December 4, 2020

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 10/19/2020

Here we go, Florida: Voters start casting ballots in person on Monday

The 2020 general election season hits a new phase Monday as Floridians in most counties start casting ballots in person. While much ado has been made about vote-by-mail ballots this year, some elections officials say they are also bracing for high interest in early in-person voting, anticipating that more Floridians may opt for this option if they want to avoid potential crowds on Nov. 3 or are leery of voting by mail. Early voting has long been a staple of Florida’s elections. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

See also:
» Complete guide to fast and safe early voting for president in Florida

Florida officials investigate ‘malicious activity’ in state business regulation system

Florida law enforcement officials on Friday said they are investigating “malicious activity” that affected the state’s top regulatory agency, causing days of computer system outages and disruptions to online services. Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said the activity was detected in the agency’s system on Oct. 7, leading to online service outages through Monday. [Source: Miami Herald]

As some Disney workers lose their jobs, their free college education vanishes, too

Known as Disney Aspire, it was one of the most generous employer education programs in the country. Disney vowed to invest $150 million over five years to help lift workers out of poverty by fully funding their education. The program got started as the company reportedly saved at least $1.6 billion in the first year from the GOP corporate tax cuts. What once felt like winning the lottery is now heartbreak. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Florida unemployment checks may flow for 19 weeks in 2021

Out-of-work Floridians may be able to collect unemployment checks for as many as 19 weeks in 2021, state officials said during a news conference Friday to discuss the unemployment rate hitting 7.6% in September. Adrienne Johnston, chief of the Department of Economic Opportunity’s bureau of labor statistics, said payments would be extended from 12 to 19 weeks starting Jan. 1 based on the three-month average of July, August and September’s unemployment rates, which is 8.7%. It’s unclear how many people will qualify for the extension, though. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

See also:
» ‘Potential disaster’ looms for low-income Floridians as unemployment lingers

FPL proposes pandemic aid for small businesses

Florida Power & Light has asked state regulators to approve a proposal that would offer bill credits to certain small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal, filed Thursday at the state Public Service Commission, would provide 10% credits on energy charges and could take effect in December. It would be available to new small businesses, small businesses that resume operations after being inactive for six months and small businesses located in what are known as “Opportunity Zones” under federal law. [Source: Florida Politics]


› Refrigerators, other appliances in short supply in Central Florida, thanks to COVID-19
During the initial shock of the pandemic, Central Floridians frantically searched for meat, bread, toilet paper and hand sanitizer -- often to find empty shelves. Now, more than seven months later, there’s a new shortage: appliances. “We’ve sold more freezers in the past few months than probably in the last five years. It’s crazy,” said Stuart Kimball, president of Southeast Steel Appliance Warehouse, a family-owned business in Orlando.

› SpaceX successfully launches more Starlink satellites from Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX on Sunday morning launched another batch of Starlink satellites, as part of its long-term mission to deliver fast, affordable internet to the entire planet. The launch took off from Kennedy Space Center’s 39A launchpad at 8:25 a.m. A Falcon 9 rocket carried about 60 of the small Starlink satellites.

› Miami strip club wins challenge against county’s COVID-19 curfew
A small victory in Miami on Friday could shift the power in favor of businesses that are fighting against local COVID-19 restrictions in South Florida. Tootsie’s strip club in Miami Gardens won in a civil lawsuit against Miami-Dade County and will be able to stay open past the county’s coronavirus curfew, which the judge called “illegal.”

› High-rise hotel proposals would ‘open the floodgates’ on Siesta Key, opponents say
The days of Siesta Key’s reputation as a quaint yet quirky island community might soon be over. Three developers have lined up to pore over paperwork with Sarasota County planners, pitching what might become, if approved by elected officials, a beach hotel renaissance on Siesta that opponents fear would fundamentally change the character life along the Gulf of Mexico.

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