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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.13.18

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

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

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is meeting Tuesday in St. Petersburg — and it “is going to be huge.”

“There’s a busload of folks coming over from Parkland,” said Lisa Hall, spokeswoman for a coalition of progressive and other groups. “One amendment that incorporates all of the legislative changes except arming school employees has already been filed.”

That was filed by CRC member Bobby Martínez, formerly South Florida’s top federal prosecutor and an appointee of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.

The Miami Herald reported he filed the proposal “moments after Gov. (RickScott signed” the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law.

The idea is to make sure the law’s gun-related “age limits and waiting period stand up to any constitutional challenge.”

Hall added her clients “are hearing there are more amendments coming that go further to include what public wants — a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines.”

Indeed, by midafternoon, CRC member and former Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith announced he had filed an assault weapons ban “in an effort to give Florida voters a chance to decide for themselves whether civilians should possess weapons of war.”

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters of Florida will hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m. outside the University Student Center, USF St. Petersburg, where the CRC will meet at 1 p.m.

That’s all at 200 6th Ave. South, in St. Petersburg.

CRC member Erika Donalds proposes changes to her school board term limit proposal” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — After proposing limits to Florida’s school board member terms, Donalds got two messages loud and clear: Floridians seemed to like the idea, but they preferred not to count time served against sitting officials. So as the idea advances in the Constitution Revision Commission, Donalds has suggested changing the language that already won approval at the committee level. Instead of saying board members could serve no more than eight consecutive years, beginning with service started in 2015, she seeks to start the limits with terms begun after the Nov. 6, 2018, election. … She did not consider changing her recommendation from two terms to three, as the state Senate discussed during its brief debate over a bill that did not move out of committee.

Erika Donalds is amending her proposed amendment on school board term limits.

First in Sunburn –Voters want school board term limits, unsure of other CRC proposals” via Florida Politics – Florida voters want term limits for school board seats, but aren’t as enthusiastic about public money heading to churches or open primary races according to a new poll on proposals being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission … Prop 43, which would give school board seats the same 8-year term limits faced by Florida lawmakers, scored 68 percent support among those polled, ith 44 percent saying they would “definitely vote yes” … Support for Prop 11 came in at 58 percent. … The proposal would open up primary elections if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will be opposed only by write-ins. … While behind the threshold for passage, Clearview said Prop 11’s starting position was “relatively solid.” … Prop 4 would remove the section of the Florida constitution barring the use of public money in aid of any church, sect, religious denomination, or religious institution. … All told, 41 percent of voters said they would vote for the measure, with 26 percent saying they were firm supporters, while 51 percent said they were against the proposal, including 18 percent who said they would definitely vote no. … Clearview said, as worded, Prop 4 stands “virtually no chance of attaining the 60 percent threshold.”

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott joins Sens. Lauren Book and Darryl Rouson as well as advocates of crime victims’ rights to announce support for Marsy’s Law for Florida, which is currently under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission as Proposal 96. If approved by the CRC, a proposed amendment to give equal rights to crime victims will be on the 2018 General Election ballot. The event begins 9 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Grand Ballroom Salon 2, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N. in St. Petersburg.

— “Two State Attorneys come out in support of Marsy’s Law” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics


— @RepDeSantis: Focus on Russian misbehavior, not on fake narratives paid for by Hillary and cooked up by Christopher Steele.

— @SenBillNelson: The answer to protecting our kids and communities is not more guns in our schools or arming teachers. That’s a terrible idea. We should be focused on expanding background checks and getting these military-style assault rifles off the streets.

— @RepTedDeutch: I’m inspired by the passion of the Stoneman Douglas students and students from across the country. They are demanding change, and won’t stop until we achieve it. Because of them, I won’t lose hope that we can achieve meaningful action on #GunReformNow.

— @Fineout: The number of Floridians out of work is rising — In December state officials said it was 374k, now it’s up to 397k. Rate has risen from 3.6% in November to 3.9% in January. Governor’s news release today did not note this.

