Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.
We expected House Speaker Richard Corcoran to be cool and smooth in the great sanctuary city debate Tuesday night, and he was.
We thought his opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, would bring the fire from the other side of the issue, and he did.
That probably depends on your politics. Both men made their points about the controversial HB 9, which would ban sanctuary cities in Florida and punish officials who don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents.
Corcoran punctuated his closing statement with three knocks on the podium, symbolizing the knock on the door that he said a parent could receive from law enforcement officers telling them their son or daughter had been murdered by an illegal immigrant.
Theatrical? Obviously. But it did make Corcoran’s point about harboring the undocumented.
But Gillum made his point, too, that the bill (and TV ad) is tantamount to racial profiling, noting that the killer in the ad was dressed in a hoodie like Trayvon Martin.
Gillum almost fumbled a wide-open chance to attack the ad much earlier though on that key point, though.
Late in the debate, co-moderator Gary Fineout in a question to Corcoran reminded viewers that the controversial ad misrepresented what actually happened.
The shooter was acquitted and the death, while tragic, was ruled an accident.
Only then did Gillum begin to press Corcoran about the aspect of profiling and the other dog whistles implied in the ad. He should have been pounding that point from the start.
But Corcoran swung and missed too when he tried to explain he was merely asking if the victim, Kate Steinle, would still be alive “if not for the sanctuary policy?”
That killing happened in San Francisco. Corcoran used three other examples of deaths he linked to illegal immigrants. None of those occurred in Florida, either.
And Gillum claimed that there are no sanctuary cities in Florida anyway, so what’s the point of the bill?
Several dog whistles were going off during the debate from both participants. Corcoran kept ramming home the point of “illegal immigrants.”
He also tried to portray the proposed bill as a benign, common-sense measure that anyone should feel comfortable supporting. If that is so, then why has he been promoting it with a wildly inflammatory TV ad designed to scare your pants off if you meet someone on the street who doesn’t look like you?
Gillum dropped words like “police state” into his argument against the bill and noted that people of color could be the ones most likely to face demands to “show their papers” to prove citizenship.
Both men need the exposure this debate allowed. Gillum faces a tough challenge in his campaign to be the Democratic nominee for governor.
If Corcoran jumps into the race as expected for the Republican nomination, polls indicate that the majority of Florida voters don’t even know who he is — despite his high profile and controversial moves.
Face-to-face engagements like this sanctuary city debate are good. The fact it happened at all is the most critical thing in an election year.
That was the real win for both men in this exercise because, truth be told, we doubt any minds were changed by what they said.
— “In almost-TV debate, Corcoran and Gillum battle over immigration” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times
— “Corcoran, Gillum wrestle over ‘sanctuary cities,’ undocumented immigration” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @MaggieNYT: Several White House officials are now prefacing or concluding their sentences in convos w reporters by making clear they can’t swear by the information they’ve just given.
— @LedgeKing: .@intends to nominate Cosmetics doyenne and GOP donor Georgette Mosbacher of Florida as ambassador to Poland. She’s a former co-chair of the RNC’s Finance Committee, and was the first woman to serve as the General Chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
— @CarlosCurbelo: Among my Lenten intentions/promises this year: no tweeting. And I’d like to respectfully invite @#to join me. Social media is wonderful, but it can also be very distracting & addictive.
— @RepDarrenSoto: Puerto Rican evacuees living in Fla could go homeless starting (today), including families w children in school. My colleagues and I sent bipartisan letter to @requesting extension of TSA housing vouchers until end of school year.
— @MattGaetz: Solid moderating (during debate) by @and @ . They didn’t get in the participants way. The Kinsey monologue at the top crushed.
— @NateCohn: It’s important to remember that the Dems are doing so well in special elections in no small part because of a turnout advantage that will be very difficult to sustain in a higher turnout/general election.
— @CHeathWFTV: Winners tonight: Margaret Good & @She won her race. He got name-dropped a half dozen times for a bill that has zero shot at passing this session.
— @AdamSmithTimes: Maybe @richardcorcoran shda spent less time on debate prep and donor schmoozing in Vegas and more on trying to hold a GOP state House seat in Sarasota??
