Florida Chamber of Commerce outlines 2011 legislative agenda

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its legislative agenda (.pdf) for 2011. Last year's agenda became a blueprint (.pdf) for the 2010 Legislative Session and elements of nearly every Florida Chamber priority were adopted, according to the group. Many of its priorities have been proposed by Gov. Rick Scott or are already making their way through the legislature.

Buchanan introduces bill ‘to crack down’ on pill mills

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, today announced a piece of legislation to crack down on Florida's pill mills. If enacted, the law will double the penalties and triple the fines for drug violators and use assets seized to fund prescription drug databases in states like Florida. According to a press release, it will also reclassify one of the most abused and deadly narcotics to make it more difficult to obtain.

Rhetorical overlap raises questions: Who is Free Market Florida?

Free Market Florida wants to get rid of the EPA's proposed numeric nutrient criteria, a set of water pollution standards that would govern waste in Florida waterways. The group has already launched a campaign against the rules, and its executive director has been making the rounds on the radio and in newspapers. But who exactly is behind Free Market Florida?

Bondi, Putnam, affected industries join together to fight EPA water rules

In a Monday court filing, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and a slew of industry representatives filed their opposition to EPA-mandated water pollution standards for the state. Arguing that federal intervention was and remains unnecessary, they ask the court to invalidate the January 2009 determination that required that the standards be implemented.

Occupy Florida groups take action on campaign finance, free speech rights

Occupy Orlando today launched an effort to end corporate personhood. According to a press release, Occupy Orlando today visited the office of state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, to present a formal letter asking for his support to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

Gaetz: Charlotte County concerns prompted shift in Florida Senate’s District 13 map

The Florida Senate redistricting committee has released a revamped draft of how it proposes to redraw Florida's congressional lines. The new map shows a big shift in the district of Rep. Vern Buchanan — a shift that came about because of urgings from Charlotte County residents to lump them in with other coastal residents, according to committee chairman Don Gaetz.

Anti-choice group targets women Googling ‘abortion’

A Texas-based pro-life group has a serious problem with the way search engines work. Their problem, it seems, is that when a woman searches for “abortion” in Google, she is generally directed to ways in which she can obtain an abortion. Online For Life, a self-described non-profit outreach group, has found a way to change that. The group is buying Google ad space in the hopes of misdirecting women looking for information on abortions.

Task force releases final strategy for reversing damage from oil spill

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force today released its final strategy for long-term ecosystem restoration for the region most affected by the 2009 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which sent more than 20 million gallons of oil into the gulf. The announcement follows extensive feedback from citizens throughout the region, and was developed following more than 40 public meetings.

ICE announces Secure Communities reforms

John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced Friday changes to the embattled immigration-enforcement program Secure Communities, which allows local law enforcement agencies to check the fingerprints of people they arrest with FBI and Department of Homeland Security databases to make sure they are not undocumented criminals.

Best Of: Construction workers get paid after wage theft is exposed

The Florida Independent's Marcos Restrepo broke news in August that between 40 and 45 construction workers at a South Florida site were being stiffed out of wages they were owed for weeks of labor. Restrepo identified many of the companies involved in the wage theft (Pozo Construction, Florida Shell Construction and BJ&K Construction), each of whom blamed others on the project for the missing money.

Transparency questions dog upcoming public redistricting hearings

An unprecedented part of the most open, transparent, interactive redistricting process ever, or a sham designed by Florida lawmakers to placate the public while they work to draw new district lines to benefit themselves? That's the question dogging the set of 26 public redistricting hearings scheduled by the state Legislature to kick off next week.

New Prescription Drug Monitoring Program stats released

A statewide prescription drug monitoring program continues to be successful in Florida, where it was only recently implemented. The latest stats on the database, known as E-FORCSE, show that the number of practitioners using it has grown significantly in the past month — even though its use isn't yet mandated by law.