Sunburn for 7.17.17 – Health care vote delayed; Jack Latvala sets a date; Marco Rubio mad at Jose Mallea; Ben Carson speaks in Orlando today; D23 Disney announcements galore - Florida Politics

Sunburn for 7.17.17 – Health care vote delayed; Jack Latvala sets a date; Marco Rubio mad at Jose Mallea; Ben Carson speaks in Orlando today; D23 Disney announcements galore

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

— THE BIG NEWS OUT OF D.C. — 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday he will delay consideration of health care legislation in the Senate, after Sen. John McCain’s announced absence following surgery left Republicans short of votes on their marquee legislation.

McConnell’s announcement amounted to another setback for GOP efforts, promoted by President Donald Trump, to repeal and replace “Obamacare” after years of promises. McConnell issued his statement not long after McCain’s office disclosed that he had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye, and had been advised by his doctors to stay in Arizona next week to recover.

In this July 11, 2017 file photo, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, during the committee’s confirmation hearing for Nay Secretary nominee Richard Spencer.

With McConnell’s health care legislation already hanging by a thread in the Senate with no votes to spare, McCain’s absence meant it would become impossible for the majority leader to round up the votes needed to move forward with the bill next week as planned.

“Bill Nelson says health care bill is dead” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – Nelson predicts that a third Republican lawmaker will defect and oppose the GOP Obamacare repeal bill, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act from reaching the Senate floor next week. “I think it’s dead,” Nelson told reporters on a visit to Tallahassee on Friday. “I think that there are going to be some broken Senate Republican hearts, but they’ve already got two against it, and they can’t afford another senator.”

— “Marco Rubio voices support for health care replacement bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

“What’s at stake for Florida in health care vote?” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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— JACK LATVALA SETS A DATE —

Circle August 16th on your calendars – That’s the date Jack Latvala will publicly announce his plans for 2018. He’s expected to run for Governor, but there’s a possibility he could pull an audible (CFO? No run at all?). Latvala shared this nugget with those in attendance at his “old fashioned pig roast” event/fundraiser in Boothbay Harbor.

Spotted at Latvala’a fundraiser in Maine: Senate President Joe Negron and Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Anitere Flores, Bill Galvano, George Gainer, Rene Garcia, Denise Grimsley, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, and David Simmons, former Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Dennis Jones, Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen and Chris Latvala. Also David Browning, Crystal Stickle, Lisa Hurley, David and Laura Jolly, Nicole Haggerty and Richard Reeves, Kim McDougal, Sandy Mortham, Dale Patchett, Teye Reeves, Andrea Reilly, Sandy Safley, Clark Smith, Greg Smith, Jim Smith, Alan Suskey.

— ANDY MARLETTEE: DENISE GRIMSLEY VS. THE PANHANDLE MULLET MEN —

In a column for the Pensacola News-Journal this week, cartoonist Andy Marlette calls out members of the House Panhandle delegation for their unanimous backing of Rep. Matt Caldwell for Agriculture Commissioner and lays out why he thinks Floridians should give Sen. Denise Grimsley a chance.

“In a remarkable display of collectivism, zombie-like followership and dull-witted group-think last week, our Panhandle’s state House delegation unanimously agreed to endorse the same candidate for Florida’s next commissioner of agriculture,” writes Marlette. “Leadership? Self-reliance? Individualism? Shux! This is the Panhandle — we ain’t got none of that independent thinking stuff up here!”

“It was in that spirit, presumably, that White, Williamson, Ingram and co. agreed to back their fellow state Rep,” he continued. “Not that there’s anything wrong with Caldwell. He seemed like a perfectly smart and friendly gent when he visited Pensacola about a month ago.”

But Marlette said he didn’t understand how local officials were taking their civic duties seriously when there was potentially a “smarter, more experienced and more qualified Republican candidate” vying for the job. That candidate, Marlette said, is Grimsley.

He met with Grimsley during a stop at the Pensacola News-Journal last week, and described her as the “least politician-y politician” he ever met.