— @PeterHamby: Anyone who’s ever covered a GOP event in Sarasota knows how extraordinary this R>D swing is. Republicans are in deep, deep trouble and Trump is the reason.
— @AnaCeballos_: Sen. Bill Montford has fully recovered from his emergency surgery and is back at work. Came back Monday, staff says, and is “doing great.”
— @MDixon55: .@is the new John Tobia, right?
— @AFP: Colombia is the source of 74% of US flower imports. The # rush is a welcome employment opportunity for Colombians
— CORRECTION —
In Tuesday’s SUNBURN, we got the date wrong for this year’s #SuitsForSession event, in which “gently worn’ professional attire is accepted and given those in need for interviews and work. The event is Feb. 27. We regret the error.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Black Panther premier — 2; Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony — 11; Last day for regularly scheduled legislative committee meetings — 13; Disney Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival — 15; Last day to take up Special Order Calendar — 19; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program termination begins — 19; Sine Die (maybe) — 23; St. Patrick’s Day — 31; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 45; Easter — 46; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 98; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 128; Primary Election Day — 195; General Election Day — 265; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 363.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***
— BLUE WAVE —
Democrat Margaret Good won Tuesday’s special election in House District 72 in a victory that will likely set off a round of Republican recriminations … and angst.
Good led the race throughout Tuesday night, leading the early balloting and ending with over 52 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Republican James Buchanan, to represent HD 72 — which covers Siesta Key, parts of the city of Sarasota and parts of Sarasota County — for the next nine months.
Alison Foxall finished a distant third with 3 percent, despite relatively strong fundraising for a Libertarian running in a state legislative race.
Gov. Rick Scott called the special election following the sudden resignation of former Rep. Alex Miller in September. Miller stepped down after less than a year in office, citing business concerns and raising two teenagers.
It is the second special election in recent months in which Democrats captured a formerly Republican legislative seat, with the other being a win by Sen. Annette Taddeo of Miami.
Good, an attorney, said that the victory wouldn’t have been possible without the “thousands of individuals, who like me, have had enough of the divisiveness that permeates Tallahassee.”
“The voters have spoken,” Good said. “People in District 72 want leaders who listen and act boldly to better our community. I will be accessible, transparent and fully committed to this community that has provided me and my family so much.”
While HD 72 has just over 122,600 eligible voters, the race attracted attention from local, state, and national leaders, which helped the special election hit some of the highest turnout levels of any in recent memory. More than 44,100 voters had cast ballots, a turnout of over 36 percent.
For example, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden cut a last-minute get-out-the-vote robocall for Good. Democratic gubernatorial candidates Chris King and Andrew Gillum also campaigned on her behalf.
As an indication of the national interest in the race, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez issued a statement Tuesday night about the win.
“Just like we did last year with Annette Taddeo, Democrats are organizing, investing, and winning elections across Florida as voters reject (Gov.) Rick Scott and Donald Trump’s disastrous agenda,” Perez said in the statement.
— “Margaret Good wins upset victory in state House seat” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune
— “Democrat wins state House seat in Trump-friendly Sarasota” via David Smiley of the Times/Herald
— “In third bellwether contest, Florida Democrats again carry the day and hope for a blue wave” via POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo
— “Richard Corcoran’s role in that Sarasota House seat loss” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
— “Earth-rattling win for SW Florida Democrats” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics
— “Florida Democrats congratulate Margaret Good on HD 72 win” via Florida Politics
— “How Democrats flipped HD 72” via Matt Isbell of MCI Maps
>>>Biggest behind-the-scenes winners: Reggie Cardoza, who has worked overtime for the past three months to put Good in the best position to win. Along with a few other consultants, he made messaging, spending, and staff decisions throughout the campaign.
>>>Key quote from Republican political consultant Anthony Pedicini: “This was less a blue wave than a red revolt. Republicans turned out on Election Day, and looks like there was little benefit to our campaign.”
>>>Reaction from Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters: “(L)et’s be clear. Democrats nationally have been whipped up in every special race since the historic election of President Trump in November 2016. But we’ve seen this even more as the Republican agenda in Washington has been increasingly successful with tax cuts, a roaring economy, excellent judge appointments and so on. This showed dramatically in this race where hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in for the Democrat from out of state and former Vice President Biden made robocalls. None of that will be going on in November when the local GOP will have a full slate of strong candidates running.”
