Takeaways from Tallahassee — Budget booster

Blue Tally Takeaways (2)
Florida floats another blockbuster budget.

Budget booster

Florida’s gross domestic product is expected to increase by 4.5% this fiscal year, according to the latest estimates from state economists, down from the 7% rate the state experienced in the first and second quarters of this year.

The state GDP fell 1.7% in the first quarter of 2020 before tumbling 31.1% in the second quarter. The third quarter was a completely different story, as the state recouped nearly all of that. And the trend has been up ever since.

However, the Sunshine State’s brisk recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to slow in the coming years, to a more normal 2.5% GDP growth for the next three coming fiscal years.

Florida’s economic standing is particularly notable right now, as the focus shifts to the 2022-23 fiscal year after Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined his budget proposal Thursday. His recommendations nearly hit $100 billion, with additional requests putting spending over that mark.

Ron DeSantis outlines a budget that is expected to top $100 billion.

DeSantis finds himself with an estimated $7 billion general revenue surplus, but nearly three quarters of that is in nonrecurring dollars.

Still, the Governor has managed to set aside $15 billion in reserves in his budget proposal. Under favorable conditions, he told reporters he expects that to hit $17 billion.

Since the latest general revenue estimate, issued in August, collections have run $1.2 billion over estimates through October. Nearly two-thirds of the increase came from sales tax collections.

Contributing to the additional sales tax collections is the Wayfair bill, which is helping to bring in sales tax from more online marketplaces. However, the additional collections are coming mainly for other reasons.

The most recent round of stimulus checks has boosted household spending. However, that is expected to wane in the coming months.

And even though the pandemic is improving, the service sector is still being impacted. Spending is still being pushed more toward goods.

Inflation is also increasing sales tax collections. Higher prices mean the state is receiving more revenue, at least in the short term. In the coming months, people will likely be buying cheaper products or fewer products. Plus, more of people’s spending could end up going toward nontaxable items like food and health care.

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Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado, Christine Jordan Sexton, Tristan Wood and the staff of Florida Politics.

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

DeSantis announces $100 billion budget proposal — DeSantis has proposed a $99.7 billion “Freedom First” budget for the coming fiscal year. Touting Florida’s economic strength through the COVID-19 pandemic despite fears of an economic collapse, the Governor doubled down on his policies since March 2020 while unveiling his proposals for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The economy is “working on all cylinders,” DeSantis said. “Freedom works in Florida. We’re proud of that,” he said. “We’re proud of being viewed as the ‘free state,’ and I think that the economic results are something that have been very, very positive.”

Fried responds to ethics report — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried preemptively fired back at Florida Commission on Ethics findings regarding her financial disclosures. The Commission announced Wednesday it found probable cause Fried violated state law when she failed to initially disclose $400,000 in lobbying income when she ran for office. “A disgraced Republican Party official (Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power) filed a false and fraudulent ethics complaint against Commissioner Fried,” said Fried campaign spokesperson Drew Godinich. “Consistent with the administration’s regular practice of feeding false information to its subordinate agencies, Commissioner Fried is being attacked for following the law and showing transparency, exactly the opposite of what Republican Ron DeSantis and his cohorts do every day.” Notably, Power’s name was misspelled in the Fried camp’s statement.

DeSantis boosts health care funding in budget — DeSantis’ health care budget proposal is $1.2 billion over current levels. The proposal increases Medicaid rates for providers that care for the elderly and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while keeping the base payments made to Florida hospitals essentially unchanged. The increases are driven in part by a spike in enrollment, with economists predicting that more than 5 million people will be in the program by the end of the year.

UF professors report details retaliation fears — University of Florida professors say fear of upsetting politicians, who control their purses, pervades the campus to the point that race-related references have been edited out of course materials, and faculty members have been restricted from participating in outside activities that challenge the priorities of the Governor’s administration, according to a faculty report delivered Monday. “To a certain extent, faculty often engaged in self-censorship and chose not to ‘rock the boat’ for fear of retaliation,” the report said. The report released Monday comes as the university has been accused over the past two months of stifling academic freedom to appease state politicians.

