Florida hits lowest rate ever for infant mortality
Florida’s infant mortality rate is at an all-time low.
State health officials credit improved prenatal and infant health care for the good news.
The infant mortality rate dropped from 6.4 out of every 1,000 live births in 2011 to 6 in 2012.
Florida’s Department of Health said four factors that are key in keeping the infant mortality rate low include women who are healthy before they get pregnant, early and regular prenatal care and making sure a baby is placed on his or her back when left alone in a crib to sleep.
Gun, public speaking bills reach governor
All of the bills approved by the state Legislature this year have now gone to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott. Included in the final two batches of mostly technical measures is a bill (SB 50) to ensure the public is given time to speak at government meetings and a gun proposal (HB 1355) that has grown more controversial since the end of session.
Scott has until June 29 to act on the Senate bills and July 2 for the House legislation.
The gun measure would block firearms purchases by some people who voluntarily admit themselves for mental-health treatment.
Backed by the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, the measure could end up a test of Scott’s conservative credentials, as veto requests from throughout the state continue to flood Scott’s “Sunburst” email inbox.
The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, and in the Senate by Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, closes a legal gap, as state law already bars firearms purchases by people who are involuntarily committed under the Baker Act. The measure was the only effort to increase restrictions on gun purchases that moved in the Legislature this year.
As for speaking at public hearings, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, pushed for the requirement, having noted during session there is no explicit right for those in attendance to speak at meetings of bodies such as city councils, county commissions, school boards and taxing districts. The bill does not apply to the Legislature itself, however, only to cities and other government bodies.
Bill adds protections for car dealers
Scott has signed a measure that could help head off lawsuits alleging that auto dealers have engaged in deceptive and unfair practices. The bill (HB 55) requires that customers must give demand letters before they can sue auto dealers. If dealers pay the claims and related surcharges within 30 days, they could not be sued.
Cousteau plans extended stay at Keys undersea lab
The grandson of ocean exploration pioneer Jacques Cousteau plans to spend a month in an underwater research laboratory in the Florida Keys.
Fabien Cousteau and a team of filmmakers and scientists will dive to Aquarius Reef Base on Sept. 30. They’ll spend 31 days testing experimental equipment and conducting research on the underwater effects of climate change.
The base allows researchers to scuba dive up to nine continuous hours a day without needing to return to the surface or decompress. Cousteau’s team also will study the physiological and psychological effects of prolonged confinement and long-term saturation diving.
Harmful brown algae bloom plagues estuary
Indian River officials are worried about a harmful brown algae bloom they fear will harm the local economy, leaving oyster bars and clam farmers, fishermen and boat builders in trouble.
One of the largest estuaries on the East Coast has recently been choked by a thick, brown sludge. As the brown tide lingers, fish and sea grass are disappearing. Manatees, dolphins and pelicans are also dying in the same area from unexplained causes.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the St. Johns River Water Management District committed up to $3.7 million in April to research a bloom of the same algae species that occurred last year and a toxic algal bloom that occurred in 2011. District officials are also launching a major research project to look at the troubling issues in the lagoons.
Post staff and wire services.