— @FredPiccoloJr: @steveschale gets his wish. Battle royal between @jasonbrodeur and @RepJimBoyd continues with Boyd at 5275 & Brodeur at 4,998. Big moves made by @CarlosGSmith and @JaredEMoskowitz cracks the top 50.

— @EJWenstromElon Musk projects a Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

— @AGlorios: Twice now I’ve tried to explain to @CenturyLink I do not have their internet bc it does not reach my apt. I had signed up for it, but then at the rec of their own technician, I canceled it instead of having the tech install it in my apt. He said he documented the change. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for @comcast’s internet. Today, I received a notice from @CenturyLink that they’ve sent me to the debt collectors. So not only am I exhausted from Session but I have to spend even MORE time explaining to them I do not have their internet service.


St. Patrick’s Day — 4; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 11; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 16; Easter — 19; NFL Draft begins — 44; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 51; Mother’s Day — 61; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 73; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 101; Primary Election Day — 168; College Football opening weekend — 172; General Election Day — 238; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 338; 2019 Legislative Session — 357.

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Scott may be forced to resign early due to Senate bid” via The Associated Press — Thanks to a little-noticed change approved by legislators, Scott may be able to wait until after the November elections to make up his mind. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to convene Jan. 3 unless a different day is chosen. Scott’s term as governor does not end until the following week. Scott said this weekend he would decide his political future in the next few weeks. If Scott does have to resign early, it could have ramifications on the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court. Age limits are forcing three justices to retire on the day Scott’s successor takes office. Scott has said he planned to name their replacements on the same morning.

Democrats hammer Scott’s finances, statements with new digital ads” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is releasing the digital ads “Truth” and “Blind,” and both question whether Scott is using the governor’s office to enhance his own wealth. “Rick Scott has only ever looked out for one person: himself,” David Bergstein of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee stated in a news release. “In order to advance his agenda, Scott’s shown he’ll mislead Floridians, abuse his position as governor to make himself richer, and help his political donors and cronies at Floridians’ expense. He’ll say and do anything to benefit himself, which is why Floridians just don’t trust Scott to look out for them.” The “Blind” ad cites media reports including one from the Tampa Bay Times and that suggest that Scott’s has handled his finances in a way as governor that would not be permitted if he runs for federal office, and raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.

Click on the image below to watch the ads:

— “Scott turning attention to possible Senate bid” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Capital Bureau

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham will hold her latest Workday with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association beginning 10 a.m. at 402 W. Main St. in Immokalee.

Tribe, Disney ante up for gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida – The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. contributed $700,000 in February to a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. The tribe and Disney have largely bankrolled the political committee “Voters In Charge,” which spearheaded efforts to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The tribe, which operates casinos that are a major player in the state’s gambling industry, contributed $500,000 in February, while Disney contributed $200,000 — all of the cash received during the month by Voters In Charge, according to a finance report posted Monday on the state Division of Elections website.

Democrats file in Denise Grimsley, Katie Edwards-Walpole districts” via the News Service of Florida — Democratic candidates have opened campaign accounts to try to succeed Sen. Grimsley of Sebring, and Rep. Edwards-Walpole of Plantation. Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price opened an account to run in Senate District 26, which includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties … Grimsley is running this year for state agriculture commissioner. The only other candidate in the race is Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who had raised $142,600 as of Feb. 28 … with Edwards-Walpole’s recent announcement that she will not run for another term in Broward County’s House District 98, Plantation Democrat Louis Reinstein became the first candidate to open an account to try to win the seat.

A Democrat has filed to succeed Denise Grimsley of Sebring, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. 

Kayser Enneking announces 15 local endorsements for SD 8 campaign” via Florida Politics — Enneking announced a bulk endorsement from local officials in the Gainesville-based district currently held by Republican Sen. Keith Perry. On the endorsement list were Alachua County Commissioners Hutch Hutchinson and Chuck Chestnut, Putnam County Commissioner Chip Laibl, Alachua County School Board members Gunnar PaulsonEileen RoyRob Hyatt, and Gainesville City Commissioners Helen WarrenAdrian Hayes-Santos and David Arreola. Enneking also picked up support from former Gainesville Commissioners Susan BottcherThomas Hawkins, and Warren Nielsen, as well as former mayors Jean Chalmers and Paula Delaney. Enneking is running against Olysha Magruder for the Democratic nomination in SD 8. Perry is currently the only other candidate running for the seat.

