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Monday's Daily Pulse

In 2024 preview, new Florida laws for primary could make it harder to cast ballots

Floridians will cast their primary ballots Tuesday under new voting restrictions a judge once said were designed “to target Black voters,” the first such federal election under the new law. Voting rights advocates say the new rules make it harder to request and turn in absentee ballots and register voters as well as making it easier to challenge votes once cast. But supporters say the new rules are needed to combat voter fraud. More from  USA Todayand the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida gas prices decline for the 10th straight week

Florida gas prices fell 11 cents per gallon last week. The state average has now declined for 10 consecutive weeks, plunging a total of $1.36 per gallon since mid-June. Sunday’s state average price for gasoline was $3.54 per gallon. That’s the lowest daily average price since March 1, 2022. It now costs $53 to fill an average-sized 15-gallon fuel tank. That’s $20 less than what drivers paid in mid-June when pump prices set a new all-time record high price of $2.89 per gallon. [Source: WJXT]

30 years after Hurricane Andrew: How resilient is South Florida?

The 30th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s assault on South Florida is days away, and for the uninitiated and those who may have forgotten, here is what the Category 5 storm did to southern Miami-Dade County and elsewhere. After striking on Aug. 24, 1992, Andrew killed 65 people, destroyed 63,000 homes, left 175,000 homeless, and in the immediate aftermath, left a million people without power. Three cities and towns in particular — Homestead, Florida City and Naranja Lakes — were completely or nearly reduced to ruins. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

COVID BA.5 wave still receding across Florida more than a week into school year

For the second week in a row, all signs show the latest coronavirus surge shrinking across Florida, even as the school year starts and the least vaccinated age groups bunch together in classes. Sewage across Florida, which can predict COVID-19 trends faster than regular testing, showed falling concentrations of the virus this past week. Health officials reported fewer positive coronavirus test results, while hospitals are treating fewer infected patients. [Source: Palm Beach Post]

NASA targets 13 landing sites on moon’s south pole for human landing

NASA juggled light and dark to come up with 13 potential landing sites on the moon for the Artemis III mission that will return humans to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. The uncrewed Artemis I rocket is at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center awaiting a potential launch as soon as Aug. 29. Artemis II is slated to fly with astronauts in 2024 but only orbit the moon. The Artemis III flight is slated for 2025, and two of its four astronauts, including the first woman, will take a version of SpaceX’s Starship to the lunar surface. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› The birth of a new Florida law school
Being an attorney involves, among other skills, appearing in court, swearing solemn oaths and understanding the nuances of language and the law. Students in the inaugural class of the Jacksonville University College of Law experienced that in the first few days of their three years of study. The tone for the Class of 2025 was set at the college’s formal convocation Aug. 5 at the Duval County Courthouse. The ceremony was attended by university and college of law administrators and faculty and the students’ families as well as members of the Jacksonville legal community.

› Women-led financial advisory firm receives charter, breaks new ground
Adelphi Trust received its charter from Florida Office of Financial Regulation on Aug. 12 at its office in St. Petersburg, officially making it the only trust company in Florida to be founded, managed and majority-owned by women. The firm will provide a range fiduciary services to clients, including investment management, wealth strategies, estate settlement, trust administration and legacy planning.

› Brevard County accounts for more than half of manatee deaths in 2022
While overall manatee deaths in Florida have declined since last year's catastrophic mass die-off, sea cow deaths in Brevard are on pace to top last year's record 358 deaths in the county. According to the latest figures from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at least 335 manatees had died in Brevard through Aug. 12, more than half — 54% — of this year's 661 manatee deaths.

› Port Canaveral sees rising revenues thanks to growing cruise industry
Port Canaveral is sailing toward record-setting revenue. More ships, and new bigger sailing options, are cruising from the port. “Simply put, all the cruise lines are pretty much operating at capacity again or close to it,” said Capt. John Murray, Canaveral Port Authority CEO. And there’s even more to look forward to. The world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, will begin sailing from Port Canaveral later this year.

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› Florida utility gets $500K fine, probation for fatal blast
A Florida utility has been fined $500,000 and placed on three years’ probation for a 2017 deadly explosion at a coal-fired power plant that killed five workers. The U.S. Justice Department said in a news release Friday that Tampa Electric Co. also must adhere to a new safety compliance plan. The fine is the maximum allowed for willful Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace rules violations such as this.

› As polio surfaces in other states, how vulnerable are Floridians?
For the first time since the U.S. declared polio officially eradicated in 1979, Floridians are concerned about their odds of getting the disease. Florida is beginning the groundwork to learn if polio is in the state after one person was diagnosed with paralytic polio in Rockland County, New York, and the disease was discovered in New York City’s wastewater.

› Boca's Brightline station exterior complete; interior next as officials anticipate end of 2022 start
A Brightline train whizzed past its newest station Tuesday morning, moments after Boca Raton city officials signed the last beam that had been placed on the platform of the city’s first high-speed train stop. Kaufman Lynn Construction broke ground on the $56 million project — which stands next to the Boca Raton Public Library, minutes from the city’s downtown area — in January 2022. The eight-month construction period followed a hiatus in Brightline operations due to COVID-19, from March 2020 through November 2021.

› JEA insurer earmarked nearly $3 million for defense lawyers for two former executives, records show
Records from a JEA insurance firm indicate it has advanced nearly $3 million to defense lawyers representing former CEO Aaron Zahn and CFO Ryan Wannemacher as they fight federal fraud and conspiracy charges, an arrangement the utility objected to years ago and that, unbeknownst to some officials, appears to still be in effect.