COLLEGE PERFORMANCE FUNDING On July 23rd, the State Board of Education approved a new plan to allocate $40 million appropriated by the Legislature for state college performance based funding initiatives. Colleges will be scored based on four categories: completion rates of students; retention rates of students; job placement and continuing education for graduates; and the entry-level wages for graduates. Based upon the new formula, twenty-four state colleges will qualify for the performance funding and the remaining four will not.
HARVESTING SAW PALMETTOS Saw-palmetto berries are a favorite snack of the Florida’s black bears. In June, the Florida Forest Service was directed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam to stop the harvest of berries in state forests. Though not medically proven, some people believe the berry has medicinal value, including treatment for enlarged prostate and asthma. It is hoped that with more berries available for the black bears to eat, there may be a decrease in human-bear interactions. Of course, the more obvious method is to eliminate edible waste generated by residents in areas of bear activity.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA UPDATE Twenty-eight firms submitted their applications by the July 8th deadline to the Department of Health to potentially be awarded a license to cultivate, process and distribute non-euphoric cannabis in one or several of the five regions in the state. Seven applications from Central Florida, six from Northeast Florida, four from Northwest Florida, five from Southeast Florida and six from Southwest Florida are now under consideration. Only five licenses will be granted to nurseries. The nurseries are required to have been in operation for 30 continuous years at the time of application and must already be growing 400,000 plants annually. The 2014 Legislature approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes, however, legal challenges delayed the application deadline.
SPECIALTY TAGS Four new license plates, bringing the total to 123, will now be available for drivers to purchase. The new plates include The American Legion, Florida Veteran, and redesigned plates for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Florida International University. Fees to purchase a specialty tags range from $15 to $25 on top of the usual registration fee.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT July 26th marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. Events were held throughout the state commemorating this special anniversary. The law has served as inspiration for similar protections for individuals around the globe.