Robert Doyel’s self-donation pushes February contributions to $17K in SD 22 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Doyel upped his commitment and his campaign fund in February, in his Democratic bid to unseat Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel in Florida Senate District 22. Doyel, a retired judge from Florida’s 10th Judicial Circuit, reported donating $5,000 to his campaign, helping it bring in $17,677 in cash and another $700 in in-kind services in February. It was the second consecutive month he has made a significant donation to his campaign, and the first month he’s been able to clear more than $10,000 in outside contributions. Doyel contributed $10,000 in January. That’s in addition to $7,500 he lent to his campaign last summer at the start. At least financially, the self-donations have fueled and sparked his campaign into something approaching a competitive position against Stargel, who was not allowed to do any fundraising in February because the Florida Senate was in Session.

Two Democratic newcomers make up cash ground in Central Florida House races” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A handful of Central Florida challengers — mainly women first-time-candidate Democrats — played a little catch-up on fundraising in February, led by Ann Fuller, who reported raising $8,520 in her first month of a House District 52 campaign, and  Joy Goff-Marcil, who reported raising $7,500 in just two weeks in her new bid for House District 30. Fuller, of Melbourne, is taking on Republican state Rep. Thad Altman … In her first month, she reported receiving more than 50 donations totaling $8,520, and she finished the month with about $7,800 in the bank … Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Commission, entered the race Feb. 16 and picked up $7,550 in cash plus another $3,000 in in-kind professional campaign services in the final 13 days of February. She finished the month with all $7,550 in cash left. She’s seeking to take on Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs.

Rob Panepinto adds $60K to his Orange County mayoral run accounts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Panepinto reported raising $38,300 for his official election campaign and $22,500 for his independent political committee, Vision Orange County, according to data posted on public sites. He now has raised $284,100 in his campaign fund and had about $230,000 left in the bank at the end of February, according to post on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. Vision Orange County now has raised $116,649 and finished the month with just over $50,000 left.

Ron Panepinto banks another $60K in his bid for Orange County mayor.

Bill Montford still on the fence about running for Tallahassee mayor” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — When it comes to a big political announcement, nobody can sit on the fence like Montford. He could cut his Senate term short and run for mayor, and perhaps easily win a four-year term presiding over a City Commission engulfed with a two-year FBI investigation … or he could remain in the Florida Senate for the next two years, where he is a high-ranking member respected by both parties and is one of three Democrats to hold a committee chairmanship. Term limits prevent him from seeking another term. “Senator Montford is a friend and productive member of the body,” said incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. “I look forward to working with him during my presidency as I have done for years now.” However, he’s made no deal to try to get Montford to stay. “Whether he stays or runs for mayor is his decision,” Galvano said. “People who love Tallahassee have asked me to consider it, and out of respect for them I am considering it,” Montford told the Democrat a month ago. But he told Florida Politics reporter Jim Rosica that he was going to take a few days off to mull things over and that he and his wife were “on the fence” about it. Make that two weeks, he told a Democrat reporter.

Digital ads, social media hide political campaign messaging” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — The main events in a political campaign used to happen in the open: a debate, the release of a major TV ad or a public event where candidates tried to earn a spot on the evening news or the next day’s front page. That was before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as political platforms. Now some of a campaign’s most pivotal efforts happen in the often-murky world of social media, where ads can be targeted to ever-narrower slices of the electorate and run continuously with no disclosure of who is paying for them. Reporters cannot easily discern what voters are seeing, and hoaxes and forgeries spread instantaneously. Journalists trying to hold candidates accountable have a hard time keeping up.


In Monday’s SUNBURN, we linked to an edition of our 2018 Legislative Session winners and losers article, which incorrectly stated that a proposal to name a road in honor of the late Sen. Greg Evers stalled in the Legislature. The bill (SB 382) passed and will designate a “Greg Evers Memorial Highway” in the Panhandle, where Evers was from. We regret the error.

