Legal Updates

CREDIT CARD SURCHARGES Florida has had a statute barring businesses from adding a credit card surcharge to purchases.  However, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, has struck down the law.  The ruling overturned a federal district judge who had ruled in favor of consumers.

SLOT MACHINES AT PARI-MUTUELS   With the 1st District Court of Appeal at an impasse, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to resolve a gaming question.  At issue is whether pari-mutuel facilities require the approval of the Legislature to allow slot machines in counties where voters have approved the addition of such machines.  Currently, voters in six counties have approved the introduction of slot machines.

FAIR DISTRICTS UPDATE 

Congressional Districts After five years and $11 million spent by the Legislature battling the Fair Districts Amendment, the Florida Supreme Court has approved the congressional map that Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled best adhered to the Fair Districts standards.  The selected map was submitted by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and National Council of La Raza.  The new map, which will be used until the 2020 census, made significant changes to the one proposed by the Legislature.

Florida Senate Districts   When the Legislature failed to agree upon a new Senate district map during a 19-day special session which ended on November 5th, the decision was thrown back to the courts.  Circuit Court Judge George Reynolds opened the trial on December 14th to hear arguments regarding the maps submitted by the Legislature and the Fair Districts Coalition.   Testimony initially centered on the role of Senate staff in the process.  Judge Reynolds will ultimately decide which map to recommend to the Florida Supreme Court.  All forty Senate districts will stand for elections during the 2016 cycle.

REDISTRICTING LAWSUIT   U.S. Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) continues her fight over the congressional maps recently approved by the Florida Supreme Court.  Brown previous filed a lawsuit attempting to ensure that her current district remain a minority district.   There has been speculation that Brown is considering running in an Orlando area district.

 UBER DRIVER STATUS LAWSUIT An Uber driver has filed a notice in the 3rd District Court of Appeal challenging a Florida Department of Economic Opportunity decision.  The Department had ruled that Uber drivers are not employees, but are independent contractors and therefore not subject to unemployment benefits.

AMENDMENT 1 LAWSUIT   On December 3rd, a Leon County Judge partially ruled in favor of the defendants in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Wildlife Federation, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and the Sierra Club.  The lawsuit contended that the Legislature did not follow Amendment 1 criteria when they budgeted the required 33% of the collected documentary stamps on real estate.  The judge threw out that portion of the suit wherein plaintiffs asked the court to require the Chief Financial Officer to transfer $237 million from the general revenue fund to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.  Plaintiffs were given twenty days to file an amendment complaint, which they stated would be done.

 NATURAL GAS PIPELINE A Florida administrative law judge dismissed a complaint from environmental groups who contended a proposed pipeline from Alabama to Central Florida would harm wetlands, water quality and wildlife.  The judge ruled the pipeline was in the public interest and therefore allowed to proceed.

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