As Hurricane Dorian threatened to cause massive damage to Florida’s East Coast in early September, residents --- and electric utilities --- prepared for the worst.
As residents emptied store shelves of supplies or evacuated their communities, utilities lined up thousands of workers to be ready to deal with downed power lines and destroyed equipment.
As it turned out, Florida got lucky. Dorian stayed far enough off the coast that it largely spared the state from damage.
But the storm was yet another reminder of the dangers that hurricanes pose to Florida’s electric system, threatening to plunge millions of residents and businesses into days without lights, air conditioning and refrigerators.
Lawmakers this spring passed a measure that supporters say could help reduce the threat. The measure, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, is expected to help utilities build more underground power lines.
A key part of the law, however, changes the way utilities can finance such projects. And that could mean utility customers will face new costs.
The state Public Service Commission on Thursday will take up proposed rules that are needed to carry out the law. Among the issues that will be closely watched is whether utilities should be able to collect projected costs for building underground power lines or whether they should have to wait until the work is finished.
Commission staff members recommended that utilities should be able to collect projected amounts, despite objections from the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers.
“(Allowing) for the timely recovery of costs incentivizes (the utilities) to undertake capital-intensive projects that will achieve the purpose of the statute: hardening the state’s electric transmission and distribution infrastructure to better withstand extreme weather conditions,” the staff recommendation said.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2019
HUMAN TRAFFICKING TARGETED: The 2019 Human Trafficking Summit, hosted by Attorney General Ashley Moody, will be held in Orange County. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking and the University of Central Florida also are helping spearhead the event. (Monday, 8:30 a.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Dr., Orlando.)
SPACE AGENCY BUDGET CONSIDERED: The Space Florida Audit and Accountability Committee will hold a conference call to discuss the agency’s fiscal year 2020 budget. (Monday, 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-528-2256. Code: 4875556.)
VAPING AWARENESS ON TABLE: The Florida Heathy Kids Corporation’s Community Outreach and Marketing Committee will consider issues such as a vaping-awareness effort aimed at preventing teens from using electronic cigarettes. (Monday, 2 p.m., 1203 Governors Square Blvd., fourth floor, Tallahassee.)
RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Sarasota County. (Monday, 2 p.m., North Port City Hall, 4790 City Hall Blvd., North Port.)
MOSAIC PLANT PERMIT DISCUSSED: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will hold a meeting in Polk County to discuss a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System draft renewal permit for the Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC Bartow Chemical Plant. (Monday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mulberry Civic Center, 901 N.E. Fifth St., Mulberry.)
KEYS SANCTUARY AT ISSUE: A meeting will be held to provide information about potential changes to the management plan, zoning and regulations related to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released what is known as a “Restoration Blueprint” for public comment. (Monday, 6 p.m., Marathon Middle High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road, Marathon.)
HATTERSLEY HOLDS TOWN HALL: State Rep. Adam Hattersley, a Riverview Democrat running for Congress next year, will hold a “teacher town hall” to discuss education issues. (Monday, 6:30 p.m., Brandon High School, 1101 Victoria St., Brandon.)
SUPREME COURT CLOSED: The Florida Supreme Court will be closed for Rosh Hashanah.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2019
NEW LAWS TAKE EFFECT: A series of laws passed during the 2019 legislative session will take effect Tuesday. Among them are measures to protect police dogs and horses and crack down on hazing and child-like sex dolls. Also, the state’s ban on texting while driving will expand to prohibit motorists from using handheld wireless devices while driving in designated school crossings, school zones and work zones.
RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Duval County. (Tuesday 10 a.m., Neptune Beach Senior Center, 450 Atlantic Blvd., Neptune Beach.)
FLORIDA SOUTHWESTERN TRUSTEES MEET: The Florida SouthWestern State College Board of Trustees will meet after holding committee meetings. (Tuesday, committees start at 1:30 p.m., with full board at 3 p.m., Florida SouthWestern State College, Lee Campus, 8099 College Parkway, Fort Myers.)
RESTORATION OF VOTING RIGHTS DISCUSSED: The state’s Restoration of Voting Rights Work Group will meet. The group was created as part of efforts to carry out a November constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to felons who have completed terms of their sentences. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Code: 659459077.)
SEMINOLE STATE TRUSTEES MEET: The Seminole State College of Florida Board of Trustees will meet. (Tuesday, 2 p.m., Seminole State College of Florida, Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, 100 Weldon Blvd., Sanford.)