Gun control legislation piles up in Tallahassee — Last week’s school shooting massacre in suburban Detroit prompted Sen. Tina Polsky this week to highlight four bills she previously introduced to prevent tragedies like that from happening in Florida — again. Polsky filed four bills in October and November that would tighten gun regulations in several ways, by addressing gun construction, ammunition and gun storage, as well as adding those deemed mentally incompetent to a database that would alert law enforcement that they shouldn’t have a gun. “It shouldn’t take yet another mass shooting at a high school to deal with the gun violence brought about by irresponsible and reckless gun owners,” Polsky said.

Project Safe Neighborhood

The Department of Law Enforcement has given the Northern District of Florida more than $137,000 to administer the Project Safe Neighborhood Program.

That disbursement is part of the more than $1.75 million in grants the Department of Justice has issued this week for the Project Safe Neighborhood Program.

In May, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the department would reinvigorate Project Safe Neighborhoods, a two-decade-old evidence-based and community-oriented program focused on reducing violent crime, as part of an effort announced in May to reduce violent crime, including gun violence.

Federal money is coming to help make communities safer.

“This latest Project Safe Neighborhoods grant is critical to addressing the violent crime threatening cities and towns all across our country,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. “Ensuring the safety of all Americans is the highest priority for the Department of Justice, but when it comes to violent crime, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We have to work closely with local public safety agencies as well as community organizations to craft individual strategies unique to each community’s needs. Programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods and the funding it provides allow us to do just that.”

Grant funds will support local programs coupling aggressive investigative tactics and techniques with community outreach to curb violence.

“The investigation and prosecution of violent crime is central to our mission to protect the public,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Jason Coody. “Acts of gun violence are far too frequent in communities throughout the Northern District of Florida. The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to reducing gun violence through creative, proven strategies developed under the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.”

Drive sober

A drink or two with family and friends is commonplace during the most wonderful time of the year, but don’t expect any Christmas miracles if you’re caught driving under the influence.

Already this year, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Dashboard is reporting more than 4,000 crashes and 500 deaths due to driving under the influence, and we’re just now entering the monsoon season for DUI arrests.

Drivers shouldn’t expect telltale signs such as swerving or speeding to go unnoticed over the holidays, either, now that Attorney General Ashley Moody has put out the call for drivers to call in tips to law enforcement as part of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

It’s National Impaired Driving Prevention Month; just don’t do it.

“The holiday season is a time for family, friends and festivities — one of the most anticipated and celebrated times of the year. However, it is also when DUI arrests and crashes increase. So please be careful on the road during this time of the year and never drink and drive,” Moody said.

The best way to ensure a White Christmas sans black stripes is to be good, for goodness’ sake, and not drive while impaired. Moody’s office also offered the tried-and-true tip of calling an Uber.

For the half-dozen Floridians who don’t know what that means, ask Santa for an iPhone. While you’re waiting for him to deliver it, though, you should decide on a designated driver.

Meanwhile, the best way for sober drivers to prevent an accident with a drunken one is to remain vigilant.

That means buckling up, using your mirrors, and putting down the phone — as a matter of fact, research shows texting while driving can be as much as six times more dangerous than driving under the influence.

To watch Moody’s video message, click on the image below:

Half-shell

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Aquaculture launched the field portion of its newest aquaculture education program Wednesday, Agriculture Commissioner Fried announced.

Students from the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast deployed 10 oyster cages containing 21,000 oysters on a commercial aquaculture lease in the Apalachicola Bay alongside Jeff Wren and Todd Brackin, who own and operate Rattlesnake Cove Oyster Company.

The students will maintain the cages, tend to the oysters and document their experience along the way until the bivalves are ready to harvest next year. They will share their accomplishments through social media and public events in the Apalachicola Bay area.

The Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast works on a wide range of habitat restoration projects.

“This program is a great opportunity for young Floridians to learn about our state’s oyster industry and how to become responsible stewards of our natural resources,” Fried said. “By teaching these students the importance of shellfish aquaculture, we are also working to restore the Apalachicola Bay oyster population and ensure that Florida oysters can be enjoyed for generations to come. This is a great partnership for Florida’s future.”

Apalachicola Bay at one point produced more than 90% of oysters harvested in the state, though a variety of factors — including the so-called “water war” with Georgia — led the region’s oyster industry to the point of near collapse. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission banned wild oyster harvests in the area to allow oyster beds to recover.

