'Spiraling downhill': Florida homeowners insurance crisis worsening
A crumbling Florida homeowners insurance market will likely not stabilize any time soon. Tens of thousands of homeowners statewide are at risk of losing their insurance policies, as dozens of regional carriers face potential rating downgrades that would deem these companies financially unstable and unable to adequately pay claims. That's because insurers are bleeding, primarily caused by fraudulent roofing schemes, increasing replacement costs and limited legislative oversight. More from Insurance News Net and TC Palm.
Florida to get $70 million in transportation resilience money this year
Florida will get $70 million this fiscal year to address the effects of climate change on transportation infrastructure and evacuation routes as part of a new federal program. In all, the program could send $364 million to the state for such projects over five years. The Federal Highway Administration on Friday announced the funding, as it outlined the $7.3 billion Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation, or PROTECT, program. [Source: News Service of Florida]
New space race holds promise, but possible environmental risks, too
With the commercial space industry rapidly expanding, more states are vying to host launch sites for satellites and other cargo, hoping to tap a new and growing revenue source. But even as “spaceport” proposals proliferate from Georgia to Maine to Michigan — far away from long-established federal launch sites in California and FloridaÃ¢ — they’re drawing pushback over fears they could harm sensitive habitats, public safety and even drinking water. [Source: Washington Post]
NASA given OK to extend space station to 2030
While Congress was passing a bill to support U.S. production of semiconductors on Thursday, it also gave the first authorization act for NASA in five years that included the thumbs up to keep the International Space Station running until 2030. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian space agency indicated the agency has not committed to an exact date to leave the ISS after reports the nation would depart the station after 2024. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
The Florida Wildlife Corridor Act is a year old. Here's what it does.
The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a state-wide network of public and private lands encompassing nearly 18-million acres that stretches from the Panhandle to the Everglades. The corridor isn’t one long stretch of natural land, but a patchwork of green spaces, like national and state parks, forests, and the rivers and streams that pass through them. [Source: WUSF]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Miami bank gets $250 million from Treasury for loans to minority businesses [Miami Herald]
Banesco USA, a Miami bank focused on commercial lending in South Florida and Puerto Rico, has received a $250 million capital injection from the U.S. Treasury, which will allow it to increase lending to small and large companies, especially those owned by minorities. The funds are part of the Emergency Capital Investment Program, which supports minorities most economically affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
› 8th property insurance company pauses new business in Florida [WFLA]
Another property insurance company announced Thursday it will be pausing new business in Florida “until further notice” amid the state’s ongoing homeowners insurance crisis. According to a news release obtained by 8 On Your Side Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi, American Traditions Insurance Company will temporarily stop taking new business starting next week. The pause impacts homeowners insurance policies, condo unit owners policies and dwelling policies often used by landlords.
› Intrigue grows in Florida’s ‘ghost’ candidate case as prosecutors seek more info [Tampa Bay Times]
Prosecutors subpoenaed records related to a $600,000 money transfer between dark money organizations tied to an ongoing Miami-Dade criminal case surrounding “ghost candidates” in the 2020 election, according to court records unveiled Friday. The transfer is adding a new layer of intrigue to a years-long question into who paid for thousands of political mail advertisements to promote sham no-party candidates in three contested Florida races that were key to helping solidify the Republican majority in the state Senate.
› Carnival, Royal Caribbean among cruise lines relaxing COVID test requirements [Orlando Sentinel]
Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises are among those shifting COVID-19 test requirement policies in the wake of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally ending its COVID-19 guidance program. Carnival announced Friday it will no longer require pre-cruise testing for those who have been vaccinated on its sailings of five days or less beginning Aug. 4. It will still require pre-cruise testing for sailings six nights or longer, but can be conducted within three days of departure.
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› United Way offers marginalized Miami residents tech training to boost job prospects [Miami Herald]
A new collaboration between United Way Miami and two local partner entities will enable adult residents from marginalized communities to learn the skills necessary for careers in the area’s burgeoning technology sector. Called the United Way Miami Workforce Project, the program is the latest effort to help create a local tech talent pipeline and try to close the gender and racial equity gap here in the tech field.
› Gainesville's heat islands: loss of tree canopy can pose health risks [Gainesville Sun]
Gainesville is known for its urban tree canopy but there are places where staying cool is hard. Places where heat can climb higher than usual and temperatures spike above the surrounding areas. These spots are being called heat islands. Kip Bricker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said "they can occur especially in the downtown city areas where there is a lot of concrete. You can get temperatures that are unusually warmer because the concrete can hold the heat better.”
› Couple’s $1 million gift will help build Orlando wellness center [Orlando Sentinel]
Winter Park philanthropists Dr. Don and Cindy Diebel are donating $1 million to help build the Heart of West Lakes Wellness Center — part of an effort to bring equity and opportunity to the historically Black neighborhood southwest of Camping World Stadium. The $13.5 million, 30,000-square-foot center, slated to open this winter, will include a café with healthful food, fitness studio, community meeting rooms and a comprehensive primary-care medical clinic.
› Plans will connect, transform parks and public spaces along Jacksonville's downtown riverfront [Florida Times-Union]
Jacksonville residents will soon be able to stroll from Metropolitan Park to the Riverside Arts Market. Or, they could go across the Acosta or Main Street bridges to Southbank’s Friendship Fountain and even take a detour to follow the Emerald Trail and head to Hogan’s Creek. In the upcoming years, riverfront advocates say the riverwalk along both banks of the St. Johns River will connect it all.