“She’s got old-school Florida cultural credentials: A fifth generation Floridian from a citrus and cattle family in Hardee County” he wrote. “She speaks with a calm and confident Southern accent as she recites a resume that could suffice for about seven lifetimes worth of career experience for average folks. She’s a registered nurse and a current hospital administrator. She’s worked with the crops and the cows and has served as COO of her family’s regional oil company. She says never had thoughts of running for public office until she was jerked around by a Tallahassee bureaucrat over a busted water heater at one of her family’s gas stations.”

Another thing that sets her apart, wrote Marlette, is “the way she’s trying to qualify for the ballot — by petition.”

“That means that rather than just paying a fee, Grimsley has to get almost 130,000 real life Floridians to sign for her by next spring. That means meeting folks in Pensacola and shaking hands in Gainesville and knocking on doors Sarasota and listening to stories in Delray Beach and getting barked at by dogs in Frostproof and maybe chased by alligators in Pahokee and possibly even runaway monkeys near Silver Springs because hey, this is Florida,” he wrote. “In other words, qualifying by petition is the authentic, grass roots way for a candidate to get out there, see the state and earn it. It’s hard work and even idiot cartoonists have to give a politician props for taking that challenge.”

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Richard Corcoran hires consultants who did Trump’s TV ads” via Steve Bousquet of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC has hired Jamestown Associates, the Philadelphia-based Republican media firm that shaped Donald Trump’s TV ad campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2016. The firm’s CEO, Larry Weitzner, and Barney Keller will provide strategic advice to Corcoran as he considers a possible run for governor of Florida next year. They will join with the Fort Lauderdale-based pollster Tony Fabrizio, who has advised Gov. Rick Scott in addition to a long list of GOP candidates around the country. Adding Jamestown Associates is likely to accomplish the obvious goal of generating more buzz about Corcoran’s political plans.

— “As Corcoran plots governor’s bid, his pollster gets rare RPOF work” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Grassroots leaders back Gwen Graham —  The former U.S. Representative picked up the endorsement from several grassroots Democratic leaders, including Alan Clendenin, the former vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and a Democratic National Committeeman; Shannon Love, the former president of Florida Young Democrats; and John Parker, a state committeeman. “After almost twenty years of Republican rule, our state is running out of time. For too long, the politicians in Tallahassee have ignored the major challenges our state faces,” said Clendenin. “I’m proud to support Gwen Graham in her campaign to renew our public schools, protect our precious environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian.” Andrew Bell, the former treasurer of Florida Young Democrats; Lisa King, a state committeewoman and the former chair of the Jacksonville Planning Commission; Rachel Pienta, a founding member of the Democratic Progressive Caucus and the former chair of the Wakulla DEC; Beth McMillen, the Florida Democratic Party Committee on Clubs chair and treasurer of the Democratic Disability Caucus; and Duysevi ‘Sevi’ Miyar, the Miami-Dade regional director for the American Muslim Democratic Caucus also endorsed Graham. “I wake up every day focused on one mission: fighting for our shared values,” said Graham. The passion and support of grassroots leaders from across Florida is fueling our fight, and I’m proud to have the support of these dedicated Democrats.”

Assignment editors: Graham will make a major announcement at 1 p.m. at the Mary L. Singleton Senior Center, 150 E. 1st Street in Jacksonville.

Assignment editors: Andrew Gillum will address the Orange County Democratic Party meeting at 7 p.m. at Frontline Outreach, 3000 C.R. Smith Street in Orlando.

“Gambling control amendment surpasses 100,000 signatures” via Florida PoliticsA proposed constitutional amendment aimed at limiting gambling’s expansion in the state is now over the 100,000 signature mark. Division of Elections records show the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment now has 104,416 signatures toward getting on the 2018 statewide ballot. But that’s still a long way from the 766,200 signatures needed for the initiative’s ballot placement. “Our petition gathering effort is in full swing across the state of Florida,” said John Sowinski, who chairs Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment. He added there is another roughly 300,000 signatures “in the pipeline” waiting to be verified.

