4:02 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

New Law Eases Alcohol Regulations For Florida Businesses

Troy Roberts of Siesta Key Rum said this new law is a win for businesses, Florida agriculture, and tourism.

A new law that goes into effect Wednesday, July 1st, will loosen state regulations on alcohol.

Under the new law, breweries can sell 64-ounce "growlers," while distillers can sell two bottles of each branded product, per person, per year. Prior to this, craft distillers could only sell two bottles to each customer per year.

Troy Roberts is head distiller at Siesta Key Rum. He said this is good news, not just for his business, but for the state as a whole.

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11:20 am
Thu June 11, 2015

Solar Ballot Measure Faces Powerful Opposition

The future is not shining brightly in Florida?

The state's largest electric utilities, Attorney General Pam Bondi and a number of influential business groups want the Florida Supreme Court to block a proposed solar-energy ballot initiative.

Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric Co. and Gulf Power filed a joint brief Wednesday arguing the proposed ballot language by a coalition known as Floridians for Solar Choice would be "misleading" to voters.

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6:01 am
Thu June 11, 2015

Why Does Your Dog Need A Vacation? Visit Florida Partners With Television Show For New Campaign

The Pet-Pix Contest encourages people to send in photos, like this one, of their dog for a chance to win a trip to Florida.

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 7:29 pm

Visit Florida is teaming up with a popular television show for an advertising campaign and pet photo contest. The winner walks away with a $10,000 trip to Florida. But, state officials are banking on the program creating a return on investment in the form of tourism.

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3:45 am
Wed June 10, 2015

Death, Dysfunction and Business

Liz Furlong in front of a coffin
Credit Quincy J. Walters / WUSF News

It sounds like something bad is about to happen as I step into Dysfunctional Grace. As I walk into the store during it's grand opening, I'm surrounded by ominous music, skulls, artistically modified taxidermy, religious relics, vintage medical equipment, a coffin and a table of food.

Robert Wilkes, of Tampa, is a curious spectator. He's walking around with a piece of chicken on a stick. 

"Nothing's better than eating dead animals, surrounded by dead animals," he said. "It's good to be human." 

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6:00 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

Channelside Benefits from Lightning's Success

A crowd of people at Channelside Bay Plaza for the Lightning @ the Rangers, Game 7 watch party.
Credit Photo Courtesy of Channelside Bay Plaza, Tampa Facebook

Businesses along Tampa's Channelside District are crediting the Tampa Bay Lightning's success this season for an increase in business.

Shops and restaurants have seen an uptick in the number of visitors, which business owners said is unusual for this time of year.

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10:16 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Film Industry Leaders Push For Incentives

Originally published on Tue May 26, 2015 10:14 am

Film industry leaders are making another push to get an incentives deal through the Florida legislature. They’re banking on its inclusion in a tax package when lawmakers return to Tallahassee for a special session next week.

Film incentives bills - designed to lure production to Florida - died in the House and Senate when the regular session ended early. But Representative Mike Miller, who sponsored the House Bill, says there’s still hope.

“What is still alive is the incentives program through the tax package that has been presented in the call by the speaker of the house and the senate president”, said Miller.

Miller says the current incentives program - which ran out of money - would be extended by one year. He says lawmakers first have to settle major issues like healthcare.

5:40 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Opponents Wary of Film Tax Credits, Part 2

Supporters of movie industry tax credits want to attract more iconic motion pictures like "Creature from the Black Lagoon."

Opponents of tax incentives for the film industry scored a de-facto victory in the 2015 legislative session’s surprise ending. But Americans for Prosperity is bracing for the sequel.

The conservative government watchdog group released a letter Monday urging Governor Rick Scott to keep the film credits off the agenda when a special session convenes June 1.

Since 2010, the state has spent $295 million to attract films, TV shows and commercials. The program expired and some lawmakers are fighting to revive it.

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5:25 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Craft Distillers Preparing For Expanded Sales

A copper still used for making rum.

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 5:05 pm

Tasting rooms at Florida’s craft distilleries could be getting a bit busier soon.  Florida law may soon allow distillers to sell more bottles in face to face transactions.

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5:43 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Over 500 Local Non-Profits To Fundraise

A promotional flyer for Give Day Tampa Bay 2015.
Credit Photo Courtesy of Humane Society of the Nature Coast, Inc.

  Tuesday is the second annual "Give Day Tampa Bay."

The event is a 24-hour online fundraiser that starts at midnight and lasts until midnight on Tuesday. Last year, 385 non-profit organizations participated and the event raised over $1 million. This year, 550 non-profits are participating and organizers are hoping to exceed the amount raised last year.

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9:09 am
Thu April 16, 2015

'Fight for $15' Workers March for Higher Wages

Protesters gather in front of a Walmart to demand a higher minimum wage.
Credit Quincy J. Walters / WUSF News

A national protest for higher wages for low-paid workers came to the Tampa Bay area Wednesday.

About 50 protesters gathered outside of a Walmart on Fletcher Avenue in Tampa. 

They were composed of Walmart employees, fast food employees and childcare workers.

Their demand: a higher minimum wage. It was part of a nationwide protest for the Fight for $15 movement, which seeks $15 an hour.

"Fifteen in my hand, I want fifteen in my hand," the group chanted. 

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5:39 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Two Bills Enter, One Bill Leaves: Growler Legislation Headed To House Floor

After a bit of shuffling, growler legislation is on its way to the House floor.

Originally published on Wed April 15, 2015 5:29 pm

Two very different alcohol measures came before their final committee Wednesday.  But even though they began to converge, only one passed its final stop.

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5:09 pm
Sat April 4, 2015

Lawmakers Aim To Reign In Assignments, Restoration Industry Uneasy

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 5:38 pm

The Florida Senate is working on a measure that would alter the way some home insurance claims are billed.  And some in the repair and restoration industry worry it could put them out of business.

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10:49 am
Fri April 3, 2015

Senate Growler Legislation Roars Through Final Committee

Florida Senators will soon be voting on whether to allow 64 oz. growlers in the state.

Originally published on Thu April 2, 2015 5:36 pm

A bill allowing 64 ounce growlers is headed to the floor of the Florida Senate.

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7:21 am
Tue March 31, 2015

Florida's Aviation Fuel Tax In House's Sights

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 6:46 pm

Florida is home to many world-famous flight schools, but the taxes on aviation fuel can further elevate the already sky-high education costs. Florida lawmakers see those taxes as unnecessary ballast.

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6:33 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Former Orca Trainer For SeaWorld Condemns Its Practices

John Hargrove, a trainer who spent 14 years working with orcas, mostly at SeaWorld, eventually became disillusioned with the company's treatment of its killer whales.
Courtesy of Palgrave Macmillan Trade

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 9:12 pm

Last year 4 million people visited SeaWorld's theme parks, where the top shows feature orcas, also known as killer whales. For years, activists have charged that keeping orcas in captivity is harmful to the animals and risky for the trainers who work with them, a case that gained urgency in 2010 when Dawn Brancheau, a veteran orca trainer, was dragged into the water and killed by a whale at the SeaWorld Park in Orlando, Fla. When Brancheau died, there was some dispute as to whether the whale's intent was aggressive and whose fault the incident was.

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