May 28, 2020

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 4/18/2019

Closing a loophole could net Florida $700 million in sales taxes

The retail giant Amazon was one of the first online companies to start collecting sales tax in Florida five years ago. Now, Florida lawmakers want Amazon’s competitors to catch up. A potential Senate tax package (Senate Bill 1112) would require nearly all online retailers start collecting Florida sales taxes, netting the state roughly $700 million in revenue it currently doesn’t collect. But much of the money would be given away by other tax breaks. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Brexit drama also playing out in Florida

Because Britons are the second-largest group (after Canadians) of international tourists to visit Florida, and also likely home buyers here, the effects on a no-deal Brexit would be intense, observers say. Britons buying and selling property here could be negatively affected, but they may find the US a safe haven for their money, as many South Americans do. [Source: Miami Today]

Farm robots pick strawberries, control the fruit's diseases in Florida

Florida strawberry growers are investing heavily in robots to pick their crops and control disease, partly in response to declining farm laborer immigration. The strawberry industry is particularly interested in robotic farm machines because the berries are one of the most labor-intensive crops. Field workers, usually recent immigrants, still are used because machines can damage the fruit. But hiring pickers has gotten more difficult. [Source: UPI]

Did FPL handle tax-cut windfall and hurricane cost recovery correctly? It’s debatable.

After more than an hour of arguments Tuesday, state regulators next month will decide a high-stakes battle stemming from Florida Power & Light’s costs to restore power after Hurricane Irma and a federal tax overhaul that has saved the utility hundreds of millions of dollars. The state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, and two business groups argued that FPL did not use the proper process for paying storm costs and has not properly passed along tax savings to customers. [Source: Miami Herald]

Telehealth market taking shape in Florida Legislature

In a move that could signal health-care negotiations between the chambers, two Senate panels have passed proposals that bring the Senate closer to the House on the issue of telehealth. The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee agreed Tuesday to allow insurance companies to use out-of-state physicians in their networks for telehealth. Meanwhile, a separate Senate panel approved a tax break for insurance companies and HMOs that use telehealth. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]


› How Florida’s SunPass debacle started in 2012
How and why Florida decided to hire Conduent is now the subject of an investigation by the state’s chief inspector general and questioning by lawmakers, who were barraged with angry calls last summer about Conduent.

› Pioneer in software for alcohol payments swallows acquisition
Financial Information Technologies LLC, also known as Fintech, a Tampa-based provider of business management solutions for the beverage alcohol industry, has acquired Lilypad Solutions LLC, also headquartered in Tampa.

› Meet an ‘Auto-C,’ one of several cleaning robots coming to Polk Walmarts
Heretofore confined largely to the factory floor and a few toys and small appliances, robots are beginning to break out into our everyday lives. Polk County residents may encounter robots in that most familiar of all places, the local Walmart. Meet Auto-C. Not a very sexy name, but Wall-e was already taken. Auto-C, however, shares the same mission as his cinematic cousin — cleaning up.

› Ocala might stop adding fluoride to city water
City of Ocala water managers are making plans to possibly stop adding fluoride to the city’s tap water. Fluoridation of community drinking water in the United States began in the 1940s as a way to reduce tooth decay. Today, the majority of public water supplies get fluoridated to 0.7 parts per million, the optimal amount considered effective for preventing tooth decay.

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Mega pantries already operate in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, serving an average of almost 4,000 people every week.
Mega pantries already operate in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, serving an average of almost 4,000 people every week.

Feeding Tampa Bay opened the new drive-through food bank — dubbed a mega-pantry — in Manatee County in response to an all-time high demand for meals and groceries from local food banks.

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