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Florida Gov DeSantis pushes to end Disney self-government

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday asked the Legislature to repeal a law allowing Walt Disney World to operate a private government over its properties in the state, the latest volley in a feud between the governor and the entertainment giant over what critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

DeSantis, an ascendant GOP governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate, has battled with Disney over the company’s opposition to the new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

On Tuesday, DeSantis raised the stakes.

As lawmakers returned to the Capitol for a special legislative session on congressional redistricting, the governor issued a proclamation that allows the GOP-controlled statehouse to take up bills eliminating Disney’s self-governing district. Republicans quickly filed proposals to do so.

“I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week. And so, yes they will be considering the congressional map, but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” DeSantis said at a news conference, referencing the company’s governing district without mentioning Disney by name. He did not elaborate.

Disney representatives did not return an emailed request for comment on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how the elimination of the district would affect the company or neighboring governments.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a private government controlled by Disney World and set up by the state Legislature in 1967 that allows it to provide government services such as zoning, fire protection, utilities and infrastructure.

The creation of the district, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s. Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it morphed into the EPCOT theme park.

The push to punish the company comes after Disney announced it would suspend political donations in the state over the new Parental Rights in Education law. Opponents dubbed the law “Don’t Say Gay,” arguing that barring lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades would marginalize LGBTQ people.

Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers: Last year, the company said it had more than 60,000 workers in the state. LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.

DeSantis has repeatedly lashed out at Disney and critics of the law, gaining considerable attention in conservative media spheres. He insists the policy is reasonable and says parents, not teachers, should broach subjects of sexual orientation and gender identity with children.

Republican lawmakers appear receptive to punishing Disney, filing proposals that would dissolve the district by June 2023. DeSantis has been a powerful governor, effectively pushing his priorities in the statehouse, and both the GOP Senate president and House speaker support him on the Disney issue.

Democrats were quick to criticize the governor’s move as retribution for the company’s stance on the education bill. Some pointed out that Disney has been a major economic driver in the state.

“What world are we living in right now?” asked Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson. “It’s the freedom state of Florida. If they disagree with the governor, he brings out the Gatling gun.”

Retired Rollins College political scientist Richard Foglesong, whose book, “Married to the Mouse” recounts the formation of Reedy Creek, said he thought initially that “cooler heads would prevail” in the war of words between DeSantis and Disney.

“I believe I was wrong. I overestimated — or underestimated — Gov. DeSantis,” Foglesong said. “I see it as a legitimate threat.”

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North Florida News

Governor Ron DeSantis Issues Updates on State Preparedness for Hurricane Ian

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Governor Ron DeSantis addresses the media during a State of Emergency declaration press conference regarding Tropical Storm Elsa in the Florida Division of Emergency Management in Tallahassee Sunday, July 4, 2021. Photo: Florida Division of Emergency Management.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis has held two briefings on Hurricane Ian at the State Emergency Operations Center and delivered remarks while meeting with linemen in North Central Florida. Full remarks are available herehereand here.

 

Ian is currently a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, nearing a category 5. Because of the severity and devastation of this storm, Governor Ron DeSantis is requesting a Major Disaster declaration from President Biden for all 67 counties of the state. As part of this request, Governor DeSantis is also asking that President Biden approve a FEMA federal cost share of 60 percent for 45 days to support recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian. This FEMA funding would support debris removal and emergency protective measures (FEMA Categories A and B) to help counties that will be directly impacted by Hurricane Ian. The President has the authority to issue a waiver and increase the federal cost share for hurricane recovery. The approval of this funding has the potential to save Florida communities and the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

  • FEMA Category A funds costs associated with the removal of debris following a storm. This includes wreckage produced while conducting emergency work, and anything that eliminates the immediate threat to lives or public health and safety.
  • FEMA Category B funds emergency protective measures taken before, during and after a disaster. This includes warnings of risks and hazards, search and rescue efforts, emergency evacuations, food and water provisions at central distribution points and emergency mass care.