BAY COUNTY DELEGATION MEETS: The Bay County legislative delegation, made up of Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, Rep. Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, and Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, will meet as it prepares for the 2020 legislative session. (Tuesday, 5 p.m. Central time, Bay County Government Building, 840 West 11th St., Panama City.)
TRANSPORTATION PLAN AT ISSUE: The Florida Department of Transportation District Six office will hold a public hearing on the district’s Five-Year Transportation Plan. (Tuesday, 6 p.m., Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway, Marathon.)
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2019
FISHING ISSUES ON MENU: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will open a two-day meeting that will include issues such a proposed new limit on blackfin tuna fishing, a boating safety report from the Division of Law Enforcement and an update on Biscayne National Park fishing regulations. (Wednesday, 8:30 a.m., Radisson Resort at the Port, 8701 Astronaut Blvd., Cape Canaveral.)
CABINET AIDES MEET: Aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will meet to discuss issues in advance of an Oct. 8 Cabinet meeting. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.)
MANATEE COUNTY DELEGATION MEETS: The Manatee County legislative delegation will meet as it prepares for the 2020 legislative session. The delegation is made up of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rep. Tommy Gregory, R-Sarasota; Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg; and Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton. (Wednesday, 9 a.m., Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton.)
HOMELESSNESS AT ISSUE: The state Council on Homelessness will hold a conference call. (Wednesday, 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-888-585-9008. Code: 351186925.)
SPACE FLORIDA LEADERSHIP DISCUSSED: The Space Florida Governance and Compensation Committee will hold a conference call to discuss performance guidelines. (Wednesday, 9 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-528-2256. Code: 4875556.)
JUSTICES TAKE UP MURDER CASES: The state Supreme Court will hear appeals in two Northeast Florida murder cases. In a Clay County case, David James Martin is appealing his first-degree murder conviction in the 2008 fatal beating of Jacey McWilliams. In a Duval County case, Rodney Renard Newberry is appealing his death sentence in the 2014 fatal shooting of Terrese Pernell Stevens. (Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.)
ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT SPEAKS AT FSU: Scott Horsley, chief economics correspondent for National Public Radio, will speak at Florida State University in a lecture titled, “Making Sense of Washington, 140 Characters at a Time.” (Wednesday, noon, Florida State University College of Law rotunda, 425 West Jefferson St., Tallahassee.)
SENIOR ISSUES DISCUSSED: Several lawmakers are expected to take part in a town-hall meeting about senior issues, with the event hosted by LeadingAge Florida, Sinai Residences, Jewish Family Services, the Jewish Federation and Life Care Services. Participants are expected to include U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.; U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla; state Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana; state Rep. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton; state Rep. Mike Caruso, R-Delray Beach; and state Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores. (Wednesday, 1:15 p.m., Zinman Hall, 9901 Donna Klein Blvd., Boca Raton.)
JOINT MEDICAL PANEL MEETS: The Joint Surgical Care/Quality Assurance Committee of the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine will meet and discuss issues such as the standard of care for fat injections. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., Embassy Suites by Hilton, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa.)
RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Osceola and Gadsden counties. (Wednesday, 2 p.m., West Osceola Library, 305 Campus St., Celebration. Also, 2:30 p.m., Gadsden County Public Library, 732 South Pat Thomas Parkway, Quincy.)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2019
MEDICINE BOARD COMMITTEES MEET: Committees of the Florida Board of Medicine will meet in advance of a full board meeting Friday. (Thursday, meetings start at 8 a.m., Embassy Suites by Hilton, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa.)
ELEPHANT RIDES EYED: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will conclude a two-day meeting by reviewing new rules for elephant rides. Also, the commission will consider a proposal that would expand a ban on importing whole deer carcasses or parts to reduce the chances that Chronic Wasting Disease --- a potentially fatal disease to deer --- will enter Florida. (Thursday, 8:30 a.m., Radisson Resort at the Port, 8701 Astronaut Blvd., Cape Canaveral.)
BOARD OF NURSING MEETS: The Florida Board of Nursing will meet after holding committee meetings. (Thursday, committees start at 8:30 a.m., with full board at 1:30 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 N.W. 72nd Ave., Miami.)
PALM BEACH DELEGATION HOLDS HEARING: The Palm Beach County legislative delegation will hold a public hearing as it prepares for the 2020 legislative session. The 13-member delegation is chaired by Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, with Rep. David Silvers, D-Lake Clarke Shores, serving as vice chairman. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Norton Museum of Art, 1450 South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach)
COURT HEARS APPEAL IN PRISON MURDER: The Florida Supreme Court will take up an appeal by Angel Santiago-Gonzalez, who was sentenced to death in the 2014 murder of Donald Burns when they were inmates at the Florida Department of Corrections’ Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.)
