Tuesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today.
A Leon County circuit court judge dealt the latest blow to Florida counties hoping to fill their budget gaps with taxes paid by online travel companies. Judge James Shelfer ruled that Florida’s 1977 law relating to county tourist development taxes is so ambiguous that he couldn’t conclude that companies like Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity should be required to pay taxes on the marked-up price of a hotel room when they sell it to customers. Seventeen counties joined in the lawsuit. A similar lawsuit is pending in Broward County, where the online companies are challenging a tax levied against them by county authorities. [Source: Times/Herald]
Joining a gym to log in hours on the elliptical or hiring a nutritionist for guidance are good ideas to shed pounds but typically too pricey for people with low incomes, as are many programs geared toward boosting wellness. To address that issue, University of Florida researchers have received a $9.9 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission to test whether increasing access to wellness services could improve the health of patients already facing physical and mental health conditions. [Source: UF News]
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has invited states to propose "innovative" programs to re-employ workers. The federal government said it will allow 10 states to used administrative funding — or apply for a waiver to use unemployment insurance trust funds — to implement and evaluate programs that expedite the ability of people to return to work. Florida won't be one of them. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
From fishing and dive charters to restaurants serving stone crabs, the economic chain reaction that would be caused by the demise of South Florida's reefs would be devastating. Without the reefs to break the waves, storm surges would be more catastrophic. South Florida beaches would erode, threatening tourism and beachfront real estate. There would be no fish to support the diving, fishing, boating and restaurant industries. Tens of thousands of workers, from lifeguards to commercial fishermen, would lose their jobs. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
FSU looks to spin off businesses from its research. Elsewhere in the region, energy companies and gambling facilities are creating jobs.
SunnyLand Solar's "solar sausage" is an inflatable solar-energy collector that costs 1/20th and weighs 1/50th of a traditional system. The technology was spun off from FSU research. [Photo: FSU]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Eight teams vie for Miami Beach Convention Center redevelopment
Miami Beach has asked developers to plan and finance a renovated and expanded convention center and headquarters hotel, and redesign the 52 publicly-owned acres that include and surround the convention center. Condos, shops, parks, office towers and restaurants are all possibilities.
› What's next for Florida Polytechnic?
Bulldozers run across the site of the new Florida Polytechnic University and dust flies across the barren landscape, but a video produced by architect Santiago Calatrava shows striking, modern buildings. That is the vision for the state's 12th university and getting there will take millions, political power, and cooperation.
› FPL to install 4.5 million 'smart meters'
Florida Power and Light plans to install 4.5 million "smart meters" throughout the state, which they say will make their response time to power outages quicker, allow homeowners to track their energy usage, and eliminate the need for human meter-readers.
› Starbucks to open in Disney theme parks
Seattle coffee retailer Starbucks will open locations in each of the Walt Disney Co.'s six U.S. theme parks, the two companies announced Monday. Disney said each Starbucks location will be uniquely themed to blend in with its theme-park surroundings.
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