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Last Call for 4.8.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day’s politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

As Florida grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, another looming threat has been put on the back burner: Hurricane season.

With a little over 50 days remaining to prepare, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have asked Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor to issue guidance on how Floridians should handle the possibly coinciding threats of a pandemic and a hurricane.

“With hurricanes, early planning and preparation is key, and while officials are currently focused on the pandemic, we must start thinking about June 1,” the pair wrote.

“This is especially important in light of current social distancing protocols. To ensure our communities are properly prepared, we urge FEMA to issue guidance to state and local governments, tribes and territories regarding hurricane preparedness and response that addresses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and procedures in the wake of the Coronavirus,” the pair wrote.

The 2020 season is expected to be an active one. Scientists predict eight hurricanes — four of them Category 3 or higher — will form. The chance of one of them making landfall in the U.S. is a coin flip.

There’s a chance the coronavirus outbreak could be on the downswing by then. Models currently predict Florida will hit its peak later this month or in early May. But hurricane season lasts into November and public health experts predict it will strike again in the fall.

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When a ruling gets handed down in the federal felon voting rights case, it will affect a far greater number of Floridians than the handful who filed suit.

The case challenging the Legislatures controversial Amendment 4 implementing bill was filed by 17 felons who say requiring the payment of fines and fees to get their voting rights back is akin to a “poll tax.”

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said no matter his decision in the case, it will apply to all felons, not just those named in the suit.

It’s estimated that more than 400,000 felons would regain voting rights if no for the fine and fee provisions in the implementing bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last year.

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition Director Desmond Meade, one of the architects behind Amendment 4, lauded the decision.

“We are pleased that the court appears to be consistent in placing people over politics, which is the approach we have maintained since the start of our Amendment 4 campaign,” he said.

There’s reason to believe the eventual ruling will favor felons, as thus far Hinkle has ruled the fines and fees provision unconstitutional and ordered the plaintiffs be allowed to vote without paying up.

That order has since been upheld by a federal appeals court.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 15,234 FL residents (+231 since 10 a.m. Wednesday)

— 464 Non-FL residents (+11 since 10 a.m. Wednesday)

Origin:

— 1,277 Travel related

— 3,015 Contact with a confirmed case

— 903 Both

— 10,039 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 2,082 in FL

Deaths:

— 323 in FL

Evening Reads

Even as deaths mount, officials see signs pandemic’s toll may not match worst fears” via Brady Dennis, William Wan and David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post

Feds eye loosening rules to allow some to return to work” via the Associated Press

Donald Trump and Florida, a love affair” via Elaina Plott of the New York Times

Florida travelers with coronavirus visited 46 U.S. states, 75 foreign destinations before diagnosis” via Ryan Mills of the USA Today Network

Ron DeSantis wants to check international travelers with ‘rapid’ coronavirus test” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Florida ban on evictions leaves small businesses exposed” via Caroline Glenn and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

COVID-19 is forcing big changes for Floridians and their rights, but is all of this strictly legal?” via Michael Moline and Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix

Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist call on DeSantis to beef up unemployment benefits” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

COVID-19 in prisons puts inmates, families on edge” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida

As coronavirus bears down, sick Corrine Brown wants out of prison” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Florida’s communities of color face COVID-19 disparities” via Isaac Morgan of the Florida Phoenix

Officials target April 20 opening for field hospital at Miami Beach Convention Center” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl who inspired the CBD movement, dies from coronavirus” via John Ingold of the Colorado Sun

Initiatives, VISIT FLORIDA bills go to Ron DeSantis” via the News Service of Florida

Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaignvia Holly Otterbein and David Siders of POLITICO

Federal judge expands ruling to include all Florida felons” via Lawrence Mower of Tampa Bay Times

Byron Donalds raises $335K — from more than 3,000 donors — for congressional bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Donna Shalala talked up as Joe Biden’s running mate by New York Times columnist” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily

Deputies: Florida EMT fed up with COVID-19 precautions intentionally coughed on cashier” via Kevin Connolly of Bay News 9

Quote of the Day

“Please think about your fellow Floridians and be mindful that your community neighbors will also need these products. We must work together to get through these challenging times.” — Attorney General Ashley Moody, urging consumers not to hoard essential goods.

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