FAC News Clips - February 19, 2019 -

Orlando Sentinel

5 fires erupted in Lake County in 48 hours. Now Florida State Fire Marshal investigating.

Over the last two days, five fires have erupted in Lake County and the city of Umatilla, prompting an investigation by the State Fire Marshal. At least one of them happened Monday morning at about 5:30 a.m. at a home on Wilson Parrish Road. Lake County Fire Rescue was able to save 60 percent of the 3,000 square-foot structure. The home’s occupant had self-evacuated, the fire department tweeted.

Florida Watchdog

Two bills seek state preemption in regulating vacation rentals

Vacation rentals – exactly what they are and if the state or local governments should regulate them – will again be a hotly debated topic when the Florida Legislature convenes its 60-day session on March 5. At least three Senate bills related to the state’s $31 billion short-term rental industry have been pre-filed thus far, including two that would give oversight to the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

Naples Daily News

Red tide counts back to normal, background levels for first time in 16 months in Southwest Florida

A toxic red tide bloom that's raged along the Southwest Florida coast since October of 2017 may be over. Recent water quality samples taken along coastal areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay have shown only natural, background levels of Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide outbreaks. "It does appear to be sustaining in background concentrations, meaning that it is pretty much over," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Michelle Kerr.

Flagler Live

County Will Consider Importing Water From Palm Coast For Troubled Plantation Bay, Halting $6 Million Plan

Less than two weeks ago the Flagler County Commission learned that its administration was ready to bid out a $6.1 million construction contract to build a water plant at Plantation Bay, the community of 2,000 that straddles Flagler and Volusia counties and that’s been plagued by a decrepit water and sewer utility run by the county since 2013. Tonight, the county commission, at Commissioner Dave Sullivan’s urging, agreed to suspend that plan and consider “other options.”

Gainesville Sun

Gainesville seeks residents’ help to avoid wastewater spills

Jennifer McElroy has found everything from a Tonka truck lodged in Gainesville city wastewater pipes to kitty litter-filled manholes. McElroy, a supervising environmental engineer, oversees the GRU wastewater management department and has seen residents put everything but the kitchen sink down the pipes. A recent GRU report showed that 50 to 60 percent of last year’s sewage overflows occurred due to residential fats and greases. This means small wastewater spills in the streets or overflowing manholes, she said.

Florida Politics

Hurricane budget proposals continue piling up

Repairs to the Mexico Beach pier and Florida State University, after damage in Hurricane Michael, are among the latest storm-related proposals that House members hope to add to next year’s state budget. As of Monday morning, more than 100 proposed projects seeking nearly $500 million were directed at recovery from the October hurricane in Northwest Florida, along with other projects to bulk up facilities statewide against future storms.

Florida Politics

Bills would allow storm migrants to obtain Florida licenses

People fleeing natural disasters to Florida would be able to more easily obtain driver licenses and professional licenses in the Sunshine State under bills filed by Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres and Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil. The bills are partly a response to the massive migration to Florida of Puerto Rican refugees in 2017 and also the “Deregathon” event organized late last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who pledged to make the paths to Florida licensure easier.

Tallahassee Reports

Census Fight Could Affect Florida Political Numbers

With the U.S. Supreme Court moving quickly to hear the case, a legal battle about a proposed citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. census could have political ramifications for Florida. The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up the U.S. Department of Commerce’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that would prevent the census from using a question about citizenship. Opponents of asking about citizenship argue it would lead to non-citizens and groups such as Hispanics being less likely to participate in the census because of concerns the information could be used against them or family members.