Governor Scott today announced that more than $1.6 million has been awarded to support projects in rural communities across the state. This grant funding was provided through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to help with the planning, preparation and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities. [Read more…] about Gov. Scott Announces More Than $1.6 Million in Funding for Rural Communities
Following Governor Rick Scott’s recent direction to the Florida Department of State (DOS) to hire five cyber security specialists to ensure Florida’s elections remain secure, the Governor today directed DOS to draw down $19 million in federal funding to further enhance cybersecurity in Florida’s elections. The Department will submit a plan to the federal government as outlined by federal law to bolster security for local elections offices, who are responsible for elections security. Once this plan is approved by Federal Elections Assistance Commission, DOS will work with the Florida Legislature to provide this funding to Supervisors of Elections, as well as bolster state efforts to enhance cybersecurity and voting practices prior to this November’s elections.
Governor Scott said, “The integrity of our elections is paramount, and we’ll keep fighting to ensure that every Floridian continues to have confidence in our elections process. By directing DOS to draw down more federal funding, we are providing the resources our local elections officials need to keep our elections secure. I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that Florida has zero fraud in our elections.”
Recent actions taken by the Scott Administration to enhance voting security:
- DOS has also been working diligently with Supervisors of Elections to help Florida counties modernize their voting systems. More than two-thirds of Florida counties have completed a voting equipment modernization and the majority of the remaining counties are in the process of completing a modernization or upgrade.
- Prior to the 2016 election, DOS upgraded to state-of-the-art hardware, software and firewalls to safeguard voter information in the Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS) and prevent any possible hacking attempts from being successful.
- DOS is also enhancing the security of the Florida Election Watch website to ensure there is no disruption in election night reporting of results as well as strengthening protections of Florida’s online voter registration website.
- During the 2018 Legislative Session, DOS received $1.9 million in funding to provide grants to Supervisors of Elections for the purchase of a Network Monitoring Security solution, called ALBERT, that is offered through the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC). This system identifies and shares information about potential threats with states and assists with the 24-7 monitoring of state networks for suspicious activity. Several Supervisors of Elections have completed the process to get ALBERT online in their county, and many others have initiated the process.
Governor Rick Scott visited K9s for Warriors in Ponte Vedra to highlight $180 million in total funding to support Florida’s active military, veterans and their families in his Securing Florida’s Future Budget. K9s for Warriors is a nonprofit organization that works to help military members and veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other traumas transition to civilian life with the support of professionally-trained service dogs.
Governor Scott said, “I’m honored to meet some of our nation’s heroes and the great team at K9s for Warriors who work incredibly hard to support those who serve. As a Navy veteran and Governor of the most military-friendly state in the nation, I can appreciate the service of members of our Armed Forces and their families. We will never stop working to support them.”
Last week, Governor Scott signed the Securing Florida’s Future budget which invests $180 million in total funding to support active military, veterans and their families. This includes:
- More than $17 million for Florida’s military presence and families, which funds the state’s support of military research and development;
- Nearly $2.5 million to support veterans looking to obtain employment, start their own businesses and make Florida their home;
- $1 million for Building Homes for Heroes to build and modify homes for veterans who were severely injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
- $250,000 for K9s for Warriors to support the training of additional service dogs to continue its great work helping our nation’s heroes.
The $1.3 trillion spending package Congress released late Wednesday included $122 million long sought by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet.
The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two hurricane seasons when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded due to maintenance issues.
“It’s long past time for NOAA to get a suitable replacement for its aging hurricane hunter jet,” Nelson said after learning appropriators had included the money in the broader spending plan. “I’ve been relentless on this because 20 million Floridians are in the potential path of a hurricane and the data from this aircraft saves lives and property.” Nelson has been pushing for a replacement since 2015.
NOAA maintains a fleet of three aircraft currently based in Lakeland, Florida. The planes are designed to fly in and around hurricanes and tropical storms, collecting data used to track and measure the intensity of these powerful storms.
NOAA’s current fleet of hurricane hunters include two P3 propeller aircraft, known as Miss Piggy and Kermit, that fly into storms, but only one Gulfstream jet, named Gonzo, capable of reaching altitudes high enough to fly above storms.
The measurements taken by Hurricane Hunters are essential to weather forecasters.
The $1.3 trillion spending bill, which funds the government through September 30, must pass by Friday for Congress avert another government shutdown this year.
Below is the hurricane hunter language added to the bill.
