Issues of Interest

HURRICANE UTILITY COSTS A settlement has been reached between Gulf Power and Florida’s Office of Public Counsel regarding the costs the utility will be able to charge customers due to the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. Gulf Power sought $295 million. The agreement reduced that amount by $5 million and provided that the utility develop a better procedure to track such costs. The Public Service Commission must still approve the settlement.

FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENTS BENEFITS Through an August 5th executive order, President Trump authorized an additional $300 per week for six weeks in unemployment benefits. Governor DeSantis announced on August 26th that the State would participate in the program retroactive to the beginning of August. Without explanation, the Governor discontinued the benefits after only four weeks of payments.

CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS One of the oldest confederate statues in Florida was quietly removed in the early morning hours of August 24th, at the request of descendants of General William Loring. The statue of Loring had stood on University of Florida property in downtown St. Augustine since 1920 and was moved to Trout River Fish Camp. Another Confederate monument was relocated to the Trout River Fish Camp after the City Commission voted to remove it last month. On September 25th, someone tried to set the 30-foot stone pillar on fire. The memorial and the surrounding concrete pavement were also sprayed with orange paint that read “You make us look bad.”

Also, Florida is still deciding the future home of the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, currently housed in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C. The statue will be removed and replaced by educator and civil-rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune. The Lake County historical society had originally offered Smith a home, but that decision was reversed.FELON VOTER RIGHTS Governor DeSantis authorized $2.3 million for the retention of private attorneys to represent the State at the appeals court level to defend the law concerning the payment of fees, costs and restitution before convicted felons may register to vote. This included a $265,000 contract with a Washington, D.C. firm that was hired directly by the Governor’s office