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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 4.16.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica and Drew Wilson.

Richard Corcoran is not running for Florida governor. At least not yet.

The Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Bousquet had reported that Corcoran “penciled in the week of April 16 for an announcement of his candidacy.”

But that story was published before a special session on gambling (more on that below) became a possibility. According to Corcoran’s right-hand man, James Blair, as long as legislative leaders are entertaining that prospect, the Speaker’s statewide ambitions are on hold.

“Speaker Corcoran is always going to put the people’s business before politics,” Blair told Florida Politics Sunday afternoon. “As long as there are rumors of a special session, the Speaker’s focus will be on his job as a legislative leader. Any political business will come after legislative business is resolved.”

If and when that special session takes place is really any one’s guess.

On Friday, our former colleague, Ana Ceballos (now with the Naples Daily News) reported that the lead negotiators of a deal on gambling, Republicans Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jose Oliva, “have sent a blueprint of their recommendations to Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron, who are working on the final pieces of the proposal.”

However, late Friday, Florida Politics and then POLITICO Florida, reported that Galvano was saying there is “no agreement (on) or recommendations” for a special session.

Reading between the lines, it appears Sen. Kathleen Passidomo may have spoken too soon when she told the Tallahassee Democrat, “The policy has been negotiated and the recommendations have been presented to the presiding officers, and that’s where we can get this done.”

Previous reporting by PF’s Arek Sarkissian, Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo indicated that “lawmakers are zeroing in April 23 for the possible start date of a special legislative session to overhaul gambling policy.” That date is still a possibility, but lawmakers would have to make tremendous progress this week to convene eight days from now.

Speaking of Galvano, be sure to wish the Senate President-designate a happy birthday.


@Pontifex: While I continue to pray unceasingly for peace, and invite all people of goodwill to do the same, I renew my appeal to all those with political responsibilities to ensure that justice and peace prevail.

@realDonaldTrump: Just hit 50% in the Rasmussen Poll, much higher than President Obama at same point. With all of the phony stories and Fake News, it’s hard to believe! Thank you America, we are doing Great Things.

– @Comey: My book is about ethical leadership & draws on stories from my life & lessons I learned from others. 3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint. I hope folks read the whole thing and find it useful.

– @MarcoRubio: Good meeting with President @mauriciomacri and FM Faurie of #Argentina. Thanked them for leadership on #Venezuela and discussed trade between our two nations.

– @RosLehtinen: Dexter and I are praying for the Bush family and #BarbaraBush during this difficult time. She is an example for our country of how to live and demonstrate spunk, dignity and strength

– @HowardFineman: #BarbaraBush over the years shot me some withering glances. Her husband & son sometimes made it clear they didn’t like what I wrote. But no Bush ever attacked personally, in public or private; they never complained publicly. They could be silent, but not vindictive.

– @MearKat00: People usually say they are leaving office to spend more time with their family. No one announces a run for office because they want to spend less time with their family.


Avengers: Infinity War opens — 7; NFL Draft begins — 10; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 17; Mother’s Day — 27; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 39; Memorial Day — 42; Father’s Day — 62; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 67; Deadline for filing claim bills — 107; ‘The Race for Governor’ Republican gubernatorial debates — 107; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debates — 108; Start of the U.S. Open — 133; Primary Election Day — 134; College Football opening weekend — 138; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 190; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 191; General Election Day — 204; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 304; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 323.


Barbara Bush, former first lady, turns to ‘comfort care’” via Carolyn Johnson of The Washington Post – Bush, the 92-year-old former first lady of the United States, is in failing health and will not seek further medical care, according to the office of former president George H.W. Bush. A person close to the family said Barbara Bush has suffered from a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. After several recent hospitalizations, Bush has decided to focus on care to keep her comfortable instead of additional treatment, the statement said. “It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others, the statement said. “She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush, left, speak before a college basketball regional final game between Gonzaga and Duke, in the NCAA basketball tournament in Houston. A family spokesman said Sunday, April 15, 2018, that the former first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and won’t seek additional medical treatment.


Rick Scott: ‘I wouldn’t dismiss’ Robert Mueller” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott said Saturday night he would not dismiss … the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the presidential election. President Donald Trump is “going to decide what he wants to do. He gets to make that decision,” Scott said, then added, “I wouldn’t dismiss him.” … Just two days ago, Scott sidestepped a question about whether he would support legislation to protect Mueller at a rally for his nascent U.S. Senate campaign.

