April 7, 2020

Friday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 2/14/2020

Florida unemployed face weaker safety net

States provide varying degrees of financial support for laid-off workers, and some provide less than others. Florida is among a number of states that have cut back on unemployment assistance, paying lower benefits, for less time, to a smaller fraction of laid-off workers than a decade ago. Other states that have followed a similar path include North Carolina, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Arkansas and Idaho. [Source: Marketplace]

Florida smokers puff on largest tax increase

At nearly 300%, Florida has increased its excise taxes on a pack of smokes more than any other state over the past decade. Through 2017, the tax equated to what’s now a $1.34 levy per pack. During that same time, 2006-2017, the inflow of smuggled cigarettes in Florida is 15.2%, according to a new Tax Foundation study that analyzes the relationship between cigarette taxes and smuggling. [Source: Business Observer]

100,000 files document big trouble at Florida’s key domestic violence agency

In a stunning rebuke to one of the state’s longest serving social services agencies, a Florida House committee subpoenaed its executives Thursday and the governor launched an investigation after learning that the agency’s CEO received more than $7.5 million in compensation from state and federal funds over the past three years. [Source: Times/Herald]

Timeshare relief company with ties to Florida accused of widespread fraud

The timeshare wars rage on. The latest salvo comes courtesy of Washington state’s attorney general, who filed a lawsuit last week accusing the industry’s biggest timeshare exit company of widespread fraud. The “exit” companies — many of which do a steady business in Florida — claim to help free consumers from unwanted timeshares. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

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The CDC sent novel coronavirus testing kits to Florida. They might not work

Florida health officials received testing kits for novel coronavirus earlier this week but can’t use them yet because it’s unclear whether the tests are working. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday morning said issues with the tests the agency has developed for the respiratory illness spreading rapidly through China surfaced after they were sent out to state labs. [Source: Miami Herald]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Environmentalists praise plan to spend hotel taxes on ailing springs and lakes. But the tourism industry is fighting it.
Central Florida environmentalists are praising a new plan in Tallahassee to let counties spend hotel taxes cleaning up polluted springs, lakes and lagoons -- an idea they say could be especially helpful in tourism-dominated Orange County, which is struggling to find enough money to save water bodies like the Wekiva River and Lake Apopka.

› Naples Art unveils Art Business Entrepreneur Program
For more than 65 years, Naples Art has understood that artists are essential members of society, contributing to the creative economy, revitalizing neighborhoods and providing a crucial role in social, civic and business innovation. As a visual arts leader, Naples Art looks to ensure that artists have the opportunity and skill sets needed to support themselves through the creation of their art. As part of its 2020 season, Naples Art is unveiling its Art Business Entrepreneur program.

› More office space is in the pipeline for Wynwood. But when will tenants flood in?
Office space development in Wynwood keeps growing, but some South Florida brokers are struggling to find tenants to fill the new inventory. The ongoing construction is to blame for the lull in office leasing activity in Wynwood, Danet Linares, vice chairman of Blanca Commercial Real Estate, said Thursday at a CREW luncheon.

› Former Moffitt Cancer Center director sues over forced resignation
Thomas Sellers, a vice president and director at Moffitt until his resignation late last year, says in the lawsuit that he was not part of the now-contentious “Thousand Talents” program, an initiative designed to recruit experts from the U.S. and elsewhere to collaborate with researchers in China.

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