrats argued that easing gun restrictions will result in increased violence. Some gun-rights groups want people to be able to openly carry firearms in most public places. Their hopes were briefly raised Tuesday, when Republican Representative Mike Beltran of Riverview, filed a proposed amendment calling for “open carry” of firearms. But Beltran withdrew the proposal a day later. A Senate version of the bill is ready to go to the full Senate.

Increasing housing density

This final story of today’s news summary first aired Thursday evening before last night’s vote in St. Pete City Council. The Council voted to allow increased housing density. Here’s the version of the story before the vote.

The St Petersburg city council will vote on a measure to increase housing density in the city, however, WMNF’s Chris Young reports that local housing advocacy groups have very different reactions.

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