Peter Schorsch, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 of 307

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including, Florida Politics, 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.

Jeremy Ring announces ‘hat trick’ of congressional endorsements for CFO bid

Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring scored a “hat trick” of endorsements for his CFO campaign from Florida’s congressional delegation Thursday, and now has the support of seven of the 11 Florida Democrats in the U.S. House.

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson announced they were supporting the former state senator for CFO, joining Reps. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson and Darren Soto, who endorsed him earlier this month.

“Now more than ever Florida needs fighters,” Wilson said. “I had the opportunity to serve with Jeremy in Tallahassee and saw first-hand how he fought to protect the Florida Retirement System from the Republicans who wanted to tear it apart. This is why I’m excited to endorse him in his race to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer.”

Frankel added that “although the CFO isn’t someone you see in the headlines a lot, their actions arguably touch more Floridians than any other statewide office — from regulating insurance rates and serving as a vital check-and-balance to the Governor and Legislature. Jeremy Ring will ask tough questions, stand up to insurance companies and stand up for consumers. I enthusiastically support him.”

Ring, the only Democrat in the race, said he was “humbled to have earned the support” of the three congresswomen.

“I’ve been fortunate to know or work alongside all of them for many years. They are three of the most dedicated members of the U.S. House of Representatives and I am thankful to have them in our corner fighting on behalf of the people of Florida in Washington and excited to have them join our campaign,” he said.

Also in the race are sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, whom Gov. Rick Scott has said is his hand-picked choice, as well as fellow Republican Antoanet Iotova, who lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in the race for Senate District 34 last November and is surely outmatched in the GOP primary for CFO.

Patronis is likely to also face Brandon Sen. Tom Lee in the Republican Primary, though Lee has not given a timetable for when he would enter the race.

Jay Fant announces major staff upgrades for his Attorney General campaign

Attorney General candidate Jay Fant announced Thursday he is doing a full-on rebuild of his campaign to replace Pam Bondi in 2018.

“The Attorney General in Florida is a critical shield between government overreach and the rights of individuals guaranteed under the Constitution. I am prepared to fight for those rights every day as our state’s top lawyer,” Fant said in a press release. “I have already invested $750,000 of my own money in this campaign and I am fully committed to doing what it takes to win. That’s why we have put together a winning team.”

Fant faces former circuit court judge Ashley Moody and fellow Republican Reps. Frank White and Ross Spano in the GOP primary for AG, and has seen his campaign lag in recent months as his rivals, particularly Moody and White, have picked up steam.

The Jacksonville Republican’s revamp effort includes bringing in Randy Enwright and Jim Rimes of Enwright Consulting Group to lead his political team and turning to The Tarrance Group for polling. Former Rick Scott communications chief Melissa Stone is also coming on board via Cavalry Strategies.

Fant is also going all in on advertising with the Strategy Group, which helped President Donald Trump last election cycle and have worked on 11 other Attorney General campaigns nationwide.

Josh Cooper’s Strategic Information Consultants will be handling opposition research, while Strategic Digital Services, founded by Matthew Farrar and Joe Clements, will handle the digital media operations.

Moody and Fant were the only two GOP candidates in the mix for a few months before White threw his name into the hat last month. Earlier this month, Spano made it a four-way primary.

Bolstered by $1.5 million of his own money, White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account to begin November, putting him ahead of Moody, who through the same date had about $920,000 in her campaign account and another $207,000 in her committee, Friends of Ashley Moody.

Fant had about $910,000 on hand to start November, including $750,000 in loans, while Spano joined the race with about $44,000 on hand from his House re-election campaign.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.30.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

The Constitution Revision Commission has begun acting in earnest on possible changes to the state’s governing document, with proposals ranging from political candidates’ residency to immigration and the environment.

Commissioners met in committee in Tallahassee this week, which even brought some drama.

Tom Lee’s idea to add financial oversight responsibilities to the state CFO was shot down on a tie vote. Lee, however, promised to resurrect his proposal by bringing it to the full Commission.

Constitution Revision Commissioners shot down Tom Lee’s suggestion to add financial oversight responsibilities to the state CFO job.

Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican state Senator, returns today with another of his proposals, to end greyhound racing in the state by phasing it out over three years. That amendment will be heard by the General Provisions Committee.

There’s some potential drama there too. We’re waiting to see whether Attorney General Pam Bondi, an animal lover, voices her support for the plan.

As of now, it’s sponsored by appointees of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and Gov. Rick Scott. (Bondi sits on the panel by dint of her being the current A.G.)

Will she? Won’t she? Stay tuned …

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Prominent Republicans say Scott killed CFO proposal to help political ally” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Political pressure from Gov. Rick Scott helped kill a proposal to expand the state chief financial officer’s oversight role in the billion-dollar state contracting game, say the plan’s sponsor and a former state Senate president. The governor’s office categorically denies the allegations. Text messages from staff and commission members, though, at the very least underscore a host of oddities leading up to the showdown over the proposal. “Politics was heavy in the air,” said former Senate President Don Gaetz, referring to Tuesday’s meeting of the Constitution Revision Commission’s Executive Committee.

Brecht Heuchan says ethics complaint is part of ‘smear campaign’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A member of the Constitution Revision Commission says he’s become the victim of a “smear campaign” after proposing a constitutional amendment creating a “bill of rights” for nursing home and assisted living facility residents. On Wednesday, Conwell Hooper, head of an Atlanta-based group called the American Senior Alliance, issued a press release that he had filed a state ethics complaint against Commissioner Brecht Heuchan for filing a “special interest proposal designed to boost the bottom line of one law firm” … Hooper explained that Heuchan “is a paid, registered lobbyist for Wilkes & McHugh, a law firm that specializes in personal injury cases against nursing homes” … Heuchan suggested American Senior Alliance is what’s known as an Astroturf group working with the Florida Health Care Association, a nursing-home advocacy group that has slammed his proposal.

Constitutional change on candidate residency OK’d by panel” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Candidates for legislative office would have to live in their districts when they qualify to run under a constitutional change cleared Wednesday. The Constitution Revision Commission’s Legislative Committee OK’d the proposal, filed by Commissioner and former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, unanimously and without debate. Diaz also chairs the committee. The constitution now says a legislator has to be “an elector and resident of the district from which elected and shall have resided in the state for a period of two years prior to election.” Courts have interpreted that to mean living in a district at the time of election. Diaz’s proposal says “each candidate for the legislature shall, at the time he or she qualifies, be a resident of the district from which the candidate seeks election.”

A Constitution Revision Commission proposal by José Felix Diaz was approved unanimously … by the committee chaired by Felix Diaz.

Constitution revision panel looks to close write-in loophole” via the News Service of Florida — The measure (Proposal 11), sponsored by CRC Commissioner Sherry Plymale of Palm City, was approved by the commission’s Ethics and Elections Committee. It would open primaries to all voters when the candidates are from the same party and there is no general-election opposition or only write-in candidates. Under current law, the presence of a write-in candidate, whose name does not appear on the ballot, restricts the primary to voters of one party. Elections supervisors told commission members this year that the use of the “write-in loophole” occurs in about 10 of the 67 counties every election cycle. They also testified that when the write-in candidate provision is used to close primaries, it draws the ire of local voters. The measure next moves to the commission’s General Provisions Committee.


Jack Latvala accuser outs herself, sets up potential conflict of interest in Senate probe” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Rachel Perrin Rogers, an aide to future Senate President Wilton Simpson, has publicly identified herself as one of the women accusing Latvala of sexual harassment. In doing so, a potential conflict of interest is raised in the Senate investigation into the claims because Perrin Rogers is married to Brian Hughes, a consultant to Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto. The Fort Myers Republican is tasked with overseeing the complaint Perrin Rogers filed on Nov. 8 and will determine if the facts prove there was probable cause in the complaint. Latvala, who is running for governor and knew Rodgers was behind the complaint, falsely said she was married to one of his political opponents when her name was still anonymous.