Tweet, tweet:

Gov. Rick Scott will not attend Trump tax event Monday in Miami. He will be at events out-of-state in the afternoon, presumably fundraising.

— Alex Leary (@learyreports) April 13, 2018

Assignment editors – As Tax Day 2018 approaches, Gov. Scott will host a campaign roundtable with business leaders to highlight more than $10 billion in tax cuts over the past seven and half years. Roundtable begins 9 a.m. at, Storm Smart, 2400 Vanderbilt Road, #102 in Naples.

Scott ticked off the NRA after Parkland. That could help in the long run” via Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott’s embrace of Florida’s first gun restrictions in decades has infuriated the gun lobby and its fiercely loyal lieutenants. Now the NRA, already on the defensive in Washington and across the country, faces a conundrum in a nationally watched election that could decide the balance of power in the Senate: Let Scott slide or punish a governor who achieved the group’s A-plus rating? If Scott escapes attacks after weakening gun rights, other Republicans may feel emboldened in a time of soaring public support for solutions to Parkland and other mass shootings. “It has always been our practice to hold public officials accountable for their actions that impact law-abiding firearms owners and their Second Amendment rights. Nothing has changed,” said Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist who, pre-Parkland, had achieved a legendary reputation for her control over the agenda in Tallahassee. Hammer declined to comment further.

Dems latest attack against Scott comes in the form of music” via John Lucas of The Capitolist – What’s the latest gimmick by the Florida Democratic Party in their arsenal of political tools? A playlist of songs created on Spotify, the digital music service, filled with suggested tunes that the Scott campaign can play at its rallies. As you can imagine, the list of songs isn’t very flattering. The playlist is called, “Smooth Criminal for Senate ‘18.” It’s all part of the Democrats Self Serving Scott campaign intended to portray the two-term governor and successful businessman as someone whose actions have been motivated by his self-serving interests. “The playlist highlights some of the greatest hits from Rick Scott’s time as CEO, candidate and governor,” the state Democratic party said in a news release sent out Friday morning.

Bill Nelson and Cory Booker talk Syria in Tallahassee” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Nelson supported the U.S. led missile strike targeting Syria’s chemical weapons facilities overnight Saturday. But he said President Trump let “the cat out of the bag,” with a Wednesday tweet. And that limited the damage to Syria’s chemical production facilities. Sen. Cory Booker joined Nelson for a weekend of campaigning in Florida. While their flight to West Palm Beach was prepared, the two mingled with a gaggle of Florida A&M and Florida State University students and discussed the news of the day with reporters.

Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Bill Nelson discuss President Trump’s handling of chemical warfare threats posed by Russia and Syria. (Photo credit: James Call.)

– “Florida politicians react to U.S., allied strikes in Syria” via Florida Politics


– “Adam Putnam, Ashley Moody, Matt Caldwell win straw poll in Jacksonville” via Kevin Derby of Sunshine State News

– “The Florida governor primary is a big experiment for how Democrats run against Trump via Darren Sands of BuzzFeed

Corcoran cozies up to Trump over welfare” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida – Trump this week ordered federal agencies to strengthen work requirements in federal assistance programs. The move could affect recipients of food stamps, cash assistance and housing aid. “Your comprehensive plan to move struggling Americans off government assistance and into the ranks of the working class is proof you’re doing the job that the American people elected you to do,” Corcoran … wrote in a two-page letter to Trump. Corcoran used Trump’s proposed welfare reforms as an opportunity to trash former President Barack Obama, without naming him. “Unlike your predecessor, you recognize the dignity and self-respect derived from a hard and honest day’s work,” Corcoran wrote, accusing “the previous administration” of fostering “a culture of government dependency.”

– “Ron DeSantis backer hired Trump lawyer to settle $1.6 deal with pregnant Playmate” via Tom Hamburger, Ellen Nakashima, Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown of The Washington Post

Neil Combee considering bid for Dennis Ross’ seat, Kelli Stargel passes” via Florida Politics – In a cryptic Facebook post, Combee seemed to indicate he’s considering a run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Ross said earlier this week he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2018. “Don’t ever sell your saddle. You never know what tomorrow brings,” he said in the post. Lakeland Republican Sen. Stargel ended the speculation with a Saturday tweet: “I appreciate the confidence and support from so many friends throughout the community to run for Congress. I have decided to continue seeking to serve my community in the Florida Senate.” Stargel’s decision was probably somewhat tied to keeping Senate District 22 in Republican hands. The seat has a Republican lean, it voted plus-7 for Donald Trump, but without an incumbent, Democrats could have a strong shot at a flip. Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee is also possibly considering running for Congress.

