Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, Florida Politics, Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of the quarterly INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, SaintPetersBlog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.
Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”
On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.
Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.
I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.
I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.
I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.
I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.
If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.
I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).
I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).
Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:
Why isn’t her campaign doing better?
Why is she struggling to raise real money?
Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?
Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?
Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.
On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.
On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.
Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.
On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.
Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.
Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.
“Florida’s selection of Motorola Solutions to build a new statewide public safety radio system is a vote of confidence in our decades of successfully building mission-critical communications solutions throughout the state and nation,” the Chicago-based company said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
“Motorola Solutions is thrilled at the opportunity to work with the State of Florida and eager to deliver state-of-the-art interoperable communications to the state’s first responders and the people they protect throughout Florida.”
The state decided to part ways with Harris Corp., which now has the contract, due, in part, to concerns over spotty or failed service as well as problems with encryption meant to lock out non-law enforcement radios from being able to listen. Problems with communication gear have been raided by various law enforcement agencies.
Harris has held the SLERS contract, estimated to cost the state upward of $18 million a year, since Sept. 2000.
The awarding of the deal concludes almost three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.
Among dozens of lobbyists involved, Motorola had Southern Strategy Group on its side, with Mercer Fearington quarterbacking the firm’s efforts; Harris retained Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners.
The system, known as SLERS, is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state,” according to the Department of Management Services.
It “covers over 60,000 square miles (including 25 miles offshore) with 98 percent mobile coverage and portable coverage in selected areas,” the department’s website says.
The goal “is to provide state law enforcement personnel with a shared radio system. The current system serves over 20,500 radios in patrol cars, boats, motorcycles and aircraft throughout the state.”
Sunshine State News chronicled the travails of the system under Harris, based in Melbourne, including the “bad experience” the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had with the firm involving a similar system.
“After two decades, hundreds of millions of wasted dollars, and problems that never did get fixed, (Pennsylvania) kicked (Harris) off the job,” Nancy Smith wrote last March.
In Florida, it “had multimillion-dollar ’emergency’ contracts approved for radio upgrades, even though no law enforcement agency … requested them,” she wrote.
Moreover, then-House Speaker SteveCrisafulli and former Melbourne Rep. RitchWorkman, who supported Harris, “made sure the company got a $7 million emergency contractas the last order of budget business in the 2016 legislative session.” Workman’s district included Harris HQ and Crisafulli also represented Brevard County.
The extra payments were on top of Harris’ contract, and mainly went toward purchasing portable units for various law enforcement agencies, including $4.7 million worth of units for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in fiscal year 2016.
Mike McCalister entered the race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, setting up a four-way Republican primary to replace Adam Putnam, who is termed-out and running for Governor.
Florida Politics previously reported that McCalister, a retired Army Colonel, was eyeing a run for the seat with a decision to come in early spring.
McCalister got some name recognition when he ran for governor in 2010, the same year Rick Scott won his first term, and when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2012. He took 10 percent in the Republican Primary for governor — more than 130,000 votes — despite spending less than $10,000 on his campaign.
Chatter about McCalister launching another campaign for statewide office grew loud early in the year as he made stops at Republican clubs and town hall meetings.
His efficiency in 2010 will come in handy in the Ag Commissioner race, where each of his three primary opponents has crossed the $1 million mark in total fundraising.
McCalister joins Lehigh Acres Rep Matt Caldwell, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary for the Cabinet position. Also running are Democrats Jeffrey Porter, David Walker and Thomas White.
Troutman leads the field in fundraising due to a $2.5 million self-contribution. He has $2.7 million on hand, followed by Caldwell with $1.11 million and Grimsley with about $910,000.
A new poll on measures being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission found Florida voters were in favor of requiring a legislative supermajority for any tax increases and want enumerated rights for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The Clearview Research poll also found voters were split on a proposal that would outlaw betting on greyhound races.
The nursing home and ALF resident rights measure, Proposal 88, was viewed favorably by 86 percent of those polled, with more than two-thirds of respondents saying they would definitely vote yes if it was on the ballot.
Only 10 percent said they were against the proposal, including 5 percent who said they were strongly against it.
“While there has been much talk about what should or should not be in the Florida Constitution, we see consistent support for the notion that ‘rights’ of citizens should be included,” the pollster said. “If placed on the ballot and worded even closely to the language drafted by [Commissioner Brecht Heuchan], we are confident this will pass by a comfortable margin.”
Proposal 72, which would require two-thirds of state lawmakers to vote in favor of a tax increase for it to pass muster, also broke the 60 percent threshold needed for constitutional amendments with 64 percent saying they were in favor.
Of those who said they were leaning toward voting for the amendment, more than two-fifths said their support was resolute. Another 29 percent said they were against the proposal, with 15 percent saying their opposition was firm.
Clearview said Prop 72 is “a clear and easy-to-understand measure that seems to have enough support to pass, and without an organized campaign to defeat it, likely will.”
The third measure voters were queried on was the greyhound wagering ban, Proposal 67, which has the support of 45 percent of voters and is opposed by 44 percent. Just one-third of those polled said they were firmly in favor of such a ban, while 19 percent said they were firmly against it.
Clearview chalked up the split, at least partially, to the proposal’s language. Prop 67 wouldn’t outlaw dog tracks in the Sunshine State, just betting on the races.
