News Clips

Tampa Bay Times

Should there be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census? Here’s what Florida Congress members think.

The Supreme Court will soon decide whether President Donald Trump’s administration can ask 2020 Census respondents if they’re a U.S. citizen. Census experts have long urged against a citizenship question on the decennial survey, warning it will lead to an undercount. Studies have shown minority populations, especially Hispanic communities, are less likely to respond out of fear of retribution. States like Florida could lose congressional seats and millions in federal financial assistance. Democrats say it’s a political move by Republicans.

Tampa Bay Times

Eight months after Hurricane Michael, many fear a mental health crisis

For some children, all it took was the rain. When thunderstorms passed through the Panhandle this winter, the sound was enough to distress some students just returning to school, reminding them of Hurricane Michael’s raging path last October that left much of the state’s northwest in ruin. They would run to their teachers in tears, fearing the storm might return, recalled Sharon Michalik, the communications director for the school district in Bay County. “They were asking if the water will still work, will their parents be able to pick them up and where will they be able to go when their home blows away,” she said. “The weather toll itself was creating and bringing back the trauma.”


Tampa Bay Reporter


Hernando County officials say they have filed suit against the nation’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors for their role in creating a widespread diversion of prescription opiates for non-medical purposes. The case was filed June 6 in federal district court in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Tampa Division. Hernando County has struggled to manage the costs associated with the rising rate of opioid abuse, officials said. Drug poisoning and opioid-related deaths have significantly impacted the Hernando County community in recent years. Increased criminal activity is also associated with the diversion of opioids, causing a budgetary impact upon law enforcement expenses.


Seminole County takes new approach to fighting opioid epidemic

Few life-or-death scenes are as memorable as one from Seminole County, in which three people overdosed on fentanyl. All three were revived by Narcan. Seminole County is taking a trailblazing approach to fighting the opioid epidemic, which claims more lives than murders or car crashes combined every day in Florida, officials say. Mothers who have suffered terrible loss were brought together recently to help local families, each one at a time, to deal with death, guilt and the stigma of overdose.



Can Florida’s New Blue Green Algae Task Force Fix The State’s Fouled Waters?

Reducing harmful nutrients in state waters, through moves such as more monitoring and staffing, is an expected short-term goal of a new task force set up by Gov. Ron DeSantis to look at toxic algae fouling Florida waterways. But with a brief timeline for the five-member Blue Green Algae Task Force to reach its initial findings, don’t expect proposals for massive state rule changes related to farming practices or moving away from septic systems. Task force member Michael Parsons, a professor of marine science at Florida Gulf Coast University and director of the Coastal Watershed Institute and Vester Field Station, said rather than replace regulations, as some environmental groups contend is needed, a more realistic approach would focus on “fine-tuning” existing rules.

Jacksonville Times Union

Panel starts study of Florida’s algae woes

Ahead of Florida’s summer growing months, scientists picked by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday weighed issues from septic tanks to farm production feeding the state’s nationally publicized algae troubles. “The goal is simply to ask ... ‘What can we do to achieve more now and how can we do better?’” Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein told members of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force as they met for the first time. Although DeSantis created the panel during a push to improve water quality around Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades, problems in the St. Johns River and other corners of the state filled parts of the day-long discussion.


Uber Air announces first international city to trial flying taxis

Uber has announced the first international city its flying taxis one day might be buzzing over.  The Australian city of Melbourne will join Los Angeles and Dallas as the third official pilot city for Uber Air, the rideshare company’s ambitious project to transport people in short distances via the skies.  Test flights are expected in 2020, with commercial operations aimed for as soon as 2023. Uber claims trips will be priced the same as an UberX ride over the same distance, but we’ll see about that.  "Australian governments have adopted a forward-looking approach to ridesharing and future transport technology," Uber Australia, New Zealand and North Asia general manager Susan Anderson said in a statement.