The Palm Beach Post
Being a couple weeks away from June 1, the start of Florida’s hurricane season, it is vital to have the conversation about the future of our state’s roadways and how Florida residents can evacuate more efficiently and safely, in the event of a natural disaster. As a former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and Florida Emergency Management director, I am pleased to see that the Florida Legislature passed a measure that will create three new multi-use corridors.
Florida lawmakers this month approved a controversial bill that is expected to make it harder to put citizens’ initiatives on the ballot. The bill (HB 5) would place additional restrictions on gathering the hundreds of thousands of petition signatures needed to reach the ballot. For 2020 ballot proposals, supporters need to submit 76,632 valid signatures to trigger a review by the Florida Supreme Court. If justices sign off on the proposed ballot wording, supporters then would need to submit 766,200 signatures for the measures to go before voters.
The Palm Beach Post
Subtropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of the 2019 hurricane season, formed Monday evening in the Atlantic. Data from an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft indicates that the low pressure system located several hundred miles southwest of Bermuda has developed a well-defined center with maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph, forecasters from the National Hurricane Center said. At 11 p.m., Andrea was about 300 miles southwest of Bermuda and moving to the north at 12 mph.
St. Augustine Record
Cuts to Visit Florida — the state’s official tourism marketing engine — will affect St. Johns County, but local officials hope to keep those impacts to a minimum as the summer vacation season starts to heat up. In their finalized state budget submitted earlier this month, legislators reduced funding for Visit Florida from $76 million in 2018, to $50 million beginning July 1. While the news is better than the complete dismantling of the organization that was bandied about Tallahassee, those in the tourism industry say it still isn’t good.
The Palm Beach Post
With visitor counts shattering records year after year, Florida’s tourism sector has emerged as an unstoppable force, an economic driver that brings in billions of dollars a year. Now state leaders are posing a $26 million question: How much of the influx can be attributed to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency? And how many visitors would come no matter how much taxpayers invest in advertising? After a pitched battle in Tallahassee over the importance of the public-private agency’s marketing efforts, state lawmakers slashed funding for Visit Florida to $50 million for the budget year that starts July 1, down from $76 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
Naples Daily News
Fruit scattered on the ground, trees uprooted and entire blocks of groves submerged. That’s what I saw as I visited citrus groves just after Hurricane Irma tore through much of Florida’s Peninsula in 2017. Lives were lost, and homes and businesses were destroyed by that Category 4 storm. Florida’s iconic citrus industry was absolutely devastated. And like many others in Florida after Hurricane Irma, citrus growers were in need of hurricane relief. Florida’s citrus growers are familiar with challenges. The industry is five centuries old, dating back to the 16th century when Spanish explorers discovered and settled in Florida.
Columbia County is getting ready to grow. The county will receive more than one million dollars from the state to help with infrastructure. The grant will go towards expanding an existing water treatment plant, to create room for more businesses. The county expects 30 new jobs will be created. The money is coming from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The outrage of the moment is the recent disclosure that there were two Florida counties, rather than one as initially reported, which were subject to Russian “hacking” of their ballot boxes in the 2016 election. This information was given us by our governor, who said he could not name the counties because he had signed a “Non-Disclosure Agreement” (NDA) with the FBI. Under Florida’s public-records law, one of the many exemptions from having to disclose information provides that if criminal intelligence information is given to a Florida agency by a non-Florida agency under a requirement that it be kept confidential, the requirement takes precedence.