Transportation fund raided
TALLAHASSEE — The House Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Committee is recommending $426 million be swept out of the state transportation trust fund to help balance the state budget. Lawmakers are trying to fill a $3.2 billion state budget gap. Committee Chairman Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City, says the committee was given a set appropriation and it's the committee's job to work with that figure.
Slip-and-fall bill passes
TALLAHASSEE — The so-called “slip and fall” legislation passed 110-2 in the House and 32-5 in the Senate and is now on the governor's desk to be signed. House bill 689 was sponsored by Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral. The bill provides that if a person slips and falls on a foreign substance in a business establishment, the injured person must prove that the establishment had knowledge of the condition and should have remedied it. But it also povides that knowledge may be proven by circumstantial evidence.
Quick permitting bill passes
TALLAHASSEE — A House bill that would reduce the job creation requirements from 100 to 50 jobs, and broaden the eligibility to renewable energy projects that meet the job requirements, unanimously passed the Economic Development Policy Committee March 25. House Bill 733, sponsored by Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, would expedite permitting for projects and jobs having an economic impact on a local community. Current law allows for an expedited permitting of targeted economic development projects that meet certain job creation requirements. According to Associated Industries of Florida, very few permit applications have benefited from this process with only three projects utilizing it over the last four years.
Commercialization grant bill
TALLAHASSEE — The Research Commercialization Matching Grant Program sponsored by Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, passed the Senate Commerce Committee. Senate Bill 1472 will enact a grant program to help bridge the gap for startup and research related companies to reach the commercialization phase. This program would provide funds to established Florida companies that have already received a federal grant.
'Consumer Choice' moves on
TALLAHASSEE — The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee has passed Senate bill 876, the “Consumer Choice” bill. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, the bill provides homeowners the option of purchasing their homeowners' insurance from a private insurance company using rates higher than approved rates, and as an alternative to Citzens, the state's property insurance company. It is anticipated that the bill will help to reduce the burden of “hidden hurricane taxes” on business premiums to fund Citizens. Policyholders are still paying assessments to cover Citizens insured losses from the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes. The higher rates are expected to encourage private insurance companies to return or continue to do business in Florida, and increase private claims-paying capital. Fifty of 70 Florida-based companies posted losses on their insurance business for 2009, and 31 of the companies reported a drop in reserves — the money insurers set aside to pay claims.
Gas deal for Port Manatee
MANATEE COUNTY — The Manatee County Commission approved a long-term $30 million agreement with Port Dolphin Energy LLC, providing Florida with a second major source of natural gas. Port Dolphin officials estimate its project will generate more than $150 million in direct economic impact within Manatee County during the next 20 years. Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2012 and completed in 2013.
The I-4 Green Tech Corridor map will be considered during the Planning Commission's public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 5 at County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 18th floor. The staff report is on the Planning Commission's Web site: www.theplanningcommission.org. The Planning Commission recommended approval for the I-4 Green Tech Corridor text amendment last month, but continued a decision on the map.
The Enterprise Zone Development Authority meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday, April 5, at the University IFAS and Manatee County Extension Service, Hailey Room, 1303 17th St., Palmetto.
The Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 7, at the Sarasota County Administration Center, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
The Horizon Council Executive Committee meets at 8 a.m. Friday, April 9, in Conference Room 300 of the Lee County Economic Development Office, 12800 University Drive, Fort Myers.
The Economic Development Council of Collier County is hosting “Financing Your Business in Today's Economy,” from 2-4 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, in the Naples Daily News Community Room, 1200 Immokalee Road, Naples. Participants will learn about recovery zone bonds, Industrial Revenue Bonds, venture capital, SBA Loans and the economic gardening loan program. The event is open to all businesses in Collier County. For more information, or to register, call (239) 263-8989 or go to www.enaplesflorida.com.