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Capital Report: March 3, 2023

Global conflicts like the war in Ukraine are driving an increasing number of foreign-born immigrants to Florida. As people seeking asylum wait for their paperwork to be processed, they can face medical and psychological problems. Some are finding help at a volunteer clinic in Tampa. WUSF's Kerry Sheridan tells us doctors and medical students at the University of South Florida are stepping in to prevent refugees from falling through the cracks of the U-S healthcare system.

Florida lawmakers will consider a proposal to re-write rules around WHO is considered a public figure, and what circumstances would constitute a defamation claim against media outlets. Lynn Hatter reports the proposals are raising concerns about whether the plans are constitutional and violate free speech rights.

Governor Ron DeSantis has outlined proposed legislation that targets “environmental, social and governance” standards -- known as ESG. Gina Jordan reports it would impact various business transactions and investing in state and local governments.

Republicans in the Florida Legislature want to make changes to local elections. As Valerie Crowder reports, proposals filed in advance of the lawmaking session that begins next week would make those races partisan and shorten school board member term limits to eight years.

Florida lawmakers have proposed bills to remove income caps from the state’s school voucher programs. That would make every school aged child in the state eligible for private school scholarship or get funding for other education related expenses. Brendan Brown reports, parents are split on how the plan will benefit as well as affect their child’s education.

A measure aimed at curbing local ordinances that hurt private businesses is under consideration by the Legislature for a second year. As Margie Menzel explains, supporters say the bill would help small businesses, while opponents say it would shackle local governments’ ability to respond to the concerns of their residents.

Dozens of Florida undocumented students and community leaders gathered in Miami for a round table discussion Thursday, following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to expand immigration policies. The event gave undocumented students a voice to tell the state’s governor what the American dream meant to them. Adrian Andrews has more.