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Jeff Vasilinda becomes the Vasilinda Family’s first published author!

Florida’s Firearm Age Restriction Upheld

June 29th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

A federal judge has upheld Florida’s law prohibiting the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21.

Family members of the victims of the Parkland shooting, which was the impetus for the law, are thankful for the ruling.

Just about an hour after then-Governor Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which in part, prohibited the sale of firearms to those under the age of 21, the NRA hit the state with a lawsuit.

“I’m gonna fight for this bill. I believe it does the right thing,” said Scott in March of 2018.

Three years later, a federal judge has now ruled the law can stand.

“We’re very happy,” said Tony Montalto, President of Stand With Parkland.

Montalto’s daughter Gina was one of the 17 killed in the 2018 mass shooting.

“We need to find a balance here in America between the rights of the individual to own a weapon and the rights of individuals to come home,” said Montalto.

He said the age limit is one of many provisions in the law passed in the wake of the shooting that could have made a difference had it been in place that day.

“He sadly was an unsupervised 18 to 20-year-old who was allowed to purchase this weapon and he made a poor choice of what to do with it and it cost the lives of my beautiful daughter Gina, and 16 other wonderful souls,” said Montalto.

The judge did note some hang ups with the law, including the fact 18 to 20-year-olds can still obtain a firearm through a family member, but for those without family, the law acts as a blanket ban.

“Why should the 20-year-old single mother living on her 46 own be unable to obtain a firearm for self-defense when a 20-year-old living with their parents can easily obtain one?” Wrote walker in the 48-page ruling.

The NRA’s Marion Hammer told us the “NRA is considering its options” in a provided statement.

The organization has until July 26th to decide whether to appeal the ruling.

Florida is one of just four states that bans the sale of all firearms to those under 21.

Washington and Vermont also have an age limit of 21, but with some exceptions.

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Freedom Week Tax Holiday Begins Thursday

June 29th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

The newest and perhaps most far reaching state sales tax holiday begins on Thursday and lasts for a week.

The new Freedom Week Sales Tax Holiday is in many ways celebrating and encouraging a return to normalcy after the pandemic.

The list of things on which you won’t have to pay tax starting July 1 for a week is long and varied

“That is a first time holiday and its new to everybody, but it provides an exciting opportunity for purchasing things that get people out and about, and embrace all that is good about Florida, whether its outdoor activities, concerts,” said Scott Shalley, President of the Florida Retail Federation.

At Shell Point Beach we showed mom’s Saidy and Carly the list of tax free items

“The fishing for sure. And then the general outdoors, right? Yeah. They got boating,” said Saidy Curtin, reading the list.

“I think the legislature passed it as part of a little bit of a celebration to motivate people to get out and about,” said Shalley.

Sponsors of the legislation said it’s okay to have a little fun, and not pay tax.

“And some of us kinda came up with some ideas that were beneficial for you know, getting Florida open again. Experiencing the outdoors,” said State Representative Bobby Payne.

Freedom week is also intended to put at least some restrictions of the pandemic behind us

“We need new goggles. And coolers,” said beach-goer Kristen Bolander. “Basically saying, have some fun, go out doors and forget about COVID. I can do that.”

And a man who introduced himself to us as Captain Squirrel made it known he was already living life as if Freedom Week were already upon us.

“There’s more fish than you know what to do with!” Captain Squirrel said.

Starting Thursday, for a week, he won’t have to pay sales tax on a new rod or reel.

You can also plan ahead.

Concert and movie tickets, and even gym memberships are tax free if you purchase them during Freedom week and attend an event before the end of the year.

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Florida and Big Tech Face Off in Federal Court

June 28th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

The state and organizations representing big tech companies laid out their arguments in federal court Thursday hoping to convince a judge to either block or allow the state’s new social media censorship law to go into effect.

The Governor is watching the case closely and has said no matter what the judge rules, the case won’t end here.

Governor Ron DeSantis described this initial phase of the legal battle as “A case of first impression.”

DeSantis hopes the judge will find social media companies have grown too large to continue business as usual.

“You cannot treat these massive companies the same way you just treat a local private company down the street,” said DeSantis.

