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Florida Insights

June 26, 2021

Americans from the mid-West and East Coast as well as Canadians flock to Florida in Winter. Interest in Florida will increase as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis campaigns for the Office of President of the United States. I too have ties to Florida from visits to relatives since I was a child, living in Miami Beach and attending high school in North Miami and later working in Florida during the last years of Yorktown University’s struggles.

During that time I relied on JEJ Associates for information about Florida’s politics. Here is June’s JEJ report with information of interest including predictions of Hurricanes, extension of “EZ Pass” for travel to Florida, removal of COVID-19 restrictions, discovery of a new spider, Hog Hunting and actions by Governor DeSantis, including his veto of $1.5 billion from Florida’s budget sent to him by the state legislature, and the renaming of high schools named after Confederate leaders. Florida’s history from Spanish dominion, the American Civil War to “snow birds” on travel to Florida is as diverse as cities such as St. Augustine, Orlando, and Miami.

Welcome Summer!
JEJ & Associates company logo     June 2021 eNewsletter   From the Capitol   Summer has officially begun, and what a different year it has been! This time last year, Florida was just beginning its Phase 2 re-opening efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants, retail establishments and gyms and were allowed to open at 50 percent indoor capacity; then, restaurants could offer outdoor seating with social distancing. Professional sports competitions began in controlled environments; amusement parks submitted re-opening plans; and vacation rentals needed approval from counties to operate. Movie theatres, bowling alleys and arcades opened at 50 percent capacity, followed by pari-mutuel facilities and tattoo parlors. Mortgage foreclosure and eviction relief were extended.   Interestingly, all of these actions impacted the state’s economy in a positive way. Federal stimulus payments certainly contributed to greater consumer spending. General revenue collections totaled a record $29 billion in 2020 and, for the first time in history, the monthly general revenue topped $3 billion during one month (April 2021).    As the economy was rebounding, the State began its COVID-19 vaccination rollout. COVID-19 vaccines are now available for persons age 12 and up at pharmacies, in addition to many other options such as churches and schools, across Florida. The Florida Department of Health ended its daily coronavirus reports in early June and now publishes a weekly summary. Health experts, doctors, and the media utilize these reports to track COVID-19 infections and deaths in Florida to analyze the pandemic’s impact.   BUDGET   The Fiscal Year 2021-22 General Appropriations Act totaled $101.5 billion, including $8.82 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan. The Legislature sent the budget to Governor Ron DeSantis on June 1st, and he signed it on June 2nd, vetoing $1.5 billion. The vetoes consisted primarily of federal funds earmarked for emergency preparedness and the budget stabilization fund. Here is a list of the vetoed line items.    Legislative Issues   SPECIAL SESSION   The Legislature held a special session on gaming from May 17th to 19th. The primary purpose was to ratify the Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, negotiated by the Governor and Legislative leaders. The proposed included a revenue-sharing plan of $500 million annually for the first five years and an estimated $6 billion through 2030. The U.S. Department of the Interior, who oversees Native American gaming compacts, must approve the plan. Bills related to non-Seminole Tribe sports betting and bingo were also introduced, but the Legislature did not consider them. It is likely these issues will appear during the 2022 session.   Opponents, like No Casinos, contend that the recently signed Compact violates the Florida Constitution because it allows mobile sports betting through a server based on the Tribe’s land. They referenced 2018’s Amendment 3 which prohibited the expansion of gambling. The amendment was approved by 72 percent of Florida voters.   The Governor received four bills and signed all of them on May 20th. They ratified the Compact, set up a gaming commission and revised the pari-mutuel wagering operations and related application requirements. Legal challenges are expected by gambling opponents at the state and federal levels.   BILLS SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR   As of June 25th, the Governor has signed 171 bills and vetoed one.   