AFP Applauds Florida House for Proposing $690 Million Tax Cut
Florida families could benefit from broad-based tax cuts thanks to House’s bold leadership
TALLAHASSEE – Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL), the state’s leading grassroots advocacy organization, applauds the leadership of the House Finance and Tax Committee members who proposed a $690 million tax cut for Florida families today.
“Floridians should be proud of their elected officials who proposed cutting taxes by $690 million,” said State Director, Chris Hudson. “Allowing Floridians to keep more of their hard-earned money is exactly what the Florida legislature should be focused on accomplishing throughout the remainder of session. The House should continue to find ways to cut waste and give Floridians the opportunity to keep as much of their money as possible.”
For further information or an interview, please contact Andres Malave at AMalave@afphq.org or 407-388-8060.
Avon Park offers Certified Professional Food Manager Review Class/Exam
AVON PARK – A Certified Professional Food Manager Review Class & Exam is scheduled for Friday, May 1, at Ridge Area Arc Training Room.
The review class will be from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The exam will be from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The facility is located at 120 West College Drive, Avon Park.
The cost is $150 per student. The fee includes a ServSafe® Manager Review Guide, Review Class, ServSafe® CPFM Exam and a First Time Passing Guarantee for those attending the review class and buying the guide. If a student does not pass the first time, the second time the review class and exam are free as long as the student calls within 21 days of original exam. Materials are in English. Seating is limited.
Those who just want to recertify can take the exam only for $60 or if a student needs a book to study for the exam then it is $90. The review class or free second test are not included. Students wanting to take the exam only can come at 1:30 p.m.
Register for the class by April 17. Bring payment to Ridge Area Arc Administration, 120 W. College Dr., Avon Park where students can also pick up their Manager Review Guide. Checks or money orders must be made payable to Ridge Area Arc. Cash and credit cards are accepted. A $20 fee will apply to all returned checks. A “no show” will result in a loss of all registration fees.
For more details, call Cindy Marshall at 863-452-1295, ext. 124.
The National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is nationally recognized. It is good for five years from the exam date. Local laws apply. Earning the certification tells the industry that the certified manager knows food safety and the critical importance of its role – and enables them to share food safety knowledge with every other employee.
Through ServSafe Food Safety, students will master sanitation, the flow of food through an operation, sanitary facilities and pest management. ServSafe is the training that is learned, remembered, shared and used.
According to Florida Statutes and related administrative rules, managers responsible for storage, preparation, display and service of food in the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation-licensed food service establishments to pass a Certified Food Manager examination. Every DBPR-licensed food service establishment must have at least one certified food manager, and one must be present any time four or more employees are engaged in preparation, storage, or service of food. Managers have 30 days after employment to become certified.
The food training programs are a service provided to the community by Ridge Area Arc. Arc is a local non-profit charitable organization that offers training and education to individuals with disabilities. The food programs are open to all individuals.
DISTRACTIONS FOUR TIMES MORE PREVALENT IN TEEN CRASHES THAN PREVIOUSLY REPORTED
Unprecedented Look into the Causes of Teen Crashes by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
TAMPA, Fla. (March 25, 2015) – The most comprehensive research ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers has found significant evidence that distracted driving is likely much more serious a problem than previously known, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The unprecedented video analysis finds that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes, which is four times as many as official estimates based on police reports.
Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle event recorders. The results showed that distraction was a factor in 58 percent of all crashes studied; including 89 percent of road-departure crashes and 76 percent of rear-end crashes. NHTSA previously has estimated that distraction is a factor in only 14 percent of all teen driver crashes.
“Access to crash videos has allowed us to better understand the moments leading up to a vehicle impact in a way that was previously impossible,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “The in-depth analysis provides indisputable evidence that teen drivers are distracted in a much greater percentage of crashes than we previously realized.”
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:
- Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
- Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
- Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes
- Looking at something outside the vehicle: 9 percent of crashes
- Singing/moving to music: 8 percent of crashes
- Grooming: 6 percent of crashes
- Reaching for an object: 6 percent of crashes
“This research confirms that passengers and cell phones are the two most prevalent distractions for teen drivers involved in crashes,” said Auto Club Group Traffic Safety Consultant Matt Nasworthy. “That is why it is so important for states to review their graduated driver licensing and distracted driving laws to ensure they provide as much protection as possible for teens.”
