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Friday's Daily Pulse

Legislative map drawing underway in Florida

Florida lawmakers have begun the once-a-decade process of redrawing their own district boundaries, as well as those of Congress. Two million more residents got the state an additional congressional district that will likely be in Central Florida. From 2010 to 2020, 13 Florida counties grew more than 20%, while 17 lost population. Redistricting has never been easy. [Source: WJXT]

Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of September 24th

Get top news-to-know with Florida Trend's headline-focused video newsbrief, hosted by digital content specialist Aimée Alexander.

Lost to COVID: Summer delta wave puts Florida in top 10 states for pandemic deaths

Florida has moved into the top 10 states with the highest COVID-19 death rates as a fierce summer wave pushes the virus’ toll past 50,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida now has the No. 10 highest per capita death rate among U.S. states. More than a fourth of those deaths have occurred over the summer, despite the widespread availability of vaccines that are highly effective in preventing serious illness. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Demand for tech-sector employment rises while salaries lag

Florida’s tech industry workers, as a group, are paid 66% more than workers in other fields across the state, new research shows. That could be one reason why, according to another new report, web searches for “tech jobs near me” have increased at least 60% over the past year. But those Sunshine State salaries are all relative when compared to other states. In that analysis, from business.org, Florida is in the bottom half of the country, one of 26 states where the average hourly wage for tech workers is less than $40 an hour. In Florida, that number is $39.81 an hour, on par with Missouri, Utah and Wisconsin. [Source: Business Observer]

FPL admits its rate increase will cost residential customers more than big businesses

Florida Power & Light witnesses admitted to state regulators this week that its proposed $1.53 billion increase in rates over the next four years will cost residential customers disproportionately more than the rate increase imposed on the state’s largest commercial and industrial businesses. The statements from FPL witnesses came during a one-day hearing to review a proposed four-year settlement between the state’s largest utility and other interested groups. [Source: Miami Herald]


› Darden sales top pre-pandemic levels, but COVID contact tracing causes staffing issues
Orlando-based Darden Restaurants’ sales are up over pre-pandemic levels despite the delta variant of coronavirus, but contact tracing of COVID-19 cases is causing staffing issues. Total sales for the owner of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains were $2.31 billion in the quarter ending Aug. 29, an increase of 51% from last year, the company said Thursday.

› Tampa Bay’s August home sales flat, prompting more predictions of normalcy
Tampa Bay’s competitive real estate market continued to follow the trends seen over the last year in August, as inventory remained low and median sales prices were double-digit percentages higher than a year ago. But there were also slight signs of change. Pinellas County had about 5 percent fewer single-family home sales compared to August 2020, Hillsborough had about 3 percent more sales, and Pasco’s remained close to level with just a 1 percent increase, according to new numbers released Wednesday by Florida Realtors.

› Jim Thomas, titan of Central Florida environmentalism, has died
James Milton Thomas had a voice that resounded with authority, manners that hewed to civility, a calling to teach and selfless devotion to Central Florida’s forests, waters and wildlife. During his more than 50 years of advocacy for wildlife and habitat, Thomas gained a legacy ranking among the region’s most trusted and accomplished environmental leaders.

› Boeing opening Training Systems Center of Excellence in West Jacksonville
The Boeing Co. scheduled a ribbon-cutting and open house Sept. 28 for its Boeing Jacksonville Training Systems Center of Excellence in West Jacksonville. The aerospace company developed the 23,000-square-foot center at 6225 Lake Gray Blvd. Chicago-based Boeing said Sept. 22 that the new virtual maintenance training center for military aircraft, including the U.S. Navy’s P-8 fleet based in Florida, “increases Boeing’s competitive edge while serving the Navy’s mission-ready requirements.”

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› Florida joins antitrust lawsuit to stop airline partnership from taking flight
Florida has joined an antitrust lawsuit seeking to prevent a partnership between two U.S. airlines from taking flight. Attorney General Ashley Moody announced Wednesday that Florida has joined the complaint to block American Airlines and JetBlue from forming its "Northeast Alliance." The lawsuit asked a federal court in Boston to stop the partnership, saying it could result in higher fares for passengers.

› Sarasota City Commission plans legal action to advance ranked-choice voting
The city of Sarasota is seeking a court judgment on whether it can use ranked-choice voting in its elections. Ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank all candidates in a race, according to their preferences. This form of voting ensures that the winner of an election has received over 50% of the vote.

› Orlando Science Center invites you to enter ‘Design Zone’
“Design Zone,” an exhibit connecting math with music, art and other entertainment, opens at Orlando Science Center at noon Saturday. The hands-on display pieces are focused on three thematic areas, drawing visitors into scenes of music production, video-game development and extreme sports and then explaining how they relate to mathematical concepts. They explore how math is used by artists, architects, engineers, musicians and others.

› Jacksonville might suspend curbside recycling to get handle on yard debris pickup
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said Wednesday the city is weighing a pause on the pickup of recyclable items so short-staffed crews can prioritize on collecting yard debris that has piled up for weeks at a time in some neighborhoods. Curry said he hasn't made a final decision yet but the change is under consideration as a way to focus more manpower on collecting yard debris.