Sunshine State News Blogs
The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Tuesday released the next feature in its series “Meet Your Oversight Watchdogs,” introducing Rep. Ron DeSantis, of Florida’s CD 6, to Americans.
“This government needs to start behaving responsibly in terms of how it spends taxpayers' money,” says DeSantis. “We’ve seen this administration rack up trillion-dollar deficits for four consecutive years. If we continue on our current course we will have a national debt of $20 trillion when this president leaves office.”
The Ponte Vedra Beach Republican took office in January.
Can the buzz around university teams lift them to NCAA March Madness wins?
Experts at Prime Visibility, using an algorithm, examined the total social media conservations – on Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media channels -- for each team in the basketball tournament. What would have shocked observers two weeks ago, but is not so surprising now, Florida Gulf Coast University, the first 15-seed to ever make it to the Sweet 16, scored the most buzz.
The PV team then took it a step further, comparing the social-media buzz of each team with that of their opponent to see if there was a winning trend. Analyzing conversations starting 24 hours before the game until its end, the results revealed 78 percent accuracy in Round 1 games and 69 percent accuracy in Round 2 match-ups.
Of course, that’s not to say Facebook and Twitter deserve more credit than Brett Comer, Sherwood Brown or Bernard Thompson, but it's an interesting way to fill out your bracket.
Duke Energy acquired Progress Energy in July 2012, and the company’s rebranding effort will now extend to Progress. Progress Energy Florida will be renamed Duke Energy, while Progress in the Carolinas will go by Duke Energy Progress.
The new logo, which Florida customers will start seeing April 29, was developed internally to bring one face across the company.
“Customers will start seeing the logo soon, but it will take a number of months for the rollout to be complete,” said Ginny Mackin, Duke Energy vice president and chief communications officer. “In the end, we’ll have one logo to symbolize one unified company – representing the largest electric utility in the nation.”
According to the company, they will begin the rebranding effort on March 25, on company signs, vehicles and other locations in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and areas in the Carolinas that were served by Duke Energy prior to the Progress merger.
“To minimize customer confusion, Duke Energy Progress will use a modified version of the new logo that includes the word ‘Progress’ – to differentiate it from Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves customers in different areas of North Carolina and South Carolina,” the company stated.
Duke Energy is the nation’s largest electric utility.
President Barack Obama is set to appoint Julia Pierson as the first female to lead the U.S. Secret Service, the Washington Post reports.
The former Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, resigned after the agency suffered a prostitution scandal involving more than 10 of its agents during a trip by Obama to Colombia.
Pierson started her 30-year career at the agency in its Miami office. She presently serves as chief of staff of the Secret Service, and has held various position throughout her three decades on the job, including deputy assistant director in the Offices of Administration and of Protective Operations, overseeing the agency’s Presidential Protective Division, Vice Presidential Protective Division and Special Services Division. She was also assistant director of the Office of Human Resources and Training.
Sullivan called her appointment a "historic and exciting time" for the service.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, environmentalists -- who had said they agreed with the state’s new Everglades cleanup plan that was passed unanimously by the Florida House Friday -- made a request in federal court Monday to continue to have a federal judge meddle, and have the ultimate say, in Florida’s business.
After hearing complaints from Earthjustice attorney David Guest, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno postponed any action for 60 days, in order to give the state Legislature time to resolve the matter by instituting the plan agreed to by Gov. Rick Scott and the Obama administration.
Arguing on behalf of the state, Tallahassee attorney Chris Kise told the judge, “There's no problem for the court to solve." Kise was brought in by the Scott administration to put an end to more than 20 years of costly federal litigation over the Everglades.
Although environmental activist groups like the billionaire Paul Tudor Jones-backed Everglades Foundation, a heavy funder of environmental lawsuits, and Audubon Florida did a victory lap, taking credit for the Everglades compromise plan approved by the House and on its way to approval in the Senate, environmentalists Monday changed their tune in front of the federal judge. They now claim to not have had a seat at the table, instead of having driven the legislative compromise. "We participate in the sense that [state officials] explain what they come up with," said Guest, who was “representing a consortium of environmentalists,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
If Moreno decides to issue an order, it will mean that the litigious environmental groups will have an arena to continue draining state taxpayer dollars. But, hey, what’s another 20 years of federal court fights?
Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are more than charismatic risk-takers who handle the media with skill and confidence and want to be president.
The Washington Post Group's daily online magazine Slate claims "the GOP is going through a molting period. The route each man charts and how successful he is in capturing arguments of the moment -- on immigration, drones and whatever else comes up -- will tell us something about what the emerging Republican Party values and what it might look like as it tries to get in shape for the next national contest."
Slate claims if the GOP embraces either Rubio or Paul, it will be a radically different party: "If either is elevated into a serious national candidate, it would reverse two old truths about presidential politics: that opposition parties promote candidates who are distinct from the sitting president and that governors have the advantage over senators."
With three years to go, the party shouldn't assign too much weight to what they do now, says Slate. But it should see how they shake out as Republicans see whether they're willing to change.
Read the full Slate story, Rand vs. Rubio.
Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, issued a statement Monday announcing that the Florida Senate has recommended an additional $200,000 to fund University of South Florida research at the former Dozier School for Boys.
On March 12, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a petition seeking a court order to exhume bodies at what has already become one of Florida's darkest shadows, the Dozier School for Boys. The Panhandle reform school closed in 2011.
“This funding is crucial to helping USF analyze the cemetery at the former school," Stargel said. "This the right thing to do, so that we may provide some form of closure for the family members who tragically lost loved ones at this site.”
The school in Marianna was founded in 1900 and operated until 2011 when it was formally closed. Recent investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General have begun to address some of the mystery surrounding the campus and many alleged deaths.
Stargel says USF has been using ground-penetrating radar, test excavations, and other techniques for a thorough inspection of the property to locate and identify gravesites.
“My constituent, Glen Varnadoe, brought (the Dozier School travesty) to my attention and has been a generous advocate for those victims who can no longer speak for themselves," the senator said. "I am honored to have him as a constituent and am committed to ensuring we provide this support.”
After the scandal caused by Allied Veterans of the World resulted in the resignation of former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, it will also likely mean the end of Internet gaming cafes, as Florida Senate President Don Gaetz said Monday.
In reference to Allied Veterans reportedly claiming to donate 70 to 100 percent of its proceeds to charity, but in fact, only allegedly giving approximately 2 percent, the Republican of Niceville said, "This gross and cynical fraud highlights the flaws within Florida law pertaining to Internet cafes and has spurred action by our Legislature. On Monday, the Senate Gaming Committee unanimously voted to approve CS/SB 1030 which will ban these illegal, unregulated institutions.
"By clarifying current gaming laws concerning slot machines, charitable drawings, game promotions and amusement games, the bill closes loopholes that these predatory groups have crawled through, reportedly amassing hundreds of millions of dollars largely from elderly and vulnerable citizens. The legislation has strong bipartisan support throughout the Legislature and, thanks to the sponsorship of Senator John Thrasher, I believe the bill will pass."
The companion measure passed the full House on Friday.
While admitting that Florida Gulf Coast University had a good win against San Diego State Sunday night to become the first 15-seed team ever to make it to the Sweet 16 round of NCAA's March Madness, Florida Gov. Rick Scott wouldn't play favorites on Monday.
Even as he visited Naples -- FGCU territory -- he wouldn't pick Coach Andy Enfield's Eagles in an unlikely triumph over No. 3-seed University of Florida.
“I’ll pick the school that has Florida in their name,” he told the Naples Daily News.
FGCU, the Cinderella team that has captured the underdog-fan contingent in the nation's top college basketball tournament, takes on Billy Donovan's Mighty Gators of Gainesville on Friday in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium. Tip off is scheduled for 10:07 p.m.
Of course, another Florida team is still in the hunt. The University of Miami Hurricanes take on Marquette Thursday at 7:15 p.m. in Washington, D.C.
