Who gives a hoot about who gets to scoot? Florida lawmakers do.

Who gives a hoot about who gets to scoot? Florida lawmakers do.

By Tampa Bay Times – With the industry described by one lobbyist as being in its “infancy,” the full House could take up controversial bill that would limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate scooter sharing services. The House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 453), sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, that would set up a statewide regulatory framework for the industry, which involves riders using apps to hop on motorized scooters that can be left in various areas. Read...
City of Atlanta launches task force to increase transparency

City of Atlanta launches task force to increase transparency

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ first year started out smoothly. She stayed away from the investigations swirling around her predecessor (and endorser) Kasim Reed’s administration, she hand picked her own well-regarded GM for Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, instituted a procurement reform process, and even created a new position in her cabinet titled a “transparency officer” that has the power to investigate Bottoms herself. But starting late in 2018 the wheels began to come off. First it came to light that shortly after Bottoms’ inauguration former City Councilman Kwanza Hall was hired as a ‘senior policy advisor,’ a cushy position making over $100,000 per year.  That move violated the city charter, which bans elected officials from holding “any compensated appointive office or employment with the city” for one year after leaving office.  Bottoms claimed ignorance. Then last month an investigation revealed that six of Bottoms’ former campaign aides had been improperly placed on city payroll, including Marva Lewis, who received a job as “deputy airport general manager” with an annual salary of $273,873 despite never having worked at any airport in her life.  The Atlanta City Council was alarmed enough to pass a resolution requesting an independent investigation – a request which Bottoms promptly vetoed. Now forced to answer questions about the ethics of her transition at town hall meetings, Bottoms and her team have created the Task Force for the Promotion of Public Trust, a group made up of a roster of highly regarded ethics and law experts who will hopefully keep an eye on goings on at City Hall and restore in it some of the trust the public seems to...
O’Rourke rails against ‘unprecedented concentration of wealth and power’ at kickoff rally

O’Rourke rails against ‘unprecedented concentration of wealth and power’ at kickoff rally

By David Siders (Politico) – EL PASO, Texas — Beto O’Rourke, christening his presidential campaign at a boisterous rally in his hometown on Saturday, cast himself as a crusader against moneyed interests that he said have corrupted America’s democracy and a president he accused of capitalizing on politics of “fear and division.” In what could amount to his maiden stump speech — delivered at the first large-scale, structured event of his nascent campaign — O’Rourke’s populist progressive framing evoked similar appeals from rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  Read...
Timeshare Companies Overplay Their Hand in Florida

Timeshare Companies Overplay Their Hand in Florida

  Florida HB 435, a sweeping bill which would have made it virtually impossible for citizens to use timeshare exit companies to end their contracts blew up during a recent legislative workshop held on the bill. It wasn’t crafty lobbyists who brought the bill down but instead statements by legislators who were present. Several House members told their own stories of trying to deal with timeshares, including one state Representative who had to turn to bankruptcy to escape. “The irony is thick” says Gordon Newton who founded one of the first and most successful timeshare exit companies in the nation. “At the same time this legislation is being considered, states like Arizona have introduced additional laws to protect consumers from the tactics that plague the timeshare industry.” The legislation appears to be dying on the vine, but Newton and other industry leaders see the Florida bill as “just the first salvo” by large timeshare resort companies trying to hamstring exit companies. His Newton Group plans to use their company’s consumer protection guide to help craft future, more pro-consumer legislation in southern states. “We’ve been the leader in ethically getting folks out of these absurd timeshare agreements where fees run rampant and the children of those who pass away are forced to inherit those costs” Newton declares. “We plan on seeing to it that our own industry is run right and that the big timeshare companies aren’t allowed to put consumers, even legislators into financial ruin, with their deceptive practices.” As of now “crickets” from the advocates of HB...
Miami will host first Democratic 2020 debates

Miami will host first Democratic 2020 debates

By Katie Galioto (Politico) – The Democratic National Committee will host the first presidential debates of the 2020 election in Miami on June 26 and 27, the committee announced Thursday. The two-night event, to be broadcast on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, will be the first chance for candidates to square off against one another on stage before a national audience. The lineups for the debates will be chosen at random and announced at a later date, the DNC said, The crowded pool of Democrats fighting for the chance to challenge President Donald Trump has grown to more than a dozen since the beginning of the year, with more candidates expected to join the race in the coming weeks. Read...
Isakson, Perdue Call On Colleagues To Support Disaster Relief Package

Isakson, Perdue Call On Colleagues To Support Disaster Relief Package

Both U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) have called on their colleagues to support the bipartisan disaster relief package that would mean funding for Georgia and other states that are recovering from hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters. Senators Perdue and Isakson have been fighting for disaster relief funding since Hurricane Michael devastated Georgia and other states last October. “Our farmers are resilient. They’ve weathered droughts, low-yield harvests, and poor farm economies. They’ve suffered through several years of low commodity prices as well,” said Perdue. “But they’ve never faced anything like this before. The strength and magnitude of Hurricane Michael was unprecedented.” Legislation before U.S. Senators is similar to what was introduced last month by Isakson and Perdue that includes $13.6 billion in overall relief efforts, with $3 billion for critical agriculture disaster relief for farmers in the affected states. Also included in this bipartisan disaster relief package is an additional $600 million for Puerto Rico to maintain enhanced nutrition benefits for low-income families in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Isakson made the point on the Senate floor that Puerto Rico has already received $40 billion dollars for disaster recovery and has yet to spend $21.4 billion of those federal funds, while Georgia and other states impacted by recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Michael last year, have not received the federal disaster assistance they were promised. “I want to give you the facts,” Isakson began. “Georgia, which I represent, is one of a number of states that includes Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alaska, California, and Hawaii, which have experienced significant disasters....