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Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs HB 1421, Improving School Safety in Florida

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File - In this file photo, Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference along with Attorney John Morgan and Congressman Matthew Gaetz on lifting the marijuana ban in Florida to allow for medicinal use. Photo by Willie David / Florida National News
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1421, which takes several measures to improve school safety in Florida. The steps taken by HB 1421 build on legislation over the last three years to implement the additional recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission to make schools safer and improve youth mental health in Florida. In the Freedom First Budget, Governor DeSantis also approved a record $140 million for mental health and $210 million for school safety, including school hardening grants and youth mental health awareness and assistance training.
“Every child needs a safe and secure learning environment,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “By signing HB 1421, we continue to build on the many steps we have taken since 2019 to implement the recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, while also making record investments in mental health and school safety.”
“This legislation is a huge leap forward in school safety,” said State Board of Education Member Ryan Petty.“I want to thank Governor DeSantis for his bold leadership on this most fundamental issue. Nothing is more important than providing safe and secure learning environments for our children and educators. Extending the Commission’s work and requiring mental health and de-escalation training for safe-school officers will make a major difference in mitigating the risk of a future tragedy.”
“Every parent deserves to know their child is safe at school,” said Tony Montalto, President of Stand with Parkland. “This new law, which passed unanimously through the Florida Legislature, is an important next step in providing school safety assurances to families and students. Florida will continue to do everything possible to make sure our schools meet the highest safety standards and that mental health issues associated with school violence are being addressed.”
HB 1421 does the following:
  • Extends the sunset of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission;
  • Authorizes the Commissioner of Education to enforce, rather than just oversee, school safety and security compliance;
  • Authorizes safe school officers to make arrests on charter school property;
  • Requires all safe school officers to complete crisis intervention and training to improve knowledge and skills for response and de-escalate incidents on school premises;
  • Requires law enforcement officers to be present and involved in active assailant emergency drills;
  • Requires school boards to adopt family reunification plans in the event of an evacuation; and
  • Requires that school districts must annually certify that at least 80 percent of school personnel have received mandatory youth mental health awareness training.
Since 2019, Governor DeSantis has prioritized school safety and mental health funding in Florida and has increased the amount of funding for these initiatives every year he has been in office.
In 2021, the Governor signed SB 590, which required school administrators to gather data on involuntary examinations of students and report data to the Department of Education (DOE); required school safety officers to receive mental health training; and required schools to give timely notification of threats, unlawful acts, and significant emergencies. In Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the Governor signed $368 million in the budget for school safety and mental health funding, including:
  • $120 million for the Mental Health Assistance Allocation, an increase of $20 million over the previous year;
  • $180 million maintained for the Safe Schools component of the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP); and
  • $6.5 million for the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to train teachers and staff for emergencies.
These bills strengthened the protection of children by increasing communication and notifications prior to a student being subjected to an involuntary examination, and required additional mental health training for teachers and students in teacher preparation programs.
In 2020, the Governor signed Senate Bill (SB) 70, Alyssa’s Law, which required DOE to utilize funding and work with public schools to implement a panic alert system to ensure real-time coordination between first responders. For the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year, the Governor signed $342 million for school safety and mental health funding, including:
  • $100 million for Mental Health Assistance Allocation, an increase of $25 million over the previous year;
  • $180 million maintained for the Safe Schools component of the FEFP;
  • $3 million for recurring funding to gather an analyze data from social media and state agencies; and
  • $8 million for Alyssa’s Law, to implement a panic alert system between schools and emergency services.
In 2019, the Governor enacted legislation to implement school safety recommendations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission and issued Executive Order 19-45 to require the Department of Education to communicate best practices for school safety to all school districts. In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, the Governor approved $317 million for school safety and mental health funding including:
  • $180 million for the Safe Schools component of the FEFP;
  • Over $80 million for Mental Health Assistance Allocation and for Youth Mental Health awareness; and
  • $50 million for school hardening grants to improve security of school campuses.