Some bills of interest that have been signed into law include:   RIGHT TO FARM ACT SB 88 sponsored by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) and Representative Jayer Williamson (R-Pace) updates and expands the 1979 statute to protect farmers and ranchers from nuisance lawsuits. Agritourism operators will also benefit from this legislation with the definition of farm operations now including agritourism.   DRINKS TO GO SB 148 sponsored by Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Orange Park) and Representative Josie Tomkow (R-Auburndale) makes permanent the Governor’s executive order allowing restaurants to sell to-go alcoholic drinks. The law allows restaurants with liquor licenses to sell sealed wine, beer, and wine- or liquor-based cocktails for consumption away from the premises or for take-away orders.   VOUCHER EXPANSION/CONSOLIDATION HB 7045 sponsored by Representative Gary Fine (R-Palm Bay) and Senator Manny Diaz (R-Hialeah Gardens) merged the Gardiner and McKay scholarship programs with the Family Empowerment Scholarship program for k-12 public school students. It increases the maximum income eligibility to receive vouchers to 375 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four making nearly $100,000 a year would qualify.   MOMENT OF SILENCE HB 529 sponsored by Representative Fine and Senator Baxley (R-Lady Lake) requires public school students to start the day with a one-to-two-minute moment of silence.         Issues of Interest     BUILDING COLLAPSE In the early morning of June 24th, a condominium building in Surfside collapsed, trapping hundreds of people and killing at least four. The Governor issued an executive order to allow the Division of Emergency Management and other state agencies to assist in the recovery efforts. Websites have been set up so people can offer financial support through The Shul and Support Surfside.   UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced on May 24th that Florida would no longer participate in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. This means that effective June 26th Floridians collecting unemployment benefits will no longer receive the $300 per week bump. Further, it also means persons who were given benefits under the program who would normally not qualify for unemployment benefits, such as the self-employed, no longer qualify. Florida joined 24 other states who no longer participate in the program.   NASA At his first briefing since taking over as NASA administrator, former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson recently gave updates for ongoing space programs. The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch this fall and the Space Launch System should have a rocket ready later this year. There will be two new satellite missions to study the planet Venus and other missions will include returning to the moon as well as a series of satellites to study the Earth’s climate. Additionally, the agency will continue supporting and promoting commercial space businesses.   FLORIDA DEFENSE SUPPORT TASK FORCE The Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program awarded $324,277 to two community projects. The Northeast Florida Fire Watch Council received $160,000 to fund educational programming, the Northeast Florida Military & Veteran Resources Guide, and a micro grant program to strengthen suicide prevention. Bay County Board of County Commissioners received $164,277 to support the ongoing rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base.   NEW SCHOLARSHIPS The budget includes $305,000 annually to provide college or trade school scholarships for descendants of a 1920 mob attack on black Ocoee residents through the Randolph Bracy Ocoee Scholarship Program. Almost 60 African Americans were killed during the attack, which happened after Mose Norman, an African-American unable to pay a poll tax, was seen recording names of others who had not been permitted to vote in his precinct.   DOLPHIN EXPRESSWAY During its June 15th meeting, the Cabinet voted to approve a disputed 13-mile extension of the Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836) in Miami-Dade County. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried cast the lone dissenting vote. The decision is in contrast to an earlier recommendation by a judge in March. Opponents argue it will destroy wetlands that help replenish drinking water.   PINEY POINT CLEAN-UP The Governor declared a state of emergency in Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties on April 3rd after a leak in a reservoir caused local evacuations and the threat of a possible breach. As a result, he redirected $15.4 million to pretreat the water and the Legislature allocated $3 million in the upcoming year’s budget for clean-up. Over 200 million gallons of wastewater was discharged around Tampa Bay. On June 24th, environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit against public officials, including the Governor and DEP Secretary, and the property owner asking a judge to oversee the clean-up, closure and investigation into the plant’s leak.   