Finally a suitable reaction to the nonsense from Florida's (and Washington's) Queen of Exaggeration, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The Miami Democrat is so, so sad. It's the way those heartless, stubborn Republicans and sequestration are letting her staff starve.
Apparently she complained to a House Appropriations Committee earlier in the week that the combination of cuts over the past two years has robbed Washington's impoverished, six-figure-salaried congressional aides, bless them, of nearly 11 percent of their personal budgets, which average $1.3 million.
She turned heads when she said, for example, that prices of meals in House restaurants are getting so high that aides are being "priced out" of a good meal.
Read this John Hayward story from Human Events. If you've got even the tiniest strain of fiscal conservatism running through your veins, you're going to love it.
Here's some of what Heyward says, via the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard: "At the carry-out cafe in the Cannon Office Building, where Wasserman Schultz has her office, you can get an 8-oz. bowl of Ham and Bean soup for $2. You can buy gourmet sandwiches and wraps for around $5. Both of these are cheaper than I can get at delis down the street from my house.
"Her aides could walk across the street to the Longworth Building, which has a large sit-down cafeteria. Today, it is featuring a roasted stuffed chicken, with asparagus and mashed potatoes, for around $7. Or, one could opt for a heaping 12-oz bowl of Chicken Chili for $3."
What, asks Hayward, if some of these poor, starving staffers think of leaving us and going to work in what's left of the private sector?"
Meanwhile, back to the Appropriations meeting: Wasserman Schultz probably didn't like the response of Louisiana Republican Rodney Alexander, the committee chairman. He shrugged off her killer-budget-cut theatrics, saying that he "made the necessary adjustments" in his office, including axing four aides.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who waded into the environmental quagmire of Everglades restoration and won a bout with the Obama administration's eco-tiger Lisa Jackson, spoke out Friday in support of the first step to codify his agreement into Florida's law books.
"I applaud the work of Senator Wilton Simpson and Representatives Matt Caldwell and Steve Crisafulli for their legislation that moves Everglades restoration forward by funding, and codifying in law, a plan that will ensure the state meets the water quality standards it has set for the Everglades," said Scott. "I would also like to thank members of the agriculture and environmental communities for working toward a solution that will benefit Florida’s businesses, families and the ecosystem."
It was the governor's first acknowledgment of the work of policymakers and the role of agriculture in the Everglades process. Scott has had high praise for his agencies and environmental groups.
"In addition to this important legislation, we will continue working with the Legislature to invest $60 million to protect and restore the Everglades,” the governor continued.
Now that the House has passed the bill, the next step will be for the Senate to move its identical companion through the process.
A landmark Everglades restoration bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Caldwell, unanimously passed the full House Friday.
The bill was described as the final phase of Everglades restoration. An identical companion bill is currently moving through the Senate. It unanimously passed its first committee stop Thursday, a sign that the bill could move swiftly and arrive on Gov. Rick Scott's desk.
The bill puts into Florida law an agreement proposed by the state and accepted by the Obama administration last year to finalize restoration efforts that began 20 years ago.
The bill's language is supported by the state's three sugar companies -- U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida -- as well as environmental groups like Audubon Florida and the Everglades Foundation.
Read the full story.
HB 155, the bill banning electronic games at Internet cafes, passed the Florida House 108-7 as anticipated, with no eleventh hour theatrics.
"I think they were all talked out on the issue," Daytona arcade owner Scranton Phillips said of House members. "I knew we were history the day Lieutenant Governor (Jennifer) Carroll resigned."
Carroll resigned after she was interrogated by authorities as part of a statewide investigation into alleged illegal gaming by a charity, Allied Veterans of the World. AVW owns numerous Internet cafes. The investigation already has resulted in 57 arrests around Florida.
Supporters, including the majority of the state business community, say all the bill does is to clarify existing law for games of chance. Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, the sponsor of the House bill, has insisted that Internet sweepstakes cafes -- where patrons play games of chance and winners take home "prizes" instead of cash -- should have been illegal all along.