AAA recommends that state laws prohibit cell phone use by teen drivers and restrict passengers to one non-family member for the first six months of driving. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws allow new drivers to gain practical experience in a relatively safe environment by restricting their exposure to risky situations. Thirty-three states have laws that prevent cell phone use for teens and 18 states have passenger restrictions meeting AAA’s recommendations.
Parents play a critical role in preventing distracted driving. AAA recommends that parents teach teens about the dangers of cell phone use and restrict passengers during the learning-to-drive process. Before parents begin practice driving with teens, they should create a parent-teen driving agreement that includes strict ground rules related to distraction. AAA offers a comprehensive driver education program, where teens can learn specifically how using a cell phone affects driving abilities and increases their crash risk. For more information, visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.
Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, which is the most recent year of available data. These crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths. The full research report and b-roll video of teen driver crashes is available on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation partnered with researchers at the University of Iowa to conduct this study.
Lytx™, Inc., a global leader in video-based driver safety technology using in-vehicle event recorders, provided the collision videos. The Lytx DriveCam program collects video, audio and accelerometer data when a driver triggers an in-vehicle device by hard braking, fast cornering or an impact that exceeds a certain g-force. Each video is 12-seconds long and provides information from before and after the trigger. The videos are used in the DriveCam Program for coaching drivers to improve behavior and reduce collisions
About the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.
Governor Rick Scott And Volunteer Florida Present Champion Of Service Awards
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, during a meeting of Florida’s Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman recognized four champions of service from across the State of Florida: the Legacy Mentor Program; Deputy Teddy Floyd of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office; Justin Lee of the Savannas Preserve State Park; and Becca Toland of the Special Olympics Florida.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to recognize these individuals today for their commitment to bettering our communities and changing lives. We are inspired by these Champions of Service whose selflessness has helped mentor children, give to families in need, and protect Florida’s precious natural resources.”
“Groups like the Legacy Mentor Program and Special Olympics Florida are built around the concept that volunteers will be there to serve,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman. “Volunteers ensure that our state parks attract more visitors, our non-profits are able to thrive, our vulnerable children receive the mentoring they need, and our law enforcement community can extend a helping hand to those in need. It is an honor to present the Champion of Service to these outstanding Florida volunteers and programs.
Legacy Mentor Program (Accepted by Mary Rebekah Fritz, Mentor Program Manager) – The Legacy Mentor Program serves foster children in Central Florida. Currently, 72 young people are in the program, and to date, 114 mentors have participated. Legacy Mentor Program volunteers serve as mentors and tutors; they are specifically trained to guide foster children’s personal growth, academic achievement, and career exploration. By providing significant preventative measures and support for foster children, the Legacy Mentor Program increases academic performance, empowers students, and ensures that they are equipped with life skills. In the first three months of 2015 alone, Legacy Mentor Program mentors have spent almost 200 hours with their mentees.
Deputy Teddy Floyd, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office – For over ten years, Deputy Floyd has constructed and restored homes for needy families in his community. Under Deputy Floyd’s leadership, the homes are constructed and given to individuals who have been positive role models and contributors in the community. Detective Floyd leads the team of builders who construct the homes, facilitating the donation of the supplies, general labor, and specialty services. Thanks to Deputy Floyd, over a dozen families have been able to experience the American Dream of home ownership. Deputy Floyd has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to improve the quality of life in some of the area’s most impoverished communities.
Justin Lee, Savannas Preserve State Park – Justin has served for almost five years with Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie, providing 1,921 service hours. Justin, who dedicates his weekends and much of his summer vacations to the park, coordinates over 40 youth volunteers, including recruitment and training. Justin has made the Park’s Education Center a fixture in the community, and designed and facilitated the summer “Mad Scientist Series,” which helps children develop STEM skills.
“I commend Justin Lee for his passion and commitment to Florida State Parks,” said Jon Steverson, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “Volunteers like Justin play an important role in making our state parks the best in the nation.”
