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Hospital Districts Could Face Taxing Votes

hospital workers in hospital
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

 A House Republican filed a proposal Tuesday that would require once-a-decade votes about whether local hospital districts should be able to continue taxing residents.

The proposal (HB 953), filed by Rep. Fred Costello, R-Ormond Beach, would require reauthorization of hospital-district taxing authority to be placed on general-election ballots every 10 years. If voters turn down reauthorization, taxing authority would be terminated. In such cases, hospital districts could continue to operate without taxing authority or the districts would be dissolved.

The bill, which will be considered during the legislative session that starts next week, also would allow for questions to go before voters about forming new, expanded or combined hospital districts.

Feds Will Not Pursue Charges In Martin Death

The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday it will not pursue criminal civil-rights charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

"The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy,'' Attorney General Eric Holder said in a prepared statement. "It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country. Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man's premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future."

The racially tinged case stemmed from Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, fatally shooting the unarmed teen during an altercation.

Zimmerman was acquitted of a second-degree murder charge in state court, but the Justice Department also investigated to determine whether Zimmerman violated federal civil-rights laws.

The department said in a news release Tuesday that investigators "determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation" of the federal laws.

It also said Justice Department officials had met with Martin's family to discuss the findings of the investigation and the decision against pursuing charges.

NAACP President: Don't Let Confederates In Hall

The head of the NAACP in Florida blasted a push to add former Confederate soldiers to the state's Veterans' Hall of Fame, saying in a statement Tuesday that people who fought against the Union "forfeited any right to be honored in the Florida Capitol." Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference, said those who fought for the Confederacy should continue to be excluded from the hall because they do not meet a requirement that inductees be discharged honorably from the United States Armed Forces.

"The dark stain of slavery is undeniably a part of American and Florida history that should be remembered and studied," Nweze said in a lengthy written statement. "But to have these men honored in a memorial at the state Capitol for their service on the wrong side of history would be an injustice to the descendants of enslaved Americans and an insult to all Americans who have bravely served our country with honor. ... Including Confederates in the Florida Veterans' Hall of Fame would be like a modern declaration of civil war by the state of Florida."

Nweze said her organization had also started an online petition opposed to the possibility. The issue flared during a meeting of Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet earlier this month. The Department of Veterans' Affairs said that three hall-of-fame nominees submitted by an advisory council were ineligible because they served in the Confederate military and the agency interprets state law to allow only people discharged honorably from the U.S. military to be inducted. The three men are former Gov. Edward Perry; David Lang, credited as the father of the Florida National Guard; and former U.S. Sen. Samuel Pasco, namesake of the Florida county.

All nominations for the hall were then put on hold so that the three Confederate veterans could be more closely reviewed by Cabinet members and to allow Attorney General Pam Bondi's office to consult with lawyers at the Department of Veterans Affairs on the meaning of the law. The Legislature could also clarify whether people who fought for the Confederacy are eligible for the hall.