Tuesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Fears mount that many insurers might not be financially prepared for hurricane season, despite reforms
While most Floridians kick off summer by enjoying a long Memorial Day weekend, executives of financially shaky insurance companies will be scrambling to make sure their customers remain protected into the upcoming hurricane season. Depending on how many fall short, tens of thousands of policyholders could be left without coverage after hurricane season begins on June 1. Reforms enacted during the just-completed special session, including litigation reforms that will reduce payouts to plaintiffs attorneys and creation of a $2 billion state-funded reinsurance program, were not enough to overcome reinsurers’ reluctance to finance risks in Florida for the upcoming hurricane season, industry sources say. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Insurance News Net.
Florida Legislature does nothing to battle soaring rents
Rent in Florida is up an historic 38% year-over-year, according to Rent.com. In Orlando, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is up to $2,026, a 23% increase. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 54.1% of Florida renters are considered cost-burdened, the most of any state. The increases are being driven by surging demand from new residents moving from out of state, as well as factors such as the rise in property insurance rates the Legislature met about in their second special session of the year. But lawmakers adjourned Wednesday acknowledging that lower premiums were at least a year away and might not happen at all. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Central Florida theme parks are short-staffed. What does that mean for summer season?
From the outside, summer at Orlando’s theme parks will probably look like business as usual: sunburnt tourists, intimidating lines and families making lifelong memories. But behind the scenes, theme park workers will likely be straining to maintain the high standards Orlando’s attractions are known for. Park staffing has largely recovered from early in the pandemic, when companies furloughed and laid off tens of thousands of employees, but it continues to trail pre-COVID totals even as workers have been recalled and new employees hired, according to industry experts and data. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
States back Florida in ‘sanctuary cities' fight
Republican attorneys general from 17 states backed Florida this week in a legal battle about a 2019 law that banned so-called sanctuary cities in Florida. The attorneys general filed a 41-page brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Florida’s attempt to overturn a district judge’s ruling last year that blocked key parts of the law. U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom pointed to Republican lawmakers having “discriminatory motives” in passing the fiercely debated measure (SB 168). [Source: News Service of Florida]
South Florida starts summer tourism season. Will the usual discounts arrive?
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer travel, which traditionally in South Florida means low season, reduced hotel rates and resident discounts on lodging, meals and various recreational activities. With inflation, increased hospitality labor costs and Miami being one of the most-visited destinations in the United States, tourism businesses have little incentive to lower their prices this summer as they’ve typically done prior to the pandemic.[Source: Miami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Growing up in the Columbia Restaurant and serving a Tampa mob boss
Richard Gonzmart is a legendary restaurateur from a family of legendary restaurateurs. He is the fourth-generation co-owner of the iconic Columbia Restaurant along with his brother, Casey Gonzmart Sr. The renowned Ybor City establishment was founded in 1905 by their grandfather, Casimiro Hernandez Sr., and is the oldest restaurant in Florida.
› Sea turtle nesting season off to a strong start on Florida’s Atlantic beaches
Leatherbacks, loggerheads and green sea turtles have returned to Florida’s Atlantic coast for their annual egg-laying ritual, and these ancient reptiles seem off to a strong start. As sea turtle nesting season gets into full swing, researchers are busy counting nests and tagging turtles for further study. In Brevard County, including Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group has counted 68 leatherback nests, 2,776 loggerhead nests and two green turtle nests (though their season has just begun).
› In South Florida, and the nation, few top cops are women. There’s a push to change that
For many highly qualified women, breaking the brass ceiling — the military and law enforcement equivalent of the glass ceiling — remains an elusive goal. Women have made major strides in law enforcement over the past few decades, winning promotions to commanders, majors and deputy chiefs, even chiefs. Another woman, for instance, actually won the Tampa job.
› Jacksonville rated the nation's best big city for renters
Despite wildly rising rents, a new study rates Jacksonville as the top metro area in the nation for renters. RentCafe, a rental listing and research service, cites Jacksonville's low cost of living, great weather and abundance of entertainment options. "Jacksonville is a popular hotspot for renters who are looking for that perfect combination of lively social scenes and serene outdoor areas," the report said.
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