But on the other hand, social media giants argue the new law violates their first amendment rights by limiting their ability to police content on their platforms.

“This is not a case of first impressions. I mean we have a whole litany of cases that make crystal clear governments cannot force private businesses to say things they don’t want to say,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President of NetChoice.

Understanding federal law limits state authority to regulate social media companies, lawmakers attempted to leverage control where they could.

“With basically [the] Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. There’s also transparency provisions,” said DeSantis.

But tech giants argue the creative legal strategy doesn’t circumvent the constitutional issue at the heart of the case.

“Not only is this not a monopoly, even if it were, the state would still lose,” said Szabo.

DeSantis acknowledged the possibility of losing this first battle, but said the war is far from over.

“These are huge, huge issues about our society, and about how much power should a handful of companies be able to wield with really no accountability whatsoever,” said DeSantis.

A ruling is expected before Thursday, when the law is slated to take effect.

Even if the state ultimately loses, DeSantis said he’s hopeful rulings throughout the legal battle will provide state lawmakers with a road map to tweak the law in the future in a way where it passes constitutional muster.

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Merchants to Collect Online Sales Tax

June 28th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

After July first a big change is coming to online ordering in Florida.

Up until now, Floridians were required by law to voluntarily submit the tax if it was not collected by the merchant, but a new law will require out-of-state retailers to collect the tax.

Collecting the sales tax from online purchases has been hap hazard at best in Florida.

Companies with a physical presence collected it, while others have not.

“There are people who have exploited the law,” said Scott Shalley, President of the Florida Retail Federation.

It’s been a thorn in the side of Florida retailers.

“They are buying large purchase of electronics, large purchases of furniture and those sorts of things. And those folks should notice. It’s a tax that was due and its a tax that needs to be paid,” said Shalley.

Retailers have been trying to get the tax fully collected for over a decade.

Beginning Thursday, the quest will be over.

“Local retailers are feeling a little relief, knowing they can compete on a level playing field,” said Shalley.

Once signed into law, criticism from gubernatorial-hopeful and current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried was swift.

“This Governor and his legislature raised your taxes by over a billion dollars,” said Fried.

However, the tax was already owed under state law.

Consumers were supposed to fill out a form and send in what they owe every three months, but few did.

The AFL-CIO supported the collection, until lawmakers decided to use the money to offset what could have been huge increases for unemployment taxes for businesses.

“Working families are going to be paying more in taxes and they get absolutely nothing for it. It doesn’t help their schools. It doesn’t provide health care,” said Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO.

Lawmakers have justified the offset, arguing without it there would be fewer jobs.

The legislation also grants amnesty to the millions of Floridians who never filled out the form and paid the tax in the first place.

Florida has been one of only two states with a sales tax that has been leaving the money, to the tune of a billion dollars a year, uncollected.

Missouri remains the other.

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Enemies Line Up Against Sports Betting Initiative

June 25th, 2021 by Jake Stofan
A newly launched citizen initiative aims to legalize sports betting in Florida, but enemies of the initiative are already coming forward.

The sports betting initiative would legalize sports betting at parimutuel facilities and on online sports betting platforms, including those run by national companies like Draft Kings and Fan Duel.
“We see this as a win for Floridians,” said Christina Johnson with Florida Education Champions, the group backing the initiative.
Johnston explained the tax revenue would have to be used to boost education funding, similar to the way the Florida Lottery is structured.
“We know it’s in the millions of dollars because other states have done the same,” said Johnson.
The initiative has already drawn enemies, with a spokesperson for Seminole Gaming calling it a “Political Hail Mary from out-of-state corporations trying to interfere with the business of the people of Florida”.
During the special session to approve the new gaming compact, lawmakers were warned the state could loose $50 million a year from the tribe.
“The tribe would stop paying, but only on sports betting, because in that scenario the tribe would no longer have exclusivity for sports betting,” said Tribe Attorney Joseph Webster in a May House committee hearing.
The initiative is just getting off the ground and has a long way to go before making the 2022 ballot.
Supreme Court approval and nearly 900,000 signatures still stand in the way.
Wasting little time, Florida Education Champions has already launched a website where petitions can be requested.
“Simply get it, sign it, date it, mail it back to us and we’ll begin the verification process,” said Johnson.
One thing the initiative does have going for it, is that unlike the Seminole Gaming Compact, if the initiative is passed it would automatically satisfy the requirement that any gaming expansion be approved by voters.
60 percent of voters would have to approve the sports betting initiative for it to become part of the state constitution.