NOAA Aircraft Recapitalization.-The agreement adopts the Senate language regarding aircraft recapitalization and provides $133,000,000 for this purpose. Within funds provided, $121,000,000 is included to procure a suitable replacement for the Gulfstream IV-SP (G-IV) Hurricane Hunter in order to meet the requirements of section 413 of Public Law 115-25 and ensure back up capabilities.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received applications from 10 communities for $515,283 in BearWise funding to help reduce human-bear conflicts.
Eight counties applied for BearWise funds: Collier County Parks and Recreation, Franklin County, Highlands County, Lake County, Orange County, Seminole County, Volusia County and Walton County. Two homeowner’s associations also submitted applications: Air Force Enlisted Village in Okaloosa County and Holley by the Sea Improvement Association in Santa Rosa County. Their requests total $998,425.
The FWC will evaluate the applications, prioritizing the communities with BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep garbage secure from bears. BearWise ordinances can be passed by a county, city or homeowner’s association. The funding helps offset the costs for residents and businesses to acquire bear-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. The FWC plans to announce the funding awards in mid-November.
“Feeding on garbage is the main reason why Florida black bears appear in neighborhoods,” said David Telesco, who leads the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “This funding will make it easier for people to secure their trash, keeping both people and bears safe.”
Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature approved $415,283 of the funds, with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida providing an additional $100,000 from sales of the Conserve Wildlife license plate. Sixty percent of the $415,283 must go to communities that passed BearWise ordinances requiring residents and businesses to keep their trash secure until the morning of garbage pickup. Lake, Orange and Seminole counties and Holley by the Sea Improvement Association in Santa Rosa County all applied for funding and have BearWise ordinances in effect.
Last year, the FWC distributed over $800,000 in BearWise funding to 11 counties, three cities and one homeowner’s association to purchase 5,100 bear-resistant trash cans and 3,800 sets of hardware to secure regular trash cans. Over 75 percent of last year’s funding was provided to communities with BearWise ordinances.
The FWC will evaluate the applications based on the following criteria:
- Is there a local ordinance in place requiring residents and businesses to keep trash and other attractants secure from bears?
- How many households in the area are experiencing significant human-bear conflicts?
- Will the community match the funding, either with money, in-kind services or both?
- What is the likelihood the project will result in a community-wide reduction of human-bear conflicts?
- How many residences and businesses may benefit from the project?
In addition to providing BearWise funding, the FWC will continue to meet with counties, cities and homeowner’s associations to encourage efforts to enact BearWise trash ordinances. The FWC anticipates implementation of such ordinances coupled with this year’s BearWise funding will result in a reduction in human-bear conflicts across the state.
For more information on Florida black bears, including how to reduce conflicts with them, visit MyFWC.com/Bear and click on Live BearWise, watch the BearWise Communities video and read the A guide to living in bear country brochure.
Senator Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) filed legislation to increase state funding for the Florida Forever land acquisition fund. Senate Bill 370 requires the state to spend a minimum of $100 million annually from Amendment One funds on the Florida Forever program.
The bill appropriates funds from Amendment One, a constitutional amendment passed overwhelmingly by Floridians in 2014. “As a conservative, I believe in absolute fidelity to the Constitution,” said Senator Bradley. “I am filing this bill because the Constitution demands, and the overwhelming majority of Floridians who voted for Amendment One in 2014 demand, that we protect the natural resources of our state.”
Florida Forever is Florida’s premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. Since its inception in 2001, the state has purchased more than 718,126 acres of land with a little over $2.9 billion. Land purchased through Florida Forever is held in trust for the citizens of Florida, and is used for parks, trails, wildlife management areas, flood control and more.
“Floridians are blessed with some of the most unique ecosystems in the world, from springs to the Everglades to coral reefs to world class beaches and rivers,” said Senator Bradley. “As our population continues to explode, we have an obligation to preserve these unique ecosystems for our children and grandchildren. The Florida Forever program helps us fulfill this obligation.”
Senator Bradley currently serves as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development and chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 and represents Senate District 5, which includes 11 counties in north Florida.
ORLANDO – UCF faculty brought in $136 million in research funding in 2017, a year that was also marked by national recognition for the number of patents issued to UCF, tech transfer excellence and overall innovation.
Of all the research funding collected, $73.9 million came from federal sources, $41.1 million from private industry and $21 million from state and local government agencies.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science garnered the largest proportion of the total with $33 million, followed by the College of Sciences with $16 million and the Institute for Simulation and Training $14 million.
