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Category archives for: Florida & Beyond, and All Opinions

Your Amazon Holiday Is Over: Giant Starts Collecting Sales Tax in Florida in 2 Weeks

| April 17, 2014

For Floridians who are supposed to pay the taxes but haven’t, the announcement of Amazon’s entry into the state’s brick-and-mortar retail landscape could mean about $80 million a year in sales taxes, according to one business lobbying group.

Despite Parental Notification Law, Court Finds Room for Teens to Protect Privacy When Seeking Abortion

| April 16, 2014

Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before their minor daughters can have abortions. But an appeals court ruling released Friday shows how far teens can go to challenge the law–and preserve their privacy when seeking an abortion.

House Balks at $2 Million-a-Year Tax Subsidy to Daytona Speedway as Other Breaks Advance

| April 15, 2014

Funding for Daytona International Speedway and a temporary tax break on gym memberships could be casualties when the House and Senate meet next week on their opposing packages to complete Gov. Rick Scott’s $500 million election-year tax cuts.

Rocky Mountain High or Reefer Madness? Legal Pot Comes with Risks

| April 13, 2014

Legal pot is attracting new and possibly naïve users — creating risks that some don’t bargain for. Second, the public health system’s desire to protect people may be well-intentioned, but regulation and efforts to track the health effects have a ways to go.

Palm Coast Voters Lose Again: The City Of Low Turnout Gets a Spoiled Election

| April 11, 2014

Even if Palm Coast and Supervisor of Elections Weeks work out their differences, as it now looks like they have, voters have already lost as this months-long manufactured controversy will become election campaign fodder for candidates who don’t have anything more substantial to offer.

Replacing Salisbury Steak With Sardines, Florida Prisons’ Kosher Option Raises Hackles

| April 11, 2014

Inmates contend that the peanut butter, sardines and cabbage served up daily by the Florida Department of Corrections are designed to discourage them from signing up for the kosher meals or to punish inmates if they do, and that the chow is far from what a federal judge had in mind last year when she ordered the state to start serving kosher meals to inmates.

Mega Health Bill Favoring Nurse Practitioners, Trauma Centers and Drs. Without State License Clears House Panel

| April 10, 2014

The bill would protect private for-profit trauma centers, allow for independent practice for nurse practitioners and allow out-of-state doctors to participate in telehealth without a Florida license. The Florida Medical Association opposes the latter two.

Casino Legislation Is Dead This Year, But So Is Proposal to Report Injuries and Deaths of Race Greyhounds

| April 9, 2014

Florida will remain, along with Alabama, the only state that does not require require greyhound tracks to report dog injury and deaths. Also ended is a sweeping gambling overhaul that would have authorized two Las Vegas-style casinos in South Florida.

Corruption Theorem: Money as Speech and the Supreme Court’s Death Blow to Democracy

| April 7, 2014

We’ve come a long way from the days of Lawton Chiles, who won his election for governor despite limiting contributions to $10 a pop. There is no longer any bidding limit on the vast auction block American politics has become since, writes Martin Dyckman.

Health Groups Oppose Bill Banning E-Cigarettes to Minors, Calling It a Stealth Favor to Big Tobacco

| April 7, 2014

The American Lung Association of Florida and other groups are fighting the measure because it would also ban local efforts to restrict the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products.

More Parents Are Defaulting on College Loans For Their Children, Costing Taxpayers

| April 6, 2014

The Parent Plus program allows parents to take out essentially uncapped amounts to cover college costs, regardless of the borrower’s income or ability to repay the loan. But default rates, while still modest, have nearly tripled over the last four years.

Scoring the Legislature at the Half-Way Mark

| April 5, 2014

With the two chambers working in tandem on most issues, Gov. Rick Scott was able to sign a series of bills into law this week. They included a bill, dubbed the “Florida GI Bill,” aimed at making the state more military friendly; a package of bills aimed at keeping sexually violent predators locked up; and a bill that will roll back motor-vehicle registration fees.

Senate Approves Proposed Constitutional Amendment Giving Scott Court-Packing Power

| April 4, 2014

The proposal, passed by the Senate in a 26-14 vote, would give the next governor the ability to pack the courts and is intended to give incumbent Gov. Rick Scott, who is seeking re-election, the ability to reshape the Florida Supreme Court.

Internet Café Crackdown: Gambling Task Force Serves Search Warrants in 5 Counties as Businesses Skirt Ban

| April 3, 2014

The Legislature essentially banned such businesses last year, but some continue to operate under different guises. At one point at least seven of the gambling parlors had been operating in Palm Coast, but none in Flagler Beach or the unincorporated part of Flagler County.

Sweeping Child-Welfare Reform Bill Calls For “Moral Outrage” and More Money

| April 3, 2014

The legislation got its start last fall, after media reports about a wave of child deaths from abuse and neglect — and gained momentum as it became clear that many of the victims were already known to the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had failed to protect them.