Current Watches and Warnings in Effect:

  • Hurricane Warnings: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades, Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Okeechobee, Osceola, Polk, Lake, Orange, Seminole
  • Tropical Storm Warnings: Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Volusia, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Levy, Dixie, Marion, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Clay, Duval, coastal Nassau, coastal Taylor, coastal Jefferson, coastal Wakulla, coastal Franklin
  • Tropical Storm Watches: Inland Nassau, Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Gilchrist
  • Tornado Watches: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie

State preparation and response efforts include:

Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM)

  • FDEM has compiled a Shelter in Place Survey to provide critical information to first responders during and after the anticipated landfall of Hurricane Ian. We are asking all individuals in the impact area of Hurricane Ian that made the decision to shelter in place complete the survey. Please visit FloridaDisaster.org/Info to find the Shelter in Place Survey.
  • FDEM has activated the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) to provide an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Ian. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557.
  • FDEM Liaisons are being identified and deployed to counties to provide on-site response assistance and to conduct damage assessments after the storm.
  • At the direction of FDEM Director and State Coordinating Officer Kevin Guthrie, an Incident Management Team (IMT) from Ohio is on-scene to ensure additional support for response and recovery efforts after the storm.
  • FDEM is deploying several hundred shelter support staff to address staffing needs in counties that have opened their Special Needs hurricane shelters. Currently, more than 200 public shelters are open and available to impacted residents, with more than 50 of these being Special Needs Shelters.
  • FDEM is leading the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) for the Hurricane Ian response, with more than 350 SERT members staffing the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC).
  • The Division has received nearly 1000 resource requests for Hurricane Ian and fulfilled. Over 800 of these requests are currently being processed and are either en route or being mobilized. This includes the coordination of resources such as: trucks of food and water, generators and water pumps.
    • FDEM has loaded 360 trailers with over 3.5 million meals and over 1.8 million gallons of bottled water in preparation for distribution to impacted areas.
    • Several hundred generators and pumps, in addition to debris equipment, have been staged for response and recovery efforts.
    • 100,000 tarps to protect homes and allow more residents to stay at home rather than in a public shelter.
  • Five Florida Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams are activated and will be prepared to deploy to impacted areas. Federal USAR Teams from Virginia, Texas, Ohio and Indiana are on-scene and stand ready to assist in response and recovery efforts.
    • FDEM is currently coordinating the provision of meals for first responders staged in Orange County.
  • FDEM has begun setting up a Logistical Staging Area in Polk County and is identifying potential additional staging areas and points of distribution to ensure food and water are readily available if counties request it.
  • FDEM is in constant communication with all 67 county emergency management offices and state agencies to coordinate protective actions and needed resources ahead of potential storm impacts.
  • FDEM is coordinating with utilities to ensure crews are prepared to respond and restore power. Utility providers have more than 30,000 linemen staged and prepared for power restoration efforts.
Florida National Guard
  • A total of 5,000 Florida Guardsmen are being activated to State Active Duty and pre-positioned at armories across the state for Ian response operations. Up to 2,000 Guardsmen from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina are also being activated to assist.
  • In addition, the Florida Guard has mobilized and is on standby with five Route Clearance Teams and Aviation assets.
  • The Florida National Guard is well-equipped, with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats, generators and more.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
  • FDLE regional support and logistics teams throughout the state are preparing to deploy personnel and equipment for a ready response to the aftermath of the storm. FDLE has started pre-staging equipment and mobile command posts at strategic locations. Teams with chainsaws, tarps, and other supplies are assembling.
Florida Department of Health (DOH)
  • DOH and Agency for Health Care Administration have initiated Patient Movement Mission to support medical transport and evacuations of health care facilities.
    • This mission is evacuating 15 hospitals in areas of anticipated landfall. DOH continues to assess and support any additional necessary evacuations.
    • This mission also supports the evacuation of over 100 health care facilities.
  • Over 400 ambulances, paratransit busses, and support vehicles are responding to areas of anticipated landfall.
  • DOH has prepared for Special Needs Shelter operations to begin in areas of anticipated landfall. A press release has been deployed statewide for additional information on special needs shelters.
  • The State Surgeon General has signed Emergency Order 22-001 waiving statutory procurement requirements to ensure DOH is able to deploy necessary action due to Hurricane Ian. This can be found here.
  • The State Surgeon General has signed a letter to allow staff of the Department and Agency for Health Care Administration to travel past curfews across state lines to conduct any necessary health and safety actions.
  • DOH has coordinated with the Office of Insurance Regulation to distribute an alert regarding permitted early prescription refills during a State of Emergency. This alert was sent to health insurers, managed care organizations, health entities, and licensed health care providers. The alert can be found here.
  • DOH has coordinated with Federal partners to support the deployment of nearly 100 individuals through various health and medical teams. These teams stand ready in Orlando, Atlanta, and Warner Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
  • DOH continues to coordinate across 67 county health departments on any necessary preparation resources, in coordination with county emergency managers.
Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA)
  • AHCA has activated reporting in the Health Facility Reporting System (HFRS) and is requesting all health care providers report their census, available beds, evacuation status and generator status information. This information allows AHCA to assist health care providers in transferring patients if needed and ensure health care providers in impacted areas have the necessary resources and adequate power.
  • Patient Movement Mission (DOH 4052) is activated. This mission is a combined by AHCA, along with FHA, FHCA, LeadingAge, Florida Senior Living and Florida Assisted Living Associations.
  • This mission also supports the evacuation of nearly 7,000 patients and residents from more than 150 health care facilities.
  • AHCA sent a Medicaid Provider Alert outlining Key Medicaid Information for Fee-For-Service and Managed Care Providers during Hurricane Ian, this can be found here.
  • AHCA has activated the Emergency Patient Look-Up System (E-PLUS).  Special needs shelters for 16 counties are able to utilize the system to retrieve patient medical records. E-PLUS is also available to assist medical providers and emergency response personnel with locating missing or displaced persons after the storm.
  • The State Surgeon General has signed a letter to allow staff of the Department and Agency for Health Care Administration to travel past curfews across state lines to conduct any necessary health and safety actions, this can be found here.
  • 81.61% of all facilities have reported into the Health Facility Reporting System.
  • AHCA has completed 343 onsite visits in Nursing Homes and ALFs that were previously identified as out of compliance with generator requirements.
  • AHCA has identified Home Medical Equipment providers that can assist with supplying oxygen supplies to Special Needs Shelters.
  • AHCA partnered with Florida Health Care Association and Florida Hospital Association to initiate statewide calls with long term care facilities and hospitals.
  • As of yesterday, 100% of operating long-term care facilities have a generator on-site. The Generator Status Map for long-term care facilities is available here.
Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD)
  • APD’s Tacachale Center in Gainesville, home to 242 residents, has enacted its Emergency Preparedness Plan. They have confirmed adequate food, water, medications, fuel, and other necessities.
  • APD is hosting a virtual meeting daily with its partner associations to update them on storm activities and to offer assistance, if needed.
  • 99 APD-licensed group homes have evacuated to ensure client safety from Hurricane Ian.
  • APD has developed and disseminated a curfew letter for Direct Support Professionals who will need to travel past curfews to provide necessary health care and personal supports to clients with developmental disabilities following the storm.
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • DCF’s federal waiver request to release SNAP benefits early in preparation for Hurricane Ian was approved, and food assistance benefits were released on 9/27to Floridians that may be impacted by Hurricane Ian. More information here: ACCESS Florida – Florida Department of Children and Families (myflfamilies.com)
