Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida legislators sweeten bill for sugar industry

Florida legislators used a bill changing wetlands regulations to block a lawsuit against the state for approving two no-bid, 20-year lease agreements with sugar and vegetable farmers.

The leases were approved by the governor and Cabinet in January and are being challenged by the Florida Wildlife Federation, which alleges the leases allow sugar growers to continue to farm without reducing pollution levels.

The provision was added to HB 999, which the House approved 106-10 and the Senate approved 39-1 on Friday, sending the measure to the governor.

The sugar industry said in a statement that the legislation was needed to "avoid obstructionist litigation from some extreme environmental activists" and to complete the state's cleanup efforts that are part of the Everglades settlement legislators also ratified.

The Senate stripped the bill of other provisions opposed by environmentalists, including a three-year ban on local fertilizer ordinances and a measure to prevent water management districts from local wetlands regulations.

Foreclosure reform on Scott's desk

A proposal to speed up foreclosures passed the Senate on a 26-13 vote and now heads to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The third attempt at foreclosure reform in three years, HB 87 creates new options for expedited foreclosures and tightens up filing standards for banks.

Opponents claimed it would harm homeowners and favor banks, who have been accused of engaging in questionable foreclosure practices. But proponents hailed it as a way to fix Florida's nation-leading foreclosure problem, and return the state's housing market to normal.

"I believe we have a product here that will be an improvement in the process," said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. It's "far more tilted to consumers than it is to banks."

Joyner to lead Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats elected Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, their 2014-16 leader. Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Allison Tant called Joyner "a tireless advocate for Democratic values and ally to Florida's middle-class families."

Joyner, elected to the House in 2000 and Senate in 2006, is the first black woman to serve as Senate Democratic leader, the party said. The current leader is Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale.

Card and support for Ken Plante

On the hectic final day of the legislative session, dozens of people paused in the rotunda to sign a poster-sized get-well card for Ken Plante, a highly respected lobbyist and former Republican state senator from Winter Park.

Plante, 72, is suffering from ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, a progressive neurological disorder with no cure. To many who earn a living in Florida's capital, the good-natured Plante has been a role model, teacher and mentor.

The inscription next to the large card asked for $250 donations to help with Plante's medical expenses. It read: "Kenny is at home, but is using a ventilator to help him breathe, and so his home health care is not covered by insurance. He also suffers as a result of the Medicare 'doughnut hole' in which his prescription medicine costs are astronomical. So Kenny Plante's many friends around Florida have banded together to help cover the health care costs and invite you to join us."

Katie Sanders and Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

Florida legislators sweeten bill for sugar industry 05/03/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  2. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  3. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  4. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary


    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]