Federal Appeals Court Declares Scott Administration’s 2012 Voter Purge Illegal

| April 2, 2014

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from Rick Scott’s administration that the effort to remove suspected non-citizens from the voting rolls did not violate a federal law barring wide-ranging efforts to cleanse those rolls within 90 days of an election.

Obamacare Tally: Florida Subsidies Average $3,000, But Some Families Complain of Costly Exclusion

| April 1, 2014

And yet only one in four Floridians who qualifies for a subsidy had enrolled in a plan by March 1, leaving 1 million eligible residents uninsured. A mother describes how the law’s employee-insurance provision barred her family from subsidies.

Rick Scott’s Dilemma: Helping Undocumented-Immigrant Students Or Sticking to His Base

| March 31, 2014

While Scott has repeatedly said he supports a proposal to end annual 15 percent tuition hikes, he’s remained mum about the portion of the bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students, or Dreamers.

Chris Christie’s Hormonal Problem

| March 29, 2014

Would someone please call Chris Christie and tell him that if he thinks he could be President of the United States, he doesn’t have a prayer. By insinuating that the lane closings were the handiwork of a woman suffering from a romantic setback, Christie’s lawyers have ensured that he will be scorned by every woman who has had to endure the canard that women are ruled by their hormones and their feelings.

“Opportunity Scholarships”: Lawmakers Revive Vast Expansion of School Vouchers By Riding Coattails of Students With Disabilities

| March 29, 2014

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted 8-4 to introduce the measure, which would bind together a program aimed at students with disabilities and the voucher expansion. Senate leaders last week pulled their counterpart to the House voucher bill, but the measure for students with disabilities remains alive.

Palm Coast’s Stephen Newberry, 25, Is Killed in Motorcycle Wreck on U.S. 1

| March 29, 2014

Stephen C. Newberry, a 25-year-old resident of Palm Coast, was killed Saturday morning as he rode his motorcycle on U.S. 1 just north of the Flagler-St. Johns County line, when an elderly driver broke his right of way.

In “I Do! I Do!” a Half-Century of Marriage to the Tune of Four Bedposts at Palm Coast’s City Rep Theatre

| March 29, 2014

“I Do! I Do!,” the Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt musical, traces a couple’s marriage over 50 years through thick and song, and will be staged at Palm Coast’s City Repertory Theatre over three weekends through April 6.

Jacksonville Zoo Mourns Loss of 1-Day Old Gorilla Born to First-Time Mother Madini

| March 28, 2014

It is with great sadness that Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announces the passing of a gorilla infant born Thursday night (March 27). The infant was born to first-time mother, Madini, and first-time father, Lash.

Lawmakers’ Proposal to Ban E-Cigarettes for Youths Lights Up Local Governments Over Additional Strictures

| March 28, 2014

Health groups and local governments are criticizing a bill (HB 169) that would ban e-cigarette sales to minors because the measure also would prevent cities and counties from passing their own regulations on the sales of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products.

Red-Light Cameras Won’t Be Repealed This Year, But Restrictions on Profits May Yet Pass

| March 27, 2014

Red-light cameras’ powerful lobby defeated Senate Transportation Chairman Jeff Brandes’s attempt to end the use of the devices, but several proposed restrictions are still moving through the Legislature, such as limiting profits to safety uses and requiring safety studies before cameras can be installed.

As March 31 Deadline Nears: Going Without Health Insurance Will Likely Cost You At Tax Time

| March 26, 2014

If you thought you could get health coverage later this year, you may not get that chance until November, which means that you’ll most likely have to pay a penalty of 1 percent of your income at tax time, even if only a single member of your family is not insured. Penalties rise in subsequent years.

David Beckham Lobbies Tallahassee for Tax Breaks on a Soccer Stadium in Miami

| March 25, 2014

Elected officials — including Gov. Rick Scott — and staffers flooded Twitter with “selfies” alongside Beckham, who wants to bring a professional soccer team to Miami and has set his goal on the Port of Miami as a potential stadium site.

Measure to Cut Local Red-Light Camera Revenue Falters as Cities Cry Foul

| March 24, 2014

A lawmaker had initially proposed that the state ban new red-light cameras while reducing the fine from $158 to $83, eliminating the money local governments could collect. The outcry from local governments over his initial proposal to eliminate the money demonstrated that the issue is strictly about money, he said.

The Problem With “Step Up for Students,” Florida’s Voucher Jockey

| March 24, 2014

Step Up For Children CEO Doug Tuthill is shameless about the way his organization–the administrative agent for Florida’s school voucher program–spends lavishly on political races, which may explain why a Senate proposal to vastly expand the voucher program this year foundered.

Bill Vastly Expanding School Vouchers Dies As Questions About Accountability Mounted

| March 22, 2014

The decision represents a defeat for the GOP’s Will Weatherford, who was home schooled as a child and strongly pushed the expansion of the system, which gives companies tax credits for donating to scholarship funds that help children attend private schools. Under the bills, retailers would have been allowed to divert sales-tax payments to the system.

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