Monday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida medical marijuana business remains on fire
In a bevy of metrics, Florida’s medical marijuana industry continues to grow unabated. The latest news: Florida now sells more cannabis products than any other state except California and Colorado, according to a new report from marijuana industry research firm Leafly and Whitney Economics. And that’s only for medical patients. “With a state population of nearly 22 million, Florida could reasonably double its current total of cannabis jobs if it chose to legalize for all adults,” the report states. As it is, adds the report, “there are now more cannabis workers than plumbers” in Florida. [Source: Business Observer]
Florida passes 2 million coronavirus infections, but cases, deaths decreasing
Florida added 5,105 positive COVID-19 cases to bring the total to 2,004,362. With 62 more fatalities, the number of resident deaths now totals 32,713. With a population of about 21.5 million, about one in 11 people in the state have now been infected. That number is also about one in 11 nationally and one in 64 worldwide. In the past seven days, the state reported a daily average of 70 resident deaths, while the seven days before that averaged 86 resident deaths per day. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Florida took an aggressive approach to unemployment fraud. Was it worth it?
During the height of the state’s unemployment crisis last year, Florida’s jobless agency enforced anti-fraud efforts that added months of delays and frustrations for those waiting for benefits. Pregnant women, Floridians sick with COVID-19 and those caring for children at home were denied benefits because they weren’t “able and available” for work under state law. Jobless Floridians with simple discrepancies on applications saw their claims locked, delaying payments by weeks or months. Former call center workers hired to help claimants say that stopping fraud was prioritized over providing benefits. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
111 hate crimes occurred in Florida in 2019, the FBI reports
Florida, with a monitored population of 20,901,840, reported that 111 hate crimes occurred within its borders in 2019, the latest year for which data was available, according to newly released FBI data. A total of 638 public safety agencies in Florida reported the data. The collection of the data is the result of the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which Congress passed in April of 1990. The crimes reported to the FBI were motivated by either race, ethnicity or ancestry; gender identity; religious affiliation; disability or sexual orientation. In addition to individuals, victims can also be business and financial institutions, public agencies and religious groups, according to the FBI. [Source: The Center Square]
Florida bans nonnative species despite industry outcry
Florida is infested with more exotic and invasive species than any other state and perhaps, some say, than anywhere else in the world. Though a few nonnatives have been running amok for centuries — today’s feral hogs descended from pigs that arrived with explorer Hernando de Soto in 1539 — most showed up in recent decades. Green iguanas, which now pop up in toilets and fall out of trees during cold snaps. Nile monitors, which terrorize tiny burrowing owls. Argentine tegu lizards, which gobble up native turtle eggs. And the poster child of invaders: the Burmese python, which first appeared in the Everglades in 1979. [Source: Washington Post]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Virtual Broward job fair offered for unemployed hospitality and retail workers
Unemployed hotel and retail workers will get a chance to return to their industries as CareerSource Broward, the job search and placement assistance agency, sponsors a virtual job fair on Tuesday, March 23. A number of local hotels and retailers with job openings will participate. They include the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale Marriot Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, Burlington Coat Factory, W Fort Lauderdale and Encompass Onsite.
› State Farm sues a Sarasota auto glass company for $1.4M
Insurance giant State Farm is suing a Sarasota auto glass company over what it calls fraudulent windshield replacement claims. It asked for $1.4 million in damages. In a federal lawsuit filed last month in Florida’s middle district, the insurer accused At Home Auto Glass of myriad violations, including not giving customers written estimates and invoices, dishonest subcontracting work, getting its business license under false pretenses and inflating the amount it charged State Farm for the repairs.
› Orlando’s bicycle and running gear shops stay in shape during pandemic thanks to demand spike
Central Florida shops selling gear for walkers, runners and bicyclists were buoyed during a tumultuous 2020 by demand from shoppers who wanted to get outside during the pandemic. Some of those small businesses are now wondering what the future holds as more people get vaccinated and begin to return to normal life. Bicycle shops like Orange Cycle in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood and Wheel Works in Winter Garden saw spikes in demand last year, followed by supply issues that limited their inventory.
› Naples plumbing company vigorously tackles industry labor shortage
Finding employees is a common challenge for many businesses, especially companies in the trades. Naples-based Pro-Tec Plumbing decided to take a proactive approach to the problem, in launching its Technician Apprenticeship Program. “The plumbing labor pool is pretty shallow,” says Brian Finger, the general manager of Pro-Tec Plumbing. “There just aren’t a lot of plumbers out there. So we came to the conclusion that one of the best ways to do this is to grow our own workforce, and in order to do that, we really needed to have an exhaustive, fully comprehensive program.”
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