Governor Rick Scott announced that Florida businesses have created 1,516,900 jobs since December 2010, including 8,300 private-sector jobs in April and 170,400 in the last year. Florida’s annual job growth rate of 2.3 percent continues to exceed the nation’s rate of 1.8 percent. Florida’s annual job growth rate has outpaced the nation for 72 of the past 73 months. The only month that Florida did not exceed the nation was due to Hurricane Irma. The Governor made the announcement today at El Meson in Orlando, a restaurant with four locations in Florida and 37 in Puerto Rico. The Governor visited the restaurant during his fifth trip to Puerto Rico.
Governor Rick Scott today made the following statement regarding the National Hurricane Center’s monitoring of a weather system that could potentially develop into a tropical or sub-tropical depression. Governor Scott was briefed this afternoon by FDEM while traveling back to Florida. The Governor also directed the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) to be in constant communication with counties regarding the weather system. FDEM has also been in contact with local emergency management professionals in Palm Beach County regarding reports of a small tornado touching down in The Acreage, FL.
Governor Scott said, “In Florida, we know how to prepare for storms, and even though hurricane season hasn’t begun, we should never let our guard down. It’s encouraging to know that the National Hurricane Center doesn’t expect this system to become a tropical storm, but we should never underestimate the potential impact of severe weather. I urge every Floridian to take this opportunity to revisit their emergency plans. Also, Floridians should stay tuned to local news reports as this weather system moves north. As with any storm, our main concern is safety, and Floridians across the state should take the proper steps to keep themselves and each other safe.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today announced that the $1.3 trillion spending package Congress unveiled last night includes funding for several projects and programs important to Floridians including: increased spending to fight the opioid epidemic, additional funding for citrus greening research and significant funding for democracy programs in both Venezuela and Cuba, as well as provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence.
Funding for the following Florida projects and programs sought by Nelson have been included in the federal spending package:
- $3.3 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and mental health crises. An estimated 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder. In Florida alone, more than 5,200 people have died from an opioid-related event in 2016 – a 35 percent increase from 2015. Nelson requested additional funding for treatment, prevention and research.
- $67.47 million in total funding for citrus greening research and the Citrus Health Research Program. As citrus greening has hurt growers across Florida, Nelson has advocated for increased funding to study and address the problem to help the state’s citrus industry.
- $895 million for Kennedy Space Center to modernize launch facilities, more than doubling what the center received last year. Nelson requested the increased funding to bolster work on launch and processing infrastructure needed for NASA’s initiative to explore deep space.
- $121 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet. Nelson has been pushing for a replacement since 2015. The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two years when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded during hurricane season.
- $76.5 million in total funding to protect and restore the Everglades. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing additional funding for Everglades restoration.
- $82 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing for additional funding for dike repairs.
- $279.6 million, a 14-percent increase, in funding to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The four historically black colleges and universities in Florida—Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville – prepare over 16,000 students for careers in STEM, aviation, law, nursing and other fields.
- $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants. Positive train control technology will help prevent deadly crashes on our railroads. It’s critically important for those railroads that carry passengers, like Sunrail and Tri-Rail. Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, pressed for the funding to help passenger railroads meet a federal deadline to install the lifesaving technology.
- $100 million for research and development program for automated vehicles. The SunTrax facility at Florida Polytechnic University is a qualified proving ground and will have the opportunity to benefit from the program.
- Restored and increased funds to $35 million for democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba.Nelson requested Congress “redouble, not eliminate support for democracy and human rights” in Venezuela. The democracy programs support civil society organizations and promote human rights.
- Included $60 million for the Nonprofits Security Grant Program. The program helps certain non-profits harden their facilities against attack, such as organization like the Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Orlando and Miami and elsewhere. Nelson requested this funding after JCCs across Florida received a series of telephone bomb threats.
- Increased funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program to $5 million. Nelson requested $5 million in funding to provide long-term support and services for Holocaust survivors.
The spending package included several provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence in Florida and across the country, including:
- Fix NICS Act. Nelson cosponsored this bipartisan bill, which requires federal agencies and states to develop implementation plans to upload to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) all information prohibiting a person from purchasing a firearm, rewards states who comply with these plans through federal grant preferences, and reauthorizes and improves programs that help states share information on criminal records with NICS, among other things.
- STOP School Violence Act. Nelson co-sponsored this bipartisan bill that would allow schools to access federal funds to invest in programs, training and technology to keep students safe.
- CDC Gun Violence Research. The spending package included language to clarify that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can conduct research on gun violence.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released today the top 10 consumer complaints filed with the department in 2017. Complaints about violations of the state’s Do Not Call list were the most common, followed by complaints related to landlord/ tenant issues, fuel and gasoline, and motor vehicle repair. In addition, the department recovered $2,659,000 for Florida consumers in 2017.
“We are dedicated to protecting Florida’s consumers, and I’m proud that we recovered more than $2.6 million for Floridians this year,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “Anyone can call our 1-800-HELP-FLA consumer hotline or visit FreshfromFlorida.com to file a complaint, find information about businesses and professionals and learn how to protect themselves from fraud and scams.”
