A look at governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
Defining private beach property and uses
SARASOTA COUNTY — County commissioners approved a request May 11 to advertise a public hearing to consider changes to the ordinance regulating uses of county parks, beaches and natural lands. Casey Key, Manasota Key and North Manasota Key associations want to see public beaches differentiated from private beaches using the mean high tide line and a separate set of prohibited activities on private beaches.
Lee County commissioner interviews
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist plans to interview former Sanibel Mayor Carla Johnston, former Cape Coral Councilman Chris Berardi, former Lee County Commissioner John Manning and former Cape Coral Economic Development Director Mike Jackson for the open seat on the Lee County Commission. Commissioner Bob Janes died March 10. Some of the other 24 applicants may also be interviewed before Crist makes the appointment.
Health care lawsuit plaintiffs grow
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed an amended complaint May 14 in the lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform act. The amended complaint now includes 20 state plaintiffs plus the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which joined the lawsuit as a co-plaintiff on behalf of its members.
The Washington Post reported May 12 that 33 states are pursuing action to overturn provisions of the act. Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma have put constitutional amendments on their November ballots to prohibit the individual mandate. Similar efforts are underway in at least 11 other states.
A Web site dedicated to the lawsuit, including an updated list of plaintiffs, may be found at www.healthcarelawsuit.us.
The original lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor March 23, minutes after the health care reform act was signed into law by President Obama. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Northern District of Florida on March 23, alleges that the new law infringes upon the constitutional rights of Floridians and residents of the other states by mandating all citizens and legal residents get health care coverage or pay a tax penalty. The lawsuit further claims the act infringes on states' sovereignty and the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution by imposing onerous new operating rules that Florida must follow and requiring the state to spend billions of additional dollars without providing funds or resources to meet the state's cost of implementing the law.
Under the new law, Florida will be required to broaden its Medicaid eligibility standards to accommodate upwards of 50% more enrollees, many of whom would be required to enroll or face a tax penalty. Florida's Medicaid program currently consumes 26% of the state's budget and state budget analyst project it to eat up 36% of the budget by 2020.
Disaster loans approved for Gulf Coast
TALLAHASSEE — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved disaster loan funds for businesses along Florida's Gulf coast impacted by the Deepwater Horizon incident. Those counties include Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte among the 35 counties eligible. Economic Injury Disaster Loans are designed to help eligible small businesses meet the necessary financial obligations they could have met, had the incident not occurred.
Affected business owners can visit the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov for more information. For updated information on Florida's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, visit www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon, follow www.Twitter.com/FLDEPalert or call the Florida Oil Spill Information Line at (888) 337-3569.
The 14th Street West Community Redevelopment Agency meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27, at the Peace Lutheran Church and School, 1611 30th Ave., West Bradenton.