Monday, 09 January 2017 11:14

This summer, more than 215 million gallons of wastewater poured into the Floridan Aquifer when a sinkhole opened up at the Mosaic fertilizer plant in Polk County.

Also this summer, Hurricane Hermine flushed tens of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay.

Governor Rick Scott swung into action with an emergency rule forcing polluters to notify the public within 24 hours of a major spill. But last week an administrative law judge sided with business groups and said Scott had no legal authority to act.

Republican Representative Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena says she’s working on legislation to fix that.

“Because that’s the goal and I know that’s the governor’s goal to ensure that there’s transparency and that the citizens have the opportunity to protect themselves if they need to.”

The heavy hitter of the Tallahassee lobby corps, Associated Industries of Florida, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Florida Retail Federation, fought to kill the emergency rule. They argued it would force convenience store owners to call a press conference every time a customer overfilled a gas tank.

Peters says she’s still working on thresholds for triggering public notice, and what the warning should say. But she thinks boil water notices are a good model.

“It’s amazing how when a water main breaks the media is reporting on that so quickly. And it seems to be quite seamless. And so can’t we get the same kind of system on a spill if it’s a health issue so that we can get the word out quickly.”

NFIB Florida executive director Bill Herrle said small business owners had a lot of concerns about the emergency rule. A diesel mechanic, Herrle says, isn’t always going to be the best interpreter of toxic thresholds.

Florida Retail Federation spokesman James Miller agrees, saying business owners would much rather notify regulators and leave the public relations to someone else. “We feel that DEP, they’re the experts in this kind of situation. And they’re the ones that know the appropriate media to call and they’re the ones that have the best examples of getting this information out to the locals in an area.”

However, Miller and Herrle insist they’re not opposed to the legislation. Herrle says he’s eager to help sponsors craft the language.

Legislative process as resulting in better public policy than just letting a state agency have a go at it.”

And that’s what worries Clean Water Network activist Linda Young the most. She’s afraid business interests will water down the legislation until it’s practically meaningless. A “may” instead of a “shall,” could make all the difference in the world, Young says.

“If this legislation is going to be meaningful, if it’s going to be protective and it’s going to accomplish what the public would like to have in place, there’s going to have to be very, very close scrutiny of every word.”

Governor Scott can be expected to do just that with every bill that crosses his desk. read more

Jim Ash
usf.edu
http://news.wfsu.org/post/lawmakers-vow-rescue-emergency-pollution-rule

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 10:17

A Florida administrative law judge says a rule requiring companies to notify the public of pollution events within 24 hours is invalid.

The new rule was pushed by Gov. Rick Scott after it took weeks for the public to be notified about a giant sinkhole at a fertilizer plant that sent millions of gallons of polluted water into the state’s main drinking water aquifer.

Administrative law judge Bram Canter on Friday ruled that the new rule, which would result in fines for companies who failed to report pollution within a day, was “an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.”

Five business groups – Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Florida Retail Federation, Florida Trucking Association and the National Federation of Independent Business – challenged the rule in court, saying it would create excessive regulatory costs.

Scott’s office says he is reviewing the ruling and that he still believes the current rules are outdated and need to change.

Associated Press
http://saintpetersblog.com/pollution-notification-rule

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 10:13

A Miami Beach city attorney discusses the reasons behind the mayor's plan to raise the minimum wage.

“We don’t support any mandates in which local governments are dictating what private businesses should be paying their employees, as it should be up to each individual employer to determine what is fair and also helps their business remain competitive,” said Randy Miller, CEO and president of the Florida Retail Federation.

The state minimum wage is $8.05 an hour and will go up to $8.10 an hour on Jan 1. Under the new ordinance, the citywide minimum will be set at $10.31 on Jan. 1, 2018, and increase a dollar a year until 2021.

The change was praised by labor unions while business groups said the increase could kill jobs.

“This unconstitutional mandate sets a dangerous precedent, threatens the strength of Florida’s businesses and increases costs to consumers,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “This is a critical issue that must be addressed to protect all of Florida’s employers, including the $89.1 billion hospitality industry which employs 1.2 million dedicated workers in the Sunshine State.”

Robert Rosenwald, first assistant city attorney and the person who drafted the legislation, said a 2004 Florida constitutional amendment that set a state minimum wage higher than the federal rate gives local governments the ability to set their own minimums.

“Seventy-one percent of Floridians voted in 2004 to amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage and to allow cities to go higher if fairness requires,” he said. “Big business now asks the court to ignore the clear will of 5 million voters and reduce the wages earned by our most vulnerable workers. All less than two weeks before Christmas. They should be ashamed. We will fight hard and we expect to win in court.”

The ordinance was first proposed by Mayor Philip Levine in May. On Wednesday, he was disappointed to hear of the suit.

“It’s disappointing that Tallahassee special interest groups have taken this holiday season to file suit to prevent Floridians from earning a just wage in Florida.” he said. “I will toil every day, legislatively and legally, to see that Miami Beach and the state of Florida reflect the good, fair and equitable principles that millions of Floridians voted to enshrine into law when they voted to say that every worker in our state should be able to make an honest living.” read more

BY JOEY FLECHAS
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article120939603.html

Tuesday, 03 January 2017 10:08

A living wage ordinance passed by the city of Miami Beach in June drew a legal challenge Wednesday from three of Florida's leading business organizations, who say the measure, which requires a $13.31 minimum rate citywide by 2021, directly violates state law.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Miami by the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, along with three businesses that run a supermarket and two 7-Eleven convenience stores in Miami Beach, seeks a declaratory... read more

By Nathan Hale
https://www.law360.com/articles/873008/business-groups-sue-to-block-miami-beach-min-wage-hike

Friday, 09 December 2016 15:09

“The holiday shopping season means tens of thousands of jobs for Floridians, and much-needed income for families this time of year,” said FRF President and CEO Randy Miller. Great news for Sunshine State retailers! The Florida Retail Federation is expecting a 4% increase in sales for the state, outpacing the national average of 3.3%.

Holiday shoppers plan to spend $935 on gifts and decorations this year. Average spending will be down slightly, but overall spending will be up, thanks to the growing economic impact of millennials.

Nerf items, Legos, microphones, drones and merchandise from the “Trolls” and “Star Wars” movies are expected to be popular. Self-gifting is expected to reach a record high, so go ahead and get something special for yourself, too, while you’re shopping! read more

http://thetallahassee100.com/business/2016/12/09/a-merry-and-bright-holiday-shopping-season/11531