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Gov. DeSantis Announces 2022 Tax Holidays, Doubles Down Against Disney

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FILE - Governor Ron DeSantis delivers his speech on opening day of CPAC 2022 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando Thursday, February 24, 2022. (J. Willie David III/Florida National News, file)

OCALA, Fla. (FNN) – Florida governor Ron DeSantis announced the 2022 tax relief package, which waives sales tax on certain items across the year, while emphasizing his criticism against the Walt Disney Company.

“We’re going to end the fiscal year with our largest surplus in the history of Florida, close to $20 billion,” the governor said during a press conference at a Sam’s Club in Ocala alongside his wife Casey and two of their children, as well as Florida Department of Children and Families secretary Shevaun Harris and Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson.

“We have supported Florida jobs from day one, while others are yet to recover,” he added. “We did not want to descend into some Faucian dystopia. America is going through the worst inflation the country has seen in forty years, over 8.5 percent… Most of the stuff that they [the federal government] count as not significant is significant in your daily lives, much higher than 8.5 percent increases, like fuel, groceries.”

The bill, called HB-7071, offers $1.24 billion in tax relief. “You’re going to see breaks for things like fuel, diapers, recreational activities,” the governor said.

Diapers, clothes, and baby shoes will be tax-free starting July 1st. Children’s books will be tax-free for three months starting May 14. July 25 through August 7th will be the “Back To School” tax holiday, where certain school supplies will be tax-free.

Other calendar announcements include “Freedom Week,” where recreational equipment will also be tax-free, and “Disaster Preparedness,” which will waive taxes on emergency kits and window and door barriers.

The full calendar can be seen and downloaded at the Florida Department of Revenue website.

DeSantis also reiterated that the Walt Disney Company “will not hold their own government,” in the latest round of the Florida governor’s stance against the entertainment giant, due to the latter’s criticism of recent legislation in the state.

“It’s not the responsibility of Florida residents to fund your corporate speech,” DeSantis said. “Disney is not going to have its own government in Florida. Disney is going to have to live under the same laws as everyone in Florida, Disney will have to pay their taxes.”

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Florida

Tom Keen Picks Up Key Endorsement in Race for Florida House District 35

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Tom Keen, candidate for Florida House District 35. Photo: Tom Keen campaign.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Democrat Tom Keen announced he has received the endorsement of State Senator Victor Torres in his race for the Florida House in District 35. His district will overlap with Senator Torres in Osceola County.

Both Senator Torres and Tom Keen are military veterans. Keen served as a Naval Flight Officer for twenty-one years on active duty. Senator Torres is a former Marine and retired Law Enforcement Officer.

“Tom is the best qualified person to represent voters in District 35,” stated Torres. “His military experience and continued service to the City of Orlando on the Citizen’s Police Review Board demonstrate his commitment, knowledge, and passion to represent our community. He is my choice for District 35.”

Keen stated “I’m running to fund our public schools, protect our environment, and help Florida make brighter choices for our future,” Keen says in his message. He highlighted his commitment to meeting the State’s most urgent needs, like providing immediate tax relief to help with the high cost of gas.

“Floridians are struggling with high cost of fuel today, but Fred Hawkins and Republicans in the Florida House voted to delay the Gas Tax Holiday until right before the November election – we need relief now – not a bribe in October.” said Keen. “May and November are the two months with the fewest tourists – if Republicans were serious about tax relief instead of bribing voters, they would have provided critical tax relief this month.”

Keen collected enough verified signatures to qualify by petition for the 2022 election cycle, a grassroots volunteer effort that lets him connect with voters individually. He has also recently been endorsed by VoteVets and Ironworkers Local 808.

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Education

Orange County Government, Rollins College Announce 3-Year, $4M Partnership to Provide Nonprofit Training Support

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (right) and Rollins College's Crummer Graduate School of Business partnered to announce the launch of the school's nonprofit assistance program. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Orange County Government and the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College today announced a three-year, $4 million partnership to provide nonprofit training support through Crummer’s Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership, the region’s premier source for nonprofit education and management assistance.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News

Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act in Orange County, the program will equip local nonprofits with the tools necessary to succeed in the post-pandemic environment. Specifically targeting small, and diverse Orange County-based nonprofits, Empowering Good: A Nonprofit Capacity Building Project is designed to offer training in five key areas: impact measurement, innovation, financial management, fundraising, and risk management.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings speaks during the press conference announcing Crummer's new program launch. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings speaks during the press conference announcing Crummer’s new program launch. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

“Nonprofits play a central role in the wellbeing of our community here in Orange County. Despite increased demand for their services during the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our community’s nonprofit organizations were being adversely affected by the pandemic in potentially devastating ways, directly impacting essential services in Orange County,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “Deploying American Rescue Plan funds in partnership with Crummer’s Edyth Bush Institute will help us provide the resources necessary to ensure the long-term success of our nonprofit community.”

