Issues of Interest

UF LAND DONATION More than 27,000 acres near Yeehaw Junction in southern Osceola County has been donated to the University of Florida with a use easement granted to Ducks Unlimited. The property includes cattle ranchlands, citrus groves, wetlands and forests and is one of the last refuges for the endangered Florida grasshopper sparrow. The land is also home to many other species, including the Florida panther, gopher tortoise and the red-cockaded woodpecker. The contribution by Elisabeth DeLuca, the widow of Subway co-founder Fred DeLuca, is one of the largest gifts of real estate ever to any university in the nation.

DRUG IMPORTATION PLAN The Agency for Healthcare Administration’s plan to implement Florida’s Canadian prescription drug importation program includes hiring a vendor to manage and oversee all aspects of the program. The vendor would ensure Canadian suppliers and eligible importers comply with all federal and state law requirements. Initial medications to be imported would be for Floridians with chronic health conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Partnership for Safe Medicines and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage filed a legal challenge regarding the U.S. Health and Human Service’s rules. They want the federal government to certify to Congress that the drugs are safe and cost effective, rather than have the states bear this responsibility.

PROPOSED TOLL ROADS Three groups authorized to study the proposed 330 new miles of road approved by the 2019 Legislature have issued reports and submitted them to the Governor and Legislature. All three reports were silent on whether to actually build the roads, but in the event the projects move forward they recommended that (1) the roads should be built on existing roads, rather than construct new ones, and (2) the roads should avoid environmental areas.

CENTRAL FLORIDA COMMUTER RAIL SunRail and Brightline are in negotiations to connect the existing SunRail to Orlando International Airport via a shared rail line between the two partners. Brightline is planning to extend its network from the airport to Tampa. 

FROM THE JETSONS TO REALITY Orlando has been chosen to be the hub of a new facility from which “flying cars” will be able to transport people from Orlando to Tampa in about a half hour. The 5-passenger electric vehicles take off and land vertically and can stay aloft for approximately one hour per charge. They are hoping to be operational within 5 years.