Sure seemed like a good chunk of people were eager to send a message to the president tonight in Sarasota. James Buchanan campaigned hard on the sanctuary city issue to no avail. They put out the bat signal to Trump voters by bringing in Corey Lewandowski. Didn’t matter. https://t.co/YnMlHeT1Ce
— Zac Anderson (@zacjanderson) February 14, 2018
Here’s a HD 72 number that is astounding.
As of the last numbers I saw at 5 p.m., Republicans were outnumbering Democrats by over 2,000 voters on Election Day.@GoodforFlorida only lost Election Day by 110 votes.
— Steve Schale (@steveschale) February 14, 2018
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Zombie Campaigns: GOP congressman says he’ll reach across aisle to end abuse” via Noah Pransky of 10 News -Calling the findings of a 10News/Tampa Bay Times investigation “outrageous,” Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis says he’ll likely co-sponsor a bill proposed by a California Democrat that would curb campaign finance abuses, nicknamed “Zombie Campaigns.” The 10News/Times investigation identified more than 100 former politicians whose campaign spending remained alive for years — sometimes even decades — after they quit running for office. … Bilirakis said he would speak to Rep. Mark Takano and Rep. Kathy Castor about the “Let it Go Act,” proposed last year, but stalled in committee without any sign of an imminent hearing. He said a bill to prevent the spending of leftover campaign war chests after candidates stop running, go into lobbying, or pass away is likely necessary.
Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham will hold her latest Workday beginning 2 p.m. at La Placita Latina grocery, 519 E Vine St. in Kissimmee. Graham will learn about what it takes to run a Latino grocery in Central Florida and how the state can better support entrepreneurs and new Floridians from Puerto Rico.
“Josie Tomkow PAC campaign flyers call Republican rival Jennifer Spath liberal, soft on crime” via John Chambliss of the Lakeland Ledger — A political-action committee supporting Tomkow has sent six flyers this month to Republican voters in District 39, including some that describe her opponent as a fan of Hillary Clinton who was soft on crime as a prosecutor. “You can’t trust liberal lawyer Jennifer Spath’s judgment,” states one of the mailers. It goes on to read that, in 2012, Spath agreed to a plea deal to a man charged with battering a law enforcement officer. “The man only spent 120 days in jail with 12 months’ probation for this crime of battery on a law enforcement officer,” the flyer states. The flyers were paid for by the Make America Great Again political action committee in Venice. A second flyer shows a picture of Spath next to Clinton with a heart between them.
“Carlos Smith tops Orange County legislative candidates, raising $23K” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Smith reported that his campaign raised $23,838 in the first eight days of January before the start of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, and that money came in more than 131 checks, including seven for the maximum $1,000. The haul more than doubled his campaign receipts for this cycle, to $42,793 received, leaving him with about $35,000 in the bank at the start of February. Late in the month, Smith’s only opponent, Republican Jose “Pepito” Aponte of Orlando, withdrew.
— CASH CABINET —
It’s too early to predict how the races for the state’s Cabinet seats will unfold, but one indicator of campaign health is fundraising — and with Session underway, some candidates who are not in the Legislature could pull away from their opponents in the cash metric.
The law bars state lawmakers from fundraising during the Legislative Session. This will prevent a few candidates vying for Cabinet slots from continuing their routine monthly hauls. Still, with only nine days to fundraise in January, those now-restricted candidates produced formidable numbers last month.
Here’s a look at how the cash race played out in January.
Agriculture Commissioner: Candidate and Rep. Matt Caldwell quickly amassed $106,100 in the new year between his campaign and committee accounts. Sen. Denise Grimsley reeled in a combined $86,440 before Session began. Baxter Troutman, who is not restricted by the fundraising ban, brought in $79,500.
Attorney General: Ashley Moody, a former circuit judge, is not barred by the fundraising ban and brought in $110,731 during January between her campaign and committee accounts. But the race has drawn three Republican candidates who are state lawmakers: Reps. Jay Fant, Frank White and Ross Spano. In total, Fant brought in $3,210; White brought in $93,523; and Spano recorded $28,425. Democratic candidate and state Rep. Sean Shaw, who now is prohibited from fundraising, has about $51,000 on hand. Democrat Ryan Torrens reported raking in $9,675 in January.
