Sunburn - The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics - 3.8.18 - Florida Politics

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.8.18

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

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

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Because he “opens at the close,” we’ll let the AP’s Gary Fineout outline the budget deal reached by Florida lawmakers.

Republican legislators said Wednesday they thought they had reached an agreement on key elements behind closed doors, but the agreement comes too late for lawmakers to end their 60-day session as scheduled.

Senate President Joe Negron said that he expects legislators will be forced to vote on the budget this coming Sunday.

Top legislators said the stalemate over the last two days was due primarily over a disagreement on how much money should go to hospitals that treat Medicaid patients.

But the delay prompted speculation — including from some legislators — that the budget deal was not reached in order to ensure that legislators would vote for a contentious gun bill drawn up in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That bill narrowly passed the Senate on Saturday and was approved by a tight margin in the House on Wednesday.

The final budget is expected to increase spending on public schools by about $100 per student; set aside money for the state’s Florida Forever land conservation program; and increase spending on financial aid programs for college students. The budget does not include an across-the-board pay raise for state employees.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @FManjoo: I spent 2 months getting the news mostly from print. It changed my life. I was better informed, less anxious, and I had tons of free time. I distilled the experience into three Michael Pollan-esque lessons: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.

— @LongLIveKCX: Secretary of education Betsy Devos spoke to me and only a hand full of students. She did not properly answer my only question. She did not sit down with any students and asked what we wanted. Douglas has 3,000 students. None of them were invited.

— @MahoneystheName: Theme of this somber debate: Nearly every member has something they don’t like about this bill. Rs nervous about gun restrictions, Ds about arming school staff. It’s a question of if they are willing to accept the package. But Rep. Bob Cortes summed it up: “We must do better.”

— @NewsBySmiley: The speeches the last two days from the Broward lawmakers intimately involved in responding to the Parkland shooting have been incredibly powerful

— @CordByrd: Today I upheld my oath to the Constitution by voting against SB 7026. What happened in Parkland was a failure of government. When government fails, the solution is not more government. The solution is not unconstitutional gun control measures.

— @RadioRicko: So in the midst of the school safety debate in the Florida House I get a text that one of my hives has swarmed. 45 minutes later the bees are captured and placed in a new hive. Back at work and lawmakers are still droning on. Yes. that’s a bee pun.

— @Fineout: While Fla. Leg wraps up work on a budget & passes a comprehensive gun bill – the promise to pass a bill dealing with sexual harassment has faltered. State Rep @voteforjennifer Sullivan called it “unconscionable” the Senate won’t take up the bill after everything that happened

— @PaulFlemming: For those calculating 72 hours of cooling off for considering Florida’s budget, let’s hope the lost hour early Sunday is not an issue.

— @SShawFL: The process is broken if it’s driving good people like my friend Rep. Lee away…😢

— @MaryEllenKlas: Senate gushes with inside jokes, fond memories and work ethic helping the elderly, frail and the Hialeah district of @SenReneGarcia

— @JoseFelixDiaz: Tremendously classy farewell speech by Speaker Pro Tempore @RepJNunez – one of the classiest and hardest working legislators in the process. The Florida House will miss her leadership and her steady spirit

— DAYS UNTIL —

Sine Die (maybe) — 3; St. Patrick’s Day – 9; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 16; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 21; Easter – 24; NFL Draft begins – 49; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 56; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 76; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 106; Primary Election Day — 173; College Football opening weekend – 177; General Election Day — 243; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 341.

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— TOP STORY —

Florida House passes gun reform, school safety bill after lengthy debate” via Arek Sarkissian and Marc Caputo a POLITICO Florida – The Republican-led Florida House passed a school safety package that includes an unprecedented tightening of gun control regulations … The close vote placed reluctant GOP legislators in a vice between browbeating chamber leadership and the powerful National Rifle Association. The 67-50 vote was also tough for House Democrats, who earlier in the day decided to take a caucus position against the bill because it would allow for armed educational personnel in schools. The provision played a key role in the legislation’s near defeat when the Florida Senate barely passed the bill. Called “The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” the bill now goes to Gov. Scott for his signature. Legislators say Scott is expected to sign it into law. The gun control measures in the bill, though relatively small compared to the assault weapons ban unsuccessfully sought by Democrats, mark an unprecedented shift in the Florida Capitol, which has been a bastion of gun-rights legislation for decades.