Good news: Greg Evers memorial has clear sailing, after all.


Adam Putnam: I would not have signed school gun bill” via Craig Patrick of Fox 13 News — Putnam said he supports provisions that improve safety in public schools and reform the Baker Act to keep mentally ill individuals from having firearms. However, he opposes the provisions that raise the purchasing age for long guns from 18 to 21 and add a waiting period for purchase. … Putnam said he, therefore, would not likely have signed the law that Gov. Scott signed last week. “Likely not because I oppose raising it from 18 to 21,” Putnam said. “I don’t believe that is the right approach.”

Private voucher schools face new rules but still free to hire teachers without degrees” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Among the law’s 207 pages are provisions that aim to make it harder for the nearly 2,000 private schools that take Florida scholarships to forge fire or health inspections or to hide criminal convictions of school owners. There are also new rules that allow the Florida Department of Education, starting in 2019, to visit every private school that applies to take state vouchers. But an effort to demand those schools hire teachers who have earned four-year degrees proved too unpopular for some lawmakers, particularly in the House, said Sen. David Simmons … “When the dust settled, the college requirements were not in there,” Simmons said. “It certainly bothers me,” he added. “I also understand that this is a process in which compromise is essential.”

Legislature approves $1 million for regional transit plan” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Legislature has approved $1 million for the recently revamped Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority to create a 10-year plan for transit projects in the five-county area. Known as a Regional Transit Development Plan, the clunky term refers to a 10-year plan that would outline what projects the region should focus on, such as bus rapid transit, streetcars or rail, and when they should be built. This appropriation, should Gov. Scott approve it, gives the agency $1 million to hire a contractor. Michael Case, Principal Planner and project manager for TBARTA, expects the project to take about a year. That means it will wrap up around the same time as a state-funded initiative to choose a preferred regional transit project. Planners are still refining that concept, but currently a 41-mile bus rapid transit line between Wesley Chapel, Tampa and St. Petersburg is the lead concept.


Jeff Brandes loses a couple of priorities, but brings home other wins” via Florida Politics — His criminal justice reforms were sailing through committees, along with their companion bills in the House. His proposals would have created a council to oversee the criminal and juvenile justice systems, prohibit issuance of attorney’s fees in proceedings for a protective injunction for repeat sexual offenders and allowed judges to depart from mandatory sentences in drug trafficking cases. A transportation bill he championed landed on the full Senate floor with a week left to go in Session. And CFO Jimmy Patronis was helping him champion a consumer report bill that ultimately passed the Legislature. By Sine Die though, most of his criminal justice priorities were dead, as was the broad transportation package. But it was not all bad for Brandes. Some of the measures he championed that passed the Legislature included those seeking to prohibit state agencies and local governments from entering or renewing contracts with companies that boycott Israel, adding new protections to health care sharing ministries, and barring consumer reporting agencies from charging a fee for security fees on a credit report.

Jeff Brandes brought home some wins in Session.

Florida Chamber sums up likes, dislikes this session” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce wanted to see the cost of living reduced this Session, but after lawmakers’ focus turned to the Parkland school massacre, the measures passed by the Legislature did not impress the organization. “Rightly so, the last three weeks of Session were focused on school safety following the Parkland tragedy,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately … when you look at the other work of the Legislature, on balance they made it a little more expensive for families and a little less competitive for businesses.” The Florida Chamber worked to defeat efforts that it believed would have “further worsened Florida’s abysmal lawsuit abuse climate,” which included a PIP repeal without accompanying bad faith lawsuit reforms. Among the proposals the chamber is proud to have helped block in the Republican-controlled Legislature was a ban on plastic bags, increasing the minimum wage, added hurricane-related employer mandates, open-carry liability and gambling expansion. The chamber was also happy to see the Legislature pass a $10.5 billion transportation budget, funding for computer science classes in state schools, making it easier to decertify public employee unions, and a proposal that will make it harder to raise taxes and fees in the future.

