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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Court allows state to privatize prisons’ health

The First District Court of Appeals is giving the state’s prison agency the green light to privatize health care services. The court ruled Wednesday that a lower court judge was wrong to block plans for outsourcing in three of Florida’s four prison system regions. The state tried to move ahead with the privatization effort last year, but it was challenged by three unions representing some 2,600 state employees who stand to lose their jobs. [Source: Associated Press]

Steven Sonberg » Go to story
[Photo: Francisco Gonzalez]

Florida Trend's Of Counsel
Evolution at Holland & Knight law firm

Holland & Knight Managing Partner Steven Sonberg starts his second five-year term on better footing than the first. The firm faced many challenges coming out of the recession. "What we did was we tried to adjust our operations to match our decrease in revenue," said Sonberg. Read story from Art Levy


Tropical Storm Andrea spinning towards Florida

Tropical Storm Andrea, the first named storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, formed in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday evening. Andrea gained some strength Wednesday night and continues to spin northeastward towards Florida as of Thursday morning. Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of Florida's Gulf Coast to northeast Florida, the eastern Carolinas and southeast Virginia. The main concern from Andrea is the very heavy rainfall it will bring to Florida through Friday. Several inches of rainfall could result in localized flooding across the Florida Peninsula. In addition, a threat of isolated tornadoes will continue on Thursday in Florida. A storm surge of 2 to 4 feet is expected from Tampa Bay northward to Apalachicola. [Source: The Weather Channel]

» State weather radar
» Storm path map

Billionaire Morse’s Florida dirt bonds not tax exempt

The Internal Revenue Service ruled that bonds sold by a Florida community-development district that has issued $426 million of debt aren’t tax-exempt, a decision that may have implications for hundreds of similar entities. Securities issued by Village Center Community Development District, created by billionaire H. Gary Morse, don’t provide tax-free income because the entity isn’t a political arm of the state, according to an IRS memo dated May 30. Land-secured debt is the riskiest part of the $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market, accounting for almost half of nonpayment default filings. [Source: Bloomberg]

Mega yacht sales turning the corner

Sales of mega yachts are turning the corner in the improving economy, according to some South Florida-based yacht sellers and builders. So far this year, there's been a notable upswing in interest for new custom-built yachts of 80 feet or more in length and less price slashing on pre-owned boats of this caliber, industry specialists say. "We've reached the bottom of the market," said Mark Elliott, yacht consultant at International Yacht Collection in Fort Lauderdale, noting that in recent years it's been a buyer's market. [Source: Sun-Sentinel]


› Politics fueled jobless-claims report, state says
The Department of Economic Opportunity has accused the U.S. Labor Department of political bias and "investigative misconduct" in an April report that found Florida had violated the rights of some laid-off workers who are disabled or not fluent in English.

› Baseball's pursuit of S. Florida-linked drug cases intensifies
With the clinic's owner expected to provide first-hand information in the coming days, the long-running investigation could get a massive boost. But with many of the implicated players staunchly maintaining their innocence, there could be lengthy legal fights ahead.

› School trustees may be at odds with Scott on tuition increase
The boards at FSU and FAMU are meeting today in Tallahassee, and FAMU interim President Larry Robinson said he expects FAMU will include the 1.7-percent cost of living tuition increase in the budget it will approve.

› NOAA resets Gulf snapper season
Recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico will have a 28-day season for red snapper in federal waters regardless of what state shoreline they fish. Officials announced the change after a judge’s ruling last week that forced the agency to re-evaluate its management procedures.

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› Powerball winner steps forward
A retiree from Maine and a mother of four who lives in a modest, tin-roof house in Zephyrhills, Fla., where the lone winning ticket in the May 18 drawing was sold, Gloria C. MacKenzie took her prize in a lump sum of just over $370 million. After federal taxes, that's about $278 million.

Column: › Indictment halts UCF's hiring plans
Even though Daniel E. Doyle was in the midst of a spending controversy at the University of Rhode Island's Institute of International Sports, UCF still wanted him, paying him $44,000 in consulting fees to contemplate moving to Orlando.

› Pensacola IT firm to add jobs and expand
Pensacola-based Global Business Solutions Inc. announced a five-year expansion plan Wednesday that will create about 120 full-time jobs paying an average salary of $54,000.