Submitted by cmosteller on Thu, 03/08/2018 - 17:52

 FAC News Clips – March 6, 7 & 8, 2018


Local News


Highlands News Sun

County considers tax collection change

SEBRING — County commissioners will discuss a change in local law today to have the Florida Department of Revenue collect tourist taxes, not the local tax collector. An ordinance on the agenda for today’s Highlands County Board of County Commission meeting states that local businesses would need to send their tourist tax collections directly to Tallahassee. From there, the Florida Department of Revenue would send back the tax revenue to the county, through the Clerk of the Courts Office, after collecting a fee.


Tampa Bay Times

Hernando Commissioners seek state approval for more business-friendly growth plan

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission Tuesday unanimously agreed to seek state approval for its updated comprehensive plan, which will guide the county’s growth through 2040. Commissioners supported changes largely focused on loosening development rules, softening requirements for environmental protection and energy conservation, promoting economic development and emphasizing private property rights. The new plan and its focus have made it controversial.




Lakeland Ledger

New tech may be breakthrough in citrus-greening fight

LAKELAND — Premier Citrus, one of Florida’s largest growers, announced a major investment in a new laser technology that could improve the delivery and effectiveness of chemicals that kill the fatal citrus greening bacteria. If the technology proves successful as a widespread commercial application, it would stabilize and perhaps revitalize commercial citrus growing in Florida until researchers breed a citrus tree more resistant or tolerant to infection by the bacterial disease. Introducing such a tree is a decade or more away.


Drug Abuse


Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bid to increase spending on opioid epidemic fails in Florida Senate

TALLAHASSEE — A last-minute bid to increase the $53.5 million lawmakers plan to put toward tackling Florida’s runaway opioid problem failed Wednesday in the Senate. Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, withdrew his proposal to add $25 million toward the effort after Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, said the cash just wasn’t there in this year’s budget. “I didn’t give up easily,” Benacquisto said, but she said the Legislature’s $400 million response to the mass shooting in Parkland has tightened the state’s proposed $87 billion budget.



The Opioid Crisis Is Surging In Black, Urban Communities

The current drug addiction crisis began in rural America, but it's quickly spreading to urban areas and into the African-American population in cities across the country. "It's a frightening time," says Dr. Edwin Chapman, who specializes in drug addiction in Washington, D.C., "because the urban African-American community is dying now at a faster rate than the epidemic in the suburbs and rural areas."  Chapman is on the front line of the opioid epidemic crippling his community in the Northeast section of Washington.


Palm Beach Post

PBC to select legal team for possible lawsuit in opioid fight

Three teams of law firms have emerged as the finalists to represent Palm Beach County if the county files suit against drug makers or sellers as part of its fight against the opioid epidemic. Commissioners are expected to choose one of those teams when they meet on March 13. The firms have all agreed to work on a contingency basis, meaning they would keep a portion of whatever money they help the county win in a court battle. No taxpayer money would be used.


Emergency Management

FEMA Wants Counties to Take Charge of Pre-Disaster Logistics

WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator urged county officials to arrange pre-event contracts for commodities ahead of disasters, instead of waiting for assistance that might not come. Brock Long, speaking at the National Association of Counties legislative conference in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, said FEMA’s contracting processes during 2017’s devastating hurricane and wildfire seasons were a “huge success.” The agency secured 1,973 contracts on top of 59 that were pre-event for water, meals ready to eat, debris removal, disaster cost recovery and other services.


Winter Haven News Chief

Polk County to apply for $37 million in FEMA funds

BARTOW — Polk County officials plan to apply for $37 million in federal disaster-mitigation funds to help grapple with flooded roads and neighborhoods and to build generators at lift stations and the Central County Jail.  County commissioners and officials discussed the potential funds during a meeting in the county administration building on Tuesday. The money became available to counties across the state after Hurricane Irma devastated the area in September.


Florida Today

Brevard County requests $2 million from state to help remove Hurricane Irma debris

VIERA, Fla. - The Brevard County Commission Tuesday night unanimously approved sending a letter to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature requesting an additional $2 million to help cleanup after Hurricane Irma. The county said while 50 derelict boats have been removed since the September storm, another 50 abandoned vessels still need taken care of. "We've had boats along the river for years that have just been left out there," Cocoa Village riverfront resident Karol Clifton said.



Gov. Scott appoints Anthony Bonna to St. Lucie County Commission District 2 seat

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday appointed Anthony Bonna to the St. Lucie County Commission District 2 seat.  Bonna, 30, of Fort Pierce, is the director of Advertising and Digital Strategy for The Stoneridge Group LLC and the founder of The Good Help Group LLC, according to a news release from the governor's office. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgetown University. Bonna's appointment began Tuesday and ends Nov. 13, according to the news release. Bonna was not sitting behind the dais at Tuesday's County Commission meeting.




Orlando Sentinel

Editorial: Repel the latest attack on home rule and growth management

With only a few days left in its 2018 regular session, the Florida Legislature has a limited time to confront a full plate of state issues. Yet some members still can’t resist sticking their noses into the business of locally elected leaders and their constituents. The latest outrageous example is a measure that could overrule local decisions to control growth — and threatened to trump a judge’s 2017 ruling against urban development in rural east Orange County. It ranks as one of the most devious power plays cooked up in the Capitol this year to crush home rule.


Tampa Bay Times

Trump blocks access to puppy mill inspections as Florida weighs dog store legislation

TAMPA — In May of last year, the Tampa Bay Times asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the three most recent inspections of 15 puppy breeders who supply Tampa-area stores. It took nine months, but the reply arrived last week: 54 pages of total blackout. Every word of every inspection — from the date to the violations — were redacted from the documents provided. Providing "personnel and medical files," the agency said, would "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."