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Unions Make Last Ditch Push to Keep Federal UI Benefits

June 24th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Labor unions are making a last ditch effort to convince Governor Ron DeSantis to reverse course on his decision to end $300-a-week federal unemployment benefits early.

For unemployed Floridians like Aaron Davison the $300 a weeks federal unemployment checks have been a lifeline through the pandemic, allowing him to find temporary housing in hotels.

“The biggest fear is for us to be put back into the car,” said Davison.

Personal stories like Davison’s were included in a batch of 6,800 petitions delivered to the Governor’s Office Thursday.

The hopes is to convince him to reconsider cutting off the federal benefits this Saturday.

Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO argued the idea the checks are keeping Floridians at home rather than returning to work doesn’t hold water.

“What we’ve been talking about all this time is $300 a week. That’s less than the minimum wage,” said Templin.

But the state is awash in job openings

There are roughly 500,000 jobs available according to the latest state statistics.

Unions point to evidence in other states that have ended the federal benefits that suggests hiring may have actually dropped when the checks were cut off.

A recent report from Indeed Hiring Lab shows job search activity in states that cut off benefits early is keeping relative pace with states that intend to keep the benefits for the full duration.

“It didn’t force people back into the workplace. It actually put more burden on them so they don’t have an ability to look for work,” said Templin.

Even in the unlikely scenario the Governor does reverse course, the clock is ticking on the federal benefits, which are set to expire on their own in September.

We reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment after the petitions were dropped off at noon, but have not yet received a response.

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Disappearing Lake Reappearing

June 24th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Last week Lake Jackson, visible from the observation deck on the 22nd floor of the State Capitol, had almost completely drained.

It’s done so at least twelve times in the last two hundred years.

But already, the geological abnormality is again filling with water.

State geologists were on hand at Lake Jackson Thursday with ground penetrating radar.

“Yesterday, there were some bubbles coming up, so it’s still draining, still taking some water. We’re just waiting to see what happens,” said Casey Albritton with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

A week ago, the lake had almost completely drained after a large sinkhole opened up for the first time since 2012.

The first recorded dry down was in 1829.

“Hopefully we’re trying to see if there is any connectivity between some of these other sinkholes and proximity to the main sinkhole at Porter hole, and get a clearer picture of what’s going on near Porter sink,” said Albritton.

But after two and a half inches of new rain, birds were once again diving for fish and onlookers coming to see the disappearing waters saw them reappearing instead.

“Get an actual feel for it, you know. Cause I’ve seen it on pictures and everything, but, you know, it doesn’t do justice,” said Corey Hooker who was sightseeing at the lake Thursday.

Authorities now say that two skulls found when the lake drained are not the result of foul play, but are of archeological interest.

At mid-afternoon Thursday, details about the find remained sketchy.

The yellow caution tape that surrounded the sinkhole last week, now under water, was being retrieved by the Department of Environmental Protection to protect future boaters.

Okeehempkee is what the Seminole Tribe used to call Lake Jackson.

It means ‘disappearing waters’.

During the 1982 dry down, an alligator was seen being sucked into the sinkhole.

Geologist told us the question is not if, but when the lake the lake will dry down again.

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Petition Contribution Hearing Thursday

June 23rd, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Several dozen proposed amendments have been filed for the 2022 ballot, but new restrictions on contributions for initiatives are expected to slow any efforts to amend the state constitution.

A federal judge could rule as early as Thursday on whether the new $30,000 contribution limit is legal.

Florida lawmakers enacted a $3,000-per-person limit on contributions to petition gathering efforts.

Senate sponsor Ray Rodrigues said the intent it to keep them citizens’ initiatives.

“The concern I have is that you have out-of-state billionaire’s who are coming in and putting in referendums and amending the Florida Constitution,” said Rodrigues.

