FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida lawmakers reach budget deal, but overtime looms

Florida lawmakers have reached an agreement on an $87 billion budget, leaders for the House and Senate said Wednesday afternoon. They settled one of the biggest hangups – how to reimburse the state's 200-plus hospitals for Medicaid. The Senate wanted to change the formula, which would hurt some public hospitals. Some of the budget highlights:

  • $400 million to schools in response to the Parkland massacre.
  • $175 million for Everglades restoration
  • $76 million on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism arm
  • $53 million ($27 million of which comes from a federal grant) to help combat the opioid crisis
  • $21.6 million to treat inmates infected with Hepatitis C and another $5 million for mental health issues among inmates

More from the Times/Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, and WCTV.

See also:
» Fla. House passes gun and school safety bill, sends to governor

Six months later: Irma by the numbers

A six-month snapshot of recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma, which ravaged the state last September. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Florida State Emergency Response Team issued a report that outlines work publicly and privately to recover from Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida on Sept. 10, 2017. See all the numbers and updates from FEMA here. Also read more at the Ocala Star-Banner.

From Florida Trend:
» The Florida Keys, post-Irma

How Florida fends off its slippery, scaly invaders

More than 50 species of non-native reptiles and amphibians roam the state, one of the highest populations worldwide. But in the process of battling them, researchers are developing a deeper understanding of how these animals came to call Florida home – and they’re learning the importance of early action in preventing more invaders from taking over. Read more at the Christian Science Monitor and see this story from UF IFAS: "Control of invasive tegus in Florida."

Column: Think twice before converting a Florida business to a corporation

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act taken together have many business owners considering converting their business from a pass-through entity to a C corporation in order to take advantage of the 21-percent tax rate for corporations. Although there are several reasons not to convert to a C corporation, the owner of a Florida business would likely suffer an additional detriment by doing so due to state tax laws. [Source: Daily Business Review]

Illegal "zombie" debt collections rampant in Florida

Invalid and illegal debt collections are at record levels across the U.S., and Florida is No. 2 for complaints about the practice, according to a national tracker of frequent flier programs and credit card rewards. RewardExpert said:

Florida – Hard-hit by the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the housing bubble, Florida comes in at number two with 42.43 complaints per 100,000 residents (a total of 8,314 complaints in all).

See the press release here. Also read more at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.


› Gambling bill a long shot in Florida legislative session’s final days
The Florida Senate on Wednesday voted 22-10 to approve a measure that seeks to expand a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, but passage of a major gambling bill remains a long shot in the final days of the annual legislative session.

› Putnam rails against ‘bad trade policy’ at gathering of strawberry growers in Plant City
The No. 1 problem facing Florida agriculture is not weather, pests, diseases, costs, farm prices or many other challenges of running a profitable business in Florida, Putnam told about 250 people at the Farm Credit of Central Florida Strawberry Salute Breakfast.

› 11 projects to get $22M from Florida Job Growth Grant Fund
The money will come from the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, created by Gov. Rick Scott and the state Legislature in 2017, which aims to improve public infrastructure and enhance workforce training to promote economic development.

› Publix CEO compensation up 28 percent in 2017
Publix CEO Todd Jones made $2.48 million in total compensation in his first full year as the head of Florida’s biggest supermarket chain, a 28 percent increase over the year before.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Magic Leap raises $461M from Saudi Arabian government
Magic Leap has raised $461 million, bringing its total funding to date to $2.35 billion. The investment, confirmed Wednesday, comes as the Plantation-based technology company works to release its first-ever product.

› Yes, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg can run in the rain, but…
The weather forecast for Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg doesn't look great. The National Weather Service calls for a 60-percent chance of rain. Showers might not deter the IndyCar Series' season opener.

› Coast Guard weighs regulations for boat race at Miami Marine Stadium
The Coast Guard is considering a local regulatory plan for a speed boat race planned for April in the historic Miami Marine Stadium basin of Virginia Key. As part of the process, the public is encouraged to comment on the event via a federal website.

› Hard Rock International lays off 184 in Orlando
Hard Rock International filed a notice with the state saying it is laying off 184 people at its Orlando headquarters – the vast majority of its staff there.