“Given this confusion, versus the stated intent during committee discussions, we are relatively confident that changing this approach will have a profound impact on the results.”
The Clearview Research poll contacted 750 likely Florida voters between March 1 and March 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.58 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.
A proposed constitutional amendment to ban betting on dog racing would lose at the ballot, according to a latest opinion poll.
The proposal (P67), now before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is polling at only 45 percent approval; it needs 60 percent at the November ballot box to be added to the state’s constitution.
“With the proposal to phase out greyhound racing, as with any ballot proposal, the language will be critical,” said Steve Vancore, president of Clearview Research, which conducted the poll.
The firm asked election attorney Glenn Burhans of Stearns Weaver Miller to “review the staff analyses and provide guidance on developing ‘neutral’ ballot language,” according to a press release.
“We know from other work that animal welfare is usually a very popular concept with Florida voters, and a measure that signals it is a proposal to protect dogs would likely have broader support,” Vancore said.
“However, the current iteration, while technically correct, almost perfectly splits respondents 45 percent to 44 percent,” he added. “As such, if the wording does not change, it will likely fail at the ballot.
“Given this confusion, versus the stated intent during committee discussions, we are relatively confident that changing this approach would have a profound impact on the results.”
We passed along the poll results to the proposal’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. TomLee of Thonotosassa, for comment.
Also included in this poll were two other CRC proposals, including one that would require a two-thirds ‘supermajority’ vote of each chamber of the Legislature to raises taxes or fees (P72).
“Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents supported this measure,” Vancore said. “This is a clear and easy-to-understand measure that seems to have enough support to pass, and without an organized campaign to defeat it, likely will.
And another would create a nursing home residents’ ‘bill of rights’ (P88).
“While there has been much talk about what should or should not be in the Florida Constitution, we see consistent support for the notion that ‘rights’ of citizens should be included,” Vancore said.
“This proposition is no exception with an astonishing 86 percent supporting this notion. If placed on the ballot and worded even closely to the language drafted by Mr. Burhans, we are confident this will pass by a comfortable margin.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @APDiploWriter:While in Africa, Tillerson was told only that there might be a presidential tweet concerning him coming soon. He didn’t know what it might be, when it might come, or even if it would come, He learned of his termination Tuesday morning from the tweet.
— @RepDeSantis: Mike Pompeo will do a great job as Secretary of State. He’s smart, tough, and works his tail off. Congrats to Mike and hats off to @POTUS for making an excellent choice!
— @TroyKinsey: The return of “deplorables”: as #flsen revs up, new @NRSC press memo on @SenBillNelson highlights importance of the Trump base to GOP prospects: “As one of Hillary’s biggest supporters, does Bill Nelson support the dismissive and insulting comments Clinton made about Floridians?”
— @LearyReports: Rubio acknowledges many Parkland families want more but calls bill a good first step. “We just want to get it done.”
— @CarlosGSmith: I’m not afraid to have a public dialogue on gun control. Trying to shout me down or ‘gunsplain’ things to me during a debate will not work. Where is the civil discussion? This is why we can’t have nice things!
— @NoahPransky: This morning in St. Pete, when asked about Florida’s weak texting & driving laws, @FLGovScott seemed unaware @joenegronfl killed the reform. “Our session just ended…so I’m reviewing that bill.”
— @RichardCorcoran: Here in Florida, I am committed to ensuring every student has a world class education. Proud to have passed an education bill that expands school choice and offers hope for students who have been victims of abuse.
— @AmySherman1: It is historic that Fort Lauderdale elected its first openly gay mayor. But this election was largely about water, sewer and development.
— @GBennettPost: There’s no #ElectionNight party quite like a Palm Beach Town Council election night party.
— DAYS UNTIL —
St. Patrick’s Day – 3; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 10; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 15; Easter – 18; NFL Draft begins – 43; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 50; Mother’s Day – 60; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 72; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 100; Primary Election Day — 167; College Football opening weekend – 171; General Election Day — 237; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 337; 2019 Legislative Session – 356.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Scoop – “Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano raising money for Andrew Gillum” via Florida Politics – Gillum heads to California this week to mingle with celebrities and Democratic activists at a high-profile fundraiser at the Santa Monica home of entertainment industry lawyer Skip Brittenham and his wife, actress and author Heather Thomas. Tallahassee’s mayor is one of three Democratic candidates for governor in 2018 to be featured at the Thursday reception; Stacey Abrams of Georgia and David Garcia of Arizona are joining the event, which will also benefit Gillum’s associated PAC, Forward Florida. Among those on the blockbuster host committee include actors Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano and Rashida Jones, Democratic consultant Van Jones, as well as producers Norman Lear (founder of People for the American Way), Susan Harris and Paul Junger Witt, who have been longtime Democratic supporters.
Gwen Graham workday with migrants in Immokalee – Graham’s latest Workday was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association in Immokalee. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate spent a shift helping the early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of the migrant families. “Before the Redland Christian Migrant Association opened its doors, many farmworkers had no option but to take their young children into the fields with them,” Graham said. “Today, the RCMA serves nearly 7,000 children of migrant farmworkers and rural, low-income families in more than 68 centers throughout Florida. These early education and Head Start services for migrant families, who travel between states as the agriculture seasons change, are vital to Florida.”
“Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials. With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.”