SUNPASS TRANSPONDERS Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise now accepts the E-ZPass, which will allow users to pay tolls throughout 18 states – Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, West Virginia, New York and Ohio. The SunPass PRO transponder costs $14.94 plus tax.    BRIGHTLINE TRAIN SERVICE Brightline, the high-speed rail service from Miami to Orlando, has completed over 50 percent of its construction on the extension to Orlando. Brightline has invested $4.2 billion in the 170-mile extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport. Local officials held a public relations event to mark the occasion on May 19th signing a bright yellow steel rail.   SPIRIT AIRLINES Competition amongst airlines for Florida travelers’ business is getting fiercer as air flights increase. Budget airline Spirit will begin operations at Miami International Airport and will offer domestic and international flights in October to destinations such as New York, Denver and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Spirit will not be reducing its flights from Fort Lauderdale despite this expansion to nearby MIA.   CRUISES RETURN Florida’s cruise industry is no longer on hold. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lowered its travel alert for cruising on June 17th. Now at Level 3, the CDC recommends unvaccinated persons not travel by cruise. But, if they chose to do so, testing is highly suggested 1-3 days before the cruise and 3-5 days after the trip. Additionally, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction against the CDC saying it cannot enforce its conditional sailing order against a cruise ship arriving in, within or departing from a port in Florida. The State of Florida sued the CDC earlier this year over its no-sail order.   TELEHEALTH FOR FARMERS Farmers and ranchers can access a comprehensive online directory of stress and mental health resources thanks to the American Farm Bureau Federation. It includes counseling services, podcasts, articles and crisis hotlines. The directory can be found here.   CANDIDACY As a result of recent legislation, a person seeking nomination as a candidate of a political party must be a member of that party for the 365 days before the beginning of the applicable qualifying period. Additionally, a person seeking to qualify for office as a candidate with no party affiliation may not be a member of any political party for the same 365-day period. The last day for a person to make changes for the 2022 election cycle were April 24, 2021, for the first qualifying period (state attorney and judicial) and June 12, 2021, for the second qualifying period (U.S. Congress, cabinet positions and state legislature).    TOURISM While tourism numbers have begun to increase this year, the numbers are still down 14 percent over early 2020. From January 1st through March 31st, 26.2 million visitors came to Florida; this compares to 30.4 million during the same period in 2020. In March 2020, tourism numbers plummeted to 9.9 million. VISIT Florida has estimated that the State had 79.8 million visitors last year, the lowest number in a decade. Over 131 million tourists visited the State in 2019.   HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS The six-month hurricane season began June 1st and forecasters predict between 13-20 named storms. As of this writing, we have already made it to Tropical Storm Claudette, which dumped heavy rain on the Southeast over Father’s Day weekend.   SCHOOL RENAMINGS After almost a year of debate, the Duval County School Board voted to rename six schools that had Confederate ties. The schools were originally named after Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis.    SNEAKY SPIDER An elusive tarantula-like spider found in the Florida Everglades has been given a name: Pine Rockland Trapdoor Spider. This arachnid is so rare it has only been seen a few times since it was first identified in the 1920’s. They are only found in the pine rockland habitat of Southern Florida. Its home is being destroyed by human activity and destruction of the pines.   HOG HUNTING The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is encouraging hunters to contemplate wild hog hunting this summer by opening up their 26 wildlife management areas. On lands beyond these wildlife areas, wild hogs can be hunted year-round with landowner permission. Information may be found here.   BURMESE PYTHON CHALLENGE The annual Burmese Python Challenge will run from July 9th to 18th. The ten-day challenge invites hunters to capture and remove the invasive python from the Everglades and encourages participation by offering prizes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had a record year for python removal in 2020 with a 35 percent increase from 2019. About 13,000 pythons have been euthanized since 2000.   