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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida cities sued opioid makers. Now lawmakers might go after the cities.

Florida lawmakers are considering cracking down on cities and counties that file lawsuits against big corporations, a response to those communities that are suing drug makers and manufacturers over the opioid epidemic. The litigation, usually farmed out to trial lawyers, seeks to recoup the costs of an epidemic that has killed more than 10,000 Floridians and required cities and counties to spend millions responding to overdoses and buying life-saving drugs. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

Florida citrus making a comeback

Florida citrus growers anticipate a good season this year, weather permitting, thanks to good volume and favorable growing conditions. A Jan. 10 U.S. Department of Agriculture crop estimate forecast the state’s orange volume at 74 million 90-pound boxes, up from 71.7 million last season. The grapefruit forecast calls for 5.4 million 85-pound boxes, up from 4.5 million in 2018-19. But prices had some growers concerned. [Source: The Packer]

Florida Tourism Day comes as Visit Florida faces uncertain future

Wednesday is Florida Tourism Day at The Capitol. The Partnership for Florida Tourism has billed the day as a celebration of Florida tourism, though it comes as most in the tourism industry are wondering if they’ll have anything to celebrate after the 2020 Legislative Session wraps. The main stressor: the uncertain future of Visit Florida. [Source: Florida Politics]

Florida judge rejects underground utilities rule challenge

Key challenges to the regulators’ rules over underground power line projects by Florida Power & Light Co. and other electric utilities in the state have been rejected by a state judge. Critics say that could ultimately lead in increased bills for FPL and other electric company customers. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Legislature moves to drain funding pool for pro stadiums

A proposal is once again in play to eliminate an untouched pool of state money set aside in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums. The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee on Tuesday quickly backed the proposal, which would repeal a funding program that spells out steps for state dollars to become available for stadium construction and renovation. [Source: Miami Today]

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ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Florida's still the shark attack capital of the world, even if numbers remain low
Florida remains the shark attack capital of the world, even if the capital is getting a little less crowded. Last year, the state recorded just 21 unprovoked attacks, according to the the 2019 International Shark Attack File issued Tuesday by the Florida Museum of Natural History. That’s a slight increase over 2018, when the number of attacks plummeted to 18 and landed well below the five-year average of 32.

› Medical marijuana industry continues to boom in Tallahassee
Medical marijuana is a growing industry in the Capital City and around the Panhandle. Local business owners and non-profit leaders learned more about the industry in Florida at WCTV's sponsored Lunch & Learn Event, hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

› JEA executive Ted Hobson’s retirement creates another opening in senior leadership team
Ted Hobson will retire from JEA after 46 years with the city-owned utility, marking the third departure of a high-ranking executive from the utility’s senior leadership team over the past month. JEA spokeswoman Gina Kyle said Hobson first told JEA several months ago he planned to retire in 2020 from his post as vice president and chief compliance officer.

› South Fla. hospital chains and insurers are getting bigger. Is that good for patients?
South Florida insurance companies and large hospital chains recorded healthy profits and acquired rival companies in an attempt to grow bigger in 2018, a new analysis found, accelerating a race to gain leverage in healthcare pricing negotiations. But consumer advocates warn that whatever savings the healthcare monoliths find are unlikely to be passed down to patients.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Electric mopeds are now for rent in Miami
Meeting buddies for a bite in a Miami neighborhood such as Brickell or Wynwood? Tap an app on your mobile phone app to rent a Revel moped for your travels around Miami. You can even bring a friend. Electric scooters came speeding to Fort Lauderdale in 2018 and have become commonplace. The latest ride trend is the Revel electric moped, which look like a small motorcycle.

› Flood insurer expands coverage to Florida
Gulf Coast homeowners have a new option for flood insurance with the arrival of Chicago-based Kin Insurance, which recently expanded coverage to Florida and opened an office in St. Petersburg. Kin’s coverage, a press release states, is available via its Kin Interinsurance Network and can be tailored to fit homes in low-, moderate- and high-risk areas.

› Brevard County Commission rejects loosening rules designed to protect wetlands
County commissioners have decided against moving forward with proposed changes in wetlands protection regulations. Fifteen residents who addressed the County Commission during public comment on Tuesday said the proposals would be detrimental to the environment or would have other negative effects.

› South Beach Business Improvement District advances
A special district aimed at improving the safety and appeal of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue is inching toward reality. At last week’s meeting, Miami Beach commissioners gave their preliminary approval to the proposed South Beach Business Improvement District (BID). If it clears all hurdles, it could result in a tax fund of over $2 million a year for the next 10 years to improve Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue.