Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.7.18 – Florida Politics

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.7.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

Sine Die was supposed to be this Friday, which means it’s crunch time to think about who is emerging from the 2018 Legislative Session as a winner or a loser.

Right now (no seriously, like RIGHT NOW), we are asking for your nominations for the W&L columns.

Sooner or later, the hanky will drop.

Think about which bills have already died. Or who, or what issue, is a winner — no matter what happens during this final week.

Please avoid nominating the big ticket items like the Governor or the budget. We’re looking for specific people and issues.

Your answers will remain confidential and can be sent to Peter@FloridaPolitics.com.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @KaitlanCollins: Remember when Gary Cohn was going to be chief of staff like a week ago?

— @MStratford: .@BetsyDeVosED will visit Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tomorrow “to connect with students and teachers in the wake of the tragic shooting on February 14,” Education Dept. says.

— @NRA: The worst mass shooting in our history was at VA Tech & it was done with a 10-rd handgun & 15-rd handgun — no assault weapons or 100-rd mags

— @JoeNBC: I ask any corporations still involved with the NRA to Google NRATV ads and watch their threats against my fiancé and others. Then watch their ads threatening others and inciting violence. And then ask why the hell they would be associated with a group encouraging violence.

— @RepDeSantis: FBI briefing re: Parkland raised more questions than it answered. We should have more answers 20 days after the shooting. This was clearly a major failure and Americans deserve swift accountability and reform.

— @RPetty: Hey @juancuba you’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter lately. Have you spent any time with the families of the victims of the MSD Shooting? We should talk. Your fellow Democrats have been talking to us.

— @GrayRohrer: Y’all aren’t going to believe this, but House budget leaders like Rep. Carlos Trujillo and Rep. Jason Brodeur aren’t on the floor but are somehow voting on all these gun bill amendments!

— @CortesBob: Is there such a thing as a “simple amendment “?

— @AGlorios: Here’s a flashpoint: @joenegronfl told reporters before Session began that he didn’t believe the Senate “necessarily” had a problem with sexual harassment because there were no complaints.

— @GrayRohrer: There should be an “In Memoriam” video for dead bills

— @Daniel_Sweeney: This is the fourth year I’ve covered the legislative session. This is the third time they have failed to pass a budget on time.

— DAYS UNTIL —

2018 Winter Paralympics begins — 1; Sine Die (at least) — 3; St. Patrick’s Day — 10; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 17; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 22; Easter — 25; NFL Draft begins — 50; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 57; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 77; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 107; Primary Election Day — 174; College Football opening weekend — 178; General Election Day — 244; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 342.

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— TOP STORY —

Lawmakers will need overtime on budget” via the News Service of Florida — House Speaker Richard Corcoran told House members Tuesday night that lawmakers will have to extend the Session, scheduled to end Friday, or hold a Special Session. Corcoran said a “best-case scenario” would be finishing the Session Saturday. But he also said it was possible the Session would be extended to Monday or that Gov. Scott could call a Special Session that might start as soon as Monday. It will mark the second year in a row that the Legislature was unable to complete its annual session in the allotted 60 days.

Corcoran did not detail the reasons for being unable to reach agreement. But earlier, Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, said the House and Senate were continuing to negotiate payments to Florida’s hospitals and whether to scrap a long-standing system for a new one that would increase base Medicaid rates paid to every hospital, regardless of Medicaid patient load.

— “Hospital funding in Florida 2018: A tale of distinctions without a difference and fables of greed” via Peter Schorsch

— POLITICS OF PARKLAND —

Florida House readies school safety bill for vote” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel — After a blizzard of Democratic amendments, all of which failed, the Florida House pushed forward a major school safety and gun access bill … A final vote on the House bill is expected Wednesday. Because the House took the Senate bill and did not amend it, if it passes, it goes to Gov. Scott for signature. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act raises the age to buy a gun to 21, includes $400 million for mental health and school safety programs, and allows law enforcement to seize firearms from people who make violent threats against themselves or others. … Most of the lengthy debate focused on a provision of the bill that would arm some teachers. … The Senate already revised the program so that most classroom teachers would be exempt, leaving coaches, librarians and other school personnel to participate in the optional Aaron Feis Guardian Program. … Removing the program entirely was the first of dozens of failed amendments Democrats attempted when the House started more than eight hours of debate overall. … The amendment failed 42-71, with two Republicans — Rene Plasencia of Orlando and Shawn Harrison of Tampa — joining 40 Democrats in voting to try to kill the program

