Sunshine State News Blogs
“Professor Sweet strongly encouraged or mandated that students from several classes sign a pledge card that stated, ‘I pledge to vote for President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket,’" the Caller quotes from a report presented to the board. "She also misrepresented her intentions to multiple students, indicating at various times that she was conducting voter registration for the college, that the pledge cards were nonpartisan voter registration forms, and that the pledge was a ‘statistical analysis.’”
Defense grants totaling $2.6 million have been awarded to 10 projects across the state, the governor’s office announced Monday.
“With numerous bases across Florida, nearly 100,000 men and women who serve in active and reserve duty are living in the Sunshine State,” Gov. Rick Scott stated in a release.
“These $2.6 million in grants will enhance relationships between Florida communities and the military, to ensure we’re doing the best job possible in working with our nation’s armed services.”
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, stated in a release the grants will help maintain “Florida being the most military friendly state in the country with Northwest Florida as the most military-friendly area of our state."
Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, added that the military bases pump more than $60 billion a year into the state’s economy, employing nearly 700,000.
The 2012-13 Florida Defense Support Task Force Grants were awarded to:
• The Bay Defense Alliance in Panama City: $500,000 to assist in the acquisition of land to buffer Naval Support Activity Panama City from encroachment.
• The Greater Pensacola Chamber: $250,000 to establish a center of excellence for information dominance to stimulate science and technology research.
• The Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze: $225,000 to provide support for wounded special operations warriors in order to return them to active duty.
• The Santa Rosa County board of commissioners: $160,000 to construct a fence to buffer Naval Air Station Whiting Field from the developing Whiting Aviation Park.
• The city of Jacksonville will receive two grants totaling $450,000. The funding will allow Jacksonville officials to continue protecting local military installations by constructing an explosive ordinance disposal bunker at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base and establishing a maritime research and development capability at Naval Station Mayport.
• The Florida 8 (a) Alliance, based in Jacksonville, will receive $100,000 to assist veteran-owned and defense industry small businesses across Florida.
• The National Center for Simulation, located at Naval Support Activity Orlando, will receive $350,000 in grants. The funding will allow for the development of a comprehensive threat mitigation plan to reduce Team Orlando’s risk of realignment or closure. The goal is to implement a strategy that will strengthen and grow the modeling, simulation and training industry in order to retain Team Orlando.
• The Tampa Bay Defense Alliance will receive $130,000. The funding will allow for the establishment of a cohesive, effective local defense community organization that will develop and strengthen relationships between MacDill Air Force Base and the local community.
• The Highlands County Economic Development Commission will receive $500,000. The funding will assist in acquiring conservation easements on land adjacent to Avon Park Air Force Range in order to protect the range from encroachment and possible air mission limitations. This initiative will help enhance the military value of the range and protect it from possible realignment or closure.
The Orlando City Lions' bid to enter Major League Soccer got a boost Monday with the entry of a major financial backer from Brazil to the club's ownership group -- a move that could push the team closer to getting its new 18,000-seat, $105 million soccer stadium.
Flávio Augusto da Silva was announced by the Orlando soccer club as its newest owner Monday. According to the team, the Brazilian businessman's investment will be used for the club’s share of a public/private-funded, multi-purpose soccer stadium in downtown Orlando and future acquisition of an MLS franchise.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of Brazilians visit Orlando,” said da Silva, in a release by Orlando City SC. “It's our No. 1 destination in the U.S. and Brazilians, besides being famous for our friendliness and willingness to buy at the outlets and malls, we are also a nation that loves soccer. More than that, we are a country of 200 million fanatics for soccer! It is a great honor that I now become a part of this vibrant soccer club, Orlando City, which is being built with boldness to make history in this country and will give much pride to this city.”
The USL Pro team has been vying for a bid to enter the MLS and, as such, the team requires a smaller stadium designed for soccer. Talks have been ongoing for two years between the Lions and MLS officials, according to the team. One of the terms of entry into the MLS is a stadium of 18,000 to 25,000 seats.
