Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.
First in Sunburn — Frank White releases video outlining themes of his campaign for Attorney General — The Pensacola Republican has been in the AG race for a few months, but formally introduced himself to voters in a video released this morning.
“I’ve been a consistent, principled conservative my entire life,” White says in the video. “Unafraid to stand up for our values and defend our way of life. As your next attorney general, I’ll keep up the fight.”
The video touts White’s conservative bona fides in the crowded race to succeed term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, including his A+ rating from the NRA, pro-life stance, and private sector experience. “Some people running for office just talk the talk in campaign season, but as a lifelong conservative committed to defending our values, you’ll always know where I stand,” he said.
Click on the image below to view the ad:
“Florida Republicans are turning AG contest into race to the right” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — The four candidates are roughly equally matched in statewide name recognition — none of them have much — and as they battle to emerge from the pack, the shootout is turning tough early. If there is a front-runner, it might be former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody … But that impression by some party insiders comes from evidence that’s not conclusive: Moody’s early fundraising lead; her endorsements from 33 Republican sheriffs, 10 state attorneys and outgoing Attorney General Bondi; and being the only woman in a four-way race. What is clear is that Moody is a target for Jay Fant and White, who are blasting her in an internet, direct mail and news release campaign as a “liberal judge,” closet Democrat and anti-Trump. Is the primary a race to the right? “I hope so,” said Fant in an interview after a forum for the candidates last weekend.
Citing courtroom experience, rule of law, three Florida State Attorneys endorse Moody — The three are Bruce Colton (19th Circuit), Glenn Hess (14th Circuit), and William Cervone (8th Circuit). “To ensure we have criminals brought to justice, we must have an Attorney General who understands the law, has practiced in a courtroom, and has a strong record of defending our communities,” Colton said in a statement. “In order for our criminal justice system to remain strong, we need an experienced and tough Attorney General,” Hess added. “Moody has proved throughout her career that she is ready to lead our state as Florida’s Top Cop.” Cervone continued: “Moody … has the temperament and tenacity to continue that fight in Tallahassee.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @SenJeffMerkley: When @gave FL a special carve-out from Trump’s offshore drilling plan, he said it was important to “take into consideration the local & state voice.” Well, Oregonians have voices too & we’ve been clear what we think about the plan to drill off our beloved coast.
— @LedgeKing: .@on successful launch of @ rocket: “The test launch of the Falcon Heavy is a spectacular demonstration of the comeback of Florida’s Space Coast and of the U.S. commercial launch sector, which is succeeding in a big way.”
— @TaylorBiehl: It’s a privilege and an honor to represent @SpaceX — Today’s successful test launch marks a new milestone in the privatized space industry #FalconHeavy #TeslaRoadsterInOrbit @Tesla @elonmusk #FlaPol
— @JeffSchweers: Fla Gov. @finds allegations of fraud and bribery laid out in FBI search warrant for @ “troubling.” Every “public official should serve their community in an ethical manner,” said John Tupps, Scott’s Communications Director.
— @GrayRohrer: John Milton is rolling in his grave at this Senate Education hearing
— @Fineout: Bill to remove Davis and Lee birthdays from list of legal holidays was referred to 2 stops inc. committee chaired by @— it’s never been heard
— @MDixon55: Lawmakers have raided trust funds, cut millions in funding for various things, approved language giving vendor-specific contracts, among many other things, with much less debate than this UCF license plate amendment
— @CarlosGSmith: BREAKING: Less than 24 hours after meeting w/me, @has reversed course and is expanding their employee insurance coverage to include the HIV prevention pill, PrEP! Diplomacy LIVES!
— @SchmitzMedia: I’ve heard the war chant enough times today (twice) to determine that FSU Day at the capitol is actually my worst nightmare.
— @SkipFoster: Wow — some dreadful takes from statewide media today on Tallahassee/FBI story. Assuming that yesterday’s affidavit info (broken by
@TDOnline) represents the entire scope of the investigation, is dangerous and very premature.
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— DAYS UNTIL —
The next government shutdown (maybe) — 1; Pyeongchang Winter Olympics — 2; Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training — 6; Valentine’s Day — 7; Last day for regularly scheduled legislative committee meetings — 20; Disney Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival — 22; Last day to take up Special Order Calendar — 26; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program termination begins — 26; Sine Die (maybe) — 30; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 52; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 105; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 135; Primary Election Day — 202; General Election Day — 272; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 370.
— JUST OFF EMBARGO —
The University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab is releasing this morning fresh numbers in a potential Bill Nelson vs. Rick Scott showdown, as well as job approval ratings for Donald Trump, Bob Mueller, Nelson, Scott, and Marco Rubio.
— In the U.S. Senate race, 48 percent of likely voters plan to vote Bill Nelson, 42 percent plan to vote for Scott.
— Nelson’s approval rating is 52/20, although 26 percent expressed they don’t know how Nelson is handling his job.
— Scott’s approval rating is 63/31.
— The generic ballot shows 42 percent of likely voters indicate they would vote for the Democratic candidate, 40 percent would plan to vote for the Republican candidate.
— When asked about President Trump’s job approval rating, 43 percent strongly or somewhat approve of how he’s handling his job, while 53 percent disapprove somewhat or strongly. Trump’s approval rating us up 6 percentage points from October, while his net negatives have improved by 12 points.
— 40 percent of Florida voters approve of the way Robert Mueller is handling his job as Special Counsel, while 28 percent somewhat or strongly disapprove.
For more on the poll, visit the Lab’s site here.
— “In dueling Florida Senate polls, Nelson either leads or is tied with Scott” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Assignment editors — At 10 a.m., Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will visit the Veterans Arts Center Tampa Bay, 6798 Crosswinds Dr. N., Suite B106 in St. Petersburg.