Rick Scott refuses to be pinned down on school safety legislation” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – As the House debated the post-Parkland bill Wednesday, Gov. Scott refused to commit to signing it. “As you know, the bill is still being debated. When the bill makes it to my desk, I’m going to do what they don’t seem to be doing in Washington. I’m going to review the bill line by line,” Scott told reporters following a Cabinet meeting. “The group that I’m going to be talking to — the group that I care about the most because it has impacted them so much — is the families,” he said. Would he sign the bill (SB 7026) as it now exists? “They’re still debating it. I’m going to take my time and read the bill,” said Scott, a Naples Republican.

Dad of slain MSD student: ‘I’m a father, and I’m on a mission’ ” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida – Andrew Pollack’s 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was among the 14 students shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Pollack, who watched from the gallery as the Florida House voted 67-50 to approve the school-safety measure sparked by the nation’s second-worst school shooting, that also left three faculty members dead, Wednesday evening. He praised the House, Senate and Gov.  Scott, and called the measure an important first step to ensure the safety and security of school children.

Pro-gun bills look doomed in Senate” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Without hesitation, the Senate temporarily postponed on Wednesday two bills that would’ve expanded gun rights in Florida. This late in the Legislative Session, the move is a sign that the chamber does not intend to vote on the two pieces of legislation. One bill, SB 1048, had been postponed by President Negron ahead of a final vote in the chamber last month. Negron’s decision to delay the bill came when survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre filled the Capitol. The legislation, filed by Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, sought to allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry guns at churches attached to schools. The legislation would only slightly expand gun rights, allowing for electronic payments of criminal history checks for potential firearms buyers.

Parkland school shooting influenced Larry Lee to announce he will not seek re-election” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – Lee expressed his frustration with a partisan and ineffective Legislature. “Were it not for the outcry and protest of those students that saw their classmates die, we would not be addressing this school public safety issue,” Lee said. “Those students have done more in two weeks than the Legislature has done in six years.” Lee announced his retirement during a House Democratic Caucus meeting, where lawmakers debated voting against a wide-ranging school safety bill drafted after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting. Lee opposes the bill for several reasons, including that it includes a provision for school staff members to carry firearms. Legislators often fail to work with each other, leaving issues unresolved or solved by recommendations primarily from the Republican majority, Lee said.

Worth reading in its entirety – “’Toxic’ gun fight opens emotional and political wounds in Legislature” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Another click worthy of your time – “The Florida Legislature is considering arming certain school employees to protect against school shooters. But at least 19 times, such employees have shown dangerous behavior themselves.

— MORE ON PARKLAND —

Nikolas Cruz indicted on 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder” via Paula McMahon and Tonya Alanez of the Sun-Sentinel – Nikolas Cruz now formally faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, prosecutors announced Wednesday afternoon. After nearly two days of testimony, ranging from the Uber driver who drove Cruz to the school Feb. 14 and the medical examiner who did autopsies of the bodies of the 17 who died, a Broward County grand jury on Wednesday afternoon voted to indict the 19-year-old. … He could face the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet announced their intentions. Until Wednesday’s indictment was announced, authorities had said Cruz killed 17 and injured 16. But the indictment charges that he tried to kill a 17th person.

Named for the first time: All 17 who survived Cruz’s bullets” via David Fleshler and Phillip Valys of the Sun-Sentinel – The killer fired his AR-15 at them on that terrible afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and they survived. … A complete list of the wounded from the Parkland school shooting was released for the first time Wednesday … Although authorities have previously said the number of wounded stood at 16, the indictment lists 17 victims of attempted murder and said all had been shot. … The wounded: Ashley Baez, Anthony Borges, Isabel Chequer, Justin Colton, Alexander Dworet, Samantha Fuentes, Samantha Grady, Marian Kabachenko, Kyle Laman, Stacey Lynn Lippel, Kheshava Managapuram, Samantha Mayor, Daniela Menescal, William Olson, Genesis Valentin, Benjamin Wikander and Madeleine Wilford

Rubio, Nelson push for more gun violence protection orders” via the Associated Press – Rubio says he hopes more states enact gun violence protection orders that might prevent shootings like the high school massacre that killed 17 people. Rubio said Wednesday he planned to file legislation that would give incentives to states enacting those protection orders. The incentives would come in the form of grants from the Department of Justice over the next five years. … Bill Nelson joined Rubio for the announcement in Washington, D.C. Nelson said he backed the proposal, but he also ultimately wants universal background checks and more restrictions on assault weapons.

