Donald Trump's name will not appear automatically at the top of Florida ballots: Delivering a victory to Democrats, a federal judge last week declared unconstitutional a decades-old Florida law that requires candidates who are in the same party as the governor to be listed first on the ballot. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that the state law "imposes a discriminatory burden on plaintiffs' voting rights which is not of the same magnitude as entirely denying plaintiffs the franchise but is not negligible either." The effect of being the first candidate listed on the ballot – known as the "primacy effect" vote, the "windfall vote" or the "donkey vote" – is especially meaningful in Florida, where razor-thin margins are common in statewide elections.
Two men are accused of stealing more than 100 cell phones at Electric Daisy Carnival: Two apparent cell-phone thieves were arrested by police after this year's Electric Daisy Carnival, accused of stealing a total of 138 cell phones. Palm Beach Sheriff's officers arrested one man last Tuesday near Lake Okeechobee when he failed to stop for a stop sign. Inside his car, officers found 104 phones and several credit cards from EDC attendees. Meanwhile, Orlando Police arrested another man and found 34 phones in his backpack, all placed in "airplane mode" so victims could not use phone-location apps while the thefts continued.
Central Florida congresswoman Val Demings is a central figure in Trump impeachment inquiry: Demings is on the House Intelligence Committee holding open impeachment hearings that started last week. She is the only person from Florida on the 22-member committee comprising 13 Democrats and nine Republicans. The Mandarin native and first woman to be Orlando Police chief – who is also on the House's Judiciary Committee – is tasked with pro-impeachment messaging and questioning witnesses. On MSNBC, Demings said the first round of testimony was damning, especially from those on the infamous Ukraine call. "You clearly understand that the president tried to use his power to try and coerce a foreign power for political gain," she said.
Orlando state Rep. Anna Eskamani seeks to repeal Florida's anti-abortion laws: Eskamani filed a bill last week that would roll back Florida's legal barriers to safe abortions. HB 6047 would repeal laws currently requiring a mandatory 24-hour waiting period between when a woman sees a doctor and when she can obtain an abortion. The bill would also strike laws that block abortion providers from accessing public funds for other health services. Additionally, the bill would end inspections of abortion providers by the state's Agency for Health Care Administration, which Eskamani calls "politically motivated" and says are breach of privacy for women trying to receive treatment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis releases state budget with teacher bonuses and corporate cash: DeSantis on Monday proposed a $91.4 billion state budget for next year, touting plans to funnel more money to public-school teachers and continue "momentum" on environmental issues. The proposal is an initial step as lawmakers prepare for the January start of the annual legislative session, which will include negotiating a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Lawmakers will decide whether to move forward with DeSantis' priorities, such as his plan to set minimum teacher salaries at $47,500 – an idea that would cost $603 million next year.
– This story appears in the Nov. 20, 2019, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.