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Florida Election Officials Emphasize Need for Postal Funding

August 14th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

President Donald Trump raised concerns over Democrats’ ask for $25 billion to boost the United States Postal Service in the next federal stimulus during and interview with FOX Business Thursday.

While the President’s critiques centered on universal mail in voting, even in Florida where that isn’t the case, an underfunded post office could cause head aches in the General Election.

The President suggested that House Democrats’ ask for the postal service funding boost was an effort to support universal vote by mail in other states.

“Because the post office is going to have to go to town to get these ridiculous ballots in,” said Trump.

The President later clarified he wouldn’t veto additional funding for the post office.

That came as a relief to Vice President of the Florida Supervisors of Elections Mark Earley.

“It doesn’t make sense to me not to fund what is a critical component of our elections,” said Earley.

Of the 2.3 million Floridians who have cast a ballot in the primary election, eight out of ten voted by mail.

Based on the latest statistics, the number of Floridians casting their ballot through the mail in this primary has seen a 42 percent increase over the 2018 primary election.

At this point, it’s too late to mail your ballot and expect it to be counted in Tuesday’s Primary, but you can still return your signed ballot in person.

“Which will not involve you, in most cases, going inside,” said Patricia Brigham, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

If you mailed your ballot and want to ensure its been received, you can track it on your supervisor of elections’ website.

“If you do not see that it has been received we urge you to contact that supervisor’s office,” said Brigham.

If there’s an issue with validating your ballot you should be notified and can fix it as late as 5 PM next Thursday.

“Copy of the drivers license, sign the form, fill out the information on the form, so that we can use that as further substantiation that your vote by mail ballot is actually from you,” said Earley.

And looking ahead to the General Election, Supervisors recommend requesting your mail ballot as early as possible and returning it at least two to three weeks before Election Day to ensure it’s counted.

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School Closing Motion to Dismiss Denied

August 14th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

The Florida Education Association’s lawsuit to keep classrooms closed is moving ahead after a judge denied the state’s motion to dismiss Friday.

Both sides have been ordered to try to settle the case and if they can’t, a judge will hear arguments next week.

 

The state argued that not dismissing the case would invalidate the choice of Florida’s parents who weren’t being represented in court.

“Parents of one million six hundred thousand students have decided they want to go. Roughly one million four have decided they don’t want to go,” said the Governor’s Attorney David Wells.

There have been more than 8,300 COVID cases in kids under 18 since the beginning of August.

One hundred have been hospitalized.

The teachers union told the judge he was facing a life or death decision for both students and teachers.

“And school districts are being pressured with this zeal to open schools without regard for the continuing expansion of the pandemic,” said FEA Attorney Ron Meyer.

“There is a clear and present danger for children and teachers and support staff in our school systems,” said Jacob Stuart, an attorney representing parents and student in the case.

Circuit Judge Charles Dobson wasted no time, saying his hands were tied by procedure.

“I’m denying the motion to dismiss. By denying the motion to dismiss I am not in any way saving the plaintiffs will be successful with their case,” said Dobson.

The judge has ordered the both sides to sit down and try to negotiate a settlement

“And If the case doesn’t settle, it will be back in court Wednesday morning,” said Dobson.

The union’s hope is the state will agree to let each local school board decide when it’s safe to open in person learning without facing the loss of funding.

More than a dozen school districts opened this week.

Another dozen will open next week, with the final districts opening by August 31st.

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School Closing Lawsuit Could Be Settled Friday

August 13th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

A judge will decide on Friday if a lawsuit seeking to keep schools closed is dead in the water or will go forward.

The first order of business for the court will be to hear the state’s motion to dismiss.

Thursday’s hearing was just for scheduling, but both sides worked to get their main points in the judge’s mind.

“Plaintiffs allege are putting people at risk,” said Ron Meyer, Attorney for the Florida Education Association.

“We think they’re asking the court to do things that are most impossible. It asks you to act as the Governor of the State of Florida,” said David Wells, an Attorney representing the Governor.

A hundred miles to the south, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran toured Dixie County High School.

It opened Monday.

Superintendent Mike Thomas was pleasantly surprised by the attendance.

“We’ve had over 90 percent turnout in our four schools in our district,” said Thomas.

But on day two in Martin County on the other side of the state, nine students were sent home to quarantine after one student showed symptoms.