Tampa Bay Times

Proposed Florida ban on local puppy store regulations dies for second time in Tallahassee

For the second time, a legislative proposal to override local bans on commercial dog sales has been killed. Last night, Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, withdrew his amendment that would have nullified any local ordinance that prohibits the sale of dogs from a breeder licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Florida Association of Counties and the Humane Society of the United States, both working to fight the amendment, confirmed that it was withdrawn.



Beshears trying to add new puppy mill language to Putnam's priority bill

TALLAHASSEE — State Rep. Halsey Beshears has filed an amendment onto Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s department bill that would revive an issue animal advocates said hurts local government’s ability to ban puppy mills. The Monticello Republican filed the amendment Tuesday at 6:39 a.m., four hours before the chamber was set to begin a floor session. The amendment is filed on FL HB553 (18R), which includes a host of provisions for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is run by Putnam. He's also a 2018 Republican candidate for governor.


Orlando Sentinel

Maitland mayor urges residents to call legislators and defend 'home rule'

In a final push to ward off attacks on home rule, Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald has written a letter urging residents to call legislators to defend local control. McDonald called for voters to contact Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando; and Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, in opposition of proposed bills regulating tree trimming, land use and community redevelopment agencies. “Every year brings more transfer of power from local governments to Tallahassee,” McDonald wrote. “This is not a matter of whether you agree with a particular policy or not, but the principle that the best government, the most receptive government, is the government closest to those being governed.”


Public Safety



Hillsborough County fails to pass assault weapon ban

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County commissioners wasted little time in shooting down a proposed ban on the sale of assault weapons. Commissioner Les Miller made a motion to ban the sale of the weapons, saying he wants to make schools, churches and other public places safer. “Why in the world are we today having our children afraid to go to school,” said Miller. He told fellow commissioners he was trained in the use of a M-16 while in the Air Force and that he believes AR-15s and other assault weapons have the same purpose of the M-16, and that is to kill as many people as quickly as possible.


Tampa Bay Times

Would Rick Scott remove Hillsborough commissioners for approving assault weapons ban? It’s under review

TAMPA — On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners will decide whether to pursue a local ban on the sale of assault-like weapons. It could put them in a thorny position with the state, and at risk of losing their jobs. Under a 2011 Florida law, any local official that knowingly violates a state ban on local gun restrictions could be fined $5,000. That law also gives the governor the power to remove from office anyone who flouts the law.


State Budget



Florida lawmakers fail to complete state's annual budget in time, extending session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - After failing to meet their Tuesday deadline, lawmakers announced a deal on the state's annual budget has been struck, but the question remains as to when lawmakers will head home. This is the second year In a row lawmakers have failed to complete the budget in time to end session in 60 days. The failure was highlighted by Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Chris King Wednesday morning. “I believed one-party state government was not working. I am more convinced of that today than I have ever been,” said King.


Associated Press

Florida legislators say they have a deal on new state budget

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Amid a contentious and emotionally charged debate over guns and school safety that has roiled the Florida Legislature, leading lawmakers have struggled this past week to reach a deal on a new $87 billion budget. Republican legislators said Wednesday they thought they had reached an agreement on key elements behind closed doors, but the agreement comes too late for lawmakers to end their 60-day session as scheduled.

Legislative leaders reach budget deal, Session extension looms

Florida lawmakers will extend their annual session for several days to pass a new $87 billion-plus state budget, which will include a $101.50 increase in per-student funding in public schools. House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced early Wednesday afternoon that legislative leaders had reached agreement on the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. One of the last issues to be resolved was funding for hospitals and nursing homes.


News Service of Florida

Budget fight means session overtime

Florida lawmakers will need to go into overtime because of an impasse about hospital spending in final negotiations over a new state budget. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, told House members Tuesday night that lawmakers will have to extend the session, scheduled to end Friday, or hold a special session. “Make preparations because that’s kind of where we are headed,” he said after a day of behind-the-scenes negotiations with the Senate.


Vacation Rentals


Anna Maria Sun

Vacation rental bills fail again

TALLAHASSEE – For the second year in a row, Sen. Greg Steube (R-Sarasota) and Rep. Mike La Rosa (R-St. Cloud) failed in their efforts to restrict or eliminate local governments’ ability to regulate vacation rentals. Steube’s Senate bill, CS/SB 1400, was not discussed in the Senate’s final Appropriations Committee meeting on Friday, March 2. When contacted by email Friday morning, Steube’s legislative assistant, Elizabeth Bolles, said, “The Senate bill is currently in Appropriations and there are no more scheduled meetings for that committee, meaning the bill wouldn’t be heard.”




Florida Today

Brevard environmental officials prepare for dealing with major fish kill

Brevard County environmental officials are preparing to deal with a major fish kill — just in case one occurs. Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department Director Virginia Barker said county officials have formed an emergency response team to share data and other information related to conditions of the Indian River Lagoon, as well as to coordinate procedures for handling fish kills. Barker's staff also has drafted protocols for such things as verifying and mapping fish kills, volunteer coordination, permitting, emergency contracting and the collection, transportation and disposal of fish that may be found dead in the lagoon.



5G Preemption Is Coming

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission will vote on an order at its March 22 meeting eliminating the need for federally mandated historic preservation and environmental reviews when deploying small cells, meaning states and localities without such rules will be out of luck. By removing the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act from the equation, the FCC would pave the way for streamlined installation of 5G networks—once the technology is realized.