News Clips

Florida Today

Florida texting and driving law: Why your $30 ticket becomes way more expensive

If you think the $30 fine for a first offense of Florida's new texting and driving law is just a slap in the wallet, think again. Court costs and surcharges across many Florida counties will markedly increase that first offense to more than $100. The new texting while driving law went into effect July 1, making texting behind the wheel a primary offense, which means if a law enforcement officer sees you texting on your phone while operating a vehicle, you can be pulled over. The Florida Highway Patrol is only issuing warnings until Jan. 1, 2020. Starting Oct. 1, law enforcement can begin issuing warnings for the hands-free portion of the bill, which prohibits any driver from even holding their phone in school and active work zones.

New York Times

Florida’s Utilities Keep Homeowners From Making the Most of Solar Power

Florida calls itself the Sunshine State. But when it comes to the use of solar power, it trails 19 states, including not-so-sunny Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Solar experts and environmentalists blame the state’s utilities. The utilities have hindered potential rivals seeking to offer residential solar power. They have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying, ad campaigns and political contributions. And when homeowners purchase solar equipment, the utilities have delayed connecting the systems for months.

Palm Beach Post

Florida hasn’t set up statewide census committee. A former chairwoman is ‘really surprised.’

The woman who oversaw Florida’s far-reaching effort to educate residents on the 2000 census said Monday she was “really surprised” the state has not yet established the committee for next year’s census — and is concerned it might be too late. Ilene Lieberman Michelson, chairwoman of the statewide Complete Count Committee leading up to the 2000 census and who led Broward County’s local committee in 2010, said the two most important outcomes of a high census turnout are representation and population-based federal grants.