Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida's annual rite of groups, individuals asking DeSantis to veto bills now upon us
Veto season, or at least the annual rite of asking Gov. Ron DeSantis to reject bills, has arrived after the 2021 legislative session. Groups and individuals are sending emails to the governor’s office urging DeSantis to veto or sign bills, regardless of whether the measures were overwhelmingly backed by the Legislature or eked through. Last year, DeSantis vetoed five bills and slashed $1 billion from the budget as he braced against economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Is Florida 'leading the way' on pandemic recovery? Not so much, says data
Data on the state's health and economy released this week suggests the Sunshine State's recovery is lagging behind the pack. A recent analysis compiled by financial website WalletHub and economists from Yale, Howard, Drexel, Towson and SUNY-Buffalo, ranks Florida a mere 41st out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia in terms of it's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. A key culprit: Florida's low vaccination rates. [Source: Florida Today]
Orlando’s tourist count tumbled by half during 2020 pandemic, report finds
The coronavirus pandemic took a massive swipe at Orlando’s economy as the number of visitors last year plummeted by more than half to 35.3 million, a vast reversal from the community’s once record-breaking years of tourism, according to Visit Orlando. The year 2020 brought “unimaginable lows” with tourism numbers falling 53% compared with 2019′s roughly 76 million visitors coming to Orlando, Visit Orlando’s CEO Cassandra Matej said. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Plans set for gambling special session
House and Senate leaders Wednesday set the stage for a special legislative session to consider a gambling deal that Gov. Ron DeSantis hammered out with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, issued a formal joint proclamation to bring lawmakers back to Tallahassee during the week of May 17. The 30-year gambling “compact,” announced April 23, includes allowing sports betting in the state. [Source: News Service of Florida]
As Office Depot owner plans to split up the company, does it now want to sell off part of it?
ODP Corp., the Boca Raton-based operator of Office Depot, intends to split the company into a pair of independent, publicly traded firms, opening the way for a potential sale of its retail operation. The move, announced Wednesday, comes after rival Staples spent the early part of this year trying to take over the company for $2.1 billion, a bid that was rejected by ODP in January. But by creating two separate companies, ODP is now positioned to offload its retail operation, which has been shrinking for years. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Sarasota named one of '10 best U.S. beach towns to live in' by Travel + Leisure magazine
Citing our most famous museum and best-known stretch of sand, Sarasota was recently named one of the "10 best U.S. beach towns to live in" by Travel + Leisure magazine. Sarasota placed sixth, right behind Santa Monica, California, and right ahead of Kailua, Hawaii. Our neighbor to the south, Naples, placed first with fellow Floridians Boca Raton (No. 3) and Vero Beach (No. 10) also appearing on the list dominated by cities in the Sunshine State, California and Hawaii.
› The show will go on at New Tampa Performing Arts Center
The show must go on, a Hillsborough Commission majority decided Wednesday. In a 5-2 vote, the commission awarded a $7.3 million construction contract for a 20,000-square-foot performing arts center in New Tampa, a project first proposed in 2004. “Promises made, promises kept,” said Commissioner Gwen Myers. “I hope no other community will go through 17 years of waiting on a decision from our county ... on a project in their community.”
› Palm Beach County OKs 70-acre transfer of prime land to Scripps for $1
Conceding that nothing could be done to alter the path set forth by their predecessors, Palm Beach County commissioners approved a land transfer that gives Scripps Research Institute prime land in Palm Beach Gardens for $1. "While I don't think this board would have approved something similar today, it is what it is," Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said, noting that she wasn't an "enthusiastic cheerleader" on this decision.
› The Miami restaurant that made the Design District cool is closing — for now
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is closing. Wait! Don’t panic. It’s not forever. The Design District landmark is closing for a couple of months for a big renovation. The restaurant plans to add more space for indoor and outdoor seating and will integrate the patio area more cohesively as part of the whole restaurant.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
In case you missed it: