News Clips

Bradenton Herald

Roofless homes, scattered debris. Why has Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery been so slow?

When Hurricane Maria tore through Cuba Libre, a small hamlet in central Puerto Rico, it ripped Iris Ortiz’s roof clean off. Two years later, as she stood on a neighbor’s elevated porch, she peered into the small cement home where she grew up but is now abandoned. Her dishes were still stacked neatly in the kitchen, and a faded picture of the Virgin Mary was hanging in the living room. “I’ll fix the roof and move back in,” she said without much enthusiasm. “Someday.” Large swaths of this U.S. territory have rebounded since the Category 4 storm cut through the island on Sept. 20, 2017, killing almost 3,000 people and causing more than $102 billion in damage.

The Palm Beach Post

PBC to crack down on Airbnb rentals, looking for bed tax scofflaws

Palm Beach County residents who rent out homes, apartments or rooms through Airbnb and HomeAway will soon be monitored to assure they are properly registered to collect bed taxes. In an agreement that ends one of several lawsuits between Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon and the vacation rental websites, both sides on Monday agreed to make sure the thousands of county residents who are renting out private homes are using proper tax identification numbers. Those who aren’t won’t be able to use the platforms to generate extra cash, according to the settlement that brings an end to a federal lawsuit.


Next House speaker tackles spending, climate change

Moments after he was formally elected Tuesday to serve as Florida’s next House speaker, Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls waded into issues such as bolstering the state’s finances and addressing climate change. And he made clear he doesn’t think much of social media and the goings-on in Washington, D.C. Sprowls, a 35-year-old attorney, will succeed Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, after the November 2020 elections and will hold one of the most-powerful political jobs in Florida. He has long been positioned to become the next speaker, a move that was finalized Tuesday with a voice vote by House Republicans, who hold an overwhelming majority in the chamber.