First in Sunburn – Levine names Keith Fitzgerald as policy adviser – Levine announced former state Rep. Fitzgerald will serve as the campaign’s policy adviser. “Keith understands what’s at stake in this election and why giving Floridians a bold vision is key to winning the Governor’s race this year,” Levine said in a statement. “Levine will be a Governor who I believe can truly bring the change we need to a state that desperately needs it,” Fitzgerald added. The former two-term Sarasota County state lawmaker currently serves as a professor of political science at New College in Sarasota.
“Bob Buesing, Jason Pizzo rake in cash for Senate rematches” via the News Service of Florida – Buesing raised $63,616 last month for his bid to unseat Sen. Dana Young in Senate District 18 … Buesing, who lost to Young in 2016, entered this year’s race in mid-January and had raised an overall total of $81,464 as of Feb. 28. Young raised $271,194 for her campaign account as of the end of February. Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade County, Pizzo, an attorney, raised $50,169 in February for his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38. Pizzo, who lost a 2016 primary to Campbell, also loaned $25,000 to his campaign in January … Campbell had raised $77,784 as of Feb. 28. In North Florida, Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking raised $24,446 in February, bringing the overall total to $179,107 in her bid to unseat Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. Perry had raised $261,107 for his campaign account as of Feb. 28.
“Jeff Brandes backs Ardian Zika for state House” via Florida Politics – “[House District 37 frontrunner] Zika is a conservative Republican who knows what it takes to build a business, make payroll and grow our economy,” Brandes said. “Ardian’s story – how he left a civil war-torn country to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States – is an inspiration to me … I’m optimistic that the voters of House District 37 will also be inspired by Ardian’s story and will enthusiastically support him. Ardian’s life is proof that if you work hard and play by the rules you will have opportunity and be able to realize the American Dream. Ardian Zika has my strong support and endorsement this election and I hope he can count on you.”
— MUNICIPAL RACE ROUND-UP —
“Dean Trantalis elected mayor of Fort Lauderdale” via Peter Burke of Local10.com – Voters in Fort Lauderdale elected the city’s first openly gay mayor Tuesday. Trantalis defeated Bruce Roberts in a runoff election to replace longtime Mayor Jack Seiler. With all but one precinct reporting, Trantalis received more than 5,600 votes than Roberts.
“Bryan Nelson knocks Joe Kilsheimer from Apopka mayor’s office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Nelson, a one-term county commissioner who previously served in the Florida House, defeated Kilsheimer 61 to 38 percent, with a voter turnout of about 20.5 percent, with just over 6,400 votes cast in Orange County’s second-largest city. In unofficial results by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Nelson drew 2,786 votes, and Kilsheimer 1,733. Nelson is an insurance agent with deep family roots in Apopka, who had eschewed the chance to run for a second term, to run instead for the Apopka mayor’s office, a gambit that paid off. He will be sworn in April 24.
“Clearwater voters re-elect Hoyt Hamilton, usher in newcomer David Allbritton for two City Council seats” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times – Incumbent Hamilton kept hold of Seat 5 with 78 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. He bested challenger John Funk, a real estate broker, in a heated race marked by high tension and attack mailers. Retired building contractor David Allbritton defeated advertising salesman Tom Keller with 67 percent of votes in the tamer race for Seat 4, being vacated by the term-limited Bill Jonson.
“Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary breezes to re-election” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in easily defeating Jim Fitch. Leary, first elected mayor in 2015 during a much more contentious growth period for Winter Park, sought re-election pointing to more controlled but still steady growth, while Fitch tried to contend that the city’s growth still was a problem. In unofficial results posted by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, Leary drew 3,301 votes, to Fitch’s 1,278. That is 72 percent to 28 percent. Voter turnout was just over 21 percent in Winter Park.
“With help of Parkland survivor, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson push school safety bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, is the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act and the House companion is up for a vote this week. It’s sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford … The legislation provides Justice Department grants for schools to train people to identify warning signs of troubled students, improve school security infrastructure, including anonymous reporting system and created threat assessment and crisis intervention teams as well as facilitates coordination between schools and local law enforcement … The bill would authorize $75 million for FY 2018, and $100 million annually for the next 10 years. Joining a bipartisan group of senators was Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv, who has differed with some other students who have demanded more strict gun controls. “I truly believe if this act had been in place a month ago, Parkland wouldn’t have happened,” Kashuv said.
“D.C. officials call on Rubio to withdraw bill that steps on local gun restrictions” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials, including Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Ted Deutch, will call on Rubio to withdraw a bill that would effectively gut local gun regulations, some of the toughest in the country. Rubio introduced the measure before running for president in 2016, pleasing the NRA, (and has since reintroduced it, with no co-sponsors) but the legislation has become a sore point after the Parkland shooting. Critics note that Rubio said at the recent CNN town hall that he would support raising the purchase age of riles, but that his bill allows DC residents under age 21 to buy assault rifles. “It is heartening that Rubio has recently expressed support for raising the minimum age for purchasing a gun and for comprehensive background checks, but for the residents of the nation’s capital, it is also confounding, because it is the height of hypocrisy to unveil and promote these new stances while simultaneously working to gut D.C.’s local gun laws,” Bower wrote in an op/ed last week for the Miami Herald.
