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Vacation Rental Giant on Winning Streak in Florida Courts

November 1, 2019 - 6:00am
Lighthouse Point vacation rental

Vacation rental marketing giant Airbnb began the year under a withering attack in Florida from newly seated Gov. Ron DeSantis for its ban on Israeli West Bank rentals.

But since rescinding that policy -- and receiving a nod of appreciation from DeSantis in Jerusalem in May -- Airbnb has been on a winning streak in the Sunshine State, especially in court.

The leading digital platform in Florida’s $31 billion short-term vacational rental industry, Airbnb won two major court victories this month.

Minimum Wage Proposal First Measure to Qualify for 2020 Ballot

October 31, 2019 - 6:00am
John Morgan and Ron DeSantis

The Florida Division of Elections has confirmed sponsors of a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 have secured enough validated voter signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

According to the DOE, as of Tuesday afternoon, Florida For A Fair Wage had submitted 766,352 signatures, surpassing the 766,200 required to be presented to voters in a statewide election.

Competing GOP Forces Will Duke It Out over E-Verify in 2020

October 30, 2019 - 6:00am
Tomato pickers in Central Florida

Even before Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, filed a bill that would require all state employers to use the federal E-Verify system to validate workers’ immigration status -- a priority for Gov. Ron DeSantis -- the same Republican-aligned forces that stymied similar legislation two of the last three sessions were campaigning against it.

Florida Businesses to See 7.5 Percent Slash in 2020 Workers’ Comp Rates

October 28, 2019 - 6:00am
Workers at a South Florida Home Depot

Florida businesses will see a third consecutive cut in annual workers compensation rates in 2020 – a 7.5 percent slash that exceeds a national insurance bureau’s recommended decrease by more than 2 percent.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued an order cutting workers’ compensation insurance rates by a 7.5 percent beginning Jan. 1.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) – which provides rating metrics on behalf of insurance companies – suggested in August that the state reduce workers’ compensation rates by 5.4 percent.

Companion Bills Seek Restoration of Florida's Pre-2001 Judge-Selection Process

October 22, 2019 - 7:00am
Perry Thurston and Al Jacquet

Two South Florida Democrats have filed companion Senate-House bills seeking to restore the state’s former judge-selection system to restrict partisan domination of the process and encourage diversity.

Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed Senate Bill 86 and Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Riviera Beach, introduced House Bill 379, last week.

Both want the composition of the state’s 26 state judicial nomination commissions (JNC) that vet state court nominees before submitting finalists to the governor to each include only three gubernatorial appointments instead of nine.

Districts Appeal to State Supreme Court over Funding of Charter Schools

October 21, 2019 - 7:00am
Florida Supreme Court

Attorneys representing nine county school district boards made last-pitch arguments last week to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to hear their challenge of a 2017 state law that, among other actions, required districts to share revenues, including property taxes, with charter schools.

In a 13-page brief, the districts maintain that their School Board of Alachua County Florida v. Department of Education lawsuit is about ensuring “local control over local schools by local representatives answerable to local voters.”

DeSantis, Mast Return Cash from Arrested Donors Embroiled in Giuliani-Ukraine Affair

October 16, 2019 - 6:00am
Nov. 6, 2018: Gov.-elect DeSantis, center, in a crowd of supporters including Parnas, left, and next to him Furman

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast joined Gov. Ron DeSantis in announcing he had received, but will return, campaign contributions from two Soviet-born South Florida businessmen arrested last week on federal campaign finance charges.

According to their indictments, Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born resident of Boca Raton, and Igor Fruman, a naturalized citizen from Belarus and Sunny Isles Beach resident, used wire transfers from shell corporations to illegally funnel $325,000 in foreign “straw donations” to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action committee in 2018.

New School Choice Program Caps 18,000 Enrollment Six Weeks into the School Year

October 12, 2019 - 7:00am
Ron DeSantis in Miami Gardens last May, at the voucher bill signing

A new voucher program approved during the 2019 legislative session that dramatically expanded Florida’s school choice program but is being challenged in court has reached its first-year enrollment cap of 18,000 students, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday.

The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, adopted as Senate Bill 7070 in party-line votes, is the state’s fifth school-choice voucher program but the first to use public money to pay for private school tuition and to be directly administered by the state’s Department of Education (DOE).

Mounting Pre-Filed Gun Bills Are More 2020 Campaign Statements than Actionable Legislation

October 10, 2019 - 8:00am

Florida could become the 16th state to adopt “constitutional carry,” meaning no permit would be required to publicly carry a firearm, or lawmakers could impose more restrictions on concealed and open carry.

It could go either way during Florida’s 2020 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14. More likely, however, it goes neither way and everything stays the same.

Judge: Felons Having to Pay Up Before They Can Vote Doesn't Sit Well with Amendment 4 Voters

October 9, 2019 - 6:00am

A federal judge Monday said “it’s a no brainer” that the Florida Legislature’s requirement that ex-felons pay all financial obligations to be eligible to vote “harms the franchise” voters thought they’d restored when they approved Amendment 4 by more than 64 percent in November 2018.

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