  • Early Learning Coalitions have closed in the following counties: Bradford, Baker, Brevard, Broward, Citrus, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Hendry, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Levy, Martin, Manatee, Marion, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Putnam, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, Sumter, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Volusia.
    • DCF is maintaining contact with contracted partners, including, Managing Entities, Community Based Care lead agencies, and child care providers to ensure Florida’s communities remain apprised of all storm updates.
    • DCF is also ensuring all Mental Health Treatment Facilities and methadone treatment programs are prepared for the storm.
Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA)
  • DOEA service providers around the state are in progress or have completed check-in and informational calls to their senior clients.
  • Area Agencies on Aging that are expected to be impacted by Hurricane Ian have been distributing shelf-stable meals to their home delivery meal clients.
  • Area Agencies on Aging in the affected areas are coordinating with other agencies to answer local Elder Helpline calls during power outages (1-800-96-ELDER).
Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA)
  • Veterans enrolled in VA Health Care in need of routine or urgent care services in the projected path of the storm can contact VA Health Connect, also known as the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center, at 1-877-741-3400.
  • The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will close the following locations for in person and procedure appointments:
    • C.W. Bill Young VA Medical Center: Monday, September 26 through Thursday, September 29. This closure extends to the Emergency Department.
    • North Pinellas and St. Petersburg VA Clinics: Wednesday, September 28 and Thursday, September 29.
    • Sarasota, Bradenton, and Port Charlotte VA Clinics: Wednesday, September 28.
Florida Department of Education (DOE)
  • Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. communicated to all Superintendents and College Presidents that the DOE stands ready to assist if needed before, during, and after the storm.
  • The Florida Department of Education is consistently updating their website with school district closures, as well as State University System and Florida College System Closures.
  • As of 10 a.m. closures have been announced in 59 school districts, 24 Florida College System institutions and 11 State Universities. For a full list of closures, visit fldoe.org/storminfo.
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
  • Floridians should stay indoors and stay off the roads.
Bridges
  • Bridges have been closed in Central Florida. The complete list of closures as of 12:00pm includes:
    • Manatee County
      • Bridge at S.R. 64 / Manatee Ave East
      • Cortez Bridge
    • Sarasota County
      • John Ringling Causeway
    • Pinellas County
      • Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Tolls
  • Tolls have now been suspended on roadways in Central Florida. The complete list of toll facilities include:
    • SR 91 Turnpike Mainline from Osceola Parkway (MP249) north to I-75
    • SR 417 – Southern Connector Extension, Central Florida Greeneway and Seminole Expressway
    • SR429 – Western Beltway
    • SR429 – Wekiva Parkway
    • SR408 – Holland East-West Expressway
    • SR528 – Beachline Expressway
    • SR414 – John Land Apopka Expressway
    • SR538 – Poinciana Parkway
    • SR453
    • SR551 – Goldenrod Road Extension
    • I-4 Express
    • Polk Parkway in Polk County
    • Suncoast Parkway in Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus County
    • Veterans Expressway, the I-4 Connector, and the Selmon Expressway in Hillsborough County
    • Pinellas Bayway and Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Pinellas County
    • Alligator Alley in Collier and Broward Counties
  • Updated toll suspension information, including those west coast roadways whose tolls have already been suspended, can be found at fdot.gov/IanTollSuspension
Ports
  • All ports currently have adequate fuel supplies and are staging appropriate measures to be well-positioned after the storm in order to quickly reinstate operations and keep fuel supplies moving.
  • Ports that are currently closed: Port Tampa Bay, Port of St. Petersburg Seaport Manatee, Port of Fort Pierce, Port of Palm Beach, and Port of Key West
  • Ports that are open while preparing for storm impacts: Port Everglades, PortMiami, Port Fernandina, JAXPORT (closure expected Wednesday) Port Canaveral (closure at midnight Tuesday) Port of Pensacola (with restrictions), Port Panama City, and Port St. Joe
Airports
  • Current status is listed below. While some facilities have scheduled closures, individual airlines may decide to cease flights earlier than that.
