Pensacola News Journal
The National Rifle Association and local government groups are trying to help sway an appeals court in a battle about a controversial state gun law. The NRA this week filed a proposed friend-of-the-court brief urging the 1st District Court of Appeal to uphold the 2011 law, which has threatened tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun regulations. The NRA filing came a week after the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties sought permission to file a brief in opposition to the law. Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, and the penalties in the 2011 law were designed to strengthen that “preemption.
With the 2020 Legislative Session beginning next month, State Rep. Tina Polsky is highlighting her efforts to ramp up regulation of weapon storage within the home. A few weeks back, Polsky refiled a version of her 2019 bill, which increases the scope of a state law punishing gun owners for unsafe storage of their weapons around minors. The 2020 version of Polsky’s bill (HB 631) has been referred to the Criminal Justice Subcommittee, the Business and Professions Subcommittee and the Judiciary Committee. And the Boca Raton Democrat says she expects some action on this and other gun regulation measures come January.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson and President Donald Trump have allocated Northwest Florida an additional $287 million in hurricane recovery dollars. The funds, provided through a HUD block grant program, will address seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure from disasters that occurred since 2017. Northwest Florida has received $735 million to-date for Hurricane Michael expenses. Hurricane Irma-impacted areas are also receiving an additional $38.6 million for a total of $1.36 billion to-date. “On behalf of our entire state, I thank President Trump and Secretary Carson for announcing an additional $326 million in funds to areas impacted by both Hurricanes Michael and Irma,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida has awarded more than $44 million to 11 local governments to purchase Hurricane Irma-damaged properties in high-risk flood areas, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office. The federal Community Development Block Grant money is intended to help owners of homes damaged by the September 2017 Category 4 storm and communities bracing for future disasters. The money was awarded through the state Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rebuild Florida Voluntary Home Buyout Program.
American municipalities have struggled to figure out what to do with their trash since China stopped accepting most foreign recyclables, including plastics and paper, in 2017. Once a major importer of foreign waste, China said it no longer wanted to deal with recyclables that were contaminated and difficult to sort. If new recycling markets are to fill the void, America’s waste will have to be better sorted. That’s why waste disposal industry associations are backing congressional legislation that would provide funding for local governments to improve their recycling infrastructure and educate Americans about local recycling programs.
The timeline for South Florida to prepare for sea level rise just sped up a little. New projections show the region is in for higher seas, faster. The latest predictions aren’t catastrophically different than previous years — unless your yard is already flooding a couple times a year from the steadily encroaching seas. In that case, a few inches a few years early is pretty important. The sea rise curves unveiled Wednesday at the Southeast Florida Climate Leadership Summit in Key West tack on about three to five extra inches by 2060, and that number only gets bigger in the future.
Anyone concerned with climate change in Florida probably has their eyes fixated on the coasts, as rising seas nip away at our beaches and bays. But, to get a true feel of how bad things could someday get, maybe we should cast our gaze inland. Take a look on a satellite map, and the Lake Wales Ridge stands out as a sandy spine running through the middle of the state. From Clermont in the north, south almost to Lake Okeechobee, rolling hills give this a very un-Florida feel.
Last month, the Keys asked the state for $150 million to address sea level rise. Newly released cost estimates show the county could blow that entire amount on a few miles of road elevation. Elevating less than three miles of Old State Road 4A on Sugarloaf Key to withstand sea rise and king tide by 2025 could cost $75 million dollars, Monroe’s head of resilience revealed at a sea level rise conference in Key West on Wednesday. Elevating for 2045 could cost $128 million. And by 2060, that price tag could soar to $181 million. The county has 314 miles of road to care for — or choose to abandon.
In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan (Draft Action Plan) that highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse, which can be a valuable tool to enhance the availability and effective use of water resources. The Draft Action Plan supports an integrated and collaborative approach to water management. The plan aims to replace the traditional, fragmented and siloed approach often applied to water resources management, with broader, more comprehensive solutions and strategies to meet diverse water quality and quantity needs.
Throughout Florida, cities continue to litigate the question of vacation rental zoning. A Senate bill would render those debates moot. SB 1128, filed by Sen. Manny Diaz, would preempt the regulation of vacation rentals to the state. Local laws regulating or banning short-term rentals would be rendered moot. The Miami Republican’s bill protects from local regulation rentals offered via an “advertising platform,” which offers software and online access to listings for “transient public lodging establishment[s]” in the state.
Tampa Bay Reporter
The Tampa Bay area grants total about $861,065 and are part of more than $376 million the Justice Department is awarding to communities across the U.S. TAMPA – The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday (Dec. 4) announced that it has awarded several hundreds of thousands of dollars in public safety grants to Tampa Bay area governments and agencies. The money – about $861,065 – is part of more than $376 million in grant funding to enhance state, local and tribal law enforcement operations and reinforce public safety efforts in jurisdictions across the U.S. Of that, a total of about $14,444,949 will support public safety activities in the Middle District of Florida.
Consumer confidence in Florida rebounds in November. Consumer confidence bounced back in Florida last month with growing optimism over future economic conditions. The University of Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index released Wednesday gained 3.2 points to 99.3 in November after declining in October. All five components that make up the index increased in the report, showing stronger confidence among Floridians for the economy in 2020 and beyond.