Florida's economy growing at faster rate
Florida's gross domestic product grew at 2.4 percent in 2012, just under the national average of 2.5 percent, according to Labor Department statistics released Thursday. That's a marked improvement from both 2010 and 2011 when Florida's economic output rose less than one percent each year (and fell 6 percent in 2009). Experts predict the 2013 figures will be much stronger after the state's impressive job creation so far this year. A dozen states grew faster than Florida, led by North Dakota which, fueled by a mining boom, grew a whopping 13.4 percent in one year. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
The Tasting Room in St. Augustine has a Spanish focus. » Go to story
California’s vineyards are latecomers. Florida has had wine since the French Huguenots planted grapes here and made their own — call it First Wine in the First City. Accordingly, 450 years later, St. Augustine alone has at least three spots devoted to tasting wine.
Read insight from Chris Sherman (and start your weekend early)
As the first tropical storm of the season bore down on Florida Thursday, Republican state officials seized the moment to blast Washington and warn that the required budget cuts to federal programs could impede the state's ability to respond to hurricanes or floods. Gov. Rick Scott, discussing Tropical Storm Andrea at his briefing, launched into a critique of the federal budget storm that is causing the Florida National Guard to order 993 of its full-time staff to go to a four-day work week beginning July 1. Known as sequestration, the across-the-board cuts were agreed to between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2011 to resolve the debt ceiling standoff. [Read more from Times/Herald]
After a very sluggish start in 2007, the planned community Ave Maria in the eastern Collier County is beginning to see good movement in its residential and commercial real estate markets. [Read story from Naples Daily News]
Florida Power & Light’s celebrated replacement of its electric meters with digital devices has brought a predictable side effect: laid-off meter readers. The utility giant is ramping up its planned elimination of about 690 jobs throughout the state, a downsizing brought on by the stimulus-funded installation of “smart meters” throughout Florida. The new meters link directly to FPL’s computer system, eliminating the need for a squad of workers paid to visit each customer and manually record the electric consumption. So far, about 190 meter readers have been let go statewide. That leaves roughly 500 positions to be eliminated in the next 18 months. [Source: Miami Herald]
Florida Bar Board Certification Program Celebrates 30 Years
The Florida Supreme Court established Florida's board certification program in 1982 so that consumers can identify qualified legal specialists who are dedicated to professional excellence. In 1982, 33,800 attorneys were members of the Florida Bar. Today, Florida has more than 95,000 attorneys practicing in numerous fields of law.... article continues here.
In recognition of the Florida attorneys and judges who have maintained their board certification since 1983, the Bar lists (by region) these distinguished members: Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida cracks down on timeshare fraud [Bloomberg]
Florida this year sued nine timeshare resale companies based in the state for fraudulent activity, and has requested temporary restraining orders against six of them.
› Times-Union sues mayor and pension fund over secret deal [Times-Union]
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration and the Police and Fire Pension board violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by conducting collective bargaining negotiations in private meetings, The Florida Times-Union asserts in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
› Scott to decide on signing, vetoing bills affecting consumers [Times/Herald]
In the days ahead, Rick Scott must decide whether to sign or veto bills dealing with evicting tenants from apartments, speeding up foreclosure cases in the courts, increasing consumer loan interest rates, altering legal protections for car buyers and banning local laws that require sick leave for employees. Related: Rubio says Scott's veto an 'argument for immigration reform'
› Ocala considering a tax for baseball stadium [Star-Banner]
The city of Ocala, which has been in discussions with the New York Yankees about bringing a minor league baseball team to the area, is considering asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax for a stadium in the fall.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› Busch Gardens, SeaWorld raise prices [Tampa Tribune]
Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando are following recent price increases at the Disney Magic Kingdom and Universal parks in Orlando by raising admission prices 3-4 percent, effective today.
› JAX Chamber allows new chief Davis to finish House term [Times-Union]
Jax Chamber board members have agreed to allow state Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, their new president and chief executive officer, to finish his term in the Legislature. He will not seek re-election when his term ends. The 2014 session will be his last.
› Bondi bashes Bank of America, threatens lawsuit [Times/Herald]
Attorney General Pam Bondi criticized Bank of America on Thursday for failing to follow the rules of a national mortgage settlement reached last year over the practice of robo-signing during the height of the foreclosure crisis.