>>> Expect an announcement from Combee by Tuesday.

>>> Combee is playing this decision very close to vest. A source familiar with his thinking tells FP that before Combee makes his move, he wants to inform The White House. He also doesn’t want to do anything to run afoul of the Hatch Act.

Steven Sevigny raises $250,000 in first six weeks of CD 6 campaign – Volusia County radiologist Sevigny only launched his campaign for Florida’s 6th Congressional District in mid-February, but his campaign announced this week raising over $250,000 with more than 70 percent of contributors being residents of the district. As a longtime resident of Ormond Beach Volusia County, Sevigny was grateful for the strong support he has received early in his campaign: “I believe health care is a human right and that we must do better in Washington for our children. While it isn’t at all surprising to me that people agree with me on this, it has been incredible how many of our neighbors have stepped up to support our campaign.” The campaign also released a short video on Facebook, saying that Sevigny is running for Congress to “create health care policy that reflects the belief that health care is a human right.” CD 6 opened when Ron DeSantis announced his bid for governor.

Stephanie Murphy campaign has more than $1 million in cash” via Steve Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel – Murphy raised more than $400,000 from January through March, her campaign said. She has $1.1 million cash on hand in April after raising more than $1.75 million in total. … Murphy faces Chardo Richardson, a former ACLU of Central Florida board member, in the Democratic primary. Republicans running in the GOP primary are state Rep. Mike Miller, Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill, former Senate adviser Vennia Francois and former U.S. Marine Patrick Weingart.

Charlie Crist has $2.1M on hand for CD 13 re-election” via Florida Politics — Crist announced his re-election campaign will report bringing in $447,000 in contributions during the first three months of 2018. Crist’s campaign said it will show the about $2.1 million cash on hand as of March 31. Crist had $1.76 million in the bank at the end of 2017. Given his fundraising total, the campaign spent about $100,000 for the quarter. Crist is so far cruising toward re-election. Eight months out from Election Day, his only challenger is Republican George Buck, who looks like he’s not ready for prime-time.

First in Sunburn –Ted Deutch endorses Lauren Baer for CD 18” via Florida Politics – Lauren Baer announced Monday that Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch endorsed her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “Lauren will be a fierce advocate for students, women, communities of color, and all of us who are affected by the tragedy of gun violence. She is a strong supporter of common-sense gun violence prevention legislation and will fight to protect our communities,” Deutch said. Baer is running against former Navy JAG Pam Keith in the Democratic Primary. Mast is unopposed in the Republican Primary. “Throughout his distinguished career, in both the state senate and in Congress, Ted Deutch has been a fighter for his community.” Baer said … “I am humbled to have his endorsement and look forward to working with him in Congress.”

Tweet, tweet:

It’s an amazing day with friends and neighbors at @CABAbiz’s Taste of Carrollwood! Come on out to Steinbrenner field and say hello! #TeamGrant #D64

— James Grant (@JamesGrantFL) April 15, 2018

2020 watch – “John Morgan puts more money into minimum wage measure” via the News Service of Florida – Orlando attorney Morgan last month continued sinking tens of thousands of dollars into an initiative to raise Florida’s minimum wage. Morgan’s law firm, Morgan and Morgan P.A., contributed $87,649 in March to the political committee Florida For A Fair Wage … The committee had raised an overall total of $323,928 as of March 31 – with all the money coming from the Morgan firm. The committee had spent $304,457, with much of that going to California-based AAP Holding Co. for petition-related expenses. The committee, chaired by Morgan, is backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10, effective Sept. 30, 2021, and then raise it $1 a year until it is $15 on Sept. 30, 2026. A deadline has passed to get initiatives on the 2018 ballot, but Morgan’s committee could try to place the measure on the 2020 ballot.


The number of independent voters is increasing in Florida, adding an element of gray to the anticipated ‘blue wave’ in the 2018 statewide election. 

NPAs make up 27 percent of voters in the Sunshine State, reports Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union. Combine that stat with a surge of independent registrations during the last two years, and it’s clear that Democratic victories at the ballot aren’t a given. 