Chief Financial Officer: Current CFO Jimmy Patronis, who was nominated to the post, raised more than $300,000. Sen. Tom Lee, who has said he likely would run for the seat, brought in $73,750 in the nine days he was eligible to fundraise in January. Democrat Jeremy Ring, who can fundraise through the 60-day lawmaking process, brought in $55,366.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
Senate calls off Wednesday floor session, next one Feb. 21 — The Senate has called off a floor session Wednesday and does not plan to meet on the floor this week. President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican, sent a memo to senators Sunday saying the next scheduled floor Session is Feb. 21. “The feedback President Negron received from Senators was that with only one full committee week (Week #7) left, Senators would like to utilize the time to work on their bills,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta explained in an email. “The Senate is typically on the floor for the majority of Week 8 and Week 9, but the time remaining for bills to advance through committees is limited. President Negron wanted to make sure Senators had extra time during this window.” The House is slated to meet on the floor Wednesday and Thursday. The Session is scheduled to end March 9.
“House readies ‘across the board’ tax package” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Farmers, nursing homes and property owners impacted by Hurricane Irma could receive tax relief as part of a $332.7 million package (PCB WMC 18-03), which will be rolled out in the House Ways & Means Committee, will be built on education-related tax credits, a reduction in a commercial-lease tax and sales tax “holidays’ on back-to-school items and hurricane supplies. Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Renner said the goal is to offer “across the board” savings, without hurting the budget. “There are many people that are interested in tax cuts, tax credits, but we tried to look at what is the most effective way from a public policy standpoint to benefit Floridians,” Renner said. A Senate tax-cut proposal is still in the works.
Jimmy Patronis applauds bill for first responders — The state’s CFO and Fire Marshal thanked lawmakers for Tuesday’s unanimous approval of a House bill (HB 227) that provides post-traumatic stress treatment benefits for first responders. The bill cleared the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. “To those opposing this good measure, I ask ‘what is a first responder’s life worth?’ First responders show up for us and our families without hesitation,” Patronis said in a statement. “It’s unacceptable that mental health is not a benefit for our first responders. With more than 15 percent of firefighters reported having made at least one suicide attempt during their time in fire service, it’s our responsibility to make mental health benefits more accessible and affordable for our first responders. I urge the House and Senate to continue to move QUICKLY on this bill so our first responders can get the help they need.” The next stop for the measure, sponsored by Rep. Matt Willhite, is the Government Accountability Committee.
“Tribe, legislative leaders huddle on gambling” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida — The Seminole Tribe could deal its opening bid before the end of the week as negotiations heat up with the state about a 20-year gambling pact, according to one of the Legislature’s key negotiators. Sen. Bill Galvano, Rep. Jose Oliva and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen huddled Tuesday for more than an hour inside Oliva’s fourth-floor suite, discussing elements of a new agreement to replace a 20-year deal inked in 2010. “I think the tribe is certainly looking forward to working with the state and leadership to see if there’s something that can be worked out,” said Allen, who also serves as chairman of Hard Rock International. Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who was instrumental in crafting the original Seminole Compact, predicted the tribe could provide a draft for lawmakers to review before the end of the week.
“Jeanette Nunez seeks to amend Senate bill that bans all child marriages” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — House members will consider the child marriage bill (SB 140) passed by the Senate, but with an amendment that would allow some minors to marry in cases where there is a pregnancy and a minor is at least 16 years old. The partner would have to be no more than two years older. To appease some of the concerns from House members, Republican Nunez has filed a strike-all amendment that would allow a court to issue a marriage license to 16- and 17-year-olds if the partner is no more than two years older. Nunez is the sponsor of the child marriage bill in the House. Under the proposal, all minors under 16 would be banned for getting married, which under certain circumstances is legal under current state law.
“Franchise bill halted in second committee” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A bill that would change the rules for franchise agreements was temporarily postponed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. SB 1076, sponsored by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, would give franchise owners more rights when it comes to selling their business or leaving it to an heir, and would also give Florida owners home field advantage by designating that any contract disputes be settled in Florida courts. The bill took a lot of flak from business groups when it went before the Regulated Industries Committee last month and not much changed when the bill came up Tuesday, even after the committee adopted an amendment that scratched out provisions blocking franchisors from terminating franchise agreements without “good cause.”