— “Senate staffer who accused Latvala of sexual harassment, groping goes public via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

— “Florida Senate staffer complaint alleges Latvala groped her six times” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

An anonymous Jack Latvala accuser is no longer anonymous.

Text messages shed light on working relationship between Jack Latvala, accuser” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — In a series of text message exchanges with Latvala, the Florida Senate employee who sparked a Senate sexual harassment investigation against the Pinellas lawmaker, called Senate President Joe Negron a “douchebag.” The text messages shed light on the working relationship between Perrin Rogers and the senator she is accusing of sexually harassing and groping her last Session. Her attorney, Tiffany Cruz, said the release of these text messages are part of a “distract from the real issue.”

Meanwhile  Paul Renner: ‘5 or 10 percent’ of Tallahassee pols have ‘personal conduct’ issues” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Renner addressed comments made by House colleague Jay Fant — who Renner endorsed for Attorney General — on Twitter. Fant depicted a Tallahassee culture in which sexual harassment is pervasive, enabled by a culture of entitlement among politicians in The Process. “What we have in the Florida leg are a lot of tired politicians who’ve been elected for decades and think they own everyone in Florida including the women they harass. These politicians disgust me. I’m horrified for the young women who have to work with them each day,” Fant asserted. With Renner tracking toward being House Speaker, Florida Politics asked if he agreed with Fant’s blanket condemnation of the Legislature. “ … human beings being who they are, in any organization you’re going to have five to 10 percent who can’t help themselves in their personal conduct. We need to identify that and ask them to return home because they’ve lost the trust of the people who elected them,” Renner said.


Warning labels for prescription opioids proposed under bill” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — All opioid prescription containers sold at pharmacies would need red warning labels stating the addictive nature of the drug under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Joseph Geller. The bill has been referred to three committees, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. Geller said Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, is expected to file a companion bill in the Senate. Geller’s bill is one effort proposed by state lawmakers this year to address the deadly opioid epidemic taking over the state.

Sarasota senator files bill to eliminate daylight saving time in Florida” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Floridians would not have to adjust their clocks by an hour in the spring and fall if legislation filed by Steube to abolish daylight saving time in the state becomes law. Steube … filed a bill this month that exempts Florida from the practice of setting clocks an hour forward in the spring and an hour back in the fall. Florida would join Arizona and Hawaii as the only states that don’t observe daylight saving time. Steube said he “heard from a number of people in my district that it has a negative impact, especially on school-age children … Thought it would be a worthy discussion to have,” he added.

Warning labels for prescription opioids proposed under bill” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — All opioid prescription containers sold at pharmacies would need red warning labels stating the addictive nature of the drug under a bill sponsored by state Rep. Joseph Geller. The bill has been referred to three committees, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. Geller said Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, is expected to file a companion bill in the Senate. Geller’s bill is one effort proposed by state lawmakers this year to address the deadly opioid epidemic taking over the state.

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National Republicans say ‘hands off our paychecks, Bill Nelson’” via the NRSC — With Nelson signaling that he will join Chuck Schumer and Senate liberals in opposing tax cuts for the middle class, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is launching a new digital ad campaign on Facebook and YouTube bumper ads to urge Florida voters to tell Nelson to keep his hands off their paychecks. The ads are part of a national campaign targeting 2018 Democrats in 12 states. “Floridians deserve a senator who will fight for them, not liberal party bosses in Washington,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin. “Tax relief will put more money in Floridians’ pockets, and Bill Nelson needs to decide whether he’ll fight for middle-class families or continue to follow Chuck Schumer’s liberal agenda.”

Click on the image to watch the ad:

Super PAC launches campaign to focus on ‘Rick’s recession’ and Florida’s growing prosperity gap” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – is the work of For Florida’s Future, an organization that calls itself a “working families advocacy group.” Data comes from the Florida Chamber Foundation, the FIU Metropolitan Center, and uses media reports over the last year – such as how 36 of the state’s 67 counties have still not returned to pre-recession employment levels and how 45 percent of all Floridians are considered “working poor.” Blake Williams, For Florida’s Future communications director, said the group is highlighting the issues in a “significant” social media ad buy on Facebook and Twitter. “Not a single thing Scott has focused on — slashing funding for public schools, refusing to expand Medicaid for millions of low-income Floridians or giving taxpayer funding to corporations who donate to his campaigns — has helped everyday Floridians,″ he said in a news release. claims under Rick Scott over half the counties in Florida are worse off today than before the Great Recession.

Gwen Graham backs push for Haitian residency” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Gwen Graham endorsed federal legislation on Wednesday that would grant permanent residency to Haitians and Central Americans who are living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status. Graham’s endorsement of the legislation, which is sponsored by Miami Republican U.S. Rep Carlos Curbelo, is her way of following through on what she described as her “fierce criticism” of the Trump administration’s decision last week to end TPS for the Haitians who sought refuge to the U.S. following the 2010 earthquake. Graham, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former congresswoman, didn’t shy away from attacking current Gov. Scott for being silent on the issue in the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement last week. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Corcoran, who is highly anticipated to announce his candidacy after the 2018 Session, also were criticized by Graham.

Assignment editors — Ag. Commissioner Putnam will host a barbecue dinner for supporters beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Diamond D Ranch, 5903 Soloman Road in Jacksonville.

Matt Caldwell announces another block of endorsements in his bid for Ag Commissioner — The sixth wave of endorsements include Reps. Tom Leek (Daytona Beach), David Santiago (Deltona), Jason Brodeur (Sanford), Scott Plakon (Longwood), Bob Cortes (Altamonte Springs), Mike La Rosa (St. Cloud) and Rene Plasencia (Orlando). “Matt’s in-depth grasp of the past and current state of Florida’s economy, along with his conservative principles make him the ideal candidate to guide our Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” Brodeur said. La Rosa added: “I am proud to endorse Matt Caldwell. Matt’s expertise in water and agriculture policies uniquely qualifies him as the best candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Matt Caldwell rolls out another wave of endorsements in his bid for Agriculture Commissioner.

First in Sunburn —Fant announces major upgrades for his AG campaign” via Florida Politics — Jacksonville Republican Rep. Fant is doing a full-on rebuild of his campaign to replace Bondi in 2018 to retake some of the momentum built up by Ashley Moody and Frank White in the primary race. Fant is bringing in the big guns, with the new hires including Enwright Consulting Group to lead the political team, former Scott communications chief Melissa Stone, advertising firm Strategy Group, oppo research firm Strategic Information Consultants and media group Strategic Digital Services. “I have already invested $750,000 of my own money in this campaign and I am fully committed to doing what it takes to win. That’s why we have put together a winning team,” Fant said.

First in Sunburn —CFO candidate Jeremy Ring announces ‘hat-trick’ of congressional endorsements” via Florida Politics — Former Democratic state Sen. Ring announced endorsements for his CFO campaign from U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson Thursday. Wilson touted Ring’s record fighting to “protect the Florida Retirement System from the Republicans who wanted to tear it apart,” while Frankel added the former Yahoo! exec would “ask tough questions, stand up to insurance companies and stand up for consumers.” Ring is the only Democrat in the race and is likely to face sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis or Brandon Sen. Tom Lee in the general election next year.

Pulling out of politics: How members retire from the Hill” via Roll Call — It’s getting to be that time of year when family moments over holiday recesses inspire lawmakers to think twice about making the weekly slog back to Capitol Hill. Sixteen current House members have already announced they’re not running for anything next year — short of the 22 members, on average, who have retired each cycle since 1976 without seeking another office. “I would be shocked if, after holidays, you didn’t see anyone else say, ‘Hey, I’m done’ — in both chambers,” a Republican strategist said before Thanksgiving. What’s mocked as a euphemism for involuntary departures in other corridors of power is generally genuine on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers often travel hundreds of miles from home every week. Leadership can try to head off some of these retirement announcements by reaching out to term-limited committee chairmen or others who need a reason to stick around another term. Seven GOP lawmakers are in their third and final terms as committee chairmen, and three of them have already announced their retirements.

