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Capital Report: December 29, 2023

On July 1st every school-aged child in the state became eligible for an education savings account or private school tuition stipend. That after Governor Ron DeSantis signed off on a massive expansion of school choice that lifted income eligibility caps on the program. Lynn Hatter was following that matter all session long and filed this report.

 Most states that ban abortion allow exceptions for life-threatening emergencies. But what if a pregnant person’s life is threatened by their mental health? Regan McCarthy reports lawmakers in Florida have specified the state’s exemptions do not apply in cases of psychological conditions. A warning to our listeners, this story contains discussions of suicide and mental health conditions.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

The federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration ended in May, but the virus is still a threat. Over a thousand Floridians died of COVID-19 in the last month, according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. In mid-September, Governor Ron DeSantis hosted a virtual discussion with Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo (LAD-uh-poh) and several doctors about new COVID-19 booster shots. The DeSantis administration recommended anyone under age 65 avoid getting the boosters. Gina Jordan reports that was the opposite of federal guidance.

 Anyone allowed to have a firearm under Florida law can now carry that weapon – concealed – without having to get a state-approved permit. During 2023, many of the state’s law enforcement officers came out in support of that idea. But not every law officer agreed. One of them was Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil. He shared his views with our former colleague, Valerie Crowder.
That was Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil speaking with Valerie Crowder during the 2023 legislative session.

Taylor County residents say it feels like they’re facing one disaster after another. Less than a month after Hurricane Idalia crashed through the community as a Category 3 storm, news broke that Perry’s paper mill plant will be closing its doors after nearly 70 years. That means a loss of more than 500 jobs in a community already struggling to make ends meet. But as Adrian Andrews reports, residents are once again preparing to face the problem together.
Since this story aired, a group of former Georgia-Pacific employees have begun looking for potential buyers for the paper mill. Some reports suggest a few inquiries may be pouring in from London, England.

Despite all the controversy that emerged during – and after – the 2023 Florida lawmaking session, not every bill ruffled partisan feathers. One that drew near universal support made infant and adult incontinence produces permanently exempt from state sales tax. Tom Flanigan reports.
And indeed, lawmakers in both the House and Senate passed, and Governor DeSantis signed, the bill exempting those products from the state’s sales tax permanently.