Submitted by cmosteller on Thu, 12/07/2017 - 14:15

FAC News Clips –December 7, 2017


Local News


Florida Today

County commissioners take steps to address issues that led to sewage release

Brevard County commissioners took three steps on the long road toward solving the sewage system problems plaguing the county. In unanimous votes, commissioners gave their support to three projects totaling more than $10.56 million to address the sewage problems  Those problems have contributed to the release of sewage into the Indian River Lagoon. That includes 20 million gallons of sewage and stormwater discharged into the Anchor Drive Canal in the Satellite Beach area from Sept. 10 to Oct. 10, as a result of the unusually high rainfall around that time period, which included Hurricane Irma.


News Channel 8

Hillsborough County animal shelter picks and chooses who will get public records

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Is Hillsborough County trying to squelch information about what goes on in its overcrowded animal shelter?   The Pet Resource Center has for months been picking and choosing with whom it will share information about dogs and cats in the pound. According to Rescue Me Tampa’s Tamar Barry, obtaining medical information about these shelter animals is essential. “You can’t expect someone to adopt a dog first and then get their records after they adopted the dog, that’s not okay,” she said.



Suwannee County offers incentives to area farmers to adopt new technologies

Local agencies are working to bring farming into the digital age. The Suwannee River Management District, in partnership with the State of Florida, is offering area farmers two million dollars in cost-share funding to help start new farming technologies. Interested farmers who adopt specific technologies can apply for compensation for up to 75 percent of the cost of installation. The focus of the program is to improve water quality in the area.


Tampa Bay Times

Hernando prepares for final public input on comprehensive plan

BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners on Tuesday will gather what was to be the last round of public comment on what the future of Hernando County will look like between now and 2040, before sending the county’s comprehensive plan to the state for review. For more than a year, county planners and members of the public interested in helping have worked to form the blueprint for future growth.


Tampa Bay Times

Threatened with potential lawsuit, Hernando commission still rejects site’s Brownfield designation

BROOKSVILLE — Even in the face of an open threat of a lawsuit, the County Commission this week unanimously rejected an application to designate the nearly-completed Hammock Ridge I apartment complex in Spring Hill as a Brownfield site. A Brownfield is a property on which development "may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant,’’ as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Drug Abuse



Florida county to sue opioid drug makers due to lack of morgue space for overdoses

BRADENTON, Fla. (WSVN) — A central Florida county is looking to sue several pharmaceutical companies due to the high amount of overdose victims taking up space in their morgue. Manatee County commissioners said they are currently in the early stages of filing a lawsuit after being burdened with the cost of building a new morgue, Fox 13 reports. Officials said the opioid problem in the area has become so bad that the medical examiner is running out of space to store the bodies of victims of opioid overdoses.



Reeling from opioid crisis, Palm Beach County looks to courts | Thumb up

Call it a desperate measure for desperate times. Palm Beach County has been hit harder than almost any other Florida county by the state’s opioid crisis. Emergency services have been strained, jails and treatment centers filled, the morgue overloaded — and taxpayers have picked up much of the tab. County officials think maybe it's time those they deem partially responsible for the epidemic pony up, too.


Palm Beach Post

Opioid crisis: Palm Beach County looking for firms for Big Pharma suit

Want to represent Palm Beach County if it goes toe to toe with Big Pharma? Law firms could soon have that opportunity. Commissioners voted 7-0 Tuesday to have County Attorney Denise Nieman’s office begin crafting a request for proposals from firms that would represent the county should it decide to file suit against drug companies, manufacturers or pharmacies as part of its effort to combat the opioid crisis.


Panama City News Herald

Bay County to file opioid suit

PANAMA CITY — Bay County plans to file a federal lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies to try to recoup costs associated with the abuse of opioid prescription medicines. The Bay County Commission on Tuesday voted in favor of the move, but decided to wait until its meeting in two weeks to pick an outside legal firm to handle the case, which would be done on a contingency basis. County Attorney Don Banks recommended the county go with the law firm of Bryant & Higby in Panama City, one of the law firms Panama City recently agreed to hire in filing its own lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.