“We’re off to a good start with funding,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “But where we truly see the impact is in what our researchers are doing to help our communities — from finding new ways to make solar energy systems more efficient and affordable, to improving forecasting methods for sea level rise, to exploring vaccines that have the potential to eradicate disease. It is in this broad array of areas where you can see UCF making a big difference. As we continue to grow our funding, we’ll have more opportunities to have an impact in our Central Florida community and beyond.”
UCF’s research is already getting national attention.
Earlier this year the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association announced the University of Central Florida ranks 41st in the world for the number of U.S. patents issued in 2016. From this report, UCF ranks 21st among public universities in the nation.
The recognition is an important one because patents often lead to industrial innovations that impact daily life.
UCF was ranked in the top 25 in the nation in technology transfer, the process of disseminating technology developed as a result of research, along with Columbia University, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University in a report from The Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank.
U.S. News & World Report’s Best College guide this month (September) also named UCF one of the most innovative universities in the nation, alongside Harvard, Stanford and Duke. UCF was No. 25 out of nearly 1,400 universities and colleges in the nation. UCF also was ranked No. 91 in engineering doctorate programs. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools of 2018 also recognized 22 UCF programs in the top 100 in their respective fields.
Professors are working on projects that could potentially revolutionize industries and save lives.
For example, Engineering Professor Shawn Putnam is working to change the way electronic devices use and dissipate heat. His work is designed to help keep up with the global demand for faster, more powerful and smaller devices such as computers, radars and lasers. He was awarded a $510,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support this work.
The Department of Energy this past year supported UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center and the College of Engineering and Computer Science with almost $4 million of funding to expand their work in solar energy, energy efficiency and improving air quality in homes.
UCF researchers from the College of Medicine, the NanoScience Technology Center, the College of Science and the College of Engineering & Computer Science received more than $1.3 million from the state to come up with ways to combat the Zika virus.
And an assistant professor of philosophy conducted fieldwork at the Dunhuang Mogao Caves along the Silk Road in China this summer. Lanlan Kuang is one of a select group of international scholars with access to the caves which house the largest and most complete repository of Buddhist art, murals and painted sculptures in the world. She will share her findings at conferences around the world including the International Symposium on Cultural and Art Exchanges and Cooperation in Dunhuang, China, in October and at the national conference of Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory in November.
All this research and the funding that comes with it is also important for one other reason.
“Research is fundamental to our mission of educating our students,” Klonoff said. “Hands-on research is essential to preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers, so they can help us with tomorrow’s challenges.”
Statement by Gil Langley, Chairman of Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations regarding the 2017 legislative session
“Along with the 1.4 million Floridians employed by the tourism industry, I am extremely disappointed in the outcome of the 2017 Legislative Session. A $25 million budget for tourism marketing, coupled with a wealth of bureaucratic red tape, hinders VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to do its job. With only $25 million dedicated to promoting our state, there’s no way Florida can stay on the same playing field as states like California. Not to mention, VISIT FLORIDA’s efforts are what keeps tourists from flying over Florida to Mexico, the Bahamas and now Cuba.
Lawmakers in Tallahassee neglected to consider the facts – state and local tourism promotion is the only reason Florida has been able to maintain its status as a top destination in the increasingly competitive industry. Thanks to tourism, Florida brought in $108.8 billion in tourism-related spending in the last fiscal year. Unfortunately, the Sunshine State’s future does not look as bright. With a 5 percent tourism downturn, our state will lose more than $324 million in sales tax revenue and 70,000 jobs. Furthermore, the funding reduction will have a disproportionate impact on small rural counties throughout the state – without the resources to market themselves, many of Florida’s hidden gems will experience economic harm.
Other states like Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania serve as a warning of what’s to come. We’ve seen this same scenario play out in other states, and the end result is always the same: state revenue goes down, people lose their jobs and that state’s market share goes down.
Although a 67 percent funding reduction and a new stringent structure are enormous setbacks for our industry, we will continue to advocate for tourism promotion in the months leading up to the 2018 Session. As Legislators watch while jobs are lost, small businesses are harmed, and tax revenue is diminished, I hope they will rectify their mistake next year.”
