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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Legislators look to private insurers to expand Medicaid

A panel of Florida lawmakers today is taking up a privatized alternative to Medicaid expansion that could result in as many as one million low-income Floridians qualifying for the first time for subsidized health-care coverage. The plan is the Legislature's first attempt under the Affordable Care Act to look at a way to insure people who are poor, but not poor enough to qualify for existing Medicaid coverage. Read more form the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Times/Herald and see our Legislative Roundup below:

» Senate committee slashes Scott's economic development dollars
» Poll: Florida voters support stronger gun laws
» Florida House to vote on Internet cafe ban Thursday
» Open season in the Florida Legislature for stadium tax breaks
» Cyberbullying proposals win support in Florida Legislature


Florida Trend Exclusive
Flying high on renewable biofuel

Fracture
Falcon 20 powered by ReadiJet biofuel

When a Falcon 20 commercial jet flying over Canada’s capital city of Ottawa recently logged the first-ever civilian flight powered by 100% renewable biofuel, the trip marked a triumphant conclusion to six years of research at the Panama City offices of Applied Research Associates. Full story...


Sugar cooperative completes its harvest

The Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida has just wrapped up its 2012-2013 harvest, producing the seventh-largest crop in its 51-year history. The 46-member cooperative headquartered in Belle Glade produced more than three million tons of sugar cane grown on 68,373 acres, primarily in Palm Beach County. That resulted in 363,514 tons of raw sugar and 16.7 million gallons of blackstrap molasses. [Source: Palm Beach Post]


Florida campaign for medical marijuana gets financial backers

Two top Democratic fundraisers in Florida have committed to providing the money and know-how to get the question of legalizing medical marijuana on the state ballot in 2014. By law, the campaign needs to collect signatures of almost 700,000 registered voters to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the ballot in November 2014. [Source: Reuters]


Do's and Don'ts of Florida house-hunting

If you have been watching the Florida property market this past year and you no longer know what to believe, you’re not alone. Half the reports say the market has bottomed and prices are rising, while half are more pessimistic and say prices are still dropping. Read more from A Place In The Sun Magazine and Florida Link.


ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› University of Florida launches state’s first massive open online courses
The University of Florida is the state’s first university to offer massive open online courses, or MOOCs. That means anyone in the world can now get a taste of a UF education — for free. Early indications are that there’s quite an appetite.

› No stadium renovations likely means no South Florida Super Bowls
Roger Goodell wouldn't flat out say it, but the NFL's commissioner dropped enough hints on Wednesday to safely conclude South Florida won't be hosting another Super Bowl until Sun Life Stadium gets a significant face lift.
» Related: Business owners support $400 million stadium renovation

› Scrabble teams help kids get ready for FCAT
Dressed in black Shady Hill Elementary shirts, the Scrabble team known as the Word Racers marched into the Sparr Elementary library ready to get their words on. It was the first sanctioned Scrabble competition in the School District, a friendly game officials hope will help boost vocabulary of fourth- and fifth-graders.

› Citizens CEO: Give insurance consumers more choice
The CEO of Florida’s largest property insurer, Citizens, said a change he wants could help as many as 30 percent of new customers find coverage outside the state-run carrier.


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› Lawmakers back $480 million for teacher raises
The Senate's budget-writers signaled Wednesday they're likely to go along with Gov. Rick Scott's push to give teachers $480 million in new money for raises, although they plan to tie the money to student-learning gains.

› Alleged head of charity scam talks
A prominent Jacksonville attorney accused of masterminding a $300 million gambling ring disguised as a veterans charity says he simply advised his clients on legal matters and that prosecutors are trying to "force a connection" between him and the operation of the business.

› YouFit Health Clubs expand to Orlando area
YouFit Health Clubs, a St. Petersburg-based chain started by a co-founder of Planet Fitness, has opened its first Orlando-area facility. The company's newest location, at 7706 University Blvd. east of Winter Park, had its soft opening Wednesday. It gives YouFit 53 outlets nationwide, including 36 in Florida.
» Related: Florida Trend Profile of YouFit

› Melbourne business wins award
Melbourne-based Atlantic Business Systems, has received the PROs Elite Top 100 Service Organization award. PROs Elite is the top industry benchmarking organization for office automation products and solutions.