"The Senate is going to do the same thing," Phillips said. "A lot of people are going to be out of work and a lot of lonely people are going to have nowhere to go to have fun and socialize. What a sad day for my people."
Republicans have taken back voters' trust on key issues of the economy and national security, according to a survey released Thursday.
While voters continue to trust Democrats more than the GOP on nine of 15 major issues continually tracked by Rasmussen Reports, a new poll finds 45 percent of likely U.S. voters now trust Republicans more than Obama's party when it comes to handling the economy -- an issue Americans continue to rate as their top concern.
Forty percent trust Democrats more. As recent as January, Democrats held a 6-point lead over Republicans on the issue. Democrats had not held the economic-issue advantage in 3 1/2 years prior.
Republicans now also hold a 5-point lead (45 to 40 percent) regarding which party voters feel more comfortable with when it comes to national security and the War on Terror. It's another issue Dems held a lead on in January (45 to 41 percent).
GOP also leads on the issue of government spending. Democrats, on the other hand, are embraced by voters when it comes to health care, energy, gun control, Afghanistan, immigration, government ethics, Social Security, education and the environment.
Interestingly, neither party holds the upper hand in voters' minds about job creation, small business and taxes.
Even though an overwhelming number of Florida voters support universal background checks (a 91-8 percent margin) and stricter laws on guns generally, more of them still say the National Rifle Association better reflects their views on gun control than President Obama does -- even if it's only by 45-44 percent.
Florida voters support 51–44 percent stricter statewide gun-control laws, with gun owners opposed 61–33 percent.
This, according to the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, which on Thursday released its survey of 1,000 registered voters in the Sunshine State. It found that Floridians' attitudes on gun control are consistent with margins found in other states it polled.
Voters in gun-owning households support universal background checks, 88–11 percent, the poll finds.
“Floridians’ views on guns are pretty much in line with results seen in other states surveyed by Quinnipiac University,” said Peter Brown, assistant director at Quinnipiac. “Women are more likely to support restricting guns than men; blacks more than whites and Democrats more than Republicans. The idea of requiring background checks on those who want to buy guns has overwhelming support, 91–8 percent, in a country where getting a majority to agree on anything is often difficult.”
Here is a compilation of the survey's major findings on Floridians' attitudes:
• 56–41 percent support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, with gun-owners opposed 57–41 percent;
• 53–43 percent support a nationwide ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds, with gun-owners opposed 56–40 percent;
• 59–36 percent support placing armed police officers in schools;
• 57–33 percent that gun ownership in Florida does more to protect people from crime than to put them at risk;
• 60–31 percent say allowing people to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous rather than safer, with gun owners divided 44–44 percent.
From March 13–18, Quinnipiac University's survey of 1,000 registered voters was conducted March 13-18, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. Live interviewers called land lines and cell phones.
For more details of the polls, click here.
While the president may be misguided on what states will land a team in the NCAA men's basketball national championship game, President Barack Obama seems to have his head on straight with some choices, picking a team from the Sunshine State to go to the Final Four.
Obama, an avid basketball fan, selected his annual March Madness bracket picks and pushed the University of Florida up to the Final Four. The Gators are one of three Florida teams -- along with University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University -- to make it into the TV-ratings-giant tournament.
Joining the Gators in the president's Final Four are Indiana, Louisville and Ohio State. Obama gave the final crown to the Hoosiers, who he thinks will knock off Louisville in the final game.
On Friday, we'll know who he's pulling for when the Gators take on 14-seed Northwestern State in their first game of the tournament.
Can Rick Scott win re-election when two-thirds of Florida voters are against him? No, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute. But Brown cautioned that at this time during the 2010 cycle, the poll numbers were just as stacked against Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, showing then-Gov. Charlie Crist running away with it.
Speaking at the Florida Press Center Wednesday morning, Brown said the Q-poll just released puts Crist -- running for governor as a Democrat -- over Scott 50-34 percent among registered voters.