BLUE CALAMINTHA BEE Researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History recently discovered the rare blue calamintha bee in the Ocala National Forest. The bee, first identified in 2011, primarily lives along the Lake Wales Ridge, a 150-mile-long scrub habitat that runs down the center of the State. A ground nester, it feeds on the endangered Ashe’s calamint and false rosemary. The bee gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as people spent more time outside and became excited about possible sightings of the special bee.   MANATEES According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the first four months of 2021, manatee deaths reached 723, surpassing the 637 deaths reported in all of 2020 and the 607 reported in 2019. The culprit: starvation. Seagrass, the mammal’s primary food source, has been dying off due to power plant accidents, urban pollution, leaky septic tanks and water temperature rises. Experts fear the death rate could reach thousands by year’s end.      SCALLOP SEASON Scallop season has officially begun in state waters from the Fenholloway River in the south to the Suwannee River in the north. For more information on scallop season dates in other state waters and bag limits, go here.   Legal Updates   RED FLAG LAW Florida’s red flag law, which allows judges to order the disarming of potentially dangerous individuals suffering from mental health issues, may be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a unanimous ruling regarding a similar law in another state. The Court ruled that gun seizures would be unconstitutional in that it would violate the Fourth Amendment.   BIDEN IMMIGRATION POLICIES Attorney General Ashley Moody has appealed a recent ruling by a federal judge to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals along with other states’ attorneys general. The judge had dismissed the state’s lawsuit attempting to block several of the Biden administration’s immigration enforcement policies, which the state argued are too lenient.   PESTICIDE DENIED A federal court has rejected the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to use a pesticide on Florida’s citrus groves. The pesticide was previously discontinued in the U.S. after it failed EPA tests. Three consumer groups sued to stop its reintroduction. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had previously blocked its usage in Florida.   SEMINOLE COUNTY RURAL BOUNDARY Former State Representative Chris Dorworth has lost his bid to develop property outside the rural boundary line for Seminole County. Dorworth sought to build 1,370 homes and 1.5 million square feet of commercial and office space. A federal judge ruled the County was correct to deny the zoning change.   CIVIL COURT RECORDS The Florida Supreme Court has issued new guidance regarding civil court records. Previous rules required clerks of court to review civil court filings in order to shield private information, such as social security numbers. The Court, in an effort to provide more public access, had changed the rule and will release the clerks from this obligation. It will now be up to attorneys who file such documents to redact such information.   REMOTE LAWYERS The Florida Supreme Court determined that a New Jersey attorney working remotely in Florida for a New Jersey law firm was not engaging in the unlicensed practice of law in Florida. The ruling allows the attorney to continue with his Florida cases.   MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW The Florida Supreme Court has sided with the State regarding its law implementing the medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The Court ruled on two portions of the law. It upheld the vertical integration aspect wherein operators handle all aspects of the cannabis business. It also rejected arguments that the law’s cap on the number of medical marijuana licenses violated the amendment.   COVID-19 BUSINESS RENT The national clothing store Guess? Retail, Inc. suspended rental payments throughout the country during the initial stages of the pandemic. A Miami-Date County landlord sued the company alleging that the lease required the payment of rent, even during force majeure events, including government-imposed closures for the pandemic. A county circuit court judge decided against Guess in a first of its kind of ruling in Florida.    PARKLAND COPS GET JOBS BACK A Broward County judge ruled that two sheriff’s deputies are entitled to get their jobs back along with accrued unpaid salaries since their firing. The two officers were fired after they failed to confront the Parkland school shooter in 2018. The judge determined that the required termination documents were improperly submitted and filed two days past the statutory deadline.    SHAQ GETS THE MONEY A Florida appeals court has approved an attorney fee award of over $400,000 for Shaquille O’Neal. The fee is associated with a long running legal battle the former NBA star had with his former tech support provider over leaked emails.   