House GOP leaders withholding budget earmarks from gun bill opponents” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Rank-and-file Florida House members opposing the heavily lobbied gun violence bill have had project funding for their districts removed from the budget, according to five House Republican members who have been on the hot seat. A POLITICO analysis found that at least $10 million in House member projects that the House and Senate had agreed to have now been pulled from the emerging bicameral budget proposal. It’s an unusual departure from typical Tallahassee budget negotiations; normally, if a budget item is funded by the House and the Senate agrees to that amount of funding, the issue is closed out and goes into the proposed budget sent to the governor.

With a cliffhanger vote, dads of mass shooting victims help whip GOP votes” via Arek Sarkissian and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – … a whip sheet obtained by POLITICO showed 20 Republicans planned to vote against the bill. Some were quietly summoned from the floor to Corcoran’s office where they met with Andy Pollack, father of 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, and Ryan Petty, father of 14-year-old Alaina Perry. Both are parents of victims in the Feb. 14 massacre, the state’s worst school shooting in history. Petty told POLITICO some lawmakers didn’t appear to understand key points in the bill. “We had to read several lines to one legislator to dispel several myths. It seems they are getting their information from the media and from rhetoric on the floor rather than actually reading the bill.”

Senators receive jars full of tar and feathers after Monday gun control vote” via Alexandra Glorioso and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — “They are tiny jars full of feathers with poop emojis in them,” said state Sen. René García, who supported the bill. Garcia sponsored an amendment that watered down a provision to train and arm school staff, including teachers. The proposal was compromise language needed to secure a narrow 20-18 vote out of the Senate. Tallahassee is abuzz this morning with talk that the powerful National Rifle Association is going after bill supporters now that it’s clear the Republican-controlled Legislature is moving quickly to pass gun reforms. But the group’s top Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, said the organization was not behind the jars. “First I’m hearing of it,” she said.

Marco Rubio promotes bogus claim that Broward School discipline policy led to shooting” via Brittany Shammas of the Miami New Times — The problem isn’t wide access to military-style weaponry, Rubio argued; it’s Broward County Public Schools’ disciplinary policies and a previously little-known program called PROMISE (Preventing Recidivism Through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education). However, Rubio and his GOP colleagues are not only ignoring the real problem but also deliberately misleading the public about PROMISE. Although the school district has so far refused to discuss the specifics of killer Nikolas Cruz‘s education and disciplinary record, Rubio got key parts of the program wrong. A review of the policy and interviews with district leaders make it clear that PROMISE had nothing to do with Cruz’s treatment by school officials — in fact, according to Superintendent Robert Runcie, Cruz wasn’t even in PROMISE. “Basically, people are trying to exploit an incident for whatever varied agendas they have,” Runcie says.

Gov. Rick Scott met with South and Northeast Florida Police Chiefs to discuss his action plan to make major changes to help keep Florida students safe, including a $500 million investment in school safety and mental health.

George Soros is not funding Parkland students’ gun control fight” via The Associated Press — Soros is not providing any funding to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, although he does support their efforts, said his spokeswoman, Laura Silber. “Those who smear their motives, and try to paint their genuine grassroots activism as somehow bought and paid for, do them — and the country — a grave disservice,” Soros’ organization, the Open Societies Foundations, said in a statement after the Feb. 14 shooting.