  • Tampa International Airport will suspend operations at 5pm Tues September 27
  • St.Pete/Clearwater International Airport will close at 2pm Tues September 27
  • Sarasota Bradenton International Airport- Airport will close 8pm local Tuesday September 27 through 8pm Thursday September 29
  • Southwest Florida International Airport – All flight operations are cancelled at Southwest Florida International Airport for Wednesday, September 28. Many flights have also been cancelled for Thursday.
  • Tallahassee International Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations
  • Pensacola International Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations
  • Punta Gorda Airport- Currently open and continuing storm preparations
  • Orlando International Airport- Closing Wednesday, September 28 at 10:30 am
  • Orlando Sanford International Airport- Passenger terminal closing at 5pm. Airport Facility closing at 11PM. Flights on Wednesday and Thursday are cancelled
Transit and Rail
  • HART suspended transit service in Zones A and B at 9 p.m.
  • HART, Pasco, and LeeTRAN suspended fares
  • Transit agencies focused on life-sustaining trips
  • Amtrak service cancelled south of Jax September 27-29
  • Regional Rail (Florida Central, Florida Midland, Florida Northern and Port Manatee Railroads) shut down operations beginning, September 27 at midnight.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV)
  • The Florida Highway Patrol is assisting FDOT with bridge closures across impacted areas, including the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
  • FHP completed an escort of volunteer shelter workers convoying from out of state to Pinellas County to support sheltering efforts in Florida due to Hurricane Ian.
  • FHP has deployed a mobile command center to the State Emergency operations Center to provide enhanced communication capabilities and additional resources.
  • More than 1,700 sworn FHP members are ready to assist with enhanced evacuation and response efforts.
  • FHP has activated 12-hour Alpha, Bravo shifts for more than 400 Troopers across Florida gulf coast.
  • FHP has placed 330 Quick Reactionary Force troopers on standby, ready to move into affected areas quickly to provide immediate relief.
  • FHP has strategically staged its fixed-wing aircraft to monitor traffic routes and to aid search and rescue and damage assessment efforts.
  • FHP has placed its unmanned aerial vehicle teams on standby to assist in search and rescue and damage assessment efforts.
  • FHP Regional Communications Centers are preparing to perform take-over services for other impacted FHP dispatch centers to ensure all state law enforcement officers continue to receive dispatch services.
  • FHP is providing liaisons to affected county emergency operations centers.
  • FHP encourages evacuating motorists to report disabled vehicles or dangerous driving conditions to *FHP (*347).
  • FLHSMV driver license and motor vehicle service center closures can be found here.
  • FLHSMV has issued Emergency Order 092422, which:
    • Waives specific requirements for commercial motor vehicles providing emergency relief; and
    • Waives the replacement fees for driver’s license and identification credentials, vehicle registrations and titles, vessel registrations and titles and temporary parking permits for impacted individuals.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
  • 87 FWC officers and 1 vehicle and vessel mechanic are prepared to deploy following the storm’s passing, anticipated Thursday morning.
  • 15 FWC Special Operations Group officers from the Northwest Region are staged in Orlando with Urban Search and Rescue Teams for pre-landfall briefings and preparation for immediate insertion into the affected area following the storm’s passing.
  • The FWC will be deploying 1 mobile command trailer and 2 BERG units to provide communications and operational support in the event lodging, power and water may not be available to responding units.
  • FWC will be deploying more than 100 four-wheel drive vehicles, approximately 50 vessels of various drafts, ranging from airboats to shallow to large platform vessels.
  • FWC responding officers have UTVs, ATVs, and swamp buggies for rough terrain and high-water response functions.
  • 30 FWC officers from the Northwest Region are standing by to augment the first wave of response units, with additional four-wheel drive vehicles, vessels, UTVs, ATVs and other equipment.
  • Nearly 300 FWC patrol officers, including 30 SOG members, live and work in potentially affected areas. Following the storm’s passage, if personal circumstances permit, all will mobilize to assist the storm response effort. These assets include approximately 300 officers (30 SOG), approximately 300 four-wheel drive vehicles, approximately 250 vessels of various drafts and additional UTVs, swamp buggies, etc.
