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Thursday's Afternoon Update

US consumer spending surged 0.9 percent in March

U.S. consumers ramped up their spending in March at the fastest pace in 4½ years, a sign that the economy is gaining momentum after its winter slowdown. The Commerce Department said Thursday that consumer spending rose 0.9 percent, the largest monthly gain since April 2009. More at the Miami Herald.

Amazon Begins Collecting Florida Taxes for Internet Sales

Amazon.com today begins collecting sales taxes on purchases in Florida, adding the fourth most-populous state to the list of places where the world’s largest Internet retailer levies the charges. More from Bloomberg, Bright House Networks, and CBS Miami.

Florida Legislature passes school textbook bill


The key to keeping your edge is a good night’s sleep

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But now, some high-profile business leaders are trying to convince us that in America’s obsession to get more done, we’re sacrificing the one thing that can make us better thinkers and decision makers at work and home: sleep.

» Full story from the Miami Herald

School districts would have to give parents a chance to object to textbooks used in schools under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature. The legislation now headed to Gov. Rick Scott would require districts to hold a public hearing if parents object. More at the AP.

Nonprofit offers affordable housing in Broward

Broward Housing Solutions now owns 96 apartments to offer affordable housing to the mentally ill, veterans and youth aging out of foster care and their families. Subsidizing the homes for eligible residents — who must be recommended by a case manager and meet other criteria — ends up cheaper than other options for taxpayers. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Westgate CEO David Siegel buys Cocoa Beach Pier

Time-share magnate David Siegel and one of his longtime business associates have bought the Cocoa Beach Pier and plan to renovate the iconic attraction. The pair said they will overhaul the 800-foot-long pier, turning it into a "premiere family dining and entertainment destination." More at the Orlando Sentinel.

Out of the Box
Unique floating lab showcases 'aliens of the sea'

sealabA team of scientists has begun collecting the genomes of sea creatures off the Florida coast in the hopes that unmapped species, some of which have the capacity to reverse disease and injury in themselves, may hold the key to new treatments for humans. More from Reuters and the AP.