“This program is a critical first step to educate and train students about shellfish aquaculture and to communicate the importance of good stewardship and the preservation of working waterfronts,” Division of Aquaculture Director Portia Sapp said. “We are excited to partner with the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast and the Apalachicola NERR and look forward to expanding our collaborative relationship in the future.”

Instagram of the week

The week in appointments

Florida Housing Finance Corporation — DeSantis appointed David Hall of Port St. Lucie to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation Board of Directors this week. Hall is a broker associate at Coldwell Banker Realty and a member of the Florida Realtors Board of Directors, where he serves on the Attainable and Workforce Housing Committee. Hall is also the Immediate Past Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River & Okeechobee, a Past President of the Realtor Association of St. Lucie, and a member of the Florida Housing Coalition. He attended the Florida Institute of Technology.

Golden?

Three nursing homes are in line to get the “Gold Seal Award” by the Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long Term Care, housed in the state Agency for Health Care Administration.

While the award is meant to denote the state’s top long-term care centers, Florida Politics’ review of inspection reports shows that each facility has had deficiencies in the recent past.

Premier Place at the Glenview in Naples, South Heritage Health and Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg and Oaks at Avon were given the state’s top distinction for nursing homes after the panel’s Dec. 3 meeting.

A Nov. 19, 2020, recertification survey and an accompanying unannounced three-day infection control visit drew some concerns. According to documents, the facility was out of compliance with federal nursing home codes. The facility, though, had the deficiencies corrected by Jan. 20, 2021, because no deficiencies were found at another unannounced infection control visit.

South Heritage Health and Rehabilitation Center may have won a gold seal, but it isn’t exactly golden.

Patrick Noonan, executive director of Premier Place at Glenview, said receiving a Gold Seal Award is an honor “because it means we are delivering on our promise to our residents to deliver best-in-class service. It’s also an honor for our team and affirms how their dedication and compassion for serving older adults has set us apart and made a difference for those we serve.”

Meanwhile, a Sept. 16 report shows that state inspectors found what they described as “black bio growth” on the walls of two residents’ rooms at the South Heritage Health and Rehabilitation Centers, which also was recommended for the Gold Seal Award.

The mold was found when investigators went to the facility, located in St. Petersburg, to investigate a complaint that had been filed. The inspectors found there was no merit to the complaint, but they noticed the mold.

Deficiencies also were found during a May 18 fire and life inspection and a May 20 inspection, but they were corrected by the end of July, according to reports issued July 29 and July 30.

Oaks at Avon also was recommended for the Gold Seal Award. A review of inspection reports shows that the facility last had deficiencies on March 6, 2020. But these shortcomings were corrected by April 10 when the state conducted a follow-up desk review. Meanwhile, state regulators performed infection control surveys in July, August, September and October 2020 and found no violations.

Prudom retiring

AARP is recognizing Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom for his years of service as he nears retirement.

Prudom, who has worked for the state for more than 30 years, has served atop the Department of Elder Affairs since DeSantis took office in January 2019.

“AARP applauds Secretary Prudom’s service to the people of Florida,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said. “Richard’s common-sense approach to issues impacting older Floridians and his passion for public service have made him a key partner to our organization and the members we serve.”

AARP recognizes Richard Prudom for three decades of service.

Under Prudom’s tenure, Elder Affairs worked with the state Health Department to get Alzheimer’s treatment named a priority under the State Health Improvement Plan. He also grew the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative, which engages communities across Florida to promote better care for Floridians affected by dementia.

Prudom and Prudom worked with Trust for America’s Health on a pilot project to improve the health and well-being of older adults by improving the public health framework in county health departments. AARP also recognized Florida as the fourth state to be recognized as an “age-friendly state” in April 2019.

“Through his leadership, Florida expanded access to homebound vaccination, championed AARP Age-Friendly projects, and created lasting partnerships that will benefit older adults for years to come,” Johnson said. “We wish him a happy and healthy retirement and look forward to continuing our meaningful work with the Department of Elder Affairs.”

It’s a riot

Sen. Shevrin Jones and Rep. Angie Nixon have filed a bill to repeal HB 1, last Session’s anti-riot bill written in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.

