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Florida’s Constitutional Amendments Up For Vote, New U.S. Sanctions On Cuba, The Infamous 1935 Hurricane

Overseas RailwayKeyWest_09292020.jpg
Library of Congress
Florida East Coast Railway, Key West Extension. A train on the Seven Mile Bridge taken from Pigeon Key.

A look at this year’s ballot amendments in Florida. The new restrictions on Cuba and a historic hurricane takes on a new meaning.

On this Tuesday, Sept. 29, episode of Sundial:

Florida’s Constitutional Amendments Up For Vote

There’s a lot to keep track of on this year’s November ballot. The presidential election is getting a lot of attention but there are heated congressional races across South Florida, not to mention seats in the state Legislature up for grabs. Also, county commission races and the mayoral race in Miami-Dade County.

Add to that, six constitutional amendments that are up for your vote.

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From raising the state’s minimum wage to changing the state’s primary elections, these amendments could have a significant impact on your wallets and our Democratic system.

“The Florida chamber of commerce and the Florida restaurant and lodging association are against it. Their concern is that it’s going to further strain businesses that are trying to cope with COVID-19, it’s going to result in less hiring and they say that these higher costs will just get passed on to consumers,” said Sun Sentinel reporter Skyler Swisher.

Florida’s minimum wage is set at $8.56 per hour. Amendment 2 would raise it to $10 per hour in 2021. Then it would increase by $1 until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

We spoke with Swisher about all six amendments that are on the ballot.

New U.S. Sanctions On Cuba

The Trump administration has placed a new series of sanctions against Cuba.

Last week, President Trump announced Americans can no longer import Cuban cigars and rum. They also won’t be able to stay in hotels funded by the Cuban government.

Yesterday, the State Department further restricted remittances to Cuba by sanctioning a military-controlled company that is involved in financial transactions.

U.S. officials say this is part of their fight against communist oppression but some disagree.

“The thing is, when you sort of sanction remittances you’re hurting Cuban families most directly far more than the government,” said Michael Bustamante, an assistant professor of Latin American history at Florida International University, who specializes in Cuba and Cuban American studies. “So in the midst of a pandemic and Cuba’s biggest economic crisis in 30 years, I find this measure a really tough one to swallow.”

We spoke with Bustamante and Collin Laverty, the president of Cuba Educational Travel, about the most recent sanctions and their effects.

The Infamous 1935 Hurricane

For September, our book club read "The Last Train to Key West" by Chanel Cleeton.

It follows three women who are each undergoing life-changing experiences during the Great Depression era. They’re all brought together in the Florida Keys during one of history's biggest natural disasters.

The story begins in Key West but ends in the Upper Keys just as the infamous 1935 Labor Day Hurricane strikes.

“Several of the residents made several attempts to try to encourage the camp administrators to call for a train to come down and get them off of the keys, but the administrators just completely misinterpreted and misunderstood the danger that they were in,” said Willie Drye, author of the book "Storm of the Century, the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane."

He added that before technology and a 24-hour weather service, residents in the Keys knew there was a storm coming by noticing swell, cloud formations and other subtle indications.

We spoke with Drye and WLRN’s Keys reporter Nancy Klingener about the storm and the book "The Last Train to Key West."

You can learn more about the book and the author by going to our Sundial Book Club Facebook group here.

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.