“Prosecutors to seek death penalty for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz” via Paula McMahon and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – The decision by prosecutors undermines a defense strategy that would have resolved the case without a trial — Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and the defense team has offered to have Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison. But the State Attorney’s Office wouldn’t take capital punishment off the table, listing seven “aggravating factors” that a jury can use to justify ordering Cruz’s execution for the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those factors include the “heinous, atrocious and cruel” nature of the crime; the “cold, calculated and premeditated” manner in which it was carried out; and the fact that 17 victims were murdered and another 17 people were shot but survived.
“Condition of wounded Stoneman Douglas shooting victim improves” via The Associated Press – Broward Health spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said Anthony Borges‘ condition has now been upgraded to fair. He had been in critical condition. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student is credited with saving the lives of 20 students by attempting to close and lock a classroom door during the Feb. 14 attack … The family’s attorney says that after surgeries, his intestinal area has been sealed off. Alex Arreaza says the student is breathing on his own after being taken off a ventilator. Borges’ family has filed notice that they will sue Florida authorities to seek money to cover the cost of his recovery.
“Thousands of would-be gun buyers failed a Florida background check last year. Here’s why.” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times – Lots of people, including fugitives and convicted felons, apparently do not know the rules for purchasing a gun going in … the FDLE last year received 990,314 inquiries for firearms transfers from licensed dealers, and 96 percent were approved at the time of the transaction. As for the other 4 percent, here are the reasons they were rejected: 4,170 for felony convictions; 717 for being under indictment; 556 for being a fugitive from justice; 920 for being user or addicted to any controlled substance; 871 for having been adjudicated as mentally defective or having been committed to any mental institution; 449 for being an illegal alien; 11 for having been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces; 3 for renouncing his or her U.S. citizenship; 1,185 for being subject to a restraining order; 1,174 for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; 2,587 for a wide range of state offenses, from child or elderly abuse to human trafficking and stalking.
“University CFO resigns rather than leave board of gun maker” via the Miami Herald – Anita Britt offered her resignation Tuesday from St. Thomas University. Britt joined the Miami-area Catholic school on Jan. 5. She joined the board for American Outdoor Brands, parent company of Smith & Wesson, on Feb. 6, eight days before a shooting left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. The university’s president, the Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, said last week that Britt’s role with American Outdoor Brands wouldn’t conflict with her CFO position. But he asked her to make a choice Tuesday after students and faculty expressed concerns.
— THE WALKOUT —
“Local students to participate in national walkout” via Heather Osbourne of the NWFDailyNews.com –Students across Northwest Florida are preparing to participate in #ENOUGH National School Walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. In Okaloosa County, School District Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson sent high school and middle school students home with permission slips March 7, so they too could participate in the walkout. The #ENOUGH National School Walkout is organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower and, according to the website, is led by youth in every participating school. Jackson, though, called the event “Students Stand for Safety.” She said in the permission slip that the district’s walkout is not a protest but “rather it is an opportunity to reflect and for all to show unity supporting school safety. … The position of leaders across our county is that student safety should always be a top priority.”
“St. Johns County students will join thousands across nation in school walkout” via Colleen Jones of the St. Augustine Record – Inspired by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre who have made public pleas to improve school safety, teenagers here in St. Johns County — mostly at the high school level — will join hundreds of thousands of other American students to voluntarily walk out of class at 10 a.m. that day. Many teachers, administrators and others are expected to join them in support. The goal of the national walkout is to appeal to lawmakers to “pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” according to Women’s March Youth EMPOWERS which is helping promote the event. But it will also be a time for reflection, and 17 minutes of dedicated silence at the beginning. While each of the students interviewed agreed that they wanted to honor the lives lost Feb. 14, not all of them said they wanted to make the protest political.
“Students in local schools are planning to leave class for 17 minutes Wednesday. Here’s why” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald – In Manatee County, walkouts are planned at both State College of Florida and New College of Florida, according to EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, website. The actionnetwork.org page also shows a walkout planned at Manatee High School, along with a moment of silence in honor of the victims. Walkouts aim to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods” … Manatee County schools are allowing students to participate in the walkouts … School officials expect it to primarily affect high schools. “Students can go to the courtyard or another designated area inside the campus.”
“Lee schools unclear on plans for nationwide student walkout Wednesday” via Seth Soffian of News-Press.com – In a one-page document … Lee schools “asks” that students and employees maintain “a normal operating day,” while outlining the consequences that students and teachers “may” be subject to for participating in the walkout. It reads, “The District respects individual viewpoints and is committed to recognizing the First Amendment rights of students and staff, however, we are concerned that walkouts may be a deviation to our schools’ standard supervision and safety procedures and may create a substantial disruption to the educational environment and could potentially create an unsafe situation for participants.” The memorandum to principals also cautions that “teachers do not have the legal right to engage in walkout or other work stoppages to support their students unless the district/school administration or other legal agreement has authorized the walkout.”