Democrats have opposed the legislation since DeSantis announced his intent to support an anti-riot measure, and the bill faces challenges to its constitutionality over First Amendment concerns. Jones and Nixon, with support from The Black Collective and the Community Justice Project, have filed legislation (SB 1172/HB 857) to repeal the anti-riot bill.

Shevrin Jones and Angie Nixon say HB 1 has to go.

“HB 1 blatantly violates Floridians’ constitutionally-protected rights and is yet another demonstration of just how fragile our democracy is as power-hungry politicians attempt to silence any and all voices that disagree with them,” Jones said. “The right to peacefully assemble is fundamental to any healthy democracy and a force behind positive change throughout history.”

Portions of HB 1 have already been found unconstitutional by Florida courts. In September, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found portions potentially discriminatory and granted a preliminary injunction preventing parts of the law from being enforced until the courts decided the lawsuit.

“Repealing HB 1 will stop the silencing of Black and Brown communities which has always been a part of our country’s history,” Nixon said. “Instead of infringing on people’s First Amendment rights, legislators should be focusing on creating policies that allow Floridians to have the freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe.”

On Nov. 16, nine Florida cities also sued DeSantis for his attempt to prohibit local governments from being able to reallocate funding under the bill’s anti-defunding provision.

“The architects of HB 1 have twisted Florida’s laws to violate the constitutional rights of individuals and municipalities alike,” said Berbeth Foster, an attorney for the Community Justice Project. “Until this law is repealed, the state of Florida is telling the nation, and, in fact, the world, that we are a state intolerant of dissenting viewpoints and vengeful against those who dare to challenge White supremacy.”

‘Tis the Season

Rep. Christine Hunschofsky is hosting a holiday open house this Saturday in her home district.

The event will occur at Coconut Creek City Hall, located at 4800 West Copans Road in Coconut Creek. The event will run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and will feature “light refreshments,” according to a release from Hunschofsky’s office.

Christine Hunschofsky is getting into the holiday spirit.

Hunschofsky, a Parkland Democrat, is the former Parkland Mayor who served during the deadly 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. She served in that role for four years before pursuing the House District 96 seat. Hunschofsky succeeded the late Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs in that seat in 2020 after Jacobs died following a cancer battle.

Saturday’s holiday open house is open to the public, and information about Hunschofsky’s service in the district will be available. She’s worked on school safety issues during her first term in office. HD 96 currently covers all or parts of Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate and Parkland, and residents are encouraged to attend.

Though Hunschofsky currently represents HD 96, much of her district — including Parkland — would move into House District 95 if current House redistricting proposals are approved by the Legislature.

Manatee mania

Rep. Will Robinson filed three appropriations requests this week to bring additional funding to parts of Manatee County, including funding to help revitalize the manatee population.

One measure (HB 4927) would provide $547,000 to The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature to help manatees as the species undergoes a crisis. The museum has been caring for manatees since 1998 and has specific expertise in caring for young calves.

Will Robinson files a trio of bills for Manatee to help manatees.

That will help for full-time and part-time animal care staff, veterinary services, equipment for manatee care, leasing an off-site facility for consultants, and more.

Another bill (HB 4929) would set aside $2.5 million for the Rattlesnake Key Recreation Park to protect water sources and water quality, preserve fish and wildlife, and provide green space as an alternative to commercial development.

The final proposal (HB 4931) would give Anna Maria nearly $1.3 million for the first phase of a project to remake Pine Avenue.

That’s on top of the $2.9 million the city would pay for the project for a total of $4.1 million.

The funds would help add sidewalks, a delivery truck and trolley turnaround, crosswalks and speed tables, street lighting at night and improved cycling accommodations.

Park bucks

The Florida State Parks Foundation welcomed Gov. DeSantis’ recommendation to fully fund Florida’s state parks as part of his Freedom First budget.

“Florida’s award-winning state parks protect our most precious natural and cultural resources as well as providing a safe haven for people to recreate and exercise,” said Tammy Gustafson, the Foundation President, in a release. “We are delighted that the Governor in his proposed budget released yesterday has allocated $51.7 million for the Florida Park Service.”

Ron DeSantis’ Freedom First Budget is a winner for Florida parks. Image via NBC News.

