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June 4, 2021

Since the regular 2021 Florida Lawmaking Session ended just over a month ago, the trickle of bills coming to Governor DeSantis’s desk have turned into a flood. And the most important bill of them all got the governor’s signature this week. DeSantis approved the largest budget ever for the upcoming fiscal year. It was the first in state history to hit the one-hundred-billion dollar mark. But as it came from the Legislature it was even larger. DeSantis chopped one-and-a-half billion dollars from the budget before gracing the document with his signature. Blaise Gainey talks about the projects that wound up on the chopping block, as well as those that got the green light from the governor.

LGBTQ advocates are condemning Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to sign into law a bill that bans transgender women and girls from competing on female school sports teams. Robbie Gaffney reports the signing took place on the first day of Pride Month.

Florida lawmakers have put an end to fighting over how much to invest into affordable housing. Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation this week that guarantees all the money in the state and local affordable housing trust funds will pay for programs that help those on the verge of homelessness. At the same time, the legislature permanently cut in half the revenues flowing into those funds. As Valerie Crowder reports, affordable housing advocates are torn on the deal.

It’s been more than a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools and forced kids out of classrooms and into online learning. The sudden closure and extended online experience has raised concerns about learning loss and kids falling behind in their studies. That concern spurred Florida to reopen its schools, giving families the option of sending students back to in-person classes. And many families took that option. Now, as Lynn Hatter repots, schools are prepping for more intensive summer programs and reflecting on a school year unlike any other.

Before and throughout this year’s legislative session, WLRN in Miami has been following the accelerating effort by state lawmakers to strip various powers from Florida counties and cities. It seems that one of the bills passed this year to keep localities from having any kind of authority over the cruise ship industry wound up impacting just one place. WLRN’s Nancy Klinginger delved deeply into the issue and here’s the resulting podcast.

Florida certainly has its own share of endangered animals. The state’s iconic panthers and manatees spring most quickly to mind. But the state’s hospitable climate also makes Florida an ideal refuge for creatures from many other lands. Gina Jordan traveled to just such a refuge to interact with some of those animals. And wound up with an earful.