Orlando City SC commissioned a study that found the team could have an economic impact of $1.3 billion over the next 30 years if they were an MLS team playing in a downtown stadium. The club's president and part owner, Phil Rawlins, has been meeting with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and County Mayor Teresa Jacobs regarding the $105 million stadium, which could be partially funded by taxpayers.
SB 358 filed by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and HB 219 by Rep. Bryan Nelson, R-Apopka, could benefit the Lions if they were to be granted entry to the MLS. The bills allow “for the certification of two Major League Soccer franchise facilities by the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) as new professional sports franchises. The two franchises that meet eligibility criteria would be eligible to receive a sales tax distribution payment of approximately $2 million per year for 30 years.”
As for the new ownership structure, the club said the existing ownership group will remain in place and will continue running the operations. Other owners of the club include John Bonner as well as Scott Bates of Morgan & Morgan.
“Lenders are expressing a greater interest than they have in the past few years in terms of meeting the needs of the small-business community,” Marjorie Weber, Miami-Dade Chapter Chair of SCORE, which helps business owners put loan packages together and refers them to bankers, tells the Herald.
According to the article, "[d]uring the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012, [Small Business Administration]-guaranteed loans were up in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to the SBA. In fiscal 2012, 449 loans were approved in Miami-Dade, totaling $213.3 million, up from 426 loans for $154.4 million in 2011. In Broward, 262 loans for $91.4 million were approved in fiscal 2012, compared to 257 loans for $102.4 million in 2011."
“We’re seeing some really good numbers this year -- we’re up for the first quarter, both in loan numbers and dollars, over last year in our district,” said Jonel Hein, the SBA’s deputy district director, whose region includes 24 counties south of Orlando. “We find it as an indication that the recovery is still continuing. The more we see loans increasing, whether dollar amounts or the number of loans, it’s a positive sign for South Florida.”
Gov. Rick Scott is taking his push for an across-the-board $2,500 pay raise for teachers to the State Board of Education as they meet Monday in Orlando.
“We all agree that investing in our teachers and in our education system is the key to our state’s continued economic growth. I believe that we can invest in all of Florida’s teachers while continuing to ensure teacher accountability,” Scott stated in a letter released Monday from the governor’s office to State Board Chairman Gary Chartrand.
Scott’s letter is part of the agenda for the board, which will also receive an update on teacher shortages and Florida’s shift to the new national assessment system known as Common Core Standards at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Chair Gary Chartrand
State Board of Education
325 West Gaines St., Room 1520
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Chair Chartrand:
Thank you for your leadership on the State Board of Education. Thanks to your efforts, and the hard work of our teachers, administrators, and students, Florida’s education system has made incredible gains.
The hard choices we made to get our economy back on track over the last two years have positioned us to strategically invest in statewide priorities that will encourage job creation for generations to come. The priorities in our 2013-2014 Florida Families First Budget are jobs and education.
Our budget includes an increase of $1.25 billion in funding for K-12 public schools and includes a $480 million recommendation to give each and every classroom teacher a $2,500 pay raise, along with the cost of related benefits. I have also recommended increasing teacher classroom supply funding by $14 million for a total of $45.9 million. This increase represents an additional $70 per teacher, providing an average of $250 per teacher, so our teachers don’t have to spend their own money for classroom needs.
We all agree that investing in our teachers and in our education system is the key to our state’s continued economic growth. I believe that we can invest in all of Florida’s teachers while continuing to ensure teacher accountability. There are three key reasons why:
First, Florida teachers are high performers.
• Florida teachers earned the highest overall grade in the U.S. for teacher quality on the National Council on Teacher Quality.
• Florida fourth graders scored among the best in the world in an international reading study.
• Florida's federal graduation rate rose by an unprecedented 3.9 percent in 2012 -- the largest single-year increase our state has seen since 2003.
Second, we have removed teacher tenure to ensure those at the local level have the flexibility to make sure the absolute best teachers are advanced and rewarded.
Third, we instituted performance pay last year, to help measure and reward those teachers whose students improve the most, and I am committed to funding performance pay in the 2014-2015 budget, when this law is scheduled to go into effect.
Because of the reforms we made over the last two years, we are in a better position today than ever before to support our teachers as they transition to Common Core and reward their outstanding achievements and hard work.
