Florida GOP senators defend DeSantis’ surgeon general amid measles outbreak

“The measles outbreak in Florida shows the further polarization of vaccines, one area that once had overwhelming consensus across political parties and throughout the U.S. The measles vaccine is especially effective in protecting against the virus and, according to the CDC, has led to a 99 percent decrease in the virus compared to the pre-vaccine era.”


Appeals court slams Florida’s ‘Stop-Woke’ law for committing ‘greatest First Amendment sin’

““By limiting its restrictions to a list of ideas designated as offensive, the Act targets speech based on its content,” Judge Britt C. Grant, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the opinion. “And by barring only speech that endorses any of those ideas, it penalizes certain viewpoints — the greatest First Amendment sin.”

Florida’s Republican-led Legislature passed the “anti-woke” legislation, FL HB 7 (22R), or the Individual Freedom Act, in 2022 with the backing of DeSantis. It expanded Florida’s anti-discrimination laws to prohibit schools and companies from leveling guilt or blame to students and employees based on race or sex, taking aim at lessons over issues like “white privilege” by creating new protections for students and workers, including that a person should not be instructed to “feel guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” due to their race, color, sex or national origin.”

“The DeSantis administration, though, pushed back on the appeals ruling, claiming that the court “has held that companies have a right to indoctrinate their employees with racist and discriminatory ideologies.” The state is “reviewing all options on appeal going forward.”
“We disagree with the Court’s opinion that employers can require employees to be taught — as a condition of employment — that one race is morally superior to another race,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for DeSantis, said in a statement. “The First Amendment protects no such thing, and the State of Florida should have every right to protect Floridians from racially hostile workplaces.”

Attorneys for the state and DeSantis have argued in court that the “anti-woke” law restricts no speech and only regulates that employers can’t force employees to listen to “certain speech against their will” at the risk of losing their jobs.

The appeals court disagreed, going into detail in the 22-page ruling about potential faults in the law. The panel of judges suggested that, under the proposed policies, “a government could ban riding on a parade float if it did not agree with the message on the banner.”

“We cannot agree, and we reject this latest attempt to control speech by recharacterizing it as conduct,” wrote Grant, who was joined by Judges Charles Wilson and Andrew Brasher. “Florida may be exactly right about the nature of the ideas it targets. Or it may not. Either way, the merits of these views will be decided in the clanging marketplace of ideas rather than a codebook or a courtroom.””


Federal Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Reform Prosecutor Removed from Office by Ron DeSantis

“A federal appeals court has reinstated a First Amendment lawsuit filed by former Tampa-area reform prosecutor Andrew Warren against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and now the DeSantis administration will have to argue that Warren’s job performance, not his ideology, was the controlling factor behind Warren’s removal from office.”


DeSantis vs. Disney: Florida’s Fight Over Private Governance

“On April 22, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, ending perhaps the most successful experiment in private governance in U.S. history. The bill ended an arrangement that turned a swamp on the edges of Orlando into the home of Walt Disney World, one of the busiest tourist destinations on Earth. The governor’s victory is not yet final—while the district was formally dissolved earlier this year, Disney attorneys quickly outfoxed DeSantis, delegating many of the district’s powers back to the company. The company is now suing to reverse the change altogether.”

“DeSantis’ attempt to dissolve the district is a blatant effort to bully a private company because he disapproved of its constitutionally protected speech. At best, it reveals DeSantis as a culture warrior rather than a small-government conservative. At worst, it exposes DeSantis as a politician willing to toss out the rule of law and free markets to score cheap political points, in the lead-up to a Republican presidential primary in which he’s struggling to meet expectations.”

“Looking back over the past half-century, it’s safe to say that the Reedy Creek Improvement District has been a remarkably successful experiment in private governance. If Disney World isn’t technically a city, it may as well be. On a typical day, the district hosts 160,000 visitors and 77,000 employees, which would put it among the top 100 U.S. cities, well above Walt’s vision of 20,000 EPCOT residents. Approximately 32,000 hotel rooms house tens of thousands of temporary—and nonvoting—residents each night.
The district had been a laboratory for public services, running instructive experiments in everything from mosquito abatement to green energy—though it never built that nuclear power plant. The district’s boutique EPCOT Building Code, a nod to Walt’s original ambitions for the project, optimizes safety and innovation better than the typical U.S. building code does. The district is still, for the most part, ringed by a carefully managed greenbelt, and the Disney World monorail is the ninth-busiest rapid transit system in the country.”

“Even well beyond its official boundaries, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the transformative impact of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Orlando has been among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. every decade since 1970, and its metropolitan population has quadrupled from approximately 344,000 to 1.5 million residents. Today, Orlando—and Florida as a whole—is synonymous with tourism, an economic powerhouse that holds the undisputed title of “theme park capital of the world.””

“Far from being a failure, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has been a runaway economic development success, matched only by the free market economic zones that created Singapore and Hong Kong or turned China from a nation of peasant farmers into an industrialized nation in a single generation. The worst that can be said about it is that Florida didn’t create even more such districts, offering a level playing field to competitors such as Universal Studios. With new cities and charter cities once again in vogue, we should be discussing the district as a model rather than pondering its apparent death.”


How Florida Fixed Its Vote-Counting Problem After the 2000 Election

“Though it took a crisis to get the ball rolling, at least the Florida state government didn’t take long to respond to the chaos of the 2000 election.
Just five months later, at the urging of Jeb Bush, the state Legislature enacted a sweeping overhaul of Florida’s election rules. The Election Reform Act of 2001 banned the use of punch-card voting machines and required the secretary of state (rather than county-level elections officials) to have the final say over which kinds of voting machines could be used in the future. The law also clarified Florida’s rules for automatic recounts and set more stringent time frames for the certification of vote counts—a move intended to prevent the seemingly interminable recounts in 2000. It also created new statewide rules for issuing provisional ballots and how those would be counted, with an eye toward ensuring as many Floridians as possible could vote.”