BSO defends captain who took charge of Parkland shooting scene” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald – On a website called BSO Fact Check, the agency wrote that Capt. Jan Jordan handled the situation in accordance with training. “The shooting had stopped,” the website states. “A perimeter is a secondary task that would be appropriate to apprehend the suspect, stop him from entering the neighboring middle school and prevent non-first responders (responding parents) from coming on the school property while it was on lockdown.” Four BSO deputies did not immediately enter the building where Cruz gunned down 17 students and staff. Coral Springs police officers were the first to go in, but Cruz had already fled. A partial dispatch log showed that Jordan, BSO’s Parkland district commander, gave the order to form a perimeter while some deputies thought the shooting was still going on. “Everyone should have gone in,” said a law enforcement source familiar with the agency’s response. “Every single person believed the shooter was in the building.”

Two Miramar SWAT officers suspended for heading to Parkland massacre” by Linda Trischitta of the Sun-Sentinel – When a gunman started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, two Miramar SWAT team members did what comes naturally: They went to help. Now they’ve been suspended for it. The officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting at Parkland on Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed. And that created an officer safety issue and left them unaccountable for their actions, according to their police department. … The SWAT officers who responded were Detective Jeffrey Gilbert and Detective Carl Schlosser. One of them told supervisors he was in the Coral Springs area when the gunfire happened; it’s not known where the other drove from, police spokeswoman Tania Rues said. … A third SWAT member, Officer Kevin Gonzalez, was accused of being linked to several social media posts that put the city and police in a negative light, and was suspended … All three were notified Fed. 22 of their indefinite removal from what their department called a “privileged program” and were ordered to surrender their SWAT-issued rifles, but they remain on active duty for their other assignments, Rues said.

Betsy DeVos visited Parkland. It didn’t go over well with students” via Melissa Chan of Time magazine – For about an hour, at least three student journalists from the school’s newspaper, TV production and yearbook staff followed DeVos around campus, where they say she pet comfort dogs, shook hands with the school’s faculty and offered “generic” answers to their specific questions about how concrete changes can be made. “It was a publicity stunt, really. There was no point to it,” said Alyson Sheehy, an 18-year-old yearbook editor who was part of the small student press pool. “I kind of expected that to happen, but it’s still frustrating that she made the trip out here and made it a big deal but didn’t do anything.” Sheehy said DeVos “didn’t meet specifically with anyone” during her high-profile visit on the students’ first full day back at school. “She was kind of just walking around the school and not talking to anybody,” the high school senior said. “We just kind of followed her around.” When the student journalists asked DeVos questions about her goals and how she plans to stop school shootings, they said DeVos demurred. “She kind of gave us simple answers and didn’t really answer the questions we asked,” Sheehy said.

DeVos says school districts could arm teachers trained to high standards” via Kimberly Hefling of POLITICO Florida –  DeVos said school districts could opt to arm teachers by following the example of programs in Texas and Polk County that stress extensive training and safety. “I think that’s a model that can be adopted and should be an option for schools, for states, for communities,” DeVos said. “But it’s certainly not one that needs to be required or mandated for every community.” … She said she would be putting out more specific recommendations on school safety in the future. The Education Department already has sent $1 million — which officials called an “initial” grant — to help Broward County Public Schools’ recovery efforts.

— THE TWEET FACTOR —

Turning into a social media influencer overnight isn’t easy.

But some survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting who have since become activists have managed — something highlighted by a recent story in the New York Times.

The Times writes, “With their consistent tweeting of stories, memes, jokes and video clips, the students have managed to keep the tragedy that their school experienced — and their plan to stop such shootings from happening elsewhere — in the news for weeks, long after past mass shootings have faded from the headlines.”

Polished techniques: Twitter’s ‘quote’ retweeting feature has allowed the Parkland activists to interact with opposing views, adding their own bit of commentary. “The Parkland students’ use of quote tweets is one of their most effective tools.”

An example: Sarah Chadwick, a junior at MSD, tweeted, “We should change the name of AR-15s to “Marco Rubio” because they’re so easy to buy.” She was then criticized by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who called Chadwick a sophomore, to which she responded — via a quote tweet — that she was a junior, effectively winning the argument.