Investments in education will continue to drive economic growth in our state. Our teachers are the cornerstone of educational success.
We know jobs and education -- the two priority areas of our legislative agenda -- are directly connected. The workforce of tomorrow is in Florida classrooms today. Thank you for your commitment to Florida students. I look forward to working together over the months ahead to make this $2,500 teacher pay raise and our historic $1.2 billion increase in state education financing a reality for Florida families.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is backing the announcement that Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will follow state procurement guidelines.
“Citizens has taken the appropriate action by complying with the more stringent laws and rules that govern purchasing at state agencies. It is the expectation of thousands of policyholders and all residents of this state that this public entity would be as thoughtful and careful with the hard-earned dollars of Floridians as any other public entity," Atwater stated in a release.
“The changes outlined by the management and the board of Citizens to improve their processes to increase accountability, transparency and ethical standards are needed and necessary to regain the confidence of their policyholders and the residents of this state.”
The state-backed Citizens announced earlier on Friday a series of revisions to its purchasing policy, including requirements to conduct legal reviews on contracts topping $65,000 and designating managers to watch over deals worth more than $35,000.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, 44 other state attorneys general, and the federal government reached a $12 million settlement with Victory Pharma Inc., resolving allegations that VPI provided unlawful kick-backs to health care professionals to persuade them to prescribe their drugs. Florida will receive more than $46,000 as part of this settlement.
“It is unlawful for pharmaceutical companies to provide kick-backs to health care professionals for prescribing specific drugs, and we will not have our Medicaid program foot the bill for this illegal practice,” Bondi said in a statement announcing the settlement.
The statement alleges that between January 2007 and December 2009, VPI sales representatives persuaded health care professionals to prescribe Fexmid, Dolgic, Naprelan, and Xodol to their patients by providing cash payments, meals, and tickets to sporting and other entertainment events.
In response to concerns raised by the tourism industry and by the international community, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is delaying implementation of the law, which might violate the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.
Catch the whole scoop.
Citizens Property Insurance Corp. is revising its purchasing policy in a belt-tightening move that includes legal reviews on contracts topping $65,000 and managers to watch over deals worth more than $35,000.
The changes announced Friday state that the state-backed insurer will conform with state agency regulations unless the procurement procedures are already more stringent than the state.
“Clarifying and strengthening our internal procurement procedures will be the first of many concrete improvements made as Citizens lives up to its commitment to hold itself to the highest levels of financial and ethical integrity,” Citizens President Barry Gilway stated in a release.
According to the release from Citizens, among the changes:
• Eliminate Citizens’ “expedited procurement” process.
• Expand conflicts of interest provision to require the mitigation of potential conflicts and disqualifies any vendor that obtains information not available to the public.
• Require that the review and approval process for contracts in excess of $65,000 include program, financial, and legal review and approval before the contract is executed.
• Follow emergency procurements and provide the chief financial officer (CFO) with a written determination that an emergency procurement was required, which has been certified under oath.
• Assign a contract manager to each contract over $35,000.
• Require that all Citizens contract managers attend Department of Management Services (DMS) sponsored training.
• Require that all Citizens purchasing agents file financial disclosure forms.
The changes will be presented to the Citizens board of governors on March 22.
Did you know Carole Crist has two children by her ex-husband Todd Rome? Probably not. How would you? Neither she nor her husband Charlie are ever seen with them.
And that's the problem now. Carole apparently has "mommy issues" -- as in "I don't want to be one."
According to a story in the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, earlier this month a New York county judge awarded temporary full custody of Carole Crist's teenage daughters to Rome, who alleges Florida's former first lady has abandoned and ignored her kids for more than two years.
The judgment apparently overturned the parents' joint custody, and follows two years in which Carole Crist failed to return phone calls, text messages, letters, or communication of any kind with her children.
Rome's attorney Mark Heller told the New Times, "It's shocking and very disturbing because these two girls are at a fragile point in their lives, and as important as a father is, a mother is very important," he said. "And [Crist] has been completely absent from their lives."
