FAC News Clips - April 19, 2018 -

Tampa Bay Times
Rubio’s red alert: Florida election officials ‘overconfident’ about security threat
Sen. Marco Rubio this morning bluntly warned local Florida officials about threats to election system security and said the state is a "beacon" for foreign actors.  "I cannot emphasize enough the vulnerability," the Florida Republican and Intelligence Committee member said. "Most of our election officials in Florida, I believe, with all due respect, are overconfident. I don't think they fully understand the nature of the threat."

St. Augustine Record
Impact fees propel dispute over planned retail strip
City Council members on Tuesday passed a resolution they hope will help diffuse a brewing legal dispute between the city and Flagler County concerning utility services at Airport Commons, a proposed retail development near the Flagler County Executive Airport.  The City Council unanimously approved a “conflict resolution” that seeks to have council members meet directly with county commissioners to hash out a solution to the latest clash between the two governments.

Naples Daily News
Marco Island, Collier County continue back-and-forth on ambulance issue
Marco Island city officials remain content with leaving the decision of whether it will control its own emergency medical services in the hands of its citizens following the latest proposal from Collier County.  Ahead of a scheduled May 1 meeting, the county’s Emergency Medical Authority sent the city questions about its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, or COPCN, application with responses due back by Thursday, April 26.

Sarasota Herald Tribune
New law could complicate future public votes for tax increases
A fresh demand from an anti-tax state Legislature is complicating whether local governments ask voters to increase taxes to pay for a range of transportation, school construction and other needs.  But a leading legislator said governments should have little to fear if new mandated the “performance audits” completed 60 days before voters go to the polls support the call for higher taxes.

Daytona Beach News Journal
Our Opinion: A tax break we can’t afford
When Florida voters go to the polls in November, one of the state constitutional amendments they will vote on calls for an additional $25,000 homestead exemption on top of the $50,000 in homestead exemptions already on the books. It will be hard to vote “no” — it is a tax break, after all — but voters should resist the temptation, because of the long-term effect will be either diminished public services or a tax shift, that is, higher taxes for someone else or a new tax altogether.

Citrus Chronicle
Tax bait and switch proposal on November ballots
A homestead exemption that excludes part of the value of a home from taxation has been a part of Florida tax code since 1934, and the Florida legislature has put on the November ballot a proposal called Amendment 1 that would increase the homestead exemption for homes valued over $100,000.

Casting clouds on beach access
A new state law, apparently intended to settle a series of spats between wealthy beachfront property owners in a few Panhandle counties, is causing shock waves across the state — for good reason.  The law is a hot mess, and there's way too much confusion over what its long-term impact will be. That's a huge problem in a state whose tourism-economy lifeblood (outside of the theme-park zone) depends largely on access to hundreds of miles of beaches.

Fox News Naples
The battle over beach access in Florida heats up
Florida is known for its glistening, pristine – and free – beaches. Just pick a sunny, sandy spot, and it’s yours for the day.  But a bill signed into law by Florida Gov. Rick Scott last month is threatening to restrict access to Florida’s expansive beaches. And that has residents fuming.  H.B. 631, which goes into effect July 1, blocks local governments from passing measures allowing continued public entry to the Sunshine State’s privately owned beaches, even when property owners may want to block off their land. Instead, any city or county wanting to do that has to get a judge’s approval first.

Naples Daily News
Home-sharing giant Airbnb faces Collier County lawsuit, lingering criticism from hoteliers
Home-sharing company Airbnb has worked out most of its kinks in Florida, but it still faces controversy – and the occasional lawsuit.  Much of the discord centers on the bed tax most counties charge on short-term lodgings.  Collier County's tax collector sued Airbnb in January, seeking a court order to the company to pay current and past bed taxes.

St. Augustine Record
How about a ‘Hands-off’ amendment?
The Record ran a story on our Sunday front page titled “Groups push affordable housing plan.”  When the dust settled, that plan entailed incentives for private developers to construct affordable housing communities.  The local Continuum of Care group assembled contained the right people, including United Way director Melissa Nelson, St. Johns Housing Partnership executive director Bill Lazar, St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver and County Housing and Community Services director Joseph Cone.

Miami Herald
Miami joins avalanche of cities, counties and states suing opioid drug makers
Miami joined a national avalanche of cities, counties and states filing lawsuits aimed at opioid manufacturers and distributors, blaming them for fueling an overdose epidemic estimated to claim about 115 lives a day.  Miami officials filed the civil lawsuit in Miami-Dade County on Monday, alleging deception and false marketing by a number of manufacturers and distributors of prescription painkillers, including Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Walgreens.