Florida won’t vote on legalizing pot this year
Despite strong support, Florida voters won’t get to decide this year whether to make recreational marijuana legal. A group pushing a constitutional amendment said Monday that it will drop its bid to get the proposal on this year’s ballot and instead will focus on 2022. The decision means Floridians, for now, could be left out of a marijuana movement that is sweeping the nation. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Bay Times, and the Miami Herald.
Florida Trend Exclusive
Economic outlook: Southeast Florida - Workforce, environment, infrastructure
Florida Trend’s Economic Outlook focuses on specific issues that challenge the cities and counties across the state, assessing whether progress has been made in each category. The biggest development in Broward tourism is a closing: The county will shut the Broward Convention Center for 19 months to pull off a $1-billion renovation and expansion. [Source: Florida Trend]
After years of wrangling, Florida vacation rental preemption bills poised for 2020 adoption
Among the many aspects of Florida’s on-going preemption battles between the Legislature and local governments is the tussle over who should regulate the state’s $31 billion short-term vacation rental industry. Bills seeking to prohibit local governments from regulating vacation rentals have been introduced in the Legislature going back at least to 2014. In two of the last three sessions, the House has adopted vacation rental preemption bills that were not heard in the Senate. [Source: The Center Square]
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces cut to Florida Prepaid prices
Families investing in the Florida Prepaid Program may get a check in the mail this week. On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis held a news conference at Florida State College in Jacksonville to announce new lower prices within the prepaid program. “One of the priorities of my administration is to make access to higher education more affordable and obtainable,” DeSantis said. ”[Higher education has] cost some people to go into crippling debt.” The new price cuts will lower plan prices by $1.3 billion, helping over 200,000 customers. More from the Florida Times-Union and WJXT.
USDA: Florida grapefruit crop on upswing
This season’s projected Florida grapefruit crop grew 10%, the second consecutive monthly increase reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA on Friday increased the estimated 2019-20 grapefruit crop to 5.4 million boxes following a 7% increase in its Dec. 10 forecast. The estimated harvest of all other Florida citrus varieties remained unchanged. If accurate, the new grapefruit forecast would represent a 17% increase from the USDA’s initial October estimate of 4.6 million boxes and a 20% increase from the 2018-19 grapefruit crop of 4.5 million boxes. [Source: News Chief]
'You can do it'
Growing up in Crawfordville, Florida, Carol Broxton, Pharm. D., had dreams but no direct path to them until she received a Bright Futures Scholarship funded by the Florida Lottery that paved her way to a college education. Now a regional pharmacy manager in Tallahassee (for JTJ Medical Supply, doing business as Mail-Meds Clinical Pharmacy & Bliss Rx), Broxton is working to return the favor. [Sponsored report]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport sets record with 2.2 million passengers in 2019 [Tampa Bay Times]
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport set an all-time passenger record with with 2,288,692 passengers in 2019, an increase of 2 percent over 2018. More than 196,000 domestic passengers flew into or out of the airport in December, up more than 12 percent compared with December 2018, making the month the largest December in the airport’s history.
› Proposed law would bring Florida up to speed on electric bicycling [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Fast electric bicycles and e-bikes that propel without pedaling would be allowed the same access to sidewalks and bike paths as traditional bicycles and pedal-assist electric versions under a proposed new Florida law. But cities and counties would have the right to prohibit the fast and no-pedal versions from shared rights-of-way if deemed too dangerous to pedestrians, joggers and traditional bicyclists.
› Hurricane Irma tore through Matheson Hammock Park in 2017. The park is still a mess [Miami Herald]
It’s been 28 months since Hurricane Irma damaged Matheson Hammock Park with 80 mph gusts and a storm surge of 4.3 feet. Miami’s 630-acre oasis on the bay still hasn’t recovered. The atoll walkway ringing the saltwater lagoon that offers beautiful views of sea and skyline is crumbling and blocked by orange netting and trash barrels. The swimming beach has eroded. The mud-caked roadway to the scenic south end and wading beach is closed.
› PGT offers $50 million in notes to finance NewSouth deal [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Venice-based PGT, the largest private employer based in Sarasota County, will use the notes and cash to buy NewSouth, the Tampa company that manufactures and installs factory-direct, energy-efficient windows and doors, including both impact-resistant and non-impact for the residential market. It operates eight retail showrooms in Florida, including one in Sarasota, as well as another in Charleston, South Carolina.
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› Deltona man pays $850K settlement for helping cars evade EPA regulations [Orlando Sentinel]
A Deltona man and his related businesses agreed to pay $850,000 for violating the federal Clean Air Act by selling aftermarket products that altered vehicles’ electronics systems so that they could illegally bypass EPA emissions requirements.
› Dykes won’t seek permanent JEA CEO post [Florida Times-Union]
JEA interim CEO Melissa Dykes told fellow employees Monday she will not apply to become the permanent CEO. She will continue as interim CEO until the board picks a replacement.
› Selby to host new master plan workshop on Wednesday [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Despite some initial friction between them, both Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and its closest neighbors are optimistic as the not-for-profit returns to City Hall for the first time since Sarasota city commissioners rejected its original master plan for expansion last November. Selby’s workshop, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, is the first of many steps that will again put Selby leadership before city commissioners.
› Bills propose sweeping changes to use of Baker Act in Florida schools [Tampa Bay Times]
The legislation would require authorities to contact parents earlier when their children are in crisis. It would direct school districts to track and report data about when the Baker Act is used in their schools. And it would require that, for districts to be eligible for state mental health funding, officials consult with mobile teams of mental health professionals before they commit a child involuntarily.