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Monday Briefing: Planning For Disasters, Hemp Production and Guns in Schools

| March 23, 2015

The Florida Legislature likes hemp. (Lisa Clark)

The Florida Legislature likes hemp. (Lisa Clark)

Today’s weather: Rainy morning, clearing in the afternoon, high in upper 70s, low 63. Details here.
Today’s fire danger is Moderate. Flagler County’s Drought Index is at 287
The weather in Tierra del Fuego: in the 50s most of the day, low of 40. Details.
The Live Community Calendar
The weekend’s jail bookings.

In Flagler and Palm Coast:

Spring Break: Flagler County schools are closed for students this week.

The Bunnell City Commission meets this evening, but it’s a light agenda, with routine discussions and expected approvals of the next round of mosquito spraying over the city, approval of a contract with Ormond Septic Systems for sludge hauling, and approval of an agreement between the city and the county to facilitate a grant for the Carver Center, also known as Carver Gym, on the south side of the city. The full agenda is available here. (7 p.m. at Bunnell City Hall’s meeting chamber, 201 West Moody Blvd. and South Forsyth Street, Bunnell. Also live-streamed here.)

Flagler County Emergency Services’ Mitigation Strategy Session: Flagler County Emergency Management staff is holding a Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) meeting to discuss the plan revision and update process. A Local Mitigation Strategy is developed by each county in Florida to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with natural and man-made hazards, from hurricanes to tornadoes to wildfires to major accidents. These plans must be in accordance with the federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. That law is a mechanism for collaboration between state and local entities that encourages pre-disaster planning, recognizes need for mitigation, and designates funding for projects through federal grant opportunities. Anybody interested in attending the meeting or wishing to learn more about mitigation is encouraged to attend or contact the county’s mitigation planner at 386/313-4243. (Monday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Training Room of Emergency Operations Center, 1769 E. Moody Blvd., Bldg 3, Bunnell.)

At the Florida Legislature:

Guns in schools: The Senate Criminal Justice Committee considers Senate Bill 180, filed by Chairman Greg Evers, R-Baker, that could allow designated employees or volunteers to carry guns at public schools. (4 p.m.)

Hemp production: The Senate Agriculture Committee considers Senate Bill 902, filed by Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, that would designate hemp as an agricultural crop and seek to encourage a hemp industry in Florida. (4 p.m.)

Interstate Construction:

I-4 in Volusia: I-4 Widening from SR 44 to east of I-95, Monday & Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., EB/WB outside shoulder closures from SR 44 to I-95. Monday – Thursday 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. EB/WB intermittent lane closures.

I-95 in Volusia: I-95 widening from SR 406 to SR 44, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. EB/WB single lane closures on Maytown Road and Indian River Blvd./SR 442 at I-95 overpass.

In the Press:

Florida’s public-records law is strong. Here are 5 ways lawmakers want to weaken it: “Rep. Chris Latvala and his father, Sen. Jack Latvala, have filed companion bills that would exempt the former home addresses of law enforcement officers from disclosure. The bill, as initially filed, also exempted the officers’ work histories. […] The Latvalas have said they filed the bills in response to an incident in Clearwater in which an agency improperly released an officer’s current home address, which has long been exempt. […] Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Neil Combee filed bills to keep off-limits the names of anyone who applies to be president, provost, or dean at one of Florida’s public universities. The measures would also close the meetings where those applicants are identified or vetted. […] This bill has some added significance this year. Last fall, the well-connected Sen. John Thrasher was appointed president of Florida State University. His application for the job was widely debated—particularly his lack of academic credentials compared to the other four candidates, all of whom were PhD’s who had held leadership positions at other universities. Having less information about the range of applicants might have limited that debate. […] A pair of bills would exempt email addresses held by tax collector’s offices and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The concern here is that these bills might create a slippery slope with respect to government-held emails—and also that, as Petersen says, adding new exemptions to files that can otherwise be disclosed “simply increases the cost and delays of getting records.” Sen. John Legg has filed a bill that would exempt from disclosure surveillance video recorded by community development districts, though the districts are public agencies and the videos are of public places. Legg told the Times/Herald that his bill was just designed to “protect a community,” from requests by outside groups, but it’s hard to understand what the danger is here. Petersen said in her email alert this week that the bill “simply makes no sense. The bottom line: There is no right to privacy in public spaces.”” From the Columbia Journalism Review.

Jeb Bush’s Team Plots Vast Effort to Win Florida: “The plan, code-named “Homeland Security,” seeks to try to neutralize two potentially grave but homegrown threats to Mr. Bush’s long-anticipated run for president: the likely challenge from a charismatic young Republican senator from Miami, Marco Rubio, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination himself, and a demographic drift within Florida that could doom Mr. Bush there in a fall campaign against a Democrat. The Bush effort in Florida, where Barack Obama prevailed in the last two elections, will pour enormous resources and energy over the next year into a state that many thought Mr. Bush, its governor from 1999 to 2007, would be able to count on as a bedrock of support. [… In] 2016, its primary may loom as the most bruising and intimate in the country. Florida is now home to four likely Republican presidential candidates of varying stature and allure: Mr. Bush (who lives in Coral Gables); Mr. Rubio (West Miami); Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and author (West Palm Beach); and former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas (Santa Rosa Beach). […] Behind the scenes, those close to Mr. Bush are moving quickly to undermine Mr. Rubio. A close Bush ally, David Johnson, has taken over the state’s Republican Party as interim executive director and, in a blunt interview here, sought to discourage Mr. Rubio from entering the presidential race.” From The Times.

WSJ/NBC Poll Finds Rubio Atop GOP Field: “The survey found that 86% of likely Democratic primary voters say they are open to supporting Mrs. Clinton for the party’s nomination, and 13% said they couldn’t. […] Mr. Bush, an early favorite for the Republican nomination among GOP donors, faces more resistance within his party. Some 49% of people who plan to vote in GOP primaries said they could see themselves supporting Mr. Bush and 42% said they couldn’t, the survey found. Poll participants view him more negatively than positively, with 34% seeing him in an unfavorable light and 23% viewing him favorably. […] The two Republicans who begin the race on the strongest footing in the poll are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. More than half of GOP primary voters said they were open to supporting Messrs. Rubio or Walker, compared with 49% who said so of Mr. Bush. Resistance within the party to Messrs. Rubio and Walker is far lower than for Mr. Bush: Some 26% said they couldn’t see themselves supporting Mr. Rubio, and 17% said so of the Wisconsin governor. The good news for Mr. Bush is that he has nearly a year to reshape his image before voting begins, and none of his likely rivals shows signs of running away with the race.” From the Journal.

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