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December 17, 2021

Drawing Florida’s election maps for the next decade will become a primary focus during the upcoming legislative session. Lawmakers have already begun looking at draft maps. Voting rights advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they expect the maps will draw legal challenges, as they have in past redistricting years. Valerie Crowder reports.

Long after pandemic lockdowns ended, businesses are still struggling to find workers. Additional federal support for the unemployed ended last summer, but many jobless Floridians stayed out of the labor force. As we heard from Gina Jordan in September – and as we’re seeing even now - the labor shortage remains a problem in Florida.

As more cases of the omicron coronavirus variant are reported in the United States health officials are continuing the encourage vaccinations and booster shots as the best way people can protect themselves from severe illness, hospitalization and death. It’s a message that doctors have been promoting since the vaccines first become available. Regan McCarthy takes us back to July of this year when hospitals were overwhelmed by Delta variant cases and doctors were urging anyone who can to get vaccinated.

Education is top of mind for Florida Republicans. It’s an issue fueled by parent concerns over teachings about history and civics, school shutdowns and the pandemic. Battles between the state and school districts over face coverings have also been front and center. Now, Florida Republicans want voters to reverse a 1998 constitutional amendment that created non-partisan school board races. School boards have been under fire, most recently, over backlash to school closures, mask-wearing and teachings on history, racism and sexual identity. We get more on that story from Lynn Hatter.

2021 has been brutal on the state’s official marine mammal. More than a thousand Florida manatees have died so far this year. State officials have launched a program to help feed the sea cows this winter and congressional lawmakers are hoping to bypass current regulations to get the animals immediately relisted as endangered. Robbie Gaffney reports.

If you ask Florida lawmakers how they’re doing when it comes to public policy, you’re likely to get a glowing assessment. But a careful, non-partisan examination may produce quite different results. Tom Flanigan reports a university political research project has concluded too many government decisions are on shaky ground.