Happening tonight:

Clark Anderson following his mother’s footsteps, seeking HD 30 seat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Anderson, a 64-year-old Democrat from Winter Park, has political involvement in his blood … His mother, the late Joan G. Anderson, was a fixture for decades in Illinois politics, holding various offices in and around Chicago and the capital Springfield. She once helped rewrite the state’s constitution as a delegate to the state’s constitutional convention, writing and advocating numerous environmental regulations, and once even running [unsuccessfully] for Illinois lieutenant governor … “I have reached a point in my career where I have the time and the resources to devote to something like this. You know, my whole life has been spent building my career,” the cybersecurity contractor said. “Looking at the current political climate, I feel I have a lot to offer.” … Anderson offered no criticisms of incumbent Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, but said he believes it’s time for a more progressive direction for the state.

Erik Fresen zeroed out his campaign account before beginning jail time.

Erik Fresen zeroed out campaign fund with $93K to charity” via Florida Politics — Fresen‘s campaign account for his 2020 bid for Senate District 37 was zeroed out with more than $125,000 in expenditures, most of which headed to charities. Among the expenditures listed on Fresen’s final campaign finance report were $20,000 to Coral Gables-based Generation N Media, $5,525 to accounting firm Riesco and Company, $3,000 for Discover credit card bills related to meals and travel, about $2,850 in payments to Extra Space Storage in Miami as well as about $330 for a few months of phone service from AT&T. The rest of the money in his campaign account headed to various charities, about $93,000, with Liga Contra El Cancer receiving the largest donation at $20,000. A $15,000 donation followed to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, $12,000 to Corpus Christi Catholic Church, $10,000 a piece to Amigos for Kids and American Dominican Alumnae, and $5,000 a piece to the United States Military Foundation, Jorge Mas Freedom Foundation, St. John Bosco Parrish, Lotus House and Agape Network. The Children’s Miracle Network received $500; Delou Africa got the final $857.53 in the account Nov. 17, two days after Fresen reported to jail.


In interview, Marco Rubio opines about Donald Trump, taxes, Steve Bannon and DACA” via Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, Daniel Lippman and Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — On his priority for the end of 2017: “The child tax credit is a priority. … It needs to be fully refundable, against every penny of payroll tax.” On his relationship with the Trump White House: “The relationship is a good working relationship. I’ve never had a negative personal relationship with Donald Trump, even at the height of the difficulties of a campaign.” On DACA: “Any permanent change … will have to be paired with some permanent change on the security front in immigration, in order for it to pass. That’s real.” On harassment charges in Congress: “We’ve seen it leave virtually no part of our society immune. … It is an important reckoning we’re coming to grips … We shouldn’t excuse it when they violate it, but we shouldn’t take it for granted; I think that’s important.” And on what the next step is: “People need to stop being creeps. … Maybe part of it is generational; I don’t know where it comes from, to be honest with you. I think everyone around here should be more conscious of it. … People need to regulate yourself. Whatever happened to that?”


Barbara Pariente to stay on Scott judicial appointments case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The “hot mic” has gone cold. In a one-sentence order, the Florida Supreme Court denied Gov. Scotts request to disqualify Justice Pariente from a pending case over his judicial appointment power. “The respondent’s motion to disqualify Justice Pariente is hereby denied,” it said, without elaboration. Scott’s request stemmed from a conversation between Pariente and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga that was caught on a ‘hot mic’ immediately after a Nov. 1 oral argument in the case. The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida are challenging Scott’s authority to appoint three new Supreme Court justices on the last day of his term in 2019. They say he can’t name successors to the court’s liberal-leaning triumvirate of Justices Pariente, Peggy A. Quince and R. Fred Lewis — only the governor elected after Scott can.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente.

Scott: U.S. embassy belongs in Jerusalem” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — “As we prepare for this important trade mission, it is clear that our entire nation must also continue to strengthen this partnership with Israel. I strongly believe that the U.S. Embassy belongs in Jerusalem and I am hopeful that a decision will be made to finally move the embassy to its rightful destination in Israel’s capital city,” Scott said in a press release with a Jacksonville dateline, even as he gave no hints of this position while talking to media in the city. Scott’s press release outlined some aspects of the trade mission, including a celebration of direct flights on the Israeli El-Al airline from Miami to Tel Aviv, and economic development meetings designed to bolster $286 million in annual trade between Israel and Florida.

Scott’s office: Governor is aware of Groveland Four case, reviewing all options” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Hours after Gov. Scott declined to talk specifically about the posthumous pardons requested for the Groveland Four — victims of racial injustice in the 1940s that led to two killed and two going to prison — the governor’s office said he is aware of the case and reviewing options. “Governor Scott is aware of the Groveland Four case and is strongly against any form of racial injustice or discrimination,” McKinley Lewis, Scott’s deputy communications director said in a written statement. “Currently, the families of Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee have applications pending with the Commission on Offender Review which conducts clemency investigations per standard procedure and the Florida Constitution,” Lewis continued. “After the commission concludes clemency investigation, their findings are presented to the four-member Board of Executive Clemency. We will continue to review all of our options.“

Getting ‘schooled’: Gov. Rick Scott was at Englewood Elementary in Jacksonville to tout what he calls “record K-12 education investments” in his proposed budget for 2018-19 — his last as Florida’s Governor.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will visit Miami to highlight his proposed K-12 education investment in the upcoming state budget. News conference begins 3:30 p.m. at Coconut Grove Elementary School, 3351 Matilda St. in Miami.

Assisted living facilities face $280 million tab for generators” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott’s mandate that all assisted living facilities have generators and 96 hours of backup fuel will cost the industry about $280 million, according to estimates published by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Because the majority of residents in assisted living facilities are “self-pay” and don’t rely on Medicaid, the providers won’t be able to recoup Medicaid funding to help offset the generator costs, said Susan Anderson, vice president of public policy for Florida Argentum, a statewide association that represents assisted living facilities. According to the department’s estimates, there are 3,111 assisted living facilities licensed across the state, and more than half of them have fewer than seven beds. To abide by the mandate that they have a generator and enough fuel to keep the temperature at 81 degrees for four days, those small facilities will have to spend an average of $28,000. In the aggregate, the total cost for those providers is estimated at slightly more than $44.7 million. The state has another 775 assisted living facilities with between seven and 49 beds, and compliance costs for those providers total an estimated $53.2 million. There are another 428 assisted living facilities with 50 to 100 beds, and they will pay about $45.6 million to comply with the requirements.

2017 hurricane season ends — but issues will linger” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Politicians are still scrambling to determine how much of the next state budget will be dedicated to covering losses that may or may not be paid by the federal government. Lawmakers are also looking at regulatory changes for nursing homes and debris-removal companies, as well as changes dealing with issues such as evacuation lanes, shelters and a potential state fuel reserve. Gov. Scott, who was a constantly visible face before and after Irma struck, said he’d like to boost the availability of propane for generators before the 2018 storm season. VISIT FLORIDA spent $5 million to tell potential tourists that the state quickly reopened after Hurricane Irma, even as scars from the September storm remain etched across agricultural fields and the Florida Keys. Members of the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness will meet and discuss potential storm-related recommendations for the 2018 Legislative Session …  Among the possibilities are legislation about housing, agriculture tax relief, hardening for emergency-operations centers and management of shelters.

Gov., Speaker promise “action” if Tampa port audit doesn’t examine controversial spending via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — An audit underway at Port Tampa Bay won’t include any investigation of the spending authorized by port CEO Paul Anderson over the past two years. This puts the port in direct conflict with the expectations of two of the state’s most powerful officials … Scott and Corcoran. “This board is accountable to the taxpayers of Florida, and Governor Scott expects a comprehensive audit that provides a full scope of spending to be completed,” said McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott. A spokesman for the Florida House of Representatives indicated that Speaker Corcoran “concurred” with Governor Scott’s expectations for the audit, and indicated Corcoran would have more to say on the matter shortly.