Florida Realtors laud lawmakers for cutting business rent tax” via Florida Politics — Realtors are praising lawmakers for including $31 million in cuts to the business rent tax and $110 million for affordable housing projects. “I’m so proud of our membership for responding to our call for action to cut the business rent tax,” said Bill Martin, the chief executive officer of Florida Realtors. “They stayed engaged throughout the process on this and many other of our key issues,” Martin added, “realtors absolutely rock!” Other measures passed by the Legislature during the 2018 legislative session that will benefit realtors and property owners include House Bill 1011, which revises flood insurance notices. If signed into law, flood insurers may see more people purchasing flood insurance coverage. The organization also lauded the Legislature for allocating about $500,000 to prevent unlicensed real estate activity.

Generation Opportunity lauds move to eliminate ‘free-speech zones’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Generation Opportunity, a center-right political advocacy organization, commended Scott and the Legislature for including the provision in the higher education bill this year. Eliminating the free-speech zones, the organization said, will expand First Amendment rights on campuses. “The bill includes a provision ending wrongly named ‘free speech zones’ which, in reality, restrict students from exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights on the state’s publicly funded college and university campuses,” a news release from Generation Opportunity explained. The group pushed for removing free-speech zones through legislation filed earlier this year by Rep. Bob Rommel and Sen. Dennis Baxley. Those provisions were eventually lumped into the bill.


Assignment editors — U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch will host a news conference on the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act beginning 11 a.m. at the U.S. Capitol East Lawn. Scheduled to attend are Sens. Steve DainesJoni Ernst and Dan Sullivan as well as Kyle Kashuv, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Ryan Petty, father of Parkland student Alaina Petty, who was killed in the shooting.

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Eleanor Holmes Norton will join District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Coalition the Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz for a media conference call to demand Sen. Rubio withdraw his bill to cut many of D.C.’s local gun safety laws. The call begins 2 p.m. at (605) 472-5937, Access Code: 949684.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will hold a bill signing ceremony for HB 29 and HB 75, which seek to help Florida military, veterans and their families get a job and a quality education. The event begins 3 p.m., Jacksonville National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd. in Jacksonville.

No change in jobless rate from Dec. to Jan.” via Lobby Tools — Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in January 2018, unchanged from the revised December 2017 rate, but down 0.7 percentage point from a year ago … There were 397,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,152,000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in January. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8,670,500 in January 2018, an increase of 10,500 jobs (+0.1 percent) over the month. The state gained 150,900 jobs over the year, an increase of 1.8 percent.

Video from outside Stoneman Douglas must be released, judge orders” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The public should be allowed to see the security video from outside last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a judge ruled … The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, along with other media organizations, sued the Broward Sheriff’s Office last month for access to the video, arguing that it is critical for the public to analyze law enforcement’s response to the shooting. Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson signed an order authorizing the video’s release but immediately delayed the order until Thursday to give the Sheriff’s Office and the School Board a chance to appeal. School district officials, including an assistant principal from Stoneman Douglas, argued in court last week that releasing the video would expose the limits of the cameras mounted at various positions on campus, creating a security risk.

Talleyrand Connector money shows Lenny Curry’s long game via Florida Politics. As the 2018 Legislative Session progressed, Curry made a little-noticed (at the time) trip to Tallahassee. Curry met with Gov. Scott; However, there was a secondary purpose to the trip. From the Senate, he met with Aaron Bean, Senate Minority Leader Designate Audrey GibsonTravis Hutson and Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, along with Wilton Simpson. Curry also met with Speaker Corcoran, in addition to meeting with regional representatives Travis Cummings, Jason FischerClay Yarborough, and Tracie Davis. Soon after that, there was movement on the Talleyrand Connector issue, with Sen. Bean getting a $1 million ‘placeholder’ into the budget. “It will be a conference issue — rules say it has to be in either the Senate or House budget to become a conference issue. $1M is all I was able to muster today.  It is a start and hopefully not the final number,” Bean said on February 8. Indeed, it’s not the final number. That final number was the $12.5 million Curry wanted from the state all along.

