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The news you need to know today

Here's your morning news briefing from WUWF

The Senate votes for a short-term increase in the federal debt ceiling
The Senate has passed a bill to increase the federal debt ceiling Thursday night, after weeks of tense cross-aisle negotiations. House approval is still needed. Read more here.

Florida's State Board of Education will penalize school districts that issued mask mandates
The State Board of Education on Thursday ratcheted up discipline against eight county school boards that have maintained student mask mandates to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Board members backed a recommendation by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to financially penalize school boards in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties. Read more here.

UWF symposium probes communication in the 21st century
Dr. Christal Seahorn, associate professor of writing and digital rhetoric at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and the University of West Florida department of English will present an interactive symposium on activist rhetorics today at 10:30 a.m. In this Q&A, Seahorn talks about the importance of rhetorical expression and analysis.

A new state bird for Florida?
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are joining supporters who want to do away with the mockingbird as the state bird during the 2022 legislative session. A potential replacement could be the osprey. Read more here.

In case you missed it...

New study finds rural Black southerners lack internet access
A new study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies examined 152 counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia where at least 35% of residents are Black. Researchers found that 38% of Black residents in those counties do not have access to internet in their homes, compared to 23% of white residents in the same regions. Read more here.