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Local and State News Update

Here’s a local news update from WFIT, Florida Today, and the Florida News Exchange.

Florida appeals court backs DeSantis redistricting plan.

A state appeals court Friday upheld a congressional redistricting plan that Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed through the Legislature. The court rejected arguments that it unconstitutionally diminished the rights of Black voters. The case is expected to go to the Florida Supreme Court now. It centers on an overhaul of a North Florida Congressional District, which in the past elected Black Democrat Al Lawson. The overhaul led to white Republicans getting elected in all North Florida congressional districts in the 2022 elections.

Florida Republican head under fire.

The chair of Florida’s Republican party says he has no plans to step down. Christian Ziegler is facing growing bipartisan calls he should quit his job. Allegations of sexual battery are being brought by a woman who says she had a previous consensual sexual encounter that included Christian Ziegler and his wife. Ziegler has not been charged with a crime. Ziegler’s wife, Bridget, is a co-founder of the conservative education group, Moms for Liberty.

New tax exemption for struggling Melbourne seniors.

The City of Melbourne has created a new homestead tax exclusion for struggling seniors. If you’re 65 years or older with a combined household income of less than $35,000 you will now get an additional $25,000 homestead tax exemption from the city of Melbourne. This could reduce your annual property tax bills. According to the city just over 1,000 residents are eligible for the extra exemption.

Playalinda erosion closes much of the National Seashore.

Beach erosion has now closed much of the Canaveral National Seashore. Hurricanes Ian and Nicole leveled the dunes and the beach last year, leaving about a third of Playalinda’s parking lots closed. During high tides the ocean breaks through the dunes and spills into the Mosquito Lagoon. Park officials go day-by-day on deciding the closures but for now Playalinda Beach lots 8 through 13 remain off-limits. The feds have to decide whether to fight the erosion, or just let nature take its course.

Port Canaveral to get another mega-cruise ship.

With less than two months before the world’s largest cruise ship Icon of the Seas debuts in Miami, the CEO of Port Canaveral confirmed Royal Caribbean will be sending sister ship Star of the Seas to Central Florida when it debuts in 2025. Booking for Star of the Seas will open later this week. The mega-ship will be longer and heavier than Wonder of the Seas.

Amazon selects SpaceX to launch internet satellites.

Although Amazon and Blue Origin share an owner in Jeff Bezos, Amazon has selected competitor SpaceX to launch internet satellites. Amazon’s Project Kuiper, similar to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, will beam internet data to customers on the ground. Amazon had previously selected Blue Origin, Arianespace, and ULA as launch providers. Now three Falcon 9 launches have been added to the roster.

Orlando Philharmonic will pay fine for hosting drag show.

The Orlando Philharmonic is paying a $5,000 fine for holding a show called a Drag Queen Christmas at Plaza Live. Undercover agents infiltrated the show, and even though they found nothing lewd about it, the Philharmonic has settled with state regulators. The organization will pay a $5,000 fine and agrees to not allow children into similar performances in the future.

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For more information www.floridatoday.com

Rick Glasby is a Broadcast Journalist at WFIT.