Easily-digested news nuggets to start your day…
Florida unemployment holding steady
Florida’s unemployment rate held steady at 2.7 percent for the second consecutive month in August. The state saw an increase of 8,000 unemployed Floridians compared to July, with a growing labor force of 11.12 million. Key factors behind this stability included job growth in service industries, housing expansion, and increases in various sectors, such as education, health services, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and construction. Despite construction job losses earlier in the year due to rising mortgage rates, the sector has seen three months of consecutive growth. Economists remain watchful for potential crises and inflation concerns, while the national unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in August. Regional variations in unemployment rates reflect Florida’s diverse economic landscape, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach reporting the lowest rates at 2.6 percent.
Citizens customers might see double-digit rate hikes
Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. has adjusted its proposed rate increases. Homeowners with “multi-peril” policies may face an average 11.5 percent increase, while factoring in other residential policies raises the average to 12.3 percent. Commercial policies are set to increase by 10.2 percent on average. These revisions address concerns from the Office of Insurance Regulation, though final approval is pending. Personal lines rate increases will start in December, and commercial rates in November. Citizens has grown due to private insurers dropping customers. While state leaders aim to move policies to the private market, Citizens argues it offers lower rates, serving as a last resort for many homeowners. Initially, a 13.1 percent average rate increase was proposed, but regulators opted for a modified capping methodology, allowing up to 12 percent increases for some policyholders.
Judge denies execution stay
A federal judge has denied a stay of execution for Florida inmate Michael Duane Zack, scheduled for October 3rd. The judge rejected arguments that Zack’s due-process rights were violated due to a flawed clemency process. Zack was convicted of the 1996 murder of Ravonne Smith during a crime spree that included killing another woman. Court documents describe a brutal attack on Smith, who was sexually assaulted, beaten, and stabbed. Zack then stole her belongings before being arrested. The case has drawn attention due to Zack’s claims of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and intellectual disability, but the judge ruled against a stay of execution.
Report: Florida improves health coverage rate, but lags most of the country
A recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that while Florida saw an improvement in the number of people with health insurance in 2022, it still lagged behind most of the country. In 2022, 11.2 percent of Floridians were uninsured, down from 12.1 percent in 2021. However, only four states had higher uninsured rates than Florida, including Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. The national uninsured rate in 2022 was 8 percent. Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo have indicated that health care will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session. The report also highlighted the difference in uninsured rates between states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility and those that haven’t, with Florida being one of the states that have not expanded eligibility.
Senate President weighs in on public school deregulation
In case you missed yesterday’s exclusive, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo weighed in on what public school deregulation looks like. From teacher certification to classroom construction, the GOP leader says she and her colleagues are looking into every corner of Florida’s education space to ensure a level playing field between public and private education, all the better to foster healthy competition and better results for Florida students. Read the full story here.