Tallahassee Democrat sues city over deleted texts; city ‘committed to doing better’ via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Tallahassee Democrat filed a lawsuit Wednesday to compel the city to admit it violated state public records law and guarantee the future preservation of all text messages on city employee cellphones. The suit came about after the city failed to produce texts from the cellphone of City Manager Rick Fernandez requesting expensive tickets from a local lobbyist for a Florida State University football game last fall. … “The whole sequence of events highlighted the fact there was no formal city policy and procedure for retrieving and preserving text messages,” said John Bussian, a First Amendment lawyer hired by the Democrat. … Despite its long record of compliance with the state’s public record law, City Attorney Lew Shelley admitted that in this case the city and Fernandez violated the law. … Shelley said he and the Democrat’s lawyers would begin working immediately to resolve the issues “and not spend money defending lawsuits if at all possible.”


Save money, boost public safety with sentencing reform” via Orlando Sentinel editorial board — When Florida legislators gather in Tallahassee in January for their 2018 session, their primary responsibility — assembling and passing a balanced budget — could be more challenging than usual … legislators will be on the lookout for more efficient ways to deliver better services to Floridians. As the state’s population grew by almost 200 percent between 1970 and 2014, its prison population expanded by more than 1,000 percent … Sentence lengths in Florida increased by 166 percent between 1990 and 2009 … Fortunately, there are reform-minded legislators in both parties who are pushing legislation. One bill would allow judges to depart from mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, provided the offenses weren’t violent, weren’t connected to organized crime, and didn’t result in death or serious injury. The measure is sponsored in the House by St. Petersburg Democrat Ben Diamond and in the Senate by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes. As Brandes said, “We have to stop treating addicts like kingpins.”


George Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: The College Board

Kenneth Bell, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Associated Industries of Florida

Daphnie Bercher: GrayRobinson: Village of Estero

Jose Bermudez, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Delegation, Southeast U.S./Japan Association

Richard Coates, Tidewater Consulting: Pioneer Technology Group

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith: GREY2K USA Worldwide

Candice EricksLauren Jackson, TSE Consulting:

Ron Greenstein: EduTone

Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Waste Management

Dean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Express Food Mart

Danny JordanScott Ross, One Eighty Consulting: DCI Group AZ, L.L.C. on behalf of Dell Technologies

Will McKinleyAngela Dempsey, Fred Dickinson, Erik Kirk, Sophie Smith, PooleMcKinley: PCC Technology

Jacob Oster: Amazon Corporate

Seema Siddiqui: MedAvail Technologies

— ALOE —

’It’s a miracle!’ Bird escapes Indialantic home, is found a week later by Randy Fine” via Jessica Saggio of FLORIDA TODAY — “Birdie,” a Sun Conure and the beloved pet of Linda and Ed Plummer, escaped her home in Indialantic through a doggy door on Thanksgiving, prompting a panic-stricken search for the colorful fowl. When Birdie first escaped, Linda said she heard screeching in the backyard. Worried, she searched feverishly for the bird, eventually finding her perched about 30 feet up in a neighbor’s tree …  Linda ran back inside to grab a handful of sunflower seeds to coax Birdie down, but when she returned the colorful bird was gone. Across town, a very different story was about to unfold. It was the day after Thanksgiving when Wendy Fine, the wife of State Rep. Fine, was working out of her home office in Melbourne Beach when she, too, heard a screeching sound. Lo and behold, there it was: A beautiful bird had flown onto her porch. The Fine family rallied knowing it had to be someone’s pet. They immediately made a trip to PetSmart to buy a cage and food, and then posted about their discovery on Facebook. Randy’s Facebook post about the bird had circulated, and Linda was told to post about the bird on a popular Facebook group, Brevard Lost Pets. Within hours, friends of friends put two and two together, and thanks to social media, the families were introduced.

Birdie with David Fine, son of state Rep. Randy Fine.

The country’s best beach is also a secret art haven” via Alev Aktar of the New York Post — Clear blue waters and long stretches of sand have always been the appeal of St. Petersburg … But these days, visitors are just as likely to dive into the Tampa Bay town’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Over the last decade, the Sunshine City has evolved into a creative hub, with world-class museums, thriving galleries and bold street art that have the once-neglected downtown booming again. And soon there will be much more to admire: Three ambitious new museums will open in St. Pete over the next two years, cementing its reputation as one of Florida’s cultural hot spots. Thanks to St. Pete’s laid-back yet imaginative spirit, there’s more art to check out … More than 80 — and counting — eye-catching outdoor murals wrap buildings, walls, and a central downtown intersection.

Happy birthday to everybody’s best friend, Eddie Borrego.

New York Post says St. Pete should be on every vacationer’s ‘short list’

St. Petersburg got a rosy mention in the New York Post Tuesday, with Alev Aktar writing that the ‘Burg has the “country’s best beach” and contending its’ burgeoning art and dining scenes make it one of Florida’s “cultural hot spots.”

“Over the last decade, the Sunshine City has evolved into a creative hub, with world-class museums, thriving galleries and bold street art that have the once-neglected downtown booming again,” he wrote. “And soon there will be much more to admire: Three ambitious new museums will open in St. Pete over the next two years, cementing its reputation as one of Florida’s cultural hot spots.”

Aktar gave a weekend plan for readers looking for a short trip to St. Petersburg, suggesting visitors hit up the Chihuly Collection and follow it up with a bite at Itermezzo Coffee & Cocktails.

Also getting the nod were ice pop shop The Hyppo, FarmTable Cucina, Reading Room, Sea Salt, the Dali Museum, the Duncan McClellan Gallery and the historic St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. Topping the hotel recommendations were the Vinoy Renaissance and the Birchwood Inn. I’ll look past the fact he put down Clearwater’s Wyndham Grand on a “best of St. Pete” list.

“Thanks to St. Pete’s laid-back yet imaginative spirit, there’s more art to check out the next day. More than 80 — and counting — eye-catching outdoor murals wrap buildings, walls and a main downtown intersection,” he wrote.

The Sunshine City shoutout comes more than a year in advance of the $70 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement opening its doors, but even so the vacation adviser said “with so much art on tap — as well as year-round sunshine and those irresistible white-sand beaches — it’s worth adding St. Pete to your vacation short list.”

Take a look at the piece and remember just how awesome St. Pete’s renaissance is.

Last Call for 11.29.17 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

‘Vaping’ electronic cigarettes at work would be banned under a proposed constitutional amendment to be discussed Thursday.

The Constitution Revision Commission’s General Provisions Committee will take up a proposal (P65) to prohibit different kinds of tobacco smoking. It’s sponsored by Commissioner Lisa Carlton, a former state senator from Sarasota County who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

There would be four exceptions, however. Using vapor-generating devices would be allowed in:

— Private residences as long as they are not used as a day care, adult care, health care or a combination of those;

— Retail tobacco shops;

— Designated hotel rooms; and

— Stand-alone bars.

American Cancer Society representatives are in support of the change, arguing electronic devices are an “emerging product” and could be harmful to those who use them and those who are exposed to the vapor emitted.

If OK’d by the full Commission, the proposal tells the Legislature to pass legislation to implement it in the next Session, assuming at least 60 percent of voters approve it on the 2018 statewide ballot.

Evening Reads

White House dismisses Marco Rubio plan to beef up child tax credit” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Super PAC launches campaign to focus on ‘Rick’s recession’ and Florida’s growing prosperity gap” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Governor, Mayor Buckhorn celebrate Seminole Heights arrest” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott’s office: Governor is aware of Groveland Four case, reviewing all options” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Constitutional Revision Commission compromised by lobbyists, special interests” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

A Miami congressional candidate shares her #metoo moment” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Senate staffer who accused Latvala goes public” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Sarasota senator files bill to eliminate daylight savings time in Florida” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

2017 hurricane season ends — but issues linger” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

The country’s best beach (St. Pete) is also a secret art haven” via Alev Aktar of the New York Post

Quote of the Day

“Every person should have the opportunity to have a very safe working environment. I think it is disgusting that they don’t.” — Gov. Rick Scott, commenting on reports the state paid more than $11 million to settle over 300 sexual harassment cases in a 30-year period.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The General Provisions Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will, among other things, consider a proposal to ban greyhound racing in the state. That’s at 8 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is scheduled to give an opening address at the annual National Summit on Education Reform, held by the Tallahassee-based Foundation for Excellence in Education. That’s at 8:45 a.m., Omni Nashville Hotel, 250 Fifth Ave. South, Nashville, Tennessee.

