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On orders from Mayor Ashton Hayward, city staff brought down the Confederate flag from all of the City of Pensacola’s Five Flags displays on Thursday. It was replaced by the State of Florida flag.

In a written statement, the Mayor concedes that while the Confederate flag represents a part of the city’s history, it also stands as a “painful symbol of racial hatred and ignorance.”

A spokesman for Hayward’s office said in an email that the Mayor would not be making any more statements on the matter.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning on a case that could have changed how over 50,000 local people bought health insurance. With just a few days left in its session, the court delivered its highly anticipated ruling on the case King v Burwell. That's the case that about people who purchased health insurance from the federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act with federal subsidies.

Photo via Flickr// steeleman204 / https://flic.kr/p/6ikQtg

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced a major milestone this week for the state’s Emergency Contact Information system. The number of registrations has now surpassed the 10 million mark.

“It was a deep breath of like ‘Oh my gosh,’ because it’s been a long time in the works,” said Christine Olson, president and founder of TIFF’s Initiative, To Inform Families First, which led to the creation of the Emergency Contact Information (or ECI) system.

Before signing the new state budget into law, Governor Rick Scott vetoed about $8.2 million in spending for northwest Florida projects. And there’s talk about how some of the cuts may have been made, which is drawing fire from some lawmakers.

Scott signed the nearly $79 billion budget, which takes effect July 1, in his office on Tuesday. But prior to that, he unlimbered his line-item veto pen to the tune of $461 million; believed to be a record for budget vetoes.

This Saturday is National HIV Testing Day.   In Escambia County, those free tests will be available for three days. As the Surveillance and Linkage Coordinator for the HIV Area One Program of the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Escambia County, Maurice Moody wants as many people as possible to get tested for HIV this week. The DOH is collaborating with Walgreens to provide free HIV testing and counseling this week for anyone who wants it.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Governor Rick Scott hit the road Monday, to celebrate a $400 million tax cut package he has signed into law. The one-day, seven-city tour wrapped up in Pensacola. 

Scott’s victory lap began early Monday in Fort Myers. From there he made stops in Miami, Greenacres, St. Petersburg, Winter Garden and Jacksonville, before ending at Apple Market on Scenic Highway.

After the ceremony, he explained why he packed seven stops across Florida into one day.

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Florida’s unemployment rate has ticked up to 5.7% – a slight rise from April despite jobs added statewide in that period, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Despite adding about 4,000 jobs, unemployment was up in the western Panhandle; Escambia County rose from 5.3% in April to 5.7%, Santa Rosa, 4.6% to 4.8%, and Okaloosa County from 4.3% to 4.6%.

DEO Secretary Jesse Panuccio said jobless rates were also up in the two local metropolitan areas. Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent jumped from 5.1%-5.4%; Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin went from 4.4% to 4.6%.

Environmental activists and supporters of renewable energy are celebrating the strong message from Pope Francis on climate change. And the Pontiff’s encyclical has drawn comment from northwest Florida’s Roman Catholic leader.

An encyclical is considered to be a major writing by a Pope, usually addressed to the universal Church, as well as to anyone who’s willing to read it, says Bishop Gregory Parkes, who oversees the Pensacola-Tallahassee Catholic Diocese.

Photo via Flickr// U.S. Department of Education / https://flic.kr/p/fCP7RM

The United Way is looking for volunteers to serve as “Reading Pals” to area preschoolers. Andrea Krieger, the President and CEO of United Way of Escambia County, says the Reading Pals program looks to pair at risk preschool children with mentors to help them with reading skills before they enter the school system.

Photo via Flickr// Moyan Brenn / https://flic.kr/p/d4ovX5

This week the Okaloosa County Commission rejected a proposed ordinance to allow open containers for alcoholic beverages in the Mid-Bay Regional Activity Center in the Destin area.

The idea began initially in response to the creation of similar areas in the region that successfully allow open containers. These include the South Harbor Festive Market Place in the city of Destin, the Downtown Business and Entertainment District in Ft. Walton Beach, and in some parts of the city of Pensacola.

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