FYI Miami: February 18, 2021
Below are some of the FYIs in this week’s edition. The entire content of this week’s FYIs and Insider sections is available by subscription only. To subscribe click here.
COVID LIABILITY BATTLE: A bill that would provide Covid-19 liability protections to businesses moved through its final House committee Tuesday in a 14-7 vote after heated debate. Before passing the bill, the Judiciary Committee approved three amendments by sponsor Lawrence McClure of Dover. One caused Rep. Michael Grieco of Miami Beach to withdraw support. That change would make clear that if more than one set of public health recommendations or guidelines were in effect when a plaintiff suffered damages, injury or death, the business would only need to show it made an effort to “substantially comply” with one of the standards to gain legal immunity. Because Gov. Ron DeSantis never issued a mask mandate, opponents argued, businesses that didn’t require masks would get immunity. “It essentially creates blanket immunity. It’s arbitrary. It doesn’t cite the CDC (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it doesn’t cite the WHO (World Health Organization). It could be an authoritative source such as one person that can be just plucked out and utilized as the basis for whatever standards a business is applying,” Mr. Grieco said. “I am an attorney, but I am also a small business owner. I see things from both sides. I wanted to be up on this not knowing where it was going to go, but that amendment was fatal.” The bill is now ready to go to the full House.
LONGER TESTING TIME: Amid debate about whether students should be required to take standardized tests in person as Covid-19 continues to spread, the state Department of Education is giving an additional two weeks for the Florida Standards Assessments and a statewide science test to be administered. In an emergency order Monday, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran pointed to “disproportionate numbers of educationally disadvantaged students learning off-campus or not attending school at all,” potentially widening achievement gaps. The testing required by state and federal law “is now more critical than ever so that educators and parents can measure progress and determine what additional services and supports are needed to ensure that each student is given the services and supports they need to succeed in life,” the order says.
BIG BOX LIMIT BACK: Miami Beach’s Land Use and Sustainability Committee will continue this week its discussion of a potential limit to big boxes stores on Lincoln Road. According to a memo from Interim City Manager Raul Aguila, the committee is to discuss the item, give policy recommendations, and potentially move an ordinance to be reviewed by the full city commission. As drafted, an ordinance prepared by staff would prohibit retail establishments over 45,000 square feet with some exceptions that would require planning board approval.