SAVE endorses David Richardson for Congress – South Florida’s “foremost advocate for the LGBTQ community” on Monday announced its support for Richardson, an openly gay member of the Florida House. Richardson, a Democrat, is seeking to replace Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “This endorsement is the earliest SAVE has ever done, because Rep. Richardson is a true champion of equality and the ideal candidate to replace Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen,” said Tony Lima, Executive Director at SAVE. “Richardson is entering an already crowded field that includes previously endorsed candidates such as Jose Javier Rodriguez and Bruno Barreiro,” the release said. “Electing him to (Congress) will be a pivotal part of the organization’s continuing efforts to resist the current administration’s attacks on the LGBTQ community.”

Oldsmar officials back Ed Hooper in SD 16 — Mayor Doug Bevis, Vice Mayor Dan Saracki, and Council Member Eric Seidel announced they were endorsing Ed Hooper in his race to replace Sen. Jack Latvala in Senate District 16. “Ed has always been a great friend of the city of Oldsmar. When the city was looking to build an Olympic style BMX track we spoke to everybody that we thought could help fund the project but it was Ed Hooper that secured the funding,” said Bevis in a statement. “The track has hosted riders from all over the world; including participants who trained and raced there leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. I look forward to working with Ed when he is in the Florida Senate; imagine what he can do for our area when he is fighting for us in Tallahassee.” Hooper has also received the endorsements of Oldsmar Council Members Jerry Beverland and Gabby McGee. “It will be an honor to serve the residents of Oldsmar,” said Hooper in a statement. “Your vision is my vision and that is to have a vibrant and prosperous Oldsmar to live and work.”

J.D. says N.O. – Former Republican lawmaker J.D. Alexander will not run for senate in 2018 according to future Senate President Bill Galvano. The Bradenton Republican told POLITICO’s Matt Dixon that it was his understanding Alexander wouldn’t enter the SD 26 race to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is leaving the seat to run for Ag Commissioner. That leaves Republican Rep. Ben Albritton with a clear path to take over for Grimsley in the GOP-leaning seat, which alongside SD 16 is one of just two senate seats up for grabs in 2018 without an incumbent in the race.

Registration deadline for HD 44 race — Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 15 special primary to replace Rep. Eric Eisnaugle in House District 44. Republicans John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti, Robert Olszewski, and Usha Jain will be on the ballot. Florida is a closed primary state, which means only registered Republicans can vote in the Aug. 15 primary. The winner of the race will face Democrat Paul Chandler in the Oct. 10 special election.

Marco Rubio is not happy to be featured in new Jose Mallea flier in HD 116 race” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – In a flier circulating this week, Rubio is featured in photographs with Mallea, the small-business owner. Mallea is running against insurance attorney Daniel Perez in the race to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz who is running for the state Senate. Also featured in the pictures are Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Sen. Rubio did not see the mailer before it was sent, and he was never asked to approve the use of his name and picture,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, Rubio spokesperson. Mallea responded in a statement. “I have high admiration and respect for Marco and his family. They have been dear friends for over 20 years,” he said. “My campaign advertisement highlights my record of service to the Republican Party and I am proud to have served as Marco’s campaign manager during his 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.”

Oooh, somebody’s in trouble: A Rubio spox said the senator “did not see the mailer before it was sent, and he was never asked to approve the use of his name and picture.”

Rene Garcia backs Mallea  — Sen. Rene Garcia has endorsed Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz “There is no doubt in my mind that Jose Mallea is highly qualified to be an outstanding member of the Florida Legislature,” said Garcia in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to strengthen our healthcare system, making sure our community receives the resources necessary to address the mental health and substance abuse crisis.” 

“Vito Sheeley to challenge Wengay Newton in HD 70” via SaintPetersBlog – Vito Sheeley opened up his campaign account for the seat on Friday and is the only candidate running against Newton, who took over for now Sen. Darryl Rouson after winning a three-way Democratic against Dan Fiorini and Chris Czaia. HD 70 is a minority access district that covers parts of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. About 45 percent of the population is black, and 15 percent is Hispanic. Through the end of June, Newton had raised just $4,800 for his re-election campaign and had about $4,300 of that money on hand. Sheeley’s first report, which will cover the second half of July, will no be available until mid August.

Click here to read Mitch Perry’s profile of HD 71 candidate Randy Cooper.

