Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida on pace for smallest orange crop in over 75 years
The Sunshine State is on pace to produce 44.5 million 90-pound boxes of oranges during the current season, according to a forecast released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If the current forecast holds true through the rest of the citrus growing season, it will be the smallest orange crop since the 1944-1945 season when the state produced 42.3 million boxes of oranges. The citrus growing season in Florida lasts from fall into late spring. With that small a crop, California will surpass Florida in orange production for the first time in recent years. [Source: AP]
Florida Senate passes health care liability shield
The Florida Senate on Wednesday approved a proposal that would extend COVID-19 legal protections for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 22-13 along nearly straight party lines to pass the measure (Senate Bill 7014), sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills. The protections were approved during last year’s legislative session but are set to expire March 29 unless they are extended. They address lawsuits involving issues such as transmission of COVID-19 and treatment of people with COVID-19. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Relief or ‘poor tax’? Companies offer an alternative to apartment security deposits for Florida renters
As rents skyrocket, startup companies are touting what they consider to be a helpful solution to hefty security deposits pricing Floridians out of apartments. Instead of forking over an upfront security deposit, tenants can agree to pay a monthly fee — typically about $25. But there’s a catch: The money isn’t refundable at the end of the lease like a traditional security deposit, and renters are still on the hook for damage beyond ordinary wear and tear. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Mental health in Florida: System ‘a sad state’ with devastating consequences, report says
Nearly one in five Florida adults pre-pandemic (17.5%) had a mental illness, and more than 7% of Florida’s adults had a substance use disorder, according to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alison Yager, director of policy advocacy for the Florida Health Justice Project, wrote a June 2020 report about the state of Florida’s mental health care. She pointed to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, known as SAMHSA, which show more than half a million adults in Florida experience serious mental illness. [Source: Gainesville Sun]
Florida has a unique potion for executing prisoners. It wants to keep the details secret
Florida’s prison officials are asking legislators to enact more layers of secrecy around the state’s method of executing Death Row inmates, floating a bill that would make confidential any records that “could reasonably lead to the identification of any person or entity participating in an execution.” The move is part of a regular ritual in the Florida Legislature: carving out new exemptions to the state’s tradition of open records. [Source: Miamii Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Visit Florida extension gets House support
A proposal to extend the life of Visit Florida got support Tuesday in the House, where the state’s tourist-marketing agency has faced skepticism in past years. The House Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy Subcommittee voted 17-0 to advance a proposal (HB 489) by Rep. Linda Chaney, R-St. Pete Beach, that would authorize Visit Florida to continue operating until Oct. 1, 2028. Under current law, the agency would have to stop operating Oct. 1, 2023, if the “sunset” date is not extended.
› Giant sky-high train bridge through downtown will ruin Fort Lauderdale, mayor says
Imagine a hulking high-rise bridge — one even taller than the 17th Street Causeway and built for commuter rail — running through downtown Fort Lauderdale. Critics, developers included, hate the idea. They say a giant bridge would cast a dark shadow over a bustling city center in the middle of a renaissance. An underground tunnel is the best way to get Brightline’s high-speed passenger trains across the New River while preserving a growing downtown, they argue.
› Florida DOT secretary Kevin Thibault picked to run Orlando airport
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ five appointees to Orlando’s aviation authority voted Wednesday to hire the governor’s transportation secretary, Kevin Thibault, to run Orlando International Airport. “I stayed up late last night thinking and praying on this, ‘’ said Carson Good, chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority and a governor’s appointee. “I did not get any direction on who to pick, by the way.”
› Royal Caribbean lease could net Miami-Dade County half a billion dollars
The county commission was to vote this week on an amendment to the Royal Caribbean Cruises lease that is expected to add $53 million to PortMiami revenue and grant $4.9 million in covid recovery relief to Miami Cruise Terminal A LLC, a Royal Caribbean affiliate. A commission committee OK’d the change last week. The project would add a third Royal Caribbean office building on the port and could net the county over time a half-billion dollars.
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