WMNF’s daily digest of news headlines for Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

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Adult performance legislation

Yesterday, a state Senate panel gave initial approval to a bill that would allow the state to revoke licenses of businesses that admit children to “adult” live performances. It comes amid a crackdown by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration on drag-show performances. The Republican-dominated Judiciary Committee voted eight to three to advance the proposal. Under the measure, the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco would be able to revoke licenses of lodging or food-service establishments for violations.

African-American cemeteries

Yesterday, a subcommittee in the Florida House advanced a bill that funds efforts to protect historic African-American cemeteries. The bill was sparked by a history of neglect of African-American cemeteries. The Florida House Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee voted to move House Bill 49 forward. The bill would create a Historic Cemeteries Program to provide grants to research, restore and maintain abandoned African-American cemeteries.

Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, a Democrat from Tampa, sponsored the bill. She said the idea was sparked by Zion Cemetery, Tampa’s first African-American cemetery. The cemetery was destroyed by the housing authority in the 20th Century to build housing for mostly-white communities. Numerous legislators and members of the public voiced support for the bill, including the chair of the committee, Republican Alex Andrade from Pensacola. Historically African-American cemeteries can be found in Pompano Beach, Pensacola, and other cities in Florida. The bill passed unanimously. Its next stop is the House State Affairs Committee, but no date has been set.

Nurse shortage

In an effort to address the ongoing worker shortage at Florida’s nursing homes, lawmakers are looking into a plan that would let Certified Nursing Assistants get trained as medication aides. Supporters say the plan would free up nurses and create a glide path for CNAs to get more training.

Year-round schools

A House panel on Tuesday supported launching a pilot program of year-round schools, with the plan’s sponsor suggesting it could help students recover from learning losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. State law currently requires school boards to operate public schools for 180 days a year or the hourly equivalent. The House Choice & Innovation Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill that would set up a pilot program for four years, with a goal of studying the “benefits” of a year-long school schedule. Districts could apply to participate in the program. The state education commissioner would select five districts to participate. A similar bill has not been heard in Senate committees.

Pasco County deputy-involved shooting

A Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy shot at a person inside a residence in the Fox Wood neighborhood of Trinity yesterday. A press release from the Sheriff’s Office says the deputy was responding to a call for service for a suicide attempt in progress with gunfire heard within the residence. A man had injured himself with what the Pasco Sheriff’s Office describes as an intentional self-inflicted gunshot. The deputy fired upon entering the residence. The press release does not mention the names of anyone involved nor whether when he fired, the man was struck. He was transported to a nearby hospital, but his condition was not released. The Pasco deputy is on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the deputy-involved shooting.

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