Sunburn — The morning read of what's hot in Florida politics — 7.11.18 - Florida Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.11.18

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

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

Let’s admit something right up front.

We had to suppress a gasp yesterday afternoon as the Tampa Bay Rays unveiled the sticker price for the proposed baseball stadium in Ybor City, where they hope to play by 2023.

$892 million!

That’s about $200 million more than expected, but roughly the going rate for stadiums these days.

And if it’s built, it will be a dandy ballyard all right. Fixed translucent roof, giving nice natural light to the place. With 28,216 fixed seats — expandable to 30,842 if people don’t mind standing at some of the bars and other hangouts — it will be the smallest ballpark in the major leagues.

That’s not a bad thing.

$900M? Yikes!

And yes, Ybor City is the perfect, central location to attract fans from the entire Tampa Bay market. The Rays say 1.6 million people live within a 30-minute drive of the proposed location. They also went to great lengths during the rollout at the Ybor Italian Club to stress that the ballpark could be used year-round by the community in some ways — for free, in some cases.

But … $892 million? That’s a lotta playground.

As Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said after the presentation: “You’re not going to see the city of Tampa write a check. I’m willing to walk away if it doesn’t make sense.”

The question remains, exactly how bad does the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County want this? And how much are the Rays willing to pay?

We will soon find out.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida Chamber Environmental Permitting Summer School — 6; MLB All-Star Game — 6; Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Fort Myers — 7; Florida Chamber Global Florida Webinar — 13; MAKE MORE Manufacturing Summit — 18; Deadline for filing claim bills — 21; ‘The Race for Governor’ Democratic gubernatorial debate in West Palm Beach — 22; Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday begins — 23; Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 28; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 30; Start of the U.S. Open — 47; Primary Election Day — 48; NFL season starts — 48; College Football opening weekend — 50; Labor Day — 54; Future of Florida Forum — 77; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 104; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 105; General Election Day — 118; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 139; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 216; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 237; 2020 General Election — 846.

— TOP STORY —

Florida population growth slowing, but Puerto Ricans help keep numbers up” via Noah Hertz of FSU.org — Despite slowing birthrates, Florida is still growing. Since 2015 growth has been slowing down, but the influx of Puerto Rican residents helped to keep last year’s growth closer to predicted levels. Clyde Diao, an economist with the state, explains. “My assumption there is that the influx of Puerto Ricans occurred right after Maria. So, the influx is expected to continue, but at a much slower rate as the Puerto Rican economy continues to struggle.” Diao says the exact number is unclear, but estimates place it between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

—“Puerto Ricans in Florida play key role in Senate race” via Lisa Hagen of The Hill

—“Poll of Puerto Ricans in Florida shows Scott better-liked than Nelson” via Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida

— NELSON VS. SCOTT —

Bad news for Bill Nelson:Brutal poll: Democrats’ Senate dream slips away” via Axios To win the Senate, Democrats need to keep all 10 seats they’re defending in states that President Trump won in 2016 — plus pick up two more seats. But a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll of critical states shows Dems would lose three of those red-state seats while picking up two GOP seats — still short of the majority. The polls show three Democratic senators are poised to lose their seats to Republicans — Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Nelson in Florida and Joe Donnelly in Indiana.

Poll: Majority of Florida voters want Nelson to confirm Brett Kavanaugh” via Susan B. Anthony List — A new poll released Tuesday by the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List finds that 56 percent of Florida voters want Nelson to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, and 54 percent believe abortion policy for Florida should be decided by the people of Florida through their elected officials, not the Supreme Court. The Tarrance Group conducted the survey of 500 registered voters across the state, using both automated phone polling as well as live phone calls to landlines and cellphones. “Florida voters agree: Sen. Nelson must vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

Democratic groups launch pro-Nelson ads highlighting “history of fighting for Florida” — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action are announcing a new round of digital ads highlighting Nelson’s “record of tirelessly defending the interests of all Floridians.” The two-ad campaign will focus on his efforts to protect Medicare and Social Security, keep the price of prescription drugs low, and expand access to affordable health care, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This new round comes as part of SMP and Priorities USA Action’s previously announced $600,000 campaign supporting Nelson. Both ads, which will run statewide in English and Spanish, will appear on social media, Google search, and across numerous websites and video properties. The campaign seeks to target Florida’s Hispanic voters, particularly Puerto Ricans who have relocated to the mainland post-Hurricane Maria.