Not only that, but Alex Sink, the Democrat who lost to Scott in 2010, leads him 45-34 percent today.
Brown said Florida voters -- at this point anyway, which is before Scott's side has fired back a single shot -- say 50-40 percent that Crist's switch from Republican to independent to Democrat is a positive thing, showing that he is a pragmatist, rather than a negative thing showing that he lacks core beliefs.
Said Brown, "There isn't much good news in these numbers for Governor Rick Scott, but there is some. His large lead over Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam (47-24 percent) gives him some solace that he does not have to worry about an intraparty challenge. Scott's support among Republicans appears pretty solid, although he has a lot of fences to mend with independent voters and virtually no crossover appeal to Democrats."
The Wednesday Q-poll comes on the heels of a new, just-as-dismal-for-Scott Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday. It found that the governor still suffers from a low approval rating and trails a handful of potential Democratic opponents.
PPP puts Scott’s approval at 33 percent, compared with 57 percent disapproval. PPP also says, up against Crist, Scott is down 12 points, 52-40; against former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, Scott is down 7 points, 44-37; in a rematch with Sink, he’s down 5 points, 45-40.
Brown, however, continued to caution that 20 months remain before the election, and after Scott's campaign machinery cranks up, the positive perception of Crist and the virtual oversight of Scott's accomplishments could dissolve.
Assault weapons have been removed from the gun-control legislation working its way to the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday the assault weapons ban, which passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, would not be a part of the bill’s language, but instead would be offered up for a vote as an amendment. The ban is not expected to clear the full Senate.
"I have said time and time again I want people to have the ability to vote on assault weapons, mental health, safety in schools, federal trafficking, clips -- everything," Reid told CBS News.
A wave of gun-control measures is also moving through the Florida Legislature. Read more here ...
Sears Holdings Corp. has selected the University of Florida as the site of its first “Center of Excellence,” which will provide Gator engineering students the chance to earn undergraduate internships focused on software development, the university announced Monday.
The Council for Economic Outreach, part of the Gainesville Chamber, and UF partnered to bring the Fortune 65 company’s program to the university.
"Sears Holdings Corporation and, specifically, technology remains committed to our vision of a highly-skilled, diverse workforce,” said Keith Sherwell, chief information officer of Sears Holdings. “As we looked for a partner to pilot a new way of working, the University of Florida matched our commitment to innovation and high standards of excellence. We look forward to embarking on a fruitful partnership benefiting Sears, the University of Florida and the Gainesville community."
The retailer, who has more than 2,600 stores in the U.S. and Canada, will develop the Technology Undergraduate Educational Partnership in Gainesville. Sears will select 25 computer-engineering interns to participate in the program during its first year, who will work during summer at Sears’ locations around the U.S. In the fall, Sears plans to open an office in Gainesville, where the interns will continue their work.
“We are truly excited that Sears picked Gainesville to pilot this program,” said Cammy Abernathy, dean of the College of Engineering. “It is a resounding vote of confidence in UF’s ability to provide a steady supply of high-quality computer engineering and computer science students.”
Sears is the leading home-appliance retailer and a forerunner in tools, lawn and garden, fitness equipment and automotive repair and maintenance. Its household name brands include Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard.
If it's a Monday -- or Tuesday through Sunday, for that matter -- then there's something out there to blame on Big Sugar ... even if it has absolutely nothing to do with them.
It's almost funny, it's so absurd. But that's how The Palm Beach Post and the Everglades Foundation think.
The Post's latest screwball hit on sugar farmers came on a Friday. In its head-scratching coverage of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over statewide nutrient limits for Florida's waterways, the Post writes that it's a "sellout for Big Sugar" -- right there in the lead sentence. I almost spit out my coffee on this one!
As you have read in Sunshine State News' coverage of the numeric-nutrient-criteria battle over the past three years, the Everglades Protection Area is not part of the statewide NNC rule. As a farmer explained to me -- and probably would have to the Post if a Post reporter had bothered to ask -- the area is already under a different set of pollution-restricting mandates, for decades. That includes the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) where said "Big Sugar" has its farms.
