Roads renamed for five slain police Officers
Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Thursday a proposal that names roads in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in honor of five Tampa Bay police officers killed since June. SB 782 designates a portion of State Road 687 from Interstate 275 to Interstate 175 in Pinellas County as "Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger, Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz and Officer David. S. Crawford Memorial Highway." In Hillsborough County, a portion of State Road 583/N 50th Street from Melbourne Boulevard / E 21st Avenue to State Road 574/ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be designated as "Officer Jeffrey A. Kocab and Officer David I. Curtis Memorial Highway." Sens. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, and Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, introduced the measure in the Senate. Rep. Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg, presented it in the House.
Alexander defects on immigration bill
Sen. J.D. Alexander ended up voting against SB 2040, the immigration crackdown bill that Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped on his lap three weeks ago and that cleared the Senate on Wednesday. "I should have probably voted for it," Alexander, R-Lake Wales, told reporters Thursday. "The reality is, I just didn't like that whole set of issues. … I probably shouldn't have left members hanging and voted with them. The budget chief noted it's one of the only times he's differed with Haridopolos. "As I got into it more and more, I got more and more uncomfortable with it," Alexander said. "I didn't feel morally I could make that choice. It became not a political issue but a moral issue." He ended up with the bill, he suggested, because as a citrus grower, "I probably know more about the reality of these issues than anybody else on the floor." And Alexander praised Haridopolos for allowing senators to vote their will on immigration. "I think that's leadership and not just pure politics," he said.
Tea partier chews out Republicans
Henry Kelley, president of the Fort Walton Beach Tea Party, is sending a letter to the Republican Party of Florida blasting GOP leaders for not passing an immigration crackdown bill heavy on E-Verify. The subject of Kelley's e-mailed letter: "Thank you RPOF for re-electing President Obama."
Drivers, it's legal to coast downhill
Gov. Scott has signed into law a repeal of an outdated law prohibiting a vehicle from coasting downhill. Drivers in Florida now can travel downhill while in neutral or with the clutch disengaged. Doing so was previously a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine. HB 4019 was passed unanimously by both chambers and signed by Scott Thursday as part of his deregulation efforts.
Times staff and wire reports