Many in the state Capitol believe the new law should have been named for controversial trial lawyer John Morgan.

That’s because Morgan successfully bankrolled and passed a medical marijuana and minimum wage amendment.

“This is a direct attack on Democracy,” said Morgan.

Morgan told us he believes the legislation is all about who has got the power.

“We don’t want people to have the power. We want special interests to have the power, so we can get elected over and over and over and over again,” said Morgan.

Federal lawsuits challenging the contribution cap raise free speech issues.

In its brief, the ACLU argues the cap will make it impossible to raise the money to get on the ballot.

“An initiative simply won’t be able to get its signatures under this law,” said ACLU attorney Nicholas Warren.

But Rodrigues believes the change will survive federal scrutiny, because there are no limits on contributions once a proposal gotten on the ballot.

“Free speech exists. It exists when it actually becomes a referendum. While its an initiative, with just petitions being gathered, we don’t see that as a free speech issue,” said Rodrigues.

A federal judge will hear two motions Thursday, the ACLU’s request to put the law on hold while it moves forward, and the state’s motion to dismiss.

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Universities Now Required to Conduct Surveys to Gauge Political Diversity on Campus

June 23rd, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Part of the education reform signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis includes legislation aimed at protecting diversity of thought on college campuses.

The new law’s first goal is to gauge whether students and faculty feel university campuses are tolerant of different ideas and perspectives.

A 2017 national survey found while roughly seven out of ten students felt their campus provided a supportive environment for diversity based on race, gender and religion, only about half felt that way when it came to political diversity.

“In other words, they’re really focused on people that, while they look different, they think the same,” said State Representative Spencer Roach, who sponsored the diversity of thought legislation.

Roach hopes requiring universities to conduct annual surveys asking faculty and students whether they feel their campus is welcoming to diverse political viewpoints will help lawmakers better understand campus culture.

“This is not about advancing one ideology over another or pitting people against each other. Rather, we want to ensure the respectful open dialogue of competing views and let the marketplace of ideas sort that out,” said Roach.

Retired Political Science Professor Susan MacManus agrees with the goal of the survey, but she noted the devil is in the details.

“Because a survey is only as good as how it’s designed, whose input is there, how it’s analyzed,” said MacManus.

In addition to the survey, the legislation creates new due process protections for students, student government officials and student organizations facing disciplinary action from universities.

It also permits students to record lectures for educational purposes.

Another part of the new law prohibits universities from shielding students from controversial ideas.

Roach said the intent is to stop universities from canceling speaking events.

“And we’re talking here about people like Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens, who have been invited to campuses by student-led organizations and then the university has cancelled them or banned them because a few students felt that their speech was offensive,” said Roach.

The surveys are optional and while the state will develop a standard survey, each university has the option to create its own.

The first survey results are due in September of next year.

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Florida Medical Marijuana Providers Set to Nearly Double

June 22nd, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Following the Florida Supreme Court upholding the state’s seed-to-sale medical marijuana model, the Department of Health is preparing to issue 15 new treatment center licenses.

Those involved in the industry believe the expansion will increase competition and benefit patients, but some lawmakers doubt whether the new players will actually make a dent on cost and availability.

There are more than 575,000 medical marijuana patients in Florida and the ever growing number has opened the door for 15 new MMTC licenses.

Once the patient count hits 600,000, a total of 19 licenses will be available.

“This frankly doubles the size of the industry,” said Jeff Sharkey with the Medical Marijuana Business Association.

Sharkey expects those licenses will be granted within 18 months.

“I think it’s going to have a big impact. I mean you’ll see people really becoming competitive in this space,” said Sharkey.

But of the 22 current license holders, nine have produced zero, or virtually zero, product.

That’s one of the reasons State Senator Jeff Brandes is skeptical more license holders will make a noticeable impact on patients.

“Florida is going to be awash in medical marijuana licenses. The problem is, nobody wants to put the capital in to build the facilities and then site the retail facilities and build the processing plants necessary to make this work,” said Brandes.

With the Supreme Court upholding the state’s medical marijuana law, it would take legislative action to undo the expensive, but lucrative, requirement for MMTCs to control every part of the process from seed-to-sale.

