Submitted by mclayton on Fri, 09/20/2019 - 13:31

Bradenton Herald

Roofless homes, scattered debris. Why has Puerto Rico’s hurricane recovery been so slow?

When Hurricane Maria tore through Cuba Libre, a small hamlet in central Puerto Rico, it ripped Iris Ortiz’s roof clean off. Two years later, as she stood on a neighbor’s elevated porch, she peered into the small cement home where she grew up but is now abandoned. Her dishes were still stacked neatly in the kitchen, and a faded picture of the Virgin Mary was hanging in the living room. “I’ll fix the roof and move back in,” she said without much enthusiasm. “Someday.” Large swaths of this U.S. territory have rebounded since the Category 4 storm cut through the island on Sept. 20, 2017, killing almost 3,000 people and causing more than $102 billion in damage.

Your Sun

Should we waive impact fees for 'affordable' housing?

A new state law allows local government to waive impact fees for affordable housing, but the price tag on that could escalate quickly, Charlotte County Commissioners learned Tuesday. Commissioner Christopher Constance said he will likely object to subsidizing the construction of affordable housing if the costs are high. Community Development Director Claire Jubb calculated roughly that a generous implementation of the new law would have cost the county $7.7 million since the beginning of 2018. That was based on the fact that 1,806 homes have been built since the start of 2018 that cost less than $265,000 to build — 63% of all the homes built in that time frame.

WUWF

As Drugmakers Face Opioid Lawsuits, Some Ask: Why Not Criminal Charges Too?

Purdue Pharma, facing a mountain of litigation linked to the opioid epidemic, filed for bankruptcy in New York this week. The OxyContin manufacturer and its owners, the Sackler family, have offered to pay billions of dollars to cities and counties hit hard by the addiction crisis. But that's not good enough for critics such as U.S. Rep. Max Rose. "The Sackler family does not belong in bankruptcy court," Rose, a New York Democrat, told a news conference earlier this week. "They belong in handcuffs and should be charged as the criminal drug dealers that they are. And just like criminal drug dealers, we should take every cent that they have." Purdue and other drug companies have been forced to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars so far in civil lawsuits, which currently number more than 2,000 across the U.S.

Sun Sentinel

South Florida hospitals among 27 in state suing opioid makers and sellers, Broward lawsuit says

South Florida hospitals are taking the battle against the opioid scourge to court by suing makers, distributors and sellers of the addictive painkillers that spawned a statewide public health emergency, a lawsuit says. Broward Health Hospital District, Delray Medical Center, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, as well as Good Samaritan Medical Center and St. Mary’s Medical Center, both in West Palm Beach, are among the 27 institutions across the state that have signed on to the civil lawsuit. Hospitals have borne the financial burdens, according to the lawsuit, of care and treatment for the victims.

Jax Daily Record

Economist predicts ‘growth recession’ is on horizon

The housing shortage, affordable housing and increasing concerns for an economic recession led a Profit & Politics presentation Tuesday at the Northeast Florida Builders Association. About 80 people attended the program about the national, state and local housing markets and the economy. The event was sponsored by Wells Fargo.  After nearly two decades of growth in consumer confidence, the economy is leveling off, said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders. The good news is “the economy is really solid,” Dietz said. There’s a rising number of jobs available, many of them unfilled due to the demographics of retiring baby boomers, and consumer spending rose in the second quarter of 2019.

Miami Herald

No one regulates CBD vape products in Florida even as usage raises serious concerns

A college cheerleader in Orlando could lose his left lung from illness his family links to vaping from a Juul device. In Jacksonville, a 17-year-old was hospitalized to treat breathing problems linked to vaping. Amid an explosion of vaping-related lung illnesses and related deaths nationwide, Floridians remain on high alert. A shocking seven deaths and 530 hospitalizations in 38 states have spurred state lawmakers to propose raising the legal age to buy vaping products, and the state’s health and education departments are readying to roll out a three-hour anti-vaping course for Florida’s schoolchildren.

BIZ Journals

Two Tampa Bay counties among most with incoming investment in Florida

A recent study found that Hillsborough and Manatee counties are among the top in Florida when it comes to incoming investments.  The study, which was conducted by personal finance company SmartAsset, evaluated a variety of factors that can indicate an uptick in investment, including business establishment growth, GDP growth, new building permits and federal funding. These factors were then used to calculate each county’s incoming investment index by combining the investing index of all its cities.  Based on those factors, Hillsborough County had the seventh highest incoming investments. While the county had the third lowest business growth percentage and the lowest building permits rate, it had the highest GDP and federal funding of all the counties.

Miami Herald

Miami-Dade’s 2020 budget approved, after demands to fix the county’s sewer system

Miami-Dade County commissioners narrowly approved higher garbage fees Thursday as part of Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s proposed $8.9 billion budget, a spending plan with mostly flat tax rates that goes into effect Oct. 1. The vote to approve the 2020 budget followed concerns on both sides of the $853 million that’s set aside for the county’s troubled water-and-sewer system, which is under a federal court order to replace pipes and treatment plants in a system where ruptures are tied to pollution woes with Biscayne Bay. “Miami-Dade County is currently in the midst — and has been for quite some time — of a sewage infrastructure crisis,” Rachel Silverstein, head of the Miami Waterkeeper advocacy group, told commissioners during the public hearing before the votes.

WTXL

Wakulla County Sheriff's Office shares experience on A&E's 'Live PD'

Tallahassee first responders will soon be on your TV screens. The Tallahassee Police and Fire Department are going primetime. A&E's 'Live PD' is giving viewers a look into the life of a first responder. But not everybody thinks it's a good idea. In 2017, the Wakulla County Sheriff's office took part in A&E's 'Live PD.' "It really opened the eyes of alot of viewers of what it is we deal with from time to time," said Chris Savary, WCSO's public information officer. The show, in it's fourth season, is now setting up shop in the Capital City.

Washington Post

D.C. statehood is back on the House’s agenda. Here’s why it faces an uphill battle.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform today will hold the first hearing on a bill to make the District of Columbia a state in a quarter-century. Hearings on this bill, H.R. 51, result from growing momentum in the city’s statehood movement and increasing support from both congressional Democrats and all Democratic presidential candidates. Here’s what you need to know about the bill and its prospects in Congress. How would H.R. 51 work? The Constitution’s enclave clause allows Congress to reserve a territorial seat for the federal government and to “exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District.