May 8, 2021

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 4/29/2021

Business travel slow down during pandemic continues to affect Florida’s economy

Though commercial flying in Florida has picked up in recent months, the same can’t be said for business travel. In fact, business travel has been slow to recover in the pandemic and it has affected Florida’s economy. “We have not seen a substantial, sustained return of the road warrior,” said Scott Berman, principal and industry leader, Hospitality & Leisure Group PwC. Travel associations report about $300 billion out of $800 billion spent on travel comes from business travelers. [Source: CBS Miami]

Florida lawmakers to vote Friday on budget

Florida lawmakers are scheduled to vote Friday afternoon on a record $101.5 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year and end the regular legislative session on time. According to the News Service of Florida, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, announced that the budget went to lawmakers at 12:06 p.m. Tuesday, starting a legally required 72-hour “cooling off” period before the spending plan can be approved. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Ante up: Florida’s gambling deal opens the door for online poker and blackjack

Florida’s sweeping gambling deal wouldn’t just bring sports betting to the Sunshine State: It also opens the door for online poker, blackjack and other games. A 30-year deal inked by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida would add Florida to more than two dozen states that have authorized sports betting. But Floridians could get to do even more gambling under another item near the end of the 75-page agreement. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]

Democratic chaos: Florida Senate Leader Gary Farmer resigns amid vote of no confidence

Sen. Gary Farmer resigned as leader of Florida Senate Democrats Wednesday with his colleagues voting no confidence in him, plunging his caucus into chaos with just a few days left in the legislative session. The political drama has created confusion as to who will lead the party and pitted Farmer against Sen. Lauren Book, another Broward County Democrat who is in line to become leader in November 2022. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Auto-related fraud is rampant in Florida. Here’s how to avoid getting taken.

Paying inflated prices for simple auto repair jobs. Using cheap parts for repairs. Selling useless extended warranties. Charging higher-than-necessary interest rates for loans. These are a few of the ways auto-related scams are victimizing consumers, who face a much higher likelihood of being defrauded in Florida than most other states, according to a new report by Tampa-based insurance price comparison website Clearsurance. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Florida’s gun preemption law just got more powerful
A new bill that’s poised to become law is the legislative equivalent of a Rorschach test. Fans of Florida’s sweeping gun preemption law — which bars municipalities from regulating firearms and ammunition in any way — say the bill, Senate Bill 1844, offers little more than a technical correction. It’s a “glitch bill,” they say. Those who detest Florida’s gun preemption law say the new bill is a dramatic expansion of an already Draconian state policy.

› Florida’s last harness racing track: Pompano Park might be in its stretch run
On any given Sunday, you’re likely to find Gene Pytko at the track. He has come for the action, but his sport of choice is not Thoroughbred racing. Pytko is one of a dwindling — but devoted — group of hardcore fans who regularly flock to the grandstand at Isle Casino Pompano Park for the harness races. He sits in the stands at an outdoor table, perusing the racing program and circling entries, deeply immersed in the information-gathering process that precedes making his bets. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, you’re not alone. The track at Pompano Park is the lone facility in Florida that features harness racing.

› Universal unveils details of affordable housing planned for tourist district
Universal Orlando unveiled this week the most detailed vision yet of the affordable housing project that it promised in December 2019 when it was seeking local tax money from Orange County to build a road to “Epic Universe,” a new theme park. Developers hope to build a neighborhood of 1,000 apartments in architecturally diverse buildings around parks and paths on 20 acres of vacant land pledged by Universal. The project would be next door to the Orange County Convention Center campus.

› Miami Beach Convention Center lineup grows
The Miami Beach Convention Center is arising from pandemic shutdowns with 20 events and counting lined up for the rest of 2021, including the annual meeting of The Aesthetic Society (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), which kicks off Friday. Last summer the center’s nearly 500,000 square feet of exhibit space was a state-sponsored covid testing center. Now, said General Manager Freddie Peterson, it’s hosting at least one event monthly while keeping health and safety in mind.

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Domino Park, symbol of Little Havana, reopens after COVID closure
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The sound of laughter and clacking dominoes returned to Little Havana's popular Domino Park on May 3, 2021, as it reopened after being closed for more than a year due to COVID-19.

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