— CAPITIOL INSIGHT — 

Florida State University to return more money from secret $1 million appropriation” via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – Florida State University will return more than expected from a $1 million grant lawmakers secretly tucked inside the university’s budget for the friend of a state senator, according to a letter from FSU President John Thrasher. Thrasher, in a letter to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, promised to return $310,000 from the $1 million Fernandina Beach-based Florida Psychological Associates received in last year’s $82.3 billion state budget. The firm received the money with the help of Sen. Aaron Bean, who is a longtime friend of the owner and her husband, Nassau County Tax Collector John Drew. In response, Thrasher sent another letter to Corcoran stating he would return the $210,000 remaining after FSU canceled its contract with the firm. The $100,000 in unspent administrative money would also be returned to the state’s treasury by the end of the month, Thrasher said.

“Jeff Brandes, Darryl Rouson agree that Florida’s broken criminal justice system needs to change” via Melissa Gomez of the Tampa Bay Times – “(Brandes) and I are diametrically opposed on many political philosophies,” said Rouson to a crowd of about 40 at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. But sitting side by side, they spoke about their combined efforts to push through reform of Florida’s “broken” criminal justice system. … Despite his and Brandes’ efforts at reform in the most recent legislative session, Rouson said, their proposals failed. But they plan on trying again. Brandes believes it’s going to take a comprehensive review of the system to bring change. Everything from mental health services, to jails, to prisons and sentencing need to be improved.

Sens. Darryl Rouson and Jeff Brandes and Central Florida Urban League CEO Glen Gilzean during a discussion at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon on the future of Florida’s criminal justice system. Photo credit: Benjamin Todd.

Joe Gruters releases new video focused on campaign finance — Rep. Gruters is pushing to get dark money out of politics, releasing a digital video calling on supporters to back his cause. “Want to get dark money … shady super PACS out of politics,” the ad reads. “Joe Gruters is fighting for fairness. But Joe needs your help.” The 15-second spot encourages viewers to share the video to “get Florida elections back in the Sunshine.”

Click on the image below to watch the video.

— D.C. MATTERS —

“No Russia connection, says Susie Wiles” via Florida PoliticsABC News reported that Lanny Wiles, the husband of Florida Trump Campaign Chair Susie Wiles, saved a seat at a June 2016 Congressional hearing for a once obscure but now controversial figure: a Russian lawyer at the heart of the current scandal involving Russia, the President’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager. Wiles says there’s smoke but no fire: her husband, she said, was doing non-profit work with an American firm involved in Russian baby adoption. That non-profit asked Lanny to save seats; he did so … Lanny had no clue that said lawyer was involved in oppo, Wiles said. Nor had either of them ever received Russian money, Wiles claimed. “I did not and would not participate in something that hurt the campaign, the government, the President, or the country,” Wiles said.​

“Bill Nelson seeks support to cap student loan rates at 4 percent” via Bryon Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat – Nelson’s legislation comes on the heels of federal student loan interest rates increasing July 1. Rates for undergraduate students increased from 3.76 percent to 4.45 percent. Nelson’s bill would cap those rates at 4 percent. It also allows borrowers with existing student loans that have a rate higher than 4 percent to refinance their loans once to the new lower rate.

“Carlos Cubelo’s gang of moderates Republicans defeats anti-climate change legislation” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald – Curbelo’s Climate Solutions Caucus, a group of 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats who are concerned about the impacts of climate change, voted en masse on Thursday against a proposal to nix a Defense Department report on the threats posed by climate change to military installations. … Curbelo identified Thursday’s vote, part of the massive annual Defense Department funding bill which passed on Friday, as an area where moderate Republicans can make an impact. … “I assume that now when we get into appropriations season there will be many amendments where I assume our group is going to be critical to blocking bad policy,” Curbelo said last month.

Yaneisy Duenas and Ferando Sanudo walk through the flooded parking lot to their boat at the Haulover Marine Center on November 14, 2016 in North Miami, Florida. The flood waters are caused by the combination of the lunar orbit which causes seasonal high tides, also known as a King tide, and what some scientists believe is rising sea levels due to climate change. Photo credit: Getty Images.

