02/10/16 Working Life
It's gotten even tougher for jobless Floridians to get unemployment benefits as they try to get back to work.
In fact, only 11 percent of jobless Floridians received any money through unemployment insurance last year, cementing the Sunshine State's status as the worst in the nation in that category.
At the other end of the spectrum comes North Dakota, where a relatively robust 66 percent of the jobless received benefits at some point last year. ...
Gov. Rick Scott today signed an executive order directing Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong to declare a public health emergency in the four counties which have the Zika virus.
There are currently a total of nine travel-associated cases of the Zika virus across Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee and Santa Rosa counties.
From the Tampa Bay Times:
TAMPA - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday he thinks the state of Florida should issue an official apology to the victims of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, where students were beaten and died, many buried without identification.
"They and all the families of the ones that we know about and those that we don't know about, they deserve not only an apology, they deserve the heart-felt enormous grief that we should feel about this chapter of our Florida history," he said during a news conference Friday at his office in the Sam M. Gibbons Federal Courthouse....
From the Associated Press:
Florida legislators are going to have less money to spend in the coming year than they were planning on.
State economists met Tuesday to draw up new forecasts to predict how much the state will collect in taxes. The forecasts will be used by state legislators to draw up this year's budget.
Economists predict the state's main budget account will only grow 2.1 percent during the fiscal year that ends in June. Those forecasts estimate growth of 4.4 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
These forecasts mean the state has about $400 million less to spend....
As Florida lawmakers weigh whether to pave the way for fantasy sports sites to operate freely, Texas is already coming down hard on the debate.
From our friends at the News Service of Florida:
Amid a debate in Florida about the industry, the Texas attorney general Tuesday issued an opinion that said daily fantasy-sports contests are likely illegal gambling in his state.
The nine-page opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took issue with the industry's arguments that the online contests are based on skill and, as a result, don't conflict with gambling laws. In fantasy sports, people choose rosters of actual athletes. The winners of the contests are determined by the statistics of the athletes....
A second death row inmate in Florida facing execution early this year is seeking a stay.
But in this case, an attorney for Mark James Asay is citing lack of previous adequate representation for his new client along with questions over the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that strikes down the state's death penalty system.
Asay, who was convicted of murdering two men in downtown Jacksonville 29 years ago, is scheduled to be executed on St. Patrick's Day....
From the Tampa Bay Times' Anthony Cormier :
A top official from the Department of Children and Families will tell state senators today his plan to stem the violence and chaos inside Florida's mental hospitals, which was first reported in an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
From the Associated Press:
ORLANDO - An autopsy report shows that a prominent Florida lobbyist and lawyer died last year after inhaling a drug similar to poppers.
The autopsy report released Wednesday said that 65-year-old Fred Leonhardt died last October from ethyl chloride intoxication.
The recreational inhalant drug is used in manufacturing to make dyes and chemicals, but it can also be used as a topical anesthetic to relieve bug bites and burns....
The Tampa Bay Times' Leonora LaPeter Anton writes about a budding campaign to increase state funding for mental health programs as the state Legislature begins its regular session today:
Several mental health advocacy organizations have launched a campaign to pressure state lawmakers to restore cuts to Florida's mental health programs, including the $100 million from state mental hospitals that was the focus of investigation this year by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune....
As the Florida Legislature kicks off its regular session this morning, follow along with our live blog
To come up to speed:
* Here are five issues and five people to watch during the 60-day session (along with a video roundup of key topics)...
From our friends at The News Service of Florida:
The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case challenging the constitutionality of a state law that allows people to be prosecuted for refusing to take breath tests when suspected of drunken driving.
The Volusia County case focuses on whether it is constitutional to punish people who refuse to submit to breath tests when police do not have warrants, according to a June ruling by the 5thÂ District Court of Appeal, which upheld the law....
From the Washington Post:
When Marco Rubio was majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives, he used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier, according to records obtained by the Washington Post.
n July 2002, Rubio sent a letter on his official statehouse stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate, recommending Orlando Cicilia "for licensure without reservation." The letter, obtained by the Washington Post under the Florida Public Records Act, offers a glimpse of Rubio using his growing political power to assist his troubled brother-in-law and provides new insight into how the young lawmaker intertwined his personal and political lives....
Some Republican presidential candidates have been quick to criticize President Barack Obama's ISIS strategy, but how different are the alternatives they offer? And how detailed?
Linda Qiu of PolitiFact takes a look:
How did Republicans describe President Barack Obama's ISIS strategy at the most recent presidential primary debate in Las Vegas? "Wrong," "reckless," "left us unsafe," "leads from behind" and "feckless weakling."...
In case you missed it:
The Washington Post this weekend took a hard look at Marco Rubio's struggle to overcome his previous stance on immigration:
Sen. Marco Rubio was concluding his remarks about the merits of comprehensive immigration reform when he pointedly defended himself against conservative critics.
"Leaving things the way they are - that's the real amnesty," he said in April 2013, using one of the dirtiest words in the far-right lexicon to illustrate why he stood there as one of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators unveiling a comprehensive immigration reform bill ....
As swan songs go, this wasn't a half-bad send-off for Jesse Panuccio.
The exiting chief of Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity, got to discuss a monthly jobs report Friday that was clicking on practically all cylinders:
• Unemployment fell to 5 percent, the lowest since 2008 and the first time it's as low as the national rate since January.
• Florida added a net 35,200 jobs last month, with every industry but information and government up compared to a year ago....