First on #FlaPol — Internal memo says Jimmy Patronis has raised $2 million for CFO bid — A memo sent by Cavalry Strategies’ Melissa Stone to Patronis’ supporters indicates the sitting CFO has now raised more than $2 million in his bid for a full term. “We are happy to report that as of today, just a few days into February, CFO Jimmy Patronis officially surpassed the $2 Million mark in fundraising toward his reelection,” the memo reads. “A total of $1.98 Million of our more than $2 million raised to date will be included in the January reports for the Patronis campaign and the CFO’s political committee, Treasure Florida.” The memo then includes a “sneak peek” of the January numbers, which show the campaign raising $121,825 in January for a total of $360,515 raised, while Treasure Florida added $193,000 during the month to bring its to-date total past $1.62 million.
“Alvin Brown messages on Trump praise for Al Lawson” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Lawson was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to applaud Trump during the State of the Union last week … “Who was that guy? He was a nice guy. I think he was a reverend. And he was clapping,” Trump said in Cincinnati. “And I wouldn’t say it was exactly a rousing — but he was putting his hands together. And I want to find out who he is. I’m going to send him a letter of thank you. And he was probably severely reprimanded.” It’s doubtful whether a “letter of thank you” from Trump would help Lawson in a primary against former Jacksonville Mayor Brown, who is happy to pillory Lawson as a DINO. “It is deeply troubling that Al Lawson claps for the Trump agenda in Washington as people back home struggle to make ends meet. While the black jobless rate is at its lowest levels following President Obama’s years of hard work, there remains more to be done,” the former Jacksonville mayor said after the SOTU.
“GOP operatives squabble over congressional candidate John Ward giving Alvin Brown money” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The hits keep on coming in the brass-knuckled GOP primary race in Florida’s 6th Congressional District … Florida Politics obtained records of candidate Ward giving to a Democratic candidate in the 2015 Jacksonville mayor’s race. Ward, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident, was one of some Jacksonville Republican donors who gave to Brown, a former mayor who is now primarying Lawson in Florida’s 5th Congressional District … Ward gave $250 in May 2014, days before Curry jumped into the mayor’s race. However, most observers knew Curry was eyeballing a run as far back as 2013. Ward has attacked primary opponent Mike Waltz, for cutting an ad in opposition to Trump in 2016 during the fractious Republican primaries. Another Curry strategist, Tim Baker, is running Waltz’s campaign. Baker believes the donation raises questions. “Why was it important that Ward from Massachusetts support a liberal mayor of Jacksonville,” Baker wondered.
“CD 12 Democratic hopeful Chris Hunter says he’s running to restore ‘principled leadership’ to D.C.” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — “I think people in the 12th District are looking for restoration of principled leadership at all levels. That’s not partisan, that’s just what all of us should expect out of those who offer to serve,” says the Trinity-based Democrat who filed to run for Congress last month. “People respect the fact that I’ve served our community. I’ve served our country, and I offer an approach to principled leadership that is appealing to people no matter where they’re coming from politically.” A Hershey, Pennsylvania native who moved to Florida a decade ago, Hunter resigned from his position as a senior prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice in December to pursue a run for political office. He says he “loved every single thing about” about his work with the DOJ and before that with the FBI. Hunter’s a lifelong believer in American service that can be performed in a variety of ways.
“American Action Network touts tax reform in new South Florida digital ads” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — The spots will run in Florida’s 18th and 26th Congressional Districts, represented by Republican Reps. Brian Mast and Carlos Curbelo, respectively. The ads are part of the AAN’s $2.5 million digital ad campaign to promote the merits of tax reform following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act shortly before Christmas. They are one of a handful of conservative organizations touting the benefits of the tax cut nationally. “All across the country, working families are seeing real results, from paycheck bonuses to an average tax cut of $2,000 thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” said Corry Bliss, AAN executive director. “AAN will continue to promote the benefits of pro-growth tax reform for the middle class because families deserve to know how these cuts will provide them with much-needed peace of mind.”
Click on the image below for an example of the ad:
— “County Commissioner Dave Eggers backing Nick DiCeglie in HD 66 race” via Florida Politics
HD 72 hopeful James Buchanan asks opponent Margaret Good: Do you support sanctuary cities? — An email from the Buchanan campaign features a video from a recent candidate forum with Good saying she thinks a proposed sanctuary city bill will “cost the taxpayers a lot of money to litigate it when that is not the issue the taxpayers care about.” In a statement, Buchanan’s campaign repeated that the candidate is strongly opposed to sanctuary cities and supports a statewide ban … “I enjoyed participating in the forum … answering questions directly from voters,” Buchanan said. “But once again, my opponent has refused to answer the question whether she supports banning Sanctuary Cities here in Florida. As a public servant, we must be accountable and honest to those we represent. Unfortunately, my opponent has been deceitful in her response to the voters of Sarasota.”
Click on the image below to watch video from the forum:
“Miami could vote four times in nine months for a state House seat. Does this make any sense?” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Triggered by Daisy Baez’s resignation late last year, the effort to fill Florida’s open House District 114 seat could ultimately cost Florida taxpayers $1.2 million while requiring some voters to head to the polls as many as four times in nine months. On Feb. 20, Republican voters will officially kick off the process by naming their nominee for the seat. There is no Democratic primary before the May election because that party has only one candidate. Whoever wins the seat outright in the special election, it’s a virtual guarantee that person won’t pass a single bill or take one vote of significance before being forced to win one and perhaps two more elections if another primary comes into play. It’s possible that the winner in May could be out by November. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” said Jose Pazos, who is running against Andrew Vargas in the Republican primary.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
First on #FlaPol — “Teachers union asks if Republicans are ‘too cowardly’ to stand up to Richard Corcoran” via Florida Politics — The Florida Education Association has more than a few gripes with the omnibus education bill being fast tracked by Speaker Corcoran, and it’s going after a long list of Republican representatives to put a stop to it. “This monstrosity is a clear attempt to destroy our public schools…,” FEA president Joanne McCall said of HB 7055. “Today we are asking lawmakers to stand up to Speaker Corcoran and for our children …” And by “asking,” she means putting out ads. FEA’s campaign includes a 30-second ad deriding the “bully bill” and select Republican lawmakers are getting the local treatment by way of a direct mail campaign depicting them as being under the thumb of “Big Government Bully Richard Corcoran.” Each of the mailers says Corcoran is “pretty sure” the targeted lawmaker “is too much of a coward to stand up to him” while the flipside dives right into attacks on the bill and Corcoran. Don’t be a coward. Stand up to Richard Corcoran, the ultimate big government bully” is emblazoned across the top of each edition.
