House would cut Visit Florida tourism agency, fund Space Florida
The tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida would only be funded for three months and Enterprise Florida wouldn’t get any state money at all as part of a House budget proposal released Tuesday. The public-private agency Space Florida, meanwhile, would get $12.5 million as part of the House budget plan. The House’s proposal was released Tuesday by the chamber’s Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. It could be changed by the House in the coming weeks and then subject to negotiations with the Senate. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Thaddeus Bullard: Florida Icon
Meet Thaddeus Bullard, Florida Trend's March Icon. The former football player, social activist, WWE wrestler "Titus O'Neil," shares his life experiences with Art Levy. "People think that celebrity is power. It really isn’t power, but it’s influence. There’s a difference. I look at my platform as an opportunity to influence people to do more, to do more good," says Bullard. "And I can’t challenge anyone to do more if I’m not doing more myself." [Source: Florida Trend]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Parts of the 2017 federal tax overhaul will increase state-level taxes for some big businesses in Florida — and they're looking to the Legislature to cut out that downside. Rental-car company Avis Budget, brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev and business groups representing everyone from Walt Disney to Walmart are lobbying Florida legislators to pass a package of corporate tax cuts totaling nearly $500 million this year alone.
At issue are tax-law changes created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2017. The law reduced the federal corporate tax rate by 40% and allowed companies to immediately write off the full value of capital investments made over the next five years – a perk known as “bonus depreciation.” [Source: Florida Trend]
Expanding IT's appeal
Recruiting women and minorities to IT programs has been a problem for universities and colleges throughout the U.S. To address the issue, Florida State University professor Larry Dennis helped established a program called STARS Alliance that has made a significant impact on the numbers of women and minorities enrolling in IT programs. [Source: Florida Trend]
Bill would punish people who abandon dogs during hurricanes
Violators would face a first-degree misdemeanor charge in the bill sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. Shortly before Hurricane Irma made landfall in 2017, Palm Beach County’s Animal Care and Control director told WPTV news in West Palm Beach that the agency rescued 49 dogs abandoned by owners fleeing the storm. Now, state Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, wants to make it a first-degree misdemeanor to leave a dog restrained and unattended outside during hurricanes and other disasters. Gruters’ bill (SB 1738) easily cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee Monday without opposition. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Fort Lauderdale embraces David Beckham for Lockhart deal [SunSentinel]
The city of Fort Lauderdale embraced soccer legend David Beckham’s vision for Lockhart Stadium, taking the first step toward a soccer revival for the storied property. The deal will bring a new public park — and possibly a community center — to the city’s northern end, Commissioner Heather Moraitis said. And it could allow the return of local high school football games. Beckham’s Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami CF, will play its inaugural season there next year.
› State announces major South Florida fishing bust [WJCT]
State wildlife investigators announced they've wrapped up a two-year investigation targeting what they say is a criminal conspiracy in the spiny lobster fishing industry. Lobster is Florida's most valuable commercial fishery, with landings usually worth more than $40 million a year. Investigators went undercover and conducted surveillance in what they called "Operation Thimblerig." Thimblerig is another term for shell game. Three people face felony charges including racketeering, fraud and identity theft.
› Coalition advocates for regulatory & tax fairness within car rental & peer-to-peer car-sharing industries [AP News]
‘Driving Florida Forward’ launched an effort to advocate for regulatory and tax fairness within the car rental and peer-to-peer car-sharing industries during the 2019 Legislative Session. ‘Driving Florida Forward’ is advocating for forward-thinking legislative changes that would ensure uniformity for all car rental and peer-to-peer car-sharing operators on car rentals, airport regulations and taxes remitted, as well as put customer transparency and safety first.
› St. Pete-based Penny Hoarder lays off 45 employees, cutting its newsroom in half [Creative Loafing]
The Penny Hoarder, a multimedia-heavy personal finance publication based in St. Petersburg, laid off 45 employees, slashing roughly half its newsroom and a majority of its visuals team in a company-wide reorganizing effort. The layoffs affected all departments and reduced Penny Hoarder’s total workforce by roughly 50 percent.