Governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
Commission approves Arthrex funding
COLLIER COUNTY — County Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve more than $2 million in financial incentives for surgical tool manufacturer Arthrex Inc. for its planned expansion. However, the company may still consider expanding into Lee County instead. The north Naples company employs more than 1,000 workers manufacturing more than 5,000 products for arthroscopic and orthopedic surgeons. The company forecast $1 billion in revenues this year. The lone vote against the award came from Commissioner Georgia Hiller, whose district is home to Arthex's headquarters, prompting company officials to weigh other options before a final agreement is reached with Collier County.
Stadium funding limits charter proposal
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's Charter Review Commission voted 5-3 not to move forward with a proposed charter amendment to require voters' approval in a referendum for public projects of $100 million or more. The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce opposed the measure at a June 28 public hearing. The chamber and other opponents fought the amendment, arguing that it unfairly targeted a potential future new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. But the idea could be revisited at a final hearing this month. The Charter Review Commission will hold its third and final public hearing on proposed charter amendments at 6 p.m. July 11, at the City Hall council chamber, 175 Fifth St. N.
Urgent care centers to post prices
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation last week requiring urgent care centers to post prices for the 50 most common services. Co-sponsored by Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, House Bill 935, Health Care Price Transparency, requires urgent care centers to make medical services cost information more accessible to patients. In his weekly radio address, Scott noted that the new law adds transparency for uninsured patients of the centers who pay for services out-of-pocket, and can help reduce health care costs. The bill also encourages primary care providers to display pricing, and those that do so receive an exemption from continuing education requirements and the professional license renewal fee.
SunRail Gets Scott's Approval
TALLAHASSEE — State officials will allow development of the SunRail commuter train system to move ahead. The $1.2 billion transportation project will run through the heart of Central Florida. Ananth Prasad, secretary of Florida's Department of Transportation, made the approval official at a July 1 press conference.
Gov. Rick Scott put a hold on the project this past January, but other signs, like the $269 million in the state budget set aside for construction, suggested that SunRail would eventually receive state approval. The first phase of SunRail's construction will run 31 miles, connecting DeBary to Orlando. With the approval, SunRail could begin operating as soon as May 2014. The Florida Chamber of Commerce estimates that SunRail will “almost immediately” create 10,000 new jobs.
In his comments to the press, Prasad called SunRail a “judgment day” project — in other words, as SunRail goes, so too will go the future of state-supported commuter rail development projects.