But it’s not easy: Several students interviewed by the Times said they no longer feel comfortable tweeting about light material such as pop culture anymore. “The social media activism has come with a cost for the high schoolers, who before the shooting just used these platforms to keep up with friends, make jokes and pass the time.”

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Joe Negron will not run for office in 2018, may resign before term ends” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – Negron will not run for higher office in 2018 and may even resign before his term ends in November 2020 … he will not announce his plans until the end of the legislative session … Negron said he wants to settle back into his normal routine before making a final decision. “I enjoy serving in the Senate. I enjoy the work I’m able to do for the community. I’ll make that decision in a few weeks,” Negron said. Negron never committed to serving the full four-year term. His term was supposed to end in 2018, but redistricting required him to run again in 2016, giving him an unplanned extra two years in the Senate. “Term limits are there for a reason,” Negron said. If Negron resigns early, a special election would be held to replace him for the remainder of his term.

House winning Medicaid pay debate not so good for HCA, Tenet hospitals” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Helping end a budget impasse, lawmakers have agreed to keep a current Medicaid payment formula for hospitals and to increase funding for nursing homes by $40 million … The agreement allowed the chambers to close out a roughly $87 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. … The House and Senate had taken different positions for weeks on hospital funding. The House proposal was essentially a continuation of the Medicaid payment formula from the current year’s budget. The Senate, meanwhile, had proposed redistributing $318 million in Medicaid “automatic rate enhancements” currently paid to 28 hospitals with large Medicaid caseloads and use it to increase the rates paid for all hospitals. … The impasse on health-care funding played a key role in causing legislative leaders to miss a Tuesday deadline for finishing the budget.

Corcoran calls out Senate for endangering sexual harassment bill” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “How does a chamber that was caught up in that much scandal not take up sexual harassment?” Corcoran told POLITICO, referring to two state senators who resigned in disgrace after being accused of improprieties. … Negron said on Wednesday he was “content” with how his chamber has handled sexual harassment and said he is not concerned that the legislation that would more broadly address sexual harassment across the government didn’t make it out of committee for a full vote of the Florida Senate. “What the Senate has done through our rules is make it abundantly clear that sexual harassment is against our rules and will not be tolerated,” Negron told reporters. … Negron wouldn’t say whether he would take up the House sexual harassment legislation and didn’t take ownership for negotiating a compromise on the legislation.

Scott says he’ll sign first responders’ benefits bill” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gov. Scott said he will sign a measure to expand workers’ compensation benefits to first responders who suffer job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Scott made the announcement early Wednesday at a “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony for Florida’s fallen firefighters at The Capitol. The legislation (SB 376) is a priority of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, also the state’s Fire Marshal. Patronis and Scott, both Republicans, are political allies. “Gov. Scott’s announcement today shows his continued leadership and commitment to this community,” Patronis said in a statement.

Bid to increase spending on opioid epidemic fails in Florida Senate” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Sen. Darryl Rouson withdrew his proposal to add $25 million toward the effort after Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto said the cash just wasn’t there in this year’s budget. “I didn’t give up easily,” Benacquisto said, but she said the Legislature’s $400 million response to the mass shooting in Parkland has tightened the state’s proposed $87 billion budget. The legislation (CS/HB 21) is set for a vote … It then would return to the House for final approval. More than half of the state’s spending package comes from the federal government. The legislation would limit initial opioid prescriptions to three days, with some allowances for a seven-day supply for acute pain. The package largely mirrors what Gov. Scott proposed last fall after he signed an executive order in May calling opioid abuse a public health emergency.

Senate passes gambling bill, requests conference” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed the latest version of comprehensive gambling legislation for 2018, and asked the House to go into conference to bang out a compromise. Bill sponsor Travis Hutson offered an amendment to the House bill (HB 7067) that already passed off the floor. The chamber OK’d it 22-10, sending it back. Hutson—a St. Augustine Republican who chairs the Regulated Industries Committee—noted further concessions in his measure while saying, “The House has not come closer to us at all.” … The latest language adds, among other things, what Hutson called a “partial decoupling” for thoroughbred horse racing, referring to the term for removing provisions in state law requiring dog and horse tracks to run live races if they wish to offer other gambling, such as cardrooms. It also adds a ban on steroid use in racing greyhounds, but removes a ban on video games known as “pre-reveal” that look and play like slot machines, and that critics say are illegal gambling.