And, just in case the Palm Beach Post doesn't know, that's in Palm Beach County.
What will they come up with next?
Incidentally, for accurate coverage on the NNC deal, click here ...
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said Monday the fact that Florida’s unemployment rate is under the national rate for the first time in five years shows Republican principles work.
"These results speak volumes," said Curry. "The continuous drop in unemployment and the creation of 282,000 private-sector jobs since December of 2010 proves that Republican economic policies are moving the state in the right direction."
Curry said, unlike other states, Florida's Republican legislators and the governor have been on the side of Florida businesses who are the true job creators in the market.
"More jobs, less unemployment, more homes being sold, and more people are moving to Florida," said Curry. "It can only be summed up in two words: it's working."
Read more about Florida's jobless numbers ...
A new Rasmussen survey of likely U.S. voters finds Americans continue to think of President Barack Obama as a liberal Democrat.
According to the poll, 69 percent of respondents said Obama is at least somewhat liberal, but 43 percent tagged him as very liberal. In contrast, only 23 percent said the president is politically moderate. And, somewhere in America, there are 3 percent that actually believe he is conservative.
Similarly, another 69 percent said Vice President Joe Biden is at least somewhat liberal, but fewer pegged him as very liberal – 36 percent. As far as being a centrist, 19 percent said he is moderate, while 4 percent called him a conservative.
According to Scott Rasmussen, “These findings have changed little in regular surveying since early June 2008. Most voters across the political spectrum agree Obama and Biden are liberal, but Republicans believe it much more strongly than the others.”
Following a string of testimony from cafe and adult arcade owners, and from others for and against keeping Internet cafes in business, the Senate Gaming Committee unanimously advanced SB 1030 Monday, a bill that changes its version of a moratorium on Internet cafes to an out-and-out ban.
Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, set the pace by saying, "Internet sweepstakes have wiggled their way through loopholes long enough." His interest, he said, is in "reaffirming that gaming is illegal unless it has been legalized" -- and Internet cafe gaming has not.
The House Gaming Committee established its own bill banning Internet cafes on Friday.
The fast-moving issue comes in the wake of last week's arrest of individuals running a chain of the strip center arcades for alleged racketeering and money laundering, followed by the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce already has issued a press statement reiterating its position, delivered before the committee Monday:
“Today is the first of many steps in the right direction to stop the degradation of Florida’s communities,” said Adam Giery, the Florida Chamber’s director of education, talent and quality of life policy. "The Florida Chamber has been a longtime supporter of prohibiting Internet cafes, and we applaud the Florida Senate for taking action to improve Florida’s quality of life.”
More to come in Sunshine State News.
Florida's unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in January, marking its lowest level since November 2008, according to information released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Monday.
The January jobless rate came in a tick under December's revised rate of 7.9 percent as well as under the national January unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. It was the first time Florida has not outpaced the U.S. jobless average since January 2008.
January's rate translates to 740,000 jobless Floridians.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott welcomed international tourists to drive back through the streets of Florida Friday, as he anticipates signing legislation that will repeal a 2012 bill that resulted in unintended consequences: a driving ban on international tourists that don't have a special license.
Scott, who recently hailed the efforts of Visit Florida and the boost in Florida's tourism, said, “I applaud the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Community Affairs for passing legislation to amend a state statute to improve driver’s license provisions for international visitors. The Senate Committee on Transportation and Rep. Daniel Davis have done a great job of demonstrating that international visitors are welcome in Florida.
"This legislation promotes tourism and will ensure visitors from across the globe continue to choose Florida as their vacation and business destination. Visit Florida anticipates tourist spending will reach record levels and I look forward to signing this legislation when it reaches my desk.”
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a deal Friday that rightfully allows the state to set nutrient rules for its own waterways.
The state of Florida filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in 2010 due to its overreach in setting numeric nutrient standards (NNC) for the state's water program. Florida, at the time, was the only state being targeted by the federal intrusion. Early last year, the state won its argument on a key provision, and in November, EPA approved Florida’s scientifically-based criteria for its lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries.
