10 big problems as Florida legislature reaches halftime of 60-day session
The 60-day session of the Florida legislature reached its midpoint on Wednesday. From the budget to health care redistribution to taxes, take a look at snapshots of the session’s 10 big issues:
– BUDGET: Flush with cash from federal stimulus money and higher-than-expected state tax collections, lawmakers appear to be heading for the passage of a record budget for the fiscal year that begins on July, 1st. The Senate last week tabled a $108.6 billion proposal, while the House proposed a $105.3 billion spending plan. See the full list at the News Service of Florida.
Florida Trend Exclusive
Banking profile: customers no one wanted
When Ryan James took the reins as CEO of Surety Bank, a small community bank in DeLand, in 2009, he planned to focus on marketing and growth. The Great Recession changed all that. Regulators debited 20% of the bank’s capital over what it said were bad debts. What followed was a three-year struggle between federal regulators and James, then 30 and the youngest bank CEO in Florida. [Source: Florda Trend]
Florida has seen an influx of newcomers in 2021 but are they permanent?
Extraordinary events have always pushed, pulled and prodded the American population to move from the thirst for gold to the citrus rush to the restless return of soldiers from World War II to revolutions in foreign countries and civil war on the southern soil. Now there’s COVID-19, which has turned a trickle of years toward Florida from the northeast into a deluge. Last year, more than 547,000 people exchanged out-of-state driver’s licenses for licenses with Sunshine State addresses. That’s a 40% increase from 2020 and almost 20% above the five-year average between 2017 and 2021. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
Opinion: Florida ports could strengthen supply chain
With a pandemic hitting manufacturing plants and shipping lines hard, consumers are learning hard lessons about the details — and vulnerabilities — of the country’s supply chain. But Florida’s top leaders also see opportunities to seize this short-term crisis and translate it into long-term gain for the Sunshine State. If Florida does this correctly, the benefits could survive COVID-related issues in the flow of goods, providing a permanent boost in the state’s quest to diversify the economy. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Astra is now targeting Thursday afternoon for the first Florida launch
The mission, Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa 41), is Astra’s first for NASA. It includes a payload of four miniature satellites known as CubeSats. Three of the small payloads were designed and developed by universities, while the last was developed by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. As well as being Astra’s first mission to NASA, it will also be the first satellite deployment for the company and its first launch from Cape Canaveral. [Source: Florida Today]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› The first Brightline train arrives in Orlando
The City Beautiful won’t see passengers boarding Brightline trains until 2023, but this week Orlando received its first train that will take passengers to Miami and back. The Bright Blue 2 train with four passenger cars and two locomotives completed its 3,000-mile journey from Sacramento, Calif., to Orlando on Monday.
› Gainesville backtracks on plans to move free parking to pay-per-app as businesses resist
A few weeks ago, after Gainesville began mandating paid parking downtown, there was a huge drop in the number of cars parked in spaces outside of The Patio: Pizza and Provisions, said one of the owners, Dennis Santos. “And it was very impressive, but not very impressive,” he said on Tuesday. “The streets were just a bit empty. It was really bad for about two weeks in February.”
› MacDill AirFest returns to Tampa in March after a 4-year hiatus
The doors to MacDill Air Force Base will open March 26-27 when Tampa Bay AirFest returns with the US Navy’s Blue Angels headlining. In recent years, the event had been reduced to occurring every two years due to budget cuts. But it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The popular event has therefore not taken place since 2018.
› Is Amazon’s first supermarket in Florida really opening in West Boca?
Officials have been tight-lipped about the new Amazon Fresh store being built in West Boca — but it’s become clear what it is at this point. The store, located in the Uptown Boca Mall off Glades Road off State Road 7, may miss the sign with its name. But the building already features the same architecture and colors as other Amazon Fresh locations across the country, down to the green and black signs on part of the overhang.
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