“Payday loans bill clears latest House committee” via Florida Politics — A measure to change the state’s payday-lending system before new federal government regulations kick in easily cleared a House panel Tuesday. The bill (HB 857) was approved by the Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. The only ‘no’ votes were from Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, and Rene Plasencia, an Orlando Republican … In debate, Tampa Democrat Sean Shaw, who represents “the urban core of Tampa,” said he wasn’t “happy that a lot of people use” payday loans. “But what happens when these products go away?” said Shaw, also a candidate for attorney general. “In my district, bills will go unpaid; cars will not be repaired … there will be financial chaos. I know my district well, and a lot of people use it because they need it.”
“Vacation rentals pre-emption bills stalls” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — A move to pre-empt local regulations for vacation rentals stalled in the House on Tuesday, weakening its chances of becoming law in the final weeks of the legislative session. The bill, HB 773, from Rep. Mike LaRosa was postponed ahead of a critical vote, an indication it didn’t have the votes to pass. LaRosa filed an amendment to the bill to set up state-level regulations of residences used as vacation rentals, which have boomed in popularity in recent years with the advent of Airbnb, HomeAway and other online platforms linking vacationers with would-be bed-and-breakfast hosts. The amendment would have allowed local governments to pass regulations that apply to all residences, and cities with regulations passed before June 1, 2011, would be grandfathered in, but other ordinances would be voided. Also, cities would be allowed to pass new vacation-rental regulations that are less restrictive.
“Flood insurance ‘warning’ clears second committee” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Policyholders would see a bold 18-point type warning when their hurricane coverage won’t pay for flood damage under legislation that cleared a Senate panel Tuesday. The Senate Community Affairs Committee OK’d the bill (SB 1282) 6-0. The idea is to spare policyholders any nasty shocks following a hurricane or other natural disaster, said the sponsor, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo. “What we want to make sure is that homeowners, when they’re buying hurricane insurance, know that that does not include flood insurance,” Taddeo said. “It will save a lot of trouble for homeowners. After Hurricane Irma, a lot of homeowners were calling our office saying, ‘My insurance is not covering this.’ ”
“Florida’s ban on fireworks could be ending” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel — (U)nder Florida law, at the time of purchase for fireworks — which do not include the stuff you can buy at grocery and convenience stores that doesn’t actually launch into the air — buyers have to fill out a form saying they will be using the fireworks to scare birds away from agricultural products or fish hatcheries. … But under a bill that cleared the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday by a 15-11 vote, buyers would no longer have to fill out the forms, essentially legalizing fireworks purchased in the state. The bill also gets rid of moratoriums placed on fireworks stores and roadside tents in 2007. New fireworks stores would once again be able to be built.
“House moves forward with plan for ‘Bo’s bridge’” via the News Service of Florida — The state would have the option of acquiring the Garcon Point Bridge near Pensacola under a bill (HB 1281) approved in a 13-1 vote by the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. The bridge, also known as “Bo’s Bridge,” after former House Speaker Bo Johnson, who championed the project, has been in default for years after toll revenue fell well short of what was projected in the original $95 million bond agreement. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, would allow the state to acquire the toll bridge from the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority by issuing new bonds through the Florida Turnpike, based on more realistic projections of bridge traffic and toll revenue. The state also has the option of doing nothing, although the possibility of litigation forcing a toll increase remains. Debt on the bridge has ballooned to $135 million, and the bridge authority has not paid back a $7.9 million loan from the Department of Transportation.
“HMO group slams bill, likens it to Obamacare” via the News Service of Florida — To kill a bill that would limit its members from retroactively denying claims, the Florida Association of Health Plans issued a statement calling a House proposal (HB 217) “nothing more than a codification” into state law of a federal Obamacare policy. Filed by Rep. Bill Hager, the bill would prevent HMOs and insurance companies from retroactively denying claims after patient eligibility has been confirmed and authorization numbers have been provided. The limitation on retroactive denials would apply to any group or individual HMO policy issued on or after Jan. 1, 2019. It would not impact Medicaid managed-care plans. The House Appropriations Committee is slated to take up the bill, and the Senate also is poised to pass its version (SB 162), filed by Sen. Greg Steube. “This legislation is nothing more than a codification into Florida law of a controversial policy created by the Affordable Care Act,” Audrey Brown, president and CEO of the Florida Association of Health Plans, said in a statement.