Here is an example of one of the mailers:
“Bill to expand the number of retroactive death penalty cases advances” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — A proposal to expand the number of prisoners on death row who could have their sentences reviewed by a jury was approved by a Senate committee Tuesday. The issue dates back to 2016 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida’s death penalty was unconstitutional. The ruling compelled the Legislature to rewrite its sentencing laws, with the current law now requiring a unanimous jury verdict for the state to impose a death sentence. However, the Court later ruled death sentences finalized before the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 24, 2002, would remain in effect. “It’s just a matter of justice,” declared Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Randolph Bracy, a Democrat from Ocoee sponsoring the bill.
“ACLU objects but ‘free expression’ bill clears Senate committee” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Senate version of the “Campus Free Expression Act” cleared its first panel on a party-line vote Tuesday over the opposition of the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter. The ACLU of Florida says the bill (SB 1234) “would make Florida public colleges and universities legally liable for disruptions caused by student protesters.” Democrats on the Senate Education Committee also feared the bill would chill speech and lead to lawsuits against universities over counter-protests, such as by those who jeered and shouted down white supremacist Richard Spencer when he spoke at the University of Florida in October. The measure would apply only at public institutions. It eventually was OK’d on a 7-4 vote.
“Effort to remove Confederate holidays advances despite being called ‘cultural genocide” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Legislation that would cut state holidays honoring Confederate figures advanced in the Senate despite pushback from numerous speakers who said the proposal would be “cultural genocide” and an “insult” to their ancestors. Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, is sponsoring the bill, which she acknowledged in committee to be a “sensitive issue” to tackle in the Florida Legislature. Her measure cleared the Senate Community Affairs Committee, with Republican Sens. Tom Lee and Aaron Bean against it. The companion bill in the House has yet to be heard in committee, making the proposal’s chances of passing the Legislature this session slim. If the plan were to pass, it would remove the birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, and Confederate Memorial Day from the state’s list of legal holidays.
“The chances of resurrecting Florida’s Office of Drug Control this year appear slim” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — It was a top recommendation by a statewide panel created by Gov. Scott: bring back the Office of Drug Control to coordinate the state’s opioid fight. But of the four bills in the Legislature that would revive the office, not one is scheduled to be heard in a committee yet. With the 2018 legislative session already halfway over, the chances of one of them passing are slim. “You never know. I’m still working on trying to get it put up,” said state Rep. Nicholas Duran, who sponsored one of the bills in the House. “There still is time.” He said he had a hard time convincing Republican leadership, which controls the committees that hear the bills, that the office was necessary.
“Bill Galvano hopeful — but not betting — on gambling resolution” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Senate’s point man on gambling issues Tuesday said he sees “a way forward” on a grand gambling bargain — but also suggested lawmakers may have to fold ’em and walk away. Senate President-designate Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, is representing his chamber as he and House Speaker-designate Jose Oliva try to land a comprehensive gambling bill that’s eluded the Legislature for years. The House has proposed including in that package a renewed deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida guaranteeing the state $3 billion over seven years … in return for exclusive rights to offer blackjack and slot machines outside of South Florida … And what if the Tribe won’t back down on new slots and designated player games, which the Senate proposal allows? “I think we would have to regroup on how we want our relationship to exist with the Tribe going forward,” Galvano said. “This is based on my assessment of the landscape before us.”
“Ruff and tumble: Battle of greyhound bills on in Senate” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — One Senate bill aims to ban giving any steroids to racing dogs. Another would allow steroids for canine birth control. Now, the sponsor of the second bill is essentially trying to copy-paste his bill on the first. On Tuesday afternoon, Delray Beach Democrat Kevin Rader filed an amendment on Tampa Republican Dana Young‘s steroid ban (SB 674) … But the amendment is essentially Rader’s bill (SB 1774), which would allow dog trainers to give anabolic steroids to racing greyhounds. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks … “This amendment, being pushed by greyhound breeders, is absurd,” Young said in a text message. “It takes a bill that bans the use of steroids in greyhounds, and expressly authorizes it … There is nothing about this amendment that helps protect greyhounds.”
“Campus free speech bill passes Senate education. But does it expand students’ rights?” via Erin Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — It was Florida State University Day at the Capitol, and shortly before the Seminole marching band began blaring their triumphant “War Chant” outside, the Senate Education Committee was locked in heated debate over free speech on university campuses. The committee eventually passed SB 1234, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley along party lines. It has one more committee in the Senate before it will hit the floor and its House version is on a similar track. The bill has essentially two halves: one piece would expressly put schools on the hook for lawsuits, fines and attorney’s fees if they violate certain free speech rules, including if protests are found to “materially disrupt” previously scheduled events. “I don’t like that. I have talked to some members of the legislature about that. I think it’s going a little bit too far,” said FSU President John Thrasher, a former Speaker of the Florida House, who was at the Capitol. Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Perry Thurston, Jr., of Lauderhill voiced concern during committee that this bill could take away the power of universities to have control over the events that take place on their campuses, and could discourage counter-protests like those staged at the University of Florida when white supremacist Spencer spoke last fall.