Lawmakers say let school’s students skip state tests” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Students at the Parkland high school where 17 people died in a mass shooting should not have to take state-mandated exams this semester, the Legislature decided … The exemption is in a controversial education bill (HB 7055) that both the Florida House and Senate approved Monday. If the bill is signed into law by Gov. Scott, students at the Broward County school could skip all state exams, including the Florida Standards Assessments, or FSA, and end-of-course exams in algebra, biology and U.S. history. … the Florida Department of Education said, to staff members’ knowledge, this would be the first time a public school was granted permission to avoid state tests … Stoneman Douglas’ seniors also could graduate with fewer hours of class time than usually required.  … And seniors who had not yet passed the two state exams needed for a diploma … could graduate without those needed scores, the bill says. The A-rated high school would keep that grade, issued in 2017, for 2018 since it might not have many test scores on which to calculate a new grade.

Battle erupts over Parkland school killer’s inheritance” via Julie K. Brown of the Miami Herald — A court squabble has erupted over the handling of Cruz’s inheritance from his late mother — a fight that could determine whether the school shooter is entitled to free representation from the public defender or must hire a private lawyer. Boca Raton attorney Audra Simovitch filed an amended petition in Broward County probate court this week, alleging that Rocxanne Deschamps, a friend of Cruz’s mother who cared for Cruz and his younger brother after their mother died, should not be appointed to represent the estate. … Simovitch details what she calls a litany of “red flags” that the court should consider alarming about Deschamps. It said Deschamps has worked against Simovitch in the lawyer’s effort to find out what the estate is worth and to share that information with the court and public defender. … Simovitch alleges that Deschamps will not allow her to visit Cruz at the Broward County Jail unless Deschamps is present. … It’s not clear how much Nikolas and his brother stand to gain from the estate. … Nikolas Cruz told a family he was living with before the shootings that he had an $800,000 trust fund, most of which he would receive in two years.

Hillsborough School Board votes unanimously to oppose arming school employees” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — The Hillsborough County School Board does not want to bring more guns into the schools, and members unanimously directed Superintendent Jeff Eakins to make that fact clear to Gov. Scott and the legislative leadership. “I feel like we need to take a stand with our students, families and teachers,” board member Cindy Stuart said before introducing the motion. “It is wrong arming anyone other than law enforcement on our campus.” Stuart’s motion … makes it clear that Hillsborough school officials have no intention of taking part in the program to arm school employees … Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister doesn’t approve of the idea to arm school personnel either, Stuart said.

Florida gun sales spiked after the Parkland shooting.

Florida went gun shopping after the Parkland shooting” via Polly Mosendz and Mira Rojanasakul of Bloomberg — The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a barometer for gun purchases, shows that in February checks for sales in Florida were up 3.5 percent year over year. There was a 12.6 percent increase in long guns, a category that includes assault rifles like the one used in the school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. Nationwide, long-gun checks were up 3 percent. The new statistics “beg the question: Is fear-based buying back? Given all the recent headlines and rhetoric, we would argue yes, for the moment,” wrote KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brett Andress.

— BLAME GAME —

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is pointing to anything but guns in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate in an interview with WJXT on Sunday said the state Department of Children and Families, the Legislature and violent video games are to blame for the Parkland tragedy.

In doing so, Putnam is simultaneously keeping in the good graces of pro-gun voters and attacking potential political foes. He criticized the Legislature for not funding school safety in recent years.

History hurts: Criticizing the state House and Senate, Putnam said: “The Legislature’s commitment to funding that Safe Schools account has gone down over time … It’s unfortunate that it took the Parkland event to refocus everyone on the need to harden these schools.”

Red flag: On DCF, Putnam said charged shooter Cruz was a “walking red flag.” “DCF had visited the home because he posted a video online that saying that he wanted to be a shooter and he was threatening to cut himself.”

Gun games: Putnam suggested learning about guns through video games can lead to violent behavior. Citing his hunting experience and respect for firearms, he said “we would be safer” if others shared the same experiences.

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Higher ed package quickly goes to Rick Scott” via the News Service of Florida — A bill that would permanently expand Bright Futures merit scholarships is now on Scott’s desk. A little more than 13 hours after the Senate gave final approval in a 33-5 vote, the measure (SB 4) was signed by legislative leaders and presented to the governor. Scott has until March 21 to act on the bill. The legislation, known as the “Excellence in Higher Education Act,” was a top priority for President Joe Negron, who has made the elevation of Florida’s 12 state universities one of the cornerstones of his two years as the Senate leader. Scott vetoed a similar initiative last year after he objected to provisions impacting Florida’s 28 state colleges.