Rome, CEO of Blue Star Jets in Manhattan, told the South Florida publication that their younger daughter was recently suspended from the boarding school she attended just outside Manhattan. The girl was living on his couch, waiting for Carole Crist to return the required paperwork, acknowledging the disciplinary measure. But she never did.
Attorney Heller told the New Times, "The original divorce agreement granted joint custody, but she hasn't seen them in two years, and the children's needs haven't been met. She won't answer calls. Her lawyers won't answer calls. And we had no choice but to go to family court."
Nearly one in 10 companies contacted this week by Florida investigators failed to carry the required workers’ compensation insurance, the state’s chief financial officer announced Friday.
Investigators with the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Workers’ Compensation Bureau of Compliance and Division of Insurance Fraud made random visits to 375 construction sites, contacting 770 employers during a two-day sweep.
The result of the sweep was 70 citations being issued to construction companies and other businesses, which requires each business to cease all operations until the employer obtains coverage for its employees, the office for Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater stated in a release.
Five of the employers were found working in violation of an already issued stop work order.
“The goal of this sweep was to ensure the safety of Florida’s workforce, especially in the construction industry, where workers encounter potentially dangerous situations daily,” Atwater stated in the release.
“Construction companies that don’t carry the required workers’ comp coverage put their employees at great risk and, through gaming the system, are able to outbid responsible companies that play by the rules.”
Under state law, businesses engaged in the construction industry are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage when they employ one or more employees, including the owner.
Businesses engaged in the nonconstruction industry are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage when they employ four or more employees, excluding business owners, who are exempt.
Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, will give a preview of the 2013 legislative session during the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange 2013 Annual Dinner tonight at Michael’s on East in Sarasota.
Gov. Rick Scott will be in Fort Myers on Friday to highlight the transportation portion of his $74.2 billion fiscal plan he has already presented to state legislators.
A release from the governor’s office states that Scott will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. at the Swift Sunguide Center, which is the regional transportation management hub for I-75 in Southwest Florida.
Scott’s proposal for transportation included $3.6 billion for highway construction, $144 million for county transportation projects, $288 million for seaports, $169 million for aviation, and $20 million for Space Florida.
On Monday, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said the final numbers on the transportation portion of the budget would soon be unveiled at $8.5 billion, $200 million more than Scott had proposed last month.
At least two Americans, suspected al-Qaida terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi and his 16 year-old son Abdulrahman, have been killed pursuant to the policy.
Some excerpts from Mack's editorial:
"One of the most important impacts of last November’s elections is that freedom is again under attack. This time, the assault on our freedom is not being led by our enemies abroad, but rather by Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington, buoyed by an increasingly complacent American public all too willing to sacrifice our liberty under the false guise of security.
"In recent days, we have learned that the Obama administration has approved the use of drone warfare – often referred to as remote control assassination – to hunt down and kill terrorists, including American citizens.
"Let there be no mistake – American citizens who are engaged in terrorist activities against the United States must be brought to justice. But President Obama’s decision to use drone warfare to target and kill these American citizens without any attempt at due process is a disgrace and an assault on our Constitution. ..."
Michelle Anchors, who was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush to the Committee for a Sustainable Emerald Coast, has been named to the Florida Commission on Ethics by Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.
Anchors, of Fort Walton Beach, is a lead attorney at Keefe, Anchors & Gordon and also serves on the board of directors at the University of West Florida.
“Michelle Anchors is a highly respected Northwest Floridian and a trusted authority on legal and ethical issues affecting both local and state government,” Gaetz stated in a release. “Appointing Ms. Anchors to the Ethics Commission is an integral part of our initiative to establish and enforce a high and clear standard of conduct among public officials.”
Her term begins immediately and ends July 1, 2014.
The attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit charged Edna Lorraine Watkins, 34, with two counts of Medicaid provider fraud and one count of grand theft. She is accused of billing Medicaid for services that were never rendered and billing for services to recipients who were ineligible for Medicaid. Some of the people to whom she claimed to have provided services were in jail at the time the services were supposedly rendered.
“We will not allow people to abuse the Medicaid program by falsifying applications to become a provider and then essentially stealing from the program,” Bondi stated in a press release.
Watkins is also accused of falsifying her application to become a Medicaid provider by concealing prior felony convictions and using a false Social Security number.