In 2017, the department received 40,855 complaints and responded to 215,870 calls, 16,247 emails and 11,464 online chats from consumers. The top 10 complaints were:
- Do Not Call –19,112
- Landlord/Tenant – 2,164
- Fuel/Petroleum – 1,555
- Motor Vehicle Repair – 1,386
- Medical Billing – 1,253
- Communications – 1,160
- Other/Miscellaneous – 1,105
- Travel/Vacation Plans – 1,028
- Motor Vehicle/Sales Accessories – 1,021
- Construction – 973
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview and provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer protection and information hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) or, for Spanish speakers, 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832). For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
Governor Rick Scott today applauded the opportunity for Venezuelans to make their opposition against the Maduro Regime known through a straw poll this weekend. The straw poll is being hosted for Venezuelan citizens across the globe in response to efforts by the Maduro regime to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution to further support his own brutal dictatorship.
Governor Scott said, “This Sunday, the Venezuelan people have an opportunity to make their voices heard and send a powerful message of unity against Maduro and his gang of thugs. The State of Florida is fully committed to proudly standing side-by-side with the people of Venezuela who are bravely fighting for freedom and democracy. Maduro’s consistent rejection of democratic principles in favor of oppression and violence cannot be tolerated. That is why, in August, I will propose that the State of Florida be prohibited from doing business with any organization that supports the Maduro dictatorship. Floridians will continue to rally together with the Venezuelan people to support their right to freedom.”
Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday Begins Tomorrow
Governor Rick Scott joined Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly along with federal, state and local emergency response officials at the National Hurricane Center in Miami to kick off the 2017 hurricane season. Governor Scott also highlighted Florida’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday which begins tomorrow June 2 and runs through June 4. The disaster preparedness tax cut holiday, signed into law by Governor Scott on May 25, 2017, will help Floridians save money as they purchase potentially lifesaving supplies. Hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30, and represents the period when hurricanes are most likely to form in the Atlantic Ocean.
Governor Scott said, “Last year our state was impacted by two hurricanes for the first time in over a decade and luckily, we did not see damage like many of our neighboring states. Last week, I was proud to sign a tax cut package that includes a disaster preparedness sales tax holiday so families and businesses have additional opportunities to get the supplies they need to be prepared. With the 2017 hurricane season beginning today, I encourage all Floridians to take advantage of this weekend’s disaster preparedness sales tax holiday and ensure your family is safe.”
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said, “It only takes one hurricane to change your life. If you – or a close family member – live in an area prone to hurricanes or inland flooding, now is the time to prepare. Know your risk and get prepared by downloading the FEMA App, making sure your flood insurance policy is up to date, and checking out ready.gov for tips on what to do before, during, or after a storm.”
Below outlines qualifying items for the disaster preparedness sales tax holiday:
Batteries (AA-cell, C-cell, D-cell, 6-volt, or 9-volt batteries)
for $30 or less
Nonelectric coolers for $30 or less for $20 or less
Reusable ice $10 or less
Portable self-powered radio, two-way radio, or weather band radio for $50 or less
Tarpaulin or flexible waterproof sheeting for $50 or less
First-aid kits (always exempt)
Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits for $50 or less
Gas or diesel fuel tanks for $25 or less
Portable generators for $750 or less
For more information, please visit floridarevenue.com.
Florida residents and visitors should develop a plan centered on self-sufficiency for the first 72 hours following a disaster so emergency responders can focus on restoring essential services and helping vulnerable populations. Families, businesses and individuals with special needs can design a personalized emergency plan at FLGetAPlan.com to prepare for or other disasters. The Florida Division of Emergency’s Management’s website, www.FloridaDisaster.org, also provides critical tips for disaster preparedness, such as local evacuation zones and basic information to ensure you are fully prepared for the 2017 hurricane season.
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon said, “The 2017 Hurricane Season is upon us and Division staff has been working hard to make sure Floridians are ready. It’s never too early to begin preparing your business or family for a potential hurricane impact. Now is the right time, and the Governor’s tax holiday gives folks the opportunity to stock up on any helpful items still missing from their disaster supply kits.”
Major General Michael Calhoun, Adjutant General of Florida, said, “This past year, your Florida National Guard gained valuable experience responding to Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, the first hurricanes to make landfall in this state since Wilma. And I can assure you, and all the citizens of our great state, that we have only continued to build on the mission-focused teamwork that our state agencies and first responders demonstrated last year.”
Below is a statement from Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo on today’s U.S. House vote to repeal large portions of the Affordable Care Act:
“Florida’s U.S. Representatives who voted to repeal critical patient and consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act and replace it with Trumpcare have ignored condemnation by health professionals and turned their backs on Florida families. In doing so, they’re shamelessly doling out $600 billion in tax cuts for the very wealthy and big insurance and drug companies.
“Trumpcare will increase health care costs, reduce quality of care, strip coverage from an estimated 24 million Americans and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Adding insult to injury, Trumpcare would exempt Members of Congress from the law.
“Trumpcare is a disaster in the making and literally a death sentence for some Floridians.”
