Orlando Weekly's 5 biggest headlines of the week

The news that kept us on our toes

click to enlarge Fight for Trans Rights rally on Saturday, March 11, at City Hall in downtown Orlando - Photo by Matt Keller Lehman
Photo by Matt Keller Lehman
Fight for Trans Rights rally on Saturday, March 11, at City Hall in downtown Orlando

Feeling a little buried in the news? Don't sweat it. There's a lot to keep up with these days.

As the 2023 legislative session rages on, we'll continue to report for and alongside our community. Below, Orlando Weekly has piled together a breakdown of the five biggest headlines that kept us on our toes this week.

Stay informed and stay Beautiful, Orlando.

1. "As the city considers a crackdown on nightlife, Orlando bar owners and staff weigh their options"
On March 20, City Council members will hold the second reading of two ordinances that could dramatically change downtown. The first would prohibit new nightclubs from opening in the area for six months, with the option of extending the order for another six months.

The other would require businesses that sell booze after midnight on the weekends to purchase a $250 permit. The permit would require full liquor establishments to hire off-duty OPD officers at $90 an hour from 10:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The new requirements will cost some businesses tens of thousands of dollars — if they can afford it at all. 

2. "Central Florida homelessness rose in 2022, amid higher rents"
Last year, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, a nonprofit that works to address housing services in collaboration with the Orange County government, identified that, out of 1.4 million residents in Orange County alone, about 1,532 people are homeless on any given day.

Across the Central Florida region, which includes Osceola and Seminole counties, that number was 2,151 based on a Point in Time count conducted on March 9, 2022, of people in transitional housing or shelters or on the street. About 70% to 75% of that total were identified in Orange County.

And it’s not a complete picture.

Florida Republicans on Thursday advanced legislation, described as “union busting” by critics, that would impose new restrictions on most of Florida’s public sector unions and could cost the state nearly one million dollars.

Union members in Florida who could stand to be affected by the bill — ranging from Florida’s public school teachers, to sanitation workers, public healthcare workers, transit workers, and more — say the GOP proposals would threaten their unions’ survival, and could cost them benefits afforded to them under their union contracts.

4. "Florida senators advance proposal to ban gender-affirming treatment for trans and nonbinary youth"
Republican Senators on Florida’s Health Policy Senate committee advanced a bill 8–3, along party lines, that would ban gender-affirming treatment for Florida’s transgender and nonbinary youth, and restrict treatment access for adults.

Dozens of speakers spoke out against the proposal during the public comment portion, telling lawmakers that access to gender-affirming treatment is life-saving, and that restricting access to it could lead to deadly consequences for children and adults who experience gender dysphoria.

Check out these photos from the trans rights rally held outside Orlando City Hall this week.

5. "Florida legislation would admit more Black farmers into medical cannabis industry"
The state is dragging its feet on promises to bring Black farmers into the booming cannabis industry, and some Florida lawmakers want to change that. After the state finally chose one Black farmer to receive a license to grow and dispense medical cannabis last year, two bills coming up for consideration during the 2023 legislative session propose to significantly expand the field.


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