FYI Miami: November 29, 2018
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VISITORS KEEPS GROWING: Florida drew 30.7 million visitors during the third quarter of this year, according to marketing agency Visit Florida and Gov. Rick Scott’s office. That was a 10.1% increase over the same period in 2017 and kept Florida on pace for a record year for visitors. From July 1 through Sept. 30, Florida drew more than 27.5 million domestic travelers, up 11.6% over 2017. Overseas visitors were down 1.9%, while Canadian tourists were up 0.9%. In all, Florida attracted nearly 95.8 million visitors during the first nine months of 2018. The state had a record 118.8 million tourists for all of 2017.
CELL PHONE DRIVING BAN: A proposal that would allow law-enforcement officers to pull over motorists for using cell phones while driving will be back before lawmakers in 2019. State Sen. Wilton Simpson has filed a measure called the “Florida Ban on Wireless Communications Devices While Driving Law,” which would prohibit texting, reading data or talking on wireless handheld devices while behind the wheel. Currently, texting while driving in Florida is prohibited, but it is enforced as a “secondary” offense. That means motorists can only be cited if they are stopped for other infractions, such as running a stop sign or speeding.
GAS PRICES PLUNGE: Gasoline prices in Miami have fallen 6.6 cents per gallon in the past week to averaging $2.55, according to GasBuddy price-tracking service. AAA said the Miami average was $2.62, among the highest prices in the state. This compares with the national average of $2.53. Florida gas prices are now averaging the lowest of 2018, AAA said. The Florida average has declined the past 47 days for a total discount of 39 cents. AAA said least expensive gas averages were in Tampa Bay ($2.25) and Orlando ($2.27) and it predicted continued declines this week.
ASSAULT WEAPON BAN: A Miami-based political committee has proposed a constitutional amendment that would ban possession of “assault” weapons in Florida. The proposal, backed by the committee Ban Assault Weapons Now, was posted on the state Division of Elections website this month. The committee had raised nearly $410,000 since March. The group would have to submit hundreds of thousands of valid petition signatures to the state to get the measure on the 2020 ballot. It took at least 766,200 to get measures on the 2018 ballot, and the threshold likely will increase for 2020. The proposal would define assault weapons, in part, as being “semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once.”