“Bill criminalizing unpermitted access to electronic devices moves ahead” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Law enforcement officers in Florida could soon need probable cause and warrants to get access to a suspect’s mobile location tracking device if legislation that is moving ahead in the Legislature is approved. The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes cleared its first Senate committee stop on Tuesday. He is proposing making it a crime to read a text message, email or other communication on a person’s cellphone without their permission — or without a warrant. “We need to make sure Florida laws keep pace with changes in technology,” he said. A companion bill in the House sponsored by state Rep. Jamie Grant is also moving ahead in the chamber and has two more committees before it hits the full floor. The bills differ in provisions that would offer protections to businesses that gather information that is not personally identifiable.
“Senators lash out at insurance industry during hearing on AOB reform” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — The Senate Judiciary Committee stripped assignment of benefits legislation of an attorney-fee provision despised by the insurance industry. But that didn’t satisfy industry objections to the overall bill. And that really annoyed a couple of key senators. An amendment to CS/SB 1168 by Judiciary Committee chairman Greg Steube eliminated language barring carriers from factoring any attorney fee awards they pay into their premium structures. Nevertheless, a stream of insurance and big-business lobbyists said the amended bill wouldn’t solve the main problem, which they saw as abuse by contractors using assignment of benefits, or AOB, agreements to extract legal fees from carriers. Steube said none of the critics could explain why his language wouldn’t help solve the problem and pointed to a provision allowing carriers to collect attorney fees from plaintiffs if the latter refuse a good faith offer of settlement and then lose in court.
“Bill that would have let pharmacists test and treat flu, strep stalls in committee” via Elizabeth Koh of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — A bill that would have allowed pharmacists to test and treat the flu or strep infections was shelved in a state Senate committee meeting, after pushback from physicians and committee members about patients bypassing their primary care providers. SB 524, sponsored by Sen. Brandes would have given pharmacists the ability to conduct a basic swab test for flu or strep throat and dispense treatment such as prescription Tamiflu or antibiotics, without patients going to the doctor first to be diagnosed. Though the bill would have required pharmacists to undergo an eight-hour certification course, multiple physicians cited concerns at the meeting that pharmacists would still not have the medical training to adequately diagnose the flu or any complications a patient might have from a basic test.
“Pre-arrest diversion program bill clears House panel with lingering concerns” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Pinellas County lawmakers are hoping to implement a pre-arrest diversion program in their county across the state, but some lawmakers in the House opposed the measure because they fear violent offenders may slip through the cracks. “If there’s an Achilles’ heel with the bill it could be the notion that violent offenders could be caught in the citation process,” Republican state Rep. Fant said. The bill cleared the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee in the end with Fant and state Rep. Joe Gruters. Under the proposal, two separate pre-arrest diversion programs would be created in each judicial circuit in the state. One for adults and one for juveniles. The goal would be to give some misdemeanor offenders community service before they are pushed through the criminal justice system.
Senate advances funding for alternative transportation projects in Miami-Dade and Tampa Bay via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics — The Senate Transportation Committee pushed Tampa Republican Young’s bill (SB 1200) that would take $60 million from a fund initially created to help pay for a high-speed rail project from Tampa to Orlando and begin to use it for alternative transportation projects, mostly in the Tampa Bay area and Miami-Dade County. To be called the “Statewide Alternative Transportation Authority, it wouldn’t start until 2021-2022, when the existing fund account which currently goes to SunRail in Orlando is exhausted….”This is beyond building another road,” Young told the committee. “This is using the highest and best technology available, such as autonomous vehicles, autonomous buses, bus rapid transit and perhaps a ferry that can operate in a solvent manner.” Under the proposed legislation, $25 million would go annually to the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA), $25 million to Miami-Dade, and $10 million to other projects throughout the state.
“Senators wade into legal thicket of vegetable garden” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Hermine Ricketts and Laurence Carroll are asking the Florida Supreme Court to resolve a long-running dispute with the Village of Miami Shores, which passed an ordinance four years ago banning front-yard vegetable gardens like the one the couple had maintained for nearly two decades. The ordinance also allowed the village to impose fines of up to $50 per day for noncompliance. Ricketts and Carroll turned to the state high court, which hasn’t decided yet whether it will accept the case after two lower courts sided with Miami Shores and upheld the regulation. In the meantime, a powerful state senator has taken up the couple’s cause, with a proposal that would prohibit local governments from telling homeowners where they can plant their veggies. And a Senate committee backed the proposal. “Thomas Jefferson would roll over in his grave if he knew that code enforcement officers would one day require Americans to dig up and throw away vegetables grown on their own property,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, sponsor of the measure, said in a text message.
“John Thrasher, Willie Taggart turn it up for supporters during FSU Day at Capitol” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — News that more than 50,000 first-year applicants want to attend Florida State University combined with the presence of a new head football coach treated like a rock star turned FSU Day at the Capitol into a grand celebration … Thrasher was upbeat as he told the cheering crowd the university has received 48,000 applications for the summer and fall enrollment — already breaking last-year’s record of 41,000. “When it’s all said and done, we will have received over 50,000 applications for our next freshman class,” Thrasher said. Those kinds of achievements could impress legislators as FSU seeks $90 million to support hiring world-class faculty and scholars, advance its professional and graduate degree programs and maintain existing buildings. An additional $75 million is being requested for new construction.
Assignment editors — The Florida Commission on the Status of Women will host its annual Legislative Education Summit to educate Florida women about how to engage with the Florida Legislature and navigate the legislative process. Event begins 9 a.m. to noon at the R.A. Gray Building, Heritage Hall Auditorium, 500 S. Bronough Street; from noon to 1:45 p.m. at the 22nd Floor of The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St.; from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room of the Florida House, 402 S. Monroe St. in Tallahassee.
Assignment editors — State Sen. Daphne Campbell and Reps. Emily Slosberg, Rick Stark and Randy Fine join members of the Jewish Legislative Caucus to announce Jewish Heritage Week. News conference begins 1 p.m. outside the House Chamber, 4th Floor Rotunda, The Capitol.
