October 24, 2020

Wednesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 10/14/2020

It's the best, and worst, of times for business in Florida, survey finds

Florida is one of the five best states in the nation in which to do business, according to a new survey. It’s also one of the five worst, according to the same survey, thanks to COVID-19. Every three years, Development Counsellors International, an economic development marketing firm, surveys executives to rank business climates in the various U.S. states. For the first time since they began doing the survey in 1996, a single state landed in the top five in both categories: Florida. The DCI report was released on Tuesday. [Source: Reuters]

Stone crab season is here; get out the butter dipping sauce

Get your traps ready, anglers. It’s nearly stone crab season. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission selected Thursday as the official start date to the season but moved up the end date from May 15 to May 2, with the last day to harvest stone crabs May 1. New regulations say that the claw size must be 2-7/8-inches or greater instead of the previous 2-3/4-inch (measured from the elbow joint to the tip of the immovable part of the claw). [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Coronavirus infections trend back toward the young in Florida

COVID-19 has increasingly infected younger people over the past 10 days in Florida, reversing a trend of the coronavirus spreading to older people that dominated in September. People younger than 40 have made up at least half of newly reported viral infections between Oct. 5 and Tuesday, the state health department's daily data shows. Half of new infections reported since Saturday were in people 38 or younger. The last time the median age of new cases was that low was Sept. 20. [Source: Palm Beach Post]

Nearly 1.8 million Floridians have voted already

As of Tuesday, Florida voters had cast 1,782,663 mail-in ballots, with 905,065 by Democrats and 520,712 by Republicans. Another 336,768 ballots had been cast by unaffiliated voters, while third-party voters had cast 20,118. Meanwhile, 3,848,071 mail-in ballots were provided to voters but had not been returned. Mail-in voting has drawn heavy attention this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida legislators say an energy efficiency loan program needs reform

Several Florida legislators say they want changes to a state-approved program meant to help homeowners finance energy efficient upgrades. Their assessment follows Tampa Bay Times investigation that found the program often traps homeowners in debt they weren’t expecting and threatens their ability to hold on to their homes. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Florida to begin providing mobile driver licenses next year
Florida residents will have a mobile option for their drivers’ licenses beginning in 2021. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLDHSMV) will offer licenses that will be available through an app on smartphones and tablets. The licenses will be as valid and acceptable as traditional licenses when it comes to verifying identity, age, and driving privileges.

› Ringling museum furloughs 31 staff members
Though attendance is better than expected, a two-month shutdown because of the coronavirus and an anticipated slowdown in visitation over the next year has led The Ringling to furlough 31 employees for the next few months. “We’re doing better than we thought we would be doing in terms of visitation since we reopened,” said Executive Director Steven High. But the museum lost about $2.5 million during the two months it shut down beginning in mid-March at the end of the usually strong tourist season. The museum reopened with limited capacity on May 27.

› Port Manatee’s container trade increases 54.6% in fiscal 2020
Port Manatee’s containerized cargo trade increased nearly 55% in the just-ended fiscal year. In the year ended Sept. 30, an all-time-high of 88,466 20-foot-equivalent container units crossed Port Manatee docks, up 54.6% from the preceding 12-month period, when the port saw moves of 57,239 TEUs, according to a press release. That figure was up 49.2% over fiscal 2018, when 38,361 TEUs moved through the port.

› SeaWorld security guards vote against forming a union
Security guards at SeaWorld Orlando overwhelmingly rejected forming the theme park’s first union Tuesday. Employees voted 23-10 against unionizing as the National Labor Relations Board counted the mailed-in ballots during a virtual meeting. The security guards would have been represented in collective bargaining by the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, which also represents Disney World, security guards.

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Rare, two-headed snake found in Palm Harbor home
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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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