FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida's CFO seeks banking changes for medical marijuana

Citing a “tremendous safety threat,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is asking President Donald Trump to use his executive power to allow banks to do business with state-authorized medical marijuana companies. Medical marijuana has become a multibillion-dollar industry throughout the nation, but banks are shunning cannabis companies because pot remains illegal under federal law. More from WJAX, WJXT, and the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Trend Exclusive
Alzheimer's: Update

In “Brain Trust” — Florida Trend profiled Sarasota-based Roskamp Institute and its research into a well-established blood pressure medication it thought could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. Institute executive director Dr. Michael Mullan said last week that a trial of the drug, called Nilvadipine, in low doses in Europe showed promise in cutting the rate of decline in some individuals with Alzheimer’s. [Source: Florida Trend]

Gov. DeSantis proposes new bonus, recruitment plans for Florida teachers

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced a wide range of teacher pay proposals, including a $422 million increase in bonuses and a bump in the number of African-American teachers receiving those rewards. He also repeated that the program that rewards teachers, known as the Best and Brightest, would no longer distribute bonuses based on SAT and ACT college entrance exams. More from the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and the Orlando Sentinel.

Citrus recovery money starts to flow

Florida is starting to distribute federal disaster-relief money that was approved last year to help the citrus industry after Hurricane Irma caused massive damage to groves. The state recently awarded $14 million from a $343 million federal block grant for the industry and continues to process and accept applications from growers. [Source: CBS Miami]

Trump maintains support in Florida despite government shutdown and wall fight

Florida voters’ views of President Donald Trump’s performance remained virtually unchanged in January, even as his support nationally dropped, a new poll shows. Polling from Morning Consult, released Thursday, shows 46 percent of Florida’s voters approved of Trump’s performance in January with 50 percent disapproving. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Joseph Lamelas, M.D., pioneer in minimally invasive cardiac surgery

Joseph Lamelas, M.D., performs close to 700 cardiac surgery cases each year – or more than 16,000 in a 26-year career. Most impressive, however, more than 7,000 of his operations have employed “minimally invasive” techniques and devices Dr. Lamelas himself pioneered, patented, or perfected. [Sponsored report]


› Arts leaders take new approach to state funding
Sarasota area arts leaders were devastated last year when the state Legislature slashed the budget for arts and culture programs to less than 7 percent of what was requested. It was the fifth straight year of declining funding in a matching grant program through the Division of Cultural Affairs.

› South Florida city ranked 2nd worst to live in US
In newly-released rankings of the worst cities to live in America, one South Florida city stands near the top of the ignominious list. Florida City came in second overall in the rankings put out by business and economy website 247wallst.com.

› Florida says it's busted a $42 million insurance fraud ring
Ten people were arrested and four people are still being sought after a $42 million insurance fraud ring was busted, state officials announced Wednesday. The suspects used stolen doctors' identities to file more than 23,000 fraudulent claims after setting up 15 fake clinics and storefronts across Florida.

› City of Tampa sues Frontier and Verizon for damage to pipes
The city of Tampa is suing Frontier Communications of America and Verizon Florida for allegedly causing nearly $100,000 in damages to underground wastewater lines over a three-year period.

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› Daytona Beach Commissioners Ban Panhandling in Business Area
A popular Florida beach town is banning panhandling in most of its business district. City commissioners in Daytona Beach on Wednesday passed a set of rules banning panhandling within 20 feet of an entrance or exit of commercially zoned property, a bus stop or a public transportation facility and the boardwalk.

› A company expected the workday to start without pay. They owed workers more than $38,000
A Tampa construction firm required workers to get to company offices, load equipment into company trucks and cars, then get to work sites to start their days — but didn’t start the pay clock until they were at the work sites.

› Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena could soon have a different name
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Brian Wolfburg, president and CEO of Vystar Credit Union, reached a naming agreement for the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Thursday morning. The agreement has been sent to Legislature and is pending approval by the City Council. If approved, the arena will be known as VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

› Federal agents interview employees at embattled Tampa Bay CareerSource centers
For the first time, federal agents this week are interviewing employees at the offices of CareerSource Pinellas, the embattled job placement center in the middle of a year-long scandal over allegations of phony hiring reports and questionable spending.