Assignment editors — State Reps. Katie Edwards-Walpole and Sean Shaw join Broward County Mayor Beam Furr, Broward County Commissioners Nan Rich, Michael Udine, Chip LaMarca, Steve Geller and Barbara Sharief, and representatives of the Small County Coalition of Florida for a news conference to highlight the affordable housing crisis in Florida and urge state lawmakers to prioritize affordable housing in the state budget. Event begins 11 a.m. outside the House Chamber, 4th Floor Rotunda, The Capitol.
Assignment editors — The League of Women Voters of Florida will host a news conference to give a progress report on rooftop solar growth in Florida over the past year. Invited to attend: state Sen. Brandes; Rep. Lori Berman; Phil Compton, Sierra Club; Susan Glickman, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Heaven Campbell, Solar United Neighbors; Deirdre Macnab, LWV of Florida. Event begins 2 p.m. on the front steps of the Historic Capitol (East side facing Apalachee Parkway).
Governors Club Wednesday lunch buffet menu — Mixed green salad with assorted dressings; crispy coleslaw; tomato mozzarella salad; potato leek soup; beef lasagna; shrimp and baby scallop spaghetti with arrabiata; roasted sweet potatoes; green bean almandine; zucchini, roasted garlic and tomato; hot fudge brownie for dessert.
— STATEWIDE —
“Florida Job growth Grant fund hands out $35 million in grant awards” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — Nine new projects will receive awards to “help enhance community infrastructure” or develop workforce training and are projected by Scott’s office to have “demonstrated a strong return on investment.” Florida Department of Economic Opportunity officials said they chose the grants from 225 proposals requesting $821 million in investments. “Each selected proposal has a strong return on investment and a commitment to improving the regional economic climate by meeting specific workforce and infrastructure needs,” said Florida DEO executive director Cissy Proctor. The Canaveral Port Authority will receive the largest grant — nearly $8.3 million — to make roadway access improvements for cruise and cargo terminals.
Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will make an announcement in Miami Lakes about a new employment partnership for families displaced by Hurricane Maria. Event begins 10 a.m. at the Ana G. Mendez University, 15201 NW. 79th Court in Miami Lakes. Then, he will attend a 2:30 p.m. ribbon-cutting of Tampa International Airport’s new state-of-the-art rental car center and SkyConnect trains, 4100 George J. Bean Pkwy. in Tampa. At 5 p.m., the governor will highlight job growth at Rapid Composites, 2216 72nd Dr. E. in Sarasota.
“Abortion rights, greyhound racing on agenda as hundreds address constitution commission” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Hundreds of people came to Nova Southeastern University to offer views on more than a dozen other issues, as the Florida Constitution Revision Commission held the first of several meetings to hear from the public. Although the commission has 37 members, just 15 attended the opening of the meeting and the number had dwindled to eight by late afternoon. Chairman Carlos Beruff attended the first part of the meeting but was absent for the last several hours. Meredith Beatrice, spokeswoman for the commission, said some members had prior commitments but all will be kept informed of what happened at the meeting by their fellow commissioners. “The commission members all make a good-faith effort to attend as many public hearings as possible,” she said. The crowd at the university’s Rick Case Arena in Davie was overwhelmingly liberal, judging from speakers’ statements against abortion restrictions, offshore drilling and state funding for religious schools, as well as the green approval placards audience members held up in support.
“Tax law savings eyed for utility customers” via the News Service of Florida — With tax savings already expected to cover nearly $2 billion in hurricane-related costs, Florida regulators Tuesday began moving forward with a process to figure how utility customers should benefit from the federal tax overhaul. In recent weeks, Duke, Tampa Electric, and Florida Power & Light have announced that they will use tax savings to avoid billing customers for Hurricane Irma and other storm restoration costs, a total estimated tab that tops $1.9 billion. The Public Service Commission on Tuesday signed off on Duke’s plan to shield customers from getting hit with $513 million in storm costs. The Public Service Commission approved moving forward with a process that will start Thursday with staff members meeting with electric utilities. Meetings with gas, water and wastewater utilities will follow next week. Commission lawyer Suzanne Brownless said each utility has a “unique financial situation.
“To protect toddler, DCF had mom sign ‘safety plan.’ She agreed — then slashed his throat.” via Monique O. Madan, Carli Teproff and Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — When her daughter’s drug abuse and mental illness left her grandson in peril, Yalerkis “Gigi” Ramos turned to the state for help. Ramos wanted child welfare workers to keep her daughter away from 2-year-old Alphonse Gonzalez … Instead, the Department of Children & Families gave her a contract in which her daughter, Nathaly Ramos, pledged to keep the youngster safe — but was allowed to continue seeing the boy, who was placed by the agency with his uncle and grandmother. It was called a safety plan. But it couldn’t protect Alphonse from his own mother. On Sunday, 22-year-old Nathaly Ramos — a black belt in jiu-jitsu — stabbed her boyfriend with a knife as he slept, plunged the blade into Alphonse’s neck and then gashed herself. Police say an unidentified person in the home stopped her from killing herself. Ramos and her boyfriend survived the attack. Alphonse did not. He died in his grandmother’s arms on the way to Homestead Hospital. Alphonse was the second Miami-Dade child to die from the abuse or neglect of his own mother in just the past month, police say.
“Second boy at daycare died of meningitis, lawyer says. But the case was already closed.” via Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — For more than a month, the Florida Department of Health says it has been unable to obtain confirmation from Belize on the cause of death for a 2-year-old boy who attended a Miami daycare center, where one other child died of meningitis in December. Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman for the health department, said the agency closed the investigation into the YWCA Carol Glassman Donaldson Childcare Center Jan. 31. “After repeated attempts to obtain information from Belize to no avail, we have closed the investigation,” she said in an email. But an attorney representing the family of the 2-year-old boy, who died in Belize Dec. 10, said he has an autopsy report from that country confirming the child had meningitis — and that the health department never contacted him about its investigation. Todd Michaels, who declined to name the boy who died in Belize, said he was “flabbergasted” that the health department had not followed up with him.