“These numbers have to be alarming for Democrats,” Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, told Pantazi. “ … You can bet that democrats consulting firms and candidates and party people are looking exactly at [registration numbers]. They’re not talking about it which is notable.”

More context: In 1994, only 8 percent of voters did not belong to a major party. And currently, voters 28 and younger are more likely to choose NPA than any other option, writes Pantazi. 

Demographic makeover: March registration numbers show there are about 73,000 more Hispanic voters compared to two years ago. The percentage of white voters also has decreased slightly. Included in Pantazi’s story, however, is anecdotal evidence that not all Hispanic voters will vote Democratic. 

From the horse’s mouth: When asked to define success in 2018, Florida Democratic Executive Director Juan Peñalosa told Pantazi that it’s “a Democratic governor for the first time in over 20 years, re-electing Senator Bill Nelson, and making significant gains in our state House and state Senate.”


Panel tees up proposed changes to constitution” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – the commission is ready for a series of final decisions on the proposed ballot issues … They will meet in the Capitol and could continue meeting throughout the week. Each of the 12 proposals must be supported by at least 22 members to be placed on the ballot. Proposals then would have to be supported by at least 60 percent of voters in November to be enacted. The 12 ballot proposals actually contain two dozen changes to the state constitution because six of the measures contain multiple issues. The other six proposals are single-subject ballot measures. One example of a ballot proposal grouping several topics is a measure (Proposal 6004) that combines a ban on drilling for gas and oil in state coastal waters with a prohibition on vaping or the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces. An example of a single-subject proposal is a measure (Proposal 6012) that would ban greyhound racing at Florida tracks after Dec. 31, 2020. The bundling of multiple proposals in single ballot proposals was sharply criticized by a coalition of groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the First Amendment Foundation, the Florida AFL-CIO and the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Businesses voice opposition to E–Verify proposal” via Florida Politics – Dozens of businesses sent a letter to the Constitution Revision Commission urging it to drop a plan to add an employment eligibility check requirement to the state constitution. Proposal 29, sponsored by CRC Commissioner Rich Newsome, would prohibit undocumented immigrants from working in the state and have the legislature set up a verification process for employers to check the immigration status and employment eligibility of workers. “First, [the proposal] does not belong in the Florida Constitution. Every other state that has adopted employment verification requirements has done so through state statute – not through a constitutional mandate to legislate,” the businesses said in the letter. “Second, the Florida Constitution should not be used to dictate legislative policy. Telling the Florida Legislature what to do and when to do it intrudes on core legislative functions” … the proposal likely “opens the door to years of litigation over whether the Florida Legislature has done enough to ensure that unauthorized aliens are not working in Florida, but not so much as to intrude on still-evolving federal immigration law.”

Lobbyists’ group urges revision panel to back off on regulation” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists (FAPL) says regulation of lobbying doesn’t belong in the Constitution. … Proposal 39 is sponsored by CRC member Don Gaetz, a former Senate president from Destin. It would prohibit legislators and statewide elected officials from lobbying the Legislature or any state body or state agency for six years after leaving office. The current ban is two years. “(We) do not believe regulation of the lobbying profession should be done through the Constitution,” FAPL wrote in a letter Friday to Carlos Beruff, chairman of the 37-member revision panel. “Like many other regulated professions, FAPL is committed to fostering professionalism in a field of work that requires the highest level of ethical and professional standards. Therefore, we ask the CRC to consider allowing the regulation of the lobbying profession to remain in Florida Statute.”


Tweet of the weekend:

.@FLGovScott & First Lady Ann Scott are starting a scholarship in honor of former press secretary Jeri Bustamante. The scholarship will go to a graduate of Miami Beach Senior High who attends a Fla college or university. Contributions can be made thru Foundation run by @FLBOG

— Gary Fineout (@fineout) April 14, 2018

Scott orders review of college sabbatical payments after big Broward payout” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott wants the state Board of Education and Board of Governors for higher education to investigate all sabbatical payments to departing college presidents in Florida. The governor took the unusual action after reports that the board of trustees at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale agreed to pay departing college president David Armstrong $381,000, or the equivalent of a full year’s salary, after he becomes president emeritus June 30. Armstrong will help with the transition to a new college president. Scott, who appoints the college trustees, told them in a letter: “You are accountable to the citizens of our state and all of the members of the organizations you serve and all decisions of this magnitude deserve explanation.”