To view one of the ads, click on the image below:

‘Getting to work ‘ … at the Chevy dealership: Republican Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott held a “Let’s Get to Work” rally at Crystal Chevrolet in Homosassa.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

Koch-backed super PAC endorses DeSantis for governor via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — The Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Washington-based super PAC, announced the endorsement in a news release which cited DeSantis‘s Congressional record and his military service as a Navy JAG officer. The PAC has more than $12 million on hand, according to Federal Election Commission data, and it pledged to boost DeSantis through targeted mailers and digital ads in Florida. DeSantis has enjoyed a great deal of out-of-state financial support from other big GOP donors like Illinois shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, as well as from small donations from voters across the country who received his mailers or saw him on Fox News.

Gwen Graham’s health care plan includes Medicaid expansion and eliminating wait-lists for seniors” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Her four-page plan boils down to five basic points: Expand Medicaid — Graham says she would expand Medicaid to Floridians with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about 500,000 people. Allow Floridians to get the same insurance as politicians. Eliminate waiting lists for senior-based programs: “Many will die while they are waiting for services.” Help sign people up for Obamacare: Graham says the state will pick up the tab and fund outreach efforts, “if necessary.” Limit increases in premiums through ‘reinsurance’ programs: Graham would join a handful of states that have asked for a federal waiver to use reinsurance pools, in which an assessment helps pay for the most expensive insurance claims.

Gwen Graham calls for Medicaid expansion, ending senior wait-lists.

Graham: Republican governor streak must endvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The last time a Democrat served as governor of Florida, Bill Clinton was still president. In a new campaign ad, Democratic candidate Graham says it’s time for that to change. Titled “Twenty” (see below), Graham critiques Republican leadership of the state for the past two decades and argues she is the candidate best equipped to flip control over to the Democrats. “It has been really bad for Florida that, for twenty years, the Republican Party has been in total control,” says Graham in the new 30-second ad. “It’s these high-paid lobbyists that are in charge in Tallahassee. They have not taken Medicaid expansion. They have hurt education. It’s going to take bringing it back to, ‘How do I serve the people?’”

Assignment editors — Graham will hold a news conference to discuss the future of women’s access to reproductive health care following Trump’s nomination of Kavanagh, noon, 299 NW. 25th St., Miami.

The hits just keep coming — “How clean is your grocery store?” via Christopher Heath of WFTV — More than 45 stores haven’t been inspected for at least a year, with some going almost two years between inspections. Inspections in Florida are carried out by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Food Safety. However, according to the department, there is no set time interval for inspections. “The department employs a risk-based approach to grocery store inspections, which takes into account what kind of food processing or preparation is taking place, consumer complaints,” a department spokesperson wrote in an email. If you’d like to check your local store, click here.

Assignment editors — Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will make an announcement concerning veterans and the military, joined by Major General H.D. “Jake” Polumbo (Ret.), community leaders, and members of the veteran and military community, 3 p.m., 2730 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala.

No scheduled public debates among candidates for Florida’s top legal job? That’s weird.” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Anyone looking to learn more about the two Republicans and two Democrats vying for Attorney General through a public debate is out of luck, at least as of today. The two Republican candidates hoping to succeed the state’s sitting Attorney General are Ashley Moody and State Rep. Frank White. The two Democratic candidates are Tampa Rep. Sean Shaw and Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens. Campaign spokespeople for the two Republican candidates confirmed there are no plans for a debate. On the Democratic side, candidate Torrens says he contacted his opponent Shaw back in April about setting up a debate, and says he’s followed up with phone calls and voicemails but never received a response.