“Florida can regulate Brightline, Indian River attorney says” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Based on the results of a records request from state Sen. Debbie Mayfield and state Rep. Erin Grall, Indian River County Attorney Dylan Reingold declared that Florida can legally regulate Brightline trains, and that the Department of Transportation knows that. Reingold cited correspondence Mayfield and Grall dug up that shows the Federal Railroad Administration advising the Florida Department of Transportation that there is no federal pre-emption of state train regulations on various matters. That means if Florida were to pass the high-speed train safety bills that Mayfield has sponsored in the Senate and Grall and MaryLynn Magar have sponsored in the house, the law ought to be enforceable by the Florida Department of Transportation, Reingold told the Indian River County Board of Commissioners.
“Waste Pro confirms it is cooperating in Tallahassee FBI probe” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Waste Pro USA, the city and county’s residential trash vendor, acknowledged it is working with federal law enforcement in their public corruption investigation of City Commissioner Scott Maddox and Downtown Improvement Authority Executive Director Paige Carter-Smith. “I can share that the company is cooperating with law enforcement,” said Sara Brady, a spokeswoman for Waste Pro, “but (we) aren’t able to provide comment at this time because we don’t want to do anything that could compromise the investigation.” However, the firm — which has long-standing ties to Maddox and Carter-Smith — would not say whether it is the same business listed in FBI search warrant documents as “Company Three.” When asked whether it was, Ralph Mills, a regional vice president for Waste Pro, said, “I would rather not comment on that if you don’t mind.”
“Miami Beach official accepted stays from hotelier. Now both face corruption charges.” via Joey Flechas and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — One of Miami Beach’s former top city officials surrendered to face allegations he accepted free stays at resorts and discounted trips to the Dominican Republic and Mexico while doling out favors for a Spanish hotel chain. But prosecutors aren’t only going after Mariano Fernandez — they’ve also filed unlawful compensation charges against executives of the RIU Hotel & Resorts, which owns more than 100 hotels in 19 countries, including a resort on South Beach. Among those charged: the company’s chairman, Luis Riu Gell Jr. The charges were long expected for Fernandez, who was fired late last year by Miami Beach and had been suspended since August.
“William Matthew Dupree cuts deal in Mitch Needelman corruption saga” via John McCarthy of FLORIDA TODAY — Dupree pleaded guilty to bribery, just before his trial in the Needelman corruption saga was about to begin. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, bid tampering and unlawful campaign contributions. Dupree faces up to 15 years in prison on the bribery charge. Had he been convicted of all four charges, he would have faced up to 40 years in prison. Sentencing is April 9. The state attorney’s office said there was no agreement about the sentence Dupree will receive as part of the deal. Needelman, the former Brevard County Clerk of Courts, was convicted of similar charges in October, but his lawyers are still battling to have those convictions thrown out over allegations of juror misconduct.
“Publix reverses, will cover HIV prevention drug for workers” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — … remedying an omission that doctors and gay rights groups said was highly unusual. Publix announced its change in a Twitter reply to state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando-area Democrat who had met with company officials to discuss their refusal to cover Truvada for PrEP. The 6-year-old drug is more than 95 percent effective in preventing the contraction of human immunodeficiency virus, which can cause AIDS. It is usually prescribed to HIV-negative gay men and other people at higher risk of infection. Smith tweeted about his meeting with Publix officials, saying they confirmed the decision not to cover the drug but would not say if it “was based solely on cost or some absurd moral objection they have to PrEP.”
“Disney returns to negotiating table with unions later this month” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The two sides are returning to the bargaining table to discuss wages for the first time since the unions overwhelmingly rejected a proposed contract Dec. 20. The Service Trades Council Union is made up of six unions that represents just under 40,000 Disney employees, including custodians, bus drivers, attractions workers, vacation planners and technicians who run the entertainment. About 93 percent of union voters turned down the offer that would have given a raise of at least 50 cents an hour as well as a one-time $200 bonus for full-time employees and those who get tips. Some Disney employees said they voted against the contract because they deserved higher wages and struggled financially to make ends meet.
“AccuWeather blames weather service for bogus tsunami warning” via The Associated Press — The National Tsunami Warning Center sent the test message around 8:30 a.m. … Users of the popular AccuWeather app then got a false tsunami alert. The message was sent to phones throughout the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. State College, Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather blamed the National Weather Service for the false alarm, saying the weather service “miscoded” a test message as a real warning. The word “TEST” was in the header of the message, but the private forecaster said it passes along weather service warnings based on a computer scan of codes. “Tsunami warnings are handled with the utmost concern by AccuWeather, and it has sophisticated algorithms to scan the entire message, not just header words, as from the time of a warning to the actual event can be mere minutes,” the forecaster said in a statement.
Po’money — Feeding Florida, the statewide network of 13 member food banks, has partnered with Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille on Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee. For every Po’boy sandwich the restaurant sells, Feeding Florida gets $1. For every dollar, Feeding Florida can source 40 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables for Florida’s food insecure. More reason to go out for lunch when at the Capitol.
— DIVIDENDS —
VISIT Florida is once again showing the public that investment in tourism pays off.
Amid record visitation and out-of-state spending numbers, newly released data by Smith Travel Research (STR) shows an ongoing hotel construction boom is correlated with
the state’s premier tourism-marketing agency’s efforts.
The news comes at a time when lawmakers in both chambers are considering less than ideal allocations for the agency. The House budget proposes $76 million and the Senate wants to cut that number to $50 million.
Gov. Scott, a VISIT FLORIDA ally, has requested $100 million to fund the agency.
Increasing inns: Since 2012, 107 new hotels have been built in the Sunshine State, creating 115,948 more rooms. There are 109 more hotels under construction and an additional 307 hotels are expected to break ground in the next two years.
The battle continues: On Tuesday, Scott hinted he’ll continue to fight for his requested allocation by saying, “I’ve asked for $100 million in the budget this year for Visit Florida. We have $3 billion dollars projected revenue over recurring expenses this year and we have the money to invest.”