Florida teacher leaders predict depleting ranks in wake of HB 7055” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Speaker Corcoran celebrated the passage of his sweeping K-12 policy bill, the 207-page HB 7055, with a statement cheering a “great day for education in Florida.” “Each and every child deserves to feel safe at school. No child should ever have to fear for their safety as soon as they step into the classroom,” Corcoran stated, referring to the measure’s new tax-credit scholarship for students who feel bullied in their public schools. Teacher leaders didn’t share in the enthusiasm, though. In social media and interviews, they blasted the latest legislation as even worse than the 2017 bill (HB 7069) that remains the subject of legal challenges by several school districts. They pointed to a provision that could lead to decertification of their unions as one of many items that might cause their profession to dwindle in Florida. “A teacher shortage is looming, big time, and it’s not because of this one issue,” said Mike Gandolfo, Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president. “It’s been coming for years.”

State could require elected officials to resign before running for federal office” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — A bill that would require public office holders to resign before running for federal office could soon become law. The House passed the legislation (SB 186) late Wednesday night, sending it to Gov. Scott‘s desk for approval. The bill would require elected officials to resign from their offices 10 days ahead of the start of a federal campaign. The resign-to-run requirement only applies to officials seeking a federal term that would overlap with their current term. Florida law already provides the same requirement for officeholders seeking other elected local or state seats. The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, passed the Senate in January with the approval of just four Democrats. Similarly, most House Democrats voted against the bill on Wednesday.

Environmentalists, Seminole leaders blast House bill to strip rural protections” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel – Central Florida politicians are joining environmentalists and residents in opposing a fast-changing bill working its way through the Legislature that would do away with rural protections on land within 3 miles of a state university, including University of Central Florida. That means most land in Seminole County east of the environmentally-sensitive Econlockhatchee River — which has been mostly protected from high-density development after a countywide referendum — would be open to thousands of new rooftops, according to the latest amendments tacked onto the bill … “It’s going to affect the Econ,” said Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, who opposes the move. “It’s going to affect traffic. It’s going to affect quality of life. … It would have a devastating effect on our rural boundary.” Constantine said former state Rep. Chris Dorworth, now a real-estate investor from Lake Mary, told him he has a contract to purchase nearly 700 acres of farmland in Seminole’s rural protection area and bordered by the Econ River, County Road 419, the Orange County line and Riverwoods Trail. He said he suspects Dorworth is pushing for the bill’s amendments.

Senate backs privacy protections for Amazon Echo, Google Home” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Senate unanimously supported a bill on Wednesday that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before collecting information stored on devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The bill (SB 1256) explicitly prohibits the collection of location and communications data stored on electronic communication devices, including cellphones. Bill sponsor Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, told members on the floor that the bill is an expansion of “Fourth Amendment protections” for devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The bill exempts the warrant requirement for data that is obtained for business purposes and is not “personally identifiable.” A similar House version (HB 1249) has not been scheduled for a floor hearing.

Governors Club Thursday lunch buffet menu – Mixed green salad with assorted dressings; red potato salad; macaroni salad; cream of mushroom soup; rosemary pork chops; chicken piccata; majestic rice pilaf; grilled asparagus; glazed carrots; “Karl Rasmussen s’mores” for dessert.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Liberal megadonor Tom Steyer targets Scott, Mast, other Florida races” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Liberal campaign megadonor Tom Steyer is targeting … Rick Scott,  freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast … and other key races around the state as part of a $3.5 million effort to mobilize young voters. Steyer’s NextGen America announced the Florida midterm push Wednesday, pledging to “hire over 100 organizers to engage young Floridians on at least 40 campuses.” NextGen says it already has 53 paid staff in the state. Steyer was the top individual donor in the U.S. in 2016, pouring more than $91 million to Democratic candidates and liberal causes … Republican moneyman Sheldon Adelson was second with $82.6 million in contributions. … NextGen Climate Action Committee spent more than $20 million in Florida in 2014, when Scott won re-election over Democrat Charlie Crist.

