List: Gov. Rick Scott signs Lake O reservoir bill, 10 other measures into law

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed 11 bills into law on Tuesday, including one that sets aside money to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

The bill, CS/SB 10, “authorizes a significant increase in southern water storage to further the goal of reducing and eventually eliminating harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee,” one of Senate President Joe Negron’s top priorities, Negron’s office said in a news release.

(Getty Images)

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Negron, a Stuart Republican, has been pushing for relief for his Treasure Coast district, which has been hit hard by algae blooms tied to the Lake Okeechobee discharges in recent years.

In addition to SB 10, Scott signed the following bills, all of which take effect July 1 except where noted:

CS/CS/HB 111: Public Records/Identity of Witness to a Murder — Creates a public records exemption for criminal intelligence or criminal investigative information that reveals personal identifying information of a witness to a murder.

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CS/CS/HB 151: “Therapy Dog for Children Bill” — Allows children, victims and individuals with intellectual disabilities to use therapy animals and facility dogs in legal proceedings. “This legislation will help children and individuals with unique abilities in our state as they face some of the most challenging times in their life,” Scott said in a statement released Tuesday evening by his office. “I cannot imagine the emotional toll these terrible circumstances place on our state’s most vulnerable populations. The comfort and support provided by therapy animals can make a profound difference in someone’s life and I’m proud to sign HB 151 today.”

CS/HB 221: “Uber/ Lyft Bill” — Sets consistent operating standards throughout Florida for ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, including requirements for insurance coverage and driver background checks. “I’m proud to sign this legislation today to make it easier for ridesharing companies to thrive in Florida and help ensure the safety of our families,” Scott said in a news release after signing the bill. “Florida is one of the most business-friendly states in the nation because of our efforts to reduce burdensome regulations and encourage innovation and job creation across all industries, including transportation. I look forward to seeing the continued growth of ridesharing companies in our state.”

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CS/HB 239: Public Records/Protective Injunction Petitions — Creates a public records exemption for petitions for protection against domestic violence, stalking or cyberstalking if it is dismissed.

CS/HB 305: Law Enforcement Body Cameras — Allows a law enforcement officer using a body camera to review the recorded footage before writing a report or providing a statement.

CS/HB 399: Guardianship — Revises procedures relating to incapacity hearings and the circumstances under which the court may approve divorce for persons under the protection of a guardianship.

CS/HB 401: Notaries Public — Allows public notaries to accept a veteran health information card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a valid form of I.D.

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HB 671: Reemployment Assistance Fraud — Authorizes the Department of Economic Opportunity to access digital records maintained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to prevent reemployment assistance claims fraud.

CS/CS/HB 805: Relating to Insurance Policy Transfers — Allows an insurer to transfer a residential or commercial residential property insurance policy to an authorized insurer of the same group or owned by the same holding company.

CS/HB 6533: Relief/Jennifer Wohlgemuth/Pasco County Sheriff’s Office — Directs Pasco County and the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to compensate the family of Jennifer Wohlgemuth for injuries sustained in an incident involving the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Effective immediately.

Note: List provided by Gov. Scott’s office.

Nelson announces opposition to Trump’s EPA pick

Sen. Bill Nelson calls on the House to pass a Zika funding bill without "unacceptable riders."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has announced his opposition to President Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, shut down his office’s environmental protection unit. Critics fear he will curtail the EPA’s enforcement authority.

Nelson said he won’t vote to confirm Pruitt because of his ties to the oil and gas industry, which has supported Pruitt’s campaigns.

“Ever since I was a young congressman, I have been fighting to keep oil rigs off the coast of Florida,” Nelson said. “And an EPA administrator with such close ties to the oil industry is deeply concerning for the people of Florida.”

While Trump wants Pruitt to lead the EPA, one Florida congressman, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has introduced legislation to terminate the agency.

Several members of Palm Beach County’s congressional delegation have blasted that idea.

 

Why GOP candidates are debating environment and climate change while in Florida

The environment and climate change have emerged as hot topics at tonight’s Republican debate in Miami. But why is it being discussed here? And why does it matter to Floridians?

Much of Florida’s economy is based on agriculture and tourism — two industries largely dependent on the environment.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain rides on an airboat as he visits the Everglades June 6, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate John McCain rides on an airboat as he visits the Everglades June 6, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The rising waters also could threaten businesses and homes.

A study released last month found that humans are causing the fastest rate of sea level rise in 3,000 years — and the key to understanding that is in South Florida.

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“Florida is the poster child for sea level rise in the U.S., but we know very little about how it has changed from the past,” one researcher told The Palm Beach Post.

Here are several recent reports from The Palm Beach Post on key environmental issues in Florida:

Harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges cut in half

Duda Farms rules the celery world

Travel mag says “sludge” flowing from Lake Okeechobee

Judge: FPL’s Turkey Point plant’s canals polluting Biscayne Aquifer

Wildlife may be spared by new plan to drain water-ponding area

Python Challenge honors longest snake at 13 feet 8 inches

Palm Beach County sugar cane crop hit hard by wet weather

A Question of Growth: An occasional series