Florida Secretary of State resigns after photos surface showing him in blackface: Last week, the Tallahassee Democrat broke the story that photos had surfaced of Secretary of State Michael Ertel in blackface. Ertel resigned almost immediately. Ertel, the former Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the cabinet position in December. The photos were taken at a private Halloween party about eight months after Ertel was appointed to elections chief and just weeks after Katrina killed hundreds. Ertel is pictured with dark-brown makeup on his face and arms, wearing red lipstick, large gold earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna and a T-shirt with "Katrina Victim" written on it. Ertel confirmed that he is the person in the photograph.
Orlando wants to host WorldPride: Come Out With Pride organizers say they want Orlando to host the international LGBTQ celebration WorldPride in 2026. Previous hosts include Rome, Tel Aviv, London, Toronto and Madrid. The 2019 WorldPride is scheduled in New York City this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. COWP organizers announced Wednesday their intent to bid to host WorldPride in Orlando in 2026, which will mark the 10th year of remembrance of the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse where a gunman killed 49 people.
Florida lawmakers try again with bills to ban assault weapons: For the third consecutive year since the Pulse nightclub shootings, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith has filed a measure in the Florida House to prohibit possession and sale of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The measure includes a long list of specific assault-rifle models that would potentially be banned, including the Sig Sauer MCX rifle, the weapon the Pulse gunman used to kill 49 people and injure more than 68 on June 12, 2016. The measure has never been given a vote in previous attempts.
Darren Soto refiles bill granting immigration relief to deported Central Florida military spouse: Last year, 39-year-old Alejandra Juárez was separated from her combat veteran husband and one of her children when she was forced to deport to Mexico under the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" policies. Although it ultimately failed, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto filed a bill seeking to grant immigration relief to Juarez. And as a part of a last-ditch effort last week, Soto filed another bill to allow Juárez to obtain an immigration visa or apply to be a lawful permanent resident.
Orlando attorney John Morgan wants Florida voters to decide on $15 an hour amendment: John Morgan thinks Florida's middle class is getting squeezed out. "There's nothing more profitable than slave labor," said Morgan at a press conference last week, where he announced the Fight for 15 initiative he hopes to place on the 2020 ballot. The proposed constitutional amendment would raise the state's minimum wage to $10 on Sept. 30, 2021, and then raise it $1 a year until it is $15 on Sept. 30, 2026.