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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Education budget battle shaping up in Florida

The House and Senate this week are starting to work on a new state budget and legislators are drawing up rival spending plans for education. The House is proposing to increase spending on public schools by nearly $741 million. The Senate is proposing to increase public school spending by $651 million. More from the AP and the Tampa Bay Times.

Legislative Roundup:
» Florida House Introduces Performance Funding Measure For State Universities
» Hurricane Sales Tax Period Gains Strength In Florida House
» Bill Regulating Florida's Parasailing Industry Heads To Senate Floor
» House committee advances expanded gambling bill
» House ready to approve in-state tuition bill

Economic boost expected as March Madness takes over Orlando

March Madness will find a home in Orlando for the first time in 10 years. The NCAA basketball tournament is what college basketball fans wait for every year, and the Amway Center will get a piece of the action. [Source: WFTV]

Cities planning ahead for legalized medical marijuana

Several South Florida cities are preparing for the day when Florida legalizes marijuana for medical use. No matter that the ballot initiative won't go before voters until November: Pembroke Park recently became among the first to consider how to regulate grow houses. "This is a problem that every city is going to have to solve," said Town Manager Bob Levy. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

» In Florida, medical marijuana will be legal, John Morgan says

Florida regulators issue bitcoin warning

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation has stepped into the debate over virtual currencies. Regulators issued a consumer alert, warning about potential risks associated with purchasing, investing in and exchanging bitcoin and similar payment mechanisms, which are unregulated and uninsured. [Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal]

Florida gets $48 million to improve public housing

Florida’s public housing agencies are getting a $48.3 million boost from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money is part of nearly $1.8 billion given to public housing authorities nationwide to make large-scale improvements, such as replacing roofs, updating electrical and plumbing, or improving energy efficiency. [Source: Palm Beach Post]


› After Bollywood glitz, Tampa Bay aims to deepen ties with India
Tampa Bay is betting on its own worldwide splash as the first site in the United States to hold what is formally called the International Indian Film Academy, or IIFA, awards.

› Celebrities, mega fans converge at MegaCon
Fans of sci-fi, comic books, superheroes and more will converge at the Orange County Convention Center for MegaCon. Stan Lee of comic book fame returns as the guest of honor at the annual event in Orlando this weekend.

› Million Dollar Homes to feature Gainesville home
Million Dollar Homes, produced by CNBC, has chosen to feature a luxury Gainesville property for their “March Madness” themed segment, and is scheduled to air March 25 as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is fully underway.

› PortMiami to raze warehouses, regain land
PortMiami intends to tear down and relocate or remodel several of its warehouses. “Nearly every warehouse is destined to be knocked down and relocated in the next five years,” said Kevin Lynskey, assistant port director.

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› Highwaymen painter Robert Butler dies at age 70
Robert Butler, a painter who was part of group of acclaimed self-taught artists called the Highwaymen, died Wednesday at a Lakeland nursing home. He was 70.

› PURC provides research, training and expertise in utilities
The University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Council is known internationally as an academic center dedicated to utility research, training in utility regulation and strategy, and the development of leadership in infrastructure policy.

› Brevard County approves $205,000 incentive for 'Project Magellan'
Brevard County commissioners this week approved financial incentives to an unidentified company planning a major project at Melbourne International Airport. “Project Magellan” is expected to bring 1,800 jobs paying an average of $100,000 apiece.

› Trader Joe's to open in Tampa on Friday to large crowds, limited parking
Just how big is the opening of the area's first Trader Joe's on Friday? The city of Tampa has deemed it a matter of public safety and will deploy a half a dozen police officers to direct traffic and patrol the neighborhood.