From the Miami Herald's Joey Flechas:
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine's proposal to raise the city's mandatory minimum wage above the statewide minimum was met with unanimous approval from the City Commission, but it failed its first legal test Tuesday when a Miami-Dade circuit judge invalidated the ordinance.
Passed in June 2016, the ordinance mandates Beach employers to pay a minimum wage of $10.31 starting Jan. 1, 2018, and a dollar more each year until 2021. The current state-mandated minimum is $8.10. The initiative, praised by labor groups and decried by business associations, also became a political talking point for Levine, who is now considering a run for governor and is frequently included in the conversation of potential Democratic nominees....
As it's becoming abundantly clear, Pam Bondi still doesn't have a job in the Donald Trump administration.
Considering her early support for Trump, Bondi was considered a lock for a top post in his administration. She will be moderating a "Women's Empowerment" panel with first lady Melania Trump today, so that's fueled further speculation that a post is imminent....
Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced Tuesday that Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, was stepping down as chair of the House's Health Quality Subcommittee.
It comes less than a week after Pigman, an emergency medicine physician, was charged with driving under the influence. A state trooper stopped Pigman's Jeep early Friday on Florida's Turnpike in St. Lucie County and a Breathalyzer test showed that his blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the legal limit....
Yes, there's no rail in Tampa, except for that streetcar system that runs to Ybor City.
But Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has a dream that perhaps one day his city will be the stop of a major passenger rail line.
Which is why he is asking a House transportation committee to vote against HB 269, which would make the Florida Department of Transportation the regulatory power over high speed rail. Currently federal law preempts state and local rules....
From the Miami Herald's Daniel Chang:
South Florida's battle plan for Zika, expected to rebound with the rainy season, includes more boots on the ground to inspect and fumigate for mosquitoes, more lab resources to speed up test turnaround times and the promise of a more collegial collaboration between the federal and state governments.
“As you know, I have a good relationship with the White House,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who visited the health department in Miami on Monday for a roundtable with local leaders on Zika preparedness....
The Florida Senate's vote on the so-called "whiskey to Wheaties" bill was a tight one, narrowly passing 21-17.
One of those no votes, Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, proves that all politics really are local.
On Jan. 20, Rouson called a late-afternoon hearing at his downtown St. Pete office to try to change the minds of Walmart officials who chose to close its Midtown store. That store has been a linchpin in efforts to redevelop the low-income, predominately black community. A troubled lease agreement convinced Walmart officials to leave its location at the Tangerine Plaza in January....
From Times staff photographer Scott Keeler:
The Gov. Rick Scott Road Show continues.
On Wednesday, Scott's tour defending his key agencies, Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, landed him at Allen Sports Center in Seminole, where 75 business officials greeted him....
Although Donald Trump vowed he would spend more on infrastructure, many of the grant programs that do that are in line to get cut in his budget.
According to The Hill, Trump is putting together a $1 trillion package to upgrade the nation's transportation network. But if the budget follows a blueprint published by the Heritage Foundation, which has sway in Trump's administration, that would mean the end for the $510 million TIGER program....
Blockbuster from Arek Sarkissian at the Naples Daily News:
A state senator helped a friend's business obtain $1 million hidden in the state budget after the two discussed how the lawmaker would promote the business, budget documents and emails show.
Sen. Aaron Bean helped secure a $1 million special appropriation in this year's budget for an early mental health screening program run by Catherine Drew, the wife of Nassau County Tax Collector John Drew. Bean and John Drew have been friends for more than a decade and have supported each other politically....
Very interesting story from the Miami Herald's Kyra Gurney.
Gabriela Fowler has a 4.7 GPA, takes college-level calculus and statistics courses, and is the president of her school’s business leadership club. But for the 17-year-old Hialeah High senior, a college scholarship funded by the record-setting revenues of the Florida Lottery somehow remains out of reach.
Like many low-income and minority students in Miami-Dade County, Fowler has been shut out by tougher eligibility requirements for Bright Futures college scholarships. A few years ago, her SAT and ACT scores would have been high enough to earn money that, along with federal financial aid, would have covered most of her college costs. Instead, Fowler is now scrambling to find a way to pay for college....
From the Associated Press
A state attorney says Florida’s governor overstepped his authority when he pulled her off a case after she said she would not pursue the death penalty in any cases.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala made the assertion Monday in a legal motion that asks a judge to allow her to present that argument in court. The motion claims that allowing the governor to interfere could undermine Florida’s judicial system. ...
(The Orlando Sentinel reports that McCullars placed on administrative leave. Grant Maloy, Clerk of Courts and Comptroller, said that McCullars' comments "don't reflect my beliefs or the beliefs of the comptroller's office." An investigation is pending, with a decision expected this week. Maloy said her personally called Ayala to express his regrets.)...
Some interesting dot connecting from the Palm Beach Post's John Pacenti:
The coincidences are piling up.
Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev last week disavowed any contact with President Donald Trump.
But speculation again was stoked when his state-of-the-art yacht Anna sat anchored in the British Virgin Islands on Friday night and another equally resplendent luxury liner, the Sea Owl, sidled up, according to a website that tracks the movement of yachts....
From the Miami Herald's Joey Flechas
Speaking to a group of about 40 locals in private meet-and-greet Wednesday morning in Miami Beach, former Tallahassee Congresswoman Gwen Graham said she plans announcing a decision on a gubernatorial run "soon." The candidate, anticipated to enter the 2018 race for governor, spoke like a candidate while addressing residents eager to help her become Florida's next governor....
Interesting story from the Miami Herald's Jenny Staletovich:
A growing chorus of scientists is raising the alarm over reports of Trump administration budgets cuts that would affect climate change research and hurricane forecasting.
On Monday, 32 Florida scientists sent a letter to the president voicing worry over reports that the Department of Commerce, which overseas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has proposed cutting 17 percent from its budget, with the nation’s network of satellites taking the biggest hit. The satellites include a system of polar orbiters that provide critical data from the top and bottom of the planet and help scientists understand two of the biggest threats facing the peninsula....