The Consumer Services Committee of the Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors will hold a conference call that will include discussion of the response to Hurricane Irma at 10 a.m. The call-in number is (866) 361-7525, and the code is 6487811621#.

The Florida Supreme Court is expected to release its weekly opinions at 11 a.m.

A joint committee of the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine will discuss issues related to medical marijuana at 1 p.m., Rosen Plaza Hotel, 9700 International Dr., Orlando.

The 2017 hurricane season ends Nov. 30.

Floridians back business incentives, split on how state should tackle 2018 budget

A new poll released Tuesday found a majority of Floridians support the use of state money to lure jobs to the Sunshine State and also showed significant shifts in attitudes about the Florida budget, taxation and the quality of government services.

The USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey found 58 percent of Floridians support business incentives while just over a quarter see them as corporate welfare and 13 percent said they had no opinion.

The optics on incentives have seen a significant drop-off from the height of the Great Recession in 2010, when a record 69 percent of Floridians supported the policy, and are a slight decrease from 2015, when 60 percent backed them.

White and Hispanic Floridians were most likely to support the use of incentives, with just better than three-fifths backing them in the survey, while more than two-thirds of Floridians aged 55 to 64 were in favor alongside 63 percent of high-income households.

The survey also keyed into Floridians’ perception of how the state handles its budget, with a full 63 percent having a negative view of state money management. Sussed out into four categories, 4 percent said the state was doing an “excellent” job with taxpayer money, while 29 percent selected “good,” 38 percent chose “fair” and 25 percent said the state was a “poor” financial steward.

Sunshine State residents were split when it came to what they expected from the state on marquee issues, such as tourism funding.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Gov. Rick Scott waged a public battle over funding for the state tourism marketing Visit Florida during the 2017 Legislative Session, and just slightly more respondents, 38-34, side with Scott by agreeing that slashing funds for the public-private partnership would be heading “in the wrong direction.”

When it comes to whether the state should cut services or increase taxes in the belt-tightening 2018 budget, voters were split 47-47, though the share that said it would support “raising taxes to improve critical services and infrastructure” spiked from 19 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in the new poll.

The issue of which tax was the “most unfair” was less murky: Floridians hate the communications services tax with a passion. A full 46 percent said fees tacked onto cell phone and internet bills were the least fair. In 2015, just 32 percent felt the same way.

Property taxes followed in a distant second place with 20 percent, tolls came in third with 13 percent followed by 8 percent who pegged the sales tax as the most unfair.

The survey gathered responses from 1,215 Floridians between July 24 and Aug. 14. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Sunburn for 11.29.17 — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

With 2017 not yet in the books, the 2018 election cycle has already seen the internet densely populated with professionally produced campaign web videos. With so much content out there, these grand exercises in communicating often gain little traction beyond those who have already pledged support for the video’s subject.

If you have been waiting for a video with viral potential to emerge from the Sunshine State’s political ecosystem, the first contender has just popped up on YouTube.

Mary Barzee Flores, running in the crowded Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, has just released her campaign’s first introductory video and it’s easy to see Democrats from Miami and beyond getting “fired up, ready to go” after viewing just sixty seconds of what this candidate has to say.

The video describes that like many many other women, Barzee Flores has encountered harassment and discrimination in a variety of workplaces. In telling this narrative, the spot weaves together the candidate’s impressive professional bio in a way so powerful it had me hooked within the opening seconds.

Viewers are sure to feel the same as they hear Barzee Flores’ incredible story of starting work at the age of 15 where she went on to serve as a public defender, state court judge, and eventually a nominee to the federal judiciary under President Obama.

This second web spot potently conveys the message to viewers that Barzee Flores has spent her career fighting these forces in the workplace as well as in the courtroom, and is now ready to go to Washington and fight back against them in Congress.

This first, of what I can only assume will be many, videos is yet another example of how Barzee Flores’s candidacy for Congress has acutely tapped into the current pulse of the Democratic electorate.

From this creative use of showing her support for #MeToo (while simultaneously reminding the audience of her public tussle with noted Dem boogie man Marco Rubio no less), to her recent declaration calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump, the Barzee Flores campaign has proved itself effective at rallying a Democratic Party base excitedly ready for bold leadership.

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New Andrew Gillum campaign manager has Hillary Clinton past, Bernie Sanders flavor” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Gillum has tapped former Clinton Pennsylvania political director Brendan McPhillips to manage his campaign. Gillum and former campaign manager Phillip Thompson parted ways in early July. Former Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arceneaux and Gillum’s communications director, Geoff Burgan, have been overseeing day-to-day operations for the Gillum campaign since then. McPhillips managed the long shot 2016 Pennsylvania Senate bid of John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock (near Pittsburgh) who endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and got 19.5 percent of the Democratic primary vote. The Gillum campaign’s release announcing the McPhillips hire links to an article describing Fetterman as the “Bernie-inspired candidate” in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Brendan McPhillips joins the Andrew Gillum campaign.

Florida GOP avoids whopper elections fine” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — From a news release: The Florida Elections Commission (FEC) waived a $110,000 late fine imposed on the Republican Party of Florida relating to its filing of a special election campaign finance report for Florida House District 116. Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Blaise Ingoglia issued the following statement: “The Republican Party of Florida takes compliance with election reporting requirements very seriously. We have a track record of compliance, and believe that public disclosure of campaign finance information is extremely important … In this instance, the public was never deprived of any information relating to services provided by the Republican Party of Florida to our candidate in the Special Election for House District 116, since the candidate had publicly reported said information.”

First on #FlaPol — “Voting restoration amendment has 900,000 signatures” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The main backer of a proposed constitutional amendment that would automatically restore some felons’ voting rights after they complete their sentences told Florida Politics his effort now had collected over 900,000 signatures. “Knowing that we set the goal of collecting 1 million, the fact that we are less than 100,000 petitions away from our goal is an amazing attestation to the growing energy, excitement, and support around second chances,” said Desmond Meade, chair of Floridians for Fair Democracy and president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, in a Tuesday email. The Florida Division of Elections website showed as of the end of Tuesday that the citizen ballot initiative, known as “The Voting Restoration Amendment,” has 442,969 verified signatures. Initiatives need 766,200 valid signatures for ballot placement.

State Attorney Ed Brodsky is the latest to endorse Ashley Moody for AG.

State Attorney Ed Brodsky latest to endorse Ashley Moody for AG  Brodsky, the State Attorney from Florida’s 12th Circuit, said: “What Florida needs in our next Attorney General is someone who has experience prosecuting criminals, a deep knowledge of the law, and the conservative values necessary to ensure the safety and future of our state. In other words, Florida needs Ashley Moody. Ashley Moody’s experience prosecuting crime and defending the rule of law is unique in this race.”

Spring special election set to replace Neil Combee in House” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gov. Rick Scott set a primary election for Feb. 20 and a general election for May 1. That would keep the seat open until after the 2018 Legislative Session, which runs Jan. 9 through March 9. Combee left his seat to take a federal appointment as Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. One candidate has filed, 22-year-old University of Florida political science student Josie Tomkow, a Republican, who actually filed for the regularly-scheduled 2018 election but is expected to refile for the special election. Combee is backing Tomkow, even over another potential Republican candidate, Polk County Commissioner John Hall, who expressed interest in running. No Democratic candidates have emerged yet.


