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)

» Gov. Rick Scott: ‘I have the option of vetoing the entire budget’

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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.

Scott signs two bills, including one to help foster kids get licenses

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed into law two bills, including one designed to help children in foster care in Florida get driver’s licenses.

Senate Bill 60, known as the “Keys to Independence Act,” cements a pilot program Scott signed into law three years ago and expands it to children in settings outside foster homes, including children living with relatives or non-relative caregivers, Scott’s office said in a news release.

(Getty Images)

» RELATED: Complete Florida Legislature coverage

“I’m proud to sign this legislation today to help Florida’s teens in foster care and out-of-home settings obtain their driver’s licenses. This bill continues our efforts to help children in our foster system thrive and live their dreams in our state,” Scott said in the news release.

Under the law, which went into effect with Scott’s signature, teens in foster care in Florida could be eligible for help from the state to pay for a driver education course “for up to 6 months after the date the child reaches permanency status or 6 months after the date the child turns 18 years of age,” according to the bill’s text. The program also could pay for “the costs of licensure and costs incidental to licensure” for children in foster care who are able to show that those costs are preventing them from staying employed or attending school.

On Monday, Scott also signed SB 7004, retains the public record exemptions for biomedical and cancer research programs within the Department of Health.

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NEW: President Trump tells Scott feds will help pay to fix Herbert Hoover Dike

Just two days after Gov. Rick Scott asked state lawmakers to dedicate $200 million to repair the aging Herbert Hoover Dike over the next five years, Scott says President Donald Trump has pledged federal support for the work.

While visiting the White House today for the president’s signing of a veterans health care bill, Scott spoke to Trump about the dike and the president committed to “provide the resources” to make needed repairs, Scott said in a news release.

Gov. Rick Scott (center) delivers brief remarks after President Donald Trump signed the Veterans Choice Program And Improvement Act with representatives of veterans’ organizations, politicians and members of his administration, including Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Wednesday in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

» Scott offers surprise solution to Lake Okeechobee pollution fight

The federally operated dike was built in the 1960s as an expanded form of levees and dams that had been put in place over the previous decades to protect nearby residents from devastating flooding that ensued each time a hurricane hit the lake. It has undergone many rounds of repairs ranging from minor to more intensive.

Speaking to members of the Florida Legislature in a news conference on Monday, Scott said he was “tired of waiting” for a solution to issues stemming from Lake Okeechobee’s nutrient-rich waters, including algae blooms that have plagued the St. Lucie River in Martin County and the Caloosahatchee River to the lake’s west. Scott also noted Monday that he had spoken to members of Trump’s administration about the dike and needed repairs.

Crews work to repair the aging Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee in 2012. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Lawmakers, including state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, have expressed reservations about Scott’s proposal, saying the state should not have to foot the bill for something the federal government should cover.

“I want to make sure we do not spend hundreds of millions of dollars of (state) general revenue funds on what is unquestionably a federal responsibility,” Negron said in a statement issued Monday.

Here are Scott’s comments on his conversation with Trump, via today’s news release:

“Today, I spoke with President Trump on the importance of fixing the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike and he committed that his administration would help provide the resources to do that. President Trump is clearly focused on protecting Florida’s environment and investing in our infrastructure, and I want to thank him for partnering with us to solve the water issues around Lake Okeechobee by fixing the dike.

“While I called on President Obama multiple times throughout his administration to step up and fulfill the federal government’s funding commitment to fixing the dike, it never happened. Today, President Trump is fighting for Florida’s families and this news is a big win for our state. My goal is for the dike to be completely repaired by 2022, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Trump Administration to complete this important project. With this commitment from the president, I hope that the Florida Legislature will immediately allocate $200 million in the budget they send me to help fix the dike.”

 

 

 

 

How much money in is Gov. Scott’s budget for transportation?

Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed budget, rolled out Tuesday morning, sets aside nearly $11 billion for transportation in the state for the coming year.

