Wednesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida regulators reject utilities’ proposed energy efficiency goals
In a rare rebuke to Florida’s major utilities, state regulators rejected plans on Tuesday that would have let them all but eliminate programs that help their customers save energy. They later sided with utilities, setting the stage for a process that would allow the industry to charge its customers for hardening the grid from storms by spending as much as $50 billion burying power lines. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.
Florida officials unveil website to monitor water quality
Florida officials are rolling out a new online dashboard that allows the public to get a snapshot of water quality in the state's major lakes and waterways. The website provides information on blue-green algae blooms and red tide, as well as providing information on key environmental projects. The portal currently provides water quality status for three of south Florida's major bodies, including Lake Okeechobee. But state officials say they are working to expand the tool across the state. [Source: AP]
Florida dials up new area code for growing Panhandle
State regulators Tuesday approved moving forward with a new 448 area code in Northwest Florida, while Tampa also could see an additional area code in the coming years. The reason? Current numbers are running out, in part because of millions of Floridians are toting around cell phones. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel.
Florida could see the nation's first USDA block grants for timber industry recovery
Florida Forest Service director Jim Karels says there’s a good chance state block grants will be approved to help North Florida’s ailing timber industry. The subject-specific grants have never been given out for timber anywhere in the nation by the United States Department of Agriculture. Similar grants were approved to help the state’s citrus industry following Hurricane Irma, which Karels says is a good indicator that timber grants are within reach. [Source: WFSU]
Florida’s proposed plan to manage bears would allow another bear hunt, foes fear
An amended plan to manage Florida’s rising black bear population sets the stage for another hunt of the state’s largest native land mammal, many animal advocates fear. The 209-page management document doesn’t specifically propose another statewide bear hunt. Nor does it rule one out. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida high court set to clarify voting rights for felons
The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether felons can be kept from voting if they haven't paid fines, fees and restitution. Lawyers for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state officials, as well as those arguing on behalf of felons seeking their voting rights, will appear before the court on Wednesday.
› Florida trappers step up efforts, catch 3,600 pythons
More than 3,600 Burmese pythons have been captured in Florida under an effort to control the invasive species that wildlife officials say is choking the delicate Everglades ecosystem. Gov. Ron DeSantis said this week that the Python Action Team had removed 1,000 pythons from the wild. That's on top of the 2,600 removed by the state's python elimination program, which recruits hunters from around the state.
› UK financial tech firm opens office in downtown Orlando
A financial tech firm from the U.K. plans to expand and will move into the 20th floor of the Plaza South Tower in downtown Orlando. Epos Now, which builds point-of-sale systems and software for retail and hospitality businesses, also expects to more than double its U.S. staff of 46 by the end of next year.
› Florida water: Protesters gather to protect local natural spring from Nestlé
A sea of protest signs lined the streets in Hot Springs, Fla. as water advocates and locals gathered together to protest Nestlé Waters North America’s request to bottle more than 1 million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs.
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