Bill could end trauma system battles” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill (HB 1165), one day after the House voted 110-0 to approve it. The bill now heads to Scott, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill would change the number of trauma-service areas from 19 to 18 and make clear that no service area could have more than five Level I, Level II, Level II/pediatric, and stand-alone pediatric trauma centers. A trauma service area could not have more than one stand-alone pediatric trauma center. The bill would require the Florida Department of Health by Oct. 1 to establish an 11-member Florida Trauma System Advisory Council. The group would be required to meet no later than Jan. 5 and quarterly after that. Moreover, the bill would put into statutes a new “need formula” for the approval of trauma centers. Under the new formula, it will be difficult to produce new trauma centers anytime soon, said Mark Delegal, general counsel for the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which includes public, teaching and children’s hospitals.

Bill Montford isn’t fazed by attacks from Andrew Gillum. 

Bill Montford defends two key votes in the face of Andrew Gillum’s criticism” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Longtime supporters of Montford winced Monday after he cast two key votes with Senate Republicans. Montford was criticized for his vote on a school safety plan that allows more guns on campus and an education bill that could dismantle teacher labor groups. After the vote on the education bill Monday, Mayor Andrew Gillum … said he was “very disappointed with Sen. Montford’s vote.” … Montford fired back at Gillum … “To be able to criticize someone for a vote if they do not understand or have not read (the bill) is bush league,” Montford said. “I stay out of his business. He best stay out of mine.” … Gillum said he understands a need for compromise in the government process, “but you had six Republicans come over and vote with Democrats against adding more guns to classrooms and also the decertifying of the teachers union.”

House wants diversion programs with tougher qualifications for offenders” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics ﹘The House Monday supported creating pre-arrest diversion programs for juveniles and adults, but the chamber wants to make it “a little bit harder” for offenders to qualify than the Senate does. The Republican-controlled chamber adopted a “strike-all” amendment sought by state Rep. Larry Ahern, who is championing the bill in the House. The amended bill now states that those suspected of a misdemeanor domestic violence or stalking cannot participate in a diversion program. The House moved away from the Senate’s proposal, which would have mandated every judicial circuit in the state to create a program and allowed them to choose their offender eligibility criteria. Under the House proposal, the program may be operated by a police department, a municipality or an entity selected by a jurisdiction.

Governors Club Wednesday lunch buffet menu — Mixed green salad with assorted dressings; red potato salad; egg salad; spicy crawfish bisque soup; meatloaf; herb baked chicken; roasted wedge potato; corn on the cob; braised cabbage; fruit cobbler for dessert.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Gwen Graham raises $660K in February” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Graham announced that her official campaign raised more than $220,000 in February and her political committee Gwen Graham for Florida raised another $440,000. The political committee’s haul includes a $250,000 check from her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. “I believe in Gwen’s leadership, I share Gwen’s priorities, and I know Gwen’s heart for Florida,” he stated in a news release from her campaign. With those February campaign finance tallies, her official campaign now will have raised approximately $2.45 million since she entered the race in April, and Gwen Graham For Florida will have raised almost $3.4 million.

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King will hold a 9 a.m. news conference at the Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Suite 100 in Tallahassee to address failures in the state capitol over the past two decades.

Scott Sturgill takes on Mike Miller in GOP congressional primary” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The seat, held by freshman Rep. Stephanie Murphy is one of the GOP’s biggest targets in 2018 and could help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. House next year. Sturgill’s campaign has upended a Republican primary expected to favor Miller, who has served in Tallahassee for three years. Susan MacManus … said incumbents “are being challenged by other Republicans who want something different. And self-financed businesspeople are surfacing. … It shows this is shaping up to be another year of the outsiders giving the insiders a run for their money.” Thanks to a $100,000 loan of his own money, Sturgill’s campaign had more cash on hand at the end of 2017, more than $265,000 than Miller campaign’s total of $185,000 … Two other GOP candidates, Vennia Francois, a former Senate policy adviser, and Patrick Weingart, an honorably discharged U.S. Marine, have not filed contribution reports.