“we know we are going to have Covid cases. Of course it’s going to happen,” said Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

Corcoran said what’s important is how schools respond when there is a case.

“What we are saying is number one, don’t panic because we know those facts, and number two, be surgical, not sweeping. So I think Martin County has done a great job,” said Corcoran.

Both the Governor and Education Commissioner continue to argue that they believe kids will be better off in class than stuck at home.

“They are avoiding those things that are of huge consequence, whether its suicide, drug overdoses, food insecurity,” said Corcoran.

During a Thursday press conference, the Governor clarified his comparison of teachers to the Navy Seal team that took out Bin Laden.

“it was more about inspiration and about figuring out a way to get it done than any thing about comparing the danger,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

By mid day Friday, the judge will likely have ruled whether the suit seeking to keep school closed goes forward.

The Education Commissioner said districts that don’t open classrooms during August face the loss of transportation and class size funding totaling thousands of dollars.

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Felons Voting Clarification Comes Too Late for the Primary

August 13th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

The Florida Secretary of State quietly published guidance for people with felon convictions to determine whether they are eligible to register to vote.

There was no press release.

The Felon Voting Rights guidance just appeared on the Division of Elections website.

It even caught Desmond Meade by surprise.

He led the charge for the 2018 felons voting rights amendment.

“They didn’t give notice to any of the organizations that they know are working to help returning citizens participate in our democracy,” said Meade, who serves as Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

The new guidance clarifies as long as a felon has paid the total of what the originally owed they can register.

Additional fees or interest added to their original debt can’t count against them.

Felons can also ask the Secretary of State to determine if they’re eligible, but Meade said even with the new guidance that process hasn’t been fleshed out.

“They’re not telling a person exactly what to do and in addition they’re not even giving the timeline for a person to get a response,” said Meade.

Meade called the guidance too little too late.

“We have hundreds of thousands of returning citizens in the State of Florida who wish they could have been participating in the primary elections that’s going on right now in their community,” said Meade.

In a press conference Thursday, the Governor blamed the delay on pending litigation against the 2019 law that requires felons pay all fines, fees and restitution before the can register to vote.

The Governor said more will be known once the case is settled.

“And I’m sure they’re going to provide appropriate guidance at that time,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

The lawsuit against requiring the fines and fees will be heard in a federal appeals court next week.

A federal judge in a lower court previously ruled the law amounted to a poll tax.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is still working to help felons pay back their debts.

They’ve spent $2 million so far to help 2,000 felons.

Another $2 million is expected to go out the door by the end of the week.

You can also contribute to the fund at WeGotTheVote.org.

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COVID Utility Rate Hikes Could be on the Horizon

August 12th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

The Public Service Commission has allowed Gulf Power, one of Florida’s five investor owned electric utility companies, to start tacking COVID related costs.

The approval could be used to increase rates in the future and us other power companies are considering following Gulf’s lead.

COVID has spared few.

Even utility companies are feeling the sting.

“Personal protective equipment or scanning devices to check temperatures. Things like that, but also the biggest portion of it is what is called ‘bad debt’, which is uncollected customer bills,” said Gulf Power spokesperson Sarah Gatewood.

That’s why Gulf Power asked the Public Service Commission for the ability to track those losses.

“So that we may come back in the future and possibly ask for cost recovery,” said Gatewood.

The request was approved, but J.R. Kelly with the Office of Public Counsel worries tracking COVID costs will result in higher rate hikes if they’re requested.

“Instead of getting a $1,000 increase, they’d get $1,000 plus,” said Kelly.

Kelly said at least two other companies have also asked to track COVID costs and he expects more will follow.

“Gulf Power got it. If the commission ends up giving it to Peoples Gas and ends up giving it to Utilities, Inc. of Florida, the wastewater utility, why wouldn’t the other utilities come in and ask for this?” said Kelly.

We reached out to other energy providers and asked if they plan to follow Gulf Power’s lead.

TECO and FPL said they don’t at this time, but Duke Energy said it is reviewing the option.

“Duke Energy Florida (DEF) has been experiencing effects from COVID-19. DEF has not been disconnecting customers for non-payment and has been waiving certain customer fees. It also has incurred some incremental costs related to additional personal protective equipment to protect its employees while still providing reliable electric service. We are monitoring those impacts to determine whether to make any filing with the Florida Public Service Commission,” said Duke Energy Spokesperson Ana Gibbs.

