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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UPDATES: President Trump leaves Palm Beach after third weekend trip

FINAL UPDATE: President Donald Trump has left Palm Beach after spending the third weekend in a row at his Mar-a-Lago Club.

Air Force One took off from Palm Beach International Airport just moments ago.

Southern Boulevard and all adjoining roads have reopened, and traffic is moving smoothly through the area.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

More than 100 protesters and supporters lined the route as Trump’s motorcade passed.

President Donald Trump heads to the Palm Beach International Airport following his weekend visit in Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
President Donald Trump heads to the Palm Beach International Airport following his weekend visit in Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

4:15 p.m. UPDATE: Southern Boulevard and adjoining roads have reopened after President Donald Trump’s motorcade passed through on the way to Palm Beach International Airport from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

Some users of the Waze traffic app are reporting tie-ups at southbound Dixie Highway and southbound Interstate 95 approaching Southern.

A few people have gathered along the eastern edge of PBIA to watch Air Force One take off.

4 p.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump has left his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach to head back to the White House.

The presidential motorcade left the island about 3:50 p.m. bound for Palm Beach International Airport, where Trump will board Air Force One for the trip home.

EARLIER STORY: President Donald Trump is slated to leave Palm Beach today, so residents should expect slowdowns at some point as his motorcade travels from Mar-a-Lago to Palm Beach International Airport. Stay with The Palm Beach Post for updates.

As the presidential motorcade travels along Southern Boulevard, that road and adjoining north-south streets will be closed until all vehicles in the motorcade have passed. That includes Interstate 95, Australian Avenue and Dixie Highway.

The Limo carrying President Donald Trump passes Alternated A1A and Donald Ross Road on the way to Trump National Jupiter Golf Club, where the President and Japanese Prime Minister ShinzÅc Abe plan a morning round of golf, on February 11, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The Limo carrying President Donald Trump passes Alternated A1A and Donald Ross Road on the way to Trump National Jupiter Golf Club, where the President and Japanese Prime Minister ShinzÅc Abe plan a morning round of golf, on February 11, 2016. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Though traffic shouldn’t be as heavy as a typical weekday — it’s Presidents Day, so many businesses are closed and schools are off — drivers should still be on the lookout for temporary road closures that pop up as Trump prepares to leave.

Here’s a map to help you plan your travel today:

Alternate routes: Use Belvedere Road or Forest Hill Boulevard for east-west travel, and Military Trail or Florida’s Turnpike for north-south travel.

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UPDATES: President Trump arrives in Palm Beach with Japan’s prime minister

FINAL UPDATE: Traffic continues to clear from the area between Palm Beach International Airport and President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, after the presidential motorcade passed through during rush hour, backing up Interstate 95, Dixie Highway and Australian Avenue for about an hour.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Trump is spending the weekend in Palm Beach with first lady Melania Trump, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and first lady Akie Abe.

Stay with The Palm Beach Post throughout the weekend for more updates on Trump’s visit.

President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and the Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
President Donald Trump arrives at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016 accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and the Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

6:43 p.m. UPDATE: While Tri-Rail says a pair of its northbound trains are behind schedule because of President Donald Trump’s motorcade, vehicle traffic in the area is clearing out. Motorists can expect the usual Friday evening traffic through the area, with slowdown along Belvedere Road and on Interstate 95 near Southern Boulevard.

6:37 p.m. UPDATE: Tri-Rail just sent alerts reporting a northbound train is stopped at the Lake Worth station and running about 20 minutes late because of President Trump’s motorcade, and another northbound train is stopped at the Boynton Beach station and running about 10 minutes late getting to Lake Worth.

6:26 p.m. UPDATE: Shortly after arriving at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, President Donald Trump tweeted a photo showing him seated on Marine One with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as the pair left the White House for Joint Base Andrews to board Air Force One.

6:20 p.m. UPDATE: With President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Southern Boulevard and adjoining north-south roads have reopened. Traffic remains slow through the area, with backups on Interstate 95, Dixie Highway and Australian Avenue.

Alternate routes: Use Belvedere Road or Forest Hill Boulevard to travel east or west, and Military Trail for north-south travel. Instead of Interstate 95, you may want to take Florida’s Turnpike.

6:13 p.m. UPDATE: President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her family arrived aboard Air Force One with the president and first lady to spend some time in Palm Beach.

6:10 p.m. UPDATE: President Trump’s motorcade has made its way down Southern Boulevard to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Roads are slowly beginning to open. Interstate 95 near Southern should open soon.

5:56 p.m. UPDATE: President Trump’s motorcade is on the move from Palm Beach International Airport to Mar-a-Lago, and roads in the area are closed.

