Submitted by tkusmierz on Wed, 01/03/2018 - 12:58

Sarasota Herald Tribune
Manatee County Commission faces several unresolved issues from 2017
Next week, Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace will pound the gavel and call her first meeting to order as that board’s new chairperson. With barely more than a year’s experience as an elected official, Trace must now take the lead and steer the discussions as she and other commissioners tackle several unresolved issues from 2017.

Miami Herald
The Keys need workforce housing for its economic survival
If Monroe County doesn’t help build housing that restaurant servers, fast-food workers, hotel staffers and supermarket managers, to say nothing of cashiers can afford, it tourism-based foundation will crumble. After Hurricane Irma swept through the Lower Keys in September — and swept up homes and boats and mobile homes in its path — service workers left Florida’s southernmost county in droves.
Bill would pave way for slot machines in north Florida
A north Florida lawmaker has filed legislation to again allow Gadsden County to hold a “countywide referendum” on authorizing slot machine gambling at a local race track. Rep. Ramon Alexander, a Democrat who represents Gadsden and part of Leon County, filed the bill (HB 1111) Tuesday for the 2018 Legislative Session starting next week.


Sarasota Herald Tribune
Florida lawmakers reigniting debate over regulating vacation rental homes
State Sen. Greg Steube again is trying to prohibit local governments from regulating vacation rentals. Steube, R-Sarasota, recently filed legislation that would give state officials sole authority over vacation rentals and expand on the state licensing system for rentals. Similar legislation sponsored by Steube cleared the House last year but never came up for a final vote in the Senate.

Orlando Sentinel
Florida bill would prevent local restrictions on vacation rentals
As Orange County and Orlando look into allowing short-term home rentals under some conditions, a bill filed in Tallahassee might take that choice away from them entirely. Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, introduced a bill last week that would strip local governments of the right to regulate short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb and give all such power to the state.

News Service of Florida
Opioid epidemic: Kids suffer collateral damage
Ciara sobs as she recounts how, as a middle schooler, she helplessly witnessed her mother’s downward spiral into drug addiction, an affliction that left Ciara at times wishing her mother would simply die to end their suffering. Ciara, now 20, is one of the countless child casualties of an opioid epidemic Florida lawmakers are struggling to curb.


Planning Commission OKs marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Clay County
On Tuesday night, Clay County's planning commission voted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated parts of the county. The commission looked at banning the dispensaries for two years in the unincorporated parts of the county, which would have essentially banned them everywhere except Orange Park, Keystone Heights and Green Cove Springs.


Panama City News Herald
County changes course, will recommend Triumph projects
The Bay County Commission has reversed course and plans to recommend projects it wants funded from the first $300 million round of Triumph Gulf Coast oil spill funds during its meeting Wednesday. The commission twice hesitated to take a stand, but now plans to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the 25 pre-applications that have been submitted, including those that already were reviewed by the county and those not yet vetted through the county staff and commissioners.

News Service of Florida
Lawmakers weigh spending on conservation projects
When state lawmakers met during the 2017 Legislative Session, one of the biggest issues was a bill backed by Senate President Joe Negron to revamp how water flows in parts of South Florida. Lawmakers aren’t considering such a major piece of environmental legislation as they prepare for the 2018 Session. But they have started moving forward with several high-priced bills that would further divvy up money that voters approved in 2014 for water and land conservation.