LAST CALL FOR ALCOHOL A Miami-Dade circuit court judge has determined that a new City of Miami Beach law forcing dozens of South Beach clubs to stop alcohol sales at 2 a.m. is unlawful. The judge determined that the city commission’s vote approving the measure was not property executed.        Legal Challenges to 2021 Enacted Laws  Several of the more contested bills that passed the Legislature and were signed by the Governor are being challenged in court by different groups. The debate centers around the constitutionality of the measures. Outlined below is a rundown of those lawsuits.   CITIZEN BALLOT INITIATIVES The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the new state law that limits contributions to political committees backing citizen ballot initiatives. The law limits contributions to $3,000 until such time as the Florida Supreme Court approves the ballot language. Opponents of the law feel it would hinder the expensive signature gathering process prior to the Court’s involvement.   SOCIAL MEDIA CENSORSHIP After a bill fining social media platforms that try to ban political candidates went into effect, two national technology associations filed a suit alleging the law is politically motivated and an infringement on free speech and commerce. Florida attorneys have responded by accusing the platforms of censorship and violating free speech protections.   ANTI-RIOT LAW At least two separate lawsuits have been filed seeking to invalidate the recently signed anti-riot legislation. The law was passed in response to high profile protests in other states where violence became an issue. The Orlando federal court suit says it violates First Amendment protections for free speech, Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment and 14th Amendment protections of due process. Meanwhile, a federal suit in Tallahassee was filed by the NAACP and the ACLU on behalf several largely Black organizations.   ELECTIONS BILL There are currently four pending lawsuits seeking to halt the implementation of the controversial voting and elections law. Opponents say the law will discourage communities of color, seniors and people with disabilities from exercising their right to vote. One lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, was filed on behalf of six Black and Latino organizations. A second federal suit was filed by the League of Women Voters and two other organizations. A third suit, filed by the NAACP and Common Cause, alleges Black, Latino and disabled voters will be hindered by the new law. The final one by the Fair Elections Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center questions the requirement that third party registration groups must notify registrants that they might not file their registration timely.   TRANSGENDER SPORTS PARTICIPATION The Human Rights Campaign has filed a lawsuit seeking to have the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” overturned. The law demands that participants in women sporting events be required to submit a birth certificate to prove the athlete was born female. Opponents say the law is discriminatory.   Movers and Shakers   Ramon Alexander The Florida House Democrats have chosen Representative Ramon Alexander (D-Tallahassee) as their next leader. He will lead the Caucus in the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions. He is replacing Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) who will be running in 2022 to replace Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist.   Loranne Ausley Senator Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) has been named co-chair of the NewDEAL Forum’s Broadband Task Force, along with Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Sam Liccardo Mayor of San Jose, California. Their job is to identify barriers limiting access and affordability of high-speed internet.   Florida Trucking Association Named president and CEO was Alix Miller. Miller, who will take over on August 1st, currently serves as the association’s senior vice president and runs their communications and legislative affairs.   Richard McCullough The Florida Board of Governors approved Dr. Richard McCullough as the 16th president of Florida State University. Selected to replace John Thrasher, McCullough was given a 5-year employment contract beginning August 16th. McCullough is currently vice provost at Harvard University.   NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has announced senior staff: Shahra Anderson Lambert, senior advisor for engagement; Bale Dalton, deputy chief of staff; Bryan Glley, media relations specialist; and Justin Weiss deputy press secretary.   Carlos Trujillo Former State Representative and President Trump’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States Carlos Trujillo has launched a nonprofit organization, Democracy Now, which focuses on the upcoming political redistricting.   