A Florida Department of Transportation news release lays out a bullet-pointed list of how the money would be spent, if state lawmakers give the budget the OK as-is:

• $4.1 billion for construction of highway projects
• $178.2 million in seaport infrastructure improvements
• $257.8 million for aviation improvements
• $300.8 million for scheduled repair of 61 bridges and replacement of 16 bridges
• $978.2 million for maintenance and operation
• $618 million for public transit development grants
• $175.6 million for safety initiatives
• $82.7 million for bike and pedestrian trails

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott

“Gov. Scott’s transportation budget provides the record funding necessary to maintain and repair existing infrastructure and prepare for future growth,” said outgoing state Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold. “Florida’s roads, seaports, airports, railways and trails will continue to meet the growing needs of Florida’s families.”

Spotlighted in the FDOT news release: plans for $43.2 million for work on Southern Boulevard from the entrance of the new Arden community to Forest Hill Boulevard. The state plans to add one lane in either direction along the stretch of Southern, along with adding bike and pedestrian paths. Read more here about that project.

The budget does include some disclaimers on how the money can be spent, with specific instructions for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority — which oversees Tri-Rail — and ports that might consider doing business with Cuba.

 

 

 

Bill would ban unrestrained dogs in pickup truck beds

A new bill proposed in Florida could change how some people travel with their pets.

The measure, SB 320, would make it illegal for most motorists to keep a dog in the bed of a pickup truck or open area of a trailer unless that dog is restrained, either in a kennel or with a tether.

» RELATED: Bill would keep Florida from building more express toll lanes

These pups would have to be in kennels if a proposed bill passed the upcoming Florida legislative session. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
These pups would have to be in kennels if a proposed bill passed the upcoming Florida legislative session. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

There are two exceptions: if a dog is being transportation by a farmer or farm employee while working with the dog, and if a dog is part of a hunting event and being moved from one site to another. Violating the law would be a noncriminal traffic infraction.

If the bill — sponsored by state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota — passes Florida’s legislative session, which kicks off March 7, it would take effect July 1.

Steube’s bill follows a law passed in last year’s legislative session that also took steps to protect animals traveling in cars. That bill, HB 131, protects people who break into hot cars to save pets.

» RELATED: All motorcycle riders in Florida would have to wear helmets if this bill passes

All motorcycle riders in Florida would have to wear helmets if this bill passes

If you enjoy riding your motorcycle with the breeze blowing through your hair, you might have to put a lid on those locks under a bill proposed in Florida’s House that would require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets.

The measure, HB 6009, would strip from state law an exemption added in 2000 that allows motorcycle drivers and riders to go helmet-less as long as they are over the age of 21 and have “at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

State Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, R-The Villages, filed the bill in December for the upcoming legislative session, which kicks off March 7 in Tallahassee. If the bill passes, it would make riding a motorcycle without a helmet a noncriminal infraction.

While proponents of the state’s exemption say it should be up to each rider to decide if they want to wear a helmet, Florida saw an increase in motorcycle crashes in 2015 — the most recent data available — according to a report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

There were more than 10,200 motorcycle crashes in the state in 2015, up 3.5 percent from 2014, the state report said. Deaths of motorcycle drivers in 2015 saw an even larger jump with 546 killed, up nearly 28 percent from the year before. And motorcycle passenger deaths spiked even higher, up almost 73 percent to 38 deaths in 2015. Nearly half of all people killed in motorcycle crashes in Florida in 2015 were not wearing helmets, according to state data.

Palm Beach County bucked the state trend, with a slight decrease in the number of motorcycle crashes from 2014 to 2015, dropping from 525 to 520.

But the number of people who died in motorcycle crashes in Palm Beach County doubled from 17 in 2014 to 34 in 2015.

Read the proposed bill here.

 

 

 

Next stop for Irv Slosberg: Tallahassee office for Slosberg Foundation

Even not winning his re-election bid can’t keep former state Rep. Irv Slosberg out of Tallahassee.