Terrie Rizzo keeps early Dem chair race lead with 33 endorsements” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — With a week into her campaign to be the next leader at the Florida Democratic Party, Rizzo has the endorsements of 33 voting members. The Palm Beach County Democratic Chair is one of four women vying for the state’s party chairmanship, a post left vacant on Nov. 20 when Stephen Bittel stepped down in shame. Rizzo holds the early lead in the race with these endorsements, which make up nearly 50 percent of the votes cast by State Executive Committee to elect a new chair on Dec. 9.

Terrie Rizzo (left) takes an early lead in endorsements for FDP chair.


Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will visit Jacksonville to highlight proposed K-12 education funding in his upcoming budget. News conference begins 10:30 a.m. at Englewood Elementary School, 4359 Spring Park Road in Jacksonville. Scott will also visit the Tampa Police Department HQ at 8:15 a.m.

Plaintiffs pooh-pooh Rick Scott’s bias concern in judicial appointments case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — “There is no there there” in Gov. Scott‘s complaint that Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente is biased against him, say the plaintiffs in a case over his judicial appointment power. The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida responded Tuesday to Scott’s motion for disqualification against Pariente. It was filed earlier this month by Daniel Nordby, Scott’s general counsel. “No Supreme Court Justice should be disqualified for unintelligible comments that — even as interpreted by the Governor — had no possible relevance to the case that had just been heard and expressed no antipathy to any party or attorney in the case,” the latest filing says. Pariente and Chief Justice Jorge Labarga had been caught on a hot mic immediately after a Nov. 1 oral argument in the case.’

More fallout from the Jorge Labarga ‘hot mic’ moment.

Rosy outlook pushes Florida consumer sentiment up in Nov.” via Florida Politics — After three months of consecutive declines, consumer sentiment among Floridians rose to 96.7 in November, up 1.9 points from October’s revised figure of 94.8, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey. Consumer sentiment in Florida started 2017 with a record-breaking number and reached its highest level in 15 years during the first half of the year. Despite downturns in the second half of the year, the index is now half a point higher than the current year’s average as 2017 draws to a close. Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago rose 2.2 points, from 86.5 to 88.7. However, opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item like an appliance dropped eight-tenths of a point, from 102.7 to 101.9. Readings varied across demographic groups without a definite pattern.

Florida public school enrollment has jumped by 8,000 post-Maria” via Florida Politics — At a State Board of Education Meeting in Lake County, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the tally of new pupils included 7,212 Puerto Rican children and 710 from the Virgin Islands and elsewhere. Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are U.S. citizens, and Stewart did not expound on how many pupils hailed from outside the U.S. territories. The bulk of the new students settled into the I-4 corridor, among the most popular destinations for Puerto Ricans migrating to the mainland. Orange County saw the largest bump when it comes to raw numbers with 1,793 new students, which accounts for a 0.8 percent bump in total enrollment while neighboring Osceola County saw the biggest spike proportionally with 1,218 students causing a 2.2 percent jump in total enrollment. Polk County enrollment increased by 1.6 percent with 559 new students, while Dade County added 764 for a 0.2 percent increase. Miami-Dade’s growth mirrors the statewide effect, which Stewart pegged at a 0.2 percent increase for the state’s 2.8 million students enrolled K-12 public schools.

About 8,000 new students have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico, says Pam Stewart.

Supreme Court rejects challenge to open-carry ban” via the News Service of Florida — The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up a challenge to a Florida law that bars people from openly carrying firearms in public, ending a case that started nearly six years ago when a man was arrested in St. Lucie County …  the move effectively let stand a Florida Supreme Court ruling in March that said the open-carry ban did not violate the constitutional right to bear arms. The plaintiff in the case, Dale Norman, was arrested in February 2012 as he openly carried a gun in a holster. Norman, who had a concealed-weapons license, was found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor, with a judge imposing a $300 fine and court costs, according to court documents.

DEP secretary rejects judge’s recommendation, denies Everglades oil drilling permit via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Judge Gary Early in October said evidence from a hearing in May showed the risk to the Everglades, and regional water supplies from oil drilling were insignificant. He recommended the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reverse itself and issue a permit to the Kanter family for an exploratory well west of Miramar. But DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein wrote that his department had not issued a permit for oil and gas exploration in the Everglades since 1967. And he noted the Legislature, in adopting the Everglades Forever Act in 1991, designated the drilling site as being within the boundaries of Everglades restoration. “The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is committed to protecting Florida’s one-of-a-kind natural resources, including the environmentally sensitive Everglades, and administering Florida’s environmental laws,” DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said. “After careful review and consideration, DEP executed a final order denying Kanter Real Estate’s application for a drilling permit in the Everglades.”

DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein.

Florida Chamber Foundation summit focuses on poverty, child care and education” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — How deep is poverty in Florida? How broad? How can business create prosperity that reduces generational poverty? The answers, organizers suggested, could have a lot to do with children and making sure that every family, especially the poorest, can find child care and early-education programs that enable their kids to enter school ready to learn and succeed. “Most people think this is a federal issue,” Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson told about 100 people at the foundation’s first “Less Poverty through More Prosperity Summit” at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel. It’s not, he said. “This is a Florida challenge that, if we all banded together, there are some things that we could do to change the trajectory of the lives of, literally, millions of Floridians,” he said. The summit was an outgrowth of the foundation’s once-in-a-decade project to figure out where the state will be — and where Floridians want it to be — in 2030, the year after when today’s kindergartners will graduate from high school. What emerged, Wilson said, was a “Tale of Two Floridas.”

Flags at half-staff for Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced he had ordered flags at half-staff this Saturday to honor the late David Hobbs, Sheriff of Jefferson County in north Florida. Hobbs, who had cancer, died after being hospitalized Monday. He was 58. According to a news obituary in the Tallahassee Democrat, he was elected sheriff in 2004 after serving as a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputy and in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Monticello, the Jefferson County seat, is about 30 miles east of Tallahassee.


Business interests lambaste environmental amendment” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Business interests on Tuesday brought out a panoply of former state officials, judges and others to heap criticism on a proposed state constitutional amendment to expand the right to bring environmental-related lawsuits. But one environmental advocate countered there was no potential for a “parade of horribles” to come out of the amendment. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Florida opposes the proposal, which was not formally considered Tuesday by the Judicial Committee of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The committee did, however, hear “presentations on environmental rights.” The language was filed by Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a CRC appointee of Senate President Joe Negron. Both are from Martin County.

CRC Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.

Tom Lee’s proposal to augment CFO duties dies in committee” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A review panel has killed a proposed constitutional amendment that would have added financial oversight duties to the state’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The proposal, filed by Commissioner Tom Lee, died on a tie vote in the Constitution Revision Commission’s Executive Committee on Tuesday as some panel members raised fiscal and legal questions. A parliamentary attempt by Commissioner Don Gaetz to revive the measure later failed. But Lee said he next plans to take his proposal to the full Commission for consideration.

Mandating E-Verify in state constitution eyed by commissioners” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — A review panel is flirting with the idea of implementing a vexed employment verification system into the state constitution to weed out undocumented immigrants before they enter the workforce. The proposal cleared the Constitution Revision Commission’s General Provisions Committee on Tuesday, following a long stretch of public comment with clashing viewpoints on the federal system, called E-Verify, which critics say is riddled with inaccuracies. Adam Blalock, an attorney with the Florida Farm Bureau, said such a proposal would significantly harm the agriculture business. “We’ve seen in other states, that after implementing it, they saw an exodus of labor in ag,” he said.

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Richard Corcoran demands accounting on Nathan Benderson Park” via Zach Murdoch of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — … as local officials examine the reported economic impact of the park and this year’s World Rowing Championships there. In early October, Corcoran demanded a series of documents and accounting from Sarasota County and the nonprofit board that runs the park, Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates, of the $15 million in state funding provided to help construct the county-owned rowing facility. Corcoran appeared to reference plans for a not-yet-built boathouse in his letter requesting the information last month. “The Legislature has a duty to ensure taxpayer dollars are used in a fiscally responsible manner. That duty extends to the public funding of the Rowing Center Project,” the letter reads. “It appears the project was not completed, but no funds were returned to the State of Florida. In turn, the House seeks an accounting of all public funds expended on the project, including clear documentation of what actually was constructed with those taxpayer dollars.”

