Florida politics, mental health after trauma, The Keys’ tourism booms again
State Politics. Taking care of your mental health in the aftermath of traumatic events. Plus, the rising costs of visiting The Florida Keys.
On this Tuesday, May 31, edition of Sundial:
New efforts to lower your property insurance costs are now law. So are new rules to try to make condo buildings safer.
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During a special session last week, Florida lawmakers quickly passed bills that address roof maintenance for homeowners, soaring insurance premiums, and added mandatory condo inspections in response to last year's tragedy in Surfside.
Mary Ellen Klas, Capitol bureau chief for the Miami Herald, joined Sundial to highlight takeaways from the new laws and discuss the politics that's been brewing ahead of the midterm elections.
"I think that the whole point of the property insurance special session was to have legislators do something that they failed to do during the regular session," she said. "They realized that this was too big of an issue, or this issue was too daunting, to make any immediate changes. So they patched together enough of a package that they think will have some longer-term effect. I don't think the condo stuff was really a distraction."
She explained that most of the new condo safety laws had been worked out during the regular session earlier in the year, so this time a special session was only needed for the final details. And when the elementary school shooting happened in Uvalde, Texas last week, lawmakers were still gathered together in Tallahassee. Klas detailed how lawmakers' responses to that tragedy are tied to the divisive politics at the state level:
"The Florida legislature did something pretty remarkable in 2018 when the Parkland massacre occurred. And that was for the first time in a generation, they passed gun control. They limited the age of somebody who could purchase a gun from 18 to 21. They banned bump stocks. They put new red flag laws in place. But when this tragedy happened in Texas, they decided that it was not important to return to that and strengthen Florida's laws. I think they think things are working just fine," Klas said. "There is no more talk, no additional talk of strengthening Florida's laws, no talk of banning assault rifles, banning high-capacity ammunition. That's just not on the table. And I don't expect it to return."
Mental health after trauma
Chances are you’ve seen images and heard stories about last week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Those images and stories can be triggering — and they should be. A lone gunman killed 21 people, 19 of those who died were children.
It’s a tragedy that is all too familiar here in South Florida. Just four years ago, the Parkland school shooting happened, where 17 were killed and 17 others injured.
The trial for that confessed shooter is just in its beginning stages now.
News like this can be difficult to digest. And these days, we can’t escape it. With social media, those images and stories follow us everywhere.
Dr. Jessica J. Ruiz, the Chief Psychologist and Director for Behavioral Health Associates of Broward, the Counseling Centers of Goodman Jewish Family Services, joined Sundial to talk about some habits you can implement to take care of your mental health while still being informed.
“It's good to do a personal inventory. Know what are the things that help me feel good about myself and kind of check-in? Have I been doing that lately?” said Ruiz. “If, however, you're noticing that it's getting pretty hard to kind of make it through day-to-day, and it's not just having one or two days that are kind of off, but it's now becoming a more consistent pattern. It is a good time to reach out [to a trained professional].”
Ruiz has worked with the Parkland community after the school shooting that happened in 2018.
The Keys’ tourism booms again
It's become more expensive for you to take a vacation in the Keys.
Parking, food and especially hotels are all costs to think about when you're planning a weekend getaway at the state's southernmost point.
Recently, commercial real estate firm, Berkadia, put out a report that found The Keys are the "best performing market in the country" when it comes to hotel room occupancy, average daily rate and revenue per available room.
All these factors add up to a much busier tourist scene in Key West than what we saw during the pandemic.
WLRN’s reporter for the Florida Keys, Nancy Klingener, joined Sundial to discuss what the data is telling us about tourism in The Keys right now, how sustainable this growth is and the impact it’s having on residents.