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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida faces $1.2 million verdict for killing citrus trees

It’s the latest judgment against the state for destroying plants in the 2000s in an effort to stop costly tree diseases. In 2008, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring citrus plant growers to sell or destroy plants not grown in greenhouses to protect the state’s citrus industry from citrus greening. Citrus greening is among the biggest threats to the U.S. citrus industry since infected trees produce fruits that are green, misshapen and bitter. The disease can eventually kill infected trees, though it is harmless to humans. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

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Amid population boom, Northeast Florida rapidly positions itself as transportation and logistics hub

Supply chains are moving closer to buyers as employers reassess office needs. Population growth in Northeast Florida and changes in consumer-spending habits have led to a healthy industrial real estate market, says Christian Harden, managing partner at NAI Hallmark. Supply chains began migrating closer to the consumer years ago, but an increase in online sales during the pandemic has propelled industrial real estate, investment sales and industrial leasing “off the charts,” he says. [Source: Florida Trend]

DeSantis vetoes Everglades bill that advocates said would harm water quality

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday vetoed a controversial bill that would have changed the state’s policy for Everglades restoration and that critics had derided as catering to the sugar industry around Lake Okeechobee. In his veto letter, the governor wrote said “the bill that was ultimately passed by the Legislature is an improvement over what was initially filed,” but that it created “unnecessary and redundant regulatory hurdles” that could compromise the execution of Everglades restoration projects. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida court may determine if Parkland parents pursue suit against Swith & Wesson

A state appeals court could determine whether parents of a victim of the Parkland school shooting pursue a lawsuit against gun maker Smith & Wesson and a store that sold a semi-automatic rifle used in the 2018 rampage. A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal will hear arguments July 12 in a case filed by Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was among 17 students and faculty members killed in the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida’s animal crossing aims to break barrier of I-4

M34, a typical black bear who became an inspiration, was stuck. He had hopscotched north from Sebring between dwindling patches of trees until he came to Celebration. If Florida was an entire world, M34 had reached its equator: Interstate 4, the legendary highway that conveys sunburned tourists between the gulf beaches and Disney World. I-4 is the concrete ribbon that ties up Tampa-to-Orlando commuters. It’s a battleground for presidential candidates. To many, the highway is a perpetual horror story — especially to a 3-year-old black bear. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Dunedin credit union first in Florida to launch crypto services app
Dunedin’s Achieva Credit Union is getting into the crypto game. The credit union on Tuesday launched a new app offering cryptocurrency services, including the ability to buy and sell Bitcoin, making it the first credit union in Florida to do so. The credit union partnered with Bitcoin trading company NYDIG, which specializes in working with banks, credit unions and other traditional financial institutions.

› Universal Orlando bringing back ‘Halloween’ series for Halloween Horror Nights
Universal has announced the return of Michael Myers to Halloween Horror Nights, with a haunted house inspired by the classic movie “Halloween.” John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher film, which was first featured as a haunted house at the theme park in 2014, returns with a maze “where guests come face-to-face with the merciless Michael Myers.”

› Attorneys in $1B Surfside settlement vowed to work at a discount. Will they get $100M?
In less than a year, the legal teams eventually delivered two separate settlements in the complex and emotionally difficult Champlain Towers South class-action case — one to condo owners for $96 million in property losses and a surprisingly large second one to victims’ families for $1 billion in wrongful-death and injury claims. Now, the legal bill is due to be filed by Sunday.

› Miramar-based Spirit Airlines postpones buyout vote
Spirit Airlines, the target of a budget airline bidding war, is postponing a Friday shareholder vote on whether to accept one of those buyout offers after a flurry of counter proposals from Frontier Airlines and JetBlue. The decision to postpone a vote comes two days after JetBlue improved its offer. The Miramar, Florida, carrier had scheduled a special shareholders meeting at the end of the week asking investors to sign off on what has been its preferred offer, from Colorado’s Frontier Airlines.

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› Fort Lauderdale agrees to pay Elon Musk team $375,000 to do recon on beach tunnel plan
The town with killer gridlock is one step closer to making a deal with The Boring Company to take traffic underground. On Tuesday night, Fort Lauderdale commissioners said yes to kicking in $375,000 for a feasibility study that will help Elon Musk’s team of experts answer three key questions: Can South Florida’s terrain safely accommodate a pair of 2.7-mile tunnels? What is the best route for the so-called Las Olas Loop that would take passengers in Teslas from downtown to the beach and back? And how much will it cost?

› USF professor uses drones to find mosquito breeding habitats
A University of South Florida associate professor is working on a drone project he hopes ends the spread of tropical diseases across the world, and the technology is working its magic in Hillsborough County. Benjamin Jacob is currently in Uganda working with drones trying to eradicate a major source of malaria. He created the technology, which pairs a smartphone app with a drone and satellite images to find mosquitoes.

› City office tower targeted for soccer complex at Melreese
Miami’s new city government office building may rise next door to the new Miami Freedom Park, soon home to David Beckham and partners’ Major League Soccer stadium and a commercial park. The location is generally where the Melreese golf course clubhouse sits, on part of the land to be remediated and redeveloped by Miami Freedom Park LLC, adjacent to Miami International Airport.

› Company agrees to not build solar farm near historic Black community in Archer
A company that was planning to build a solar farm next to a historic Black neighborhood near Archer has withdrawn its application to build on the site, elating residents who have been fighting the proposal. Last July, the Alachua County commissioners denied Miami-based Origis Energy from building a solar farm on 638 acres outside Archer on County Road 346. The company has been trying to appeal the ruling based on a state law that Origis lawyers say allows similar projects by right.