Richard Corcoran is seeking more accountability for Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park & Rowing Venue.

House, Senate gear up for Session with budget, hurricane scrutiny” via the News Service of Florida — On Dec. 6, Senate Appropriations Committee will receive a presentation about Scott’s proposal for the fiscal year that will start July 1. Seven appropriations subcommittees — dealing with budget issues such as education, health and human services and criminal justice — will meet Dec. 7 to look at Scott’s recommendations for their spending areas. Scott’s proposal is a starting point for lawmakers, who will negotiate a final budget during the Legislative Session that starts Jan. 9. Lawmakers will hold four days of committee meetings next week, the final round of committee meetings before the Session. The House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness are slated to meet … Senate committees also have been looking at hurricane-related issues, though the Senate has not formed a special committee on the topic.


Joe Henderson: Textbook challenge gives school boards more headaches” via Florida Politics — You may remember last summer when state Rep. Byron Donalds successfully pushed to expand the pool of people who can challenge the content in public school textbooks. Rather than trust professional educators to do their jobs (which we all know are best done by those with political agendas), school boards were required to hire an “unbiased hearing officer” so any resident in their district, whether they have kids in school or not, can formally object to what children are being taught. The officer hears the textbook challenge and then makes a recommendation to the board. The board has the final say. And this accomplishes … what? I mean, besides causing more headaches for school board members, as if they don’t have enough? I can almost picture some lawmakers laughing over drinks at the club at the potential chaos they had unleashed. This might be a good time to note that Donalds’ wife, Erika Donalds, wants a constitutional amendment that would eliminate salaries for school board members throughout the state.

John Romano: Hey, John Morgan, stop dragging my heart around” via the Tampa Bay Times — Clearly, flattery did not work. The folks who supported him in the polls, the crowds that applauded him at multiple Tiger Bay functions, the social media purveyors eager for his latest snark were not enough to persuade Morgan to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. And, God bless him, that’s a perfectly reasonable choice. Running for governor would be a huge disruption in both his personal and professional life and no one can blame him for deciding not to put his family through that hellfire. It was the subsequent messages that were a little harder to reconcile. Morgan has been a big-time fundraiser for Democrats and has clearly looked for their support on pet projects, such as medical marijuana legalization. He’s also spent months flirting with the Democrats while he mulled a potential gubernatorial run. And then he forsakes the entire party in a single tweet? While also continuing his will-he-or-won’t-he teases? Morgan’s burgeoning political career revolves around the idea of calling BS when he sees it, so maybe he can appreciate me saying this latest move seems less “for the people” and more “look at me.’’


Robert BeckTanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: Independent Living Systems

Diana Ferguson, Rutledge Ecenia: Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida

Andrew Ketchel, Capital City Consulting: Memory Garden

Matthew Lettelleir: St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

Corey Staniscia, TSE Consulting:

Jennifer Ungru, Jones Walker: Center for Employment Opportunities

— ALOE —

Nationwide Christmas tree shortage has experts warning: buy early” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — A tree shortage the National Christmas Tree Association says is a result of the recession a decade ago is driving up prices … “Christmas tree sales were off 10 years ago,” said Doug Hundley, spokesman for the association, which represents growers around the country. “We didn’t harvest as many trees, so they didn’t have the space to plant back young ones.” It takes a tree about seven to 10 years to grow, Hundley said, so “there’s no way to deal with that except patience.” The problem is worsened by this year’s healthy economy, which has consumers wanting to spend money and thus increasing demand. Hundley said those who want a tree should be able to find them, but it will take more preparation this year than in the past. He recommended calling your usual vendor to check on the supply and buying your tree in the first or second week of December. Fraser firs, grown in North Carolina and typically what is sold in Florida, can last for a month or more with the proper indoor care.

After a recession almost a decade ago and rising prices, there is now a Christmas tree shortage.

What your Christmas lights will do to your electricity bill” via Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post — Old-style incandescent bulbs cost a lot more to run — and this is especially true for the larger bulbs. A string of 25 incandescent C9 bulbs — the big plump ones often used outdoors — uses 175 watts of electricity, which works out to a whopping $15.12 to run over a season (assuming 12-hour-a-day operation for 45 days). A comparable string of C9 LEDs, by contrast, uses just 2.4 watts and costs 21 cents to run over the same period. The price differential for the smaller mini-bulbs is less extreme but still significant: 100 incandescent minis will cost about $3.53 to run for one season, while LED minis will cost just 41 cents. So, let’s say you want to run 10 strings of 100 mini-lights this year. Running incandescents will set you back about 35 bucks over the course of the season while switching to full LED will cost just a bit over $4. The real savings come if you’re using the big C9 lights, however. Running four strands of 25 incandescent C9s will cost over 60 bucks for the season. If you swap those out for LEDs, your electricity cost shrinks to a little over 80 cents.

Happy birthday to Freddy Balsera.

Last Call for 11.28.17 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

State Sen. Tom Lee says he’s not offended that Attorney General Pam Bondi hasn’t endorsed his proposed ban on greyhound racing.

“I haven’t spoken to her about it,” he told Florida Politics in a hall of the Senate Office Building Tuesday. “I get the sense she is not trying to get out in front on any of these proposals.”

Both are members of the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years to review and propose changes to the state’s governing document. Its committees are meeting this week in Tallahassee.

Lee’s proposal would phase out live racing over three years, starting in 2019-20. It has not yet been heard in committee.

Bondi — a Tampa Republican who regularly brings shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted—has declined to say whether she would support the ban.

“As a member of the commission, I look forward to reviewing the more than one hundred proposals that have been filed,” Bondi said in a statement.

Evening Reads

Florida’s growing reliance on natural gas may put ratepayers at risk” via Gillian Neimark of Southeast Energy News

Florida Chamber Foundation summit focuses on poverty, child care and education” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times

New Andrew Gillum campaign manager has Hillary Clinton past, Bernie Sanders flavor” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Sarasota rowing complex spending is the latest target of Richard Corcoran” via Zac Anderson of Sarasota Herald-Tribune

DEP Secretary rejects judge’s recommendation, denies Everglades oil drilling permit” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

Murky waters: Chartering the wrong boat can have tragic consequences” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“When you see a fellow Senate President going down, you always try to help.” — Constitution Revision Commissioner and former Senate President Don Gaetz (2012-14) on fellow Commissioner and former Senate President Tom Lee (2004-06). Gaetz tried a parliamentary move to save Lee’s proposal to add job responsibilities to the state CFO from being voted down. The amendment — and the motion — failed.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Ethics and Elections Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will take up a series of proposals. That’s at 8 a.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Legislative Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider proposals, including one that would require legislative candidates to live in their districts at the time of qualifying to run. That’s at 8 a.m., 301 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Local Government Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will take up a proposal to make it harder for the Legislature to restrict the power of local governments. That’s at 8:30 a.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Alachua County legislative delegation is scheduled to meet as it prepares for the 2018 session. That’s at 9 a.m., Santa Fe College Northwest Campus, Fine Arts Hall, 3000 N.W. 83rd St., Gainesville.

The Indian River legislative delegation also is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m., County Commission Chambers, Indian River County Administration Building, 1801 27th St., Vero Beach.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is expected to speak during a Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Palmetto Club, 1000 South Beach St., Daytona Beach.

The Declaration of Rights Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will consider a proposal to eliminate a prohibition on state money going to help churches or other religious organizations. That’s at 1 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

The Rules and Administration Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will discuss scheduling issues. That’s at 5:15 p.m., 401 Senate Office Building, the Capitol.

Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat, is slated to host a Minority Transportation Forum about transportation issues in the Tampa Bay area. That’s at 5:30 p.m., Children’s Board-Hillsborough, 1002 East Palm Ave., Tampa.

