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Gov. DeSantis Announces $125M in State Budget to Boost Nurse Training and Nurse Employment

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FILE - Then Florida Republican nominee for governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event in October 2018. (File photo by Willie David / Florida National News)

SANFORD, Fla. (FNN) – Florida governor Ron DeSantis opened his Sanford press conference slamming COVID vaccine mandates for medical personnel before making his big announcement: $125 million in approved state funding for nurse training and employment.

Gov. DeSantis explained that $100 million will go to colleges and universities for higher education programs and pipeline programs to help nurses complete their degrees and transition right into jobs upon graduation.

The governor shared that the remaining $25 million is assigned to “combating the shortage of nursing instructors,” meaning funding will also provided for those who can teach and train up and nurses and medical students. Additionally, the funding will providing some student loan assistance for students pursuing nursing careers.

Seminole State College and Valencia College will each receive $1.4 million of the $25 million in pipeline funding to help their students “earn while they learn,” according to Florida Dept. of Education Senior Chancellor Henry Mack. Mack also pointed out that Gov. DeSantis has awarded over $5 billion in education and technical training funding since taking office.

The full press conference live stream can be viewed above. (Governor DeSantis starts speaking at 24:11 on the video.)

DeSantis also addressed the appointment of Cord Byrd and defended his decision to appoint Byrd, also noting that Byrd would be tough on election integrity.

DeSantis was asked again about Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and the tax consequences on Orange and Osceola County residents. He explained that he plans to ensure control of the tax debt would move from the counties to the state and that no counties should be raising taxes on their residents. He also doubled down on Disney repaying the debt.

When Florida National News brought the conversation back around to funding in the state budget for nurses–namely the appropriations proposal for an additional building for UCF’s Nursing School in Lake Nona, Governor DeSantis said he’s still reviewing the budget and that more medical funding projects would be forthcoming.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

Crimes and Courts

Abortion Rights Backers Rally in Anger Over Post-Roe Future

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People attend an abortion-rights rally at the Utah State Capitol Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Salt Lake City. Demonstrators are rallying from coast to coast in the face of an anticipated Supreme Court decision that could overturn women's right to an abortion.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion rights supporters demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies Saturday expressed their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century and their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices.

Incensed after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly because Republican-led states are poised to enact tighter restrictions.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.

The mood was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade.

“I can’t believe that at my age, I’m still having to protest over this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government employee who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights.

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar on it and a necklace that spelled out “vote.”

“I think that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.

A half-dozen anti-abortion demonstrators sent out a countering message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone, “Abortion is not health care, folks, because pregnancy is not an illness.”

From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, and Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands participated in events, where chants of “Bans off our bodies!” and “My body, my choice!” rang out. The gatherings were largely peaceful, but in some cities there were tense confrontations between people on opposing sides of the issue.

Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appeared to be poised to let the states have the final say. If that happens, roughly half of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.

The battle was personal for some who came out Saturday. In Seattle, some protesters carried photographic images of conservative justices’ heads on sticks.

Teisha Kimmons, who traveled 80 miles to attend the Chicago rally, said she fears for women in states that are ready to ban abortion. She said she might not be alive today if she had not had a legal abortion when she was 15.

“I was already starting to self harm and I would have rather died than have a baby,” said Kimmons, a massage therapist from Rockford, Illinois.

At that rally, speaker after speaker said that if abortion is banned that the rights of immigrants, minorities and others will also be “gutted,” as Amy Eshleman, wife of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put it.

“This has never been just about abortion. It’s about control,” Eshleman told the crowd of thousands. “My marriage is on the menu and we cannot and will not let that happen.”

In New York, thousands of people gathered in Brooklyn’s courthouse plaza before a march across the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan for another rally.

“We’re here for the women who can’t be here, and for the girls who are too young to know what is ahead for them,” Angela Hamlet, 60, of Manhattan, said to the backdrop of booming music.

Robin Seidon, who traveled from Montclair, New Jersey, for the rally, said the nation was at a place abortion rights supporters have long feared.

“They’ve been nibbling at the edges, and it was always a matter of time before they thought they had enough power on the Supreme Court, which they have now,” said Seidon, 65.