If convicted, she could face up to 90 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. She is already serving time in prison for prescription drug trafficking charges. The case will be prosecuted by the state attorney’s office for the 4th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi entered a settlement Thursday with Toyota Motor Corp., resolving allegations that Toyota publicly represented that its vehicles were safe despite knowing about unintended acceleration caused by accelerator entrapment and “sticky” accelerator pedals.
The agreement, which 29 other states joined, requires Toyota to make operational changes and full disclosures about its resold vehicles. Toyota must pay $29 million in total as part of the national settlement, including nearly $2 million to the Florida attorney general’s office to cover investigative costs, attorney fees, and future enforcement efforts.
“Misrepresenting a vehicle’s safety endangers the public and violates Florida’s consumer protection law,” stated Bondi in a press release. “I am pleased that Toyota cooperated with our office and has agreed to protect consumers by reforming its operations.”
The settlement prohibits Toyota from reselling a vehicle it reacquired with safety defects without informing the purchaser about the defects and certifying that the reacquired vehicle has been fixed.
The Florida attorney general’s office led the investigation along with Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington. According to Bondi's release, the following states participated in today’s settlement: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Florida’s 29-member congressional delegation – the third largest in Congress – met today for the first time in three years under the bipartisan leadership of Co-Chairmen Reps. Vern Buchanan and Alcee Hastings to discuss the economic importance of the state’s 15 seaports.
“Florida’s 15 public seaports support 550,000 jobs and produce $66 billion in annual economic activity to the region,” said Buchanan, who also serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade. “Port Manatee in my congressional district – the closest deepwater seaport to the Panama Canal – generates more than 24,000 jobs. If we continue to expand our exports, it will help Florida’s economy as we send our goods, services and products to people around the world. The global marketplace will be the new battlefield of the 21st century and we need to make sure that America is up to the challenge.”
“Port Manatee is ideally positioned to expand international trade-related job opportunities in Manatee County,” said Carlos Buqueras, executive director of Port Manatee and one of several port directors who addressed the congressional panel. “With over $ 2.3 billion in regional economic impact, including more than 24,000 jobs, it's essential that we continue to invest in the economic engine that Port Manatee brings to our economy.”
Buchanan said today’s meeting proves that Florida can set the tone for what needs to be done to restore common sense and civility to Washington.
“At a time when America faces unprecedented challenges, it is imperative that Washington put aside the poisonous rhetoric in favor of common-sense policies that move our state, our economy and our country forward,” said Buchanan. “Some people argue that it’s not possible to reshape the dialogue to a more public-spirited approach, but I believe that the Florida congressional delegation can lead by example – working together to do what’s right.”
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and co-chairman, for bringing us back together as a bipartisan delegation,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
Members of the Florida delegation who attended this morning’s meeting include: Rep. John Mica, Rep. Kathy Castor, Rep. Steve Southerland, Rep. Lois Frankel, Rep. Ted Yoho, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Bill Posey, Rep. Alan Grayson, Rep. Dan Webster, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Dennis Ross, Rep. Frederica Wilson, Rep. Rich Nugent, and Rep. Corrine Brown.
Florida had 27,979 new jobs posted online in January, boosting the total of online help wanted notices in the state to 255,749, the governor’s office announced Thursday.
“With more than 255,000 job openings available in our state, it’s clear the decisions we’re making are helping employers feel more confident about the future of their businesses,” Gov. Rick Scott stated in a release.
According to the Help Wanted OnLine data series from The Conference Board, employers in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville topped the online job demand.
Fields with the most jobs included: health care practitioners and technical occupations; sales and related occupations; office and administrative support occupations; and computer and mathematical occupations.
By comparison, online advertised vacancies bottomed out in April 2009, when 151,251 ads were up.
Gov. Rick Scott has appointed Glenn T. Shelby to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John Laurent.
Shelby, 57, of Lakeland, is a board-certified practitioner specializing in real estate transactions and estate planning.
“Glenn is a Florida native, an admirable family man, and a committed community leader,” Scott stated in a release. “He has a keen understanding of the proper role of the judiciary and will make a fine circuit court judge for the citizens of Polk, Highlands, and Hardee counties.”
