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Takeaways from Tallahassee — Starting a voting movement

Voting holiday

For many Floridians, Tuesday — Election Day — will be another day at work.

But not for those employees who work for Leon County or the city of Tallahassee. The two local governments in the state capital have designated Election Day as an official holiday. That means their offices will be closed, as will the county library and city community centers.

John Dailey proposed the day off for city employees. Now, they’ll get to use it to vote for his re-election, if they choose. Image via John Dailey/Facebook.

In 2021, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey pushed to have Election Day as a paid holiday for city workers. Dailey said at the time that he backed the idea in response to a wave of voting legislation across the nation that he described as “voter suppression” efforts.

“We have a unique opportunity to be a shining example,” Dailey said during the City Commission meeting in which the holiday was approved.

Leon County Commissioners voted to make Election Day a holiday a little over a month after the City Commission approved the idea.

“Election Day should be a celebration in this country,” County Commissioner Brian Welch said at the time.

Several states — including Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York — have Election Day as a public holiday. Other states require that workers be given time off with pay if they want to go vote.

Neither the federal government nor the state of Florida recognize Election Day as an official holiday. Many Democratic politicians, including President Joe Biden, have called for making it a national holiday.

“If I had my way, and I think it is really important, every Election Day would be a day off,” Biden said last year.

County Commissioner Kristin Dozier is a current candidate locked in a tight campaign with Dailey as he seeks re-election. Right before voting in favor of making Election Day a holiday in May 2021, she said it should be a “national issue” but “we don’t see the movement.” To her, that’s why state and local governments needed to move ahead.


Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Biden calls Ron DeSantis ‘Donald Trump incarnate’ — Biden and Gov. DeSantis worked “hand in glove” after Hurricane Ian, but it’s clear there’s no love lost between the pair, as Biden made clear during a campaign stop for Charlie Crist. “Charlie is running against Donald Trump incarnate. This guy doesn’t fit any of the categories I talked about. The way he deals, the way he denies,” Biden said, according to a pool report. The remarks made at the home of Scott and Annie Schlesinger while campaigning for Crist and U.S. Rep. Val Demings were delivered to roughly 70 guests, but they carried far beyond those 70 individuals.

Medical boards split on trans care — Members of the state’s two medical boards don’t agree on what the standards of care should be when it comes to providing gender-affirming care for patients under the age of 18. The Board of Medicine, which regulates medical doctors, agreed to amend the existing standard of care rules to ban doctors from performing gender-confirming surgeries on anyone under the age of 18 and from providing puberty blockers and hormones to anyone under the age of 18. Meanwhile, members of the Board of Osteopathic Medicine agreed with the ban on gender-confirms surgery for minors but voted to allow osteopathic physicians to treat minors with puberty blockers and hormones so long as the patients agreed to participate in Institutional Review Board-approved, investigator-initiated clinical trials at one of Florida’s medical schools. It’s the first time, according to board legal counsel, the medical boards have disagreed on standard-of-care rules.

UF Board selects Ben Sasse as president — The University of Florida Board of Trustees has unanimously selected Nebraska U.S. Sen. Sasse as its next president despite protests from students and faculty. Sasse pledged not to be involved in partisan political activities as university President and said he would urge Florida’s ruling Republicans to not micromanage the school. He called it “political celibacy,” after a similar pledge by Purdue University President and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. One trustee said Sasse calmed his concerns about hiring a politician. “I was very hesitant to think it was appropriate for us to bring in a politician,” Richard Cole said. “You’ve overcome that for me.”

DeSantis appeals migrant flight log ruling — DeSantis will fight a ruling that he must turn over communications about flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. Leon Circuit Judge Lee Marsh last week ordered the DeSantis administration to provide all records to the Florida Center for Government Accountability. But filing a notice of appeal with the 1st District Court of Appeal delays the need to comply with a Nov. 14 deadline — after Election Day. Documents the administration has released show the state has paid $1.56 million to Destin-based Vertol Systems for that flight and possibly a second one to Biden’s home state of Delaware.

Parkland killer sentenced for life — Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz formally received a sentence of life without parole Wednesday. The sentence came after the victims’ families and some of the wounded spent two days berating him in court, many lamenting he couldn’t be sentenced to death. Cruz received 34 life sentences — 17 for those he killed and 17 for attempted murders. While Cruz won’t go on death row, many sought relief in the fact that he would be held in a maximum-security prison.

Bang for your buck

DeSantis is celebrating Florida’s recent recognition as the cheapest place for in-state tuition.

Last month, the College Board released its 2022-23 iteration of the “Annual Trends in College Pricing” report. The report listed the four-year in-state tuition for Florida public universities as $6,370 per year.

This year, U.S. News & World Report also ranked Florida as No. 1 for tuition and fees and the No. 1 state for higher education overall since its rankings inception in 2017.

Florida’s public universities are the least expensive in the nation. Image via Colin Hackley.

“A college degree should not put our students into a lifetime of debt,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Florida’s public college and university system is number one in the country because we put students first and this achievement proves we are on the right track. We will continue to prioritize offering a world-class education at an affordable price, providing the greatest value for our students.”

The average State University System student pays less than $3,400 for a bachelor’s degree after factoring in Florida’s Bright Futures program and other financial aid, showing a decrease five years in a row. Despite inflation, Florida has held tuition and fees flat since 2014-15, compared to a 17% percent increase nationally.

“The significant investments Governor DeSantis and legislative leaders have made in higher education are pivotal to holding down the tuition and fee costs for Florida’s students, even as they rise across the country,” said Brian Lamb, Chair of the State University System Board of Governors. “This success reflects the emphasis our Board and university leadership have placed on accountability, performance, and cost, all of which attract the best and brightest students who seek the exceptional educational experience Florida’s institutions offer.”

Movin’ out

The U.S. Department of Transportation recognized Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Consumer Protection Division with an award for its work to crack down on moving scams.

The 2022 Inspector General Partnership Award was awarded after the division’s participation in Operation Moving Target led to approximately $27 million in fines and restitution against phony or fraudulent moving firms.

Even the Biden administration is recognizing Ashley Moody’s work on consumer protection.

The DOT’s award specifically recognizes Consumer Protection Division Deputy Director Sasha Funk Granai, Special Counsel Ellen Lyons, Assistant Chief Assistant Attorney General for Tampa Jennifer Pinder, Chief Assistant Attorney General for Jacksonville Carol DeGraffenreidt, as well as financial Investigators Nakia Gouldbourne and Candace Martinez.

“Attorneys and investigators in my Consumer Protection Division work hard to stop scams and protect Floridians. I am proud of the results they achieve and honored that these hard-working public servants are being recognized for their dogged efforts to shut down 19 fraudulent moving firms and recover millions in fines and restitution,” Moody said.

The biggest fish was All USA Van Lines. At trial, Moody’s office secured $21.7 million in monetary relief and the owner was permanently banned from offering moving-related services in Florida.


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