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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida enrollment in Affordable Care Act surpasses 3 million

Florida once again leads the nation in enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. A record 3.2 million Floridians signed up for health insurance plans for 2023 offered through the federal marketplaces, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released Wednesday shows. That’s roughly 500,000 more than last year and almost a million more than the next highest state, Texas. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida lawmakers are considering more oversight of local utilities

Florida House members Tuesday raised the possibility of giving state regulators more oversight of municipal utilities. Members of the House Energy, Communications & Cybersecurity Subcommittee repeatedly touched on the issue as they received presentations about the Florida Public Service Commission and the state Office of Public Counsel. The Public Service Commission regulates for-profit utilities such as Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy Florida but has little oversight of municipal utilities. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida cities learning how to profit from pickleball

Pickleball is the nation’s fastest-growing sport, according to a recent report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, and Florida officials are learning how to make money off of it. Local governments can profit financially from the pickleball craze if they build facilities nice enough to host professional tournaments, mayors shared at the conference. But to be successful in both community use and private-public partnerships, parks and recreation departments must consider factors like noise, the social nature of the game, passionate tennis players and the proper way to redo courts. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

More bonus money sought for police recruiting

After distributing over $6.2 million to recruit new law-enforcement officers from across the country since July 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is seeking $30 million to continue the effort next year. The proposal is part of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s funding requests for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which will start in July. Lawmakers will consider the requests during the legislative session that will begin March 7. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida joins 19 states to challenge Biden’s new immigration program

Florida has joined 19 states in challenging a newly-announced Biden administration program to accept 30,000 migrants a month from the nations of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The states, led by Texas, on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas’ southern district against against U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other federal agencies involved in immigration contending that there is no legal authority for the program rolled out by President Joe Biden just ahead of an early January visit to the southern border. [Source: Politico]


› New York investment bank opening Florida HQ at Water Street Tampa
A New York investment bank is setting up shop in Water Street Tampa. PEI Global Partners, which specializes in mergers, acquisitions and other transactions in the energy and infrastructure industries, has signed a lease to open a new Florida headquarters at Thousand & One, the primary office tower in Water Street Tampa.

› Huge appetite for Miami venue for film production
Miami-Dade County’s film industry is becoming one of the hottest global destinations, with no signs of slowing down in 2023. There’s a huge appetite for a lot of film and TV productions wanting to come to the county, said Marco Giron, Miami-Dade County’s film and entertainment commissioner. “We are very excited that continues to be the case,” he said, “and we’ll definitely focus ourselves and market ourselves in the world to make sure that we continue to have that appetite and productions here locally.”

› Port Canaveral has best cruise month ever as revenue surges
A record cruise month has driven Port Canaveral revenue to nearly $50 million in the first three months of the fiscal year. December cruise revenue, which includes parking, hit $19.3 million, which is $8.7 million over budget. Those funds were driven by 95 ship calls with nearly 700,000 passengers. That includes two weekends around the holidays that saw near or over 100,000.

› FPL CEO, who was under fire in recent years, retiring after leading utility 11 years
After what his boss called a year of “distractions”, Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy announced his retirement on Wednesday, after months of negative media reports about his secretive role in manipulating state and local campaigns. Silagy, 57, who spent 20 years at the nation’s largest monopoly electric company, rose from being vice president of regulatory and state government affairs to FPL’s chief executive officer.

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› Marvel director Sam Raimi coming to MegaCon in Orlando
Director Sam Raimi, who made his name with a cult horror series but is best known for his Marvel film efforts, is coming to MegaCon Orlando. Sam Raimi directed the three Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films in the early 2000s, as well as “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” MegaCon Orlando is a four-day pop culture convention celebrating science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, video games, cosplay, comic books and more.

› JEA CEO’s pay rising to $675,000
JEA CEO Jay Stowe will see a nearly $60,000 pay raise in 2023. The board of Jacksonville’s city-owned electric and water utility voted unanimously Jan. 24 to increase Stowe’s total compensation package from $615,731 to $675,000. The board vote directs JEA personnel to draft and execute the amendment to Stowe’s five-year employment contract.

› Miami-Dade’s stray dog problem: full kennels and a plea to keep them in the neighborhood
Miami-Dade County’s animal shelter was so full at the end of last year that even police officers were told not to expect help with stray dogs that they found roaming the streets. “The shelter has reached a critical point in dangerous overpopulation,” Kathleen Labrada, assistant director of Animal Services, wrote in a Dec. 2 email. “The Department is unable to respond to 15’s involving contained stray dogs, whether in a police car or at a station.”

›Tampa election first locally to test new absentee ballot law
Voting by mail has been the most popular way to cast a ballot in Hillsborough County for the last few years, but there’s a new wrinkle for Tampa voters as the March 7 city election approaches. Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 90, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, which changed some of the rules for absentee voting.