The cohort-style program administered by the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership, will support up to 36 Central Florida nonprofit organizations every six months over the next three years as well as offer organizational assessments and coaching for up to another 15 organizations for a total of 261 nonprofits, starting in September 2022. Training provided by the Edyth Bush Institute throughout each year-long program will include workshops, assessments, coaching/consulting services, and custom programming to address organization-specific challenges.

In assessing how to deploy its American Rescue Plan funding, Orange County Government sought to address needs in six key areas, with one of those areas being small business assistance. Alignment with the Crummer School’s mission to produce global, innovative, and responsible leaders who impact their organizations and communities, as well as the Edyth Bush Institute’s wide-reaching nonprofit network, provided an ideal partnership that would enable the County to bolster small businesses within the regional nonprofit community.

Crummer Graduate School of Business Dean Dr. Deborah Crown speaks during the press conference. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Crummer Graduate School of Business Dean Dr. Deborah Crown speaks during the press conference. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

“This exciting partnership with the Orange County Government will reach beyond nonprofits to the many organizations and individuals who benefit from their programs and services,” said Dr. Deborah Crown, dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College. “Our incredible staff at the Edyth Bush Institute embrace this opportunity to further guide our local nonprofit leaders to continue to spark innovation and create jobs for our economy.”

Demand for goods and services from nonprofit organizations soared during the pandemic. In April 2020, the Edyth Bush Institute conducted a survey to assess the state of the nonprofit community. The survey found 93.73% of the 287 participating nonprofits reported moderate to significant impact on programs, services or general operations. In addition, 194 nonprofit organizations reported an anticipated revenue decrease of $48 million to $54 million between February 2020 and June 2020.

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News

Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News

“Nonprofits play a vital role in directly improving the lives of individuals. Their contributions to this community and our economy cannot be overlooked. Yet, the struggles with increasing demand for services and maintaining a robust workforce were real,” said Min Sun Kim, executive director of Crummer’s Edyth Bush Institute of Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership. “This program will allow us to address pandemic and post-pandemic challenges as well as to help leaders position their organizations for long-term success.”

For more information and to access the program application, visit empowering-good.org

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Black Lives

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to Appoint Eric Smith as New Police Chief

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Deputy Chief Eric Smith. Photo: Orlando Police Department.

ORLANDO, FL (FNN) – Today, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the appointment of Eric Smith, a 27-year Orlando Police Department veteran, as the next Police Chief of the City of Orlando. Smith will serve as the city’s 40th Police Chief.

Last week, Police Chief Orlando Rolón announced his upcoming retirement after more than 29 years of service to the citizens of Orlando.

“Over the past three years, under the leadership of Chief Rolón, OPD has continued to aggressively fight crime, innovate with new technology and further increase transparency with our community,” said Mayor Dyer. “It’s been an honor to work together with Chief Rolón to protect and serve our citizens throughout his tenure with the Orlando Police Department.”

“I am confident that under Chief Smith’s dedicated leadership, the Orlando Police Department will continue to work diligently in protecting our community against crime, while ensuring that every resident is equally protected and respected,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Chief Smith is well respected by officers and community members and is the right person to lead the department forward.”

A 33-year resident of Orlando, Smith will oversee the day-to-day operations of the department and serve as chief counsel to the Mayor in matters of public safety. During his tenure with the Orlando Police Department, Smith has worked in or supervised three of the four Department Bureaus and 10 of the Department’s 11 Divisions and has been a Deputy Chief for eight years.

Most recently he has served as the Bureau Commander for the Patrol Services Bureau, the largest section of OPD that is comprised of more than 500 sworn officers. He also serves as OPD’s High-Risk Incident Commander where he leads the SWAT Team, Crisis Negotiations Team, Emergency Response Team, Emergency Services Team, and the Crisis Intervention Team. In addition to his regular job assignments, Smith also served more than 19 years as member of the SWAT Team, including the position of Team Commander.

Smith is a graduate of the 269th Session of the FBI National Academy and has also completed the FBI Florida Executive Development Program. In addition to his role with OPD, Smith is actively involved in the community, including service on numerous boards, including YMCA of Central Florida, Valencia College Student Affairs, After-School All-Stars, United Against Poverty, Camaraderie Foundation and the Central Florida Boy Scouts of America.

Rolón’s last day in the office will be August 19, 2022, and his retirement is effective on November 1, 2022. After Rolón’s last day in the office, Smith will serve as Acting Chief and assume the position of Chief of Police on November 2, 2022.

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