Florida Government News for April 2020

News from Tallahassee

In this post, I’ll share highlights of coronavirus-related news as it relates to the government actions you should be aware of as a Florida voter. Then I’ll review other government news, most notably about the start of the felon voting rights case in federal court, and close with highlights of news about Florida’s U.S. Senators Rubio and Scott.


It’s been eight weeks since Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 9. For highlights of government actions in the first month of the pandemic, see my Florida, Collier County Governments Respond to COVID-19 (3/25/20) and Florida Government News for March 2020 (3/31/20).

On April 1, after being widely criticized for not acting sooner, the Governor issued his ”Safer at Home” executive order. Four weeks later, on April 29, he announced Phase I of his ”Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan to Re-Open Florida”, which takes effect Monday, May 4.

Answers to frequently asked questions relating to the reopening plan are here.

New Cases by Day to 5/2/20
Florida’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

These stories highlight some of Gov. DeSantis’s decisions as the shutdown evolved:

In other COVID-19 news:

Failure in the Unemployment System

An unprecedented number of unemployment claims was filed as a result of the pandemic, and the state’s unemployment system failed miserably. As of May 1, less than half (43.8 percent) of the 993,138 confirmed unique claims submitted have been paid, according to the state’s Claims Dashboard.

As the month progressed, the newspapers told the story:

Financial Effects of the Virus

Health, Safety & Welfare

Other Florida COVID News

Legislative Session

As you read in last month’s post, the 2020 Legislative Session ended on March 19, having passed 210 bills. Once the Governor receives a bill, he has the option of signing it, vetoing it or letting it become law without his signature by not acting on it within 15 days.

The $93.2 billion budget is among the 190 bills that as of May 1 had not been formally sent to the Governor. A Senate spokeswoman said lawmakers are working with the Governor’s Office to time the delivery of bills as he leads the state’s response to COVID-19.

Of the 20 bills he did receive, he has signed 16, including in April:

Voting & Elections

Environment & Growth

Law & Justice

Health, Safety & Welfare

In the Courts

In the continuing saga of 2018’s Amendment 4 restoring voting rights to former felons:

In other lawsuits challenging state actions:

In an important court decision although not a challenge to a state law:

Florida’s U.S. Senators are Marco Rubio and Rick Scott

The federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was the result of a bipartisan effort by Senators Marco Rubio, R-FL, Susan Collins, R-ME, Lamar Alexander, R-TN, Ben Cardin, D-MD and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH. Because of Rubio’s leadership of the Senate Small Business Committee, which proposed the PPP, he was frequently in the news this month. For example:

Here is some of what Florida’s junior senator Rick Scott had to say in April:

And in response to criticism over Florida’s now-failing unemployment system, implemented during his time as governor:

That’s it for my recap of Florida government news for April. Next up: my review of government news specifically for Collier County voters.

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