“Francis Rooney backs off criticism of college ‘safe zones’ ” via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Rooney said he believed safe zones were to blame for conservatives being unable to speak at universities and didn’t realize they could refer to specific university programs established to help historically marginalized students feel more secure. “I would never file anything that would harm or threaten these students,” said Rooney, of Naples. “I slightly misspoke. I don’t have a problem with anything that keeps people from bullying.

Save the date: Rooney will hold a “supporter appreciation cookout” at 11:30 a.m. on July 29 at the Bonita Springs – Estero Elks Lodge, 3231 Coconut Road in Bonita Springs.

— OPINION —

“D.C. needs to start rewarding efficiency, not inefficiency” via Rick Scott for Florida Politics – While a new bill has been introduced this week, it has taken far too long to get rid of the disaster of Obamacare, and I fear the politicians in Washington will never find common ground on this critical topic. There is absolutely no question that Obamacare must be repealed immediately so Americans can actually afford to purchase health insurance.

… States like Florida that have run increasingly efficient Medicaid programs, and have not expanded Medicaid, must be rewarded and treated fairly under any bill. What’s concerning is that under the most recently proposed Senate bill, tax and spend states like New York will continue to be rewarded for running an inefficient Medicaid program.

As a reward for its fiscal irresponsibility, for every dollar New York pays in federal income taxes, they receive a quarter back from the federal government for Medicaid. In comparison, Florida only receives 16 cents for every tax dollar that is sent to Washington. Current Congressional bills lock in past federal spending, which would make this inequity permanent.

That makes absolutely no sense. If Florida is going to get a smaller rate of return on its federal taxes, shouldn’t our federal taxes be cut? New York, with fewer residents than Florida, receives more than $33 billion per year for Medicaid while Florida receives less than $15 billion.

How is permanently locking in these spending levels fair to Floridians when New York has been terribly inefficient with their taxpayers’ dollars? The federal government should cut income taxes for Floridians by 30 percent. This would put our share of federal Medicaid funding as a percentage of taxes paid on par with New York. This reduction would save Floridians thousands each year.

The federal government must start rewarding efficient states like Florida and stop rewarding inefficient states. Our taxpayers deserve nothing less.

— BEN CARSON MAKING STOP IN C. FLA TODAY —

Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson will make a stop in Orlando Monday to deliver the keynote address at LeadingAge Florida’s annual convention.

LeadingAge is a non-profit whose members provide senior health care and housing services at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and continuing care retirement communities.

Members of the health care organization have been big proponents of Carson since he was confirmed as HUD secretary March 2 by Congress.

“As we address issues concerning affordable senior housing, we appreciate that a physician will be running an agency as important to seniors as HUD,” LeadingAge Florida President & CEO Steve Bahmer said in a March 3 statement. “Dr. Carson is uniquely positioned to advocate for the important intersection between safe, affordable housing and healthy aging.”

Carson’s speech is not open to the public.

— STATEWIDE —

“CFO’s office back in court over insurance benefits case” via Florida Politics – Life insurers will be in court Monday in their lawsuit against the Department of Financial Services over a law requiring them to track down insurance beneficiaries. Circuit Judge Terry Lewis is set to hear argument in the Leon County Courthouse about their request to cancel planned depositions of their employees, which they call “burdensome, harassing and irrelevant.” The department has countered it needs the testimony to show that the statute in question “responds to serious and widespread wrongs” because the companies “ignored their obligations under prior law.”

“Constitutional review panel announces committee assignments” via Florida PoliticsThe state’s Constitution Revision Commission announced committee assignments, consisting of “10 standing substantive committees and two standing procedural committees,” it said in a Friday news release.  “Establishing committees for the CRC means we can move forward on developing proposals that will benefit Florida families, businesses and students,” Chairman Carlos Beruff said in a statement … The commission, which already has held several public hearings, is empaneled every 20 years to go over the state constitution and suggest amendments that go directly on a statewide ballot. Voters still must OK any changes with 60 percent approval.