Daphne Campbell says cash stuffed in Kate Spade purse at campaign fundraiser was a gag” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald – On the night state Sen. Campbell celebrated her 60th birthday, friends and associates regaled her with dancers, dinner and a double-tiered cake and flowers at the Miami Shores Country Club. At the end of the evening, she was gifted with a black-and-white Kate Spade purse with diamond patterns. And then someone shoved cash inside … If Campbell kept the cash, she did so in violation of state law because she reported none of it. Campbell criticized a reporter for asking her about the video, denying that money was ever exchanged and hanging up twice during an interview. “They were celebrating Daphne Campbell’s birthday. That night, of course, I was joking. I was joking! It was just a joke. What kind of life can an elected official have if on your birthday it’s an issue? I’m very upset for you guys to call me and say I received money and I didn’t report it,” Campbell said, arguing that the event was private. “People can’t donate to your birthday no more?”

Here’s the video from the party (it’s at the 1:23:30 mark):

New measure prompts worries about beach access” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Capital Bureau – A property rights measure taking effect July 1 could prompt more waterfront homeowners to restrict public access to their beachfronts, some activists say. … The Florida Constitution guarantees that any beach seaward of the usual high-tide line is public land, meaning those walking or lounging on wet sand aren’t trespassing. Publicly owned beach, like state parks and those owned by local governments, also remain welcoming. But visitors who plant a beach umbrella on the stretch of dry sand between a private residence and the water could be threatened by the new law. … “This law does not ‘ban’ the public from accessing private beach areas or privatize beach access in any way,” said John Tupps, a Scott spokesman. “It simply provides local governments a pathway to determine what is right for their community.” The new law blocks any city or county from approving a customary use ordinance until it notifies affected homeowners, holds a public hearing and goes before a judge who determines whether a private beach historically has been open to visitors.

Second Amendment supporters rally for fewer restrictions” via Ashley White of the Tallahassee Democrat – A couple of hundred people gathered on the lawn of the Old Capitol showing unadulterated support for the Second Amendment and demanding lawmakers leave it alone. A sister rally of those across the nation, the Tallahassee event attracted people from all over the state. A shooting range and shop, Shoot Straight, sponsored buses to help people make it to the capital. … Speakers at the event, which included political candidates, said there need to be some limitations on who can purchase a gun, but not which guns should be able to be purchased. They called for attendees to vote for lawmakers who would support the Second.

Nelson Pryor of Madison County holds a sign referencing the U.S. Constitution as he joins a couple of hundred people gathered on the lawn of the Historic Capitol in Tallahassee for a pro-Second Amendment rally Saturday. Photo credit: Joe Rondone.

Dumpster diving for pot?” via Florida Politics – Calling it a “blue sky opportunity,” the state’s chief medical marijuana regulator opened a rule-making workshop Friday with a twist: No rules. Agencies usually issue draft rules weeks in advance of a workshop, so there’s something to comment on when interested parties arrive. Many attendees were lobbyists for marijuana providers. But Christian Bax, head of the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, told reporters after the workshop — which lasted barely half of the three hours allotted — that he wanted to start with a blank slate. That includes addressing the emerging issue of ‘dumpster diving’ behind medical marijuana treatment centers.

Judge to hear arguments on stay in pot-growing case” via the News Service of Florida – A Leon County circuit judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to consider lifting a stay in a case in which Tampa businessman Joe Redner seeks to grow marijuana as part of his treatment for cancer.  Judge Karen Gievers this week ruled that Redner should be able to grow pot under a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana. Attorneys for the state Department of Health, however, immediately took the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal, a move that placed an automatic stay on Gievers’ ruling. Redner’s attorney, Luke Lirot, filed a motion arguing that Gievers should vacate the stay, leading to Gievers scheduling a hearing Tuesday.

Ex-state prison official sentenced after inmate beatdown” via Florida Politics – A former correctional officer in the state prison system will serve federal prison time after he beat up an inmate in his office, then tried to cover it up, officials said Friday. Michael J. Baxter, 49, of Grand Ridge, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Panama City to 5 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida. Baxter was convicted in January of “falsifying records to obstruct a federal investigation,” the release said. He was a major at the Apalachee Correctional Institution.

