ZIKA VIRUS With 1,051 cases of the Zika virus in Florida as of October 24th, 82 percent of which are attributed to travel, Florida is aggressively working to manage the outbreak. Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. Governor Scott has allocated over $61 million of state funding for mosquito control, research for a cure and detection kits while Congress has finally approved a $1.1 billion appropriation to combat the disease. The Department of Health is administering a grants program. Miami-Dade County has received over $12 million for Zika preparedness since the majority of cases are originating in that county. The Wynwood neighborhood north of Miami is now clear of the virus. The Department of Health issues a daily Zika Virus Update, click here to see it.
FLORIDA LOTTERY The Florida Lottery announced a record-breaking first quarter of ticket sales in excess of $1.44 billion. The Lottery’s contribution to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund is expected to reach $388 million for the first quarter, a 10.2 percent increase over the same period last year. Ticket sales for August 2016 hit a high of $467 million.
In other news, Lottery officials signed a 13-year contract with IGT Global Solutions worth more than $700 million. The contract calls for increasing the number of automated ticket machines capable of selling both scratch-off tickets and tickets for games such as Powerball.
SPACE FLORIDA During their September board meeting, Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said he expects to see up to 200 launches per year from Cape Canaveral. DeBello cited several companies, including SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and OneWeb, who are currently investing in space commerce.
FDOT AND FLORIDA POLYTECHNIC PARTNERSHIP Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold announced a partnership between FDOT and Florida Polytechnic University to construct a new, state-of-the-art transportation technology testing facility, called SunTrax, on 400 acres in Polk County. The initial phase of the project will be the construction of a 2.25 mile oval track designed to support high speed testing of toll technologies. The second phase of the project focuses on the 200 acre infield of the track which will be used for automated and connected vehicle testing.
STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM BOARD OF GOVERNORS The Board of Governors met in September to approve legislative budget requests for a number of priorities, including funding for university performance, student safety, and mental health. New metrics to measure the State University System’s success in research and a plan for moving Florida’s preeminent universities up in the national rankings were among the highlights of their meeting in Sarasota.