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Monday's Daily Pulse

Surging population and rising seas could lead to more of Florida being paved over

As Florida’s population swells to more than 26 million people and more land is lost to rising seas, about 1 million more undeveloped acres could be paved over in less than two decades, according to a new study released Wednesday by the University of Florida and 1000 Friends of Florida. Potentially hardest hit: large, intact rural lands that offer the best hope for saving wild Florida. [Source: WUSF]

Florida Legislature moving quickly on DeSantis priorities

From expanding gun rights to going after “woke” investors, the Florida Legislature is quickly moving on a list of bills that will give Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis conservative-pleasing policy successes as he prepares to launch a presidential campaign. The usually slow-moving Legislature ended the week by sending DeSantis bills to shield businesses and insurance companies from lawsuits, allow any Floridian to get a government-paid voucher for private schools and an affordable housing bill that prevents local governments from enacting rent control ordinances. [Source: News 4 Jax]

State jobless rate stays at 2.6 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 2.6 percent in February, with job growth expected to continue in parts of the economy such as leisure and hospitality. The state Department of Economic Opportunity on Friday released a report that said 284,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed in February, down 2,000 from a month earlier. Meanwhile, the labor force grew by 24,000 to reach 10.879 million. The 2.6 percent rate was the same as in January. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida has an affordable housing crisis. Will new legislation fix it?

For years, as the cost of buying a home or renting an apartment has risen faster than in most other states, Florida legislators have not made it a priority, routinely diverting millions from the fund devoted to financing affordable housing. That changed this week, when the Legislature passed the state’s most meaningful housing legislation in decades. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Hundreds of thousands of Florida children could lose health coverage with Medicaid cutbacks

Florida is about to experience an unprecedented unwinding of Medicaid coverage that could leave more than a million families at risk of losing their free health insurance. While advocates are busy preparing for the fallout, they worry that most parents aren’t aware yet of the deadline and will get caught off guard during a medical emergency. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

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› Inflation. Hybrid work. AI: Tampa Bay employers face a sea of change in 2023
Across Tampa Bay and around the country, many business leaders find themselves in a phase of trial and error that comes with high stakes. They face a competitive talent pool, lingering global supply chain complications, a pressure to control costs amid economic uncertainty and an ever-evolving technology landscape changing how employees communicate, collaborate and innovate.

› Captain of Celebrity’s newest cruise ship makes waves for women in male-dominated industry
Capt. McCue’s dream began as a 12-year-old girl when her parents took her and her brother on the “Big Red Boat” cruise ship being operated at the time by Premier Cruise Line on behalf of the Walt Disney Co. before Disney Cruise Line came into operation. She was instantly mesmerized by the ship, the business, and the dream then, of becoming a cruise director. Her dad suggested she could dream even bigger and she soon set her sights on the bridge.

› Southwest Florida businesses learn to be nimble to manage red tide's financial impact
Business owners and tourism experts explain how red tide affects bottom lines. They want something done about issues that make the problem worse and agree that journalists could help by how they cover these blooms. They say red tide reports often just name a county when poor conditions can be isolated.

› Cuban migrants land in Florida airport in hang glider
Typically when Florida law enforcement has to intervene in migrant landings, it’s usually from the sea. However, two Cuban migrants showed some ingenuity when they managed to make it all the way to the Key West International Airport on a powered hang glider, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

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› Engaging robots could be roaming Disney parks in near future
A robotic rabbit wearing a helmet and roller skates tumbled out of a crate and got to its feet alone, extending its arms to balance itself on a stage at Disney’s panel at the South by Southwest conference this month. The robot, apparently modeled after the character Judy Hopps from Disney’s 2016 animated film “Zootopia,” then skated across the stage into a somersault and returned to its feet in a triumphant pose, arms raised, as the audience cheered. A nearby Imagineer, Morgan Pope, steadied the robot as it leaned forward and lifted it onto his shoulders to laughter.

› Florida business owner concerned about Spring Break
Last year, shops and restaurants at the Shoppes at Edgewater were forced to close after rowdy crowds caused problems for law enforcement. The closure hurt local business owners. “Last year we had to close down two nights, it cost me over $50,000 in revenue,” American Charlie and Firefly restaurant owner Dave Trepanier said. “I can weather that storm, but I have servers and people that live, week to week and paycheck to paycheck.”

› Sarasota filmmaker launches new company with movie about mental health
For more than 25 years, KT Curran told stories with important messages for the kind of young people she worked with at Source Productions, first in stage plays and later on film But like many of the actors she has worked with, Curran has been growing up as a writer and filmmaker and has set a new path while continuing to tell issue-related stories.

› Former Arturo Fuente Cigar Co. factory has a new owner — a Fuente
When Liana Fuente saw the handwriting on the wall, she knew that the building had to stay with the family. The two-story wood and concrete block building at 2708 N 18th St. was used as a factory for Arturo Fuente Cigar Co. in the 1950s and 1960s. After her cousins put it up for sale in October, Liana Fuente decided to take a tour of the factory where her grandfather also once lived.