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Surfside Update, Florida's Real Estate Boom And Federal Court Blocks State's Social Media Law

On June 28, rescue workers dig through the rubble with the aid of a backhoe at the site of the collapsed condominium in Surfside.
Jose A. Iglesias/Miami Herald
On June 28, rescue workers dig through the rubble with the aid of a backhoe at the site of the collapsed condominium in Surfside.

President Joe Biden was in Surfside Thursday to meet with families affected by the condo collapse, and the emergency workers who have been tirelessly searching for survivors.

Biden said the federal government would pick up 100% of the costs during the first 30 days of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse, and will continue to provide support throughout the recovery process.

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WLRN reporter Danny Rivero has been covering the Surfside response. He said the search-and-rescue mission at the site is ongoing.

“Search and rescue workers did pull two more bodies out of the rubble last night, and efforts are ongoing,” Rivero said on the Florida Roundup. "It's on a slightly slower pace now because there are some persistent worries about the structural integrity of part of the remaining structure.”

Rivero also said emergency management officials are monitoring Hurricane Elsa and preparing to provide safe shelter to emergency workers who have been deployed to South Florida to help with the Surfside collapse.

“Also, residents of the nearby buildings might have to be evacuated because we don't know what high force winds could do to the rest of the remaining structure, if that could topple something,” said Rivero. “The remaining residents of the neighboring area might have to evacuate because of the potential of projectiles coming from the debris and strong winds. So it's really not an easy situation emergency officials in Miami-Dade County are dealing with.”

Florida Real Estate Boom

Some Florida real estate experts are worried about the state’s housing market. There are concerns the high demand could lead to overvaluing properties and that prices could start to fall.

Ken Johnson, an associate dean, professor and real estate expert at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business, said people purchasing homes right now are paying a premium of about 18%.

“That sounds like a very daunting number, but if you go back and compare it to where we were in 2006, at the peak of the cycle, the premium was coming in at around 65 percent,” said Johnson. “So are we overpaying right now? Yes. Is it anywhere near as bad as it was a decade and a half ago? No.”

Johnson said a shortage of inventory is one of the factors driving up home prices. He recommends people who are thinking of purchasing a home in Florida to hold off for now.

“If you have to find a place to stay right now, I would consider renting and reinvesting money that you would otherwise spend on housing,” Johnson said.

Federal Judge Blocks Florida’s Social Media Law

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the enforcement of a Florida law that authorized the state to penalize social media companies when they ban users.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had made the new “big tech” law a priority in the state Legislature after Facebook, Twitter and YouTube banned former President Trump after his activity on those site helped to incite the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

But Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law, just one day before it was set to take effect.

Hinkle said the law's ban on "deplatforming" candidates likely violated the free speech rights of the tech companies.

Clay Calvert, a professor of law and director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, he said he views the ruling as a win for the First Amendment.

"The First Amendment protects us from government interference and government censorship,” Calvert said. “And essentially this law was interfering with the ability of social media platforms to choose who gets to use platform. It's their choice to do. In this case. The Florida law was interfering with that.”

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Andrea Perdomo is a producer for WLRN News.