Republicans are no fans of Donna Shalala. Hard to wonder why.

Email insights: Donna Shalala ‘elitist, disconnected and delusional’” via Florida Politics — Shalala made her CD 27 run official, and the GOP seems about as excited as her Democratic opponents according to an email sent out by the Republican National Committee. “Donna Shalala represents everything Floridians dislike about the Clintons — elitist, disconnected, and delusional about the working class and their needs,” RNC spokesperson Taryn Fenske said in an email. “She proved this by leading the Clinton foundation and covering up scandalous international fundraising activities as well as the Clinton family’s lifetime record of corruption.” The RNC statement echoes the sentiments of some of Shalala’s Democratic Primary rivals, though their concerns have more to do with the former Health and Human Services secretary’s corporate ties than her Clinton connections.

Ray Pilon plans bid to return to House” via the News Service of Florida — Pilon opened a campaign account to try to return to the House in a Sarasota County district captured recently by Democrat Margaret Good … Good has opened a campaign account to try to win a full term in November. Also … Key Largo Democrat Pat Gessel opened an account to challenge Rep. Holly Raschein in House District 120, which includes Monroe County and part of Miami-Dade County. In Hillsborough County, Tampa Democrat Sharon Carter became the third candidate to open an account in House District 61. Carter and two other Democrats are trying to succeed Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat who is running for attorney general.

— STATEWIDE —

Rick Scott doles out $22 million from job growth grant fund” via Florida Politics — Scott rolled out $22 million from the Job Growth Grant Fund. The $85 million fund has now dispersed $57 million. The biggest spend: $5.8 million to build the “NEO City Gateway Road” in Osceola County … Pensacola also scored, via $4 million for airport infrastructure improvements … $1.987 million to Marianna to extend the runway at Marianna Airport Commerce Park to 6,000 feet. Titusville got $1.06 million for a new water main … Volusia got $1,961 million to extend County Road 4009. And Sumter County got $838,000 for water infrastructure upgrades along County Road 470. Broward College got $3.187 million for a workforce training program … St. Petersburg College got $1,596,858 to create the Mechatronics and Electromechanical Technician training program … Big Bend Technical College got $100,000 to open a Diesel Maintenance Technician Program and a Diesel System Technical 1 Program. Valencia College received $1,320,000 to start the Advanced Manufacturing and Distribution Logistics project. And Chipola College got $76,240 for new welding equipment.

State loses $18 million for disabled students after failing to implement federal law” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott’s administration last year was unable to spend $18 million in federal funding to help mentally and physically disabled students after it failed to implement a federally-mandated system fully on time. But when determining who is to blame for the state allowing millions of dollars to fall through the cracks last fiscal year, it depends on with whom you talk. Vendors say the blame is on an “ill-thought-out process” and a “sloppy rollout the program; state education officials say the problem was a lack of qualified vendors and professionals. Collins said she is “confident” the department will be able to use the federal money this fiscal year because it has done more outreach and there are now more vendors who have the credentials and training to partner. The program is designed to provide students ages 14-21 who are mentally or physically disabled with services that can help them transition into the workforce or to college. Mental disabilities that would meet the criteria include depression, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Assignment editors — CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis will announce recipients of the 2018 Fire Service Awards beginning with a bellringing ceremony at 8:30 a.m. in the Florida Capitol Courtyard, Fallen Firefighter Monument. Award presentation it is 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room of The Capitol.

Florida puts voting right requests on hold due to lawsuit” via The Associated Press — Due to a legal battle, Florida is putting on hold requests by former prisoners who are asking to get their voting rights restored. A federal judge in February ruled that the state’s system of restoring voting rights to ex-felons is arbitrary and unconstitutional. But U.S. District Judge Mark Walker hasn’t yet ordered on what should be done to change the system. Gov. Scott and three other statewide officials are holding a clemency meeting on Thursday. But they’re not taking any action on requests from 62 ex-felons to have their rights restored. … a spokesman for Scott … said a decision was made to postpone action because the state is waiting for another ruling from Walker.