“How young is too young for protest? A national gun-violence walkout tests schools” via Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis of the New York Times — With some parents wanting their children to get firsthand exposure to a nationwide political demonstration; others worried that the protests are stoking the fears of young children about a threat that remains uncommon; and still others objecting to the gun-control message entirely, one question has been weighing heavily on school administrators this past week: How young is too young for children to join the walkout? Many districts and schools that are tolerating, if not encouraging, participation in what organizers call the National School Walkout are also calibrating their approach for their youngest students. In New York City, middle and high school students may walk out of class with approval from a parent, such as with a permission slip, but elementary school students cannot leave unless a parent or guardian comes to check them out.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“Millions of dollars in local projects still must survive Rick Scott’s veto pen” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – They include roads, water and sewer repairs, festivals, fire stations, street lights, a manatee hospital, a cattle call, and even a quilting museum — all courtesy of Florida taxpayers. Many are championed by a single legislator or a powerful lobbyist. The $88.7 billion budget … pays for dozens of projects in the Tampa Bay region. They include a $1.5 million study of extending the Suncoast Parkway toll road from Crystal River to Georgia for use as a hurricane evacuation route; $1 million for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority for a long-range regional transit plan; $1.5 million to move sediment from Lake Seminole in Pinellas; and $885,000 for a special needs emergency center in Hillsborough. Some other beneficiaries of the Legislature’s election-year largesse include Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, the Florida State Fair in Tampa and the Brooksville Fire Department. If Scott is faithful to his past record, many projects are doomed, because the two-term Republican governor will again use line-item veto power to reject them as wasteful and unnecessary.
“Why are Florida lawmakers trying to get rid of this one ethics rule?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – in the frantic final hours of the legislative session, Florida’s Ethics Commission issued an extraordinary press release expressing “deep concern” and warning senators not to pass a bill that would have gutted part of the state’s ethics rules. The bill didn’t pass, but commissioners are worried after lawmakers have tried three times in the last two years to get rid of an obscure ethics rule dealing with lawyers serving on city and county commissions. Currently, ethics rules say a lawyer with the Gunster law firm representing a trash company, for example, can’t go before a local board in which another Gunster lawyer is a member. The reasons are obvious and irreconcilable, ethicists say. Even if the board member discloses the conflict of interests, the board member could still easily influence the outcome of a bid in other ways, by giving his law partner advice on how to influence the board, or by influencing county staff about the bid. Even the board member’s presence could influence his or her fellow board members. “No matter which way you turn it, it’s just an inherent conflict,” Ethics Commission Executive Director Virlindia Doss said. Nevertheless, lawyers in the Legislature are making a bipartisan effort to do away with the rule.
“Workers’ comp, health care bills go to Scott” via the News Service of Florida – Three health care-related bills, including one to expand workers’ compensation insurance benefits for injured first responders, were sent to Gov. Scott, who will have until March 27 to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature. One (SB 376) would expand benefits for police officers, firefighters, emergency-medical technicians and paramedics who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder … State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Scott appointee and supporter of the bill, said last week that Scott would sign it into law. Scott also received SB 660, which would broaden a law that exempts health care sharing ministries from Florida’s insurance codes. The bill, if signed by Scott, would benefit some large health care ministries, including Melbourne-based Christian Care Ministries and its health care cost-sharing program known as Medi-Share. The Legislature also sent to Scott an Agency for Health Care Administration bill (SB 622), that would change how the state regulates hospitals, assisted living facilities and clinical laboratories.
“University money could help draw top researchers” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida universities will share $151 million in funding next academic year that will allow them to recruit top-level researchers and improve professional and graduate schools. The Legislature increased funding for the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program by $20 million to $91 million and the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program by $10 million to $60 million. At the same time, Gov. Scott signed legislation (SB 4) that will make the world-class faculty and professional-degree programs a permanent part of the funding formula for the 12 state universities. Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who made the “Excellence in Higher Education Act” one of his priorities, said codifying the new programs and other provisions in the law, including using four-year graduation rates to measure university performance, give “the universities tools they need to better serve students and increase their accountability.”
“Six days after saying he was out, Larry Lee reconsiders re-election” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — In the midst of an emotional last week of Session, a tearful state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. told his colleagues in the Florida House in a 40-minute speech that he would not seek re-election. Since then the phone has not stopped ringing, he said. Text messages keep blowing up his phone. And his mother has recommended to “close his ears,” search for solitude and reconsider the decision. So that is what he is doing, six days after making the announcement. Lee told Florida Politics on Tuesday that he was not in the “best frame of mind” when he decided to pull the plug on his political career. … Lee was one of the lawmakers who wanted to vote down the controversial gun and school safety measure and have Gov. Scott call for a special session to resolve the issue. … “That morning it all culminated,” Lee said. “It took those kids from Parkland to push me. I felt like we let them down. Some of our members said we should give them something, but I wanted to give them more.”
“Retailers say blocking criminal justice proposal was among ‘biggest successes’” via Florida Politics – The head of the Florida Retail Federation said one of the trade association’s “biggest successes” was helping block a criminal justice reform that would have raised the threshold for a felony theft charge. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF’s president and CEO. Sen. Randolph Bracy and state Rep. Byron Donalds championed the bipartisan measure. The proposal intended to raise the threshold for a felony theft charge from $300 to $1,500. Florida has three of the lowest thresholds in the country and has not raised the amount since 1986. Shalley viewed the proposal as one that would have made retail more vulnerable. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” he said.
