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More Than 20 Republican Governors Descend On South Florida For Annual Conference

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended the annual Republican Governors Association conference. He is not partipating in public discussions.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended the annual Republican Governors Association conference. He is not partipating in public discussions.

More than 20 Republican governors from across the U.S. are in Boca Raton discussing electoral strategy and other issues at an annual party gathering.

The two-day Republican Governors Association conference Wednesday and Thursday at the Boca Raton Resort and Club allows the governors to share policy initiatives in their respective states. It comes after the party suffered defeats in the Kentucky and Louisiana governor’s races and a win in a Mississippi gubernatorial contest earlier in November.

Much of the conference is private other than two plenary sessions during which some governors discuss issues in their states.

During the conference’s first session, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem discussed education, workforce training and healthcare among other topics.

Noem said she’s seeking to diversify South Dakota's agriculture-reliant economy and also noted that methamphetamine use has surged surged in the state.

“We’re very rural. It makes it tough to go after the issue,” she said. “But also, it's very cheap. Eighty percent of what goes through my court system is tied to meth.”

On education, Kemp said schools in Georgia rely on testing too much. 

“We’re not allowing our teachers to teach. We got too many mandates. We need to really free the teachers up. Keep holding them accountable, but we gotta get rid of some of our testing,” Kemp said.

His remarks came as Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed giving teachers bonuses partly based on schools’ overall grades. Florida school grades, released yearly since 1999, are determined largely by student performances on Florida Standards Assessments, a set of language arts, math, science and social studies exams.

A spokeswoman for the Republican Governors Association said DeSantis is not among the nine governors speaking at the conference’s public sessions.

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After living in North Carolina the past four years, Miami native Sam Turken is back in the city he’s always called home.