Special session on pandemic mandates set for mid-November
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday directed lawmakers to return to Tallahassee on Nov. 15 for a special session to push back against White House attempts to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The mid-November session, which will overlap with a week of previously scheduled legislative committee meetings, will focus on efforts to prevent schools, businesses and governmental entities from imposing vaccination mandates and other pandemic restrictions. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida’s trucking industry barrels toward crisis as driver shortage reaches record high
There are thousands of open trucker positions but no drivers to fill them. Florida's trucking industry is barreling toward crisis. As the world grapples with global supply chain challenges, the trucking industry is short 80,000 drivers hitting a record high. "United States needs 1.1 million truck drivers in the next 10 years; that's 110,000 a year; that is 350 a day," president and CEO of FleetForce Truck Driving School in Winter Haven Tra Williams said. Florida holds 25% of the demand in the country, according to Williams. It results in thousands of jobs that need to be filled. [Source: WESH]
Florida pari-mutuels, Seminole Tribe reach sports betting agreements
Continuing to move forward with a major gambling deal with the state, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has reached agreements with five pari-mutuel facilities to help market sports betting — including Tampa Bay Downs and TGT Poker & Racebook in Tampa. The gambling deal, which was negotiated by Gov. Ron DeSantis this spring and approved by lawmakers during a May special session, allows the tribe to operate online sports betting that will be available to people throughout the state. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Lawmakers could give boost to nursing homes, prison workers
Amid fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and worker shortages, Florida lawmakers next week will consider proposals to inject nearly $100 million into nursing homes and boost pay of state correctional officers. The Joint Legislative Budget Commission, a panel of House and Senate members that can make mid-year budget decisions, is slated to take up the issues during a meeting Thursday. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida company applies to drill for oil near the Everglades. Drinking water is a concern
A Florida-based oil company has applied for a state permit to drill an exploratory oil well north of Immokalee in Collier county, a project that water managers and the local water and sewer district said may threaten drinking water supplies in the region. Environmentalists have also voiced their concerns, saying that oil exploration in the area — part of the Big Cypress watershed and the greater Everglades — could harm protected species like the Florida panther, the eastern indigo snake and the mysterious ghost orchid, which are found in the region’s unique cypress swamps, marl prairies, hardwood hammocks and mangrove forests. [Source: Miami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Brightline lines up Teslas, shuttles and buses to make your commute even easier [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
As Brightline revives its rail system Nov. 8, it plans to gradually roll out a new door-to-door, ride-share service that offers you electric shuttles, small electric buses and even Teslas. The goal: to spare South Floridians the headache of driving in gridlock. Called “Brightline+,” the program joins the company at the hip with customers from the time they leave their homes or offices until their return from their train trips among South Florida’s Big Three cities — Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami.
› Can Miami bring back big conventions? The new CEO at the visitors bureau has the keys [Miami Herald]
In 2018, Miami-Dade stepped up its convention game. The county invested $620 million in renovating the Miami Beach Convention Center, only to have conventions shut down for the better part of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is under new leadership: David Whitaker was announced as the president and CEO of the bureau in July. And he’s set their convention sales goal at about double what it’s previously been.
› Bits and blocks: Cryptocurrency thought leaders to convene in Tampa [Business Observer]
On Nov. 5, Tampa’s Amalie Arena is set to host Florida’s first-ever conference focused on Bitcoin and blockchain technology. In a sign of how mainstream these high-tech topics have become, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor will deliver an address welcoming the 500-plus attendees to the event. A closing keynote speech will be delivered by Cathie Wood, CEO of ARK Investment Management LLC, which recently announced the relocation of its headquarters from New York City to St. Petersburg.
› Orlando’s ITEC Entertainment, a theme park designer, acquired by group specializing in live events [Orlando Sentinel]
ITEC Entertainment, an Orlando-based amusement company that works extensively with theme parks, has been acquired by the TAIT global group, a Pennsylvania-based company that develops live entertainment and events. The acquisition allows TAIT to “establish a presence” in ITEC’s headquarters off South John Young Parkway and Sand Lake Road, though TAIT spokeswoman Jayna Zelman said current employees would not be moving to Orlando. Terms of the deal announced Thursday, were not disclosed.
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› Downrange weather forces NASA, SpaceX to delay Crew-3 launch of astronauts [Florida Today]
SpaceX and NASA managers made the call early Saturday to delay the launch of four astronauts from Kennedy Space Center, a mission now targeting next week. Astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Matthias Maurer will have to wait until early Wednesday for their chance at riding Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon on a six-month mission to the International Space Station. The instantaneous launch window that day opens at 1:10 a.m. ET.
› Southcom welcomes Army general as its first woman leader [Tampa Bay Times]
An emotional Navy admiral bid farewell to the U.S. Southern Command on Friday as he ended his tenure at its helm, and a nearly four-decade military career, in a change-of-command ceremony filled with tributes, accolades and a history-making moment: After retiring his colors, Navy Adm. Craig Faller, 60, welcomed four-star Army Gen. Laura Richardson, 57, as his successor at Southcom, which is headquartered in Doral and has responsibility for the Latin American and Caribbean region.
› Number of people in Sarasota metro earning $100,000 or more nearly doubled in five years [Sarasota Herald-Tribune ]
The number of people making more than $100,000 per year in the Sarasota-Bradenton metro area nearly doubled from 2015 to 2020, according to the investment company Stessa. Stessa used the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the change in six-figure earners from each metro in the United States over a five-year period.
› Busch Gardens to open Christmas Town early, adding fireworks [Tampa Bay Times]
Christmas is coming early to Busch Gardens. The Tampa theme park announced its annual Christmas Town event is returning Nov. 13 with a new fireworks show. The theme park decks the halls of its palm trees and roller coasters with thousands of lights for the event, which is included with park admission. There’s also a spot for Santa, the cast of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, a sing-along holiday train and an ice show at the Moroccan Palace.