Voting & the Elections
- Florida failed to spend $10 million for election security, COVID-19 protection at polls. Naples Daily News, 10/29/20
- Florida, butt of election jokes, believes system is ready. Associated Press, 10/29/20
Voter Registration Website Crash
Florida has allowed online voter registration since 2017 and is one of now 40 states (and the District of Columbia) that allows it. But:
- On day of deadline, Florida voter registration site crashes, is down for hours. Tallahassee Democrat, 10/6/20
- Florida extends voter registration deadline after website failure for an additional 7 hours. Politico Florida, 10/6/20
- Federal judge fast-tracks Florida voter registration deadline lawsuit. News Service of Florida via the Daytona Beach News-Journal, 10/7/20
- Florida fights to avoid extending voter registration. Politico Florida, 10/7/20
- Florida estimates 40,000 people registered to vote during extended deadline. Tampa Bay Times, 10/7/20
- Ariana Grande pumped up civic passion, but official says misconfigured servers brought down Florida’s registration website. Sun Sentinel, 10/7/20
- Judge refuses to extend voter registration deadline. News Service of Florida, 10/9/20
Voting Rights Restoration
A majority of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 that restored the right to vote for those with prior felony convictions who completed their sentence, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. In 2019, the governor signed SB 7066, which defined “completion of sentence” to include full payment of any ordered restitution and any ordered fines, fees or costs. After months of litigation, a federal appeals court last month upheld the law.
- 900,000 Florida felons won’t be voting for president because of court fines, fees. Miami Herald, 10/14/20
- Final tally: Group says 67,000 felons registered in Florida after Amendment 4. Politico Florida, 10/19/20
All Voters Vote Amendment Challenged
All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet, Amendment 3 on this year’s ballot, would allow all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. Its opponents include Florida’s Democratic and Republican Parties, the Florida League of Women Voters, and Florida’s Attorney General. This month:
- Attorney General Ashley Moody closed to open primaries proposal. Florida Politics, 10/2/20
- Party-backed lawsuit attempts to derail amendment to let all voters vote in primaries. Miami Herald, 10/13/20
- Florida Secretary of State fights legal attempt to kill open primary amendment. Orlando Sentinel, 10/21/20
- Court won’t nullify Florida ballot question on primaries. Associated Press, 10/28/20
Through October 29, the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard reported 16,648 resident deaths (an increase of 1,974 from my September post) and 206 non-resident deaths (an increase of 32 from last month).
- Florida health officials prepping for COVID-19 vaccine and protecting priority groups first. Naples Daily News, 10/29/20
Florida averaged 3,499 resident cases of COVID-19 per day for the past two weeks; the average positivity rate of people tested per day for the same period was 5.17 percent.
Testing, Monitoring and Reporting
- State House report says Florida’s COVID-19 death toll inflated by 10%. The Center Square | Florida, 10/14/20
- State raises questions about COVID-19 death data. Some question timing of announcement. News Service of Florida via News4Jax.com, 10/22/20
- As White House task force warns Florida of possible COVID-19 uptick, state tries to keep report from public. Orlando Sentinel, 10/23/20
- Florida Department of Health deletes cumulative COVID-19 testing data. Naples Daily News, 10/27/20
- Florida changes how it reports daily COVID data. Is it more accurate? News4Jax.com, 10/28/20
- Will Florida keep funding local coronavirus contact tracing? The state won’t say. Tampa Bay Times, 10/29/20
Coronavirus Effects on Workers
Ever since the statewide business shut down in March, the state has struggled to pay the onslaught of unemployment claims, largely due to problems with its unemployment system.
- DeSantis pledged to investigate Florida’s unemployment system. Did he keep his word? Palm Beach Post, 10/23/20
Florida paid out $17.8 billion in unemployment claims to 2.1 million claimants between March 15 and October 28, and 97.2 percent of eligible claimants had been paid, according to the state’s Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard. By comparison, Florida had paid out $17.0 billion to 2.0 million claimants and 97.3 percent of eligible claimants had been paid as of September 30.