For your radar – Look for Speaker-designate Jose Oliva to wade into the Attorney General race and endorse White today. The endorsement comes as White enters his sixth week on statewide TV and on the heels of yesterday’s endorsement from Florida Right to Life. 

Another statewide candidate blasts Bullsugar over questionnaire” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Yet another statewide Republican candidate — Attorney General hopeful White — is hammering environmental advocacy group Bullsugar over its questionnaire regarding Florida’s algae bloom problem. The questionnaire is highly critical of the sugar industry, including questions such as: “Do you agree that your campaign will be sugar-free, accepting no contributions from any source with ties to the sugar-cane industry?” Bullsugar has faced criticism for previous false claims about the blooms and a failure to disclose its donor list. That history resulted in a scathing response from GOP Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell, who called Bullsugar “one of the most obscene groups in Florida” that pushes a “constant stream of twisted misinformation spread to the public.” Now, White is following up with his own statement bashing the group.

Frank Wright is another Republican statewide candidate blasting Bullsugar.

Florida Right to Life PAC backs White for Attorney General” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily — White joined Scott and state CFO Jimmy Patronis as the only statewide candidates to get full endorsements from Florida Right to Life PAC. The group did note that both top Republican gubernatorial candidates — Putnam and DeSantis — received A ratings. As did state Rep. Caldwell and former state Rep. Baxter Troutman, both running in the Republican primary to replace Putnam.

Humane Society, Grey2K pump money into do-racing amendment — Two animal-rights groups have started putting their money behind a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban betting on greyhound racing. The Humane Society of the United States and Grey2K USA Worldwide each contributed $100,000 in June to the Committee to Protect Dogs, a political committee backing Amendment 13 on the November ballot, according to a new finance report. Grey2K also contributed $55,000 in May and has made in-kind contributions such as staff time. In all, the Committee to Protect Dogs had raised $317,756 as of June 29 and had nearly $296,000 in cash on hand, the report shows. The state Constitution Revision Commission placed the proposed greyhound-racing ban on the November ballot. The Florida Greyhound Association, which includes greyhound owners and trainers, filed a lawsuit in Leon County seeking to block the ballot measure.

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, PART 2 —

‘Lies and videotapes’: Mike Miller releases video dossier on GOP opponent” via Orlando Rising — Miller’s campaign for Congress on Tuesday launched a website — “The Sturgill Files” — compiling videos spotlighting Miller’s GOP primary opponent, Scott Sturgill. The archive covers Sturgill’s “2014 attempt to hide his record of being a Democrat by falsely claiming he was a ‘lifelong Republican,’ his plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, his backing of gun control measures and his support for expanding Obamacare by $51 billion in Florida,” a news release said. “Republican voters need to know that Scott Sturgill would oppose many of President Trump’s most important initiatives, and now they can hear it directly from him,” said Dana Loncar, spokeswoman for the Miller campaign. Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, and Miller will battle in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for a chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Central Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Vern Buchanan touts bipartisan record in new ad” via Florida Politics — Buchanan has put out a new TV ad in his Sarasota-based district highlighting his “effective and bipartisan record” representing Florida’s 16th Congressional District. The 30-second spot, titled “Effective Leader,” has started airing on cable and local television stations throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties. “In a town notorious for gridlock and dysfunction, this man stands apart,” the ad narrator states. “Congressman Vern Buchanan, rated one of the nation’s most effective lawmakers. A successful businessman, Buchanan brought his ‘can do’ attitude to Congress. Vern believes nothing is impossible if we work together. Vern Buchanan: Effective, bipartisan, getting the job done.” Interspersed among the clips of Buchanan talking to constituents are several news clippings backing up Buchanan’s claims of effectiveness and bipartisanship.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Lauren Baer tops $1M banked for CD 18 campaign, Brian Mast nears $2M” via Florida Politics — Baer’s campaign said it will report more than $500,000 raised in its second-quarter campaign finance report and show more than $1 million in the bank, an increase of $300,000 over her reserves at the end of the first quarter. The performance also bests her $450,000 report for Q1 and makes for more than $1.5 million in campaign funds raised to-date. Mast, who is only nominally opposed in the Republican primary, also announced he’d hit a high watermark in the second-quarter with more than $1 million raised. The announcement indicated Mast had nearly $2 million in the bank at the end of June, a major increase from his $1.5 million on-hand tallies at the end of the first quarter. CD 18 is a top target for a “blue-wave” flip in the fall, with only CD 26 and CD 27 outranking it on Florida Democrat’s priority list.