Will Weatherford Former House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) was named chair of the University of South Florida Board of Trustees. Mike Griffin, a market leader for Savills in Tampa, will serve as vice chair.   Governor DeSantis Appointments:   Agency for Healthcare Administration Tom Wallace has been chosen to be the next Florida Medicaid director. Wallace replaces Beth Kidder who left for a position at Health Management Associates. Wallace previously served as a deputy secretary at AHCA.   Board of Nursing Eight were appointed to the Board of Nursing. You may view the appointments here.   Board of Professional Engineers Eight were appointed to the Board of Professional Engineers. You may view the appointments here.    Central Florida Expressway Authority Governing Board Appointed were Rafael “Ralph” Martinez, Orlando, managing partner of McEwan, Martinez, Dukes & Hall, P.A.; and Christopher “C.J.” Maier, Orlando, director of fiber development at NextEra Energy.   Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Board of Governors Appointed were Jillian Hasner, Boca Raton, president and CEO of Take Stock in Children; Erin Knight, Coral Gables, president of Monument Capital Management; and Nelson Telemaco, Coral Springs, CEO of Proximity Works.   Department of Environmental Protection Noah Valentine has resigned as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, effective June 4th. interim secretary is Shawn Hamilton, the department’s deputy secretary for land and recreation.   Department of Veteran’s Affairs Appointed Veteran’s Affairs Director was retired Marine Corps Major General James S. “Mammer” Hartsell. He has served as deputy executive director of the agency in April 2019.   Enterprise Florida Board of Directors Appointed were Sonya Deen Hartley, Tallahassee, vice president of government relations for JM Family Enterprises; Scott Ross, Tallahassee, partner at Capital City Consulting and former deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation; and Cody Khan, Panama City, chair and CEO of Oasis Resorts, vice chair of Hilton Inc., and president and CEO of Holiday Golf Course.   Florida A&M University Board of Trustees Appointed was David Lawrence Jr., Coral Gables, chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida.   Florida Building Commission Reappointed were W. Grey Marker II, Fort Lauderdale, CEO of Marker Construction Group; Michael Bourré, Fleming Island, president of Bourré Construction Group and president of the Florida Home Builders; and Paul Jones, Jacksonville, president and CEO of W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor, Inc.   Florida International University Board of Trustees Appointed was Marc Sarnoff, Miami, an attorney and partner at Shutts and Bowen.   Florida Public Service Commission Appointed was Gabriella Passidomo, Tallahassee, an attorney in the regulatory analysis section of the Florida Public Service Commission’s Office of the General Counsel.   Florida State University Board of Trustees Appointed was Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz, Coral Gables, an attorney and partner with Holland and Knight.   Florida Transportation Commission Appointed were Alex Lastra, Miami, managing member of Desarrollo Florida; and Russell “Rusty” Roberts, Longwood, a transportation consultant.   Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Appointed was Tim Weisheyer, Orlando, founder and owner of Dream Builders Realty and dbrCommercial Real Estate.   Hillsborough Community College District Board of Trustees Appointed was Aakash Patel, Tampa, founder and president of Elevate Inc.   Lake-Sumter State College District Board of Trustees Appointed were Jennifer Hooten, Bushnell, teacher of American government and economics at South Sumter High School; Emily Lee, Eustis, former director of children’s services for Lake County; Ivy Parks, Clermont, an administrator with Parks Consulting Services; Peter Wahl, The Villages, former president of The Villages Health System; and Bryn Blaise, The Villages, a licensed engineer with Blaise Engineering.   Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees Appointed were Ismare Monreal, Miami, acting vice president and dean of students at Johnson and Wales University; and Michael Bileca, Miami, executive director of the Dennis Bileca Institute for Character and Excellence.   Northwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board Appointed were Jerome “Jerry” Pate, Pensacola, owner of Jerry Pate Turf and Irrigation and Jerry Pate Design and a former professional golfer; Anna Upton, Tallahassee, managing member of Anna H. Upton, P.L. and general counsel to The Everglades Foundation; and John Alter, Malone, manager of a family-run tree farm and a retired Naval Aviator.   Christina Pushaw Appointed the Governor’s press secretary was Christina Pushaw, a conservative freelance journalist.   