The upcoming high court ruling in a case from Mississippi stands to energize voters, potentially shaping the upcoming midterm elections.

In Texas, which has a strict law banning many abortions, the challenger to one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress marched in San Antonio.

Jessica Cisneros joined demonstrators just days before early voting begins in her primary runoff against U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, which could be one of the first tests over whether the court leak will galvanize voters.

In Chicago, Kjirsten Nyquist, a nurse toting daughters ages 1 and 3, agreed about the need to vote. “As much as federal elections, voting in every small election matters just as much,” she said.

At many of the rallies, speakers put the issue in stark terms, saying people will die if abortions are outlawed.

In Los Angeles, high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred recounted how she could not get a legal abortion after being raped at gunpoint in the 1960s. She said she ended up having life-threatening bleeding after a “back alley” abortion.

“I want you to vote as though your lives depend on it, because they do,” she told the crowd.

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Business

Interfaith Group Asks Starbucks to Drop Vegan Milk Surcharge

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FILE - Actor James Cromwell arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tuesday, June 12, 2018. Cromwell glued his hand to a midtown Manhattan Starbucks counter to protest the coffee chain’s extra charge for plant-based milk, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in New York. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

BOSTON (AP) — A group of Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders is asking Starbucks to stop charging extra for vegan milk alternatives, saying the practice amounts to a tax on people who have embraced plant-based lifestyles.

In a statement issued Friday, an interfaith coalition led by Nevada-based Hindu activist Rajan Zed pressed the coffee chain to end the surcharges it called “unethical and unfair.”

“A coffee company should not be in the business of taxing individuals who had chosen the plant-based lifestyle,” said Zed’s statement, which was also signed by Thomas W. Blake, an Episcopal priest; Greek Orthodox clergyman Stephen R. Karcher; Buddhist priest Matthew Fisher; and Jewish rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer.

The religious leaders cited numerous reasons why some Starbucks customers prefer alternatives to dairy, including dietary restrictions, ethical issues, environmental concerns, lactose intolerance, milk allergies and animal welfare.

Those who want plant-based milk should not have to pay more, they said, calling on the Seattle-based company’s CEO, Howard Schultz, and board chair Mellody Hobson to immediately drop the surcharge.

Starbucks outlets in the United States typically charge 50 cents to a dollar more for drinks made with plant-based milks.

Starbucks doesn’t charge for a splash of nondairy milk, including soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk and oat milk, though it does levy a surcharge for customized beverages made largely with those substitutes, spokesperson Megan Adams told The Associated Press.

It is not the first time Starbucks’ surcharge has riled the public. On Tuesday, activist and actor James Cromwell glued his hand to the counter of a Starbucks franchise in New York City to protest the practice.

Cromwell, 81, later used a knife to scrape it off. Police said there were no arrests.

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Events

Servant’s Heart Ministry’s Hearts Against Hunger 5K Kicks Off Saturday, May 14

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Photo: Serving Hearts Ministry.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Servant’s Heart Ministry’s in-person 5K kicks of on May 14, 2022. Attendees can run, walk or stroll through the beautiful streets of Belle Isle in the Greater Orlando area to help bring awareness and support those in need. People can register as an individual or create their very own team. Grab your family, friends, co-workers, running groups, or church groups and make a difference today.

The entry donation fee of $35 provides two full weeks of groceries for one local family. Anyone and everyone can participate. Supporters can help the ministry reach its $40,000 goal by creating a fundraising page or creating a team through the event page.

Those who want to help even more can create their own unique fundraising page after they register to help the ministry reach their goal. Supporters will be able to customize it just the way they want and will be able to share it with others as well as on social media platforms.

As a special thank you, with every $35 donation/registration fee, the ministry will be gifting those registered with a t-shirt the morning of the event while supplies last. Shirt sizes may be limited.

When: Saturday, May 14, 2022
Where: Belle Isle, Florida (Central Florida)
Registration begins: 7:00 AM
Race begins: 8:00 AM

For more information, contact Servant’s Heart Ministry at 407-447-3022, or visit www.servantsheartministry.org

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