  • Officers are preparing a variety of specialized equipment, including shallow draft boats, larger platform vessels, ATVs, airboats, and four-wheel drive vehicles to use in the response, and will likely stage Wednesday in safe locations, for immediate post-storm insertion. These assets do not include local FWC officers in potentially affected areas.
  • FWC Aviation Section has readied all appropriate aircraft for deployment for EOC aerial assistance, reconnaissance, and post-storm damage assessments.
  • FWC is directing the public to myfwc.com/notices/ for information about wildlife management areas, fish management areas, shooting ranges and FWC office closures due to the forecasted effects of Hurricane Ian.
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO)
  • DEO has activated the private sector hotline at 850-815-4925 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • DEO is working with its private-sector partners to provide updates on FloridaDisaster.biz/CurrentDisasterUpdates related to supply chain concerns, inventory storages of emergency supplies, and general concerns and priorities of the business community.
  • Partners including Walmart and Publix have indicated that they are constantly bringing additional supplies into the state to restock inventory.
  • VISIT Florida has activated Emergency Accommodations Portal at Expedia.com/Florida is being updated with the latest on available listings.
  • Comcast has opened Xfinity WiFi hotspots in Central, North and Southwest Florida, and the Panhandle for Xfinity customers and non-customers to stay connected during and after the storm. Details are available at Florida.Comcast.com/2022/09/27/comcast-opens-free-xfinity-wifi-hotspot-network-as-hurricane-ian-approaches/.
  • Lowe’s continues to have stores open in counties not directly impacted by Hurricane Ian to receive storm and recovery-related products, such as generators, plywood, and other materials. Additionally, 30 fuel trucks staged at Lowes store locations for re-entry after the storm.
  • The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is getting the word out to lodging establishments to relax their pet policies and to share that there are still available hotels and other lodging available from Tallahassee to Pensacola and Palm Beach, Broward and Dade.
  • As families evacuate and create their emergency plans ahead of Hurricane Ian, UHaul is offering 30 days of free storage and U-Box container usage at 43 Florida locations. Find additional information at www.uhaul.com/about/ listed under “Top Stories.”
  • Private-sector partner, Uber, is offering round-trip rides to and from Southwest Florida shelter locations in counties listed at www.FloridaDisaster.org/PlanPrepare/Shelters. Riders can enter promotional code IANRELIEF in the app to redeem a free round-trip up to $30 each way. Rides must be requested to or from any state-approved evacuation shelter in Florida.
  • DEO is working with business, industry, and economic development partners to distribute informative flyers about disaster preparation, response, and recovery.
  • DEO has alerted the statewide Community Action Agency (CAA) Network to initiate disaster preparedness activities following the Emergency Order.
  • DEO’s Secretary Dane Eagle distributed a memo on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, releasing $1.4 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistant Program (LIHEAP) set-aside emergency funding for use by LIHEAP providers across the state to support preparedness activities such as transportation and temporary housing to preserve health and safety.
  • DEO has closed its offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Ft. Lauderdale pursuant to local county government closures. While this may impact wait times, the Department is supporting the call lines with additional staff to support Floridians. The Tallahassee contact center will support all calls starting Wednesday, September 28, 2022; Floridians in need of support will receive assistance.
  • DEO’s Rebuild Florida team is mobilizing construction teams to secure construction sites on in-progress Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Irma construction projects.
  • Career centers in the following counties may experience temporary closures following county closure announcements:
    • CareerSource Gulf Coast
    • CareerSource Florida Crown
    • CareerSource Northeast Florida
    • CareerSource North Central Florida
    • CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion
    • CareerSource Flagler Volusia
    • CareerSource Central Florida
    • CareerSource Brevard
    • CareerSource Pinellas
    • CareerSource Tampa Bay
    • CareerSource Pasco Hernando
    • CareerSource Polk
    • CareerSource Suncoast
    • CareerSource Research Coast
    • CareerSource Palm Beach County
    • CareerSource Southwest Florida
VISIT FLORIDA
  • VISIT FLORIDA has activated its Emergency Accommodations Module on Expedia to provide real-time hotel availability and lodging resources for impacted Floridians and visitors.
