August 12, 2022

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 8/2/2022

Inside Florida's citrus groves, where growers are working to solve devastating disease and a climate-related shortage to save America's oranges

Over the past decade, citrus greening has led to a decrease in the volume of Florida-produced oranges by over half — and a 13.8% price spike for orange juice since last year. This means that Americans on the hunt for fresh vitamin C, bottomless mimosas, or simply a cold glass of orange juice will likely be paying more in the upcoming years — but those in the industry believe demand will persist. [Source: Business Insider]

Florida insurance firms, not homeowners, reap benefit of $2 billion taxpayer-financed fund

Nearly five dozen Florida companies have submitted plans to tap into a $2 billion taxpayer-financed plan designed to shore up the struggling property insurance industry that would only save homeowners about 1% to 3% on their annual premiums. That would barely make a dent in the double-digit increases in premiums millions of state homeowners have endured for years — if those companies actually extend those savings to their customers. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

As NASA's first Artemis moon launch approaches, so do crowds: At least 100,000 expected

Sold-out hotels. Excitement that seems to grow by the day. The potential for hundreds of thousands of visitors, support staff, and more. These are just a few of the factors being calculated into preparations for Artemis I, the first launch of NASA's moon-focused Space Launch System rocket slated for Aug. 29. Standing 322 feet tall, it promises to be the biggest, most powerful rocket to launch from the Space Coast in years – bringing with it a level of excitement to match. [Source: Florida Today]

Publix sales rise to $12.9 billion, but earnings fall 37.7%

Sales at Publix grew to $12.9 billion in the quarter ending June 25, but the company’s earnings fell. The Lakeland-based grocer’s sales were up 9.3% in the quarter, compared with $11.8 billion in the same quarter the year before. Net earnings for the three-month period were $628.4 million, down 37.7% from $1 billion in 2021. Without unrealized changes in equity securities in both years, net earnings in the quarter would have been $895.5 million, down 2.7% from $920.3 million the year before. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Florida congresswoman calls for federal probe into FPL

A U.S. congresswoman is asking the Department of Justice to investigate Florida Power & Light over claims that the utility used “dark money” to disguise sources of political funding and sway elections in Florida, as well as other allegations documented in recent news reports. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday that recent press reports in Florida had “exposed apparent corruption, influence peddling and breaches of the public trust by Florida's largest electric utility Florida Power & Light and its officers." [Source: WJXT]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Driftwood Inn rises again as Mexico Beach recovers from Hurricane Michael
Mexico Beach was home to four hotels and motels before Michael. The Driftwood, three stories high with 23 rooms, is the first to come back, a symbol of the city’s ongoing recovery. It is taller, stronger — and more expensive. Rebuilding from Michael cost about $13 million, more than double the roughly $5 million they got from insurance.

› The ‘darkest bar’ in South Miami closed after nearly 70 years. Now it’s back
Randy Alonso understands that Miamians are desperate to hold on to their history, any history, even if it means finding it in a 70-year-old dive bar. That’s why the buzz has been so steady over the last three years since Alonso and his business partner, Chris Hudnall, announced they were resurrecting Fox’s Lounge in South Miami. It opens today, hoping to emulate the atmosphere that made it anecdotally the “darkest bar in Miami” for 69 years.  

› As USF’s on-campus stadium takes shape, Tampa companies aim to benefit
When Floyd Freeman was a student at the University of South Florida, the school didn’t have a football team. The Bulls fielded their first squad in 1997, the year after he graduated. So as an alumnus and season ticket holder, Freeman is excited by the prospect of a football stadium on USF’s Tampa campus. But it excites him even more as a business owner.

› What are the legal repercussions of the listeria outbreak tied to Big Olaf?
Big Olaf Creamery has already been sued twice over a listeria outbreak identified this month that public health agencies say has led to 23 illnesses and one death. While both lawsuits are in the very early stages, there's plenty of legal precedent for how other food companies have dealt with similar situations.

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Rays pitcher JP Feyereisen reads with kids at the Largo Public Library as part of the "Reading with the Rays" program. The event hits close to home for Feyereisen, who went to school to be a teacher and plans to become a teacher and coach once his baseball career is over.

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