ARTS AND CULTURE ON AGENDA: The Florida Council on Arts and Culture will meet in Sarasota County. (Thursday, 9 a.m., Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.)
UNDERGROUND POWER LINES EYED: The Florida Public Service Commission will consider proposed rules that would carry out a new law aimed at expanding the use of underground power lines. Supporters of the law have touted its potential to reduce electricity outages after hurricanes. But the rules deal with changes involving issues such as the way underground power-line projects are financed. The commission’s meeting will be followed by a workshop on 10-year site plans for electric utilities. (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.)
RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Miami-Dade County. (Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Stephen P. Clark Government Center, 111 N.W. First St., Miami.)
NORTHEAST REGIONAL COUNCIL MEETS: The Northeast Florida Regional Council will meet in Duval County. (Thursday, 10 a.m., Northeast Florida Regional Council, WJCT, 100 Festival Park Ave., Jacksonville.)
SUPREME COURT RELEASES OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court is expected to issue its weekly opinions. (Thursday, 11 a.m.)
POLK COLLEGE TRUSTEES HUDDLE: The Polk State College Board of Trustees will hold a retreat. (Thursday, noon, Polk State College, Center for Public Safety, 1251 Jim Keene Blvd., Winter Haven.)
COURT HEARS ‘AMENDMENT 10’ CHALLENGE: The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear a challenge to a voter-approved constitutional amendment that involves sheriffs and other types of county officials across the state. Volusia County went to the appeals court in March after Leon County Circuit John Cooper rejected a challenge to what was known as Amendment 10 on the November 2018 ballot. The amendment requires the election of county sheriffs, tax collectors, property appraisers, elections supervisors and clerks of court. Also, the amendment, placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, prevents counties from taking steps such as abolishing those “constitutional” offices or transferring the duties. Volusia County has contended that the constitutional amendment does not apply to it because of a decades-old local charter that revamped the structure of the county’s government. Cooper, however, ruled that “the language of the amendment itself and of the ballot summary reflect a clear voter intent that the amendment apply to all counties, including those that made changes pursuant to the pre-amendment law.” (Thursday, 3 p.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.)
SANTA FE COLLEGE TRUSTEES MEET: The Santa Fe College Board of Trustees is scheduled to hold a workshop. (Thursday, 4 p.m., Santa Fe College, 3000 N.W. 83rd St., Building S-332, Gainesville.)
FERNANDEZ HOSTS HOUSING TOWN HALL: State Rep. Javier Fernandez, D-South Miami, will help host a town-hall meeting about affordable-housing issues. (Thursday, 7 p.m., Rebecca Sosa Multipurpose Facility, 1700 S.W. 62nd Ave., Miami.)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2019
BOARD OF MEDICINE MEETS: The Florida Board of Medicine will meet in Hillsborough County. (Friday, 8 a.m., Embassy Suites by Hilton, 3705 Spectrum Blvd., Tampa.)
RECREATIONAL POT PROPOSAL ON TABLE: The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will hold a workshop about a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational marijuana. The political committee Sensible Florida, Inc., is seeking to put the measure on the November 2020 ballot. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
BOARD OF NURSING MEETS: The Florida Board of Nursing will meet in Miami-Dade County. (Friday, 8:30 a.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 N.W. 72nd Ave., Miami.)
RUBIO HOLDS ‘MOBILE’ OFFICE HOURS: Staff members for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold “mobile” office hours in Putnam and St. Johns counties. (Friday, 9:30 a.m., Putnam County Commission conference room, 2509 Crill Ave., Palatka. Also, 2:30 p.m., Hastings Branch Library, 6195 South Main St., Hastings.)
WORKERS’ COMP RATES AT ISSUE: The state Office of Insurance Regulation will hold a hearing on a proposal by the National Council on Compensation Insurance that would reduce average workers’ compensation insurance rates by 5.4 percent, effective Jan. 1. The organization, commonly known as NCCI, makes annual rate filings for workers’ compensation insurers. (Friday, 10 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.)
TRIUMPH GULF COAST BOARD MEETS: The Board of Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., which makes decisions about distributing settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will meet in Escambia County. (Friday, 10:30 a.m. Central time, Escambia County Commission chamber, Ernie Lee Magaha Building, 221 Palafox Place, Pensacola.)