Federal Tax Bill


Associated Press  

Tax overhaul could chill US affordable housing construction

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Municipal governments worry the tax overhaul in Washington, D.C. could chill the construction of affordable housing as homelessness reaches a crisis point on the West Coast. Officials with the housing authority in Portland, Oregon, said Tuesday the U.S. could lose nearly 1 million units of affordable housing over 10 years if the final bill eliminates the tax-exempt status for a type of bond commonly used by developers to finance affordable housing.


News Service of Florida

Florida bond deals could take hit in U.S. tax overhaul

Florida taxpayers could lose billions of dollars in future savings under part of pending federal tax-reform legislation that would limit the ability of states and local governments to refinance bonds. “This is down in the weeds, but it is extraordinarily important,” said Ben Watkins, director of the state Division of Bond Finance, after briefing aides to Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members on Wednesday. Sweeping tax bills have passed the U.S. House and Senate, and the final version will have to be worked out in negotiations between the two chambers.




Associated Press

America’s homeless population rises for first time in years

The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count Wednesday, a report that showed nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.


Medical Marijuana



St. Lucie County updating rules for medical-marijuana dispensaries to meet state law

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — New regulations for medical-marijuana dispensaries are up for a County Commission vote during a final public hearing Dec. 19. Commissioners held a first hearing Tuesday on updated medical-marijuana dispensary rules that would follow state law, allowing them wherever pharmacies are permitted. No one from the public spoke during the hearing and no commissioner commented on the measure.




South Lake Tablet

Commission re-appoints Chairman, Vice Chairman

Commissioner Timothy Sullivan was unanimously chosen to serve another year as the Lake County Board of County Commissioners Chairman and Commissioner Leslie Campione was tapped to serve another term as Vice Chairman during today’s board meeting. “I think that we are very fortunate to have his leadership and his steadfastness and during Hurricane Irma he was ever-present,” said Commissioner Campione, who made the motion to re-appoint Commissioner Sullivan as chairman.


The Laker Lutz News

Pasco County Commission selects new chairman

Mike Wells Jr., took the helm as chairman of the Pasco County Commission in a vote taken Nov. 28 in New Port Richey. The District 4 county commissioner replaces Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore who served as chairman during the past year. The position typically rotates year-to-year among the commissioners. Duties include leading county commission meetings and being the public face of the board as a whole.


Tampa Bay Reporter

Pinellas names assistant county administrator

PINELLAS COUNTY – Lourdes Benedict, the director of the Pinellas County Human Services Department, has been promoted to assistant county administrator effective today (Dec. 6). Benedict will oversee departments responsible for ensuring public health, safety and welfare, to include Animal Services, Emergency Management, Human Services, Marketing and Communications, and Safety and Emergency Services.



Hillsborough Commissioners want Legislature to address who has curfew power

Nearly three months after Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn engaged in a verbal skirmish about who had the power to call for an emergency curfew in Tampa, County Commissioners would like local state legislators to weigh in. The issue goes back to the days leading up the arrival of Hurricane Irma in the Tampa Bay area, which was predicted to bring major damage to the region.


Highlands News Sun

FEMA: Private road debris OK

SEBRING — Federal disaster officials told Highlands County commissioners Tuesday that they will reimburse for storm debris picked up off private roads. All the county needs, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, is to have those private roads listed individually and a tally of how much debris the county collected there. There’s a deadline, though. Private road residents who want — or have had — storm debris picked up on their roads need to call the Highlands County Engineering Department at 863-402-6877 by next Friday to get their road put on the list, said County Administrator Randy Vosburg.


Vacation Rental


Fort Myers News Press

Vacation rentals crackdown could spark conflict in Fort Myers Beach; Cape Coral passes for now

Homeowners have a right to live in peace, free of a steady stream of noisy interlopers, says Doris Grant, Fort Myers Beach resident. Government should respect owners' rights, and keep excessive laws off private property, says Joe Tekulve, an Ohio resident with a Beach vacation home. It's a battle of rights as some people ponder whether short-term vacation rentals should be more closely regulated, in particular by local governments. Two Lee County municipalities took up the matter recently.


Across the Country


Associated Press

Ransomware slows North Carolina county government to a crawl

A cyberattack slowed county government to a crawl Wednesday in North Carolina's most populous metro area as deputies processed jail inmates by hand, the tax office turned away electronic payments and building code inspectors switched to paper records. Data was frozen on dozens of Mecklenburg County servers after one of its employees opened an email attachment carrying malicious software earlier this week.