NEW SCHOLARSHIPS The budget includes $305,000 annually to provide college or trade school scholarships for descendants of a 1920 mob attack on black Ocoee residents through the Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program. Almost 60 African Americans were killed during the attack, which happened after Mose Norman, an African-American unable to pay a poll tax, was seen recording names of others who had not been permitted to vote in his precinct.
DOLPHIN EXPRESSWAY During its June 15th meeting, the Cabinet voted to approve a disputed 13-mile extension of the Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836) in Miami-Dade County. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried cast the lone dissenting vote. The decision is in contrast to an earlier recommendation by a judge in March. Opponents argue it will destroy wetlands that help replenish drinking water.
PINEY POINT CLEAN-UP The Governor declared a state of emergency in Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties on April 3rd after a leak in a reservoir caused local evacuations and the threat of a possible breach. As a result, he redirected $15.4 million to pretreat the water and the Legislature allocated $3 million in the upcoming year’s budget for clean-up. Over 200 million gallons of wastewater was discharged around Tampa Bay. On June 24th, environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against public officials, including the Governor and DEP Secretary, and the property owner asking a judge to oversee the clean-up, closure and investigation into the plant’s leak. SUNPASS TRANSPONDERS Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise now accepts the E-ZPass, which will allow users to pay tolls throughout 18 states – Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, West Virginia, New York and Ohio. The SunPass PRO transponder costs $14.94 plus tax.