Submitted by cmosteller on Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:20

FAC News Clips – May 11-14, 2018

Local News


Miami Herald

Lobbyist Ron Book tends to get his way in Miami-Dade, but this time it's a No.

Miami-Dade commissioners unanimously rejected county lobbyist Ron Book's request for a waiver to represent pet stores that had pushed state lawmakers to block local regulations of puppy sales. The 12 to 0 vote represented a rare rejection for Book before the commission, which has consistently waived term-limit and residency requirements to allow the powerful lobbyist to remain the volunteer head of the county's homeless board. Book represents dozens of local governments in Tallahassee, including Miami-Dade, as well as private-sector clients.


Winter Haven News Chief

County, city offer incentives for 160 new jobs at distribution company

BARTOW — A logistics and distribution company that could employ 160 people may open near the Amazon distribution center in West Lakeland on County Line Road. County commissioners voted, 5-0, on Tuesday to offer the company up to $128,000 in incentives if the company hires the 160 employees over a three-year period. Ashley Cheek, business development director for the Lakeland Economic Development Council, said the company should decide in the coming months whether it will come to Lakeland.


Naples Herald

Lee mulls shifting Conservation 20/20 focus to water management; boosting funding

Lee Commissioners considered possible changes to the way Lee County handles property assessment, acquisition, and funding for its Conservation 20/20 program during a workshop meeting on Tuesday. Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program has acquired more than 25,000 acres since its inception in 1996. In 2016, voters approved a continuation of the program by an overwhelming 84 percent majority. Most recently, the fund was used to purchase almost 4,000 acres of wetlands in Estero known as Edison Farms for $42.4 million in 2017.


Miami Herald

The minimum wage won't be good enough at Miami's airport under new county law

A new county law requires businesses renting space from Miami-Dade to pay employees a living wage, a rule that could mean several dollars more per hour for the lowest-paid workers at Miami International Airport and other county facilities. The legislation that passed Tuesday is the latest example of Miami-Dade expanding its authority to impose wage requirements on companies doing business with the county government. The county already requires most vendors to pay a living wage, defined as $15 an hour for employers not offering benefits.


South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Sheriff Israel wants money for more deputies to take guns from people deemed a threat

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel plans to hire 31 employees to enforce a new state law that gives police the power to seize guns from private citizens at risk of harming themselves or others. Police in the county have seized guns more often than elsewhere in the state under the so-called “red flag” law signed by Gov. Rick Scott in March in response to the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 and wounded 17 others. To date, the Sheriff’s Office has had 47 cases submitted under the new law and removed guns in 22 of those, said the sheriff’s general counsel, Ron Gunzburger.


Miami Today

County looks at regulating bike-sharing companies

Something must be done to regulate bike-sharing companies like LimeBike, which have thousands of bikes scattered across the county, Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto told the Economic Development and Transportation Committee last week. “Neighbors complain about the bikes being just thrown in front of yards, left [on] sidewalks,” he said. “We have an inflammation of ‘bike-itis.’ There has to be a way to bring order.” While Citi Bike in Miami Beach, North Miami Beach and several downtown areas uses solar-powered docking stations to rent and collect its bikes when not in use, newer bike-sharing companies have eschewed stationed docking and instead depend on customers leaving their bikes on public property.


Customary Use


Daytona Beach News Journal

FLAGLER PERSPECTIVE: Beach access should be open to all

Flagler Beach City Commissioners passed an ordinance last week that should never have had to come up for a vote. The measure protects the public’s right to traverse some areas of privately owned beach in the city and mirrors one crafted by Flagler County officials in response to House Bill 631, which was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott in March. While private property rights should be preserved, the bill signed by Scott protects those individuals at the expense of the wider public and could result in a patchwork quilt of publicly accessible areas on the beach, diminishing free access to one of the county’s greatest resources.


Drug Abuse



Pam Bondi sues makers of opioids, says it's time they pay for the pain they caused

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday that she had filed “the most comprehensive lawsuit in the country” against the largest manufacturers and distributors of opioids, blaming them for creating an opioid crisis that has killed more than 10,000 Floridians. Flanked by police, firefighters and families of opioid victims, Bondi said she wanted “billions” from the companies, which she said misled patients about addictive drugs and ignored people who were ordering suspicious amounts of them.



Bondi files lawsuit against 9 opioid manufacturers and distributors

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Tuesday the state has filed a lawsuit against nine different opioid manufacturers and distributors, saying the firms fueled an epidemic throughout Florida and must “pay for the pain and the destruction that they have caused.” “I wish I could send some of them to jail. But I can’t,” Bondi said at a news conference in Tampa. “So, we’re going after them financially.” The manufacturers include Purdue, Endo, Janssen, Cephalon and Allergan. The distributors are AmerisourceBergen, McKesson, Cardinal and Mallinckrodt.


Sarasota Herald Tribune

Florida sues drug industry for addiction crisis

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi sued opioid manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, claiming the addiction crisis coursing through the state stems from the industry’s “strategic campaign of misrepresentations” about painkilling medication. The state’s lawsuit was filed in Pasco County Circuit Court the same day attorneys general in Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota and Tennessee also sued in their state courts. Officials charge that the drug companies violated consumer protection laws by falsely downplaying the risk of addiction while promoting the benefit of opioid use.


Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach County Commission declares opioid crisis a ‘public nuisance’

With a unanimous 7-0 vote, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners decided on Tuesday to join the growing list of cities nationwide in declaring the opioid crisis a public nuisance. The vote, which comes less than a month after commissioners asked Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman to draft the ordinance highlighting the scourge of opiate addiction in Palm Beach County, pushes forward county officials’ quest to recover the public money they have spent and are continuing to spend battling the epidemic.


Panama City News Herald

Bay County files suit against opioid makers

PANAMA CITY — Bay County has filed a 232-page lawsuit in federal court against pharmaceutical companies, alleging negligence on their part in the opioid crisis. The county’s suit, as expected, has been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation case that has been funneled up to federal court in Ohio, lawyer Cliff Higby told the Bay County Commission on Tuesday. “There are now some 600 suits pending in the multi-litigation case up in Cleveland,” said Higby, whose firm has accepted the county’s case on contingency.


Gun Laws



Tallahassee joins other cities in lawsuit over gun laws

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - The City of Tallahassee has joined 19 other cities in a lawsuit against Florida state officials over gun laws. Florida law currently does not let local governments enact gun safety laws in their own areas and set a severe penalty for officials who violate this. The cities believe it is unconstitutional for reasons including: "Conflict with the Governor's limited power to remove local government officials, infringe on freedom of speech, and violate the right to petition and instruct."


Gainesville Sun

Gainesville joins gun lawsuit against state

An amended complaint was filed in Leon County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon, adding Gainesville and five commissioners as plantiffs. The city of Gainesville and five commissioners have been added as plantiffs to an amended complaint where 20 cities are suing the state of Florida, the governor and attorney general over enacting stricter gun policies at the local level. The amendment was filed in Leon County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon. Other cities to also join the lawsuit include Tallahassee, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale and North Miami.




Orlando Sentinel

Exclusive: New report shows homeless population declining

An annual count of Central Florida’s homeless population found an ever-so-slight decrease compared to the same time a year ago, a new report shows. But given the region's extreme lack of affordable housing, officials called the findings very good news. “Just the fact that it didn’t go up, given how tight our housing market is — that’s a huge deal,” said Martha Are, executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, which led the annual count. “A lot of communities had increases.


Property Taxes

TaxWatch stumps for property-tax cap on November ballot

Asked for a 30-second ‘elevator speech‘ on why voters should choose ‘yes’ for Amendment 2 in November, Florida TaxWatch president Dominic M. Calabro didn’t blink. “If you don’t vote ‘yes,’ either you or your neighbors will see massive tax increases and great deal of property tax dissatisfaction … anger even, if we see property taxes jump by 20 percent,” he said Tuesday, at a press conference in Tallahassee. The proposed constitutional amendment by the Legislature would cap property tax hikes at 10 percent on properties that don’t have a homestead exemption, such as vacation homes, apartment complexes and undeveloped lots.



Amendment 2 could save Florida taxpayers $700 million

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- A new report says a constitutional amendment slated for the November ballot could save Florida taxpayers $700 million each year if approved. Amendment 2 would make permanent a 10 percent-cap on annual non-homestead property tax increases that was implemented by a constitutional amendment in 2008. The current cap is set to expire at the start of next year. While the exemption doesn't directly benefit homeowners, its repeal could impact living costs for renters and seniors on a fixed income, according to the report.


Tallahassee Democrat

Taxwatch: Renters could face double-digit increases if Amendment 2 fails

Tenants can expect to see double-digit rent increases if Amendment 2 fails in November, warns one of the state's best-known research groups.  Florida TaxWatch Tuesday released a study projecting that renters could see drastic hikes, if the amendment fails to get the 60 percent voter approval required for passage.  The proposal would make a 10 percent cap on annual increases for non-homestead properties permanent. The cap is scheduled to expire on Jan. 1. Without the cap, it would mean an additional $700 million in property tax bills for nonhomestead properties statewide. 


School Resource Officers



Flagler County School Board approves school safety agreement with Sheriff's Office

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - The Flagler County School Board on Tuesday night unanimously approved an agreement with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office to provide security on all public school campuses for the 2018-2019 school year, a school district spokesman said.  Under the Memorandum of Understanding, Flagler Schools will pay half the cost for nine deputies, a sergeant and a unit commander -- a total cost of $696,004, not including overtime.  The funding of nine school crossing guards, a cost of $92,938, was also included in the contract.




Palm Beach Post

EXCLUSIVE: McKinlay: Palm Beach County, on front line, is taking action

This week, the city of West Palm Beach is hosting the 32nd Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference, which focuses on hurricane planning, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. On Sunday, there was an editorial in The Palm Beach Post (“Editorial: The missing threat on the gov’s hurricane conference agenda,” May 13) indicating the conference program does not mention climate change or sea level rise mitigation. Although tide hazards are relatively new, and some of the short and long-term effects are not fully apparent, Palm Beach County and its municipalities have taken critical steps to help protect their communities.