Issues of Interest

HAVANA FLIGHTS  A year after the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations, eight airline carriers were tentatively approved to provide air passenger service to Havana. While American tourism to Cuba is still prohibited, the federal government relaxed travel restrictions in March to allow educational trips without special permission. Only 20 daily round-trip flights per day were initially authorized. Those originating in Florida include American Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Delta from Miami; Southwest Airlines from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale; Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale; and Jet Blue from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

ELECTION FRAUD ALLEGATIONS Attorney Michael Steinger, who faces State Representative Bobby Powell (D-West Palm Beach) in the Democratic primary for Senate District 30, has petitioned Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate primary election mail-in ballot irregularities in the district. Steinger’s complaint revolves around an uptick in mail-in ballot requests from African-American voters.

Separately, FDLE is currently reviewing a case related to a March 2015 election in Loxahatchee Groves, in which Keith Harris lost to incumbent Councilman Ryan Liang by nine votes.  In that dispute, Harris claims more than 300 mail-in ballots were requested, collected and delivered without the consent or the knowledge of the voters named in them. He also said there is evidence that people voted by mail who did not live in the town.

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY AUCTION  The Florida Department of Financial Services held their annual unclaimed property auction in Tampa the second week of August. This year’s auction was the second-highest yielding auction ever, netting $1.57 million. The funds are deposited into the state school fund, where they will be used for public education.  Unclaimed property comes mostly from dormant accounts in financial institutions, insurance and utility companies, securities and trust holdings. It also includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes.  A rightful owner can come forward at any time to claim their property. Go to  www.FLTreasureHunt.org  to find your unclaimed property.

SUNPASS EXPANDS By the middle of 2017, Florida’s electronic toll device program known as SunPass may be usable in South Carolina, Alabama and Texas. Currently, SunPass works in Georgia and North Carolina. Congress has set a 2016 deadline for toll device compatibility – a goal almost no one thinks will be met. The most prevalent toll device, E-ZPass, is used in 15 northern states and Kentucky.

FLORIDIANS UNPLUGGING FROM LANDLINES A recent report by the Florida Public Service Commission shows that 3.3 million Floridians had a traditional wired telephone line at the end of 2015, down from 6.1 million in 2011. This compares to approximately 19.9 million wireless phones.

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