Delays in producing medical marijuana ID cards irk legislators” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida (and h/t to Florida for Care for putting this story in front of the paywall) — The production of identification cards for Florida’s tens of thousands of medical marijuana patients was thought to be on schedule after previous delays, but is actually months behind, leaving lawmakers and physicians fuming at the state Department of Health. Documents showed Jacksonville-based Veritec Solutions has yet to receive technical specifications to develop a secure connection into the Medical Marijuana Use Registry. Copies of a regularly updated project schedule the company gives to the DOH shows the specifications should have been provided by Dec. 4. That deadline has since been pushed to March 30. State Rep. Ray Rodrigues was unhappy with the DOH’s progress. “This should be a seamless process,” he said. “In our vision, you get your medical marijuana ID card after you’re added to the registry so it can be done quickly and cheaply.”

Noor Salman trial: Potential jurors weigh challenge of deciding fate of Pulse gunman’s widow” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — The jury pool … has at least 30 people in it after the fourth day of jury selection for Pulse gunman Omar Mateen’s widow. The judge has said he wants about 58 prospective jurors before attorneys narrow it down to 12 jurors and six alternates who will hear the Noor Salman case. Among the ten people kept in the pool was a mechanic who said he works about two blocks away from the Pulse nightclub … Other potential jurors this morning expressed concern about the gravity of the charges and the role they could play in deciding Salman’s fate. She faces up to life in prison if convicted. … Salman mostly kept her head down while jurors were questioned and appeared to be writing.

Manatee shark-dragging suspect appears in court as case moves ahead” via Samantha Putterman of the Bradenton Herald — One of the three Manatee County men facing charges in connection with the infamous shark-dragging case appeared in Hillsborough County court Tuesday morning. Spencer Heintz sat in the back of the courtroom and didn’t speak during the hearing … Attorneys for the three men spoke to Judge Mark Wolfe briefly on Tuesday and set a disposition for May 1. All three men connected to the video — Michael Wenzel … Robert Lee Benac … and Heintz — have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges back in January. Each are charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty, a third-degree felony … The now viral video, released in July 2017, shows three men on a boat laughing and watching as the shark, which is tied on a rope, violently bobs in the water as it is dragged … The clip has generated outrage nationwide and was called out by Gov. Scott, who said he wanted laws to prevent “such inhumane acts.”

— OPINIONS —

Peter’s hot takes:

— “St. Pete Chamber loses bigly in debate over USF consolidation” via Florida Politics

— “Texts reveal Gary Farmer still lobbying for trial bar” via Florida Politics

— “What’s next for Sunshine State News?” via Florida Politics

Dominic Calabro: Florida pro-growth programs are wise investments” via Florida Politics — Florida officials continue to look for ways to stimulate economic growth and development and diversify the state’s economy. As a result, the focus has shifted from attracting new businesses to Florida to growing existing Florida businesses from within. This is important since, overall, business and job growth in Florida is occurring in small businesses, those with fewer than 100 employees. Given the decision to grow Florida’s economy from within, two existing programs have proved themselves worthy of the continued investment of state funds. The first is GrowFL, which works with “second-stage” companies to help them connect with resources that will allow them to make better strategic decisions and have a larger positive impact on our economy … programs like FloridaMakes, a statewide public-private partnership designed to improve the productivity and technological performance of Florida manufacturers, is so vital to growing our manufacturing sector. If growing Florida’s economy from within is going to be the linchpin of our economic development program, then a continued public investment in programs like GrowFL and FloridaMakes would be a wise investment indeed.

