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April 23, 2021

Floridians who lost their jobs early in the pandemic struggled to make ends meet. Record unemployment claims broke the state’s system, prompting lawmakers to take action this session. The legislature is in agreement on giving the website where people apply for benefits a facelift. But as Valerie Crowder reports, lawmakers are torn on the issue of increasing the weekly unemployment pay.

Governor DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have hammered out a revamp of the gaming compact that lapsed a few years ago. Tom Flanigan reports the agreement will now go before lawmakers in a Special Session set for May 17.

Mourners gathered in Tampa this week after ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder. As WMNF’s Daniel Figueroa IV reports, the solemn moment was undercut by the feeling that the guilty verdicts fell short of true justice.

Of course, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law this week that could dramatically change protesting in Florida. It’s known as Hb1, the so-called anti-riot bill. Police can now arrest any protestors if an event they’re participating in leads to violence, property damage or blocking roads. Alredo Ramirez the Third is the director of Miami-Dade’s Police Department. He spoke with WLRN’s Luis Hernandez about how the law will be enforced by his department and how the department has dealt with protestors in the past.

Law enforcement agencies could use drones to survey crowds, assist in traffic management and collect evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash. That’s under a proposal that passed a Senate vote and is heading for a House vote. But as Robbie Gaffney reports, some lawmakers have raised concerns over how they could impact peoples’ privacy.

During the pandemic, lawmakers say it’s become clear telehealth is an important service that increases access to care. Now lawmakers are looking into a bill that would heal extend that access to pets. Regan McCarthy reports a bill expanding telehealth for veterinarians passed the Florida House today (Friday.)

Salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They create habitat for wildlife, protect shorelines from erosion, reduce flooding and protect water quality by filtering runoff. WUSF’s Cathy Carter traveled to Robinson Preserve along the Manatee River in Bradenton where volunteers are taking the first steps to bolster this important coastal habitat.