“AHCA releases invitation to negotiate for Medicaid re-procurement” via Legislative IQ powered by LobbyTools – The Agency for Health Care Administration released an invitation to negotiate for health insurers that want to participate in the state’s Medicaid program. Later this year, the state will re-procure health plans for five years to serve the 11 regions and implement in 2018

Critical audit of Suwannee River water district exposes downside of deep cuts” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The Suwannee River Water Management District, which oversees land and water resources in a 15-county rural swath of north-central Florida, failed to properly account for more than $26 million, according to a critical audit recently released by the Florida Auditor General. Weak budgetary controls led to $22.5 million in “questionable costs,” auditors found. Officials had transferred $13.3 million of it into the district’s operating account without proper authority. They may have overspent some areas of the budget and directed money to other areas to make up for shortfalls. They set aside $3.8 million “in the event of an economic crisis” without authorization, and they steered $1.7 million “to cover routinely anticipated budget shortfalls” without explanation. Auditors concluded that accounts were “misclassified because district personnel misunderstood” standard accounting requirements and budget staff members were “somewhat new to the process” so they couldn’t explain how and why it happened.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed Michael Vallencourt (reappointed) to the Clay County Utility Authority; Creston Leifried to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation; Ben Gibson to the Florida Board of Education and Katherine “Katie” Cole to the District Board of Trustees, St. Petersburg College.

Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy names Mark Kaplan chair via Florida Politics – Kaplan, an executive with the Mosaic Company, first joined the Foundation’s board in 2014. He previously served as chief of staff for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corporation and was a member of Florida’s State Board of Education. Gov. John Engler, former president of Business Roundtable and former three-term governor of Michigan, will serve as vice chair. The Foundation was established by Barbara Bush in 1989, inspired by her “vision of fostering the opportunity for every man, woman and child to secure a better life through literacy.”

New and renewed lobby registrations: Amy Bisceglia, The Rubin Group: Harris Corporation

Worth the click“Adam Corey’s ties to others in FBI probe run deep” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat

— ALOE —

“Rooted in Florida: German, Irish ancestries tops in state” via the Associated Press – New U.S. Census data released last week shows that about 10 percent of Florida’s 20 million residents say they have German ancestry. About 9 percent of Floridians claim Irish roots, more than 7 percent claim English ancestry and 7 percent claim Cuban roots. The ancestral roots with the smallest representation in Florida were Somalis, Ugandans and people from Sierra Leone.

it’s July, and retailers want you to think ‘back to school’” via Charisse Jones of USA TODAY – Amid the joys of summer, is it really time to think about heading back to school? Yes. At least that’s the message being sent by some of the nation’s biggest retailers, which already have back-to-school promotions in full swing. Chains started hyping everything from folders to pencils as early as late June. Some of the discounts seem modest, like the 10 percent off backpacks at Target, while others run pretty deep, like 60 percent off select school uniforms at J.C. Penney. The midsummer push is partly aimed at early start dates of some school districts that resume classes long before Labor Day. But there’s also a bottom-line urgency. Parents plan to spend an average of $501 per student to get their kids ready for a return to the classroom, according to a survey by consultancy Deloitte. That adds up to a projected total of $27 billion. That’s a pittance compared to U.S. retail sales that were running at nearly $5.4 trillion as of 2015, but every buck counts right now for retailers.

“Disney World getting immersive Star Wars hate, ‘Guardians’ and ‘Trone’ rides” via The Associated Press – Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, led a joyous panel where he unveiled many new projects for both domestic and international parks. New “Ratatouille,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Tron” attractions are headed to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Discussion of the Star Wars land came early in Chapek’s presentation, pleasing an eager audience. A video detailed a model on display at the expo’s “A Galaxy of Stories.” Then, Chapek revealed the name for the expansions. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will first open at Disneyland, followed shortly by a second, identical location at Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. Chapek said both are expected to open in 2019.

Disney Springs celebrates Christmas in July” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The Springs’ fountains will be decked for the holiday season and Disney Springs Marketplace while offer holiday-themed treats, merchandise and entertainment. Even Santa will be dressed for the heat at a special meet and greet at Disney’s Days of Christmas. “Summer Santa” will be available for photographs 1-10 p.m. The Art of Disney is featuring holiday inspired art with artist meet and greets. Dockside Margaritas is pouring the Snowflake Margarita, and Starbucks in the Marketplace is offering their holiday-themed drinks. The seasonal celebration begins Saturday and runs through July 30.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.
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