Florida Housing Finance Corporation (Florida Housing)
  • Florida Housing has ensured that all current listings are up to date in the event that families need to quickly relocate at www.FloridaHousingSearch.org.
  • Each SHIP office has an adopted disaster strategy that allows for assistance in the immediate aftermath of a declared disaster. Strategies may include temporary relocation and rental assistance, debris removal and short-term repairs to prevent further damage to the structure or to allow for occupancy until further repairs are made.
Florida Lottery 
  • The Lottery’s Orlando District Office will be closed to employees and the public beginning Wednesday, September 28 until further notice.
  • The Lottery’s Tampa and Fort Myers District Offices remain closed to employees and the public until further notice.
  • Players are encouraged to visit www.flalottery.com for the most up-to-date information regarding Lottery office closures.
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)
  • DBPR has published an emergency page at http://www.myfloridalicense.com/DBPR/emergency/ for the current status of DBPR office locations, executive orders, board meeting updates, and other resources related to Hurricane Ian.
  • DBPR’s Division of Drugs, Devices and Cosmetics is coordinating with wholesale distributors of prescription drugs and medical gases to provide information and support relating to exceptions for the emergency distribution of these critical supplies where needed.
Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR)
  • OIR is coordinating with its regulated entities, including property and casualty insurers, to collect information on Hurricane Ian preparedness efforts and to ensure companies have all necessary resources to assist policyholders.
  • OIR has updated its list of resources to assist Florida policyholders with their hurricane preparedness and response efforts.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
  • Following the issuance of the Governor’s Executive Order, DEP issued an Emergency Final Order waiving permitting requirements for the storage and processing of solid waste, including storm debris.
  • DEP has also issued an Emergency Final Order to expedite necessary repair, replacement and restoration of structures, equipment, surface water management systems, works and other systems damaged by the storm.
  • Inspectors completed pre-storm beach surveys in all shoreline counties.
  • Hazardous Area Response Teams are preparing for potential assessment and deployment to impacted areas.
  • All significant Hazardous Waste facilities within the affected counties have been contacted to ensure all pre-storm landfall preparations are being made.
  • Florida state park closures can be found at www.floridastateparks.org/StormUpdates.
  • Visitors with existing camping and cabin reservations at impacted parks will be notified of their reservation status.
  • WaterTracker is active, DEP’s online portal for wastewater and drinking water facilities to report their operational status.
Florida Department of Management Services (DMS)
  • The Telecommunications Division is working with telecom partners to ensure that the state’s communications networks have redundancies and remain operations for first responders to respond to Floridians during the storm.
  • State buildings in the following 25 counties are closed for Wednesday, September 28, 2022:
    • Alachua
    • Bradford
    • Brevard
    • Broward
    • Charlotte
    • Citrus
    • Clay
    • Collier
    • DeSoto
    • Duval
    • Flagler
    • Glades
    • Hardee
    • Hendry
    • Hernando
    • Highlands
    • Hillsborough
    • Indian River
    • Lake
    • Lee
    • Levy
    • Manatee
    • Marion
    • Martin
    • Monroe
    • Nassau
    • Okeechobee
    • Orange
    • Osceola
    • Palm Beach
    • Pasco
    • Pinellas
    • Polk
    • Putnam
    • Sarasota
    • Seminole
    • St. Johns
    • St. Lucie
    • Sumter
    • Volusia
An updated list of state building closures can be found here and a news release can be found here. Florida DMS Emergency Information Hotline is 888-336-7345 and has been updated with these closures.
Florida Department of Revenue
  • Florida’s temporary licensing program, which allows exporters, petroleum carriers, and importers to request a temporary license during a disaster or declared state of emergency, has been activated. Applicants are not required to submit a fee, secure bonding, or undergo a background check if they apply for and receive a temporary license.
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)
  • DJJ facilities in the projected impacted areas have generators in the event of loss of power, and ensured food, medicine, and emergency supplies are stocked and ready.
Florida Department of Corrections (FDC)
  • All inmates housed in facilities impacted by Hurricane Ian are safe, secure and have ample food and water supplies. All institutions have back-up power generators in the event commercial power is lost.