“The Election Reform Act was far from perfect, though. One major problem that emerged in later years had to do with the computerized touch-screen voting systems that largely replaced the punch-card ballots. Because they did not provide voters with a printed-out receipt of their choices, those voting machines came under intense criticism for not leaving a trustworthy paper trail, which is necessary in the event of a hack or glitch.

Faced with that problem, Florida lawmakers adapted again. In 2007, an update to the 2001 law required that all electronic voting machines also provide a paper trail so voters can trust their choices were accurately recorded and to help with recounts.”

“There are good reasons that many voters prefer not to vote until Election Day. It means getting as much information as possible before making your choice. It means a late-breaking scandal is less likely to leave you wishing you could reverse your vote. But many Americans will have good reasons to prefer early voting. From the perspective of a state government trying to run an efficient and effective election, more votes being cast early means more time to do the counting.

Equally important, it means more time to be sure every vote is being counted accurately.

“Florida is famous among election nerds for having the fastest reporting of vote totals in the country, with near-instant results on election night,” says Andy Craig, the director of election policy at the Rainey Center, a centrist think tank. In a report he authored earlier this year, Craig calls Florida’s vote-processing procedures “the gold standard” for other states to follow.

Per state law, counties can begin processing mailed-in ballots up to 25 days before Election Day. That includes just about everything except the actual counting: checking that signatures are valid and that the votes have been legally submitted. Counting those ballots officially begins 15 days before Election Day and must be completed by the time the polls close.”

“The process buys valuable time to get things right.”

“”If every state had Florida’s model,” Craig explains, “the 2020 election would have been called much sooner rather than dragging on for several days like it did.””

“states like Pennsylvania and Arizona invited criticism and groundless allegations of impropriety solely because they took days or weeks to finalize their tabulation. That was not an accident. In Pennsylvania, for example, local election officials are prohibited from even beginning to process mailed-in ballots until after the polls close on Election Day—in other words, 25 days after Florida begins handling mailed-in ballots.

In that environment, there is no way for a close race to be resolved in a timely manner. Worse, it limits the ability to “cure” ballots that are improperly submitted, cutting some voters out of the process entirely.”

“That election highlights why Florida’s experience with mail-in ballots and other forms of early voting is an interesting case study. After all, Florida has become a more reliably Republican state even asit has seen a dramatic increase in the number of ballots cast by mail. It’s not hard to come up with theories as to why this might be. Most notably, elderly voters, legions of whom reside in Florida, are among the biggest beneficiaries of voting systems that don’t require in-person attendance at polling places. They, of course, skew conservative. (It’s worth noting that Trump voted by mail in Florida in 2020.)

It wasn’t until 2020—and probably due to Trump’s extensive preelection effort to undermine the validity of mail-in voting—that more Democrats than Republicans voted by mail in a Florida election. The same thing happened again in 2022, and DeSantis responded by trying to limit mail-in voting in the future by limiting the number of available ballot drop boxes, among other measures.

Running efficient, accurate elections should not be a partisan issue. It would be a shame to see Florida backtrack on two decades of sensible bipartisan reforms simply because some conservative voters and one former president got grouchy about mail-in voting.”


Florida Is Shunning the People Who Helped Build It

“what didn’t happen to the labor market is one of the biggest lessons from the boatlift. It “had virtually no effect on the wage rates of less-skilled non-Cuban workers,” Card found, and virtually none on their unemployment rates either. “Rather, the data analysis suggests a remarkably rapid absorption of the Mariel immigrants into the Miami labor force.”
There’s a broad reason for this: The economy isn’t a fixed pie. As immigrants begin to consume in a new place, jobs will arise to address the increased demand. There’s a Florida-specific reason, too: “In the two decades before the Mariel Boatlift Miami had absorbed a continuing flow of Cubans, and in the years since the Boatlift it has continued to receive large numbers of Nicaraguans and other Central Americans,” wrote Card. “Thus, the Mariel immigration can be seen as part of a long-run pattern that distinguishes Miami from most other American cities.”

The Marielitos integrated into their new communities, founded businesses, and transformed local economies. The “long-run pattern” of welcoming that Card identified has continued not just in Miami, where 58.1 percent of residents are foreign-born, but across Florida. Immigrants have become a major force in the state. More than one in five residents is an immigrant; per 2022 data from the Florida Policy Institute, 77 percent of immigrant Floridians have been in the state for a decade or more.

Florida’s population growth has outpaced the national growth rate every year since the 2000s, and it became the country’s fastest-growing state in 2022, largely fueled by domestic and international migration. Its economic growth has also outpaced that of the U.S., with real gross domestic product growth coming in at 91.3 percent over 1997–2022, compared to the national rate of 73.6 percent.

It’s no coincidence that Florida’s economy has boomed as its population has grown. But now Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and other immigration restrictionists are embracing policies that aim to keep foreign migrants out, even as they hail the economic growth that newcomers have helped create. If they succeed in shutting the state’s doors, they could very well stifle the force that has powered so much of Florida’s success.”


The Florida Barrier Reef’s Last Stand

“unseasonably hot water arrived this summer, meaning those coral colonies had to endure months of extreme water temperatures. A buoy off Florida recorded 101-degree water temperatures this July. When corals are stressed by hot or cold water, they lose their color—a result of expelling algae that provides corals with most of their energy—and eventually die.”

“If the reefs collapsed completely, it would be disastrous for the Florida Keys. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the reefs in Southeast Florida are valued at $8.5 billion and sustain 70,000 full- and part-time jobs. The barrier reef also protects the Keys from hurricanes and major storms by soaking up wave action.”