A surging stock market and rebounding home prices boosted Americans’ wealth to a record in the final three months of last year, though both trends have slowed so far in 2014. Household net worth jumped nearly $3 trillion during last year’s fourth quarter to $80.7 trillion. Stock and mutual fund portfolios gained nearly $1.7 trillion, or 9 percent. [Source: AP]
A substantial expansion of one of Florida's private school voucher programs is advancing in the state Legislature. A House panel on Thursday voted for a bill that would increase which students would be eligible for the program, as well as make more money available for the private schools that accept the vouchers. [Source: AP]
Medical marijuana enjoys broad backing in Florida, with polls in the past year indicating that 65 to 70 percent of voters support the idea. But passing a constitutional amendment to legalize medical pot may not be the cakewalk that such numbers suggest. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
It may sound like a good deal for some tech-savvy high-school students: take a programming course and then skip a required math, science or even physical-education class and still earn a diploma. But in an era when so many worry about sedentary, overweight kids, P.E. advocates have quickly denounced the proposal by Florida lawmakers. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Bucking a national trend, Tampa Bay, Miami and Orlando all posted a drop in overall consumer debt last year, according to a report from the consumer credit crunchers at Equifax. In fact, those metro areas, along with Las Vegas, were the only four among the top 25 where debt did not rise. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Employees learn to lead in steps around company [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Cross Country Home Services president Sandra Finn was a mere 23 years old when she was put in a leadership position, at a different company. "I made it up as I went along," said Finn, who has been president of Sunrise-based Cross Country for 13 years. Now she tops a list of Florida's women business leaders in 2013.
› Florida Supreme Court says Tampa immigrant can't get law license [Tampa Bay Times]
In a long-anticipated decision, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Tampa immigrant and FSU law school graduate Jose Godinez-Samperio cannot be admitted to the Florida Bar.
› Arnold Palmer Invitational drives new business to Central Florida [Orlando Business Journal]
The seven-day annual event is a boon for Central Florida, bringing in more than $20 million in economic impact for the region and more than 120,000 attendees.
› Mormon church completes huge buy of land – now owns 2 percent of Florida land [Orlando Sentinel]
The Mormon church through its subsidiaries now owns nearly 2 percent of Florida with the completion Thursday of a $562 million purchase of more than 382,000 acres in North Florida's Panhandle region.
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› AT&T looks to hire 450 in Florida [Miami Herald]
AT&T said this week it is looking to hire about 200 people in South Florida and another 250 elsewhere in the state. Positions range from retail and consumer sales to corporate support and technicians.
› Sarasota hopes to lure medical tourism [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
The slow-cooking idea to supplement Florida’s healthy flow of vacation travelers by promoting “medical tourism” could get some extra heat from a bill Florida lawmakers are considering.
› Disney, unions extend contract until July [Orlando Sentinel]
Walt Disney World and its largest union group have extended their current contract for another three-and-a-half months while they try to negotiate a new pact.
› eMerge Americas opens Launch competition [Miami Herald]
eMerge Americas opened registration on Thursday for early-stage and later-stage companies across the Americas to apply to compete at the inaugural eMerge Techweek Launch competition during eMerge Americas Techweek.