Monday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Confidence in cruising: Travel picking up despite lingering COVID concerns
After earning a reputation in the early days of the pandemic as floating disease carriers, cruise ships are back in favor with American travelers. With COVID in the general population easing, so too, are cases aboard ships. The number of COVID-19 cases reported on cruise ships leaving U.S. Ports has declined each month since last summer, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Insurers slashed Hurricane Ian payouts far below damage estimates, documents and insiders reveal
After years of more frequent and intense storms, national carriers have pulled back from the market and smaller, regional carriers with smaller financial reserves jumped in. In the wake of Hurricane Ian, those companies have been aggressively seeking to limit payouts to policyholders by altering the work of licensed adjusters, according to a Washington Post investigation. As a result, homeowners are left footing much of the bill for repairs, exposing an untenable gap between the cost of storm damage and what insurers are willing to pay to fix it. [Source: Washington Post]
Legislators work to prevent enemy governments from buying Florida land
While it may seem like the purview of spy novels, the concern that foreign government agencies considered enemies could, or have, bought land in Florida is severe enough that two pieces of legislation working through the Legislature aim to end the practice. The bills are a part of an effort spearheaded by Florida’s newly elected Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, who warns that bad actors may be looking to scoop up land in the state for nefarious purposes. [Source: Business Observer]
NASA teases Artemis astronaut reveal as record federal budget request comes in
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson gave his annual State of NASA speech on Thursday dropping the news of when the agency would announce the four astronauts that will fly on the first crewed mission of the Artemis program while giving a top-level look at a record budget request from President Biden. The three Americans and one Canadian chosen to fly to the moon, but not land on it, will be revealed on April 3, Nelson said. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
JetBlue settlement with Florida mandates growth plan after Spirit takeover — but would it fly?
If any observers doubt JetBlue Airways’ determination to take over Spirit Airlines, they need only to look toward the extraordinary settlement agreement the New York-based carrier cut last week with the state of Florida to gain its support for the proposed merger. The agreement, which calls for an expanded JetBlue to meet flight service and employment goals in Florida over a five- to seven-year period, was announced by the office of Attorney General Ashley Moody, one day before the U.S. Justice Department sued in federal court to block the takeover. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Ripples of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse extend to Miami’s growing tech sector
The ripples from the failure of California’s Silicon Valley Bank extend to Miami, where the financial institution opened a branch in Brickell in 2021 to capitalize on the city’s entrepreneurial streak. For decades, the nationally respected niche bank has catered to startup tech firms.
› Despite big budget, Senate urges caution, scours 158 projects for review
Florida is flush with cash, but Senate leaders say they’re taking a “fiscally responsible” approach to the budget this year, intending to hold back plenty of reserves and review projects that receive recurring funds, asking them to justify the spending they receive. “This is not a free-for-all,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, told reporters Wednesday after the chamber’s floor session. “We’re not just going to spend every dollar that comes in. That’s not us, that’s not this Legislature.”
› Even with persistent red tide, Sarasota waterfront business is booming
Patrons visiting restaurants near and along Sarasota's waterfront should plan ahead for long wait times for happy hour cocktails and dining, despite the recent red tide bloom, several local restaurants and hospitality workers say, as residents and visitors head into the peak spring break season.
› LGBTQ Floridians heading to state Capitol, where they face increasingly hostile political climate
When LGBTQ Floridians, their families and their supporters arrive in the state capital Monday to start two days of what organizers are calling pride, passion and resistance, they’re more likely to encounter a brick wall of opposition than a welcome mat and an open door. In the last two years, the rhetoric and policies flowing from Gov. Ron DeSantis, his administration, and the Republican-controlled state Legislature have left the LGBTQ community, along with family members, friends and employers anxious as they adjust to a new reality and wait to see what comes next from Tallahassee.
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