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January 20, 2022

Florida lawmakers are considering very different plans for the state's congressional districts. The Senate is further along in the process than the House, passing its map this week. Redistricting experts and voting rights advocates have described the Senate plan as fairer, too. The House still has two plans under consideration. And over the weekend Governor Ron DeSantis took the unusual step of introducing his own plan. DeSantis' map has drawn criticism for diluting Black voting power in existing African-American majority-minority districts. Valerie Crowder spoke with data analyst Matthew Isbell -- who's also a Democratic Party consultant. Isbell is tracking the redistricting process on his blog M-C-I Maps.

Worker shortages abound – in retail, restaurants, and in state agencies. A handful of Florida agency heads gave a presentation to a state Senate committee this week about their employee recruitment and retention efforts. Gina Jordan reports a common theme emerged.

Peer specialists are like guides who help people navigate their substance abuse recovery journeys. They know the hills and valleys along the path because they’ve been there before. But to get hired in Florida, they have to pass a background check—a major barrier since criminal activity often goes hand-in-hand with substance abuse. Regan McCarthy reports lawmakers are looking into legislation that would change the background check requirement.

Florida’s manatees are in trouble. Last year the state hit a record when scientists reported more than 1-thousand sea cows had died—many from starvation. Now, lawmakers are considering a bill that environmentalist fear could make the problem even worse. Brett Rutherford reports the measure would allow mitigation banking for construction projects that damage sea grass beds—a main source of food for manatees.

Ryan Dailey, reporter with the News Service of Florida, has been following some of the more controversial elements of this legislative session and shares his take on these issues with Tom Flanigan.