Repel the latest attack on home rule and growth management” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The latest outrageous example is a measure that could overrule local decisions to control growth — and threatened to trump a judge’s 2017 ruling against urban development in rural east Orange County. It ranks as one of the most devious power plays cooked up in the Capitol this year to crush home rule. Republican Matt Caldwell of North Fort Myers amended House Bill 883 to summarily declare land within 3 miles of a state university campus open to urban development. It wouldn’t matter if a county’s own comprehensive plan — its blueprint for growth — designated the land as rural. Trying to turn more rural areas in Florida into subdivisions and strip malls is an especially bizarre move from Caldwell. He’s a candidate for state agriculture commissioner, and the job description includes being a good steward of the environment. If HB 883 passes the House with any of its offensive elements intact, it’ll be up to the Senate to defeat the bill, or at least strip it of those elements.

— MOVEMENTS —

Appointed — Anthony Bonna to the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners; Maryam Laguna Borrego and Samantha Hoare to the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Andreina Figueroa, ADF Consulting: FIU Student Government Association

Mark Maxwell, SCG Governmental Affairs: Now IMS

Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: Major League Baseball

William Rubin, Melissa AkesonAmy BiscegliaErica ChantiChristopher FinkbeinerHeather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Florida Association of Recovery Residences, GEOcommand, Seminole County Government

— ALOE —

A phrase for our time: Merriam-Webster adds ‘dumpster fire’ to dictionary” via Laurel Wamsley of NPR — The gleefully catastrophic phrase is one of 850 new additions the online dictionary announced today. Dumpster fire’s inclusion marks a crowning moment for the treasured declaration and its oft-tweeted GIF. It’s the metaphor we wouldn’t want to live without — though the dictionary says the phrase’s first-known usage was just ten years ago. Though Merriam-Webster sadly didn’t release the full list of new words, the additions announced today are like a Lexicographer’s Guide to 2018 — in all its self-conscious, millennial-obsessed glory. There’s embiggen, mansplain and hate-watch. Glamping, self-care and welp. And just in case you feel compelled to render a diagnosis: here’s a definition for narcissistic personality disorder. Jargon gets its day, too. See bandwidth’s third meaning: “the emotional or mental capacity necessary to do or consider something.”

It’s a whole new world: Disneyland, Disney World come to Google Maps Street View” via Andrew Krietz of WTSP — “Be our guest at 11 Disney Parks, and with Street View, anything your heart desires will come to you — castles, rides, attractions to infinity and beyond,” the company wrote on its blog. Many of the images were taken in 2016-17. Here’s a list of all the accessible parks on Street View: Disney Springs, dining and retail; California Adventures; Epcot; Epcot, Morocco; Guardians of the Galaxy; Hollywood Studios; Magic Kingdom Park; Micky and Minnie’s Houses; Pandora, The World of Avatar; Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.

Sales at toymaker Lego fall for the first time in 13 years” via Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen of Reuters — The privately-owned company could be facing its biggest test since flirting with bankruptcy in the early 2000s after a sudden halt to more than a decade of strong growth. Sales fell 8 percent to 35 billion Danish crowns ($5.8 billion) in 2017, compared with a 6 percent increase in 2016 and a far cry from the 25 percent growth achieved in 2015. The company said overall consumer sales were flat, but the figures were affected by a cleanup of inventories that were set high at the beginning of the year in anticipation of growth. Lego saw “strong double-digit” growth in China, while most established markets in North America and Europe declined. The company will open an office in Dubai this year to help boost sales in the Middle East and Africa. Lego said in September it would lay off 8 percent of staff and that it had pressed the “reset button,” acknowledging its business had grown too complicated.

Weeks after school shooting, band to play Carnegie Hall” via The Associated Press — Three weeks after a gunman killed 17 people at their high school, students from Parkland, Florida, are following through with a long-planned Carnegie Hall performance. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wind Symphony is scheduled to play the renowned New York venue Tuesday during a concert featuring high school bands. The concert was scheduled before the Feb. 14 massacre. Among those killed was freshman Alex Schachter, who played in the marching band that includes the wind symphony and other groups. … Tuba player Luis Gomez told WCBS-TV that “music is a coping mechanism” for him and probably others.

Happy birthday to INFLUENCE Magazine contributor Rochelle Koff and state Rep. Joe Geller.

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