Slosberg said Friday he will go to Florida’s Capitol to represent the Dori Slosberg Foundation — a nonprofit he founded after his daughter was killed in a violent car crash in Boca Raton 20 years ago — before the state Legislature.

Irv Slosberg speaks at the Dori Saves Lives "Staying Alive on Florida's Roadways," event in Boynton Beach on June 4, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Irv Slosberg speaks at the Dori Saves Lives “Staying Alive on Florida’s Roadways,” event in Boynton Beach on June 4, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Florida state law bans former legislators from representing another person, organization or business for compensation for two years following their departure from office. But Slosberg says he’s received the thumbs-up from the Florida Commission on Ethics, which can make exceptions to the law on a case-by-case basis.

Speaking at a Slosberg Foundation event on Friday in Boca Raton, Slosberg said working with the foundation in Tallahassee will allow him to continue working to improve traffic safety in Florida.

“We’re ready to fight, because unfortunately that’s what this takes,” he said.

The foundation’s new office will open Jan. 1 on Monroe Street in Tallahassee, giving the foundation “headquarters both in Boca Raton and Tallahassee,” Slosberg noted.

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Rader: ‘Kevin Rader scared Irv Slosberg out of the seat.’

Rep. Kevin Rader
Rep. Kevin Rader
State Rep. Irv Slosberg
State Rep. Irv Slosberg

Rep. Kevin Rader (D-Delray Beach) showed off some muscle when he met with The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board on Thursday to answer questions about his campaign for state Senate District 29.

Literally.

When The Post’s board asked Rader why he thought State Rep. Irving Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) switched campaigns at the last minute, Rader said, “He was scared to run against me.”

And then he flexed his muscle.

“The only thing I can attribute that to is the strength and muscle of Kevin Rader scared Irv Slosberg out of the seat,” Rader said, lifting up his arm.

Here’s some background: Slosberg, who is now running for state Senate District 31, first opened a campaign against Rader in state Senate District 29 but switched at the last minute. Now Slosberg is running against State Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Atlantis) and Emmanuel Morel, and Rader is running against Mindy Koch.

“That is such a stupid quote,” Slosberg said over the phone.

And it’s false, he added.

“My office is in District 31 and I probably represent more of District 31 than I do of 29. That’s the bottom line. I’ve been in my office there for six years. We’ve had like thousands of constituents come up.”

“When I looked at District 29, I’ve never been with people in the Glades. I’ve never represented people in Wellington. I’ve never represented the community in Coconut Creek, Wynmoor. I never represented Parkland. I never represented Coral Springs. At the end of the day, most of 29, I’ve never represented those people,” he said for why he made the last-minute decision to swap races.

Retired West Palm Beach Police spokesman now working for Kerner

Bernhardt (WPB PD)
Bernhardt (WPB PD)
Kerner
Kerner

A familiar face among Palm Beach County reporters has a new job.

West Palm Beach Police Capt. David Bernhardt, who for a while was the department’s press spokesman, recently retired after nearly three decades of service. Now he’s working as a legislative, aide and an advisor on law enforcement issues, for State Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth.

Bernhardt was with Kerner at Wednesday morning’s legislative update breakfast of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce.

He said the plan is to continue to work with Kerner in some capacity should Kerner win the District 3 County Commission seat Shelley Vana is leaving because of term limits.

Florida delegates get group photo at Cleveland Indians’ stadium

Florida delegates line up for a group photo at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday in Cleveland. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)
Florida delegates line up for a group photo at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday in Cleveland. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)

The Florida Republican delegation took a few minutes Tuesday afternoon to snap a group photo at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians.

The 99 delegates — short a few, according to a few members of the group — were joined by alternates and guests for one photo, then had one with just the delegates.

The images will be available to the delegates to order.

Several other state delegations have had their photos taken in the same spot in the stadium. The Republican National Convention’s security perimeter extends around both the Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention itself is taking place, and the baseball stadium.