October 19, 2021

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 6/17/2021

Florida’s new voting law leaves elections supervisors confused, frustrated

Florida’s new elections reform law is causing headaches and confusion for the state’s 67 county elections supervisors — and several vented their frustrations to Secretary of State Laurel Lee and other state officials during a conference Wednesday. “We’re all still struggling with how vague some of the new things put into law are,” Okaloosa County election supervisor Paul Lux told the Tampa Bay Times following a sometimes-heated discussion on the controversial new law during the Florida Supervisors of Elections’ summer conference. “We need answers.” More from the  Tampa Bay Timesand the Miami Herald.

DeSantis pushes through pardon for COVID-19 violators

With Gov. Ron DeSantis saying lockdown restrictions and mask mandates meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 did more harm than good, the state clemency board on Wednesday pardoned all Floridians who were arrested or fined for violating local-government requirements about wearing masks or social distancing. “This action is necessary so that we can recover, have a good transition to normal operations, and also just a recognition that a lot of this stuff was way, way overboard,” DeSantis said. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Pandemic spikes U.S. vacation home sales in 2020, Florida top destination

In 2020, the share of vacation home sales to total existing-home sales increased to 5.5% (5% in 2019). Vacation home sales rose by 16.4%, outpacing the overall growth in existing-home sales of 5.6%. From January to April 2021, the share of vacation home sales to total existing-home sales rose to 6.7%. Vacation home sales jumped 57.2% year-over-year compared to the 20% year-over-year growth in total existing-home sales. [Source: Word Property Journal ]

Commentary: Predatory lenders put Florida small businesses at risk

Predatory lenders didn’t have a stay-at-home order during the pandemic. They remained eager to seize what little collateral we still had and to cash in on our pain. ule issued last December by a national banking regulator, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), protects predatory small business lenders that exploit financial victims with outrageous loans that greatly exceed state interest rate laws like Florida’s. But the U.S. Senate, including Sen. Marco Rubio, two other Republicans and all Senate Democrats, recently voted to overturn the rule. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

New Florida elections law challenged by two more groups

Two more groups sued Florida over its new restrictive elections laws Monday, adding to a growing chorus of voter rights advocates who say the rules could keep some people from casting ballots. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee by the Fair Elections Center and the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Head Count and the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters. The suit argues that the new law foments distrust against civic organizations that work to register voters by suggesting that residents use the government’s website instead. [Source: AP]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Disney, Busch Gardens back to full capacity, no masks required
Over the past few weeks, Florida’s theme parks, from Disney to Universal and Busch Gardens, have quietly dropped their limits on crowd capacity. Face masks and social distancing aren’t required if you are vaccinated, though that is on the honor system. Theme parks were among the most strict businesses when it came to COVID-19 safety and reopening.

› JEA names Huntsville Power executive its next CFO
JEA named Theodore B. Phillips as its next chief financial officer, effective August 2021. Phillips, 54, will report to CEO Jay Stowe. He is responsible for financial services and planning, treasury services, risk management, supply chain, corporate security, procurement, emergency preparedness, business continuity, facilities and fleet and technical services. He will be paid $350,000 annually.

› Hundreds of positions open in Central Florida amid health care worker shortage
Job seekers in the health care industry flooded into the Amway Center on Tuesday as AdventHealth kicked off a two-day career expo. The event comes as the nation is facing a healthcare worker shortage and leaders with AdventHealth said they’re seeking to hire hundreds of people for nursing, clinical and support roles. “There’s a great need in Central Florida, as well as the nation, but we’re also expanding quite a bit from Lake Nona to Clermont and everywhere in between,” Executive Director of Human Resources Harim Pena said.

› St. Pete-Clearwater airport getting new low-cost Canadian carrier, Swoop
Another low-cost air carrier is setting up shop at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. And this one will take you north of the border. Canadian airline Swoop will begin service to and from Pinellas County in November, the carrier announced Wednesday. The airport will have three weekly Swoop flights to Toronto Pearson Airport starting Nov. 5. Swoop will offer two flights per week to John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Ontario starting Nov. 9.

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Spook Hill: Central Florida’s legendary road
Spook Hill: Central Florida’s legendary road

In Lake Wales, the gravity hill is an optical illusion where cars appear to roll up the spooky hill. The attraction is adjacent to Spook Hill Elementary School, which adopted Casper The Friendly Ghost as their school mascot. Spook Hill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.

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