BP OIL SPILL SETTLEMENT Florida’s share of the $18.5 billion multi-state federal settlement from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster is $3.25 billion. This is new money for economic damages and restoration projects beyond what Florida has already received from the 2012 RESTORE Act. A legislatively created non-profit organization, Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., will manage the majority of the economic damages awards, while the Legislature will distribute the rest.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ACCOUNTABILITY Governor Scott signed an executive order concerning innovation and accountability at Florida’s Department of Corrections. Because DOC’s reform package failed during the 2015 legislative session, the Governor ordered an independent audit of the Department’s operations; established two proto-type institutions to identify and measure new operational procedures; and created a partnership between three agencies to develop best management practices to improve mental health services.
LT. GOVERNOR CARROLL AGREEMENT The Florida Commission on Ethics met July 24th and voted unanimously to accept a deal for the former Lieutenant Governor to pay a $1,000 fine for violating ethics rules. She admitted that she did not disclose money paid to her by Allied Veterans of the World. Carroll worked for the company while she served in the Legislature and prior to being named as Governor Scott’s running mate in 2010. The company was accused of running illegal gaming centers, also known as internet cafés. She resigned as Lieutenant Governor in March, 2013.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS Dozens of organizations have filed initiatives to place constitutional amendments on the 2016 ballot. Organizations must collect 68,314 valid signatures of registered voters to have the language reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court. If the Court approves the language, the organization must gather an additional 614,835 verified signatures by January for it to be placed on the 2016 ballot. Here are a few making headlines:
Solar Energy Two initiatives supporting solar power are currently accumulating signatures. Floridians for Solar Choice is supporting an amendment that would, among other things, allow businesses to generate and sell up to two megawatts of power to customers on the same or neighboring properties. With over 100,000 verified signatures, the language must now be approved by the Florida Supreme Court. The amendment language can be viewed here.
A second solar initiative is sponsored by Consumers for Smart Solar. This amendment would allow consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. The language can be viewed here. The language is nearly identical to current law and would merely enshrine the language into the Constitution. Recent polling suggests limited support for the Solar Choice amendment while the second amendment has roughly 66% support. Initiatives must garner 60% of voters support to become part of the Florida Constitution.
Open Primaries A group called All Voters Vote, Inc. wants to open primary elections to all voters. Florida currently has a closed primary system where only voters registered for a particular party may vote in the primary. The amendment would allow all registered voters to cast their ballot in primaries for congressional and state partisan offices, regardless of their party affiliation. In 2014, 55% of voters were not affiliated with either major party. The amendment language is here.
Medical Marijuana Orlando-based People United for Medical Marijuana launched their second attempt of its United for Care campaign on July 1st to legalize the use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions. In 2014, a similar initiative failed to garner 60% of the vote required to adopt the amendment. The amendment language is here.