October 24, 2020

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 9/28/2020

Medical marijuana and CBD sales rise sharply during COVID-19 pandemic

Florida is seeing a surge in sales of medical marijuana and CBD hemp products as more people turn to them to treat their anxiety, insomnia and pain during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the rise in demand, wait times at dispensaries in some instances rose from what used to take only 10 to 15 minutes — even without an appointment — to backlogs of dozens of patients at any given time, potentially lasting hours. Sales have risen significantly when compared with last year. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

The economic impact of a rebounded and revitalized space program on Florida's Space Coast

From 1981 to 2011, the Space Shuttle Program brought in a mix of engineers, technicians, logisticians, specialists, and more to the Space Coast region and supported the creation of numerous other jobs indirectly related to the space program. The infusion of NASA spending into the local and state economy generated an overall economic impact of more than $4.1 Billion in 2008, translating into 40,802 jobs, $2.1 billion in household income, and $103 million in state and local taxes. [Source: Florida Tax Watch]

Florida voters already casting ballots in presidential race

Voting has already begun in Florida, whose 29 electoral college votes will be critical in the presidential election. The Department of State reported Saturday that more than 6,600 vote-by-mail ballots have already been returned and more than 5 million others have been requested. That could put Florida on a pace to double the number of people who voted by mail in the 2016 presidential election. Voters have until Oct. 24 to request a vote-by-mail ballot. [Source: NBC Miami]

Stage, screen and everywhere between: Fall delivers rich and unique arts season

As the strangest, most unpredictable new season in memory is about to begin, signs of the pandemic’s ongoing cultural tsunami are everywhere. Of necessity, optimistic scheduled performance dates keep getting pushed later and later as arts leaders grapple with safety issues, economic fallout, and uncertainty over when and how audiences will feel comfortable returning to live cultural experiences. [Source: Miami Herald]

Florida is leaving the state’s exonerated inmates penniless

A state law allows exonerated people who demonstrate their innocence to receive $50,000 for each year of incarceration, with a cap of $2 million. But there is a catch. The law excludes those who have prior felony convictions. That caveat makes Florida unique among states that compensate those who are exonerated. “Innocent people are innocent people,” said Seth Miller, executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, a legal organization that works to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. “When the state takes away someone’s liberty and wrongfully incarcerates them for three or four decades, they deserve recompense for that.” [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Trend Mention

Mention ImageThe Florida Council of 100: The Rigor Gap

A new study by the Florida Council of 100 details a serious statewide gap between high school students’ grades and their actual mastery of skills, as demonstrated on standardized end-of-course exams. This “Rigor Gap” raises concerns that Florida’s future workforce will be underprepared for the professional world, despite good grades. Further, the Rigor Gap may have widened in Florida due to the impact of school shutdowns amid COVID-19. Visit www.fc100.org for more information.


› Emergency bridge loans available for small businesses affected by Hurricane Sally
The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program was activated this week by the state for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The program is meant to provide quick cash for businesses so they can get back into production until they can secure a longer-term financing option such as an insurance payout. It's a one-year 0% interest loan, typically for $50,000, said Kelly Massey, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida.

› TECO seeks approval for charging station plan
Tampa Electric Co. asked state regulators Friday for approval of a four-year pilot program that would lead to installing about 200 charging ports for electric vehicles. The pilot would involve charging stations at a variety of types of locations such as workplaces, retail businesses and government buildings.

› Venice MainStreet hopes Classic Evenings will draw patrons downtown
Venice MainStreet will host Classic Evenings on the Avenues, from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 8 and 22, in an effort to bring shoppers downtown. The nonprofit, which is tasked to enhance and promote the downtown business district, has been unable to stage Wine Walks and other events designed to encourage people to visit the island of Venice, because the city has suspended all event permits.

› Tampa Bay tourism report card: Where the industry stands more than six months into the pandemic
Hotels across the Tampa Bay area are still hovering below half full with industry analysts reporting about 45 percent occupancy rate at the end of last week. That’s about on par with what local hotels saw across all of August, according to tourism analyst STR, Inc, and not far off from the nationwide average last month.

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Florida Trend Video Pick

Rare, two-headed snake found in Palm Harbor home
Rare, two-headed snake found in Palm Harbor home

A family in Palm Harbor recently found a rare creature in their home – a two-headed snake. FWC researchers said the phenomenon is named bicephaly – an uncommon occurrence that happens during snake embryo development. When two monozygotic twins fail to separate, it leaves the heads conjoined onto a single body.

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