Bill Nelson staffs up for re-electionNelson brought on several senior campaign staff to lead his 2018 re-election campaign, including campaign manager Marley Wilkes, experienced in Florida politics with a strong record of successful campaigns, as well as deputy campaign manager Greg Goddard and Shahra Anderson as Political Director. Wilkes joins the Nelson campaign from Ruth’s List, where she served as executive director. Goddard has been serving as Nelson’s finance director since early 2017. In 2016, Goddard was the Florida finance director for Hillary for America, as well as Florida finance director for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial race and as North Florida finance director for Nelson’s re-election in 2012. Anderson served in Nelson’s Senate office for 14 years; she began her career as a constituent advocate for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Anderson also played a key role in Nelson’s 2012 re-election.

Ron DeSantis says he raised $2 million in February for gubernatorial campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – DeSantis announced his official campaign raised $471,000 and his Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee raised $1,616,000 during the month, giving him a 50-day tally of more than $5.4 million in the two funds. That includes $2.4 million transferred to the political committee from another political committee, Fund for Florida’s Future. DeSantis’ campaign now has a combined $5.2 million cash on hand. In January the campaign had raised more than $131,000, while the political committee had raised $3.2 million.

Andrew Gillum, Chris King criticize Gwen Graham over guns” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Graham and the other top Democratic candidates for governor all support a ban on assault weapons, an issue that has taken center stage in the primary since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. But Mayor Gillum, during an appearance on MSNBC, accused her of campaigning on the Second Amendment when she ran for Congress. Orlando businessman King, during a news conference in Tallahassee, said she never supported the ban during her time in Congress. Graham responded, saying in an email that the “attacks are predictable but sad.” She alluded to her victory in 2014, which came after the NRA spent several hundred thousand dollars in an effort to defeat her.

Philip Levine raises $450K in February, adds his own $800K check” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … bringing his total funds raised to more than $10 million … Levine contended that he now leads his nearest competitor in the Democratic primary race by nearly a two to one ratio in the money race. That includes $4.65 million of his own money, either donated to his independent political committee All About Florida or loaned to his official campaign. His grand total of more than $10 million “continues to dominate the rest of the Democratic primary field,” read a statement released by his senior adviser, Christian Ulvert.

David Richardson goes after Donna Shalala in CD 27 Democrats’ field” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “I say, come on in Donna,” Richardson declares in a one-minute video, welcoming the Clinton-era health and human services secretary into a Miami-area race that already has more than a dozen Democrats and Republicans seeking to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In the video, Richardson charges Shalala, who also served as the president of the University of Miami for 15 years, with inaction in the debate over single-payer health care during the administration of President Bill Clinton, and for taking a seat on the board of directors for UnitedHealth Group from 2001-2011. “Donna had an opportunity many years ago to be a champion for Medicare For All, but she chose not to do so. When she left government service, she went through the revolving door that we often hear about and landed in one of the biggest health insurance companies in the country.”

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Joseph Hogan becomes third Republican in HD 15 race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jay Fant, an Attorney General hopeful, in Jacksonville’s House District 15 got more crowded on the Republican side Wednesday. Joseph Hogan, the son of Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, entered the GOP scrum. Hogan will face attorney Wyman Duggan and yacht broker Mark Zeigler in the primary.

Anna Eskamani reports her HD 47 funds have topped $200K” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –   Eskamani, seeking to succeed Republican state Rep. Mike Miller, has raised $184,400 in her official campaign fund. Her camp said that People Power for Florida, her independent political committee, has drawn $24,250. Her campaign raised $15,816 in February, the eight-consecutive month it reached five figures in donations and finished February with about $139,000 in the bank. Through January the committee had brought in only about $3,200 and had spent about half of that.

Lawsuit seeks to remove Jamie Grant from 2018 ballot” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Grant’s Republican challenger in the House District 64 primary has filed a lawsuit demanding Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner remove Grant as a candidate, saying he has violated the state’s term limits. “I believe that Rep. Grant, who was first elected to the Florida House in November 2010, is ineligible to run for re-election in the Florida House in 2018 due to his having served for eight consecutive years,” Terry Power said in a news release. Grant was first elected in 2010 and has been re-elected three times to two-year terms. But he did not serve those four terms consecutively.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry quietly launches re-election campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Except for a brief period of time when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was discussed as a possible Chief Financial Officer appointment, there has been little doubt that he would run for re-election. The first inkling of that effort’s branding emerged Wednesday morning, via a new cover photo on his campaign Facebook page. The second, more definitive nugget: Curry filing for re-election Wednesday morning. The third indication: a new political committee, Jacksonville On the Rise, that will launch a six-figure tv and digital ad campaign today. … there have been whispers that Curry may be vulnerable as a candidate. … However, Curry will marshal massive resources, support from throughout the community, and a record of meaningful reforms into his re-election bid. Additionally, he can count on the unstinting support of the Florida Times-Union editorial page … which wasn’t necessarily the case until the very end of 2015 bid.