These requests won’t immediately hit your wallet, but potential rate increases could be seen a year or two down the line.

In the meantime, power companies want customers to reach out if they can’t pay their bills.

“So we can try and come up with other solutions that would avoid any bad debt,” said Gatewood.

The Office of Public Counsel has requested the PSC reconsider it’s decision to allow Gulf Power to track its COVID costs.

It expects the issue to come up in the commission’s September or October agenda.

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Team Trump Pushes for Mail Voting

August 12th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s Panhandle is deep red.

Donald Trump carried the vast majority of counties there in 2016, and Team Trump is on the road with a swing across northern Florida looking for a repeat.

Team trump pulled into a small strip shopping mall minutes after volunteers lined the sidewalk with Black Voices for Trump signs.

On the bus, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump’s former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski.

“So, do we have work to do. You bet we do. Did he create the greatest economy that the world has ever seen, shutting it down to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic. The answer is yes, and he’s the only one who can bring our economy back,” said Lewandowski.

Bondi told us the rioting around Black Lives matter is raising safety concerns among African Americans.

“People want their kids safe,” said Bondi.

She said black voters are turning to Trump in greater numbers.

“We can’t defund the police, and that’s what Joe Biden says he wants to redirect funds, and that’s defunding the police,” said Bondi.

In a small office packed with volunteers, Bondi pushed mail voting, drawing a distinction between Florida’s method and other states.

“Mass mailing of course happens in other states, but that’s what we’ve gotta let people know here in Florida that absentee voting is a great thing. Its safe,” said Bondi.

Musician Michael Collins performed a song he said he wrote after losing his job at an African American Church because he supports Trump.

“My church is ninety, ninety-five percent Democratic,” said Collins.

Four years ago, the Panhandle accounted for half the President’s victory margin in Florida.

The campaign expects even bigger results this time.

In a release, Florida Democrats accused the bus tour of “recklessly endangering public safety” during the pandemic”.

Florida Democrats also said in that statement that the bus tour was being used to distract people from the President’s handling of the pandemic.

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FSU to Play First Game September 12th

August 11th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda
Governor Ron DeSantis used a visit to the Florida State indoor football practice field Tuesday to send a message to other schools and Governors that football is important and they need to find a way to play this fall. 

Florida State fans will have to social distance, wear masks, and admission will likely be staggered.
 
Who gets in and the rest of the details are still being worked out.
“We want you guys to play,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
The Governor said he went to the indoor practice field to send a message.
“To take away that season would be short circuiting the dreams of so many student athletes who have worked for, in many cases, their whole lives,” said DeSantis.
FSU President John Thrasher said he expects the Governor’s support will help shore up other ACC schools.
“And frankly, what we want to send is a message to some of the other schools that may be teetering on whether or not to play football. We think it’s in the best interests of our student athletes,” said Thrasher.
Just two Florida State players have opted out of this season.
That leaves roughly another 120 others who are still willing to play ball.
Two players, who both sat out last year due to injury said they can’t watch another year go by.
“I need to play, I need to get some film, you know?” said FSU defensive end  Joshua Kaindoh.
Athletic director David Coburn assured strict protocols are in place.
“We testing weekly now, and we will probably go to bi-weekly testing during the season,” said Coburn.
And because the safety measures are so stringent, the Governor believes the players themselves will likely be safer. 
“For these athletes, the risk is very low, but whatever risk there is, to me, outside of this structured environment, I think the risk goes up. I don’t think the risk goes down,” said DeSantis.
Not on the schedule though is a Florida – Florida State game. 
 
The Governor said it’s just not in the cards this fall.
 
Without football revenue, President Thrasher told reporters funding for other Olympic type sports would be difficult. 
 
The first game is set for September 12th.

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School Reopening Lawsuit in Limbo

August 10th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

School districts began opening in-class learning Monday as the lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association to delay classroom learning remains in limbo.

The case was transferred from Miami to Tallahassee last week and no hearing date has yet been set.

The order transferring the reopening lawsuit to the State Capital was issued last Thursday.

By Monday morning, two circuit judges had recused themselves.

Neither responded to an email asking why.