With More than 240 Arson Wildfires in 2017, Commissioner
Adam Putnam Asks Floridians to Help Combat Arson
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Forest Service announced today that there have been more than 240 separate arson wildfires in 2017 and are asking the public to help by reporting suspicious wildfire activity. Arson wildfires in Florida have increased nearly 70 percent compared to this time last year.
“Wildland arsonists place lives, property and natural resources at risk, and we will not tolerate anyone who purposefully endangers Floridians and our first responders,” said Commissioner Putnam. “With the help of Floridians and visitors, we can better protect Florida’s communities and natural landscapes by stopping arsonists in their tracks.”
Residents and visitors should call 911, as well as the department’s 1-800-342-5869 arson hotline to report suspected arson or suspicious activities. Individuals who provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a wildland arsonist are eligible to receive an award up to $5,000. Arson is a felony crime, and anyone convicted of arson can be fined up to $5,000 and face up to five years in prison.
“More than 100 wildfires are burning across the state and forecasts predict heightened wildfire danger for the next few months,” said Jim Karels, Florida State Forester. “Citizens and visitors who report suspicious wildfire activity are an invaluable resource as we work together to stop arsonists and keep wildfires at bay.”
When reporting suspected wildland arson activity, callers should remember the following:
- After calling 911, call 1-800-342-5869;
- Do not approach the suspect;
- Identify vehicle descriptions and license plates;
- Identify physical descriptions of suspects; and
- Identify the location where the suspicious behavior was observed.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres. Learn more at FloridaForestService.com.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
WHAT: Environment Florida Research & Policy Center will release a new report that presents city-by-city data on the persistent problem of air pollution. The report comes as the Trump administration attempts to roll back the Clean Power Plan and other important clean air programs, threatening the health of Floridians.
The report contains new information, broken down by state and metropolitan area, about the levels of ozone smog and particulate soot pollution in 2015. It also contains preliminary data for part of the country for 2016. It also highlights how global warming increases the risk of air pollution problems by extending the smog season and increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires.
WHEN & WHERE: The report will be live at 8:00AM on Thursday, April 6th at www.EnvironmentFloridaCenter.org.
Today, Governor Rick Scott highlighted the following Floridians in his annual State of the State address.
Orlando Police Department Officer Michael Napolitano, Orlando
Officer Michael Napolitano has served in the Orlando Police Department since 2012 and is a member of the SWAT team. Officer Napolitano was one of the responding officers to the terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub last June. During the final standoff, Officer Napolitano was injured when his Kevlar helmet blocked a bullet, saving his life.
David Alfandary, Owner of Hot Pandeyuca, Miami
David Alfandary is the owner of Hot Pandeyuca, a Miami small business that specializes in making traditional Colombian baked goods. The factory started with only three employees and has since grown to employ 30 Floridians. Today, Hot Pandeyuca serves more than 200 clients in Florida, including supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and small retailers as well as clients in other states such as Georgia, Texas and California.
Master Sergeant George Vera, Tampa
Master Sergeant Vera joined the Army in 1995. In 2015, his 20th year of service, Sergeant Vera’s base was attacked by suicide bombers using an improvised explosive device (IED). Master Sergeant Vera fought to pull his fellow wounded soldiers away from enemy fire and was shot during his efforts to secure the perimeter. Master Sergeant Vera has been awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and Purple Heart and multiple other heroic commendations. Master Sergeant Vera, his wife, Angela, and their daughter, Isabella, will soon be gifted a mortgage-free home in Tampa, Florida through Building Homes for Heroes, a non-profit organization that builds or modifies homes, and gifts them, mortgage-free, to veterans and their families.
Nick Cid, Senior Business Analyst, Hertz, Fort Myers
Nick Cid is a Florida native and graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. Nick was hired at Hertz in 2014 after the company relocated its Corporate Headquarters from New Jersey to Fort Myers. He currently works as a Senior Business Analyst and is pursuing his master’s degree in business administration at FGCU.
Sage Offutt, Owner and Founder of Sage Paddle Company, Navarre Beach
Sage Offutt is the owner of Sage Paddle Company, a paddleboarding rental business headquartered in Navarre. Sage founded the company after moving to Navarre Beach in 2013 when she was only 11-years-old. Sage Paddle Company now offers services from Pensacola Beach to Fort Walton Beach, covering a 60-mile radius. The company is also one of the largest rental fleets in the area, with 50 boards and 12 kayaks and more expected to be added this year. Last year, Sage Paddle Company was awarded the Best Recreation Paddleboard Rental Company in Navarre and Sage was presented with the Young Entrepreneur Award by Governor Scott at a Cabinet meeting in December.
Linda Cooke, Director of Manufacturing Operations at HABCO Manufacturing, Boca Raton
Linda Cooke is the Director of Manufacturing Operations at HABCO Manufacturing, a manufacturer in Boca Raton that employs 200 Floridians, including 150 individuals with unique abilities. Linda has worked at HABCO since 1991 and has played a major role in turning the facility into a job training center and a multi-million-dollar manufacturing company. In 2015, Linda was presented the Excalibur Award for Small Business Leader in Palm Beach County.