“House health panel prepares hurricane proposals” via the News Service of Florida — Look for the House Health & Human Services Committee to roll out a bill on hurricane-related health care and social service issues. Committee Chairman Rep. Travis Cummings said it is the first of two hurricane-related measures that will be unveiled in the next two weeks. Cummings said the proposal would contain some, but not all, of the recommendations made by the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness, which issued a report on Jan. 16. Some of the recommendations in the report included giving greater flexibility to the Department of Health to allow providers from other states to assist in storm response and recovery, either in person or through telehealth; requiring facilities to share certain parts of emergency-management plans with residents or their representatives; and requiring emergency plans to specifically address how facilities will maintain staffing during evacuations. The bill is not expected to address emergency backup power requirements for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Assignment editors — The Florida Retail Federation, joined by Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Rene Plasencia, will host a news conference beginning noon in front of the Florida House Chamber on the 4th Floor Rotunda, The Capitol. The event will address the importance of passing legislation that would allow pharmacists to test and treat Florida consumers for the flu and help save lives.
Able Trust hosts Tiny House Project — The Able Trust, joined by state Sen. Dorothy Hukill and state Rep. Randy Fine, is hosting the Tiny House Project on display from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., in The Capitol Courtyard. The Tiny House Project showcases real-life learning and career skills students with disabilities can accomplish and is the brainchild of The Able Trust’s High School High Tech (HSHT) program, providing funding and HR resources for the implementation and support of this project.
Assignment editors — An event to show “LOVE” for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities will be held starting 5:30 p.m. at Clyde’s, 210 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.
Actual email via Food & Water Watch/Food & Water Action Fund: “CANCLED: Activists To Deliver Giant Anti-Fracking Valentine to Rep. Jose Oliva on Day Fracking Ban Bill Moves Forward in Senate.”
Governors Club Wednesday lunch buffet menu — Mixed green salad with assorted dressings; avocado tomato salad, cilantro pesto; cucumber, tomato and feta salad; cream of mushroom soup; smoked chicken; blackened mahi-mahi; majestic rice; corn on the cob; grilled asparagus with lime juice; with bread pudding for dessert.
— SPECIAL REPORT —
The Tampa Bay Times analyzed the occupations of all 154 lawmakers serving in the Florida House and Senate.
It found that the majority of legislators were pulled from the ranks of ownership, management or the legal world — professions occupied by a small, elite fraction of the overall Florida workforce.
Click here to read the full Tampa Bay Times project about how the demands of the Florida Legislature disqualify most of the state workforce from seeking office.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ponzi scheme lawyer wants U.S. to cut 50-year sentence” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — Such offers usually call for about a one-third reduction, but the government in September sought to withdraw its offer to cut Scott Rothstein’s prison term, contending that he violated his plea agreement by providing false information and lying. The attorney for Rothstein said in court documents that Rothstein deserves a lesser sentence because he voluntarily returned to Fort Lauderdale from Morocco in 2009 as the scam fell apart and helped convict more than two dozen people involved in it. The papers say Rothstein was also instrumental in convicting a Mafia gangster with connections to New York’s Gambino crime family, implicated corrupt local law enforcement officers who went to jail and wore a recording device at Miami’s downtown federal prison to help investigators in other unrelated cases. There, attorney Marc Nurik wrote in court papers, Rothstein was “literally trapped with the people he was gathering information about.” Rothstein, 55, pleaded guilty in 2010 to running a massive fraud scheme revolving around investments in phony court settlements. He was disbarred as an attorney and his downtown Fort Lauderdale law firm closed down.