Four taking hazing death pleas in Coffey case Monday” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – At least four of the nine men charged in the hazing death of Florida State fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey are scheduled to enter plea agreements Monday. Kyle Bauer, Christopher Hamlin, Conner Ravelo and John Ray are set for plea hearings at the Leon County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Two offers were floated by State Attorney Jack Campbell in a March email to defense attorneys. It is unclear which the four men scheduled for court have accepted. Under the terms of one agreement, the nine defendants could plead guilty to two counts of misdemeanor hazing with adjudication withheld, spend 60 days in the Leon County jail followed by two years of probation, be required to testify or publicly speak about Coffey’s death at every forum requested, take a hazing awareness class, be prohibited from alcohol with random testing, and provide a written or verbal apology to the Coffey family.

Assignment editors – Backed by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust, a group of young Floridians will announce a lawsuit against the state because of climate change. 10:30 a.m., Florida Press Center, 336 East College Ave., Tallahassee.


Assignment editors – Trump will hold a “tax cuts for Florida small businesses roundtable” in Miami. Also, the president is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago on both Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, he visits the Joint Interagency Task Force South in Key West.

– “Curbelo won’t appear with Trump Monday” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Marco Rubio gives reporter from Cuban communist paper free lesson on a free press” via Sarah Rumpf of RedState – The reporter, Sergio Gomez, asked Rubio about the “$3 million” he had received from the NRA, repeating a favored attack line from gun control advocates. … “In the United States, in comparison to Cuba, we have a free press,” continued Rubio. “The press can question and criticize me all they want, and they do so daily. I’m glad we’re able to hold a debate, because in Cuba you can’t have a debate.” Rubio then reiterated that he is supported by the people who support his positions, and those who don’t agree with him can vote against him. “I wish you could also do that in Cuba, because you can’t,” concluded Rubio.

During the Summit of the Americas, Sen. Marco Rubio met with members of the Cuban Civil Society and Venezuelan opposition leaders to discuss the restoration of democracy and human rights in their respective countries. Photo courtesy of Sen. Rubio

Assignment editors – Congressman Vern Buchanan will hold a news conference in Bradenton to announce new legislation addressing the drug epidemic. He will be joined by health care providers, anti-drug experts and sheriffs from Sarasota and Manatee counties. Event begins 10 a.m. at the Centerstone Hospital and Addiction Center, 2020 26th Ave. E. in Bradenton.

Brightline trains subject of congressional hearing Brian Mast requested” via George Andreassi of TCPalm – The House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations scheduled the hearing for 10 a.m. Thursday at 2154 Rayburn House Office Building. Mast in February requested the hearing. “Despite their claims to the contrary, Brightline has pursued public, taxpayer-funded financing,” Mast said … “Brightline has made a tremendous investment in Florida’s transportation infrastructure that is strengthening our economy, improving our environment and increasing mobility,” said Brightline spokeswowman Ali Soule. “We look forward to sharing this with the subcommittee next week.”


CRC should erase all hints of trying to deceive voters” via the Miami Herald editorial board – What does expanding civics education in public schools have to do with letting the state authorize charter schools in your local community, currently the purview of local school boards? Truth is, one has nothing to do with the other unless the Constitution Revision Commission says so. That’s the problem, and Monday, the 37 members of the CRC should fix it. (T)he proposals that could make it to the ballot in November seem particularly focused on creating both an explosion of charter schools across the state and an unnecessary layer of state bureaucracy; running roughshod over Miami-Dade’s home-rule charter and, basically, snagging Gov. Scott a seat in the Senate by appealing to his base and getting them out to the polls. Worse, the CRC is poised to deny voters the ability to choose or reject each proposal on its own merit. That’s because the commission has “bundled” barely related — or wholly unrelated — proposals. If voters like one item in a group of three that have been bundled together, then they have to accept the others, even if they find those proposals unpalatable. … members should agree to a motion that member Roberto Martinez plans to make: Unbundle the proposals so that commissioners can consider taking revotes on the individual merits of each once again and ensure voters aren’t misled.

