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Briefs | The Phoenix Flyer

DOT damage-avoidance graphic fails to ease fears about new highways through wild Florida

Florida transportation authorities released a map this week showing areas designated for little or no damage from construction of three new highways through rural parts of Florida.These apparently did little to allay fears that the massive projects will destroy the state’s last wild and rural landscapes.The map, called an “avoidance graphic,” indicate sites where the Florida Department of Transportation intends to avoid disturbances when the proposed highways are built.“I am confident that the avoidance graphic articulates our promise to protect and preserve Florida’s environment, while also planning for the state’s inevitable future growth,” said DOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault.However, critics...

New digital ads target Trump’s proposed safety-net budget cuts

President Trump promised to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security during his State of the Union address.Days later, the administration proposed a budget for the next fiscal year that includes large cuts to those safety-net program.Priorities USA, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, is running a series of digital ads to bring attention to the difference between what the president promised and what he now proposes."Donald Trump promised to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security but continues to try and cut them while giving massive tax breaks to billionaires and big corporations,” Patrick McHugh, executive director of Priorities USA, said in...
labor union photo

Public union workers would face new regulations under a bill headed to the FL...

Teachers, fire fighters, and other public workers would face new regulations if they want to remain members of a public-employee union under a bill now ready for a floor vote in the Florida House.The House State Affairs Committee on Thursday approved the legislation (HB 1) that will require union workers to submit a signed authorization form to their employer, stating that they are a member of the union and want their dues deducted from their paychecks.But dues can only be deducted after the employer “is able to confirm with the employee, electronically or by other means, that he or...

Time’s running out to register to vote in Florida’s presidential primaries

With the deadline to register to vote in Florida’s presidential preference primary elections fast approaching, Republicans and Democrats alike are rushing to sign up new voters.The registration deadline is next Tuesday, Feb. 18. The primaries are scheduled for March 17 and the general election on Nov. 3. Here’s the Florida Division of Elections webpage with the relevant dates.You can register through your local supervisor of elections or through the Florida Division of Elections website.And yes there is a GOP primary. Taking on President Trump are Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, a business man and real estate developer from California;...
Florida Capitol

FL House and Senate advance competing budget bills for 2020-21

With differences over funding for affordable housing, environmental land purchases, and tourism promotion, the Florida House and Senate on Wednesday advanced separate versions of a $91 billion-plus state budget for 2020-21.The two chambers are expected to vote out final versions of their budget bills on Thursday, triggering the process through which Senate and House negotiators will settle the differences before the 2020 Legislature’s scheduled end on March 13.In general, the budgets from the Republican-led House and Senate are in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ $91.4 billion budget proposal for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.Here are some...

Anti-vaping legislation stalls in Florida amid ongoing illnesses, deaths nationally

As state and federal health officials continue investigations into lung injuries and diseases attached to e-cigarette use, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a rising toll of vaping cases and deaths. As of Feb. 4, there had been 64 deaths in 28 states including Florida, the CDC said in a press release on Tuesday. Florida reported two deaths during 2019 but none so far in 2020, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Health. The state agency also reported 110 cases of “vaping product use associated lung injury,” referred to as EVALI for short, between Jan....

Bill to repeal the death penalty in Florida will not get a hearing

Lawmakers and advocates gathered in the Florida Capitol Tuesday to express their disappointment that a bill that would have eliminated the death penalty for capital murder will not receive a hearing during the 2020 session.“Unfortunately, when it comes to implementation of the death penalty, Florida is leading the nation in a very, very bad way,” said Sen. Gary Farmer, a Democrat who represents part of Broward County and is sponsoring the legislation (SB 938).Mark Elliot, executive director of Floridians for Alternative to the Death Penalty, noted that Florida has the second largest death row in the nation and that...

House panel backs warning labels for Florida Lottery tickets

Despite a gubernatorial veto of a similar bill last year, state lawmakers again are trying to slap a warning label on state Lottery tickets.In an 8-3 vote, the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday endorsed a bill (HB 991) that would require a “PLAY RESPONSIBLY” warning on the front of Lottery tickets.Rep. Will Robinson, the Bradenton Republican who is sponsoring the legislation, said the warning must cover at least 5 percent of the ticket’s surface. The warning, which would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, must also be used in television, Internet, and print advertising by...

PAC report: Business lobby shares its wealth with Florida Cabinet members

Political committees linked to the Associated Industries of Florida shared their considerable resources among members of the Florida Cabinet during January, contributing big checks to committees benefiting the two Republicans on the panel as well as the lone Democrat.The largest gift to Florida Consumers First, which raises money for that Democrat, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried, was $40,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, a political committee linked to the business lobby sometimes known as AIF.Another $35,000 came from The Voice of Florida Business, a committee led by former House Speaker Tom Feeney, now the president of...
Florida Capitol

Bill would end tenure of long-time public advocate on utilities with major rate cases...

Legislation that would force out veteran Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, who represents ordinary utility customers before the Florida Public Service Commission, passed its first committee test Monday on the strength of a lopsided Republican vote.The bill (SPB 7052) would limit public advocates to as many as three four-year terms – 12 years total – in office, effective on July 1. Kelly has already reached that milestone.The vote by the Committee on Innovation, Industry, and Technology came as the PSC prepared to undertake reviews next year of rates charged by Florida Power & Light Co. and Gulf Power Co.Should the...

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