South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Appointed were Charlette Roman, Marco Island, a retired Colonel in the United States Army; Cheryl Meads, Tavernier, CEO of Trumpet Calls; and Ben Butler, Lorida, owner and manager of Butler Oaks Farm.   Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board Appointed wereWilliam Hogarth, Treasure Island, former director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography at the University of South Florida; Paul “Jack” Bispham, Myakka City, owner and operator of Red Bluff Plantation and Paul’s Parrish; and Johnnie Hall, Auburndale, cattle rancher and owner of Polk Community Association Management.   St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board Appointed were Douglas Burnett, St. Augustine, current Chair of the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board and a retired Major General with the United States Air Force; and Ryan Atwood, Mount Dora, a farmer at Atwood Family Farms and owner of H&A Farms.   Suwannee River Water Management District Governing Board Appointed were George Cole, Monticello, a former adjunct professor at Florida State University and retired United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander; and William Lloyd, High Springs, vice president of Suwannee Valley Feeds.   University of Central Florida Board of Trustees Appointed was John Miklos, Orlando, president of Bio-Tech Consulting, Inc.   University of West Florida Board of Trustees Appointed was Dr. Paul Hsu, Shalimar, managing member of PSH of Okaloosa and the owner and chair of Cyntech, Inc. and Total Parts Plus, Inc.   In Memoriam   Fred Humphries Former Florida A&M University president Frederick S. Humphries died June 24th in Orlando. Humphries served as president of the historically black university from 1985-2001. A native of Apalachicola, he graduated from Tallahassee’s FAMU in 1957. During his tenure at FAMU, he increased the number of National Achievement Scholars, ranking first in the nation three times. In 1997, FAMU was chosen as the TIME Magazine/ Princeton Review “College of the Year.” He was 85.   Ralph Turlington Former Florida House of Representatives Speaker and education commissioner Ralph Turlington died May 12th at the age of 100. Turlington, a Democrat, represented Alachua County in the House from 1950 to 1974. He served as speaker from 1966 to 1968. As a legislator, he is credited with bills establishing the Government in the Sunshine law. Turlington was elected to three four-year terms as the State’s education commissioner and in that position, he was successful in gaining support for the Florida Lottery. The Department of Education building in downtown Tallahassee is named after him as is Turlington Hall on the University of Florida campus.    In Closing     Escambia and St. Johns Counties are celebrating unique anniversaries in July. The counties were established by ordinance on July 21, 1821 by Provisional Governor Andrew Jackson in what is now Plaza Ferdinand in Pensacola. Considered Florida’s original counties, they covered the entire territory within modern state boundaries. The Suwannee River was the border between Escambia and St. Johns Counties. The Escambia County government had jurisdiction over the “panhandle” and “big bend” areas, and St. Johns over the rest of the state.   Pensacola, in Escambia County, is planning a day of commemoration on July 17th, including a sunrise blessing by the Santa Rosa Creek Tribe. The University of West Florida Symphonic Band will play The Star-Spangled Banner as well as a medley of Spanish, British, French and American music. Hispanic musicians will drift through the Village and performers of African descent will dance in the plazas. Spanish and English military reenactors will mingle with the audience at Historic Pensacola Village.   The City of St. Augustine, in St. Johns County, will be hosting several events over the month of July commemorating the date as well. On July 9th and 10th, the Historic Florida Militia is hosting a 19th Century Historical Encampment at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Also on July 10th, the Historic Florida Militia will present the Act of Transfer and Change of Flags Ceremony — a recreation of the signing of the official document declaring the end of Spanish rule in east Florida. And on July 21st, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners is hosting a Time Capsule Dedication Ceremony to preserve a snapshot of 2021.   We hope you celebrate a slice of Florida’s history by going to some of these events for the 200th anniversary of Escambia and St. John’s Counties.     Please let us know if you would like more information about any item in this edition. We hope you enjoy your summer!   Sincerely,   The JEJ Team   Check out our website and subscribe to our eNewsletter!   JEJ & Associates company logo P.O. Box 10390 Tallahassee, FL 32302 850.212.8330   105 E. Robinson Street Suite 300 Orlando, FL 32801 407.723.8133
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