Lenny Curry’s long game is exposed.

St. Pete and Duke Energy partner to bring solar power to the new Pier” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The city of St. Petersburg is taking steps to construct a solar canopy at its new pier, to create enough power for as many as 60 homes. The structure will provide shaded parking in what is now the pier Pelican Lot, with future capabilities to power electric vehicle charging stations for pier visitors and restaurant patrons at the planned Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille that’s intended for the same lot. The agreement between Duke Energy and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman stipulates the solar array cannot interfere with the restaurant and its aesthetics must match that of the rest of the pier district  … Kriseman and Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris tentatively agreed on a series of arrangements to install the solar array, according to a letter that will come before City Council this week.


Tell Constitution Revision Commission to shape up” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Here are five areas where voters should make clear to the commission that they expect better: Proposal 11: Primary elections … Write-in candidates’ names don’t appear on the ballot, and no write-in candidate has ever won an election. This amendment would close that loophole, opening primaries when all candidates are from the same party or the only other opposition is a write-in candidate. Proposals 4 and 45: Separation of church and state; public education … Proposal 4 repeals a prohibition on steering public money to churches and religious institutions. Proposal 45 clears the way for the state to provide “other educational services” separate from public schools. Proposal 54: Hospital deregulation … This proposed amendment would repeal the “certificate of need” process and prohibit the state from limiting the number of hospitals in particular areas. Proposal 97: Constitutional amendments … This proposal would require approval by 60 percent of all voters voting in the election, not just on a particular measure. Proposal 22: Information privacy … This failed to pass two CRC committees and is not on the list of finalists still under consideration. But the commission is operating under opaque rules, so voters should be on alert for a last-minute effort to revive it.


Appointed — James “Lee” Marsh to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court; Chad Alvaro to the 9th Judicial Circuit Court; Carolyn Bell to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court.

Appointed — Juan Zapata to the Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees; Eric Grant to the Tallahassee Community College District Board of Trustees; Maria Montalvo (reappointed) to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

— ALOE —

Alexa is coming to the office” via Ina Fried of Axios — Amazon is bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces … While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand its business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services … Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace would improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. “The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes),” he told Axios. Alexa “will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations.” Vogels said many businesses are still stuck with the technology consumers used in the 1990s. Adding support for voice to automate tasks could leapfrog several missed generations of consumer technology.

Alexa is coming to an office near you.

Industry: $10B will be bet on March Madness, most illegally” via The Associated Press — That’s one of the reasons the American Gaming Association favors the full legalization and regulation of sports betting in the United States. The group found 54 million people — or about a quarter of the U.S. adult population — participated in sports betting pools last year. The U.S. Supreme Court is weeks away from ruling on New Jersey’s challenge to a law limiting legal sports betting to just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. AGA President Geoff Freeman says only 3 percent of the $10 billion the group predicts will be wagered on the games will be done through legal Nevada sports books.

On a Disney Cruise, it’s a stressful world (after all)” via Dan Saltzstein of The New York Times — Things had not started well even before we boarded … We had to delay our flight to Miami because Anna had a fever and a cough. After a night in Miami, we headed to board the ship — though before we could, we had to sign a paper indicating that no one in our party had a fever and a cough (or a handful of other symptoms) … Then we took a family photo in front of a sailing-themed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and boarded the boat, along with more than 2,500 other cruisers. Over the course of the next four days, many of my fears were confirmed. In other moments, my cynical soul was warmed — a bit like Anna’s heart (the “Frozen” character, not my daughter), thanks to her act of true love. Our Anna learned to love pirates and magicians. I spent a lot of money on drinks, a princess makeover and Disney merch. Anna proclaimed the trip one of the best experiences of her life. As we sat in our stateroom bed one night, trying to figure out how much to spend on the measly Wi-Fi offerings, Nancy captured it well: “Everything,” she said, “is enchanting and horrifying.”

Happy birthday to Rep. Scott PlakonBob Asztalos of the FHCA, Jennifer Wilson of Adams & Reese, and Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.

Written By

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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