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Orlando

Gov. DeSantis Announces Toll Relief Program

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Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters in Orlando, Florida Thursday, August 25, 2022. Photo: Hidekel Griffin/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new toll relief program at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters Thursday.

The SunPass Savings Program launches on September 1, 2022 and will run for six months and will benefit SunPass and other Florida transponder users. According to a press release from the governor’s office, the program “is estimated to provide $38 million in relief to SunPass commuters.” Eligible roadways include the Turnpike, the 528, 95 Express, I-4 Express, Palmetto Expressway, the Sawgrass Expressway, and many others. The complete map of included roadways can be found at www.sunpass.com.

With the savings program, drivers who have 40-79 transactions per month will receive a 20 percent discount, and drivers who rack up 80 or more transactions per month receive a 25 percent discount. Gov. DeSantis acknowledged other toll organizations and the fact that they’re independent of the Florida government and outside of his authority, but said that a deal can be made legislatively.

“This program will help frequent SunPass customers keep more money in their pockets during a time of growing inflation,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Florida families who depend on these FDOT facilities for a timely commute to work will benefit from these savings. We will, of course, seek to enact greater savings for commuters in the next legislative session.”

“The SunPass Savings program is a way for us to give back to our loyal customers and thank them for their continued support,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise are proud to offer this additional cost-saving benefit.”

The governor reiterated the upcoming gas tax holiday in October, but spent much of his commentary slamming President Joe Biden’s economic policy, including the most recent law canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans, which Biden announced Wednesday. DeSantis said President Biden making that a law was unconstitutional. When Florida National News asked Gov. DeSantis how it was unconstitutional, he pointed out that it needs to go through Congress. “Could the Congress pass a law that passes that on to the taxpayer? I believe they probably would have the Constitutional duty to do it–I’m not saying that’s a good idea,” he explained. “But for an executive action through fiat to sanction and to just say you’re dumping this debt on the taxpayers, that is not something that is consistent with the rule of law.”

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

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Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis Awards Over $4.2 Million to Lee County Port Authority through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded over $4.2 million to the Lee County Port Authority through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to rehabilitate Chamberlin Parkway at Southwest Florida International Airport. The project will improve travelers’ access to terminals and increase access to commercial development sites on the north side of the airport, which serves as a base for airline cargo, air shipping, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities, and the airport’s Fixed Base Operator (FBO).
To watch the announcement video, click here.
To download the video for use courtesy Governor’s Press Office, click here.
“Since July 2021, my administration has invested $87 million in Florida communities through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support projects that make strong impacts,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These investments support future growth for Florida communities and create new opportunities for residents.”



“Governor DeSantis has remained committed to helping Florida communities succeed, and DEO is proud to aid in his mission to remove barriers to growth and help communities thrive,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). “This project will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Florida’s workforce, and I am excited for the economic diversification and workforce development it will achieve within Lee County communities.”
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by DEO and Enterprise Florida, Inc., and are chosen by Governor DeSantis to meet the demands for workforce training or infrastructure needs in communities around the state.
DEO and EFI are currently accepting proposals until all funding has been awarded. For more information, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/JobGrowth.

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Ron DeSantis

Governor DeSantis Awards $6.5 Million to Launch Civics Academies, Training the Next Generation of State and Local Leaders

