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April 16, 2021

Florida Democrats are calling out legislative Republicans’ defense of a bill that aims to crack down on violent protests. The measure was first announced by Governor Ron DeSantis in September, following a summer of protests fueled by the death of George Floyd. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk after a heated and emotional debate on the Senate floor. As Lynn Hatter reports, Democrats and activists are now looking at their next moves.

A proposal to repeal three controversial toll roads is heading to the Florida House for a vote. The repeal has already been approved by the state Senate. Robbie Gaffney reports the bill still contains projects to extend U.S. Route 19 and the Florida Turnpike. That has environmentalists concerned.

A bill that would require school districts to provide extra notice to parents of their ability to opt out of sex education classes for their children is advancing in the Florida House. The bill’s original language would have required parents to opt in to classes that teach about sexual health. Valerie Crowder reports some parents and religious leaders spoke out against the change before it passed its last committee stop.

As Florida enters the final weeks of the state legislative session, Senate President Wilton Simpson says there could still be time to finalize a gambling agreement with the Seminole Indian Tribe and pass gaming legislation that would create a new gambling oversight commission. But it there’s not, Simpson says he foresees the possibility of a special session. Regan McCarthy has more.

Ten days have passed since the death of long-time Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings. He died April 6th at the age of 84. By law, Governor Ron DeSantis must call a special election so voters can choose a replacement for Hastings. But nothing is happening yet. Steve Bousquet reports that other members of Congress are now accusing DeSantis of playing politics.

Florida has many iconic wildlife species. But the future of one in particular remains an open question. Two more endangered Florida panthers died this week after being struck by vehicles. Their deaths highlight a problem, as well as a success story. A panther population reduced to a couple dozen now has reached more than 200. Their plight - and progress - is featured in April’s National Geographic magazine. From WUSF in Tampa, Steve Newborn traveled to an area northeast of Fort Myers to meet up with the photographer and panther biologist featured in the article.