Soon after taking office in 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis expressed disdain for the vertically integrated medical marijuana system put in place by lawmakers, saying they ‘essentially created a cartel’.

But legislative efforts to abolish the seed-to-sale model in recent years have failed to gain traction.

State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith hopes its an issue the Legislature will move to address next year.

“We need more competition because that will drive down the cost of the product for patients,” said Rep. Smith.

The Department of Health told us it’s establishing an application process for the 15 licenses currently available, but it has not yet begun accepting applications.

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Mugshots Websites Under New Scrutiny

June 22nd, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Legislation signed by the Governor seeks to block websites from profiting from official mugshots.

The aim is to stop companies from profiting when bad things happen to good people.

Blake Mathesie was bartending at a Gainesville bar in the wee hours of September morning in 2018.

When a fight broke out, he hopped the bar to break it up.

But two weeks later he found himself in handcuffs.

“Four or five police cars show up at my house, and they said you are being arrested for a felony battery,” said Mathesie.

Months later a judge, in a nine page ruling, found Blake had done nothing wrong.

“But my mugshot was now online forever,” said Mathesie.

Efforts to get it down went nowhere.

“I had it brought up in a job interview before. You know it’s like the elephant in the room,” said Mathesie.

In 2017, Florida made it illegal for a website to hold a mugshot hostage by requiring payment for its removal.

Then the websites switched to an ad-based business model.

New Legislation signed by the Governor now allows people to make a written request to have a mugshot removed.

State Senator Aaron Bean was the sponsor.

“This bill kinda closes a loophole. It says you can’t be a for-profit website generating ad revenue for the sole purpose of embarrassing people,” said Bean.

But even Bean acknowledges his bill won’t completely shut down the mugshot industry.

“This is not going to one hundred percent solve the problem. These are bad guys. Their websites are offshore,” said Bean.

So the fight is not over for Mathesie, who will enter his final year of law school at FSU this fall.

“If we can make these bots that these sites use non-operable, well, then we’ll win. And the way to do that is not have these sheriff’s agencies post them online,” said Mathesie.

The legislation carries a $1,000 fine for not removing a mugshot.

The legislation takes effect October first.

The legislation requires a written request be sent to website by registered mail.

The site then has ten days to respond, or start the clock running on $1,000-a-day fines.

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FP&L Rate Hike Battle Begins

June 21st, 2021 by Jake Stofan
Electricity costs for Florida Power and Light customers could go up by nearly 20 percent over the next four years if approved by the Public Service Commission. 
On Thursday, the first of a dozen hearings saw public response generally supportive of the hike.

If the utility’s request is approved, rates would increase by 18.2 percent by the year 2025, impacting 11 million Floridians served by FP&L’s.
The utility said the intention is to improve clean energy infrastructure and grid resiliency.
“The plan will allow us to continue to make proven investments in infrastructure, clean energy and technology that benefit our customers and a growing state,” said Florida Power and Light President and CEO Eric Silagy.
Of the more than 30 customers who called into testify, the overwhelming majority said they supported the rate hike request.
But groups fighting the rate hike criticized FP&L for trying to raise rates while more than 650,000 of it’s customers are still struggling to pay their bills.
“What’s reliability if you can’t afford to keep the lights on due to a high bill?” said Jordan Luebkemann with Florida Rising.
Aliki Moncrief with Florida Conservation Voters said while the hike is being marketed as a way to shift to cleaner energy, $425 million the $2 billion anticipated from the hikes goes towards natural gas.
“Gas, while it’s better than coal, while it’s better than oil, still has carbon emissions,” said Moncrief.
But Moncrief was happy to see $550 million going towards solar.
“The challenge with that is, who should be paying for this and how much profit should Florida Power and Light be reaping?” said Moncrief.
A decision on the rate hike request is expected by November 12th.
FP&L did note in the hearing that it spent $75 million helping its customers keep the lights on throughout the pandemic. 
The company urged anyone still struggling to pay their bill to call FP&L at  833-407-2006 for assistance.