The Florida Education Association which filed the lawsuit wants schools open, but safely.

“We want to make sure that our students and the people who work in our schools are safe. This is not about whether or not we reopen schools. This is not about opening schools in the right environment and in the way,” said FEA Vice President Andrew Spar.

Five mostly rural Florida counties were opened their classrooms Monday.

More are expected throughout the week.

The state’s pediatric COVID report shows more than 39,000 in kids 17 and under.

But the good news, there have been no new cases reported over the last four days.

At an education roundtable, the Governor reiterated he was committed to having in class learning.

“There are a lot of parents who do believe that the in person is essential, and we want to make sure they have the option to exercise a meaningful choice as well,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

Late Friday, The Hillsborough County School District’s plan to start the school year with four weeks of online-only instruction was rejected by the state.

“They brought together medical professionals from many of the area hospitals and asked them, is it safe to open schools. And every single medical professional said they didn’t think it was at this point in the COVID crisis,” said Spar.

And FEA said it does expect the lawsuit will be back in court for a hearing by the end of the week.

The union continues to say it wants to sit down with the Governor to talk about options, but he has so far refused that offer.

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Bar Owners Rally for Reopening at State Capitol

August 7th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Bar owners are becoming increasingly distraught due to their ongoing state mandated closure.

Dozens of owners took to the Capitol Friday to make their voices heard.

Among the protestors was James Cuneo, who owns Howlin Wolf Bar in Putnam County.

“We’re getting to the point now where we’re financially paying for our staff out of our own pocket and all. But we’ve lost 50 to 75 percent of income, still have to pay the bills, still have to pay our liquor license that’s due in September,” said Cuneo.

Judi Yaeger drove two and a half hours from Williston to represent her bar, the Junction Tavern.

“I’ve owned the bar for 21 years and I don’t want to go down without a fight,” said Yaeger.

Owners told us this second round of closures have brought them to their breaking point.

“Many of us are not going to survive this and we’re not different. We’re no different than other people whose businesses are open and we deserve that right,” said Yaeger.

The owners also pointed out that even with bars closed, case numbers haven’t gotten better and remain high.

That’s one of the main contentions in a lawsuit many of the owners have signed onto.

“The DBPR is taking a position on this entire issue that seems to be one of creating the best public image instead of creating the safest public policy,” said Jacob Weil, the attorney representing bars in the case.

The lawsuit filed by the bar owners at today’s rally has received one hearing so far.

It was filed in Volusia County, but the state has asked for it to be transferred to the capital.

But if the closures go on for much longer the cost could be thousands of small businesses closing their doors forever.

“And these are small mom and pop businesses that spent their entire life savings working hard to build these businesses,” said Weil.

Despite the lawsuits, DBPR has given little to no indication of when it will allow bars to reopen.

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School Reopening Case Delayed

August 6th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

The case challenging the opening of brick and mortar schools is being transferred from Miami to Tallahassee.

Teachers chose to file in Miami because it remains the epicenter of the state’s virus outbreak, but some schools will open before there is a decision.

Dozens of school districts are set to reopen in person learning next week.

Lawyers were set to argue whether that was safe on Friday, but a judge granted the state’s motion to move the case from Miami to Tallahassee.

“It is an issue of statewide importance. Crucial issue of statewide importance,” said 11th Circuit Judge Spencer Eig.

Union lawyers call it a delaying tactic.

“We’re disappointed, just in a sense that it added delay which was completely unnecessary,” said FEA Attorney Kendall Coffey.

FEA Attorney Ron Meyer said he hopes the two sides can avoid a trial.

“And let’s talk. If school districts do indeed have the option to take actions in the safety of students without being financially penalized, Say it. Don’t rely on an ambitious order,” said Meyer.

With the case moving to the Capitol, it’s now clear some schools will open before this case is resolved.

Florida Pediatricians have been warning the governor for weeks it’s not yet safe to open schools.

“What I wish would happen is that the schools would just hold off brick and mortar until we are down to below five percent infection rate. Florida is now overall at just over 11. admittedly, it’s come down some since we wrote the paper, but it’s still far too high in our opinion to open up schools.,” said Dr. Paul Robinson, President of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the state added 599 new cases in kids 17 and under.

“We need to be agree on how to make schools safe. We don’t want to paint hearses yellow and park out in front of our schools,” said Meyer.