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the dating website for those seeking extra-marital affairs has come out with its list of the most unfaithful cities.
And do you really have to ask if Florida made the list compiled by AshleyMadison.com, the website that promotes itself with the saying “You only live once. Have an affair.”
Miami comes in at No. 4, based upon AshleyMadison.com’s user data.
It should be heartening to realize that the rest of Florida's cities are -- in the data eyes of AshleyMadison,com -- better for couples than Lincoln, Neb., which landed at eighth place on the list.
Washington, D.C., topped the list, followed by Austin and Houston.
The nation’s capital, with 34,157 new users last year on the website, has stood atop the list now for two consecutive years.
"With enormous public attention paid to political cheating scandals this year, including the General Petraeus affair, there was no doubt that Washington residents would be influenced," website founder Noel Biderman stated in a release.
“Living in D.C., it's crucial to keep up appearances and therefore adultery has become a way of life for many of the city's most powerful residents."
For those with wandering eyes, here’s the full “Least Faithful Cities” top 10:
1. Washington, D.C.
5. Oklahoma City, Okla.
6. Richmond, Va.
8. Lincoln, Neb.
10. Phoenix, Ariz.
And you can catch our exclusive sneak-peak tomorrow morning, at 3:55 a.m.!
Is Miami becoming the new Wall Street, the new financial capital of America and the world?
Why are businesses flocking to the Sunshine State from the Tri-state area?
What is Florida doing right? What is Florida doing wrong?
Do Gov. Rick Scott's policies have anything to do with this?
Is Enterprise Florida helpful to attracting businesses, or is it just "corporate welfare"?
Find out tomorrow morning, as we preview "Tax Flight to Florida," Casone's exclusive look into why tax incentives have led many individuals and companies to relocate to the Sunshine State. On Friday, Feb. 15, Casone heads to the Miami International Boat Show where she will speak with the industry’s top CEOs and buyers to discuss the economic improvements in the boating sector and advantages of doing business in Florida.
Viewers can catch Casone's all-day coverage, Thursday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., on the Fox Business Network.
Gov. Rick Scott, who was in Lake Mary on Wednesday as Verizon Communications announced plans to bring up to 750 jobs to Central Florida, will be in Palm Beach Gardens on Thursday, for a similar release at the new headquarters for TBC Corp., the governor's office announced.
Last August, Scott announced TBC planned to add 175 new jobs after acquiring Itasca, Illinois-based Midas Inc. and deciding to locate their joint headquarters in Florida, where 120 were already employed.
TBC, one of the nation’s largest marketers of replacement tires, is the parent of automotive service centers under the "Tire Kingdom," "Merchant's Tire & Auto Centers," and "National Tire & Battery" brands.
If approved by the full House and the Senate, the bill would change the standards by which Florida judges admit expert testimony. Under the current "Frye" standard, expert witness testimony can only be admitted if it is "sufficiently established to have gained general acceptance in the particular field in which it belongs." The proposed bill would align Florida's courts to the federal "Daubert" standard, which admits expert testimony so long as the judge finds it to be based on scientifically sound principles.
Florida is one of only 10 states that adheres to the older "Frye" standard.
"Florida's courtroom standard for scientific evidence is 90 years old. Science has come a long way since then, and so should the law," William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, told Sunshine State News after the committee vote. "We applaud the House Civil Justice Subcommittee for introducing PCB CJS 13-02, which adopts the fact-based standard used in all federal courts, and we urge the Legislature to pass this measure and put certainty back into Florida's courtrooms."
Should Florida change its expert testimony standards? Stay tuned to SSN as we interview players on all sides of this debate to let you, the readers, decide.
Raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour, as President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, will be a “job killer” in Florida, claimed NFIB/Florida’s Executive Director Bill Herrle.
“A government mandate such as this would need to be completely absorbed by small-business owners, who are already operating on razor-thin margins,” Herrle stated in a release.
"Small firms cannot pay a worker more than the value the worker brings to the firm. Raising the minimum wage denies more low-skilled workers the opportunity to get a job and receive ‘on the job’ training. It also denies workers seeking entry-level jobs employment, and puts them at an economic disadvantage. Raising the cost of labor raises the incentive for employers to find ways to use less labor.
