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Friday's Daily Pulse

For Florida education laws, it’s out with the old

State education officials say recent moves will tighten up Florida’s schools statute, and put an end to some superfluous programs. But the action also shines a light on the ever-changing state of education reform in Florida, where headline-grabbing policies come and go, and teachers complain about the constant state of flux. [Source: Times/Herald]

Of $100 million in BP money for Florida, about one-tenth has been spent

Of the $1 billion BP agreed to put up to pay for environmental restoration projects, $100 million is supposed to go to Florida alone. But so far, only about one-tenth of that has been spent. What's taking so long? According to former Florida Department of Environmental Protection secretary Mimi Drew, what's slowing everything down is BP. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

More than $1M in political contributions linked to Internet cafés

Millions of dollars in bank accounts were frozen, dozens of luxury cars and boats were seized, and the government has taken claim over countless Florida properties as part of the criminal case against the controversial nonprofit Allied Veterans of the World, newly released case documents show. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

» The future of Sweepstakes in Florida isn't so bright

Takehome pay takes a hit with payroll tax

American workers are typically taking home $130 less a month due to the reinstatement of the payroll tax. Workers' social lives may be taking the biggest hit. See how the payroll tax, which took effect Jan. 1, has affected workers at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

As counter-service eateries pop up, diners ask: Do I tip?

Eateries where customers order and pay at counters are the new darlings in dining. Places such as Five Guys and 4 Rivers don't provide much more customer service than a fast-food joint. Yet many solicit tips through jars on counters or on credit-card slips. So are you a cheapskate if you don't throw in an extra buck? [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Florida Supreme Court affirms verdict in smoker’s death
Florida’s highest court decided Thursday not to upset its own landmark decision that makes it easier for thousands of sick smokers or their survivors to pursue lawsuits against tobacco companies.

› Lawyer: Florida missing out on millions by ignoring bail bond law
Could Florida be missing out on millions of dollars in revenue? Pensacola trial lawyer Robert Kerrigan says state and local officials have long ignored a law that requires bond agents and surety companies to lose their licenses when they fail to pay up after defendants skip town.

› Citizens rates differ in high-risk areas
While Florida lawmakers negotiate and debate reforms for Citizens Property Insurance Corp., a rallying cry centers around eliminating the discounted rates paid by many homeowners in high-risk areas, such as hurricane-prone South Florida.

› Classic cars showcased at free Venice museum
After Michael Lombardo opened Ideal Classic Cars in Sarasota three years ago, he soon realized that the dealership served a dual purpose. “What I found was that it was tourist attraction,” Lombardo said. “It was being treated as a museum.”

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› JPMorgan Chase inks major sponsorship with Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Times Forum
The New York-based megabank signed a broad, five-year agreement to become the official financial sponsor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Storm and the two teams' home venue: the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

› Homeowners could get $50,000 under Florida proposal
Florida’s key foreclosure prevention program may dedicate $50 million to paying down mortgage principal amounts, a once taboo practice gaining traction as foreclosures continue to plague communities.

› Texas architecture firm opens Fort Lauderdale office
A 26-year-old architecture and planning firm in Austin, Texas, has expanded to Fort Lauderdale. TBG Partners' office will serve clients in South Florida, as well as those along the East Coast and in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Managing principal Paul Weinberg heads the new office, which he expects to be staffed by 10 to 12 people.

› UM Tissue Bank announces recall over testing procedures
For the first time in its more than 40-year history, the University of Miami Tissue Bank has announced a tissue recall, citing past problems with its hepatitis testing procedures.