’Raised right’: Rebekah Bydlak releases first TV ad in HD 1 race” via Florida Politics — The 30-second spot will start hitting TV screens in the Escambia County district today. Titled “Fresh Conservative Choice,” the ad touts Bydlak’s conservative credentials as well as her status as an “outsider” candidate. “Isn’t it time for a fresh conservative voice who will work with President Trump in Florida? That’s Rebekah Bydlak, a conservative outsider, not a politician. Bydlak is 100 percent pro-life and is endorsed by the NRA for defending the 2nd Amendment,” the ad narrator states. Bydlak then says, “I was born and raised right here in Escambia County, which means I was raised right. I’m a conservative wanting to make a difference, not a politician looking for my next job. Together, we can hold politicians accountable.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Shot: “Former Rene Plasencia campaign worker denies taking info to rival” via Orlando Rising A former campaign volunteer for Plasencia is seeking an apology from the state representative after the Orlando Republican accused him of downloading campaign data and taking it with him to a GOP rival. Zane C. Matter was on the Plasencia campaign before he moved to the George Collins campaign. Collins is challenging Plasencia, first elected in 2014, for the House District 50 seat … Plasencia had alleged that Matter, now serving as Collins’ campaign treasurer, used his access to Plasencia’s webElect political data account to download information after-hours onto a home computer. Matter then left Plasencia on June 1 and joined Collins. “I brought no information to the Collins campaign; I simply agreed with George on the issues more and decided to be on his campaign,” Matter said. The accusations “were false and nothing more than a political stunt to discourage George from entering the race and qualifying.”

Chaser: “Plasencia campaign fires back over data theft allegation” via Orlando Rising — An allegation that a former Plasencia campaign staffer downloaded private campaign data and took it with him to a GOP rival was turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Plasencia’s campaign manager said Tuesday. But Acacia Baker also told Orlando Rising that FDLE agents “acknowledged that information was obviously accessed, but without a signed confidentiality agreement or contract, there wasn’t more they could do” … Added Baker: “I’m just not sure which is more shameful, the fact that George Collins used a college student to do his dirty work or the fact that the staffer didn’t see what he was doing as wrong.”

Florida Realtors make endorsements in 87 legislative races” via Florida Politics — Four of those picks are virtually assured victory as their only challenge is coming from unaffiliated, third-party or write-in candidates. Those include HD 46 Democratic Rep. Bruce Antone, HD 38 Republican Rep. Danny Burgess, HD 17 Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson and HD 6 Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull. Many of the other races feature an incumbent who’ll likely cruise toward re-election, such as District 2 Republican Sen. George Gainer and HD 39 Republican Rep. Josie Tomkow, though the trade association also weighed in on nearly every competitive race. In the upper chamber, incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry of Gainesville got the nod in his bid for another term in Senate District 8, where he faces well-funded Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking. In the Bay area’s premier battleground, Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young earned the Realtor’s support for re-election over House Minority Leader Janet Cruz.

— STATEWIDE —

Parkland panel wants PROMISE Program changed” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission offered suggestions Tuesday to change Broward County’s PROMISE Program, which has come under fire after February’s attack that left 17 dead. While most members said the program played no direct role in the shooting by suspect Nikolas Cruz, the commission still recommended changes to it and similar programs throughout the state, such as reducing the amount of infractions allowed under the program and increasing access to students’ disciplinary records. The PROMISE Program is an example of a pre-arrest diversionary program. Those programs typically seek to find ways to discipline students who commit minor crimes without entering them into the criminal justice system.