Becca Toland, Special Olympics Florida – As a volunteer with Special Olympics Florida, Becca Toland has served countless hours working with athletes, staff, and other volunteers. She provides administrative support and assists the staff with preparing for competitions. She continues to volunteer at Special Olympics Florida, while growing into the role of a community advocate for others with unique abilities.
The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts. For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, click HERE.
News Cast for March 24th:
Jose Fonseca Hernandez received 15 years in prison for a machete attack on his wife Monday. A jury found him guilty of attempted involuntary manslaughter. His victim, Ellie Fonseca, said her husband is not remorseful, is a coward, and didn’t get enough time in prison. She and her daughter, Danielle asked for the maximum sentence. Fonseca attacked her in the couple’s home after he saw her with another man.
Fonseca said her 23 year marriage was full of emotional, verbal and physical abuse, she blamed Fonseca’s alcoholism. He apologized in court to his wife and family.
Five Okeechobee jail inmates got into it after one of them allegedly stole some canteen snacks. Two had to be sent to the hospital,. Among those arrested were 20 year old Chase Weeks, on a felony battery charge.
26 year old Isidoro Castilleja, a refuted gang member, was charged with resisting arrest after allegedly interfering with a deputy’s traffic stop. A deputy put him in a head lock for mad dogging him, and acting aggressive as authorities arrested his relative. The relative, 35 year old Juan Landaverde faces multiple charges for allegedly selling methamphetamines to confidential sources over the past few months. He could be deported.
A construction worker faces multiple sex crime charges involving children in Okeechobee. 46 year old Benjamin Donis Florian of Royal Palm Beach was allegedly seen by an eye witness molesting a 5 year old child. He’s also accused of child abuse for allegedly whipping two children with belts, and whips.
Sports Cast for March 24th:
Sophomore Ricky Perez was a big part of the junior varsity soccer team finishing 11-2 this season.
Perez said he saw this success coming. He said every member of the team gave their all on the field this year.
Perez said that should help the varsity get better next year with a bunch of talented and hungry younger players. He led the team in goals this year, but was also praised for his unselfish play.
On the sports schedule today, OHS tennis holds a senior day match with Martin County at 3:30 pm. Brahman baseball visits Westwood at 3:30 pm. Moore Haven softball hosts Clewiston with JV at 5 and varsity at 7. Moore Haven baseball hosts Evangelical Christian with JV at 4 and varsity at 7. OHS flag football hosts Westwood for a varsity game at 5 pm. OHS softball hosts Treasure Coast with JV at 5 and varsity at 7 pm.
Sheriff’s Office Donates to Jimmy Ryce Center
Osceola County – Today, Sheriff Bob Hansell presented a $3,000 check to Don Ryce, founder of the Jimmy Ryce Center, a non-profit foundation that provides AKC bloodhounds free to law enforcement to find abducted and lost children. The Center was created by Don & Claudine Ryce after their 9-year old son, Jimmy, was abducted, raped and murdered at the hands of a sexual predator on his way home from school in 1995. According to the Ryce Center, a bloodhound has 60 times the scent power of a German Shepherd and is the only dog that can follow a human trail more than a few hours.
Recently, the Jimmy Ryce Center made its first donation to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. Tank, a 12-week old bloodhound was given to the Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit to replace Lulu, a 6-year old bloodhound who is retiring. It will take 8-9 months to train Tank before he begins work full-time in the K-9 Unit with handler, Deputy James Scanlan.
“ Our K-9 Unit provides a valuable service assisting patrol and criminal investigations with locating wanted subjects, providing building searches, detecting drugs and explosives and finding missing persons. We are grateful to Mr. Ryce and the Jimmy Ryce Center for their donation and are pleased to assist the Center in their efforts to purchase more bloodhounds for other law enforcement agencies,” stated Sheriff Bob Hansell.
Pictured from left to right: Deputy James Scanlan, Tank, Don Ryce and Sheriff Bob Hansell.