In his proposal, $45 million is allocated for state park facility improvements and $6.7 million for repairs and renovations to Billy Joe Rish State Park. An additional $52 million is allocated for springs restoration and $100 million from the Florida Forever program for land acquisition for conservation.

“When comparing the $51.7 million that has been provided in the budget with the $2.6 billion in economic impact the state parks generated last year from nearly 30 million visitors, it is difficult to think of a better return on the investment anywhere,” Gustafson said.

Vets boost

Veterans Florida applauded DeSantis’ continued support and increased funding of its operations under his Freedom First budget.

The organization is a nonprofit created by the state to help military veterans and their families transition to civilian life and oversee its Veterans Employment and Training Services (VETS) Program. It is also the state’s designated Department of Defense SkillBridge assistance organization, a program meant to help military members transition to civilian employment as they transition out of service.

Under DeSantis’ proposal, Veterans Florida is funded at $400,000, an increase of $55,894 from last year. The VETS program is also funded at $2 million, the same amount as last year’s budget.

“As a veteran, Gov. DeSantis understands the vital role that veterans play in growing Florida’s economy and bolstering our workforce, and his proposed budget reflects that,” Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino said in a news release.

“The Governor continues his personal commitment to veterans by fully funding Veterans Florida’s budget request and sends a strong message that Florida is committed to the issues that matter most to Florida’s 1.5 million veterans and the 200,000 service members who separate from the military each year.”

Defense diversity

The Florida Bar has awarded the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers a Diversity Leadership Grant to produce an online summit focused on criminal defense practice for underrepresented groups.

According to the association, even the best-intentioned attorneys may struggle to navigate unfamiliar territory when dealing with clients with different racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, or other distinguishing characteristics and beliefs. The association says its goal is to ensure that the criminal defense bar is prepared to serve every individual accused of a crime by the government.

Lawyers will be better equipped to diligently represent a broader range of clients with the proper education, training, insight, and exposure to various experiences.

“This grant by The Florida Bar allows us to create content for our members that will be focused on serving clients of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and religious persuasion,” according to the association.

The association will design the summit sections to inform criminal practitioners about the people comprising the various groups and characteristics, but they also will address unique challenges facing those people. Through the training, defense attorneys will hopefully gain the knowledge and skills to recognize and explain those challenges to others in the criminal justice system who often are not open to new ideas and evolving approaches to justice.

New normal

Budget watchdogs at Florida TaxWatch have released this year’s Economic Preview report, this year titled “Settling into a New Normal.”

While several estimates seem to signal robust economic growth in the year ahead, the report cautions that Floridians must be prepared to adapt to nuances in the labor market’s recovery, such as rising inflation rates resulting from supply chain issues and other workforce-related complications.

Florida’s employment is expected to rise by 4.3%, or about 379,500 jobs, in 2022. The unemployment rate is expected to decrease to 3.5%, and personal income growth could increase by 1.5%.

Dominic Calabro urges the Florida workforce to brace for a ‘new normal.’

“These are certainly promising indicators of our state’s economic outlook, especially when considering rebounding leisure travel and tourism,” said TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro. “But we must be cautious given the variation in the labor market’s recovery across sectors, as well as the very real possibility that the challenges we’re currently facing with supply chains, the rate of employees quitting their jobs, and more will be long-lasting and result in uncharacteristically high inflationary pressures that cut into Floridians’ purchasing power.”

If trends continue into 2022, resignation rates — representing employees voluntarily quitting their jobs — in Florida will likely remain the highest among midcareer employees between 30 and 45, particularly in the Leisure and Hospitality, Retail Trade, and Health Care sectors, which saw some of the highest resignation rates in 2021 due to factors such as burnout, low pay, and overall economic uncertainty.

Next year, FTW asserts that next year will likely continue to be an “employee market,” allowing job seekers to leverage existing hiring challenges to demand higher wages, more benefits, and different working arrangements.

Disaster prep

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has hired Ashley Davis to be the university’s emergency management director, tasked with helping the university prepare for when disaster strikes.

Before joining FAMU, Davis was bureau chief of response for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). In his 15-year emergency management career, Davis has responded to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, oil spills, wildfires, and pandemics. He has responded to or deployed to more than 62 events throughout his career, including 35 federally declared disasters that have directly impacted Florida or the United States.