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Orlando

Gov. DeSantis Announces Toll Relief Program

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Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters in Orlando, Florida Thursday, August 25, 2022. Photo: Hidekel Griffin/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new toll relief program at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters Thursday.

The SunPass Savings Program launches on September 1, 2022 and will run for six months and will benefit SunPass and other Florida transponder users. According to a press release from the governor’s office, the program “is estimated to provide $38 million in relief to SunPass commuters.” Eligible roadways include the Turnpike, the 528, 95 Express, I-4 Express, Palmetto Expressway, the Sawgrass Expressway, and many others. The complete map of included roadways can be found at www.sunpass.com.

With the savings program, drivers who have 40-79 transactions per month will receive a 20 percent discount, and drivers who rack up 80 or more transactions per month receive a 25 percent discount. Gov. DeSantis acknowledged other toll organizations and the fact that they’re independent of the Florida government and outside of his authority, but said that a deal can be made legislatively.

“This program will help frequent SunPass customers keep more money in their pockets during a time of growing inflation,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Florida families who depend on these FDOT facilities for a timely commute to work will benefit from these savings. We will, of course, seek to enact greater savings for commuters in the next legislative session.”

“The SunPass Savings program is a way for us to give back to our loyal customers and thank them for their continued support,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise are proud to offer this additional cost-saving benefit.”

The governor reiterated the upcoming gas tax holiday in October, but spent much of his commentary slamming President Joe Biden’s economic policy, including the most recent law canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans, which Biden announced Wednesday. DeSantis said President Biden making that a law was unconstitutional. When Florida National News asked Gov. DeSantis how it was unconstitutional, he pointed out that it needs to go through Congress. “Could the Congress pass a law that passes that on to the taxpayer? I believe they probably would have the Constitutional duty to do it–I’m not saying that’s a good idea,” he explained. “But for an executive action through fiat to sanction and to just say you’re dumping this debt on the taxpayers, that is not something that is consistent with the rule of law.”

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Ron DeSantis

Governor Ron DeSantis Awards Over $4.2 Million to Lee County Port Authority through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded over $4.2 million to the Lee County Port Authority through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to rehabilitate Chamberlin Parkway at Southwest Florida International Airport. The project will improve travelers’ access to terminals and increase access to commercial development sites on the north side of the airport, which serves as a base for airline cargo, air shipping, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities, and the airport’s Fixed Base Operator (FBO).
To watch the announcement video, click here.
To download the video for use courtesy Governor’s Press Office, click here.
“Since July 2021, my administration has invested $87 million in Florida communities through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to support projects that make strong impacts,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These investments support future growth for Florida communities and create new opportunities for residents.”



“Governor DeSantis has remained committed to helping Florida communities succeed, and DEO is proud to aid in his mission to remove barriers to growth and help communities thrive,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). “This project will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Florida’s workforce, and I am excited for the economic diversification and workforce development it will achieve within Lee County communities.”
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Proposals are reviewed by DEO and Enterprise Florida, Inc., and are chosen by Governor DeSantis to meet the demands for workforce training or infrastructure needs in communities around the state.
DEO and EFI are currently accepting proposals until all funding has been awarded. For more information, visit www.FloridaJobs.org/JobGrowth.

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