December 9, 2023

Wednesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 9/20/2023

Florida tops national ranking as state with the most lawsuits

The Sunshine State is living up to its reputation as a “judicial hellhole,” a designation previously earned from the American Tort Reform Foundation due to excessive litigation and abuse of the state’s courts. A recent study by Tribeca Lawsuit Loans shows that Florida tops the national ranking of the most litigious states in the U.S., with more than 59,400 cases filed between March 2022 and March 2023, or 276 cases per 100,000 people. Florida had more than double the number of lawsuits than New York, which has a similar population of around 20 million residents. [Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal]

Insured losses from Hurricane Idalia approaching $200 million, state says

Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Idalia reached $188 million this week, as the total continues to gradually increase. The Category 3 hurricane made landfall Aug. 30 in the Keaton Beach area of Taylor County before continuing through parts of North Florida into Georgia. Data posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website showed the $188 million estimate was based on 20,151 claims. By comparison, estimated insured losses were $156.4 million on Sept. 10, based on 17,472 claims. [Source: Miami Herald]

Cuban entrepreneurs to be allowed to open U.S. bank accounts, access internet services

For the first time in decades, Cuban entrepreneurs on the island are going to be allowed to open accounts in American banks and access their money remotely, in a move the U.S. government will announce in coming days to remove a significant obstacle to the expansion of the private sector in Cuba, highly placed sources in the Biden administration told the Miami Herald. [Source: Miami Herald]

State employees to get new paid maternity, family leave benefit

New maternity and family leave benefits announced Monday make Florida the state employer with the “most robust” paid leave policy for mothers who give birth — at least in the Southeast, officials say. Before this, state employees had no paid maternity or family leave specified for the birth or adoption of a child. Sick leave, vacation time or unpaid leave could be utilized in those events, but there was no specific paid leave. [Source: Florida Politics]

These Florida lawmakers oppose fertilizer giant Mosaic’s ‘radioactive roads’

A coalition of state and local lawmakers is making its stance known to federal environment regulators: Don’t allow a Tampa-based Fortune 500 fertilizer company to pave its roads with phosphogypsum, the mildly radioactive leftovers from phosphate manufacturing. At least 30 lawmakers on Monday urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deny an application from Mosaic to use more than 300 tons of phosphogypsum as a test ingredient in road construction at the company’s New Wales plant in Mulberry. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› 3 years after Hurricane Sally, Pensacola is still struggling to rebuild
It has been three years since Hurricane Sally struck the Gulf Coast, but the recovery is nowhere near complete for communities that experienced the most severe impacts from the storm, according to local residents and officials. Pensacola, a coastal town on the westernmost edge of Florida's panhandle, is still reeling from the impacts of Sally, a hurricane that made landfall as a slow-moving Category 2 storm in September 2020 and dumped incredible amounts of rain as it hovered over the region.

› Disney plans to spend $60 billion on theme park division over 10 years
Walt Disney Co. revealed Tuesday it plans to invest $60 billion in capital expenditures for its Parks, Experiences and Products division over the next 10 years, but it didn’t reveal any specific projects. That amount would be double what it spent in the past decade on that part of its business, Disney said in an SEC filing. Potential growth at Walt Disney World could get entangled with the entertainment company’s high-stakes political and legal battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis and his hand-picked tourism oversight board.

› Space Florida approves $350,000 employment contract for new president and CEO Robert Long
Space Florida's board of directors has unanimously approved an employment contract offering a $350,000 annual salary to retired U.S. Space Force Col. Robert Long, who is slated to start work in two weeks as the organization's next president and CEO. Long will replace the retiring Frank DiBello, who has led Space Florida since May 2009.

› We spend millions jailing people with mental illness. How that’s changing in Miami-Dade
A new treatment center near Wynwood could be key to solving the mental health crisis plaguing Miami-Dade’s jail, which serves as the largest psychiatric institution in Florida. About 3,100 people in Miami-Dade County jail, or 70%, are classified as undergoing treatment for a mental health condition — this is as many as all state, civil and forensic mental health treatment facilities combined. The county spends $848,000 a day, or more than $310 million a year, to “warehouse” them.

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