Lawson’s in this, too: President and CEO of VISIT FLORIDA Ken Lawson said, “We will keep fighting for full funding of $100 million to match the huge investments in our hotel industry, create more jobs, and make Florida the number one global destination.”
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump’s ‘marching orders’ to the Pentagon: Plan a grand military parade” via Greg Jaffe and Philip Rucker of The Washington Post — Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning. Surrounded by the military’s highest-ranking officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Trump’s seemingly abstract desire for a parade was suddenly heard as a presidential directive, the officials said. “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” said a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the planning discussions are supposed to remain confidential. “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.” Shows of military strength are not typical in the United States — and they don’t come cheap.
“FEMA contract called for 30 million meals for Puerto Ricans. 50,000 were delivered.” via Patricia Mazzei and Agustin Armendariz of The New York Times — For this huge task, FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help. Brown hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey. By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000. And FEMA inspectors discovered a problem: The food had been packaged separately from the pouches used to heat them. FEMA’s solicitation required “self-heating meals.” “Do not ship another meal. Your contract is terminated,” Carolyn Ward, the FEMA contracting officer who handled Tribute’s agreement, wrote to Brown in an email … “This is a logistical nightmare.”
“Rubio: FISA memo ‘raises questions’ but Russia investigation much deeper” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “The investigation is about a lot more than just this individual, Carter Page,” Rubio said on Fox News, referring to work by special counsel Mueller and the probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Rubio is a member. Asked about the Democratic memo that contends the GOP version distorts the chain of events, Rubio said: “I don’t think we can reveal sources or methods but I do think at this point transparency is best so that there’s no he-said-she-said or any sort of mysterious information out there no one’s heard about, in order to avoid conspiracy theories. But even while we learn more about the FISA process and whether it was appropriately used, I think it’s important to understand — and the CIA director himself has said it — the Russians are and will continue to try to sow conflict in our country for purposes of disrupting elections whether or not they get the outcome they want.”
“Democrats balk at Rubio-Ivanka Trump paid leave proposal” via Ian Kullgren of POLITICO Florida — At a Democratic roundtable on paid leave at the Capitol, Democrats and their allies criticized Rubio’s framework, which would allow people to dip into Social Security benefits to care for a new child or sick family member, saying it wouldn’t be sustainable and — in its purest form — wouldn’t give workers paid time off. Instead, they reaffirmed their support for the “Family Act,” S. 337 (115), by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, which would provide six weeks’ paid leave through a hike in payroll taxes, the cost of which would be split between employers and employees. “I was quite alarmed when I read Rubio’s proposal,” said Rep. John Larson. “We have some incredible initiatives out there, that we think when the Democrats take control in ’18 will be part of our agenda.”
Happening today — “Jeff Sessions to discuss opioid epidemic in Tampa” via the News Service of Florida — Sessions is in Tampa to address drug trafficking and the opioid epidemic … will address the issues during a midday appearance at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa. The visit comes as Florida lawmakers and Gov. Scott also consider steps to try to cut opioid addiction and overdoses that have plagued the state in recent years. The state Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to take up a bill (SB 8), filed by Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto that would make a series of changes aimed at curbing the epidemic.
— OPINIONS —
“Brian Crowley: Why Scott should not run for the Senate. It’s not what you think.” via The Crowley Political Report — During most of his adult life, Scott has been an executive. Scott is accustomed to making decisions and taking action. The Senate is the opposite. For the most part, it does very little. In fact, the average senator does very little and that is baked into the system. If Scott wins … he will either be part of a slim majority party or be part of a minority party — an even worse hell than being a junior member in the majority party. One does not get clout — or is even listened to in the Senate, just because one won. As the junior senator from Florida, Scott would have less clout than the newly minted senior senator, fellow Republican Rubio. And let’s face it, once the shine of Rubio’s rising star image wore off, he is now merely a second term senator with no prospect of a serious committee chairmanship for years to come. Trust me, Rubio is bored out of his mind and frustrated as hell … Scott will be bored out of his mind.
“Edmund Pezalla: PBMS — patient advocates for high quality, affordable prescription drugs” via Florida Politics — There is so much rancor and finger-pointing these days over prescription drug prices that consumers are often left to wonder: who is fighting on their behalf? The answer: Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs. Companies and public programs providing prescription drug coverage hire PBMs for their expertise, and ability to reduce drug costs by negotiating for rebates and discounts from big drug companies and drugstores. It would be too expensive and complicated for employers, or other payers, to match PBMs’ ability to reduce drug costs, while providing access. Having been involved as a clinician representing insurers and PBMs for more than 25 years, I know firsthand the importance of leveraging savings while ensuring that patients have the medications they need. It is easy to see that PBMs reduce drug costs, but often overlooked is the clinical value that they provide payers and patients. PBMs and PBM-affiliated specialty pharmacies work in coordination with their clients to carefully evaluate new drugs, review existing drugs, and apply sophisticated drug assessments that promote the best use of complex medications, and the appropriate use of mainstay drugs.
“TaxWatch: Drop the lawsuits and let Brightline roll” via Dominic Calabro for the Orlando Sentinel — By the year 2035, more than 25 million people will call Florida home. This growth will put tremendous pressure on the state’s transportation infrastructure and challenge our ability to safely and efficiently move people and goods from one region of the state to another. Rail transportation will play an increasingly important role in meeting the mobility needs of Florida residents, businesses and visitors … Despite the best intentions of local elected officials, to continue to spend taxpayer dollars to delay Brightline further or otherwise make it more expensive to construct and operate Brightline is not good public policy. Brightline will divert an estimated 1.5 million passengers annually from other modes of transportation and, in so doing, will decrease harmful emissions and improve overall air quality and safety. Brightline is projected to create 1,100 new jobs that will generate $294 million in labor income through the year 2021. The direct economic benefit to the state because of Brightline is projected to exceed $915 million. Florida needs projects like Brightline, projects that meet public needs using private dollars.
