Friday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
A good seaweed surprise for Florida: Floating mass has actually shrunk, reasons unclear
Florida beaches — and all the people who flock to them — may catch a break from a much-hyped and dreaded onslaught of seaweed this summer. Scientists have spotted a mysterious decline in the 5,000-mile wide seaweed belt floating across the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The drop won’t be enough to keep beaches seaweed-free, but it did knock back what had been a record-breaking seaweed bloom. More from the Miami Herald.
Billions of dollars could be on table in FAMU discrimination lawsuit
A federal judge on Thursday cleared the way for a lawsuit, which alleges racial discrimination in the funding and management of Florida A&M University, the state’s only public historical Black university, to proceed against Gov. Ron DeSantis and education officials. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle rejected a motion to dismiss by Attorney General Ashley Moody and gave six FAMU students 30 days to amend their complaint to provide more data in support of their allegations. More from the Gainesville Sun.
Sarasota Starbucks workers seek to join national union
A group of eight Starbucks employees in one Sarasota location are seeking to unionize. The employees, at the Fruitville Road and Honore Avenue location, have joined the nationwide movement to unionize with Starbucks Workers United by filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board. According to a press release, thousands of baristas are behind the national movement, which SWU officials say was "organized to promote better working conditions." More from the Business Observer.
Cuban couple brings a taste of homeland to Gainesville
It's difficult to miss a giant espresso coffee maker that pops up in Gainesville. The make-shift structure sits just feet away from a food truck run by a Cuban family. Just two years ago, Andy and Diana Pineda were inspired to sell their Miami home and move to the area with the hope of selling a taste of their homeland in Gainesville. More from the Gainesville Sun.
JTA moves closer to start of work on system of self-driving transit shuttles in downtown
The inaugural National Autonomous Vehicle Day hosted by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority gave attendees a chance to take a spin in vehicles at the testing facility where JTA has been putting self-driving shuttles through the paces for years. JTA is getting close to finally starting work on taking all that testing and putting it into the real-world situation of moving people on trips along a stretch of Bay Street in downtown. More from the Florida Times-Union.
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Group pushing for recreational marijuana in Florida clears a key hurdle
Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use of marijuana have surpassed a required number of petition signatures to place the initiative on the 2024 ballot, according to the state Division of Elections. The agency’s website Thursday showed that the Smart & Safe Florida political committee, which is sponsoring the measure, had submitted more than 967,000 valid signatures for the initiative. Committees have to submit 891,523 valid signatures for placement on the ballot.
» Read more from the Tampa Bay Times.
In case you missed it:
Florida health coverage rate is better but still lags most of the U.S.
Numerous Florida college rankings drop under new U.S. News methodology