FAC News Clips –October 20, 2017
Pensacola News Journal
Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan is taking his budget fight with the county to Gov. Rick Scott. County Attorney Alison Rogers told commissioners at the end of Thursday night's meeting the county had been served with Morgan's budget appeal. The appeal came at no surprise as Morgan said he would file an appeal with the governor if the county commission did not begin to address pay compression within his office.
Fox 35 Orlando
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - State Representative Randy Fine blamed county and city leaders for not prioritizing enough spending on beachside sewer infrastructure to prevent discharges into the Indian River Lagoon. Rep. Fine surveyed the county and city sewer systems in Brevard, and with only Palm Bay and the county reporting so far, he estimates 28 million gallons of mixed sewer and ground water, or enough to fill 1400 swimming pools, was dumped into the lagoon since Hurricane Irma.
County / Legislature Priorities
Charlotte Sun Herald
PUNTA GORDA — A pair of Charlotte County commissioners spoke out Thursday against state preemption, a long-running concern that local officials say restricts their ability to effectively govern at the community level. “I know you support home rule. Our local communities can’t really support too many more state-funded mandates. … It’s so important to us at the local level. The state has got to back off a bit,” County Commissioner Stephen R. Deutsch said during a 2018 Charlotte County Legislative Delegation meeting at Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association.
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Road gridlock, opioid abuse and protecting local government “home rule” were some of the most commonly cited issues among community leaders who came before the Manatee County Legislative Delegation Thursday to present their priorities in advance of the 2018 legislative session. A study is underway that will produce recommendations “we’re hoping can resolve the gridlock that we have in the central Manatee area,” said Manatee County Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac.
News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Senate Republican wants to allow cities and counties to be able to regulate smoking in public parks. State law currently gives authority to the state to regulate smoking -- a concept known as preemption of local authority. But the bill (SB 562), filed Thursday by Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, would allow cities and counties to “further restrict smoking within the boundaries of any public parks they own.”
Fort Myers News Press
The infants are born addicted. They struggle to live. They cry constantly as they go through the same withdrawal symptoms as an adult, wanting more of the drug that had become their food the past nine months. The opioid crisis impacts much more than the drug user. For the pregnant women addicted to these drugs the baby becomes addicted. When they are born, the crisis continues for days, even months, as they are treated for drug dependency.
Central Florida 13
Orange County officials are moving closer to banning medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas. After much debate, the Orange County Planning and Zoning Board voted Thursday, by a 7 to 2 margin, to recommend county commissioners ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The ban would extend to parts of the county not under the jurisdiction of a city or town, like Orlando.
Key West Citizen
The Monroe County Commission agreed Wednesday to not find its hurricane debris hauler, Ashbritt Inc., in default of its contract, but demanded the company up its game. The conversation became heated between County Mayor George Neugent and Ashbritt owner Randy Perkins. Neugent was the only one to vote against not finding the company in default. Neugent argued that the company is under-performing and does not have the 200 trucks the contract requires. As of Wednesday, the company was operating with 74 trucks, according to county engineer Judy Clarke.
The last shelter in Lee County is set to close their doors on Saturday, leaving those still homeless from Hurricane Irma with nowhere to go. Cecilia Rivers is one of those who finds themselves in a difficult predicament. "It's hard, really it's hard," said Rivers. Hurricane Irma blew a hole in the roof of her home in Estero. Now, it's filled with mold. She said she's been denied by FEMA and called countless contractors with no luck.
The University of Central Florida has gotten 300 applications from Puerto Ricans looking to enroll next spring. UCF held a panel Thursday on how to help Puerto Rican residents that are moving to Florida after being affected by Hurricane Maria. The panel, which focused on educational help, was formed by representatives of public schools in Osceola, Orange, and Seminole counties, the city of Orlando, Valencia College and UCF, Florida Virtual Schools, and State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.
Lee County's Board of Commissioners got together this week to talk about ongoing Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. The board sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday, saying the county needs more money and more flexibility from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But in the meantime, progress is being made in the cleanup process. Over 500,000 cubic yards of vegetation debris has been picked up.
Sunshine State News
Drones aren’t just fancy gadgets for tech nerds anymore. Utility companies are now using the high-tech devices to help restore power faster and more efficiently in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Irma, keeping the industry on the cutting-edge of a technology once only used by the military. The unmanned aircrafts weigh around 10 pounds and can fly for about 20 minutes at a time, allowing power companies to get a bird’s eye view of power lines and identify any problems keeping the lights on.
Small Cell Phone Towers
“Towers and antennas must be installed throughout American communities, which to date has generated improper and unacceptable behavior by some state, local or tribal governments,” FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said before the New Jersey Wireless Association at their Wireless Deployment Summit in Monroe Township, NJ Wednesday. “The Commission is well aware that industry is facing numerous challenges to install the hundreds of thousands of new wireless towers and antennas that are going to be needed to meet the insatiable demand for mobile services and new wireless technologies, such as 5G,” O’Rielly said.
Daytona Beach News Journal
The discussions regarding home rule and short-term rentals owned and operated by investors was a hot topic this last legislative session, and will be even more contentious during the upcoming 2018 session. As you’ve probably read, a number of our legislators seem intent on taking away local control, including Flagler’s own Rep. Paul Renner. Last year, Renner co-sponsored HB 425, which was designed to take away home rule.
After a year of legal hurdles, the city of Miami and Seminole Tribe of Florida can now move forward with a lawsuit challenging a state rule that would allow higher concentrations of toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, to be discharged into Florida’s rivers and streams. The Third District Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a lower court ruling and Miami and the Tribe said Thursday it will now continue to pursue its lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection's Human Health Toxics Criteria Rule.