March 23, 2023

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 2/6/2023

Special session called on reedy creek, other issues

Florida lawmakers will start a special legislative session Monday that is expected to lead to state control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which Gov. Ron DeSantis targeted last year after the Walt Disney Co. criticized a controversial education law. House and Senate leaders Friday announced plans for the special session, which also is aimed at providing additional assistance to communities hit by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, expanding undocumented-immigrant relocation efforts, clarifying the power of the statewide prosecutor in election-crime cases and easing restrictions on compensating college athletes. [Source: News Service of Florida]

How is Florida being impacted by COVID now? Here’s what to know.

Florida’s COVID-19 uptick this winter may have peaked without a crushing wave of hospitalizations. Statewide, the number of new hospital admissions is dropping after an early January high and is far below what Florida recorded at this time last year when the omicron variant first hit. “We definitely have (virus) activity, but of course nothing like some of the surges we’ve had in the past,” said Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist at Florida International University in Miami. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Meet the man in charge of DeSantis’ voter fraud cases

The statewide prosecutor’s office includes about 60 lawyers who work in eight offices around the state. Nick Cox said he thinks he has done well recruiting strong personnel. The best thing he can do, he said, is get out of the way “and let them practice their art.” His office has grown in recent years, with attorneys added to tackle pill mills, gaming cases and, notably, election fraud. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

State moves forward on marijuana licenses

Florida health officials will accept applications for 22 medical-marijuana licenses in late April, in a long-awaited move announced Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration. An emergency rule about the licenses generated an immediate buzz in the cannabis industry, as the number of licenses in the state will double. The rule came more than six years after Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment broadly authorizing medical marijuana and after lawmakers in 2017 approved a framework for the industry. [Source: News Service of Florida]

All of Florida is at risk of hurricanes. So why aren’t impact windows or shutters required statewide?

The recent spate of hurricanes has made clear that no one living in the state is safe from their destructive effects. And yet, a $150 million state-funded grant program that will provide up to $10,000 for home-hardening improvements isn’t available for most or all residents of 45 counties in central or northern Florida. That’s because they live outside the state’s “wind-borne debris region,” a U-shaped zone that mostly encompasses the southern part of Florida, the western Panhandle, and a narrow swath within a mile of the state’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Disney World workers reject contract offer
Add escalating labor tensions at Walt Disney World to the list of problems at the world’s largest entertainment company. Unions that represent about 32,000 full-time workers at Disney World — ride operators, costumed performers, housekeepers, restaurant and shop employees, bus drivers, custodians — said on Friday night that members had voted to reject Disney’s offer for a new five-year contract. Matt Hollis, president of the Service Trades Council Union, a consortium of six unions, said that 96 percent of the votes cast went against Disney.

› New Jaguars sports training facility on target to open in time for 2023 Training Camp
A year after construction began, work is well underway on Miller Electric Center — the new sports performance center for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The center is named for Jacksonville-based Miller Electric Company as part of a 10-year naming rights agreement with the Jaguars. The 125,000-square-foot sports performance center will house all of the team's football staff and football operations including locker rooms, training and medical facilities, office space and a draft room.

› Key tourism report shows Miami in top 5 U.S. visitor markets for local economic boost
Miami’s tourism industry more than bounced back in 2022: travel and tourism contributed $11.1 billion to Miami-Dade’s economy, surpassing pre-pandemic levels and making it the fourth-largest tourism market in the United States. That’s according to a study and report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, a global travel trade organization, and Oxford Economics. The report called Miami’s performance in the tourism sector a “heroic comeback.”

› If the Tampa Bay Rays stay in St. Petersburg, who will pay for a new ballpark?
The easy part happened Monday when Mayor Ken Welch selected the Tampa Bay Rays’ proposal with global real estate developer and investor Hines to redevelop Tropicana Field and the 86 acres around it. The hard part comes now. The city of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and the Rays will hash out how a potentially $1 billion, 30,000-seat, open-yet-covered ballpark plays into the overall redevelopment and how much each side is going to pay for it.

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Alligator loses stare down with crane
Alligator loses stare down with crane

An alligator thought it would have an easy meal outside a Florida pond but it was not to be. The alligator met a crane face to face as a standstill ensued with both animals staring each other down.

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