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Government Digest: Dec. 10 - Dec. 16

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  • | 9:52 a.m. December 10, 2010
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Ken Welch to seek re-election in 2012

PINELLAS COUNTY — County Commissioner Ken Welch will run for his seat in 2012 and bypass a shot at running for mayor of St. Petersburg in 2013. Welch also plans to step down from his assistant vice president post at St. Pete College June 30.

Unemployment tax rate to rise by 186%

TALLAHASSEE — The minimum annual unemployment compensation tax rate goes to $72.10 per employee on Jan. 1. That's up from the current minimum rate of $25.20 per employee, an increase of 186%.

The maximum rate of $378 per employee (5.4%) remains unchanged. The rates are applied against the first $7,000 of taxable wages and are paid by employers quarterly. Notices of individual business rates go out this month. The new rates are effective for wages paid on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

Because the state has borrowed $1.74 billion so far from the federal government to pay unemployment compensation benefits, all contributing employers will pay a proportionate share of the federal interest payment with a special annual assessment, which must be collected by June 30, 2011. The Florida department of revenue will send notices by Feb. 1, 2011 explaining the calculation of the assessment, along with a coupon for businesses to pay its share of the interest on the federal advances. For more information, go to

Arizona-style immigration bill filed in Legislature

TALLAHASSEE — Legislation designed to curtail illegal immigration into the state has been filed by Sen. President Pro-tempore Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton.

Senate Bill 136 allows state and local law enforcement officers under specified conditions to determine the immigration status of a person lawfully stopped, detained or arrested.

Under the Arizona-style bill, there must be “reasonable suspicion” that such a person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States. Law enforcement officers “may not consider race, color, or national origin” in enforcing the measure unless otherwise permitted by the state or U.S. constitutions. The bill also provides that a legal resident of the state may file a lawsuit in county court to challenge any state or local policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The proposed law has been referred to the Senate judiciary, criminal justice and budget committees.

Liability negligence bill filed by Sen. Richter

TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, filed legislation aimed at undoing a 2001 Florida Supreme Court decision by apportioning liability in negligence and product liability cases. Senate Bill 142 makes a legislative finding that fault should be apportioned among all responsible persons in a products liability action.

Bottled water tax proposed as eco surcharge

TALLAHASSEE — A 6% tax on bottled water sold at retail is proposed in Senate Bill 78 filed by Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach. The “environmental surcharge” would go into the ecosystem management and restoration trust fund. Those funds could be used for restoration of springs and other ecosystems including coral reefs. The tax would not apply to containers of a gallon or larger and would go into effect Oct. 1, 2011.



The Murdock Village community redevelopment agency advisory committee will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at 18501 Murdock Circle, suite 502, Port Charlotte. For more information, call Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.

The county commission will hold a public hearing on the economic development incentive program, and a public hearing on an ordinance pertaining to county owned lands for economic development purposes, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the administration center, 18500 Murdock Circle, room #119, Port Charlotte. For more information, call Marie Pecorella or Jo Ann VonderMuehll at (941) 743-1944.

The industrial development authority will meet at noon Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the SunTrust Bank Building, 18501 Murdock Circle, suite 502, Port Charlotte. For more information, call Kathy Knee at (941) 627-3023.


The Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority board of directors will meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at the administration center, 18500 Murdock Circle, room #119, Port Charlotte. For more information, call Diane Grant or JoAnn Dillon at (941) 743-1300.


The Immokalee enterprise zone development agency will meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Southwest Florida Works, 750 South 5th St., Immokalee.


The planning commission will meet at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, in the 18th floor boardroom at County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. For more information, call Grace Sanders at (813) 272-5940.

The county's legislative delegation meets to discuss local bills at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the University of South Florida. The meeting is at Traditions Hall in the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Building. Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel is the delegation chairman.


The transportation task force will meet at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at the SPC EpiCenter Room 1-451/1-453, 13805 58th St. N., Largo. For more information, call (727) 464-3278.


A workshop meeting on proposed transfer of development rights regulations is at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14 at the West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Rd., New Port Richey.

A series of economic development workshop meetings for stakeholders to discuss the county's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is set for Dec. 15-17:

• Dec. 15, 1-3 p.m., Alice Hall Community Center, 38116 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills;

• Dec. 16, 9 a.m.-noon, Land O' Lakes Community Center, back building, 5401 Land O' Lakes Blvd., Land O'Lakes; and

• Dec. 17, 1-4 p.m., Homewood Suites by Hilton, 11115 U.S. 19 S., Port Richey.


The tourist development council meets at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 13, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

The port authority meets at 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Port Manatee Intermodal Center, 1905 Intermodal Circle, Palmetto.


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