rotunda wide

US judge blocks ‘unconstitutional’ UF rules limiting professors from testifying against state

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A federal judge on Friday blocked the University of Florida from barring professors from testifying as expert witnesses against the state government, the latest development in a national controversy over efforts to limit the role of three academics in a voting rights lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Calling professors “priests of our democracy” who provide guidance in truth and informed citizenship, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in Tallahassee issued a preliminary injunction against the university. The school did not immediately indicate whether it plans to appeal and had no comment on the judge’s decision.

Dems, Advocates Urge More Public Input in FL Redistricting

On the Florida Legislature's opening day, House leaders scheduled separate redistricting committee meetings at the same time - and critics blasted it as another attempt to limit public input.
Republicans in the Florida House, who control the process of drawing new congressional and legislative district boundaries, held meetings Tuesday, specifically for public comment - but both were at 4 p.m. What was scheduled as a two-hour meeting ended in just eight minutes, after only two county commissioners spoke about the redistricting process.

‘Freedom works’: DeSantis mocks Covid restrictions, bashes feds on economy, immigration

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In his State of the State address Tuesday in the Capitol, Gov. Ron DeSantis laid out a red-meat 2022 legislative agenda on crime and immigration, and he ridiculed COVID-19 restrictions in other states as ineffective and anti-American.

DeSantis, a Republican who is seeking a second term in November and hasn’t ruled out a White House bid in 2024, called Florida the “freest state” in the U.S.“Florida has become the escape hatch for those chafing under authoritarian, arbitrary and seemingly never-ending mandates and restrictions,” he told a packed and largely maskless House chamber in Tallahassee during his 33-minute address.

And Just Like That…The Rotunda is back!

What happened to the weekly drops of The Rotunda? 

Here is a short answer: The Pandemic! 

That is a good enough reason to share, for now. We have a short time to get this award-winning program back up and running! Listen to the latest episode here

Have you subscribed to The Rotunda Newsletter yet for your first-to-know news and information? Click the link here to do it now! We're sort of in a hurry to reconnect. 

Abortion Among Big Issues to Watch in FL 2022 Legislature

As the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates the latest challenge to Roe v. Wade, new abortion laws are already in the works ahead of Florida's upcoming legislative session.

Encouraged by possible federal changes, conservatives are moving full speed ahead in the Statehouse with proposals like House Bill 167, which would require doctors to conduct a test and inform a pregnant person of a heartbeat.

Backlash for FL Rule Change on Receiving Mail in Prison

The Florida Department of Corrections now bans people in prison from receiving traditional mail, such as greeting cards and handwritten letters, requiring that it be scanned and sent electronically, with few exceptions. The department says the change was made to reduce contraband from entering facilities, but Denise Rock, executive director of Florida Cares Charity Corp., sees it as choosing to punish the estimated 80,000 people in prison for an offense that affects less than 1% of the prison population.

Settlement Funds from Oil Spill to Help Restore FL Oyster Reefs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Storm damage, pollution and other factors - some related to climate change - are reducing the oyster population. But settlement funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are now available to restore oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Experts estimate the Gulf lost between four and eight billion oysters to the massive oil spill and saw a loss of reproduction in the ensuing years.

FL Health Groups Urge Senate Passage of Build Back Better

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Healthcare reform advocates are asking U.S. senators to pass the Build Back Better Act, saying it would provide a federal fix for the more than 400,000 uninsured Floridians in the Medicaid coverage gap. 

Build Back Better would expand the tax credits lower-income people use to pay for insurance plans bought on the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

FL Supporters Amplify Need for Biden's Free Community College Plan

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Despite the raging pandemic, college students are flooding Florida classrooms and campuses this week as the fall semester begins. At the same time, allies of President Joe Biden contend in order to "Build Back Better," as his plan is dubbed, the first two years of community college should be free.

During a Thursday virtual news conference by the labor union United Faculty of Florida, Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said the change would make drastic improvements in students' lives, who are often saddled with debt.

GoFundMe, Federal Aid Offered to School Officials in Masking Disputes

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As the DeSantis administration continues its attempt to block school districts from imposing public-health protections on students, Democrats are fighting back by promising to launch a GoFundMe campaign.

This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened to dock the salaries of district superintendents and county school board members who mandate mask-wearing in schools.