May 18, 2024

Friday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 7/21/2023

Florida retailers look for lift from tax ‘holiday'

Florida retailers hope for a boost to summer sales with the start Monday of a back-to-school sales tax “holiday.” The tax holiday, which will last through Aug. 6, will allow shoppers to avoid paying sales taxes on clothes, shoes, school supplies and personal computers. Lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis also approved a second similar holiday that will be held during the first two weeks of January, providing a chance to replenish supplies at the start of the spring semester. [Source: News Service of Florida]

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As more insurance companies leave, where can Florida residents turn?

Insuring your home in Florida got even harder in the last two weeks as both Farmers and AAA joined a growing list of companies that are ending some homeowner insurance policies in the Sunshine State. “During a recent discussion with an insurance agent in the state, they told me it’s the worst insurance market they’ve seen in 40 years in the business,” said Mark Friedlander with the Insurance Information Institute (III). [Source: WFTX]

Slowing deer disease ‘best that we can hope for'

Environmentalists and animal-rights advocates want state wildlife officials to put more restrictions on deer farming and hunting as Florida responds to the long-expected arrival of a contagious disease fatal to deer. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission imposed a management zone covering parts of Holmes, Jackson and Washington counties after the detection last month of chronic wasting disease in a “road-killed” deer in Holmes County. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Vote by mail in Florida? You need to re-up your request for 2024

With the March 2024 presidential primary steadily approaching, county elections officials and third-party groups are working to get the word out: Voters must re-request mail ballots if they plan to vote that way in the future. Voting by mail is popular in Florida. Roughly one-third of the state’s voters cast ballots by mail in the 2022 general election. Tampa Bay residents cast more than 520,000 mail ballots out of just under 1.14 million total ballots across Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in that election. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Yes, tourism has slowed in Orlando, but don’t blame Disney vs. DeSantis
This hasn’t been the most sizzling of summers for Central Florida’s theme parks. Rising costs, searing heat and the shifting of post-pandemic travel to international locations and cruise ships are putting a damper on attendance, experts say. Those same experts don’t think Disney’s culture war battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis is a major player, pointing to a nationwide slump.

› In South Florida real estate, home prices reach new high despite big drop in sales
Prices for homes sold in Miami-Dade County reached a new high in June, despite a sharp drop in sales amid higher interest rates. For would-be homebuyers on the sidelines, real estate experts offered a sour forecast — prices will remain steady or increase. Total home sales fell steeply for the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022 in Miami-Dade and Broward, according to data from the Miami Association of Realtors.

› 130 jobs cut as Plant City tomato producer shuts farm operations
Ag-Mart Produce, which operates as Santa Sweets, is laying off 120 employees as it “discontinues domestic farming operations.” Most of the cuts will happen at a Plant City facility where 104 people will lose their jobs. The company will also lay off eight employees in Manatee County — four in Myakka City and four in Duette — and eight in Jennings, which is in Hamilton County at the state line with Georgia. In May the company laid off 10 employees in Immokalee, eastern Collier County.

› Sarasota County arts groups get major tourist tax funding boost
Sarasota County will provide a record $3.2 million in funding to 35 arts and cultural organizations in a year when many saw reduced funding in the state budget even as they are still recovering from the impacts on attendance from the COVID pandemic. The funding total is a sign of robust tourism in the county.

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