In moving the case, the judge said he would expedite the transfer.

Lawyers said when it gets to Tallahassee, the NAACP will join because of the high rate of infection among African Americans.

Union lawyers said Wednesday they would seek a stay in the order to move if it was granted.

Thursday they chose to keep the case moving.

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Florida Ports Seeking Federal Help

August 6th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Florida ports have never stopped working through the pandemic, bringing in much needed consumer goods to stock shelves while the world locked down, but they say they’re facing an economic crisis.

Without help in the next federal stimulus package thousands of jobs could be at risk.

Early on imports like steel, automobiles and fuel took a hit.

“We’re starting to see some of this come back,” said Doug Wheeler, President and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.

Wheeler said the worst damage has been to the cruise industry, with ships docked through the end of October.

“We’re seeing some pretty serious consequences from the pandemic. In some cases as much as 60 to 70 percent of port revenue basically gone overnight,” said Wheeler.

So far, ports haven’t received any help through the crisis, despite additional costs for cleaning, staffing, paid leave and PPE.

Wheeler fears as many as 169,000 jobs and $23 billion in economic activity could be lost without additional help.

The ports hope to secure $3.5 billion in the next federal stimulus.

The Council sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on August 3rd.

In it they specifically requested $1.5 billion for U.S. seaports and at least $2 billion for other maritime businesses.

“That relief money could be used to provide protection equipment or make modifications. I mean I think we’re learning daily that whether it’s cruise or cargo operations, they’re not going to look the same as they did nine months ago,” said Wheeler.

And if ports are forced to shrink, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce told us every Floridian could see the impacts on store shelves.

“Those products aren’t going to be able to get in and out of Florida. So in terms of the economy, ports are almost like breathing air and drinking water,” said Wilson.

Overall, ports supply 900,000 Florida jobs and contribute more than $117 billion to the state’s economy each year.

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Virus Fears Loom Heavy on the Minds of Voters

August 5th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

Four out of five Floridians are concerned they’ll contract COVID-19 and die according to a new poll by State Innovation Exchange.

That fear appears to be influencing how Florida voters plan to cast their ballots.

“People are just feeling anxious in general about going out anywhere, whether it’s to the grocery store or to the polls or to visit their neighbor,” said Melanie Brown-Woofter with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.

The poll found 52 percent of Florida voters said they intend to vote by mail.

3 million have requested mail ballots for the August primary.

That’s 700,000 more than the 2016 primary.

“Historically over a third of our voters vote by mail. So the short answer is yes, supervisors are going to be prepared for it,” said Craig Latimer, President of the Florida Supervisors of Elections.

President Donald Trump, who has been a critic of vote by mail, has twice in the past week applauded Florida’s vote by mail system.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee is quick to point out, unlike in some states, mail ballots here aren’t automatically sent to every registered voter.

“A vote by mail ballot is provided upon a voter’s request. So that’s one way of ensuring that a ballot is going from the supervisor of election to a registered voter who has made the request,” said Lee in a June interview.

But there are some who want to see Florida send every registered voter a mail ballot by default.

A new report by Integrity Florida found little evidence of fraud in the five other states that already conduct universal vote by mail an recommends Florida follow their lead.

“Voting by mail is a reliable way to vote. Given the circumstances that we’re in with the pandemic, it’s also probably the safest,” said Integrity Florida Research Director Ben Wilcox.

Despite the health concerns, 47 percent of Florida voters who responded to the State Innovation Exchange poll said they still intend to cast their ballot in person.

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Fight to Stop School Reopening Likely on Hold

August 5th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Ron DeSantis isn’t budging on his plan to reopen brick and mortar schools in the coming days.

Florida teachers have asked a judge to stop him, but legal maneuvering could delay a decision until it no longer matters.

The injunction was filed late Tuesday, It cites more than 38,000 Florida cases in children under 17.

But since that filing, 490 more cases appeared on the states tally.

The vast majority are school age.

“These are life and death, no do over decisions,” said Mark Richards, attorney for the Florida Education Association.

Lawyers were in court to schedule a hearing on the request.

“We’re not here asking your honor whether a particular class in English or art is conducted appropriately. The element of human safety is indeed something judges are able to deal with,” said FEA attorney Kendall Coffey.

