A look at governmental events from around the Gulf Coast.
Workers' comp bills filed
FLORIDA — Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee, has filed SB 2072, a workers' compensation bill that addresses the attorney fee issue that the Supreme Court created with its decision last year in the Emma Murray vs. Mariner Health case. The ruling in the case eliminated the cap on attorneys' fees that were imposed as part of the 2003 reforms.
Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is sponsoring HB 903, a comparable bill in the House co-sponsored by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland. McKeel represents District 63 covering parts of Hillsborough and Polk County. He is chairman of the State and Community Colleges and Workforce Policy Committee.
Floridians: Cut spending
FLORIDA — Nearly three out of four Floridians think the state should cut spending rather than raise taxes to get through the recession, according to a recent Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) poll. And their preference for cuts is in environmental land purchases.
In the poll, more than half - 58% - of respondents said there is still plenty of room to further trim the budget whereas 33% said additional cuts will hurt health care or education.
When asked to identify an area of the budget that could be cut if necessary, a majority of those polled singled out land conservation purchases (33%) followed by Everglades restoration (16%) and state prisons and law enforcement (12%). Less popular were cuts to public health care programs like Medicaid (5%), funding for state community colleges and universities (4%) and spending for public schools (3%).
The survey also measured attitudes toward Florida's economy with 58% of those who responded viewing Florida's economic troubles, including a failing economy and uncertain job market, as the most important issue state officials need to address. A combined 90% of those polled describe Florida's economy as being in a recession (66%) or depression (24%), and 47% believe it will take two to three years for the economy to recover.
New code effective March 1
NAPLES — Effective March 1, the City of Naples will be using the New 2007 Building Code for all new permits.
Permits submitted prior to this date will still be subject to the 2004 Building Code. Copies of the 2004 vs. 2007 Building Code and 2007 Residential Code comparisons are available upon request in the Building Department or on the city web site, www.naplesgov.com.
Hillsborough County will hold the third in a series of six public meetings March 9 to discuss and get public comment on the draft Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan, which local governments and community organizations have been developing over the past year. The first meeting will be held at University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd Street, Tampa, at 6:30 p.m.
Other meeting dates are March 10, 16 and 19. Each meeting is at a different location throughout the county and all begin at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, go to the County's website at www.hillsboroughcounty.org, click on the “A-Z Index” link and then select “Post-Disaster Redevelopment Plan.” Interested persons may also call (813) 272-5600.
The Hillsborough County Economic Task Force will meet Friday, March 13, from 9-11 a.m., in Conference Rooms A and B on the 26th floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. For more information, call Jaksa Petrovic at (813) 273-3719.
CITY OF NAPLES
The City of Naples Blue Ribbon Financial Planning Committee will meet Friday, March 13 at 9 a.m. in the City Council Chambers, 735 Eighth St. S. The agenda includes a review of the capital improvements program and a discussion of the framework and ideas for the final report.
The county's Land Development Code Stakeholder group's next meeting is March 18, 4-6:30 p.m. The group is evaluating the county's internal development approval processes and re-writing the Land Development Code. According to Pasco County, the re-write includes removing inconsistencies, consolidating like subject matter, and grouping information in a fashion that streamlines and facilitates ease of use.
The Tourist Development Council will hold a special workshop to discuss improvements to its Special Event Grant Program on March 18 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Historic Courthouse in Dade City. The meeting is open to the public.
Registered voters living in portions of northern Pinellas County will decide whether to annex into the city of Oldsmar by March 10 in a mail-in referendum.
An information brochure and tax comparison worksheets have been created to help residents calculate the impact of annexation on their taxes. Call the North County Connection Center at (727) 453-3600 to request the materials by mail.
According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office, all registered voters in the annexation area will receive a ballot in the mail and voted ballots must be received in one of the Supervisor of Elections offices, by mail or delivery, by 7 p.m. Election Day, March 10. For more information on this process, go to Oldsmar Annexation Referendum Election.
CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG
Designed for mortgage and real estate professionals looking to expand their business, Clear Title America and Grand Central District present Alan Thompson, a nationally recognized corporate trainer and multi-million dollar producer. The presentation is Thursday, March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Hospice Office Center, 3050 1st Ave. South in St. Pete.
Shrimatee Ojah-Maharaj, a representative from the City of St. Petersburg's Small Business Enterprise Program, will be there to help small businesses get certified to work with the City of St. Pete. For more information call (727) 328-7086 or go to www.grandcentraldistrict.org.