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$300 Unemployment Checks Ending Saturday

June 21st, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda
Tens of thousands of unemployed Floridians will lose an additional $300 a week in benefits after Friday. 
The state made the decision to end the payments, which could have lasted until September, early because many believe the checks are keeping people from working.

Florida still has half a million unemployed. 
At the same time, businesses are struggling to fill more than half a million jobs.
“Thirty-four percent of small business owners report that they’ve increased wages in the last three months,” said Bill Herrle with the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
The federation told us 57 percent of its members couldn’t find someone to work over the last three months.
“We’ve always asked this question on job openings. This is at a 40-year record, and it continues to climb,” said Herrle.
More than 2.3 million Floridians were eligible for the $300 a week additional pandemic payments that end Saturday.
“Yes there is a workforce shortage, but to completely blame it on unemployed people is wrong,” said State Representative Anna Eskamani.
Eskamani’s office has been ground zero for helping the unemployed navigate benefits.
“Some are still furloughed, some have child care expenses, some are too old to be on their feet all day, in the sense they don’t have the ability to do that. They need a job that can meet their level of skill and comfort,” said Eskamani.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, pawn shops are seeing something they’ve never seen: People have stopped borrowing.
While borrowing is down, check cashing is up.
“People are getting more money, so there wasn’t the urgency of getting money from me,” said Tallahassee pawn shop owner Mark Folmar.
So far the idea that people aren’t working because they can make more staying home is unproven, but the picture could be clearer after the $300 a week checks end Saturday.
Florida’s unemployed have also been required to actively look for work to collect benefits since the end of May. 
A person must make three or five contacts a week, depending on the size of the county in which they live.

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Nikki Fried Threatens to ‘Release a Kraken’ on Organization With Apparent Ties to Sidney Powell

June 18th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, who heads the state’s Division of Consumer Services, is threatening to levy fines on an organization associated with a former Trump attorney.

The Division alleges Defending the Republic Inc. has been soliciting donations from Floridians without registering with the state.

Defending the Republic’s website is full of information questioning the safety of COVID vaccines and the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

On the front page is the name of former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, known for claiming she would ‘release the kraken’ during post election-litigation.

Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried alleges the organization has been unlawfully soliciting donations from Floridians, by failing to register as a charity.

“My job is to hold everybody accountable regardless of the mission of that organization and regardless of where their money is allegedly going,” said Fried.

The Division of Consumer Services is threatening a $5,000 fine for the alleged violation and additional $10,000 fine for deceptive practices.

“They posted a disclosure, claiming to be registered in the State of Florida,” said Rick Kimsey, Director of the Florida Division of Consumer Services.

When we Googled the West Palm Beach address listed on the organization’s website it appeared to direct donations to a mailbox at a UPS store in the city.

Fried said when the Division confronted the organization, Defending the Republic gave this response.

“They intimated, ‘Oh, that’s not us. You’ve got the wrong people’,” said Fried.

The Commissioner had this message for Powell.

“If you take advantage of Floridians, if you think the rules don’t apply to you, we will release a kraken of our own,” said Fried.

Defending the Republic has 21 days to respond or come into compliance with state law if it hopes to avoid fines and further consequences.

The Division of Consumer Services said it is not aware of how much money Defending the Republic may have solicited from Florida residents.

We contacted an attorney representing Defending the Republic, but he said he wasn’t prepared to issue a statement, as he claimed when we sent the the subpoena and administrative complaint filed by the Division, it was the first time he had seen documents.

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Unemployment Rises Slightly in May, But State Economists Say it’s a Positive Sign

June 18th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

Florida’s unemployment rate rose slightly in May to 4.9 percent, up a tenth of a percent from April.

The total labor force now sits at 10.3 million with a total of 503,000 Floridians counted as unemployed, an increase of 15,000 over April.

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity economist Adrienne Johnston said the unemployment rate will likely continue to increase in the near future as more Floridians return to the labor force and begin searching for work.

“We are certainly seeing strong growth and it continues to get stronger every month. So I think that that’s a positive sign and there’s nothing that’s pointing to that slowing any time soon,” said Johnston.

The state added 35,800 private sector jobs in May, with largest gains seen in the information and leisure and hospitality sectors.

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