A union survey of 44,000 teachers found that only one in ten want to go back to the classroom this month.

Lawyers said in court that if schools are forced to reopen, many will retire early.

On Thursday, the court will first take up whether the case should be decided in Miami, where it was filed, or in the state Capitol.

No matter what happens, both sides promise an appeal.

If the judge rules for the teachers, the state gets an automatic stay.

If he rules for the state, the other side will appeal, pushing back any decision until a time it may not matter.

The Florida PTA more than anything wants parents to have options.

“Some are out looking for new jobs. Some, just because of the need to work their job or jobs don’t allow them to keep their children home, even though that may be what they are more comfortable with,” said Dr. Danielle Thomas, Vice President of Education for the Florida PTA.

35 of the state’s 67 school systems are scheduled to open classrooms next week.

For now it doesn’t appear that an order from any court is going to stop the opening.

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Back to School Sales Tax Holiday Kicks Off this Weekend

August 4th, 2020 by Jake Stofan

This year’s back to school sales tax holiday kicks off Friday and continues through Sunday, but parents are facing an uncertain future when it comes to how the upcoming school year will look.

Pencils, notebooks and backpacks are all items covered under the upcoming back to school sales tax holiday, but with the potential for distance learning, reopening delays or even potential school closures preparing for the 2020 school year is more complicated than ever.

“Some students might not start off with a backpack cause they’re not gonna be leaving the house and that’s okay, but we have some student who will need a book bag,” said Dr. Danielle Thomas, Vice President of Education for the Florida PTA.

But there are some items on the list that could be helpful whether your child returns to the classroom or end up learning from home.

“Writing utensils, the paper, the notebooks. Those types of things that they will probably need no matter what,” said Thomas.

Computers and accessories like webcams are also exempt from taxation this weekend.

“It’s up to $1,000 on a computer purchase so we’re happy with that especially at a time when you’re going to have a lot of people opting for virtual learning,” said Scott Shalley, President and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

Also exempt this weekend are clothing items under $60.

For the first time ever that also includes face masks.

“Masks are either highly encouraged or required in many cases and of course comes a cost with that,” said Thomas.

And if you don’t feel safe going into a crowed store, remember the tax exemption also applies to items purchased online.

“And of course the stores themselves are implementing a lot of measures to ensure a safe shopping experience,” said Shalley.

Even though this year’s tax free holiday is two days shorter than last year’s, the Retail Federation anticipates Floridians will still save around $40 million, due to the expected demand for high priced technology items.

For a full list of items exempt from sales tax this weekend click this link.

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College Reopening Concerns

August 4th, 2020 by Mike Vasilinda

Parents will be dropping college age students back on campuses across the state later this month.

Reopening plans call for colleges and universities to be flexible and not all classes will be in person.

The union representing professors across the state last week called for distance learning only in the fall.

“We need to be safe,” said Marshall Ogletree, Executive Director of the United Faculty of Florida.

Now the union is angry because letters written to the Governor and education officials went unanswered.

In a news release it calls the lack of response “both callous and reckless!”

“The political leadership continues to say everything is good. And everything is not good, and faculty are scared. I’m sure a lot of students are scared,” said Ogletree.

But the Board of Governors says health and safety come first and each school has flexibility for changing situations.

Three out of four college students do want to come back to campus, while very few professors would like that.

Someone close to the situation told us it was tense.

Violetta Kalinowski will be making the trip from Fort Myers to bring her daughter Nicole to FSU in mid August.

“So I feel good about that. She’s healthy so I don’t have any issues there,” said Kalinowski.

We met Maggie Lo on campus.

She’s working on her Masters in Social work.

“I think it is important to have like a real person engagement with my students, and I can have a real live conversation with my classmates,” said Lo.

FSU told us just 36 percent of its classes will be held in person this fall.

After we contacted the Board of Governors Tuesday, it finally responded to the union late in the afternoon.

The BOG provided the union with the same statement sent to us:

“Thank you for your email on August 3, 2020. As you are aware, the State Universities designed their reopening plans with the agility necessary to respond to changed conditions and enhance the resiliency of each institution. As stated in our Blueprint for Reopening Campuses, the foundational priority of each university’s plan will be the health and welfare of all students, faculty, staff, vendors, volunteers, and visitors.”

You can find a copy of the blueprint here.

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