Issues of Interest

MALL PARKING Two outlet malls in Orlando are now offering premium parking for a $10 fee. Orlando International Premium Outlets mall and the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets have roped off a few hundred parking spots for those who prefer to have reserved parking rather than search for an open spot.

FLORIDA BOATING ACCIDENTS Florida saw an increase of 0.3 percent, or 766 more, in boating accidents from the previous year according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There were 67 boating-related deaths, the same as in 2016.

FACIAL RECOGNITION After announcing in June they were going to stop testing a controversial facial recognition system, the Orlando Police Department has decided they will continue testing the program. Amazon’s Rekognition attempts to locate and track individuals whose images have been uploaded into the system. Many groups, including the ACLU, are concerned over privacy issues.

ORLANDO POLICE BODY CAMS After an incident where Orlando police body cams were not functioning due to limited battery life, the City now plans to equip its officers with newer cameras with battery life lasting eight or more hours instead of four. This comes six months after all officers were equipped with cameras.

OPERATION SAFE The Florida Department of Financial Services launched Operation S.A.F.E. (Stop Adult Financial Exploitation) to education citizens about scams, particularly those aimed at the elderly. More information may be found on the website, as well as available local events and workshops.

CITRUS The citrus industry reported the worst season since World War II, with a double-whammy from an active hurricane season and groves still recovering from devastating citrus greening. Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida on September 10, 2017, was responsible for wiping out approximately 70 percent of the fruit. Farmers may be able to start applying for federal disaster relief that was part of a $2.36 billion agriculture package approved by Congress in February to ease the financial burden.

LOTTERY According to the Florida Lottery, sales grew 8 percent to a record $6.7 billion over the past year. Scratch-off tickets accounted for 69 percent of the sales in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, up about $400 million from the prior fiscal year. As much as $1.75 billion of the money generated by the sales will be transferred to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.