Issues of Interest

FLEX LANES The Central Florida Expressway Authority will for the first time install flex lanes on portions of their roadways. The left-sided shoulders of two sections of expressways have been modified to traffic lane specifications. In the event of accidents, debris, work zones, or emergency vehicles, overhead signage will direct traffic to these shoulders and hopefully reduce congestion.

DEFENSE INFRASTRUCTURE GRANT PROGRAM Three communities were awarded a total of $2.3 million to support infrastructure and economic development of military communities. The program’s recipients were the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, the City of Cocoa, and the City of Jacksonville.

HOPE FLORIDA FUND Seven Panhandle nonprofits received $20,000 each through the Hope Florida Fund. The recipients were St. Andrew Christian Care Center, Food for Thought Outreach, A Bed 4 Me Foundation, Caring & Sharing of South Walton, BeGenerous, Vision of Hope, and First Baptist Church of Pensacola. The Hope Florida Initiative, created in 2022, connects Floridians with private sector charities, faith-based communities, nonprofits and government entities to assist them in developing long-term goals to become independent from government assistance.

HIGH IMPACT FILM FUND PROGRAM The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the County’s Office of Film and Entertainment’s High Impact Film Fund Program aimed at attracting major motion pictures and TV series to the community. The program will provide up to $50 million over five years through a cash rebate of up to 20 percent for qualifying domestic and international productions filming in the area.

OIL DRILLING The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has issued a notice of intent to permit Clearwater Land & Minerals Fla, LLC to conduct exploratory drilling in the Panhandle, near the Apalachicola River, and in Calhoun County despite the objections of over 200 residents. The Apalachicola Riverkeeper has asked the FDEP to delay permitting the well. State Representatives Allison Tant (D-Tallahassee), Gallop Franklin (D-Tallahassee), Jason Shoaf (R-Port St. Joe) and state Senator Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee) oppose the drilling.

ENDLESS SHRIMP ENDS Red Lobster, the venerable granddad of seafood restaurant chains, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Thai Union, the restaurant’s largest investor, orchestrated a deal wherein the company, one of Asia’s largest shrimp processors, took over the supply of shrimp while canceling all other contracts. The change resulted in significantly higher food costs for Red Lobster, leading to the reorganization bankruptcy. Prior to the filing, the company permanently closed 17 Florida restaurants.