Here is your Tampa news for today: Gov. DeSantis’ first State of the State, Tampa mayoral elections open, and why the sheriff’s department is experiencing a shortage

Here is some of Tampa’s top news of the day brought to you by Florida Focus.

Gov. DeSantis delivers State of the State address

Gov. Ron DeSantis gave his first State of the State address Tuesday. It’s been two months since Gov. DeSantis took office. He laid out his agenda for several issues emphasizing Florida’s education, economy, and environment.

He made his final pitch to legislators for the bills he hopes will cross his desk. “It is quite a privilege to be able to work with a legislative body that has demonstrated the ability to get things done,” said DeSantis.

His speech marks the beginning of the legislature’s 60-day session.

“Now is the time to be bold,” said DeSantis. He offered that lawmakers need to work together in order to make real change and have a legislative session that is memorable for Floridians.

Tampa’s 2019 Municipal Election

Voting precinct for Tampa’s municipal election via Florida Focus

Tuesday, March 5, is the day of the Tampa municipal election. The election covers the mayor’s race, city council seats, and 18 charter amendments.

There are seven candidates running for the mayoral seat opening. Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who currently holds the seat, is not eligible to run due to term limits.

A poll released on Monday shows former Police Chief Jane Castor leading the race for mayor.

A runoff election will take place in April if none of the candidates earn at least 50 percent of the vote. Polls stay open until 7 p.m., and if you get in line by this time, you will still be allowed to vote.

Laser Spine Institute Lawsuit

Laser Spine Institute facility via Florida Focus

Several former employees from the Laser Spine Institute are filing a class action lawsuit. The Tampa office was among four locations nationwide that unexpectedly shut down last Friday. Around 500 employees were left without jobs.

The lawsuits filed in federal court say workers didn’t get enough notice before the layoff. They also claim the laser spine institute violated federal law.

According to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, companies are required to give at least 60 days notice before mass layoffs occur within a company with more than 100 employees.

In the lawsuit, the affected former employees are asking for 60 days worth of pay, which they would have received if given proper notice.

Deputy Shortage in Polk County

Polk County Sheriff vehicle via Florida Focus

Polk County Sheriff’s Office is experiencing a shortage of law enforcement deputies. The number of people willing to take the oath to serve and protect is slowly dwindling.

Sheriff Grady Judd says the low unemployment rate and rigorous background checks are factors in the shortage.

Putting yourself in the position of a law enforcement officer is a huge and dangerous commitment. It is a commitment that is hard to make when there are other, less risky jobs, that provide better pay.

“It is very difficult to recruit for law enforcement because there are other jobs out there that pay very well; [that don’t] require shift work; nor [do they] require going to work with people wanting to shoot you, stab you, beat you up and cuss at you all day long,” said Sheriff Judd.

The sheriff’s office says they currently have 50 openings and only 19 recruits in their academy.

They’re trying to combat the problem by offering incentives like sign-on and referral bonuses.


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