Parkland shooter’s mother called ‘enabler’ who allowed him to buy a gun” via David Flesher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cruz’s late mother was an “enabler” who overrode the objections of school counselors when the future Parkland shooter wanted to buy a gun, according to the chairman of the state commission investigating the massacre. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who leads the commission reviewing the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said several counselors tried to help Cruz with his behavioral and disciplinary problems. “This is not a situation where there wasn’t yeoman’s work being done by a whole bunch of people to try and get this guy off the path that he was on,” he said. “But it just wasn’t being effective.”

Some consider Lynda Cruz an ‘enabler’ for her son, future Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Happening today — The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will continue its three-day meeting. Topics for discussion are Broward County’s 911 system and law-enforcement radio systems, 8:30 a.m., BB&T Center, Chairman’s Club, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise.

Medical marijuana regulators withdraw licensing fee rule” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — State regulators have given up for now on a contentious rule requiring a hefty fee from medical marijuana suppliers. The Department of Health, which regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, had first proposed in April a “supplemental licensing fee” of $174,844 from each provider. But the office, without explanation, announced Monday it was withdrawing the proposed fee from further consideration. It already had drawn a legal challenge from Liberty Health Sciences, a state-licensed “medical marijuana treatment center” (MMTC). Its lawyer had argued the state set the fee too high. “I understand the department will conduct future rule-making proceedings on this subject and my client looks forward to discussing their concerns,” said John Lockwood, the company’s Tallahassee-based attorney.

Judge closes book undisputed abortion law” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — In a case that focused heavily on First Amendment rights, a federal judge has issued a permanent injunction against a 2016 abortion law approved by Florida lawmakers and Gov. Scott. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who granted a preliminary injunction against the law in September, issued the permanent injunction last week and ordered the state to pay attorney fees for a group of plaintiffs who challenged the measure. The permanent injunction came after attorneys for the state and the plaintiffs filed a joint motion last month indicating the state did not want to continue contesting the issues in the preliminary injunction. “In order to spare the parties and the court the cost and burden of further litigation, plaintiffs and defendants have reached an agreement for the court to convert the preliminary injunction into a permanent injunction … enter a declaratory judgment in plaintiffs’ favor, and retain jurisdiction over an award of attorneys’ fees, if necessary, thereby resolving all the claims,” the June 22 joint motion said.

Nursing home records ruling put on hold” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The 1st District Court of Appeal extended a stay of a lower-court ruling that would require the Florida Department of Health to quickly turn over death certificates from across the state to attorneys for The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills … it was the latest twist in a monthslong records battle between the Florida Department of Health and the nursing home, which the state moved to shut down after residents died following Hurricane Irma. The nursing home has been in a series of legal fights with Scott’s administration, including about a state attempt to revoke the facility’s license. As part of those disputes, the nursing home filed a public-records lawsuit Jan. 31, alleging that the Department of Health had improperly refused to provide copies of death certificates for people across the state from Sept. 9 through Sept. 16 — a period that included Hurricane Irma and its immediate aftermath.

They were shocked to learn gambling will be going on here. Now they’ve declared war” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — A plan by the owners of Magic City Casino to build a poker room and jai alai fronton in the middle of Miami’s blossoming Edgewater district seemed to fly largely under the public’s radar — until Florida gaming regulators actually approved the permit last week. Now the matter has hit the fan. Some of the city’s business and cultural heavyweights, including auto magnate Norman Braman and developer Jorge Perez, declared war on the gambling facility, calling it everything from “idiotic” to “disgraceful.” In loose association with other luminaries and anti-casino voices such as Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen, developer Armando Codina and Miami Design District developer Craig Robins, Braman and Perez say they have begun exploring legal and political challenges at the state and local level to stop the still-unnamed facility in its tracks.

