Florida House

Buckle up: ‘Historic’ holiday ahead

imagesWe’ll probably stay home to avoid the crush, but that’s not what more than 2 million other Floridians will likely do.

That’s how many Sunshine Staters are expected to hit the road for the looooong 4th of July weekend — which apparently kicks off today and runs through Tuesday — according to AAA.

The auto club is predicting that more than 2.3 million Floridians will travel this weekend, and nearly all of them will be getting behind the wheel before (we hope) getting their party on.

Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group, predicted “historic” travel numbers throughout the country, and in Florida, over the next few days:

“Travel bookings at The Auto Club Group are up more than 15 percent in Florida, compared to this time last year. The biggest factors driving growth are low gas prices, strong employment, rising incomes, and higher consumer confidence; but overall Americans just love to travel, and want to do something fun for this mid-summer tradition.”

According to AAA, Orlando is the top destination for travelers this summer.

GOP Florida House members are giving the Orlando numbers a boost: Freshmen Republicans will huddle there today to decide who will take over as speaker in 2022. State Reps. Paul Renner of Jacksonville and Jamie Grant of Tampa are purportedly in the lead in the four-person race. Erin Grall of Naples and Vero Beach’s Byron Donalds are also duking it out for the chamber’s top spot.

Maybe they’ll want to get a lift from Uber, which finally sealed a deal with the ORL airport regarding rates.

A new law establishing statewide regulations for app-based rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft goes into effect tomorrow, prompting a blast email from Uber’s Florida General Manager Kasra Moshkani who had this to say:

“Whether you’re headed to Key West for the weekend or you need to get from Tampa to Palm Beach, we’ve got you covered. Now you can count on us for a safe, reliable ride anywhere in the state, at any time. Drivers, will also be able to accept trips and earn anywhere in the state, thanks to your support.

This is just the beginning. We’re committed to the state of Florida and its riders and driver-partners, and want to prove it in a real way. Stay tuned for exciting announcements!”

Dorothy Hukill: “Very difficult” watching special session “fall apart”

Hukill
Sen. Dorothy Hukill wasn’t physically inside the Capitol during this year’s two legislative sessions.

But the Port Orange Republican was paying close attention to the hijinks in Tallahassee from afar, thanks to the Florida Channel.

Hukill will share her insights about the 2017 session with the Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce Thursday at noon at the Smyrna Yacht Club in New Smyra Beach.

Hukill said given the legislative recap to the group annually since she joined the Legislature more than a decade ago.

“I’m very excited because I love to talk,” Hukill said.

In a wide-ranging interview yesterday, Hukill offered some of her thoughts about the brutal legislative tug-of-war between (depending on what day it was) Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.

Hukill, a veteran lawmaker who served in the House for eight years before being elected to the Senate in 2012, was unable to travel to Tallahassee this year because she was recovering from cancer.

Hukill, who said she’s received hundreds of cards from well-wishers, said it was hard to watch the sessions from afar, “even though it was probably more work for me this session because I was trying to watch very committee,” she said.

“But watching the special session fall apart and change at the very end — that was very difficult,” she said.

Hukill said she’s “going to try to be positive” about GOP legislative leaders’ ability to just get along in the future.

“People will be able to put those feelings aside,” she predicted. “The bigger picture is we have a job to do. … It was very disappointing.”

A major disappointment for Hukill, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, came when the House refused to sign off on a proposal that would require future high-school students to earn a half-credit in financial literacy before graduation.

The Senate unanimously passed the measure, pursued by Hukill for years, and honored her by naming the bill the “Dorothy L. Hukill Financial Literacy Education Act.” The House never took up the bill for a final vote.

But she’s not giving up.

“I’m filing it next year. It’s already in drafting. It’s something I feel very strongly about. I have supported this idea of financial literacy for students for years,” Hukill said.