Legislative Issues

TRAIN WRECK TIMES - CELEBRATE GREAT NEWS

WE ARE CELEBRATING GREAT NEWS. Our Call to Action sent out Nov. 18 to attend a special meeting of the IRC commissioners on Nov. 20th turned out to be critical. At 7:45 p.m. the night before the meeting, we received notice that the meeting would focus on a deal negotiated between Martin and Indian River Counties and CARE with the representatives of AAF/Virgin. The attorneys for the respective counties circulated the deal to their commissioners.

THIS RAPID LINE WAS PRIVATELY FINANCED AND BUILT. CAN THE STATE REGULATE IT?

SEN. DEBBIE MAYFIELD PLANS TO PUSH FOR MORE STATE OVERSIGHT OF ALL ABOARD FLORIDA’S BRIGHTLINE HIGH-SPEED PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE. This bill was founded by troubling issues found from reading an Oct. 31 report from the Legislature’s Office of Program Poly Analysis and Government Accountability.

SHOULD THIS BRIGHTLINE 'CONFLICT OF INTEREST' BE ALLOWED TO STAND?

IT'S PRETTY CONVENIENT THAT THE BOARD CHAIRMAN OF AN AGENCY CHARGED WITH APPROVING YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT PLAN HAPPENS TO ALSO BE YOUR BOUGHT-AND-PAID-FOR CONSULTANT, states Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News. Smith is referring to John Miklos who represented All Aboard Florida, president of the private environmental firm, Bio-Tech Consulting, and is the appointed head of the St. John's River Water Management District - the state regulatory board that reviewed and approved the Brightline project to convert 100-plus wetlands acres for new rail lines.

BEWARE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF SELLING VERO BEACH'S DOWNTOWN POST OFFICE | OPINION

TUNE INTO LAURENCE REISMAN WHO CREATES A HYPOTHETICAL CONVERSATION ABOUT UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES THAT MAY ARISE REGARDING THE SALE OF VERO BEACH'S DOWNTOWN U.S. POST SERVICE BUILDING. Reisman proposes that a location such as this may be purchased to be sold exponentially at a higher price by using it as a bidding war device between Brightline and the Treasure Coast residents who oppose the high-speed passenger rail.

CONGRESSMEN CALL ON FEDS TO SUSPEND BRIGHTLINE BONDS

FIVE CONGRESSMEN CALLED ON FEDERAL TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS TO SUSPEND THE $1.15 BILLION IN PRIVATE ACTIVITY BONDS FOR ALL ABOARD FLORIDA'S BRIGHTLINE PASSENGER RAIL, saying there are still a number of "yet-to-be answered questions" concerning Brightline's use of the bonds. These five include four Florida lawmakers and Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representative's Subcommittee on Government Operations.

CONGRESSMAN MEADOWS ON AAF FEDERAL FUNDING: 'WE CANNOT SUPPORT ... BLANK-CHECK AUTHORITY'

CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS MARK MEADOWS ASKED U.S. TRANSPORTATION SEC. ELAINE CHAO TO SUSPEND THE ALLOCATION OF ALL ABOARD FLORIDA'S PRIVATE ACTIVITY BONDS. This request was made in a letter that Meadows sent on May 16. This was following his subcommittee's April 19 hearing where he went in "with an open mind, but came away from it deeply troubled about (USDOT's) position."

LETTER SENT TO USDOT SEC CHAO FROM CONGRESSMAN MEADOWS WITH DESANTIS, GAETZ, MAST, AND POSEY

CONGRESSMEN MARK MEADOWS WITH RON DESANTIS, MATT GAETZ, BRIAN MAST, AND BILL POSEY SENT A LETTER TO U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY ELAINE CHAO. This letter follows the recent Operations Subcommittee hearing three weeks ago, which raised great concerns about the DOT's "interpretation" of Private Activity Bond allocation and the PABs that were allocated to All Aboard Florida's Brightline passenger rail.

INDIAN RIVER & MARTIN COUNTIES, CARE FL FILE FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST THE U.S.DOT

ON FEB. 13, INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, MARTIN COUNTY AND CITIZENS AGAINST RAIL EXPANSION IN FLORIDA (CARE FL) FILED A JOIN COMPLAINT AGAINST THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (USDOT) AND THE FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION (FRA). The complaint demonstrates that federal officials ignored or failed to consider the environmental, public safety, maritime and environmental impacts the All Aboard Florida (AAF) rail project will have on Treasure Coast communities.

Read more here.

SENATE BILL 572 HAS PASSED - STATEMENT BY CARE FL CHAIRMAN BRENT HANLON

THE FLORIDA SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE PASSED SENATE BILL 572 BY SENATOR DEBBIE MAYFIELD ON NOVEMBER 14. This bill establishes the Florida High Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act. Brent Hanlon, chairman of Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE FL), released the following statement regarding the committee's passage of the bill.

"Today's vote by the Senate Transportation Committee demonstrates the commitment our elected leaders have to the safety and well-being of Florida residents and taxpayers," he begins.

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT OUTDATED AND A NEW ONE IS NEEDED, TREASURE COAST SAYS

TREASURE COAST OFFICIALS SAID ON TUESDAY SAID A 2015 FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT IS OUTDATED AND A NEW ONE IS REQUIRED. Martin and Indian River counties and CARE FL sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation to mandate a supplemental environmental report.

"[The 2015 report has grown stale and there have been a number of new circumstances that warrant DOT's careful reconsideration," Ruth Holmes, senior assistant Martin County attorney said.

The report that was released in August 2015 concluded that any harm from All Aboard Florida could be mitigated.