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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)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded Polk State College, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) with $6.5 million to launch the Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative, which will develop a national model for preparing students for public service and careers in local or state government. The Civics Academies will allow students to start preparing in 9th grade for meaningful careers while learning about the importance of public trust, government efficiency, and the values of our state and nation. This announcement is part of Governor DeSantis’ larger Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative to develop civics curriculum and support the implementation of Florida’s revised civics and government standards in K-12 public schools.
“It was great to award $6.5 million to create civics academies through three of our nation-leading state colleges,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This first-of-its-kind program will teach our future leaders foundational American values as they prepare for careers in public service.”
“A strong civics education is a necessity for those entering civil service,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “By providing a pathway for students to pursue careers in the public sector, Florida is ensuring a smarter, more efficient state and local government for years to come.”
“FSCJ is honored to be selected for this grant, in partnership with Polk State College and Broward College, and is dedicated to collaborating on the development of a critical curriculum focused on producing a civically engaged, highly skilled workforce,” said John Avendano, President of FSCJ. “Through collaboration with the Florida Department of Education, Florida College System, the Lou Frey Institute, our school districts, and our local municipalities and businesses, our institutions will lead the way for quality workforce civic education in the State of Florida and beyond.”
“Our Florida College System institutions are honored to partner with the Florida Department of Education, the Lou Frey Institute, our school districts, and our local municipalities and government entities to foster quality civic literacy opportunities, thereby enhancing the lives of Florida’s students,” said Gregory Adam Haile, President of Broward College. “Enhancing civic literacy and related workforce training will not only benefit our students, but will also ultimately benefit Florida’s future.”
“This initiative will establish a higher education pathway for students interested in public service, using the Florida College System model of programs partnering with high schools to prepare students for in-demand jobs and rewarding careers,” said Angela Falconetti, President of Polk State College. “At a time when civic literacy and engagement are so highly valued, we are excited to partner with our local school districts and other institutions to support the development of our public service workforce and provide opportunities for students interested in these careers.”
Polk State College, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville will work in partnership with the Lou Frey Institute, which will serve as the lead curriculum developer for new statewide “Civics Career Academies.” The grant will support the development and implementation of no less than three regional civic pathway partnerships to be managed by Polk State, Broward College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville. The three colleges will partner with their school districts to implement the civics career academies in their communities, anticipating over 1,000 students enrolled in the 2023-2024 academic year.
The civics career academies will launch in August, 2023. Courses will include public service leadership, careers and communication, experiential learning, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities with local and state agencies, and a research seminar.
“The Career Pathways for Public Service Initiative aligns with the Lou Frey Institute’s development of a civic assessment currently being administered by institutions across Florida,” said The Lou Frey Institute Director Stephen Masyada. “We are excited to expand that work by creating a secondary civic curriculum and accompanied teacher training which will ensure students graduate high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in both the public sector and in advanced public service career preparation. The value of lifelong civic learning, connecting civic education and engagement to professional development and careers, is critical for advancing civil society.”
Additionally, the partnership with local school districts will include summer 2023 programming at the three colleges to prepare students for industry certification exams in areas such as Project Management (PMP) and SCRUM, Advanced Microsoft Office, Adobe, and a variety of other industry certifications relevant to a career in public administration. The colleges will also work with local municipalities to offer paid internships and pre-apprenticeships for students to gain real-world experience before graduating from high school to prepare them for careers in local and state government.
Governor DeSantis announced the Civic Literacy Excellence Initiative in July 2021. Of the $106 million to establish the initiative, $6.5 million was allocated for the civics career academy program to develop partnerships between secondary schools and government institutions, and to allow students to explore government and public administration as a way to inspire the next generation of leaders in Florida.
In 2019, Governor DeSantis set a goal to make Florida the number one state in the nation for workforce education. Since then, Florida has invested more than $5 billion into workforce education, expanded access to apprenticeship programs by registering over 50 new programs for a total of over 300 programs, and now there are over 770,000 K-12 students enrolled in career and technical education programs — the most in Florida’s history. While much of this training has been in programs that are useful for the private sector, such as diesel mechanics, nursing, CDL, information technology, manufacturing, etc., this initiative will also advance the skills of those who will work in state and local government.
Some positions graduates would be prepared for include:
  • Grant Manager
  • Program Analyst and Support Staff
  • Permitting Specialist
  • Policy Analyst/Government Affairs
  • Human Resource Support Specialist
  • Project Manager/Caseworker
  • Procurement Specialist
  • City/County Manager

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