— STATEWIDE —
“Rick Scott goes to appeals court in financial disclosure fight” via the News Service of Florida – Attorneys for Gov. Scott want an appeals court to block a Leon County circuit judge from moving forward with a case that alleges Scott has failed to properly comply with the state’s financial-disclosure requirements. Scott’s attorneys filed a petition last week at the 1st District Court of Appeal after Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Tallahassee lawyer Donald Hinkle. The petition by Scott’s attorneys contends, in part, that the Florida Commission on Ethics – not the circuit judge – has authority over financial-disclosure issues. “The circuit court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying action because the subject matter of the complaint below is committed to the jurisdiction of a separate administrative body: the Florida Commission on Ethics,” the petition said. Gievers issued a three-page order Feb. 26 denying the request to dismiss the case.
Assignment editors – Gov. Scott is traveling the state to highlight $10 billion in tax cuts during his two terms in office. This includes nearly 100 individual tax cuts, as well as nearly $500 million during the recently ended 2018 Legislative Session. Scott’s tour begins 9 a.m. with a visit to Cox Fire Protection, 7910 Professional Place in Tampa. At 11:45 a.m., Scott will be at Imeca Doral, 8400 NW 58th St. in Doral. At 3 p.m., the Governor will finish up at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Drive in Fort Myers.
“Backers push for Marsy’s Law—a crime victims’’ ‘bill of rights’” via Florida Politics – Before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) convened its final public hearing Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Gov. Scott joined others to support Marsy’s Law for Florida. A proposed constitutional amendment would grant equal rights to defendants and convicted criminals, and to victims and their family members. “It’s very important that Marsy‘s Law becomes the law of the land,” Scott said. Most states have taken steps to amend their constitutions to enumerate victims’ rights. Fifteen have not – including Florida.
Assignment editors – Protect Tobacco Free Florida joins former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, experts and health advocates for a 10 a.m. conference call to make the case against Constitution Revision Commission’s Proposal 94, which would allow funds from the 1995 landmark settlement between the Sunshine State and Big Tobacco to be diverted away from prevention and be used for cancer research. Additionally, it would remove a requirement that one-third of the Tobacco Free Florida budget to focus on directly combating the marketing efforts of Big Tobacco. Conference line number is (888) 392-4560; Access code: 4536251.
Appointed – Randall Ewers to College of Central Florida District Board of Trustees; JoAnn Rooney to Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board.
Florida has chosen Motorola Solutions for a contract to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, a deal that could reach upward of $100 million.
“Florida’s selection of Motorola Solutions to build a new statewide public safety radio system is a vote of confidence in our decades of successfully building mission-critical communications solutions throughout the state and nation,” company officials said in a statement.
– In naming Motorola, the state dropped Harris Corp., which had held the contract since September 2000.
– Reasons for the change include concerns over spotty or failed service, as well as Harris’ problems with encryption meant to lock out non-law enforcement radios.
– Problems with communication gear have led to the deaths of several officers across the country.
– The deal comes after nearly three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.
– Dozens of consultants and lobbyists were involved in the final agreement – Southern Strategy Group was on Motorola’s side; Harris had Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners, among other firms
The system, known as SLERS, is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state” and covers over 60,000 square miles (including 25 miles offshore) with 98 percent mobile coverage and portable coverage in selected areas.
— ALOE —
“Larry Page’s flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode” via Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times – The airborne vehicle has been part of a series of “stealth” test flights by a company personally financed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google and now the chief executive of Google’s parent, Alphabet. The company, known as Kitty Hawk and run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google’s autonomous car unit as the director of Google X, has been testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi. This is an altogether different project from the one you might have seen last year in a viral video of a single-pilot recreational aircraft that was being tested over water, and it’s much more ambitious. Imagine starting a network of autonomous air taxis, as Uber is planning to, but long before Uber actually does. That’s what Mr. Page is trying to do.
“Snow joke: Weatherman named Meteorologist runs for office” via The Associated Press – A former TV weatherman who legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson says there’s a 100 percent chance he’ll run for Congress in Pennsylvania under the new moniker … Anderson is collecting signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot for a run against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker. Anderson says he’s looking for a climate change in Washington … the weatherman changed his name from Drew Anderson last year and left his job at WPMT-TV Fox 43 two weeks ago. Anderson also has worked for NBC affiliate WGAL-TV in Lancaster and as a science teacher … locksmith Bill Neff also is seeking to run against Smucker in the primary.
“Why hundreds of female meteorologists are donning purple for Pi Day” via Ashley Williams of AccuWeather – Weather broadcasters from across the country will once again reunite on Pi Day to encourage the involvement of women and young girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, for the third annual #DressForSTEM, local and national female meteorologists are doing away with “The Dress” and instead invite people of all backgrounds to join them in wearing purple clothing March 14. Photos of meteorologists matching in the famous dress originally went viral in December 2015 and later merged with Pi Day, which celebrates the mathematical constant of 3.14. “We realized that we were limiting it to just ourselves when there are so many other STEM careers,” said AccuWeather broadcast meteorologist Julia Weiden, who originally proposed the idea of female broadcasters donning the same dress.
“Why the liquor industry wants to get self-driving cars on the road” via Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post – Two industry groups – one representing wine and liquor wholesalers, and another representing large producers – have thrown their weight behind coalitions lobbying to get autonomous vehicles on the road faster. Inherent in their support, analysts say, is an understanding that self-driving cars could revolutionize the way Americans drink. Brewers and distillers say autonomous vehicles could reduce drunk-driving. Without the need to drive home after a night at the bar, drinkers could also consume far more. And that will boost alcohol sales, one analysis predicts, by as much as $250 billion. “It makes a lot of sense that the industry is interested,” said Jim Watson, a senior beverage analyst at Rabobank, the multinational finance firm. “It’s a win-win for them: Self-driving cars could boost alcohol sales and simultaneously reduce drunk-driving.”
