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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Hundreds rescued after record flooding in Florida Panhandle

People were plucked off rooftops or climbed into their attics to get away from fast-rising waters when nearly 2 feet of rain fell on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast in the span of about 24 hours, the latest bout of severe weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest. "We've seen flooding before, but never flooding that washes the back of a house away," said CNN iReporter Matt Raybourn of Pensacola, Florida. "There are no words for what we are seeing here." More at NPR, CNN and the Northwest Florida Daily News.


Michael Corcelli
Michael Corcelli has been a key player in raising the profile of the hedge fund industry in Florida. [Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

Florida Trend Exclusive
All Stars: A diverse group of 30-somethings is making their mark in Florida

From hedge funds to online publishing, these key players are setting trends around the state. We profile Michael Corcelli, founder of hedge fund Alexander Alternative Investments and Florida Alternative Investment Association; Katie Haas, senior director of Florida Business Operations for the Boston Red Sox; Stephanie Darden, founder and president of Prismatic marketing firm; Shawn Seipler, executive director and co-founder of non-profit Clean the World, and 14 others. Access story here.


Divided Florida House okays 75 mph speed limit

Florida would become the first state east of the Mississippi where drivers could travel 75 mph on major highways under a bill that squeaked past the House on Wednesday and is headed to Gov. Rick Scott. The bill's opponents, most of them Democrats, warned that drivers would go much faster, resulting in more deadly crashes in a state of congested highways where many are tourists, college students and the elderly. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Legislative Roundup:
» Florida legislature forbids use of foreign law in state court
» Florida. Legislature OKs 1-year pause on school grades
» Legislature passes insurance claims bill
» Florida unlikely to approve changes to state pension


SunRail up and running, getting praise

The day mass-transit enthusiasts have been waiting for has finally arrived in Metro Orlando: the SunRail commuter train has started running for real. Local leaders riding SunRail Tuesday morning had high marks for Central Florida's first commuter train, which will offer free rides today. Sharief McDaniel hopped on in Sanford, the first stop, and counted himself as the first passenger with a bike on SunRail. He says the train will cut more than two hours off his Lynx bus commute to the Orange County Convention Center. More at Orlando Sentinel and the Daytona Beach News-Journal.


Report: large employers could shift nearly all workers’ health coverage to marketplace by 2020

A new investor report predicts that Standard & Poor's 500 companies could shift 90 percent of their workforce from job-based health coverage to individual insurance sold on the nation's marketplaces by 2020. If all U.S. companies with 50 or more employees followed suit, they could collectively save $3.25 trillion through 2025, according to the report by S&P Capital IQ. [Source: McClatchy]


ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Express Scripts' lower volume leads to close to 400 Tampa layoffs
Express Scripts has notified the State of Florida that it will lay off close to 400 people at its facility on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, due to lower volume as addressed in its earnings report on Wednesday. Express has 3,400 employees in Florida, including the Orlando facility, which will not be affected, Henry said.

› Sides square off in PortMiami stadium fight
Depending on who’s talking, David Beckham’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium at PortMiami is either a “land grab” by the retired English footballer and his investors — or a thorn in the side of Royal Caribbean Cruises and its “secret agenda” to develop the waterfront, publicly owned property.

› EPA questions gas pipeline planned through North Central Florida
Federal environmental regulators want more details about a proposed natural gas pipeline that will pass through western Marion and Alachua counties, including a fuller explanation about why the project is needed in the first place.

› Sea turtle nesting season starts today
Sea turtle nesting starts today and runs through August, although hatchlings can emerge as late as October. Biologists and turtle monitoring groups are hoping for high numbers this year, perhaps 2,000 nests across Lee and Collier counties. Overall, Lee County beaches were home to 680 turtle nests in 2013 with Collier County numbers cresting at 1,075.


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› U.S. and Florida resolve money disputes over two stalled Everglades projects
Florida water managers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resolved a two-year stalemate Tuesday that has delayed two critical Everglades restoration projects. The projects, both authorized about two decades ago, will provide necessary links to improving and moving water through the 18,000-square-mile water system.

› Ex-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll says she felt 'betrayed' by Florida Gov. Scott
Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll told The Florida Times-Union on Wednesday she felt cheated by Scott and his top staff for abandoning her 13 months ago when she was abruptly asked to resign the state’s second highest office.

› Study: Upscale Hispanics are growing and spending on designer goods
Upscale Latinos are young, digitally-connected and represent a growing and important segment for marketers, according to a study released Wednesday by Nielsen and AHAA. Identified as those whose incomes range from $50,000 to $100,000, upscale Latinos contribute $500 billion or 37 percent of the $1.3 trillion spent annually by Latinos in the United States.

› Goozlepipe & Guttyworks nearly ready for opening in Jacksonville
The first thing that Steve Flores said he wants people to know about Goozlepipe & Guttyworks, the extension of his Kickbacks Gastropub, is that it’s not all about the beer.Instead, he talked about its steampunk look, full of art and bits of old machinery, the basement patterned after a Belgian dining room.