There’s a state government shutdown in Florida this week affecting tens of thousands of unemployed residents.
But it has nothing to do with political gridlock in Tallahassee or Washington, D.C.
The Department of Economic Opportunity has idled its primary portal for handling unemployment claims and compensation that serves about 240,000 jobless Floridians.
The shutdown, which started Wednesday at noon, is scheduled to last until 8 a.m., Oct. 15, to allow for the DEO to transition to a more secure, fraud-proof website, called Connect. During that period, the state will not process new or existing claims, potentially delaying tens of thousands of unemployment checks, which are as high as $275 per week.[jump]
The state is promising to extend its call center hours to accommodate a high volume of questions, once the new system is online. The new website is not projected to shorten filing times but increase them, as more information will be requested from existing users and new applicants.
More this morning:
Shutdown to shutout: It’s hardly a surprise that U.S. Rep C.W. Bill Young, Florida’s longest-serving Republican member of Congress, is deciding not to seek re-election in 2014.
Hospitalized with a back injury, the 82-year-old Indian Rocks Beach resident announced his retirement to a Tampa Bay Times reporter in a phone interview on Wednesday, citing his health as a primary reason.
But Young, whose political career spans 52 years, also disclosed that there is “too much politics” and gamesmanship in Congress. Young has been known for consensus-building during his tenure in Congress. He has been a top appropriator who directed millions of dollars in defense-related jobs and contracts to the Tampa Bay area.
Yet the quintessential Washington insider suddenly finds himself on the margins of federal policy-making. The federal shutdown has turned Young into a shutout within the ranks of his own party.
Two weeks ago, Young departed from fellow Republicans in Congress to voice support for a budget resolution that would have averted the shutdown and that did not dismantle President Obama’s health care reforms. He faced criticism from Tea Party members leading a revolt against Obamacare, as well as moderates who said he should have spoken up sooner. Young said that he feels that the Tea Party is the “outspoken minority” that is “pretty much in charge" of the Republican Party in Congress right now.
Bring home the fish: Gov. Rick Scott has announced that the first of four additional license-free fishing days is this Saturday.
The license-free day means that the usual requirement for buying a recreational fishing permit is waived. All other regulations stay the same for season and size limits.
Four more license-free fishing days were added to the calendar in 2013. The four new days — two saltwater and two freshwater — bring the total to eight license-free fishing days a year.
Oct. 12 and Nov. 30 are the additional saltwater license-free fishing days.
Nov. 29 and Dec. 28 will be additional freshwater license-free days.