Happy birthday to Wilbur Brewton, Seth Platt, and Jeremy Susac.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
As if employers didn’t have enough to be concerned about with the rising cost of workers’ comp, they also have to worry about employees injuring themselves on the job because of an opioid addiction.
In a Tuesday email, the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) said it was adding a “new and informative session” at its conference later this month in Boston on “Saving Lives — Building a Modern Pharmacy Program amid a Deadly Epidemic.”
“In 2011, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) found that more than 8,000 injured workers were opioid-dependent for taking the equivalent of at least 60 mg a day of morphine for 60 or more days,” according to the WCRI email.
“By the end of 2017, that number was reduced to 3,315, which meant 4,714 fewer injured workers were at risk for opioid addiction, overdose, and death than in 2011.
“In this session, Dr. Terrence Welsh, OBWC’s chief medical officer, will discuss the Bureau’s interventions to address the opioid epidemic, the impact of those interventions, and what the OBWC has on the horizon to build on its successes.”
We trust the good doctor has more hopeful news to share.
Ed. Note — Last night’s First Shot was in error; a corrected version is here.
“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on … Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice.” — Florida Congressman and candidate for Governor RonDeSantis, speaking Tuesday on Fox News.
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Wake Up Early?
Gov. Rick Scott is traveling the state to highlight $10 billion in tax cuts during his two terms in office. This includes nearly 100 individual tax cuts, as well as nearly $500 million during the recently ended 2018 Legislative Session. Scott’s tour begins 9 a.m. with a visit to Cox Fire Protection, 7910 Professional Place in Tampa.
Enterprise Florida holds a Board of Directors Meeting at 9 a.m., Embassy Suites West Palm Beach Central, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Marketing and Development holds a conference call at 9:30 a.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525 and the access code is 6610760704 then #.
The Space Florida Board of Directors is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m., Embassy Suites West Palm Beach Central, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.
At 11:45 a.m., Scott will visit Imeca Doral, 8400 NW 58th St. in Doral.
At 3 p.m., the Governor will finish up his daylong tax cut tour at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Drive in Fort Myers.
Lauren’s Kids will host the 8th Annual Walk in My Shoes advocacy walk with the St. Petersburg Police Department. Registration begins at 3 p.m., St. Petersburg Police Department, 1300 1st Avenue N, St. Petersburg.
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.
“It is important to recognize that most ballot items begin at their highest point and tend to have a downward trajectory as opponents’ messages most often have more ‘stickiness’ than supporters’ messages. Further, it is vital to remind readers that these items must score above 60% in the general election in order to be amended to the Florida Constitution,” said Clearview Research president Steven Vancore.
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, with 44 percent saying they would “definitely vote yes” and another 24 percent saying they were leaning toward supporting the measure.
Only 11 percent said they would definitely vote against the proposal if it were on the ballot, while another 13 said they were a soft no.
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. Primary elections where the winner would be opposed by a candidate of a different political party or a candidate running without a party affiliation would remain closed.
Most of the 58 percent of likely voters in favor of the measure only gave soft support, though 28 percent said they were firmly in favor of such an amendment.
The definitely and probably no camps each accounted for 13 percent, while 16 percent of those polled said they were unsure.
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.
It was the only measure in the survey that came in underwater.
“We toyed with wording it in the affirmative (“allows government to use public money in aid…”) however, we chose to take a more conservative approach and stick to the actual language as proposed and in review of the CRC staff analysis,” Clearview said.
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.
Just 8 percent said they were unsure.
Clearview said, as worded, Prop 4 stands “virtually no chance of attaining the 60 percent threshold.”
The Clearview Research poll contacted 750 likely Florida between March 1 and March 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.58 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
As in the firm’s survey of the Rick Scott v. Bill Nelson U.S. Senate race, the poll estimates 41 percent of voters in November will be registered Republicans and 39 percent will be Democrats.
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 LisaHall, 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 JorgeLabarga.
The Miami Herald reported he filed the proposal “moments after Gov. (Rick) Scott 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.”
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.
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. Scottjoins 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.
— @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.
— @EJWenstrom: Elon 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.
— DAYS UNTIL —
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.
***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“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 FloridaBulldog.com 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.
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.
“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 Paulson, Eileen Roy, Rob Hyatt, and Gainesville City Commissioners Helen Warren, Adrian Hayes-Santos and David Arreola. Enneking also picked up support from former Gainesville Commissioners Susan Bottcher, Thomas 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.
“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.
— CORRECTION —
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. GregEvers 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.
— CAPITOL INSIGHT —
“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.
— EPILOGUE —
“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.
“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.
— STATEWIDE —
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 Daines, Joni 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 Gibson, Travis 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 Fischer, Clay 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.
“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.
— OPINIONS —
“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.
— MOVEMENTS —
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.
“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 Plakon, Bob Asztalos of the FHCA, Jennifer Wilson of Adams & Reese, and Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.
Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
A budget is the one bill the Legislature is constitutionally required to pass each year, but 12 lawmakers did not record a floor vote on the 2018-19 state spending plan.