"In short, raising the minimum wage would make hiring more expensive. Most small-business owners are still trying to climb out of a difficult economy and these types of costs and regulations imposed by government affect them disproportionately and hinder their ability to invest, expand and create jobs."
In the State of the Union, Obama claimed the rate hike would boost annual salaries enough to take millions of Americans out of poverty.
“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour,” Obama said.
Solicitation of contributions, landlord issues and motor vehicle repairs topped the list of complaints by Florida consumers in January, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The state’s 1-800-HELP-FLA consumer assistance hotline fielded 3,690 complaints last month, as the department also received 24,621 calls and 663 emails for consumer assistance and information.
In the monthly report, the department also:
-- initiated 180 investigations (156 administrative and 24 criminal);
-- arrested nine individuals in violation of state law;
-- recovered $298,209 on behalf of Florida consumers;
-- added 7,626 numbers (3,914 individuals) to Florida’s Do Not Call List as of January 2013. These numbers will be effective April 1, 2013. Currently, there are 439,905 numbers and 242,041 subscribers on the list.
In 2012, the state department fielded 191,200 calls and 33,450 emails, of which 50,622 were complaints -- a 21 percent increase from 2011.
Of the 2012 complaints, 17,337 were about callers violating the Do Not Call list.
“Senator Rand Paul is right – America must cut spending and balance our budget.
“The Mack Penny Plan, which I introduced in the 112th Congress, prescribes a common-sense way to balance our budget. It’s a simple plan that every family and every business has had to do themselves. The federal government must do the same.
“I appreciate Senator Paul’s leadership on fixing America’s finances and I look forward to doing all I can to help him in his effort to make the Mack Penny Plan the law of the land.”
Mack's "Penny Plan" would have balanced the federal budget in under a decade by cutting one penny out of every federal dollar spent and capping spending at 18 percent of GDP. Paul was an early co-sponsor in the 112th Congress.
Gov. Rick Scott used his weekly video address to continue pushing his 2013 fiscal plan, including teacher pay raises and cuts to manufacturing sales taxes.
“Since December 2010, Florida has created nearly 200,000 private-sector jobs and our unemployment rate continues to drop. In 2013, we will continue to focus on doing what’s best for Florida’s families.
“That is why my recommended budget includes more than $1 billion more for K-12 education funding -- including a $2,500 pay raise for Florida’s teachers.
“We will also work to eliminate the sales tax manufacturers pay when they buy equipment -- that way they can invest in Florida and hire more Florida families
“I ask the Florida House and Senate to join me in putting Florida Families First during the upcoming legislative session.”
With officials on the Space Coast searching for private firms to help bridge the gap between the now-retired space shuttle program and rollout of the Space Launch System, a bill designed to expand where space-related incentives can be obtained by the private sector cleared its first hurdle in the state House.
Members of the Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee on Wednesday backed House Bill 135 sponsored by Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, which would designate the Space Coast Regional Airport and Industrial Park in Titusville as spaceport territory.
New and expanding businesses involved in aerospace activities within set “spaceports” are eligible for tax exemptions on machinery and equipment.
The Titusville facility would join areas within Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Eglin Air Force Base, Cecil Airport and Cecil Commerce Center among Florida’s spaceports.
U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho, R-Fla., has issued a response to President Obama's State of the Union address.
“After experiencing my first State of the Union, it is evident now more than ever that our government is divided. We have our work cut out for us.
“Our Constitution guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is up to the individual to take a hold of the opportunities that are available to every citizen. It is our job as elected representatives to protect that document. By doing so, we protect opportunity for every single American.
“I feel more passionately now than ever that we as the 113th Congress can and must come together, not as Republicans and Democrats but as Americans. Americans deserve more than carefully crafted speeches -- they deserve action.
“I’m proud to be a member of a House of Representatives that has and will continue to take action to stop these reckless policies and champion American values like personal responsibility again.”
Yoho is serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a licensed large-animal veterinarian who spent 30 years in private practice, and lives in Gainesville.