Thursday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida restaurants go hungry in federal, state COVID suits
Florida restaurants have had little success in recent lawsuits against Lloyd’s of London over insurance coverage for shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal, in the first COVID-coverage ruling by a Florida state appeals court, upheld a trial court’s order that affirmed Lloyd’s denial of a claim from Commodore Inc. and its GreenStreet Cafe in Miami. The local court and the appellate court found that the policy required “direct physical loss of or damage to property” and some tangible alteration to the insured’s property. More from the Insurance Journal.
Initiative supporters say signature law unconstitutional
Groups seeking to place proposed constitutional amendments on the 2024 ballot are urging a federal judge to reject the state's arguments defending a law that prevents paying petition gatherers based on the number of signatures they collect. The law, passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019, has dramatically increased the costs of petition initiatives, which require submission of nearly 900,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot. More from the News Service of Florida.
Clearwater explores selling its natural gas system, with 30,000 customers
The City Council next week will discuss whether to explore selling Clearwater Gas System in what would be a significant shift for the natural gas utility that serves 30,000 customers in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties. City Manager Jon Jennings said he began investigating the idea after several council members asked his opinion on the future of the gas company when he took over city administration in November. More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Starbucks’ workers at Miami Springs store are first in South Florida to join union
The Starbucks in Miami Springs has become the first South Florida store, and fourth statewide, in the national chain to have its workers form a union. After a 10-3 vote Tuesday, Starbucks employees at the 52 Curtiss Parkway location made the union organization effort official and joined Starbucks Workers United. The Starbucks union drive in Florida is part of a trend sweeping across the country at the popular coffee retailer. More from the Miami Herald.
Disney theme park revenues double even amid scuffle with DeSantis
Walt Disney Co. executives boasted about another blockbuster quarter Wednesday at its theme parks even as they remained mum about the feud with Gov. Ron DeSantis. During an earnings call, executives did not mention the widespread criticism levied at Disney for its response to Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay bill” in March — which intensified after the bill passed the Legislature and Disney CEO Bob Chapek vowed to fight it. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Community paramedicine: Providing better care and lowering health costs
Doctors and first responders from across the state and the nation know this scenario all too well: A patient is discharged from the hospital, but within a few days, the same person is back in the emergency department, perhaps because they didn’t fill their prescriptions, take their medications, follow discharge instructions, or have any other health care provider to turn to for help. These readmissions to the hospital stress critical resources, are costly to the health care system, create excess work for health care providers, and ultimately lead to worse outcomes for patients. [Sponsored report]
Sarasota County plans to build major sports complex and boathouse at Nathan Benderson Park
The Sarasota County Commission agreed on Tuesday to dedicate $20 million of tourism tax revenue to building a boathouse and indoor sports complex at Nathan Benderson Park. The county is planning to build a major sports complex that would serve as an engine for sports tourism in the Sarasota-Manatee area, according to the project’s feasibility report.
» More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Out of the Box
Robot bartender aboard Wonder of the Seas won’t flirt with your date, but you still have to tip
As if you needed another reason to order drinks on a cruise, soon you’ll be able to buy a cocktail made by a robot bartender aboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas. And you won’t have to worry about it eyeballing your significant other. Makr Shakr, an Italian robotics firm that develops artificial intelligence-driven bartending systems, announced that its “Bionic Bar” has been installed aboard Wonder, where it is busy making up to 250 drinks an hour for the ship’s passengers.
» Read more from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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