Excessive speed caused roller coaster derailment” via Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press — Two riders fell 34 feet when the front car of the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster was left dangling from the track June 14 at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. Investigators concluded that the operating speed of the ride was the primary cause of the derailment, though they continued to assess other factors that also may have contributed, such as weather, weight distribution and lubrication of the track, according to a report released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. An independent engineer also concluded that the ride’s speed caused the derailment, the report said. “Operator error caused the Sand Blaster Roller Coaster derailment, which injured multiple people. We’ve issued subpoenas to obtain more information from the ride operator, and we will hold fully accountable those responsible,” Agriculture Commissioner Putnam said in an emailed statement.

Excessive speed, operator error was the cause of the Daytona roller-coaster derailment.

Final investigation into Eastpoint fire could take weeks; contract says vendor responsible” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Weeks later, state Forest Service investigators are still poking around the ashes to provide a more definitive answer as to how that supposedly extinguished burn reignited and caused the Eastpoint fire five days later. The Scope of Work outlines all the responsibilities of the contractor in a controlled burn. The contractor is required to coordinate each burn with the FWC’s site project manager, have a certified burn manager on site at all times, and make sure that the current and forecast conditions meet all the approved parameter ranges before ignition. “The commission will not participate in any component of the contractor’s prescribed burn,” according to the scope of work. Patience is the key following a wildfire, said Kevin Hiers, a wildland fire scientist at Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy. That’s why the Florida Forest Service takes weeks or a month to dig into the cause of a fire.

Orlando to get new area code — 689” via Gray Rohrer and Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — Members of the Florida Public Service Commission voted unanimously for the new area code, which staffers said was needed because 407 numbers were projected to be exhausted by next May. “We’re running out [of numbers] in this area,” said Gregory Fogleman, public utility supervisor for the PSC. “We’ve done everything we can, and now is the time to do this in order to have a smooth transition.” Under the plan, current customers will retain their numbers, but new customers in the 407 zone — which includes Orange, Seminole, Osceola and parts of Lake and Volusia counties — will be issued 689. Those with the region’s other area code of 321 are unaffected.

— D.C. MATTERS —

White House sends Everglades reservoir to Congress” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO – The White House on Tuesday approved a the Army Corps of Engineers’ request to seek approval from Congress for an Everglades reservoir that supporters say is key to diverting future Lake Okeechobee discharges, according to the office of Sen. Marco Rubio. Gov. k Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday for seven counties for algae blooms caused by discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. In 2017, he signed FL SB10 (17R) authorizing the $1.6 billion reservoir with the cost to be split with the federal government. The Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday gave the OK for the project to be included in a Water Resource Development Act bill being considered in the Senate, supporters say.

Trump officials slash funds to help consumers sign up for health insurance” via Robert Pear The New York Times — The Trump administration, for the second year in a row, is slashing grants to nonprofit organizations that help people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The government will provide $10 million this fall, down from $36 million last fall and $63 million in late 2016 — a reduction of more than 80 percent. The Trump administration says that the insurance counselors, known as navigators, do not enroll enough people to justify more spending. Insurance agents and brokers do much better, it says.

Trump says he did not discuss abortion with Supreme Court pick Kavanaugh” via David Jackson of USA TODAY — “No, I haven’t, I really haven’t,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a weeklong trip to Europe. Abortion will be perhaps the key issue in upcoming confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh. Trump, speaking less than 11 hours after a prime-time event to unveil his new Supreme Court nominee, said Kavanaugh has received “great reviews” from the legal community. “It’s a beautiful thing to watch,” he said.

No conversation on abortion took place, Donald Trump insists.

New Supreme Court nominee has ties to big Florida moments” via Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — Kavanaugh has played a pivotal role in some of Florida’s most contentious moments … In 2000, Kavanaugh represented pro bono the Miami relatives of 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, who wanted to keep the child in Miami despite his father’s wishes to have custody of him in Cuba. The custody battle polarized the Cuban community and all of South Florida … around eight months later … the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. With Florida votes still undecided in December because of a state-mandated recount … Kavanaugh joined Bush’s legal team, which was trying to stop the ballot recount in the state. Dick Durbin, during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, called him the “Forrest Gump of Republican politics … whether it’s Elian Gonzalez or the Starr Report, you are there.” Kavanaugh, who clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court justice who is retiring, had also worked for independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

