A flurry of bills moving swiftly through the House and Senate are seeking to expand virtual education, both in the public-school system and in higher education. One would enable out-of-state online education providers to qualify for public education dollars. Another would require Florida’s top public university to set up a virtual branch. More from the Times/Herald and TBO.com.
Featured today, an in-depth look at the economy in each of these regions:
» Northeast Florida:
About a decade ago, Florida leaders watched as prescription drugs began to wreak havoc across the country. Prescription drugs began to kill thousands of Floridians, thousands of babies were born addicted to drugs, and Florida doctors became the most prevalent buyers in the nation of the highly abused painkiller oxycodone. Today, the picture is vastly different. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
If you want to create policies that promote women's labor-force participation without curbing their career achievements, you also have to address why family-friendly policies (parental leave, flex work, telecommuting, etc.) aren't being used by men. [Source: New York Times]
It isn't supposed to be this way. After a recession, an improving economy is supposed to bring people back into the job market. Instead, the number of Americans in the labor force - those who have a job or are looking for one - fell by nearly half a million people from February to March, the government said Friday. [Source: AP]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Gun-show loophole laws on the books in Florida, but ignored [Tampa Bay Times]
Law enforcement officials, government attorneys and gun-show organizers say the ordinances are ignored in the seven counties — encompassing almost half of Florida's population — that currently have them.
› Real estate boomlet in Southwest Florida ignites debate [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
The boomlet in Southwest Florida's housing market over the past year has been so vast that it is raising "B-word" questions again — as in "bubble."
› In inland Florida, some towns are stagnant or even shrinking [Florida Times-Union]
A University of Florida research group estimates that Palatka lost 355 residents in the two years after the 2010 census, down to 10,203 people. The city’s smaller, even, than it was more than 50 years ago. Palatka is hardly alone in that dilemma. As cities continue to grow, as suburbs and far-flung exurbs grow, the population of many small cities and towns across Florida remains stagnant.
› The environmental effects of suburbia [Orlando Sentinel]
Every day, thousands of homeowners and landscapers violate state fertilizer and stormwater ordinances designed to protect Florida's water by overfertilizing, overwatering and blowing grass clippings down stormwater drains. As a result, experts say the state has seen an increase in polluted stormwater runoff, stifled marine life and contaminated drinking water.
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› Marco Rubio's balancing act: image vs. roots [Tampa Bay Times]
The Florida Republican wants to appeal to a broader audience, as signaled by his jumping into the contentious issue. But he is trying not to alienate the conservative forces that got him here. Rubio is in search of the sweet spot.
› Couples use E-nups to avoid digital distraction [Newsday]
You've heard of prenups — prenuptial agreements, right? Now there's a new version: E-nups. E-nups are agreements couples make before or during a marriage or relationship to regulate circumstances in which they will use cellphones, iPads, laptops, etc.
› Change to Bright Futures scholarships hits poor, minorities [Miami Herald]
Upcoming changes to Florida’s Bright Futures program will result in only half as many total scholarship recipients — but Miami-Dade will fare worse than other areas, and poor and minority students across the state will suffer tremendously.
› Fort Lauderdale startup makes mobile game apps that benefit nonprofits [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Fort Lauderdale-based startup GoodWorldGames.com is launching a musical-bingo game app that will deliver messages on ocean conservation. The company also gives half the profits on money spent on the game to the Guy Harvey nonprofit and the University of Miami's marine science group.