December 9, 2023

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 5/23/2023

Florida has lowest unemployment rate among 10 largest states for 4 consecutive months

Florida’s unemployment rate in April stood at a near record low of 2.6% for the fourth consecutive month. Florida also had the lowest unemployment rate of the top 10 largest states in the U.S., again, last month. The rate was 0.8 percentage points lower than the national rate of 3.4%. Florida’s statewide unemployment rate has remained lower than the national rate for 30 consecutive months, since November 2020. [Source: The Center Square]

Florida Trend Exclusive
Transportation trends: Economic engine

Brightline’s upcoming train service to Orlando is providing an economic boost to Central Florida. The company’s $100-million vehicle maintenance facility — dubbed Basecamp — will employ 100 workers, and the train carrier has partnered with Siemens USA (which manufactures its trains), railroad contractor Herzog and Valencia College to create a curriculum to train students for careers as train mechanics. [Source: Florida Trend]

Florida sales-tax holidays could begin this weekend

Retailers are awaiting action by Gov. Ron DeSantis as two of the six sales tax “holiday” periods included in a nearly $1 billion proposed tax-relief package are scheduled to begin this holiday weekend. Key components of the tax package (HB 7063) include a 14-day period in which sales taxes would be lifted on hurricane supplies, common household items and pet supplies, along with a separate three-month effort encouraging people to be more physically active, dubbed “Freedom Summer.” [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Publix is doing away with GreenWise-branded stores

Publix Super Markets is doing away with its GreenWise Market brand. A company spokesperson confirmed that the chain will convert all its existing GreenWise stores into traditional Publix stores. The company did not provide a timeline for the transition. The Lakeland grocery store behemoth operates eight stores under the brand, including one each in Lakeland and Tampa. [Source: Business Observer]

Florida school start time changes raise questions

School officials will soon be gearing up to push back start times for many high schools under a new law that mandates changes to the beginning of the school day — but some lawmakers and education experts are wary of the challenges that could come with such a change. The changes stem from a measure (HB 733) approved by the Legislature earlier this month and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis days later. Under the law, which goes into effect in July, middle schools will be prevented from beginning the “instructional day” earlier than 8 a.m., while high schools will be barred from starting the school day before 8:30 a.m. [Source: News Service of Florida]


› Appeals court rejects lawsuit over FIU’s shutdown during COVID pandemic
After a series of similar rulings, an appeals court has rejected a potential class-action lawsuit that students filed against Florida International University because of a campus shutdown early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Named plaintiffs Rebecca Alexandre and Sarah Fagundez alleged a breach of contract because FIU collected fees for services that were not provided during the shutdown. Students were required to pay health, athletics, transportation and student-activity fees.  

› Florida senator sued by his family business for ‘embezzling’ money
State Sen. Nick DiCeglie is being sued by his cousins and his family trash collection business for allegedly spending tens of thousands of the Clearwater company’s dollars on political expenses, travel and a personal loan. In two lawsuits, DiCeglie, a St. Petersburg Republican, is accused of “embezzling” money while he was president of Solar Sanitation.

› Altamonte Springs joins growing flock of cities allowing backyard chickens
Altamonte Springs residents wanting to make an omelet or quiche can soon skip the grocery store aisles and head into their backyards for fresh eggs. The Seminole County city recently joined a roost of other local governments — including Longwood, Maitland, Orlando, Winter Park and Winter Garden, along with Orange and Seminole counties — that now allow homeowners to keep chicken hens in their backyards for the purpose of cultivating eggs.

› What might be in store for 1859 Mayport lighthouse, largely unvisited but not unloved
The historic St. Johns River Lighthouse began shining its light just before the Civil War broke out, and apart from a break during that conflict — when Confederates hid its light in hopes of flummoxing Union sailors — it steered ships to safety until 1929. Owned now by the U.S. Navy, it's been shut down for almost a century and now stands as almost an afterthought behind a fence on the western edge of Naval Station Mayport, unused, empty and largely unvisited. That doesn't mean it's unloved.

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