— OPINIONS —

A liberal’s case for Kavanaugh” via Akhil Reed Amar for The New York Times — Most judges are not scholars or even serious readers of scholarship. Judge Kavanaugh, by contrast, has taught courses at leading law schools and published notable law review articles. More important, he is an avid consumer of legal scholarship. He reads and learns. And he reads scholars from across the political spectrum. This studiousness is especially important for a jurist like Kavanaugh, who prioritizes the Constitution’s original meaning. Kavanaugh is, again, a superb nominee. So, I propose that the Democrats offer the following compromise: Each Senate Democrat will pledge either to vote yes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation — or, if voting no, to first publicly name at least two clearly better candidates whom a Republican president might realistically have nominated instead (not an easy task). In exchange for this act of good will, Democrats will insist that Kavanaugh answer all fair questions at his confirmation hearing … Kavanaugh could be confirmed with the 90-something Senate votes he deserves, rather than the 50-something votes he is likely to get.

Louisa McQueeney: We have to protect ACA, pre-existing condition fix” via Florida Politics — GOP efforts to repeal the ACA have failed for a good reason since the public understands the protections the law provides and doesn’t want to go back to a system where an insurance company can deny coverage based on age, health status or put limits on the amount they have to pay out, leaving you to pay the rest. While both sides of the aisle are talking about various forms of repeal with their own versions of replacement, no Floridian, of any political affiliation, should support the outright repeal of the ACA. It’s just too important to too many people. Instead, we should be using the protections afforded under the ACA as a building block to increase access and coverage for Floridians.

— MOVEMENTS —

Governor appoints two new Jax City Council members during Reggie and Katrina Brown suspension” via Destiny Johnson of First Coast News — The Governor appointed two replacements, Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman, to serve during Reggie and Katrina Browns‘ suspension as they move through the legal process. Freeman, 43, is from Jacksonville and is the regional director at Ygrene Energy Fund and he will be serving for Reggie Brown. Pittman, 54, is also from Jacksonville and she is the President of the Clara White Mission and she will be serving for Katrina Brown. Mayor Lenny Curry said in a statement: “Governor Scott chose two well-known and widely-respected community leaders to serve on Jacksonville’s City Council. I look forward to working with Terrance and Ju’Coby to ensure that every family in every neighborhood has safe streets and an opportunity for success.”

Jacksonville’s newest City Council members, Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman.

Appointed — Scott WigginsEd Armstrong and Jeffrey Adams to the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board.

Uber hires former top Justice Department lawyer for compliance post” via Greg Bensinger and Sadie Gurman of The Wall Street Journal — Uber Technologies has tapped a former top official at the U.S. Justice Department to be its first chief compliance officer, as the ride-hailing giant seeks to move past a series of regulatory problems and other controversies ahead of a highly anticipated initial public offering next year. Uber is set to announce to staff the hiring of Scott Schools, who stepped down last week as the Justice Department’s highest-ranking career official and a close adviser to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. [Schools] is among a spate of high-level hirings since Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi joined Uber last September, including operations chief Barney Harford and general counsel Tony West, a former high-ranking Obama Justice Department official, to whom Schools will report.

Personnel note: Jason Welty joins Florida Clerks of Court Operations Corp. — Welty will be the organization’s new Budget and Communications Director, it said in a Tuesday news release. He is responsible for “designing, developing and communicating a budget that reasonably and adequately funds Florida’s clerks of court in the performance of their court-related functions,” and will also serve as the lead for the CCOC budget and legislative committees. Welty brings budget, communications and legislative experience, with more than 13 years of government service, including most recently as senior budget analyst for the House Justice Appropriations Committee. Previously, he was legislative affairs director and chief of staff at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, senior legislative aide to Sen. Rob Bradley, and policy chief in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. Welty replaces Jason Harrell, named a director of legislative and government affairs for the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Aprill Blanco: Wells Fargo & Company

Jim BoxoldKen Granger, Capital City Consulting: Horse Farms Forever

Glenn KirklandJonathan Menendez, Kaleo Partners: HVJT Consulting on behalf of Dell Technologies

— MR. KEY WEST —

David Wolkowsky, the man who’s largely credited for making Florida’s most-famous key what it is today, is approaching his 100th birthday — but he’s as sharp as ever and still dwells in the area that defines his legacy.

