March 2, 2021

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 2/22/2021

Florida tries to speed up tourism industry’s return to normalcy

After COVID-19 cut Florida visitor numbers last year by about a third, tourism-marketing leaders have set a goal of beating a projection that the vital leisure and hospitality industries won’t return to normal until 2024. Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young called the effort “a big one” for an agency that has “faced many challenges.” “Our team is driven to exceed that projection, to beat that projection, because with tourism making up roughly half of all of our sales-tax revenues for the state of Florida, as goes our tourism industry, so goes the recovery of our state economy,” Young said. [Source: WJXT]

Is rooftop solar under threat in Florida?

Environmentalists and solar advocates worry that Florida utilities are pushing regulators to roll back or get rid of the state’s current rooftop solar policy. The utilities say the rules as they stand force regular customers to subsidize those who have rooftop solar. Speaking on behalf of some of the state’s biggest investor-owned utilities, Terry Deason says 39-million dollars in subsidies have already been paid out to rooftop solar customers since the current rule was adopted in 2008, and another 700-million is projected by 2025. [Source: WMFE]

When will cruises resume from the US? Here’s what we know

It’s been a long year for cruise fans. Even as professional baseball, outdoor music venues, theme parks and resorts have been allowed to resume operations with safeguards in place, the cruise industry continues to cancel upcoming voyages every couple of months, pushing potential restart dates into who knows when. Cruise line officials say they have no way of knowing when the U.S. government will clear them to resume operations to popular destinations like the Bahamas, Jamaica and coastal Mexico. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Florida's proposed voting limits follow national trend

With Gov. Ron DeSantis now pushing for a sweeping overhaul of state election laws, Florida is among almost three dozen states in which Republicans are looking to roll back voting access in the wake of last November’s election. Across the U.S., a new study shows that 165 bills restricting voter access have been filed in 33 states, including Florida, more than four times the number filed just last year. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Florida strawberries are in season, and new research may help you avoid the rotten feeling of mushy fruit

It’s that time of year when fresh Florida strawberries are in season and plentiful on store shelves. But it’s a rotten feeling to get them home, only to have them turn to mush in a day or two. Don’t feel bad — it’s probably not your fault. And new research shows you may be able to keep your strawberries plump for longer. Jeff Brecht, a horticultural sciences professor at Florida, says strawberries should be kept around 34 degrees — just above freezing. He warns that breaking the so-called cold chain could ruin the batch. [Source: South Floriida Sun-Sentinel]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Miami mayor trying to lure California companies, workers
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is making a pitch for California companies to relocate to South Florida. It’s more than just better year ‘round weather, there is a serious dollar and cents consideration. On billboards, Suarez is promoting the Magic City and South Florida as the nation’s newest technology hub, a sun-bathed haven for start-ups, investment firms, and hedge funds. Apparently, some companies and their workers are expressing interest and it’s more than just year ’round warm weather.

› Publix will give employees $125 gift card if they get the COVID-19 vaccine
Publix says it will give employees a $125 store gift card if they get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — although most of the Lakeland chain’s Florida employees are not yet eligible to receive the shots. Florida is only allowing those 65 and older to get the vaccine at retail pharmacies.

› Disney World unveils first of its 50th anniversary plans
Walt Disney World has announced the first details for its 50th-anniversary celebration, which will last 18 months and include lighting enhancements to all four of its theme parks’ icons, including Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. The event — dubbed “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” — will begin Oct. 1, the resort announced Friday morning. Disney World opened to the public Oct. 1, 1971.

› How Cuba’s oldest beer was reborn at Wynwood’s newest brewery
Manny Portuondo spent 23 years looking for a partner to bring Cuba’s oldest beer back into production. His vision: To create a modern-day version of Cerveceria La Tropical, the brewery founded in 1888 in western Havana on land his ancestors sold to the original owners. More than half of the island’s beer was once brewed there, tucked within a 100-acre wood.

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