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Tourists Flock to Florida, Breaking All-Time First-Quarter Visit Record

May 15, 2019 - 5:00pm

Talk about bitter ironies.  Today, at the same time beaten-down VISIT FLORIDA was approving a $3.65 million payroll cut and a cut of $17.8 million in strategic marketing -- Florida's tourism-marketing arm was making a different kind of headline. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this morning that Florida broke an all-time record for visitation during the first quarter of 2019, with 35.7 million people visiting the Sunshine State from January to March. We're looking at a 5.8 percent increase from the first quarter of 2018.

Trump's Everglades Largesse? Congressional Delegation, No; Election 2020 Strategy, Yes

May 15, 2019 - 8:15am

Fortunately for the Everglades, President Trump needs Florida.

"My Administration will be fighting for $200 million for the Army Corps Everglades restoration work this year," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "Congress needs to help us complete the world’s largest intergovernmental watershed restoration project ASAP! Good for Florida and good for the environment."

Sexual Misconduct Allegations Send Florida's Chief Financial Regulator Home on Forced Leave

May 11, 2019 - 7:30am
Ronald Rubin

Florida's top financial regulator was placed on administrative leave Friday, after one of his staff filed a detailed sexual harassment complaint against him. 

Ronald Rubin had been on the job as commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) for less than three months, having been appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the full Cabinet Feb. 26. 

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis released the following statement directing an immediate investigation:  

Legislators Missed the Boat: Snubbing Agriculture Hurts Florida

May 6, 2019 - 8:30am
Sampala Lake Ranch in Madison County

It seems every legislative session there's one pariah -- an issue so unpopular it can barely buy a committee hearing let alone a vote. Among the notable pariahs I remember over the years were school choice, gambling and, of course, guns. There have been others.

But none was as vital to the Florida economy as this year's pariah, agriculture.

It seems to me we plain didn't like ag at the Capitol this session.

Near-Tragedy on Lake Okeechobee Brings Home Danger of Lowered Lake

May 1, 2019 - 9:15am
Bill Matchekowsky and the lake rescue boat

There are safety consequences to lowering the lake. The folks who know Lake Okeechobee best, who work on it and fish in it, keep telling us a deliberately lowered 10.5-foot lake is an accident waiting to happen.

On Saturday night, we found out how justified those fears were when three boys visiting from South Carolina and fishing in Lake Okeechobee, ran aground about a mile from shore.

AOB Abuse King Addresses His Army of Vendors, Vowing to Get Around the New Law

April 29, 2019 - 7:45am

The Johnny Appleseed of AOB lawsuits has no intention of going quietly -- or, at all. 

Even before the ink on the just-passed "assignment of benefits" (AOB) legislation had dried -- before Gov. Ron DeSantis had a chance to sign the bill into law --  Orlando attorney Harvey Cohen was trying to bleed every last penny out of the scam he invented to make a killing on storm victims' misery.

Polk County's Troubled DEC

April 23, 2019 - 8:00am
Kathie Sunderland and Shawn Kinsey

Democrats in Polk County are getting down and dirty. With each other. 

What we've got here is a kind of passive-aggressive brouhaha between the Democratic Executive Committee's former chairman and current chairwoman over which one can go lower to rat-out the other's unpleasant secrets. With charges of racism thrown in.

SFWMD Senior Scientist Terrie Bates Quits. Was Retirement a Bridge Too Far?

April 19, 2019 - 7:00am
Terrie Bates

Terrie Bates, director of Water Resources at the South Florida Water Management District and one of its most respected scientists, has resigned her position.

Lawmakers, Heed DeSantis' Resolute Commitment to VISIT FLORIDA

April 16, 2019 - 9:00am
Ron DeSantis highlights tourism in Tampa

Gov. Ron DeSantis looks in no hurry to sunset VISIT FLORIDA for good. Mercifully. Let's hope his strong support will end any further discussion to shutter the state's busy and effective tourism agency. And, instead, fund it the full $76 million that's helped make it the envy of every state in the nation.

VISIT FLORIDA is one of the Sunshine State's best assets, and always has been.

Sen. Harrell Would Make Insurers Cover Vaccinations for 'At-Risk' Hepatitis A Group

April 15, 2019 - 9:00am

Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said Sunday if it's not too late, she will try to amend one of the Legislature's 2019 insurance bills to mandate all insurers inoculate at-risk people in areas identified by the Centers for Disease Control as having been hit by Hepatitis A.

"Local health departments usually insure Medicaid patients, the uninsured and the underinsured," said Harrell. "But this is a rising epidemic and we have to look for the vulnerable who might otherwise fall between the cracks."

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