May 20, 2024

Monday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 5/13/2024

It’s not a matter of if a hurricane will hit Florida, but when, forecasters say

With the start of hurricane season less than a month away, U.S. officials who predict, prepare for and respond to natural disasters had a message for Floridians on Friday: It’s not a matter of if a hurricane will hit, but when. The 2024 hurricane season is expected to be busier than average. To ensure that people everywhere are prepared, officials visited residents in Sanford, a landlocked city in the middle of the Sunshine State. [Source: AP]

Citrus industry continues to feel squeeze

Bruises continue to be inflicted on Florida’s citrus industry, as the forecast for the nearly concluded growing season dropped further Friday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an updated production forecast that was 5.6 percent below projections released in April. Meanwhile, a decades-old citrus association shut its doors this week, and a major grower told investors its groves might need at least one more season to recover from 2022’s Hurricane Ian. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida’s new education laws carry less impact than in past years

With little of the attention he’s given to other legislation this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday quietly signed two bills touted for removing “onerous” bureaucracy and red tape from public education. The measures (SB 7002 and 7004) ended some reporting requirements for school districts but didn’t go as far as some advocates had hoped. Provisions to scale back high-stakes testing, for example, were stripped from the bills before they landed on the governor’s desk. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

This disease is the latest threat to Florida’s vulnerable mangrove trees

In 2019, researchers found the pathogen in Miami mangrove trees, the first known report in the United States. Now, scientists are finding trees infected with the fungi along the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s east coast, according to Melissa Deinys, a University of Central Florida research assistant who specializes in mangrove infections.The pathogen may be more widespread than what current data shows because it can lie dormant in healthy trees. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

These Florida hospitals are up for sale after their owner files for bankruptcy

Steward Health Care said it wants to sell all 31 of its hospitals, including those in Florida, after the company filed for bankruptcy protections this week. Steward, the largest physician-owned healthcare network in the United States, said in court filings it hopes to sell the hospitals by the end of summer. [Source: Miami Herald]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› FAA initiates environmental impact study for SpaceX Starship launches from KSC
SpaceX’s plans to build a Starship launch complex at Kennedy Space Center are moving closer to reality even as it potentially takes over a launch site from neighboring Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was beginning an Environmental Impact Statement for Starship launches from KSC’s Launch Complex 39-A. SpaceX had already built the beginning of a Starship launch tower adjacent to its existing pad that supports Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches.

› Tampa Electric proposes residents pay millions more so big companies save
Tampa Electric’s bid to raise rates next year would put more of the burden on residents, lessening the impact on big businesses. If their proposed version of the 2025 rate structure is approved by state regulators, everyone’s costs would rise. But millions of dollars in bills could be shifted from some of Tampa Electric’s largest customers — like industrial plants, hospitals and big-box retailers — and onto residential consumers, as well as smaller businesses.

› Disney confirms opening day of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure
It’s finally OK to sing “Almost There” when it comes to Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the new ride coming to Walt Disney World. The opening day for the log ride, an attraction taking the place of Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom, will be June 28. Disney announced that during “American Idol” on Sunday night, although news had slipped out earlier in the day via an official Disney website’s online post that was removed.

› Clearwater’s new Scientology strategy: No more ‘cloak-and-dagger’ dealings
Clearwater leaders are no longer hiding their impatience as blocks of downtown properties tied to the Church of Scientology remain empty, despite years of closed-door talks. With a majority of new members, the City Council began discussing government priorities with city administrators at a retreat Tuesday and aired plans for awakening downtown with or without Scientology’s help.

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