Bear in mind, however, legislators hadn’t planned on being in Tallahassee this past weekend. They had to extend the 2018 Regular Session from Friday to Sunday after they weren’t able to agree on a budget in time for the scheduled “sine die.”
Sen. KevinRader, a Delray Beach Democrat, was excused Sunday because of “urgent business matters I must attend to,” he wrote in a letter to Senate President JoeNegron.
“I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” Rader wrote. The only other nonvoting member in the Senate was TomLee, a Thonotosassa Republican and former Senate President (2004-06).
Those who did not record a floor vote on the “General Appropriations Act” in the House are: Danny Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican; Kimberly Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat; Katie Edwards-Walpole, a Plantation Democrat; Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican; Bill Hager, a Delray Beach Republican; Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat; Amy Mercado, an Orlando Democrat; Cary Pigman, an Avon Park Republican; Barry Russell, a Lauderdale Lakes Democrat; and David Santiago, a Deltona Republican.
All House absences were excused. Burgess’ was for military training and voted ‘yes’ after roll call, as did Edwards-Walpole, Gruters and Santiago. Mercado voted ‘no’ after roll call.
House Democratic Leader-designate KionneMcGhee switched his vote from ‘yes’ to ‘no,’ explaining he “pressed (the) incorrect button.”
“The budget insufficiently funds education, law enforcement, and other silos needed for protecting and moving Florida forward,” he said in an explanatory note.
One senator also later changed his vote on the budget from a ‘yes’ to ‘no’: Lighthouse Point Democrat Gary Farmer.
“In places where a lot of choice has been introduced — Florida for example — the studies show that when there is a large number of students who opt to go to another school the traditional public schools the results get better as well.” — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explains in a 60 Minutes interview her stance on expanding funding for school choice. An effort that House Speaker Richard Corcoran pushed through this session.
Bill Day’s Latest
Wake Up Early?
The Florida Elections Commission is scheduled to meet. That’s at 8:30 a.m., August Turnbull Conference Center, Tallahassee.
Sens. Lauren Book and Darryl Rouson will join Constitution Revision Commissioner Tim Cerio and others to announce a major endorsement of Marsy’s Law for Florida, a push to amend the state constitution to provide equal rights for crime victims. That’s at 9 a.m., Grand Ballroom Salon 2, St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N., St. Petersburg.
The Agency for Health Care Administration is scheduled to meet. That’s at 10 a.m., Agency for Health Care Administration, Building 3, Conference Room D, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.
The CRC Rules and Administration Committee will meet. That’s at noon, University of South Florida — St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 200 6th Ave S, St. Petersburg.
The CRC will hold a six-hour long public hearing on 36 pending proposals. That’s at 1 p.m., University of South Florida — St. Petersburg, University Student Center, 6th Ave S, St. Petersburg.
Gov. Scott will hold a bill signing ceremony for HB 29 and HB 75, which are expected to help Florida military, veterans and their families get a job and a quality education. That’s at 3 p.m., Jacksonville National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd, Jacksonville.
A new poll of the 2018 U.S. Senate race shows Gov. Rick Scott with a two-point lead over Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
The Clearview Research poll contacted 750 likely voters by phone between March 1 and March 7 and found Scott with a 43-41 advantage with 15 percent undecided.
Where the poll differs with other recent head-to-heads is the turnout model, which estimates Republicans will make up 41 percent of the electorate, while Democrats take a 39 percent share and no-party and third-party voters make up the rest.
“A few recent polls released to the media have shown samples that seem to anticipate more Democrats voting than Republicans,” said Steve Vancore of Clearview Research. “While that could possibly be the case, we see little evidence for it at this time.”
The poll shows Scott with a 50-36 lead among white voters and a 48-41 lead among Cuban Hispanic voters, while Nelson holds a dominating 72-12 lead among black voters and leads 40-32 among non-Cuban Hispanic voters.
Scott also holds the edge among voters aged 35 and older, while Nelson wins the 18-34 age bracket by 7 percentage points. The poll estimates the under-35 age group will make up about 13 percent of the electorate in November.
Scott’s edge falls well within the margin of error for poll, which is set at plus or minus 3.58 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
Still, the poll is one of a very few to show Scott with a lead over Nelson, who is running for his fourth term in the Senate.
Other polls have either shown the two in a dead heat, or shown Nelson with a slim lead.
Clearview says the two-point advantage for Republicans is consistent with the past few election cycles.
In 2016, Republicans outpaced Democrats at the polls by 0.6 points, a first in modern history for a presidential race, and in 2014 there was a four-point turnout margin on election day.
The 2014 election, also a midterm, is the most comparable to the 2018 election.
“Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, in a February poll release.
Despite claims of a “blue wave” in 2018, and some evidence of its existence in special elections since 2016, Clearview also points to new voter registrations in the Sunshine State, which show more Republicans signing up to vote than Democrats.
The polls only matter if Scott files for the seat, which he’s remained coy about.
Scott said after the 2018 Legislative Session wrapped Sunday that it’ll be another few weeks before he announces his “future plans,” though most have had him penciled in for the contest for more than a year.
Count Nelson in that group. The incumbent lawmaker has been sending out campaign fundraising emails for months foretelling Scott’s candidacy, and in the post-Parkland CNN town hall, he dogged Scott’s non-appearance at every opportunity.