“Donald Trump taps 3 new judges in federal district overseeing Mar-a-Lago” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Trump’s White House signaled it wanted to move forward with Senate confirmation hearings for the Southern District of Florida judgeships for attorney Roy Altman and Miami-Dade circuit judges Rudy Ruiz and Rodney Smith, a recent ally of Marco Rubio’s and the only African-American on a short list of 10 potential nominees. Despite the movement on the judges, the U.S. attorney posts for all three federal districts in Florida remain stalled … in part due to the disorganization of the White House Counsel’s Office and the unexpected meddling of the Department of Justice’s new No. 3 lawyer, Jesse Panuccio, who left his post as Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity head when the Florida Senate appeared ready to scuttle his nomination primarily due to questions about his honesty and the agency’s mismanagement of an unemployment contract.
“Florida sheriff: Jeff sessions’ Anglo-American comments ‘divisive’” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — “The office of Sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” Sessions said during a National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in Washington. “We must never erode this historic office.” The comments sparked a contentious debate as critics accused him of coded racism and, in the opinion of Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, divided Americans. Demings, who is black, said he was present at the conference and that Sessions’ remarks were “met with mixed applause in a mostly Anglo crowd of American sheriffs” … “The comments were divisive and failed to acknowledge that law enforcement has been a part of American history and culture for many ethnic groups and not just Anglos,” Demings said. “As leaders, we all have a responsibility to be careful that our words unite rather than divide, and the attorney general’s words missed the mark.” Others including Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who was also present at the conference, defended Sessions’ statement as a historical reference.
— OPINIONS —
“Attack on oil and gas industry is attacking private property rights” via Thomas McMillan for Florida Politics — Companion bills SB 462 and HB 237 seek to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other forms of well stimulation in Florida. Supporters of the measures claim that a ban on fracking in Florida would not impact the state’s existing oil and gas industry. This is simply not true. If the bills are passed, they would negatively affect Florida’s oil and gas industry, now and in the future, by eliminating jobs for Floridians, lowering state and local revenues and royalty payments to mineral owners — all of which amounts to a massive attack on private property rights.
“Hospital funding could become major campaign issue” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — One industry sector that consumes the lion’s share of tax dollars — public hospitals — has gotten a free pass from political figures like Speaker Corcoran in recent years despite the fact that just a small handful these not-for-profit health care companies have posted billions of dollars in profits. There are just 25 so-called “safety-net hospitals” in Florida, and all of them registered as not-for-profit corporations. Despite that misleading tag, some experts estimate that in 2016 alone, these 25 hospitals posted revenue in excess of expenses (i.e., “profit”) of over 1 billion dollars, according to data from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), and from audited financial statements from the hospitals themselves. With the likes of Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis already in the governor’s race, and Corcoran perhaps only weeks away from jumping in himself, such a massive pool of public cash, and the complete lack of accountability and oversight, could become a lucrative target for a candidate looking for headlines that would play well in a Republican primary.
— “Adam Putnam’s full defense of swampy Tallahassee is worth reading” via Peter Schorsch
— “Missing in action: The Times’ Adam Smith” via Peter Schorsch
— “Ron DeSantis’ first fundraising report feels just short of Goldilocks” via Peter Schorsch
— MOVEMENTS —
Andrew Fay nomination clears Senate panel — The Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee Tuesday voted unanimously to clear the Public Service Commission (PSC) appointee for full Senate consideration. Fay, a 34-year-old lawyer and Tampa native, had been Special Counsel to Attorney General Pam Bondi and Director of Legislative Affairs, Cabinet Affairs and Public Policy. Gov. Scott named him to the PSC, which regulates investor-owned utilities. Fay both alluded to his youth — “We must be representative of all bodies and generations. I am hopeful that the vision I can bring is different and beneficial” — and to his relative inexperience on energy issues. He compared himself to a high school football player who carries around a play binder: “Mine hasn’t left my hands yet,” he said, adding, “The more I learn, the more I realize there is to learn.” He also acknowledged he had a “nerdy, techy viewpoint” and said his immediate concerns would be power restoration and electric grid security.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
H. French Brown, Dean Mead: Evans Properties
Claudia Davant, Adams St. Advocates: Grow Smart Global
Christine Davis-Graves, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: Pace-O-Matic
Towson Fraser, Fraser Solutions: Allegiance Strategies
Robert Hawken, Leath Consulting: American Council of Life Insurance
Danny Jordan, Samuel Verghese, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: BrightBytes
Brian Pleva: Northwestern Mutual
Teye Reeves, Floridian Partners: Dealer Consulting Services
Benjamin Stearns, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt: National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
— PYEONGCHANG —
“How this Central Florida city became a hotbed for long track speedskaters” via Emily Giambalvo of TeamUSA.org — Four U.S. speedskaters — Brittany Bowe, Erin Jackson, Mia Manganello and Joey Mantia — hail from the Sunshine State, making Florida the most common home state on the U.S. long track roster for the 2018 Games. All four of these athletes switched to the ice from inline skating. They previously trained in Ocala, Florida, under Renee Hildebrand, who they credit for developing them as athletes in a sport that requires technique and endurance, which carry over to long track speedskating, Manganello said. Since they made the switch from inline skating in Florida to speedskating in cool climates, all four have progressed from being newcomers to the nation’s best. Jackson, the first African-American woman to qualify for the U.S. long track team, and Manganello are both making their Olympic debut.