– “Seventeen amendments on November ballot? Whoa” via the Sun Sentinel editorial board

M. Stephen Turner, Leonard Collins, Christine Dorchak: Let Florida voters decide fate of dog racing” via Florida Politics – The Florida Constitution was designed to change. A citizens’ initiative process is enshrined in our constitution to allow voters to initiate a change to the Constitution to limit government action or activity in some way when the Legislature fails to recognize the need or popular desire for such action. There is no reason [a] constitutional revision recommendation for change should not accord with the same changes that could be made by the citizens’ initiative. Former Justice Major Harding identified four proposals that remain under consideration by the Constitutional Revision Commission, which he opines would serve no constitutional purpose. This includes Proposal 6012, a measure to phase out wagering on commercial dog racing. Clearly, the free market would have ended wagering on dog racing a long time ago.  Instead, lobbyists and special interests have convinced the legislature to require dog racing as a gateway to other more profitable forms of gambling, something that 70 percent of Florida citizens in a recent McLaughlin survey rejected … our fundamental right to make decisions about community standards, humane considerations and a form of gambling stand at issue … Outlawing wagering on the outcome of dog racing certainly serves to limit a practice endorsed by government licensing that many Floridians find abhorrent. More important than keeping the state constitution “clean,” is our duty to ensure that it reflects our values and limits activities that we as a society no longer support.


First in Sunburn – Ins and outs in Rick Scott’s press shop – With press secretary Lauren Schenone having left to work on Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign, Mara Gambineri has left the Department of Health and joined the Governor’s communications office. Also, Ashley Cook has come in from the Department of Corrections to work on “Plaza level.” Taking Gambineri’s place at Health is Devin Galetta, formerly the department’s media and marketing manager. Taking Cook’s position at FDOC is Patrick Manderfield. John Tupps remains communications director and McKinley P. Lewis is still on board in a “floating” position.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Taylor Biehl, Jeffrey Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: Nimbus Health Systems, strainprint

Dean Cannon, Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: Management & Training Corporation

Alisa LaPolt, Topsail Public Affairs: Alliance Financial Network

– ALOE –

Dog custody battle lands Pinellas neighbors in court” via Laura Morel of the Tampa Bay Times – She adopted the black Labrador retriever mix, but he paid the vet bills. At the end of the day, who is the rightful owner of 4-year-old Elario? It’s a question that a Pinellas County judge recently pondered in small claims court. The plaintiff was David Somerville, a Vietnam War veteran recovering from lung cancer who credits the dog with improving his health. The defendant is his neighbor Tina Marie Walker, a 53-year-old woman who has owned Labrador retrievers her entire life and spent $5 to adopt Elario even though he was emaciated and suffering from kennel cough. Judge Lorraine Kelly’s answer: Walker and Somerville must share custody, like divorced parents. She even created a calendar detailing pickup times. “Both parties have spent a great deal of time with the dog,” Kelly wrote in her order. “Witnesses say he shows great affection to both of his humans.”

Here are the top five things killing Floridians, new study says” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times – Opioid use disorders skyrocketed more than 750 percent over the past 26 years in Florida alone, according to “The State of U.S. Heath” study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Florida’s death rates were fairly in line with the rest of the county … here’s a list of the top five health issues that contribute to the highest rates of death: 1. Smoking. 2. High body mass index (or issues with being overweight). 3. High blood sugar. 4. High blood pressure. 5. Drug use. In addition, low back pain topped the list of problems which caused Florida residents to live with years of disability in 2016, followed by diabetes and neck pain … Diabetes and falls ranked fifth and 10th on the list respectively, and they represent the largest increases in nonfatal health loss in Florida over the 26-year period.

The business of lobster” via Jim DeFede of CBS Miami – With one of the fastest growing economies, and an exploding middle class that extends onto the mainland, the Chinese have developed a taste for the better things in life – and Florida lobster is surely one of them. For the lobster, this was the culmination of a 9,000-mile journey – a journey that in recent years has transformed the commercial fishing industry in Florida. Before the Chinese started buying their lobsters, the fishermen of the Florida Keys were getting just $3 a pound for their catch with almost all sold in local restaurants. … Boat captains from Key West to Miami were struggling to survive. At $3 a pound commercial fishermen were losing money – they claimed to need $4 just to break even. … Today the price has settled to $10 to $14 a pound. Not everyone is celebrating. The Chinese demand for lobster has left restaurants from Key West to Miami struggling to keep Florida lobster on their own menus. … By 2013, three out of every four lobsters caught in Florida was not only shipped out of the state but out of the country as well, with the vast majority going to China. … In response, local restaurants have had to import spiny lobster from countries like Nicaragua, Honduras and the Bahamas. The lobster shipped here in frozen and less expensive. Even when Florida lobster is available, the price has risen to the point where many restaurants still chose to import lobsters from outside of the country.

Happy birthday to Donna Arduin and our man in Southwest Florida, Terry Miller.

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 Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the 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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Michael Moline, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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