University and student leaders from Florida A&M University (FAMU) joined the Florida Board of Governors, police chiefs, mental health counselors, college deans, student leaders, and presidents from Florida’s 11 other public universities on Wednesday to advocate for funding of student-centered programs associated with mental health services and campus security. The event served as the launch of the “Safer, Smarter, Stronger” initiative, created by the Board of Governors to demonstrate the return on investment for each of Florida’s public universities’ top legislative priorities.
In light of the new “Safer, Smarter, Stronger” initiative, FAMU administrators, researchers, and faculty members are calling attention to the need for additional funding for mental health programs, counseling, security services, and related research on college campuses.
“FAMU has emerged as a leader in bringing unique mental health and safety programs to our campus and underserved communities,” Robinson said. “We are focused on identifying additional opportunities to support our students, faculty, and staff in environments that are safe and promote ‘Excellence with Caring,’ the cornerstones of our existence.”
FAMU is asking the Florida Legislature for additional support for its efforts to offer students more streamlined services and programs via a one-stop-shop through its new Student Affairs Building.
Set to be completed in the summer of 2019, the center will house counseling programs, health services, the Center for Disability Access and Resources, a police sub-station, and other wrap-around support services all in one building.
“Equipping students with all of the tools they need to not only be successful but also to thrive is an essential component of our legislative efforts this year,” said William E. Hudson Jr., Ph.D., FAMU’s vice president for Student Affairs. “The Student Affairs Building is a necessary student-centered approach that enhances and modernizes the campus experience, which improves persistence to graduation.”
Anika Fields, Ph.D., FAMU’s director of Counseling Services and member of the International Association of Counseling Services’ Board, underscored the need for additional funding to support mental health programs and services.
“Since the mid-1990s an increasing number of students have come to college with serious mental health issues. In order for them to have a chance at being successful in college, they need continued mental health services,” said Fields. “Students who complete our satisfaction survey each semester say that counseling has kept them in school and contributed to their academic success.”
FAMU’s efforts to meet this demand include individual, group, and couples counseling, as well as special programs and training that focus on victim advocacy, safety therapy, self-esteem promotion, and psychiatric consultation.
Fall 2016 FAMU graduate Donovan Harrell, who was impacted by suicidal ideation before and during college, said that participating in programs like the FAMU Counseling Services Suicide Awareness Walk during his freshman year were helpful. As a student journalist, the event was a stepping-stone to him writing and speaking about mental health while facing his own challenges.
“There were numerous personal obstacles I had to overcome, all of them stemming from mental illness,” said Harrell about the need for college students to have support for their mental health needs. “I was one of the fortunate ones. There are many that aren’t as fortunate as me. (Graduation) was truly an achievement for me as someone who once thought I wouldn’t live to see the day.”
In addition to the support he received through external health care, Harrell said that having access to student programs was also beneficial to helping him manage mental illness.
“The FAMUan (the University’s on-campus student newspaper) provided me with a healthy support group in the form of my coworkers and professors. It gave me a sense of purpose that helped me cope,” said Harrell, who is now a full-time political journalist.
Through the research and training provided by the FAMU Center for Ethnic Psychological Research and Application and its Mental Health First Aid programs, professors like Jackie Collins Robinson, Ph.D., are making strides toward more effectively promoting mental health literacy and improving overall behavioral and mental health on campus and nationally to help more individuals like Harrell. Collins Robinson explained that new data reveals a growing need for mental health support nationally.
“A recent survey of American college freshmen by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA showed that emotional health is at its lowest in three decades,” Collins Robinson said. “The sooner mental health conditions are recognized, and appropriate interventions are provided, the more likely it is that these students will go back to functioning well and will matriculate through college.”
In addition to its mental health programs, FAMU has also implemented new technology to help students have a safer on and off campus experience. Terence M. Calloway, FAMU’s chief of police, said that an increased investment in campus security by universities and the legislature is necessary for student success across the board.
“With services like our new LiveSafe app we’re able to leverage technology to communicate directly with students, faculty, and staff who need assistance immediately,” said Calloway. “The app allows us to respond to safety concerns and hazards in real-time and receive and share information more quickly via text, photo, and video in an emergency situation. Having additional funding for our security efforts will allow us to put more programs like this in place.”
Learn more about LiveSafe at http://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?PublicSafety&LiveSafeapp.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today released the following statement regarding the “Fresh From Florida” program following the meeting of the House’s Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee:
“This is a political assault on a good program that will have real consequences on real people. Gutting the Fresh From Florida program will hurt Florida’s small farms the most – their ability to raise awareness for the high quality of their locally grown products and compete against lesser quality products from foreign countries.”