- Public Service Commission rejects proposal to stop electric utilities’ disconnections. The commission is composed of a five-member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Miami Herald, 10/6/20
- The pandemic is pushing people to financial ruin. And the worst hardships lie ahead. Orlando Sentinel, 10/11/20
- New unemployment applications in Florida decline for first time in weeks as layoffs ebb. Miami Herald, 10/22/20
- COVID-19 unemployment recovery in Florida is 3rd-slowest in U.S. The Center Square | Florida, 10/23/20
- Florida’s unemployment claims take another sharp decline. Sun Sentinel, 10/29/20
Coronavirus and the Schools
- Gov. DeSantis says Florida schools should not close due to COVID-19 outbreaks. News4Jax.com, 10/20/20
- Kids don’t need to quarantine unless they have COVID symptoms, governor says. Sun Sentinel, 10/20/20
- State may order students back to classrooms in January. Sun Sentinel, 10/28/20
Coronavirus Effects on Nursing Homes, Prisons, Courts
- Florida no longer paying for staff coronavirus tests at assisted living facilities. Miami Herald, 10/16/20
- Report: Florida second in nation in COVID-19 state prison inmate deaths. The Center Square | Florida, 10/20/20
- DeSantis announces further loosening of nursing home, assisted-living visitation policies. Naples Daily News, 10/22/20
- Florida courts seek money to dig out of pandemic ‘hole’. News Service of Florida via WLRN.org, 10/20/20
M-CORES Toll Roads Project
The three proposed M-CORES toll roads have been controversial since the beginning. Task Forces held their final meetings this month and final reports are due to the Governor by November 15. Will the critics prevail?
- Report: Polk-to-Collier toll road shouldn’t plow new path. The Ledger, 9/30/20
- Critics of Florida toll roads projected to run through wild areas say the planning process is not transparent. News Service of Florida via Orlando Weekly, 10/15/20
- Opinion: Despite budget crisis, Florida is doubling down on costly and destructive plans. By Nicole Johnson, Director of Environmental Policy, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, via Naples Daily News, 10/20/20
- Toll road task force meets for last time, finalizes report. Naples Daily News, 10/20/20
- Official: Toll road build not guaranteed. Tallahassee Democrat, 10/21/20
The 2021 regular legislative session will not convene until March 2, but stories about likely issues are already being reported.
- Training on LGBTQ awareness is coming to private schools taking state money. Tampa Bay Times, 10/7/20
- State lawmakers push for unemployment reforms in Florida. NBCMiami.com, 10/8/20
- Florida’s school-choice program poised for dramatic growth. The Center Square | Florida, 10/15/20
- Appalled by foster abuse findings, state senator pushes for common sense change. USA Today, 10/20/20
- Insurance, water issues on table for 2021 Florida legislative session. News Service of Florida via Daytona Beach News-Journal, 10/23/20
State Government Executive Branch
This month, Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) launched a review of dozens of domestic property insurers in the state as the industry once again begins to show signs of financial distress.
- Florida’s insurance regulator is examining property insurers. Tampa Bay Times, 10/22/20
The Governor and independently-elected Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture, acting as the state’s Financial Services Commission, oversee the OIR.
One of many state government departments overseen by the Governor is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Controversy swirls around the DEP’s effort to take over a federal program meant to protect the wetlands.
- Florida agency seeks control of federal wetland permits. Naples Daily News, 10/13/20
- Florida wants to control wetlands permitting. Critics say the state isn’t equipped to do the job. WLRN.org, 10/19/20
- Ashley Moody joins antitrust lawsuit against Google. Florida Politics, 10/20/20
Chief Financial Officer
- CFO Jimmy Patronis announces $10 million Israel bond purchase, highlights Florida’s historic $60 million investment in Israel. CFO Press Release, 10/15/20
- Patronis: Protect yourself from cyber scams as ransomware targets the U.S. healthcare system. CFO Press Release, 10/29/20
Commissioner of Agriculture
- Commissioner Fried encourages diversity, equity & inclusion changes within state agencies. Commissioner of Agriculture Press Release, 10/28/20
- Commissioner Fried statement on Florida request to assume EPA responsibilities on Clean Water Act. Commissioner of Agriculture Press Release, 10/27/20
State Government Judicial Branch
Florida Supreme Court
- Justices look again at high-stakes marijuana case. News Service of Florida via WLRN.org, 10/7/20
- Florida Supreme Court rules owners, not vacation rental websites, must collect, remit taxes. The Center Square | Florida, 10/20/20
Florida Appeals Courts
- 1st District Court of Appeal sides with state in school reopening fight. Gainesville Sun, 10/9/20
- Court asked to reconsider Florida school reopening fight. News Service of Florida via WLRN.org, 10/26/20
- Rubio pens fish farm proposal; bill raises environmental concerns. Naples Daily News, 10/5/20
- Ahead of Senate hearing, Rick Scott likens Twitter, Facebook to Communist Chinese government. Florida Politics, 10/28/20
- Federal judge orders Army Corps to study toxic algae in Lake O releases. WLRN.org, 10/27/20
That’s it for Florida government news for October. Stay tuned for my report on Florida’s statewide elections in the coming weeks.