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Valerie Crowder

Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered.  She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.  

  • Florida lawmakers are again working on policy to make school zones safer for pedestrians. The bipartisan bill would allow cities and counties to put up traffic cameras near schools to reduce speeding.
  • Gov. DeSantis is calling on lawmakers to meet early to "strengthen" a statewide ban on vaccination and mask mandates, while Democrats decry the effort as "politically motivated."
  • DeSantis wants to act against businesses that issue coronavirus vaccine mandates.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to position himself against the Biden administration on the issue of border security. DeSantis has issued an executive order to curb the arrival of undocumented immigrants to Florida. His administration is also suing over President Biden's policy of allowing migrants to wait in U.S. while their asylum cases are pending.
  • Thousands of teaching and school support jobs across Florida were open at the start of August. Local school districts are seeking bus drivers, food service workers, classroom aides and certified instructors.
  • On Tuesday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis used his veto pen for a second time following this year’s legislative session, rejecting four bills. One of them would’ve brought changes to the state’s long-standing "no-fault" car insurance system.
  • State health officials reported 1,606 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths Monday bringing Florida’s total to more than 2.3 million infections and more than 37,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Monday morning, more than 10 million people in Florida have received a vaccine including more than two million who have received a first dose and more than 7.9 million who have completed a two-dose vaccine series or received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.The state Department of Economic Opportunity announced Monday that unemployed Floridians will no longer receive the additional $300 dollars a week in federal unemployment assistance beginning in late June. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program isn’t slated to sunset until early September, but state officials are cutting off jobless residents early as part of what they’re dubbing a “return to work” initiative.Florida unemployment rate inched up slightly to 4.8% in April as restaurants across the state are reporting labor shortages. The leisure and hospitality sectors are recovering more slowly than other industries in Florida.Norwegian Cruise Line plans to resume voyages from ports on the West Coast, Central America and the Caribbean starting in August. Norwegian is pulling its business from ports in Florida because Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, even though the federal government requires that 98% of a cruise ship’s crew and 95% of passengers be vaccinated before setting sail.
  • Jobless Floridian’s will no longer get an extra $300 a week in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits starting in late June. Florida is the latest GOP-controlled state to announce plans to cut off the payments early.
  • At the signing of a bill banning COVID-19 passports, Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a surprise executive order suspending all local emergency orders related to the pandemic.In opposition to CDC guidance, last week Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued an advisory saying that Floridians who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in public.State health officials report 3,075 new COVID-19 cases and 39 Deaths on Monday. More than 8.9 million people in Florida have been vaccinated including more than 2.5 million who have received a first dose, and more than 6.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated.Sarasota County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program aimed at helping those facing financial hardship from the pandemic and struggling to pay rent will begin taking applications May 5.
  • Florida health officials reported 5,271 new COVID-19 cases and 46 deaths Tuesday for a total of more than 2.2 million infections and more than 35,600 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic. The Florida Division of Emergency Management reports that as of Tuesday morning, more than 8.6 million people in the state have received a vaccine including more than 2.7 million who have received a first dose and more than 5.8 million who have completed the series.People seeking vaccine doses at federally-supported clinics in Florida, Monday, were about evenly split between the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This comes after a pause on use of the J&J vaccine was lifted. Federal regulators ordered the temporary halt on administration of the J&J vaccine over very rare instances of people developing blood clots.State legislators are united in an effort to improve the website people use to apply for unemployment benefits after the site crashed last spring as it was inundated with people seeking benefits at the start of the pandemic. However, in the final days of the annual legislative session, lawmakers remain divided over a proposal to increase the maximum weekly unemployment benefit from $275 to $375.Members of a Southwest Florida family accused of selling a toxic industrial bleach as a cure for the coronavirus through their church, have been indicted on federal charges. Last year a federal judge ordered Mark Grenon and his sons to stop selling the substance through Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, but they continued selling it anyway.