"As a result of continued cooperation, the Department and EPA have developed a joint commitment to clean up Florida’s waterways,” said DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard Jr. “We can now move forward to implementing nutrient reduction criteria, rather than delaying environmental improvements due to endless litigation. We all should recognize the dedication of EPA and Department scientists to protecting our waterways. We appreciate their commitment to a sound, long-term plan to protect Florida waters.”
The state will need to adopt legislation this session outlining the state rules. According to DEP, this will "eliminate the need for continued dual rule-making and secure the foundation for a singular, state-led solution for the state of Florida." Right now, both federal and state rules are in place for some Florida waters.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, who filed the challenge against the EPA, welcomed news of the agreement. "I have always maintained that Florida -- not the federal government -- should enact the rules and laws to protect our unique waterways. After years of litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency has done the right thing by reaching an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection that allows Florida's leaders, who know our waterways best, to implement sound criteria that will safeguard our water from excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution."
Read the full story here.
Watch Sen. Marco Rubio live at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday at 1:15 p.m.
Florida's Republican senator will take the stage after an introduction from Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union.
Watch Rubio live as he addresses the ways to move our country forward.
Taking the stage after Rubio will be Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Miami's grassroots Christian Family Coalition (CFC), which refers to itself as "Florida's premiere human rights and social justice organization," has established a nonpartisan 'blue ribbon committee' to analyze the proposed use of taxpayer dollars for Sun Life Stadium improvements.
The Miami Dolphins are currently seeking up to $199 million in state and county subsidies: a new $3 million per year sales tax rebate and an increase of the county’s tax on mainland hotels from 6 percent to 7 percent.
The committee of community leaders, which includes area clergy and former elected officials, will study the use and fiscal impact of public money for Sun Life Stadium. The leaders are expected to issue recommendations that will be useful to voters.
“This independent, nonpartisan committee is truly a rainbow coalition reflecting our community’s rich ethnic, racial, political and religious diversity. It represents the best interests of our residents and our families,” said Anthony Verdugo, CFC founder and executive director, in a statement.
The members of the committee are:
1. Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky, Chabad Jewish Center of Doral Inc.
2. Armando Bravo, Real Estate Investor.
3. Rev. Keith Butler, Logos Baptist Church.
4. Marili Cancio Johnson, attorney.
5. Mary Collins, former Miami-Dade County commissioner and Miami-Lakes councilwoman.
6. Ricardo Corona, president, Corona Law Firm PA.
7. Maurice Ferre, former mayor of Miami and Miami-Dade County commissioner.
8. Yolly Roberson, former Florida state representative.
9. Rose Tydus, former city of Opa-Locka councilwoman.
Ed Moore, Ph.D., president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, says he liked our story speculating on Jennifer Carroll's replacement as lieutenant governor.
But he makes a valid observation. These are his emailed comments:
"Interesting story on potential replacements -- but lacking anybody except elected officials.
"Certainly there are quality Floridians out there who are not elected officials or are former elected officials.
"Key would be someone who brought a seriousness of purpose, believes in our state and who can sell Florida as we continue to compete on the international economic stage."
Scratch a few names off of Gov. Rick Scott’s short list to be the next lieutenant governor of Florida.
None of the three Republicans in the Cabinet is likely to want the demotion. The same holds true for Republican members of Congress. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, slammed the door on the possibility on Wednesday morning, asserting he’s not interested.
While some conservatives are hoping former U.S. Rep. Allen West will be picked, that seems extremely unlikely. With Scott moving to the center, West will only scare off moderate voters. West’s eyes have always been more fixed on Washington than Tallahassee anyways. It’s simply not happening.
While there are a handful of choices that make sense (Marti Coley anyone?), in all likelihood, Scott won’t turn to North Florida for an LG again, like he did in 2010. If Scott needs to bolster his support in Jacksonville or the Panhandle, then he’s already toast in 2014.