Even after federal regulators tightened the guidelines for home repossessions and lawmakers in Florida took steps to relieve the system last year, foreclosure hearings continue to struggle with the same issues that plagued the process during the downturn — and created the initial backlog. [Source: Sarasota Herald Tribune]
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[Photo by Colin Hackley]
From how water management affects land rights to the privacy implications of drug-detecting dogs to the now-famous neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Florida was central to a number of influential and wide-reaching legal battles. Full story...
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants more money spent on roads, ports and transportation. Scott will announce Monday that he wants state legislators to set aside $8.8 billion for the Department of Transportation budget in the coming year. [Source: AP]
Frustrated by problems plaguing Florida's $63 million unemployment website, state lawmakers said they are set to take action to rescue a system that many claimants can no longer depend on for money to pay rent, food and bills. Possible legislative remedies include overturning a controversial 2011 law that requires unemployed people to apply online for benefits. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Shoot Straight, Florida's largest independent gun-shop chain, has stopped renting guns to prevent its eight Florida ranges from becoming suicide parlors. Shoot Straight joins a growing number of gun ranges across Central Florida that have restricted or prohibited gun rentals to stem the deaths. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Will Florida's citrus be saved from scourge? [Gainesville Sun]
Since it first appeared in Florida eight years ago, the bacterium that causes the disease decimating Florida's $9 billion citrus industry has proven elusive to scientists and growers. But University of Florida plant pathologist Dean Gabriel may have cracked the genetic code.
» Related: Florida citrus growers worry that deadly bacteria will mean end of orange juice
› Mineral rights: Do you own what's under your home? [Fort Myers News-Press]
As oil has gained prominence in Southwest Florida over the past year, so have the mineral rights to that resource. Landowners and energy companies have taken a second look at who owns what is beneath the region and they’re not the only ones.
› Expanding Medicaid an uphill battle in Capitol [Miami Herald]
This year, House Republicans pledge to tackle issues that have long lingered on the back burner, such as more independence for highly trained nurses, increasing the number of medical students who go into primary care and regulating virtual doctor visits. But even as the focus shifts from Medicaid expansion, Democrats say it remains a top priority.
› Gulfstream-Genting casino: Flush with problems [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
A Hallandale Beach pari-mutuel and an international gambling giant have become partners in a new casino endeavor, but if their chances were quantified in terms of a poker hand, perhaps their next move would be "fold."
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› SpaceX may pick Texas over controversial Merritt Island launch site [Orlando Sentinel]
In the long-running battle between spaceships and scrub-jays, the birds appear to be gaining the upper wing. For more than a year, the state has led a controversial effort to build a launchpad inside the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where the Florida scrub-jay lives with at least 15 other species that federal authorities consider threatened or endangered.
› Four years after the earthquake, Haiti looks to turn disaster into promise [Miami Herald]
As Haiti marks the fourth anniversary Sunday of the tragedy that left more than 300,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless, one haphazardly built community, born out of the disaster, is in the midst of a rebirth. And many are concerned that this rebirth is more a throwback to the country’s history of disorderly construction instead of the planned, quake-resistant communities that were envisioned.
› Hobby Lobby's religious convictions aren't for sale [Tampa Bay Times]
The first clue that Hobby Lobby isn't your typical retail business is a sign at the front door saying the craft store is closed on Sundays "to allow employees time for family and worship." Once inside, other clues dot the shelves, from the large selection of religious crosses to the decorations quoting biblical verses. The faith-based subtleties are backed by conviction.
› Southwest Florida job market tight as contractors few and far between [Fort Myers News-Press]
Ben Brignol entered his plumbing apprenticeship with B&I Contractors in 2009 when Southwest Florida’s construction jobs market was a frozen wasteland. Four years later, it’s a different world: Contractors facing a sudden flood of work are raiding each other’s job sites and recruiting as far away as North Dakota.