Writer Michael Adno takes a deep dive into Wolkowsky, who is both behind the scenes of Key West and simultaneously entrenched in them, in a recent feature for The Bitter Southerner.

Mr. Key West, David Wolkowsky.

By developing the Old Town portion of the Key, Wolkowsky catalyzed the area’s “ascension as a tourist destination,” writes Adno. With laughter, Wolkowsky tells Adno he “ruined it.”

‘Camp’: Adno spends a bit of time defining camp — “Key West’s brand of camp reflects Wolkowsky’s understanding — never on the nose, always sideways, a place where anonymity feels like an innate right.” An architect by trade and a bibliophile at the surface, there isn’t a way to characterize Wolkowsky, who has hosted on his island “guests from Truman Capote to Margaret Thatcher. He still — to this day — serves his most revered guests wine, potato chips, and hot dogs.”

Style: One source familiar with Wolkowsky tells Adno, “The whole of Key West is really founded on David’s style.”

Advice: “Don’t let facts get in your way,” Wolkowsky tells Adno. “The world is made up of distortions that turn into fact.”

— ALOE —

AAA removes ‘traffic trap’ designations for Lawtey and Waldo” via the American Automobile Association — The decision means that AAA will no longer provide its members with warnings to drive with extreme caution or take alternate routes. In its notification letter to Lawtey Mayor Jimmie Scott, AAA applauded the proactive traffic safety efforts — including increased warnings, a focus on officer training and participation in national traffic safety campaigns — employed by his Police Chief, Shane Bennett. In its notification letter to Waldo Mayor Louie Davis, AAA referenced the state law that prohibits the establishment of traffic citation quotas — a behavior that led to the abolishment of the Waldo Police Department — and the fact that the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office handles traffic enforcement in the city. Waldo and Lawtey, Florida were first designated by AAA as Traffic Traps in August of 1995, following a flurry of motorist complaints and extensive investigation by AAA clearly demonstrating that profit, and not safety, was the primary motivation for the issuance of traffic citations.

Waldo has made progress since this billboard.

FPL customers to receive Hurricane Matthew recovery refund” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The Florida Public Service Commissioner approved the $27.7 million agreement between the Juno Beach-based power giant and the Office of Public Counsel. The adjustment should equate to about a $3 credit for a residential customer who uses the industry standard of 1,000-kilowatt-hours a month. The credit is “in the best interest of FPL customers,” Public Service Commission Chairman Art Graham said. “The agreement provides a reasonable recovery amount, with funds available for future storm recovery, if needed,” he said.

Lottery posts record $6.7 billion in sales” via the News Service of Florida — Thanks in part to strong Powerball and Mega Million jackpots, Florida Lottery sales grew 8 percent to a record $6.7 billion over the past year … “We had a couple of good jackpots last year,” Lottery Deputy Secretary of Sales Mike Purcell said. “We had a Powerball jackpot of about $700 million, and we had a Mega Millions jackpot of about $393 million. Those help contribute to it.” Scratch-off tickets accounted for 69 percent of the sales in the 2017-2018 fiscal year that ended June 30. Scratch game sales were up about $400 million from the prior fiscal year, according to Purcell.

TSA catches python smuggling attempt through MIA” via Jeff Tavass of ABC Local 10 Miami — Agents at MIA intercepted a live python that someone attempted to conceal within a computer hard drive. The snake was identified as either a Ball or Royal python, both of which are invasive species in South Florida and cause major damage to the ecosystem … the passenger was traveling to Barbados, but he was not permitted to get on the flight. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took possession of the snake and the passenger will be fined.

Happy birthday to smart guy Brett Cyphers, state Rep. Cynthia Stafford and our friend, James Harris.

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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