Rooney Signs Bipartisan Letter to President on Concerns with Iran Nuclear Negotiations
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17), Chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, today signed a bipartisan letter to President Obama to “underscore the grave and urgent issues” that have arisen in the Administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran.
The letter, signed by 367 members of the House, states that, “The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.
“Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of grave importance to our nation’s security. As the Administration continues to negotiate with Iran, we are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies. We remain hopeful that a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon may yet be reached, and we want to work with you to assure such a result.”
Complete text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. President:
As the deadline for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran nears, we write to you to underscore the grave and urgent issues that have arisen in these negotiations. While we hope the Administration is able to achieve a lasting and meaningful agreement, we understand that there are several difficult issues that remain unresolved.
No issue will be harder to resolve with the Iranian regime than the status of its uranium enrichment program. This is the key technology Iran would need to develop a nuclear bomb – technology that Iran has been permitted to continue to research and develop under the interim arrangement. Many of us wrote to you a year ago, calling for dismantlement of significant portions of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, “such that Iran will not be able to develop, build, or acquire a nuclear weapon.” A final comprehensive nuclear agreement must constrain Iran’s nuclear infrastructure so that Iran has no pathway to a bomb, and that agreement must be long-lasting.
International inspectors report that Iran has still not revealed its past bomb work, despite its international obligations to do so. Of the 12 sets of questions that the International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking, Tehran has answered just part of one. Just last week, the IAEA reported that it is still concerned about signs of Iran’s military related activities, including designing a nuclear payload for a missile. Indeed, inspectors had amassed “over a thousand pages” which showed “research, development and testing activities” on technologies needed to develop a nuclear weapon. Last fall, over 350 Members of the House wrote to the Secretary of State expressing deep concerns about this lack of cooperation. The potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program should be treated as a fundamental test of Tehran’s intention to uphold the final comprehensive agreement. Unless we have a full understanding of Iran’s past program it will be impossible for the international community to judge Iran’s future breakout time with certainty.
Iran’s record of clandestine activity and intransigence prevents any trust in Iran. Indeed, a top State Department negotiator has told Congress that, “deception is part of [Iran’s] DNA.” Even during the period of negotiations, Iran has illicitly procured nuclear technology, which your Administration quickly sanctioned. Additionally, because of the strict inspections regime under the Joint Plan of Action, Tehran was caught testing a more advanced centrifuge that would have helped produce bomb material more quickly. Given Iran’s decades of deception, negotiators must obtain maximum commitments to transparency by Iran. Any inspection and verification regime must allow for short notice access to suspect locations, and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program must last for decades.
Finally, while the negotiations with Iran have focused exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program, it is critical that we also consider Iran’s destabilizing role in the region. Iran is boosting Assad in Syria, supporting sectarian elements in Iraq that undercut hopes for a unified and stable country, and providing assistance to Hezbollah, which continues to threaten Israel. And last month, an Iranian-backed militia displaced the government in Yemen, a key counterterrorism partner. Iran’s Supreme Leader has also called for an expansion of his country’s ballistic missile program, yet another dimension of the potential threat posed by Iran. Iran’s role in fomenting instability in the region—not to mention Iran’s horrendous repression at home—demonstrates the risks of negotiating with a partner we cannot trust.
The United States has had a longstanding interest in preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability. Over the last twenty years, Congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent that outcome, ultimately forcing Iran into negotiations. Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation. In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief.
Resolving the nuclear crisis with Iran remains of grave importance to our nation’s security. As the Administration continues to negotiate with Iran, we are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies. We remain hopeful that a diplomatic solution preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon may yet be reached, and we want to work with you to assure such a result.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Wants to Recognize Your School Garden
Applications for Golden Shovel Awards Due April 2
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam will recognize five school gardens this year with the Florida Farm to School Golden Shovel Awards.
“School gardens give kids hands-on experience growing their own fruits and vegetables, and we know that kids who grow their own food are more likely to make healthy choices,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “We want to recognize school gardens across the state for the great job they are doing educating our students about where their food comes from.”