Ashley Davis is helping FAMU prepare for disaster. Image via FAMU.

“He brings a wealth of emergency management experience that will assist Florida A&M University with engaging community stakeholders during any crisis that may occur,” said FAMU Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson.

In the job, Davis is responsible for ensuring FAMU is fully prepared for the next hurricane or other man-made or natural disaster.

“I want to ensure that we work together to prepare for disasters that may impact our university,” he said. “We also want to foster relations with fellow universities, county, state, and federal emergency management partners.”

Davis said the most significant challenges are raising community awareness and increased preparedness.

“We must remember it takes our whole community to prepare and recover from disasters,” he said. “The whole community must be involved in a systematic effort to keep our university resilient when struck by hazards like natural disasters, man-made disasters, and pandemics.”

Supreme honors

Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady on Wednesday recognized Florida State University College of Law Dean Erin O’Hara O’Connor for going above and beyond to help aspiring lawyers prep for the Florida Bar exam.

Last year, the high court-appointed O’Connor as Registrant Advocate, a position created to address problems administering the bar exam during the pandemic — the summer 2020 test was pushed back and later canceled due to a plague of software problems after it shifted to become a virtual exam.

The Florida Supreme Court honors Erin O’Hara O’Connor for her work in Bar Exam prep.

A proclamation signed and presented by Canady says O’Connor “gave extraordinary volunteer service as the sole Registrant Advocate in Florida, communicating with and making herself available to all 3,137 applicants who took the examination, listening to their concerns, assisting them in navigating the pre-examination process, and, crucially, providing a consistent voice of reassurance and calm to the examinees as they faced the uncertainty of a first-ever online administration of the bar exam during a global pandemic.”

O’Connor, who has worked for the FSU College of Law since 2016, was tasked with helping examinees unable to take the 2020 summer exam work through software issues or attain testing accommodations.

The job required her to be in regular communication with applicants preparing for the October 2020 examination, the deans of Florida law schools, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and the court both in personal responses as well as through periodic reports to all applicants for the examination.

Canady expressed the Supreme Court’s “heartfelt thanks to Dean O’Connor for her dedicated service and immense contributions to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and, more importantly, to the preparation and support of examinees for the Bar examination.”

80 years later

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Florida was a backwater. But by the time the war ended, federal spending for military bases and an influx of service members had begun a transformation that continues to this day.

Those who want a closer look at how WWII’s kicked off the metamorphosis — and how Florida’s pitched in on the war effort — can learn all about it through a new exhibit curated by the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University, the Florida Historic Capitol Museum and Camp Blanding Museum.

A new exhibit shows how World War II helped transform Florida.

“Rendezvous with Destiny: Florida and WWII” opened this week — the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor — at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee and runs through March 20, 2022. Along with exploring Florida’s role in the war, the exhibit also examines the controversy around joining the war, which largely evaporated after the Pearl Harbor attack, and the impact of that battle.

“Florida played a major role in the war, and the war had a major impact on Florida,” said Kurt Piehler, associate professor of history and director of The Institute on WWII and the Human Experience. “The war fostered a remarkable wave of volunteerism by Floridians who bought defense bonds, participated in scrap drives, entertained troops at local USO clubs, and served as air raid wardens. As draft-age men went off to war, women entered the workforce to replace them in unprecedented numbers.”

The exhibit also highlights the launch of The American Soldier, a website dedicated to digitizing surveys and commentary from soldiers collected by the U.S. Army during the war. That project, developed with Virginia Tech assistant professor of history Edward J.K. Gitre, used a citizen-archivist model for enlisting the public’s help in transcribing and digitizing some 65,000 pages of commentary from World War II service members.

Capitol Directions

Staff Reports


One comment

  • Tom

    December 11, 2021 at 9:17 am

    Govs budget hits all the right areas and themes.
    Making a difference in Floridians lives. He is correct in that Dems don’t have a pulse for peoples priorities.

    America’s Governor, more importantly Florida’s Governor. Ultimately, the Governor is a manager of the public’s revenue. Florida has $15 billion in reserves, which may increase to $17 billion. Florida’s economic growth continues to lead the country.

    Florida strong with America’s Governor!

Comments are closed.


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