WMNF’s daily digest of news headlines for Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

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ELECTION DAY IN PINELLAS COUNTY

Today is Election Day in many Pinellas County municipalities. These towns and cities are holding elections today: Belleair Bluffs, Gulfport, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores, Kenneth City, Madeira Beach, Redington Shores, South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, Tarpon Springs, and Treasure Island. Polls are open until 7 tonight. You must vote in your assigned precinct. There’s more information here on our website.

RON DESANTIS HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE SAME DAY AS HB 999

Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference in West Palm Beach yesterday. WMNF’s Chris Young reports it comes the same day as a bill that takes aim at diversity programs in universities is being heard in the legislature.

“NINJA KILLER” SENTENCED TO DEATH

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a death sentence yesterday for a man convicted of killing a couple in north Florida in 1989. His execution is scheduled for next month the Tampa Bay Times Reported. If there is no appeal, Louis Bernard Gaskin will be executed on April 12. This would be the 2nd execution this year. There was an 8-4 vote by a jury in 1990 to recommend the death penalty. Current Florida law requires a unanimous jury vote to sentence someone to death, but newly proposed laws under consideration would remove that rule.

DUVAL COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS PUSH BACK FLORIDA GOVERNMENT BOOK BANS

Duval County Public Schools is pushing back against Governor DeSantis’ allegations that the district extended its book review process for political reasons. 

Duval School leaders say that’s not accurate. The district said last week it has been reviewing books in school libraries since last summer, and only directed teachers to cover unapproved books because new guidance came down from the state. Every title in the school district is being reviewed for compliance with new Florida laws, and the district has approved about 10,000 of its 1-and-a-half million titles so far.

PRESIDENT BIDEN TO SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER ON GUN CONTROL MEASURES

President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order today aiming to increase the number of background checks to buy guns. The order also seeks to promote more secure firearms storage and ensure U.S. law enforcement agencies get the most out of last summer’s bipartisan gun control law passed after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

FLORIDIAN LAWMAKERS ADVOCATING FOR GLUCOSE MONITORS UNDER MEDICAID

Florida Lawmakers want to ensure continuous glucose monitors are covered under Medicaid. Lakeland Republican Senator Colleen Burton says low-income individuals should be able to get the monitors through their government-sponsored health insurance. Supporters of the bill said the devices help to monitor blood sugar levels preventing what otherwise could end up being costly emergency room or hospital visits.

PEOPLE FLOCKING TO SUBURBS AS HOUSING COSTS INCREASES IN DOWNTOWN AREAS

Roughly two-thirds of evictions in the Tampa metro occur in the suburbs. Rutgers University assistant professor Peter Hepburn says that this points to a national shift in the make-up of urban and suburban neighborhoods. 

In a report published in February, Hepburn found that as the number of low-income households living in suburbs increases — so does the rate of evictions. As housing costs climb in the Tampa metro, Hepburn says affordable housing outside of the high-cost downtown area may continue to draw residents to the suburbs.

UNION LEADERS WORRIED ABOUT BILLS IN FLORIDA’S LEGISLATURE

Union leaders and public-sector workers say bills advancing in Florida’s Legislature, if passed, will strip them of their representation and could also do the same for academic freedom Trimmel Gomes reports.

MAJOR BREAK IN LEVEE IN CALIFORNIA

Crews rushed to repair a levee break on a storm-swollen river in California’s central coast as, yet another atmospheric river arrived with the potential to further inundate the state’s swamped farmland and agricultural communities. Officials say the length of the levee rupture on the Pajaro River grew to 400 feet yesterday, complicating efforts to plug the breach. More than 8,500 people were evacuated when the levee failed late Friday. It flooded farmland and agricultural communities on the central coast, about 70 miles south of San Francisco.

BILL SETS OUT TO REGULATE TEMPORARY COMMERCIAL KITCHENS

A bill moving through the Florida House could soon give the state power to regulate temporary commercial kitchens Alyssa Ramos tells us, these restaurant models grew in popularity during the pandemic. 

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