The annual state legislative session that starts this week could result in changes that affect Floridians' everyday lives, from buying school backpacks to stopping at red lights or sampling a craft beer. Of course, 2014 is also an election year, for Gov. Rick Scott and many members of the Legislature. More from the Gainesville Sun and Florida Today.
» Budget, tax cuts, re-election are Scott's 2014 priorities
» Legislature 2014: The players in Tallahassee
» A torrent of cash is flowing through Tallahassee as lawmakers prepare for 60-day annual session
» Divergent local needs will be brought to state leaders
Florida Trend Exclusive
» 2014 LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW: Florida's Budget
Gaming is fraught with powerful special interests on all sides, making any major changes to existing laws a challenge this year. “We’re lobbying very heavily for approval of at least one, integrated resort permit in south Florida,” says Nick Iarossi, a lobbyist with Capital City Consulting who represents Las Vegas Sands. Access the full story here.
Nearly 4 million people have been unemployed for more than six months out of a pool of 10 million U.S. unemployed at year’s end, including 584,000 Floridians. [Source: TBO.com]
As freezing temperatures, snowfall, and ice continue to chill the nation, South Florida’s tourism industry is fired up over all-time high numbers. “We really almost have lost count,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau of the record year. “A lot of it has to do with how miserable the weather is.” [Source: Miami Herald]
From a comfortable high heel and an odor-free toilet, South Florida entrepreneurs gave their pitches last week to potential investors at the Startup Expo in Boca Raton. About 300 people — 20-somethings to 70-somethings — attended the inaugural Startup Expo organized by the Gold Coast Venture Capital Association. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida flight schools push to meet international demand for pilots [Tampa Bay Business Journal]
As the worldwide demand for pilots increases, Florida flight schools will play a major role in training the next generation to take to the skies.
› Making better public spaces in Miami [Miami Herald]
The Miami Foundation is launching the second edition of its $130,000 public space challenge with a call for ideas that could create new gathering places and improve the city's shaky sense of community.
› After scary recent past, Stein Mart optimistic about its future [Florida Times-Union]
Five years ago was a not a good time for anyone in retail. But it was particularly bad for Stein Mart. Sales plummeted. Its stock, which peaked at $24.98 in 2005, fell to a low of $1.08 in March 2009.
› Fort Lauderdale warehouses could be next hot spot [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
A 30-year-old warehouse district on the fringe of downtown is on track to become the city's next hot spot. Some envision it as a version of Miami's Wynwood Arts District, with trendy cafes, galleries and boutiques occupying the dated buildings near the railroad tracks between Sistrunk and Sunrise boulevards.
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› Office Depot receives governor's incentive to stay in Boca [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Gov. Rick Scott confirmed Friday that he used his special Quick Action Closing Fund to retain Office Depot's headquarters in Boca Raton. The governor, in Boca to announce 50 new jobs to be created by TouchSuite, said he authorized the new incentive for Office Depot but didn't know the exact amount.
› State Farm makes ‘limited’ return to Florida market [Tampa Bay Business Journal]
State Farm is returning to the Florida homeowners insurance market nearly five years after it stopped writing new policies in the state.
› Jackson Memorial Hospital expected to lose $140 million under new Medicaid law [Miami Herald]
Jackson Memorial Hospital is bracing again for big cuts — this time, the result of a new law that will send millions of federal dollars that used to go to Miami-Dade hospitals elsewhere in the state.
› Nonprofits in Broward honored at 'Academy Awards' [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
It was "Oscar" night early – to honor nonprofits in Broward County on Friday. At a luncheon complete with a red carpet and live models painted gold like Academy Award statutes, more than 700 people turned out to recognize local nonprofits that often labor in obscurity.