Alternate routes: Use Belvedere Road or Forest Hill Boulevard to travel east or west, and Military Trail for north-south travel. Instead of Interstate 95, you may want to take Florida’s Turnpike.

Here’s a look at the scene along the motorcade route:

5:42 p.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump has landed at Palm Beach International Airport aboard Air Force One for a weekend stay at his Mar-a-Lago Club with first lady Melania Trump, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and first lady Akie Abe.

Southern Boulevard and adjoining north-south roads are closed for the presidential motorcade.

5:30 p.m. UPDATE: Drivers along Southern Boulevard are reporting slowdowns ahead of President Donald Trump’s arrival at Palm Beach International Airport. Both Google Maps and Waze are showing delays along Southern, Australian and Interstate 95.

5:10 p.m. UPDATE: Law enforcement officers are getting into position along the route President Donald Trump’s motorcade will take from Palm Beach International Airport to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

The presidential motorcade typically drives down Southern Boulevard to the estate, with the Secret Service ordering adjacent north-south roads closed until all vehicles in the motorcade have passed. That means Dixie Highway, Interstate 95 and Australian Avenue will be blocked for anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.

People await the arrival of President Donald Trump at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016. He will be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and the Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
People await the arrival of President Donald Trump at Palm Beach International Airport on Air Force One Friday, February 10, 2016. He will be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and the Prime Minister’s wife Akie Abe. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Trump is slated to arrive with the next 30 to 45 minutes.

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Alternate routes: Use Belvedere Road or Forest Hill Boulevard to travel east or west, and Military Trail for north-south travel. Instead of Interstate 95, you may want to take Florida’s Turnpike.

5 p.m. UPDATE: Supporters of President Donald Trump are set up on Bingham Island next to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club to greet the president as he arrives for a weekend visit.

Read more about the scene at Bingham Island.

4:30 p.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump is expected to arrive aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport within the next hour or so.  Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club with first lady Melania Trump, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and first lady Akie Abe.

 

In the town of Palm Beach, the Secret Service and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office already have blocked off South Ocean Boulevard next to Mar-a-Lago. The security zone, which stretches from South County Road in the north to Southern Boulevard, is closed to all vehicles except those residents who live in that area and are carrying valid ID.

Already, commuters may see traffic tie-ups at the Royal Park and Flagler Memorial bridges between West Palm Beach and Palm Beach, as many drivers are choosing to avoid the Southern Boulevard bridge next to Mar-a-Lago.

3:40 p.m. UPDATE: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have left Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C., aboard Air Force One with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and first lady Akie Abe. They’re scheduled to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport sometime after 5:15 p.m.

The temperature in Washington, D.C.: 36 degrees. The temperature in West Palm Beach: 72 degrees.

EARLIER STORY: As President Donald Trump arrives in Palm Beach County for a weekend visit with Japan’s prime minister, commuters through central Palm Beach County can expect some pretty significant traffic slowdowns.

Air Force One is slated to touch down at Palm Beach International Airport sometime close to 5:15 p.m., according to a Federal Aviation Administration advisory. That puts the president’s motorcade on the road to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club during rush hour.

President Donald J. Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 3, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
President Donald J. Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 3, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Check back for more traffic updates throughout the afternoon.

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President Trump to arrive in Palm Beach County during rush hour Friday

President Donald Trump‘s arrival in Palm Beach County once more coincides with Friday rush hour.

According to a temporary flight restriction issued Wednesday afternoon by the Federal Aviation Administration, Trump will fly into PBIA sometime close to 5:15 p.m. Friday. The restrictions expire at 10 p.m. Sunday, indicating a late return to Washington, D.C.

President Donald Trump's motorcade leaves Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach after an unscheduled round of golf Saturday in West Palm Beach. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
President Donald Trump’s motorcade leaves Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach after an unscheduled round of golf Saturday in West Palm Beach. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

The White House confirmed Tuesday that Trump is traveling to his Mar-a-Lago Club this weekend — his second weekend visit in a row — as he hosts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

When Trump arrived aboard Air Force One last Friday, his motorcade tied up traffic during rush hour as it made its way down Southern Boulevard. Unlike the motorcades when Trump was president-elect, Interstate 95 to the north and south of Southern now must be shut down until Trump passes. Other north-south roads, including Australian Avenue and Dixie Highway, also are temporarily closed.

In addition to roads, trains also feel the effects of a presidential motorcade, with Tri-Rail reporting two trains — one northbound and one southbound — were halted for about 25 minutes Friday afternoon.

» PHOTOS: Donald Trump’s weekend in Palm Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach arrival could affect your Friday commute

Palm Beach County just got a better idea of when President Donald Trump will arrive for his first visit to Palm Beach since his Jan. 20 inauguration.