Applications are due April 2. The five awards will go to:
- Best New Garden
- Best Revitalized Garden
- Most Creative Learning Environment
- Best Use of Produce
- Longest-Sustained Garden
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services operates the state’s school nutrition program, including school breakfast, lunch and Summer BreakSpot, in all 67 counties.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Golden Shovel Awards, or to enter your school garden, please visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com/FarmtoSchool.
Higher Manatee Count Simply Means We Have More to Protect
Op Ed by Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science & Conservation
Save the Manatee Club
Florida’s manatees are at a crossroads. Well, actually, the agencies that protect manatees are at a crossroads, and manatees themselves are in the crosshairs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is busy working behind closed doors deciding whether or not to downlist manatees from endangered to threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The agency appears fixated on the fact that there are more manatees now than there used to be. The most recent synoptic count this winter provided a new high count of over 6,000. I have read the federal Endangered Species Act many times. What I wonder is if the folks at FWS have read it, because the criteria for listing status is based on a number of things, but a minimum population estimate isn’t among them. One key factor the agency IS supposed to consider is whether current and future threats to the species and its habitat are under control.
Manatees remain frequent victims of mutilating and – too often – deadly vessel strikes. Sixty percent of them are reliant upon artificial sources of warm water that are likely to disappear in the future due to lawsuits or changes in how Florida delivers power to its residents. When temperatures in recent years fell too far for too long, some artificial refuges proved insufficient to protect manatees from the cold; from death. Manatees that use springs for winter refuge too often find themselves victims of harassment from swimmers and other recreational users. Red tide is a much too frequent and fatal visitor to our Gulf coast, and there’s the mysterious Unusual Mortality Event in the Indian River Lagoon that killed over 100 manatees in 2013. Many of our springs, rivers, and coastal waters continue to suffer from degraded water quality and our increasing human population promises to claim more spring, river, and possibly sea water for consumptive use.
My suggestion to FWS is to put away their party hats and streamers. Instead of trying to claim some artificial victory for manatees, the agency should get busy on doing what is actually needed to safeguard the future for manatees so that a legitimate downlisting could be feasible in a few years. Citizens have invested too much in this species over the years to see recovery unraveled by a misguided push to look the other way and pretend things are rosy. They’re not. We’d like to be able to work with FWS to create a better future for manatees. So FWS, we’ll either see you in the meeting room or the court room. The choice is yours.
News Cast for March 23rd:
Among arrests, 38 year old Robert Hull of Okeechobee was arrested in Lake Worth facing charges he burglarized a home, stealing a semi-automatic pistol and two video game systems and later pawned them.
Deputies arrested a Douglas Park woman after she allegedly pulled a gun following an argument about marijuana. 37 year old Angela Cooper and her friend apparently had argued about the quality of the narcotic and exchanged pleasantries.
A traffic stop by deputies and wildlife officers led to three arrests on 441 south. 30 year old Thoams Arnold was charged with possession of metamphetamines, 24 year old Fred Eberling was charged with possession of morphine. A third man was charged with driving on a suspended license.
A 70 year old Glades county man faces charges of careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Walter Thomas allegedly struck another vehicle in a parking lot in LaBelle, after troopers say he fled the scene he ran into a utility poll in a 2014 Porsche on County Road 80A and Huggetts Road. He was taken to Lee Memorial in serious but stable condition.
Sports Cast for March 23rd:
Elisia Garcia has more motivation than most athletes this year as she worked for the past year to rehabilitate a knee injury she sustained in a car accident just before the 2 thousand 14 softball seasons was set to begin.
Garcia said that gave her an appreciation of what she had. Garcia has settled into the lineup at first base and has batted cleanup for the Lady Brahmans. They earned an honorable mention in Class 6A in the last state poll.
Garcia tried to remain positive and stayed with the team in a supporting role last year. Brahman boy’s baseball lost to Spanish River at the Lake Worth Spring Break tournament, 10-2, to fall to .500 on the season. Cam Weinberger scattered eight hits in a complete game victory. Jarred Morgan had two hits for Okeechobee. Kevin Coleman struck out six batters in relief.
The boys season continues Tuesday afternoon at Westwood.
Moore haven softball won two district games last week, 4-2 over St. John Neumann and 14-4 over Evangelical Christian.