“Women’s hockey team can keep Statue of Liberty goalies’ masks” via Rick Maese of The Washington Post — USA TODAY had reported that the U.S. women’s hockey team was mulling changes to its goalies’ masks over concerns that the colorful red, white and blue design, which features the iconic statue, violates Olympic rules that bar teams and athletes from displaying political symbols at the Winter Games … Goalie Maddie Rooney, who started the team’s opener against Finland, and the team’s two other netminders have masks featuring patriotic designs, some also including images of stars and a bald eagle. IOC officials had pointed out clear rules are governing what symbols can and can’t be used in its Guidelines Regarding Authorized Identifications. Those rules allow “national colors, name, flag and emblems” that are used “to visually enhance the national identity of their Items.” But they also state: “No Item may feature the wording or lyrics from national anthems, motivational words, public/political messaging or slogans related to national identity.”
— ALOE —
“Valentine’s and Ash Wednesday convergence challenges religious leaders” via Waveney Ann Moore of the Tampa Bay Times — The Rev. Leonard Plazewski of Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa doesn’t equivocate about which day takes precedence. “If Halloween fell on Dec. 25, we would celebrate Christmas, not Halloween,” he said. “Ash Wednesday is such an important day in the life of the church; it trumps anything else.” Plazewski has said as much to his congregation. “Unless you are planning a simple meatless meal with no dessert or alcohol, I suggest you pick a different day for Valentine’s.” His announcement is in keeping with a statement issued by Bishop Gregory Parkes, head of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg … in response to questions they received from parishioners concerning this year’s Ash Wednesday obligations. Ash Wednesday is a special and sacred day, the bishop said. “For us Catholics, it’s also a day of fasting and a day of abstinence from meat as we enter into the season of Lent, which is a season of preparation and penance to prepare ourselves for Easter.”
“Couples who get married on Valentine’s Day are 37 percent more likely to get divorced” via AM Tampa Bay — According to a new study out of Australia, couples who get married on Valentine’s Day are 37 percent more likely to wind up getting divorced. And usually, it happens pretty quickly … they’re 45 percent less likely than other couples to make it to three years. The researchers think it’s because a lot of people rush into Valentine’s weddings … “the chance to marry on a special date could … lead to quicker and lower-quality marriage commitments.”
“In rose beds, money blooms” via Damian Paletta of The Washington Post — It’s peak season for a massive Colombian industry that shipped more than 4 billion flowers to the United States last year — or about a dozen for every U.S. resident. The Colombian industry has bloomed thanks to a U.S. effort to disrupt cocaine trafficking, the expansion of free-trade agreements — and the relentless demand by American consumers for cheap roses. The transformation demonstrates the barreling, often brutal, efficiency of globalization: In 27 years, market forces and decisions made in Washington have reshaped the rose business on two continents. The American flower industry has seen its production of roses drop roughly 95 percent, falling from 545 million to less than 30 million. It’s just the kind of decline that President Trump has railed against. But the rose industry offers a striking reminder of why it is so hard to roll back the economic relationships between countries. Where it used to face horrific violence and corruption, Colombia has nurtured an industry that produces roses faster and cheaper than anywhere in the United States — and can even get them to many U.S. retailers faster than domestic growers.
Happy birthday to Kari Hebrank and incredible artist Carrie Jadus.