The Center Square
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an under-count of an estimated 1.3 million residents in the 2010 decennial census cost Florida state and local governments up to $14.6 billion in “returned tax money” over the last decade. Yet, Florida is one of about a dozen states without a public-private complete count committee, a legislative census commission or an executive-level census office to coordinate with local governments with the April 1 census date less than five months away. Unlike California, which has spent nearly $200 million preparing for the 2020 census – New York City $40 million, Illinois $29 million – Florida did not allocate any money for the census in its fiscal 2020 budget, which went into effect on July 1.
Florida tourist haven Key West wants to protect coral reefs that attract divers, so it’s banning sunscreens that contain chemicals that could harm them. But Florida lawmakers who think it’s more important to protect humans are moving toward outlawing the Key West’s sunscreen ban and making sure no other local governments impose similar ordinances. The battle pits local governments against state government and environmentalists against dermatologists in an argument about coral bleaching and skin cancer. “Melanoma is a very, very serious thing,” said Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, who is sponsoring the bill to ban sunscreen bans.
Collier County, home to two cities — Naples and Marco Island — with some of the priciest real estate in the region, state and even country in some cases, is unsurprisingly nestled snugly in a National Association of Realtors report on the places with the most expensive vacation homes in the country.Collier was ranked No. 11 in the report’s top 25 most expensive vacation home counties in 2018, with a median vacation home value of $334,709. The only other Florida county that made the list was Monroe County, in the Florida Keys, which ranked No. 5, with a median vacation home value of $477,136.
Buzzing like a mosquito against a cloudless blue sky, a helicopter-shaped basketball-sized drone hovers above power lines off Spruce Creek Road. Its pilot, Florida Power & Light technology manager Eric Schwartz, stands below, nudging controls to guide the tiny craft within inches of the high-voltage wires and pole-mounted transformers before steering it smoothly to the ground. It's a demonstration of a procedure that unfolds a dozen or more times daily in neighborhoods in Volusia and Flagler counties and statewide, Schwartz, director of FPL's drone program. It's technology that has streamlined the power company's maintenance and repair efforts, he said.
High levels of red tide have been creeping north along Florida's Gulf Coast, now reaching Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. And, over the past week, red tide was observed in "very low concentrations in and/or offshore of Pinellas County," according to a red tide status update from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Background to high concentrations" of the red tide organism Karenia brevis was observed in Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties.
Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler submitted a symbolic resolution late Thursday, which states that the Board of County Commissioners “declares Sarasota County as a Second Amendment Sanctuary in order to preserve ... the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.” “Second Amendment Sanctuary,” a symbolic designation that riffs on “sanctuary cities,” where local officials don’t cooperate with immigration enforcement. Ziegler hoped the resolution, if passed, would send politicians a pointed message: Sarasota County supports the right to keep and bear arms. “This resolution would put Sarasota County on record and express our support for it,” said Ziegler, who is also vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. “It’s an effort to reaffirm our support for the Second Amendment, which is under attack all of the time.”
Brevard County Commissioner John Tobia will be offering up a resolution at Tuesday's commission meeting that would, in a bit of irony, limit how many resolutions commissioners can introduce to 12 a year, beginning in 2020. Tobia said in his resolution that too much time is spent by county staff during the “resolutions, awards and presentations” section at the beginning of County Commission meetings, listening to the resolutions being read by the sponsoring commissioner. He said this is "preventing them from working on matters of import on behalf of the citizens of Brevard County."
Floridians should start using the yellow and blue bins they keep in their garage, as Florida Recycles Week officially begins in the middle of November. Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared Nov. 11 the start of “Florida Recycles Week” where Monday through Friday will have different events and educate the public on how to recycle properly until Nov. 15 — America Recycles Day. Each year, America Recycles Day is where millions of people throughout the country seek to raise awareness about recycling. Since 2009, thousands of activities have been held in the country to spread awareness about the importance of recycling and offer personal pledges for people to sign their commitment to recycling and buying products made from recyclable material.