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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Decades-long water dispute between Florida and Georgia heads to the Supreme Court

For three decades, Georgia and Florida have been battling over how to share a precious resource: water. Georgia has it, and Florida, which is downstream, says it's not getting its fair share. The dispute is once again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Florida wants the justices to cap Georgia's water use. But a court-appointed special master recently rejected that idea. [Source: NPR]

Andy Corty, vice president of Times Publishing Co. and president of Florida Trend, retires

During almost four decades with Times Publishing Co., when Andy Corty was assigned a new challenge, he accepted it willingly and performed it successfully. That’s the way company chairman and CEO Paul Tash sums up Corty’s tenure. Corty, vice president, corporate secretary and treasurer of Times Publishing and president of Florida Trend, a statewide business magazine published by the parent company of the Tampa Bay Times, is retiring. His last official day is Jan. 12. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Will hemp selling slump at Midwest farms impact Florida growers?

Ag officials now say Florida could have hemp in the ground by April, but will growers be able to sell it? Farmers in places like Kansas are struggling to find buyers, despite the plant having thousands of uses. Florida’s Cannabis Director Holly Bell is telling farmers hoping to cash in on what's been called the state's next cash crop not to worry. [Source: WTXL]

Here’s what 2020 could bring to spaceflight

This year could herald significant moments in space exploration: NASA astronauts flying from United States soil for the first time since 2011, the first paying tourists traveling to the edge of space, rockets sending hundreds of satellites into Earth orbit to beam the Internet to remote parts of the globe, and the first serious steps toward returning a human being to the surface of the moon. But as 2020 begins, the rosy promise of those developments could quickly be overruled by gravity and engineering issues. [Source: Florida Times-Union]

Florida to help census after all. But is it too late?

Months after saying the state would not “have a role” in promoting the 2020 census, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis seemingly reversed himself and announced the state would help after all. The configuration of congressional and state legislative districts, as well as billions of dollars in grant funding for things like school lunches, rely on decennial census data, so officials fret about counting as many people as possible. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› St. Pete is one of the country’s hottest new hotel markets. Here’s why.
The Sunshine City is in the midst of an unprecedented hotel boom. In the past year, developers have announced plans for more than 1,000 new hotel rooms in and around downtown St. Petersburg. Two projects are well underway —the 132-room Tru by Hilton on Central Avenue and the 92-room Galaxy near the Sundial entertainment center.

› Lakewood Ranch, West Villages among top sellers nationwide
Two of Southwest Florida’s master-planned communities have again ranked among the top sellers across the country. Lakewood Ranch claimed second place for sales in 2019 for the second straight year, while the West Villages moved up one spot to fourth in a newly released report by real estate consultant RCLCO.

› Venezuelans in Florida could play key role in November election
While Latino voters nationally have leaned Democratic, Republicans in the Sunshine State continue to make gains with voters who immigrated from South America. The Trump administration's Venezuela policies are resonating differently across this key demographic, which could have the potential to shift the state's political landscape in the upcoming presidential election.

› Spirit Airlines expands service to Colombia from Fort Lauderdale
Discount carrier Spirit Airlines said Tuesday it is adding two cities to its long-standing Colombian service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The new Colombian destinations are Barranquilla and Bucaramanga, which the nation’s economic development officials see as a lift for business travelers. The flights will begin in late April.

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› Tech Data sets Feb. 12 shareholder vote on $6 billion sale to Apollo Global
Stockholders in Tech Data will vote on Feb. 12 whether to accept a $145-per-share offer from New York-based private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Apollo originally bid $130 for Tech Data’s stock, then raised its offer just before Thanksgiving in response to a $140 offer from billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

› Macy’s will close some Florida stores in the spring
After a half century in business, Macy’s will close its Pompano Beach department store in the spring, the company confirmed. Macy’s did not share how many workers would be affected or how many stores will be closing, but instead said it will share additional information on the closures and its three-year plan on investor day on Feb. 5.

› Fire ants are currently loving Florida's unseasonably warm winter
Snowbirds aren't the only ones enjoying the warm weather. Due to the unseasonably hot winter, ants – fire ants in particular – have migrated, multiplied and spread across Flagler and Volusia counties, say agricultural experts. They're mating and procreating like its spring, instead of harvesting resources and storing energy for a cold winter.

› Property appraiser’s challenge to Selby Gardens’ tax-exempt status foiled by mailing error
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s challenge to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ tax-exempt status was thwarted on Monday even before arguments over whether the $58 million property should be taxed were made. The property appraiser’s case was foiled, in part, because county staff could not get an important document alerting Selby to the issue in the mail on time.