Friday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida jobless assistance claims fall. But are generous benefits causing a worker shortage?
If you noticed slower service the last time you went out to dinner, you’re not imagining things: Employers statewide and beyond say they cannot find enough workers. Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported new applications for unemployment assistance in Florida fell from 28,017 to 18,355. Continuing claims, or those who have filed for unemployment for at least two consecutive weeks declined from 129,628 to 116,304. And for the U.S., new claims fell to their lowest level since the pandemic began, from 590,000 to 498,000. [Source: Miami Herald]
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Florida tax revenues top forecast amounts for 8th consecutive month
Florida had an eighth consecutive month of tax revenues topping forecast amounts, as federal stimulus money continued pumping into the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a report released Wednesday, the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research reported March general-revenue collections came in $299.6 million above an estimate included in a December forecast. That came even though tourism and hospitality-related industries continued to lag in the recovery. The March number was bolstered by sales tax revenue, which accounted for a $201.1 million gain over the December forecast. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Lawsuits swamp Florida's new elections law signed by Gov. DeSantis
A deluge of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Florida's contentious new elections law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during an event televised exclusively by FOX News Thursday, has begun. Within minutes of the law being signed, the League of Women Voters of Florida announced it was joining a lawsuit that included the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and several individual Florida voters as plaintiffs. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Common Cause quickly followed, saying they were jointly filing a federal lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, saying the new law creates obstacles to voter access. [Source: Tallahassee Democrat]
Brightline chief asks Congress to ease barriers to U.S. high-speed rail expansion
New Brightline Holdings CEO Mike Reininger asked Congress Thursday to ease barriers to expanding high-speed rail in the U.S., as the privately owned train company seeks to grow its national footprint beyond South Florida. In remarks prepared for the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, Reininger, named CEO in March, said Congress could spur investment in rail through measures including expanding access to capital and speeding the regulatory approval process for new projects. [Source: Miiami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Casinos aren’t coming to Orlando, Seminole Tribe insists. But sports betting could be everywhere.
Gambling casinos won’t expand to Central Florida as part of a new $2.5 billion pact between the state and the Seminole Tribe, its leaders insist. But at the same time, gambling could soon be taking place everywhere in Florida, on anyone’s smartphone. “You could be sitting on your toilet anywhere in the state, and so long as the file server is [on tribal lands], you’re betting ‘on tribal lands,’” said John Sowinski, who heads the anti-gambling organization No Casinos, of the agreement’s sports betting provisions. “It’s ridiculous.”
› Bank on environmental mission raises nearly $30 million as it prepares to open first branch
Banking is about to get a whole more sustainable in St. Pete. Climate First Bank, which promises to be carbon neutral, is scheduled to open its first branch in downtown St. Petersburg June 1. The branch will be at 5301 Central Avenue. According to the bank, Climate First was founded “with a vision to reimagine the community bank as a force for positive change.”
› Miami-Dade County creating cryptocurrency task force
The Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution this week to create a cryptocurrency task force. The 13-member task force will look at the feasibility of allowing the county to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment for taxes, fees and services. Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, who sponsored the resolution to create the task force, said the acceptance of cryptocurrency by Miami-Dade has the potential to attract highly skilled talent and high-paying jobs to the county.
› Tech company ID.me opening Tampa office, aims to bring 500 jobs
ID.me, a digital authentication company that secures personal log-in information for services ranging from ecommerce to unemployment, is opening a Tampa office and planning to hire 500 local workers this year. The company has already started posting tech support, human resources and other administrative job openings in Tampa. The company did not disclose the office’s location, with a spokesperson citing security as the reason.
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