A temporary flight restriction issued for the Palm Beach area for Trump’s visit goes into effect at 4:15 p.m. Friday — a good indication the president will fly into town during the evening commute.

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach will host the president and the International Red Cross Ball this weekend.
Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach will host the president and the International Red Cross Ball this weekend.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Donald Trump in Palm Beach

Commuters should expect heavier-than-usual traffic Friday evening, as the presidential motorcade will travel from Palm Beach International Airport, where Air Force One will land, and Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club directly to the east. Past motorcades have passed through quickly, causing few traffic tie-ups. However, more security is anticipated because this is Trump’s first visit to Palm Beach County as president.

The restriction expires at 11:30 a.m. Monday, so Trump most likely will leave before then.

Trump and his wife, Melania, are expected to attend the 60th annual Red Cross Ball being held Saturday night at Mar-a-Lago. Protesters are expected to march from downtown West Palm Beach to the club, which sits on the east end of the Southern Boulevard bridge across the Intracoastal.

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Want to see Air Force One this weekend? You can’t miss it.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Gov. Scott’s budget would tighten state control over Tri-Rail money

Gov. Rick Scott has waded into a growing debate over Tri-Rail funding, and it could mean less money for the agency responsible for the trains.

Amid debate over a controversial contract awarded last week, Scott’s budget proposal released this morning includes a paragraph that would crack down on the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority’s spending.

Passengers board the Tri-Rail train at the West Palm Beach station, Friday, June 12, 2015. (Joe Forzano/The Palm Beach Post)
Passengers board the Tri-Rail train at the West Palm Beach station, Friday, June 12, 2015. (Joe Forzano/The Palm Beach Post)

The state and the authority, which operates Tri-Rail, have been at odds for months over how the authority spends its money. The issue came to a head in recent weeks as the authority awarded a $511 million contract for operating services for the next seven years to the highest bidder – something Politico Florida reports that rival bidders say is unfair, while the authority argues the contractor, Herzog Transit Service, was the only company to correctly submit a proposal meeting the authority’s requirements.

Under the Florida Department of Transportation’s section of Scott’s proposed budget, there is a paragraph saying the SFRTA is to be given no money until it has terminated the contract with Herzog and submitted in writing to the state a new procurement and contract for the operating services.

The section goes further to change how state money is distributed to the SFRTA in the future. Right now, the authority is dispensed money and then submits expenses. The proposed budget would change that, so that “no funds shall be provided to the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority by the department without the prior review and written approval by the department of the authority’s proposed expenditures.”

The Legislature must ultimately approve the governor’s budget, but lawmakers have been closely overseeing state agency spending — VisitFlorida and Enterprise Florida are just two agencies that have come under close scrutiny in recent months.

Read Scott’s budget proposal.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Bill would keep Florida from building more express toll lanes

A bill proposed this week in the Florida Senate would prevent the creation of more express lanes on the state’s highways while also setting rules for how express lane toll money must be spent.

The measure, SB 250, was filed Thursday by state Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. If the bill is made law during the upcoming Florida legislative session, which begins March 7, it would ban state officials from creating any new express lanes after July 1.

Traffic comes to a standstill inside and outside the express lanes on Interstate 95 in Miami. (Miami Herald staff file photo)
Traffic comes to a standstill inside and outside the express lanes on Interstate 95 in Miami. (Miami Herald staff file photo)

Money collected from tolls on existing express lanes could only be used to pay off bonds used to create the projects. Once those bonds are paid off, the bill proposes that those express lanes would become general-use lanes.

» RELATED: 7 things to know about the I-95 express lanes planned for Palm Beach County

The use of express lanes in South Florida has been met with mixed reactions. While state officials say the lanes — which use dynamic tolling, meaning drivers pay a higher toll when congestion is worse and a lower toll when traffic flows more smoothly — help ease congestion, anti-toll advocates and some drivers argue the lanes create new problems, such as “lane diving,” where motorists weave through the poles that separate the express lanes from the general-use lanes to avoid tolls.

While Miami-Dade County has been ground zero for express lanes in South Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation is adding express lanes to Interstate 95 in Broward County with plans to extend them farther north to Linton Boulevard in Delray Beach, plus a study underway to see if express lanes should go even farther, to Indiantown Road in Jupiter.

On the Florida’s Turnpike system, express lanes are planned throughout South Florida — including southern Palm Beach County — with construction to begin locally in 2018. However, Artiles’ bill would not apply to turnpike express lanes, only those on highways owned by FDOT.

Read the bill here.

» RELATED: Florida’s Turnpike getting new lanes — but you’ll pay more to get in