After four years of fierce debate, Florida lawmakers this week passed state regulations for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. If Gov. Rick Scott signs the measure, all local regulations for the app-based transportation companies would be void. One Jacksonville city councilman said the new law has him determined to level the playing field by deregulating traditional taxicabs, while another is hailing it as a victory. Jacksonville City Councilman John Crescimbeni and Matt Schellenberg are on opposite sides of the debate over the competing interests of taxis and their high-tech cousins. Schellenberg, a supporter of the app-based companies, is thrilled about the bill’s passage. “This is great news for the citizens of Duval County, as well as the state of Florida,” he said. The measure awaiting the governor’s signature is essentially the same as what Schellenberg has proposed on the local level — it requires Uber and Lyft drivers to carry regular car insurance off the clock and a $1
Florida State College at Jacksonville is taking steps to make sure no students are going hungry. The college recently opened a student food pantry on its South Campus on Beach Boulevard.
Thursday on “First Coast Connect” we heard about Earth Day Marches for Science in Jacksonville, St. Augustine and hundreds of other cities around the world with Bonnie Hendrix and Boa White, Women’s March, Jacksonville Chapter, co-captains; University of Florida Health-Jacksonville’s Dr. Marie Crandall; and the director of the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium at the Museum of Science and History Eddie Whisler. We also heard an interview with best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert and Theatre Jacksonville executive director Sarah Boone. K9 United founder Debbie Johnson and Executive Director Eric Heineman talked about their organization and a Saturday fundraiser.
A Miami state Senator apologized Wednesday for using racist and sexist language to describe a number of his colleagues, including Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville.
The Duval County School Board met Wednesday to talk about the likely departure of school Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. The Detroit school board voted Tuesday to enter into contract negotiations with Vitti for the district’s superintendent position. Duval School Board Chair Paula Wright said her main reason for calling the meeting was to talk about ensuring Vitti’s possible departure doesn’t cause disruption, especially as students are taking state tests this month.
Wednesday on “First Coast Connect” we spoke with former Jacksonville City Council President and chair of Florida’s Commission on Ethics about a move by legislative leaders to place additional restrictions on the commission’s operations. Ahead of Wednesday’s Women’s Giving Alliance annual forum we heard from Alliance President Ellen Wiss and speaker Mike Beard, the executive director for the United Nations Foundation Advocacy and Global Health. St. Augustine historian and author Robert Gold talked about his latest book “Dead and Gone,” and St. Augustine Distillery CEO Philip McDaniel discussed a bill in the state legislature to benefit distilleries in Florida.
The Duval County School Board is delaying plans to build a new auditorium and stage renovation at the Fort Caroline arts magnet middle school. The board would have voted on the project next month, but now it’s deferring the item. It’s waiting to see what happens with a state bill t hat could drain the district’s capital dollars.
Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority moved forward with a plan to redevelop 70 acres of riverfront property downtown. Officials gave the green light Tuesday to a proposal by Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s investment firm Iguana Investments.
Tuesday on “First Coast Connect” we spoke with St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver about the dangers of sea level rise in the nation’s oldest city. Attorneys Dan Iracki and Rufus Pennington talked about a $1.9 million settlement with Jacksonville over the shooting of unarmed Davinian Williams by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputy. Attorney Wayne Hogan discussed Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Exchange Club Family Center executive director Barbara Alexander and Mental Health America of Northeast Florida CEO Denise Marzullo talked about the upcoming Healthy Minds, Healthy Families conference.
Crews continue to battle a huge wildfire that started nearly two weeks ago in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Georgia and has now spread to Northeast Florida.