Monday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida is still epicenter in fight against Big Tobacco
Two decades ago, a husband-wife team of Miami lawyers took a David and Goliath swipe at Big Tobacco, filing a class-action suit on behalf of 500,000 Floridians. That class action was finally dismissed eight years ago, splintering into thousands of individual lawsuits, making Florida the epicenter of tobacco litigation. Now the pace of litigation may pick up. Read more from the Tampa Bay Times.
A slight boost for conservation
After years of receiving little funding, Florida’s environmental land-buying program is making a modest comeback. With the decision by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet last week to sell surplus state land — including four prison sites — the state land-buying initiatives, including Florida Forever, may have more than $50 million in 2014-15. It would be the highest budget amount for Florida Forever since 2008. Yet even that funding represents only one-sixth of the $300 million Florida once had annually in its nation-leading conservation program. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Lisa Rinaman [Photo: Bruce Lipsky/AP]
Lisa Rinaman of the St. Johns Riverkeeper group says north Florida is being left out of discussions that involve the river's health. This story is part of a regional news roundup. Access Florida Trend story
The liquidation of Sunshine State Insurance Company is forcing its 36,000 customers to shift carriers just as the hurricane season ramps up. It also is saddling the state with an estimated $36 million in unpaid claims and premium refunds. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
The lack of opposition means candidates for eight state Senate seats — all incumbent Republicans — and 38 House seats, all but one an incumbent, automatically won their seats on Friday despite no ballots being cast in those districts. That will make 2014 even less competitive than 2012, when 24 percent of lawmakers ran unopposed. [Source: Times/Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Valley Bank fails, as Landmark Bank awarded operations
Nearly one-fifth of the state's 192 banks and thrifts remain stuck on Bauer's "troubled and problematic" list, the third-highest level in the country.
› VA rule changes eliminated thousands of vets from waiting lists
Around the nation, reportedly, VA employees used unauthorized scheduling tricks to hide delays in patient care.
› New Miami-Dade task force to target state public corruption
The formation of the task force comes nearly one year after what was once the largest police anti-corruption unit in the county, run by Miami-Dade police, was gutted in an money-saving reorganization.
› New Mayport casino ship will try to buck a gambling trend
Victory Casino Cruises is bringing gambling back to Mayport, or more accurately, back to the ocean three miles away. The 229-foot-ship makes its first public cruise Tuesday evening. After that, it’s two cruises a day, seven days a week. Capacity: 600 passengers.
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