Tweet, tweet:

— STATEWIDE —

Rick Scott, Cabinet approve conserving former mission site” via the News Service of Florida – Scott and the Cabinet agreed to spend $660,060 to conserve 772 acres of ranchland in Madison County that four centuries ago included a Spanish mission. The deal, which involves purchasing a “conservation easement,” would allow the Koblegard family to continue operating a cow and calf ranch on land it has owned for more than 80 years. The property is considered historically significant because it was once the site of San Pedro y San Pablo de Protohiriba on Lake Sampala, one of five missions established by the Spanish in the 1600s. Now, the property sits between two Florida Forever projects – Hixtown Swamp and San Pedro Bay – and includes Sampala Lake, a 115-acre spring fed lake.

Land swap: Shift in wetlands permitting proposed, worrying activists” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews applications now for so-called “dredge and fill” permits to disturb wetlands, working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But Florida’s House has approved a bill (H.B. 7043) allowing the state agency to take over that job, and a bill in the Senate (S.B. 1402) is on the chamber’s calendar … The permitting change has been pitched as a step to increase efficiency, with the state’s environmental department reporting that 80 percent to 85 percent of the projects seeking federal permits also get a different type of state permit. With that much overlap, taking over the federal program means that “from a government resources perspective, we’re saving 85 percent,” Rep. Ben Albritton told a House committee last month. “That is good government.” But critics argue the state would give up valuable background by handling reviews solo. “The way they will be looked at and by whom they will be looked at is still in question,” Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen told Albritton and other members of a committee minutes before a vote approving the measure.

Broward’s jail health care provider charged with doctoring patient records about death” via Dan Christiansen of FloridaBulldog.org – Armor Correctional Health Services, the Miami-based company that provides jail health care services for Broward, Palm Beach and 18 other Florida counties, has been criminally charged by the state of Wisconsin with seven counts of intentionally falsifying inmate health care records. The criminal complaint alleges that Armor, through its employees, doctored patient records concerning four inmates, including one who died of dehydration while in custody in the Milwaukee County Jail. Terrill Thomas, 38, “was locked in his cell without water from April 17, 2016, until he died of dehydration on the night of April 23-24, 2016,” the complaint says. “He literally died of thirst,” says a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by his estate against Armor, Milwaukee County, conservative ex-Sheriff David Clarke and others. Clarke, who was sheriff when Thomas died, gained international notoriety last month when he suggested on Twitter that Democrats and liberal billionaire George Soros manipulated Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding gun control.

Man who shot self at White House was on UF Child Protection team” via Jason Dearen and Jay Reeves of The Associated Press – An open, empty handgun case sat on the unmade bed of Cameron Ross Burgess in the Gainesville apartment he shared with two others on a tree-lined street just a few blocks from the University of Florida campus, where he worked helping abused children. There were nine rounds still inside the gun case. Police say Burgess fired multiple shots outside the White House Saturday before turning the gun on himself in front of dozens of onlookers. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trumpwere in Florida at the time. Burgess worked as a clinical case manager at the University of Florida’s Child Protection Team, a unit that responds to child abuse over a wide area of central Florida.

— ALOE —

Coke is launching its first alcoholic beverage” via Michael Sykes of Axios – Coca-Cola Co.’s Japan branch will be launching is first alcoholic product in the company’s history … The canned drink is a “highly Japan-specific approach given the complexity and richness,” said spokesperson Yohko Okabe to CNN. Coke’s CEO, James Quincey, told CNN that the company needed to develop more product to generate future growth as consumers lose interest in soft drinks. So far, they’ve also launched teas, coffees and even laxative versions of Coke in Japan.

Welcome to the world – Sloane Marie Brown, daughter of Christi and Ryan Brown, communications director to Sen. Bill Nelson.

Sloane Marie Brown, born at 2:25 a.m. on March 7, 2018

Happy birthday to Rep. Mike Bileca and to our friend, Ryan Smith. May the Force be with you, Ryan.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog 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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