— MOVEMENTS —
First in Sunburn — “Florida Retail Federation reorganizes, promotes external affairs team” via Florida Politics — The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) is promoting three employees from its newly created External Affairs division to coordinate relations with legislators, members and partners. Melissa Joiner Ramba will become vice president for both FRF and the Georgia Retailers, where she will oversee the external affairs of both organizations. James Miller is the new Senior Director of External Affairs and Jake Farmer is now Legislative & Communications Coordinator. Ramba has been with FRF since 2013 and previously served as vice president of Governmental Affairs; her new position will expand to focus on governmental affairs, communications and other external projects. Miller has been with FRF since 2015, where he has managed both FRF and Georgia Retailers’ communications efforts. His new title of Senior Director of External Affairs expands his focus to responsibilities in both organizations’ external communications. Farmer’s new title of Legislative & Communications Coordinator will increase his focus on working with senior staff on communications efforts including membership, media and legislators.
Spotted — Jones Walker partner Marc Dunbar of Tallahassee will “join international gaming law thought leaders at the World Regulatory Assembly and the World Regulatory Briefing at the ICE Totally Gaming conference in London,” according to a Tuesday news release. “During the conference, Mr. Dunbar will take part in a Masterclass hosted by the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) on issues impacting the gaming industry worldwide, on February 7. The annual conference in London brings together the top international players in the gaming industry with over 30,000 attendees from over 150 different countries.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Ballard Partners: Piaggio Fast Forward
Michael Bellamy: Florida Professional Firefighters
Taylor Biehl, Jeffrey Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Kings III of America
Jeffrey Block, Nurturing Nature: Florida Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Bradley Burleson, Ballard Partners: HNTB Corporation
Mitchell Ceasar: Pharma Cann
Rachel Cone, Southern Strategy Group: Nature’s Way Nursery of Miami
Jon Costello, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida High School Athletic Association
Stephen Ecenia, Rutledge Ecenia: Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association
Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group: Florida Behavioral Health Association
Stephanie Galica: Adapt Pharma
Douglas Holder, The Legis Group: The Dan Marino Foundation
Frank Mayernick, Tracy Mayernick, Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Creative Core Group
James McFaddin III, Southern Strategy Group: Encompass Health Corporation
Wanda Fay Melton: Crown Castle NG East
John Ray: Florida Medical Manufacturers’ Consortium
Jeffrey Slanker, Sniffen & Spellman: Florida Justice Reform Institute
Charles Taylor: Town of Davie
Ashlee Tising, Akerman: Miami-Dade County, Village of El Portal
Jason Unger, GrayRobinson: Holland Financial
Eugene Yoscovits: Quicken Loans and the Family of Companies
— COUNTDOWN TO PYEONGCHANG —
“Winter Olympics security workers hit with vomiting illness; military personnel called in for backup” via Rachel Axon of USA TODAY — The organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Olympics has called in 900 military personnel after more than 1,200 security workers were pulled off duty because of concerns about the spread of the Norovirus, Christophe Dubi, IOC executive director of the Olympic Games said … the organizing committee said 32 cases of Norovirus had been confirmed and those people were quarantined after being treated. Those 32 cases involved 21 private security staff members from the Horeb Youth Center and 11 people from other locations, including three foreigners. In a statement, POCOG said that starting Sunday workers reported headaches, stomach pain and diarrhea. The Gangwon Province Health and Environment Research Center found 41 workers with symptoms that might be related to the virus. The others have been pulled from duty to prevent possible spreading of the illness.
“How to watch curling at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang” via Tracee Hamilton of The Washington Post — Curling is contested on ice — called a sheet — with targets at either end, referred to as the house. The house is made up of 12-, 8- and 4-foot rings and the center, called a button. Teams take turns sliding a large granite stone, sometimes called a rock, from one end of the sheet toward the house at the other end. A curler can control the amount a rock will turn, or curl, by applying rotation to the handle. Each team has eight stones — which must weigh between 38 and 44 pounds — and when both teams have thrown all their stones, the end is complete. Points are scored for placing a stone closest to the button at the finish of each end. An Olympic game consists of 10 ends and lasts about two hours 40 minutes. Two teammates, or sweeps, use brushes to smooth a path for the rock to decrease friction and make it curl (or bend) less. Curling is often called “chess on ice” because of sometimes-lengthy discussions held before each shot. That is why each team is given 38 minutes of strategy time per game.
“NBC will show Winter Olympics Content on 4,000 outdoor displays in 3 U.S. cities” via Marty Swant of Adweek — Olympics fans in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia will soon have a way to catch up with the 2018 Winter Olympics without looking down at their phones during their commute … NBC Olympics will begin showcasing content from Pyeongchang — videos and visuals such as highlights, summaries, previews, medal counts and athlete bios — on digital displays on streets and in mass transit systems in those three cities. Through a partnership with Intersection, a New York-based startup, NBC hopes to broaden its Olympics footprint while reminding people to watch the games on TV or on NBC’s mobile app. According to NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel, the goal is to reach viewers outside of their normal media consumption habits.
— ALOE —
“SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch: Good liftoff, at least 2 good landings” via Marco Santana and Paul Brinkmann of the Orlando Sentinel — The SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch sent a Tesla automobile toward Mars via a next-generation, heavy-lift rocket toward space … The rocket’s success could well touch off a heated competition for large-payload launch contracts among rivals. Two of the craft’s rocket boosters landed successfully at Cape Canaveral, side by side. The fate of the third is unknown after an attempt to land it on a barge at sea. The payload was deployed successfully, according to a post on Twitter from SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk about 45 minutes after liftoff: “Upper stage restart nominal, apogee raised to 7000 km. Will spend 5 hours getting zapped in Van Allen belts & then attempt final burn for Mars.”
Happy birthday to Rep. Brad Drake, Josh Burgin, and Rachel Pienta.