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Florida in focus: Lawsuit demands Florida pay up on $1 billion in donation matches to state schools

By   /   July 7, 2017  /   News  /   No Comments

Miami Herald: Lawsuit demands Florida pay up on $1 billion in donation matches to state schools

In the 1970s, Florida joined a wave of states that encouraged private philanthropy to public universities by matching donations. Following the housing market crash and economic downturn, the Legislature put the matching rules on hold “temporarily” in 2011.

Temporarily has turned into six years. Now, a state lawsuit has been filed against lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott to pay out the money — all $1 billion of it. That’s $600 million in backlogged matches and the rest in estimated potential donations if the automatic match is reinstated.

Grace Mead, a Miami attorney who filed the class-action lawsuit under the name of two recent University of Florida graduates, argues that the Legislature’s continued hold on donations matches violates Florida’s constitution and harms students’ education. The two students named as lead plaintiffs are Alexis Geffin, a Wisconsin sports reporter, and her brother Ryan Geffin, an incoming medical student at Florida International University.

“We’re not seeking damages,” Mead said, “we’re seeking allocation of funds.”

UF is owed the most, at more than $155 million, said Mead, who practices in complex commercial law with the firm Stearns Weaver Miller Alhadeff & Sitterson, which is based in Miami.

Naples Daily News: Florida to give some of voter data requested by Trump’s commission

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner will provide some of the voter data requested by a federal election integrity commission assembled by President Donald Trump, but his response will be tailored to fit the boundaries of state law.

On Thursday, Detzner sent a letter to Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Vice Chairman Kris W. Kobach promising to abide by his request for voter data that includes names, addresses, dates of birth and political party affiliation.

But state law forbids Detzner from fulfilling Kobach’s request for driver’s license information and even parts of Social Security numbers.

Tampa Bay Times: Florida county loses suit, faces $300M in hospital bills

A Florida County could be on the hook for $300 million in medical bills for care that private hospitals gave to poor patients after a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday.

The court ruled that an obscure law requires Sarasota County to reimburse any hospital within its borders, public or private, for indigent care. The law was originally on the books in 1959 and the Legislature repealed and replaced it with similar language in 2003. Eight years later, two private Sarasota hospitals discovered it and began billing the county for years of care for the poor.

“This is going to be a big blow to our county,” said County Commissioner Nancy Detert.

Lawyers for the hospitals didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment after the ruling, but one said in arguments before the Supreme Court last year that they weren’t looking for the courts to determine how much they are owed, but rather a judgment that they are entitled to reimbursement. During those arguments, lawyer Raoul Cantero said the amount of reimbursement can be negotiated or settled in court at a different time.