The Delegation for 11.28.17 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State

As year winds down, Congress on the clock facing big issues

As Congress returns this week from the Thanksgiving recess, a daunting agenda confronts them. The Senate is scheduled to be in session for 15 more days in 2017, while the House is slated for 12.

Several critical issues need some resolution between now and December 15, with yet another debt ceiling rise coming first. Were he still alive, country music singer Jerry Reed could have summed things up just as succinctly as any politician in his song East Bound and Down:

“We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Congress has a “long way to go, and a short time to get there.”

First up is the debt ceiling. D-Day is December 8, the result of a Congress-approved three-month reprieve negotiated between President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California in September.

Some Democrats wish to link extending the debt ceiling to passing the DREAM Act, which is legislation that would legalize younger undocumented immigrants brought into this country by adults. Republicans wish to address the issues separately, preferring to clear the decks for the tax reform bill.

“I have heard rumors we would set aside negotiating an omnibus (multi-issue) and do a (continuing resolution) instead because Republicans are so hellbent on passing tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations that they simply don’t have time to walk and chew gum at the same time,” said Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Some Democrats are reportedly favoring a strategy that would force Republicans to add the DREAM Act to any raise of the debt ceiling or else face a government shutdown.

Wasserman Schultz is correct that the tax bill is dominating the GOP agenda. Republicans believe they must pass this legislation or perhaps lose their majorities on Capitol Hill in next year’s elections.

According to an op-ed written by Republican Dan Webster of Orlando, passing the bill “will unleash thirty years of pent-up prosperity.” Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson says the bill is aimed to benefit the wealthy at the expense of small businesses and individuals.

If Republicans are to get this bill through, the Senate must first pass it, then get together in conference with the House and hopefully — for them — pass the final bill and send to the president. The Senate bill contains a controversial provision to end the requirement for Americans to purchase health, something not included in the House bill.

Other agenda items include the December 31 expiration of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program. Privacy concerns are still unaddressed leaving Okeechobee Republican and Intelligence Committee member Tom Rooney not sure how it will turn out.

“There is genuine concern among those of us that support the program that it might not pass the House,” Rooney told The Hill. “I don’t know what you do in that case.”

Another must-pass is the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. The Senate has not yet taken up a recently passed House bill, which would extend the program for five years.

St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist, speaking for many Democrats, claims the House bill makes flood insurance “unaffordable” for too many Floridians. Instead, he points to a bill in both the House and Senate co-sponsored by himself, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Meanwhile, tick-tock, tick-tock.

Rubio: Franken should ‘consider resigning’

As revelations of harassment or other improper behavior seem to surface every day on Capitol Hill, no one is in a hurry to resign. Florida’s junior senator believes that one of his Democratic colleagues should seriously think about that.

In an interview with CBS Miami’s Jim DeFede, Rubio is urging Minnesota Democrat Al Franken to “consider resigning” over conduct involving behavior toward multiple women. Franken has admitted to many of the details reported by the media.

Marco Rubio says Al Franken should consider resigning from the U.S. Senate.

“The things he’s already admitted to, I find to be outrageous and offensive — and I do think he should consider resigning,” Rubio told DeFede.

The second-term Republican also had some words for the embattled Roy Moore, the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“If he’s elected to the Senate … he will find himself immediately in an ethics situation or some other hearing where perhaps even more will be revealed,” Rubio said. “[Franken] is going to go through the same process. I think the accusations against him, including many of which he’s admitted, are horrifying.”

Franken has repeatedly apologized for his actions but does not intend to resign. Moore faces Alabama voters on December 12.

Nelson seeks to upgrade nation’s 911 system

Florida’s senior Senator sees significant flaws in the system designed to help those in emergency situations. He recently introduced legislation that would modernize the 911 system and prevent breakdowns such as those which occurred during Hurricane Irma.

It specifically calls for expanding an existing federal grant program designed to help state and local governments deploy next generation 911 systems.

Nelson cited Federal Communications Commission statistics which showed 29 of Florida’s emergency 911 centers, along with others around the country, suffered impaired service. In Florida, 14 centers went entirely offline.

“Upgrading the nation’s 911 system is literally a life or death matter that must become more of a national priority,” he said. “No plea for help should go unanswered because a call center doesn’t have the technology to receive a text, video or picture.”

Nelson’s bill is co-sponsored by New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and California Democrat Kamala Harris.

Happening Wednesday: Live Rubio roundtable

Rubio will join POLITICO Playbook’s Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer at approximately 8:45 a.m. for a live discussion sponsored by the Financial Services Roundtable. Interested media can RSVP here. The interview will be at The Liaison Capitol Hill, 415 New Jersey Ave NW in Washington, D.C.

Delegation’s intervention on behalf of Haitian TPS refugees a futile effort

Last week, a bipartisan group of delegation members urged President Trump to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to thousands of Haitian refugees. Most of the Haitians have been in this country since the devastating earthquake rocked the country on January 12, 2010.

Writing to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, they pointed out that Haiti was not yet ready to absorb the return of such a massive influx of people. After thanking Duke for meeting with them recently, they made the case that returning the refugees at this point could be deadly.

Florida delegation tries to intervene on behalf of Haitian refugees, which some call ‘a futile effort.’

“To this day, Haiti struggles to combat an outbreak of cholera introduced by United Nations relief workers following the earthquake that has already killed more than 10,000 people,” they wrote.

Joining Democratic Sen. Nelson and Republican Sen. Rubio were several of their colleagues from the delegation in a letter urging Trump to let the refugees stay longer. Rubio made the case in an op-ed for the Miami Herald.

Also signing on were Democrats Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Alcee Hastings of Miramar, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens. Republicans signing the letter included Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of Miami and Carlos Curbelo of Kendall.

It was all in vain as Duke, speaking on behalf of the Trump administration, announced TPS for the Haitians would end in 18 months. The deadline would allow an “orderly transition,” Duke said.

Nelson expressed outrage over the decision.

“There is no reason to send 60,000 Haitians back to a country that cannot provide for them,” he said in a statement. “This decision today by DHS is unconscionable.”

Frankel called the move “mean-spirited and inhumane.”

Diaz-Balart called on the administration to “reconsider,” while Ros-Lehtinen urged Congress to pass a permanent solution.

“I can personally attest that Haiti is not prepared to take back the nearly 60,000 TPS recipients under (Haiti’s) difficult and harsh conditions.”

Gaetz latest from delegation to join Climate Solutions Caucus

The first-term Republican from Fort Walton Beach confounds his critics and perhaps creates an eye-roll from some of those covering him. Some of his supporters likely have quizzical looks following his most recent actions involving the environment.

In February, Gaetz introduced a bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last week he joined the Climate Solutions Caucus, a group designed to offer policies to combat the problems caused by climate change.

Gaetz believes it is possible to hold both positions rationally. The EPA has “exceeded their original mission substantially” and needs to be reined in, or in this case, shut down.

EPA hater Matt Gaetz is (surprisingly) the newest member of the Climate Solutions Caucus.

After soaking in a recent report involving 13 federal agencies, Gaetz is convinced climate change is occurring and debating the validity of the issue is a waste of time.

“We should be focused on solutions,” he told the Pensacola News-Journal.

The report details a temperature rise of 1.8 degrees over the past 115 years and predicts catastrophic events over the coming years.

“I don’t think there’s a scientific debate left to be had on if it’s happening,” Gaetz said. “I also think history is going to judge very harshly climate change deniers, and I don’t want to be one of them.”

Skeptics are quick to point out votes by Gaetz, which they say goes against the environmental health of the country. They also mention his praise for President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords.

Gaetz joined the caucus, founded by Boca Raton Democrat Deutch and Kendall Republican Curbelo, in tandem with New Jersey Democrat Josh Gottheimer. The membership now exceeds 60 members even split between Republicans and Democrats.

Dunn spends Thanksgiving in Afghanistan

The first-term Republican from the 2nd District was in the Middle East and Central Asia last week meeting and dining with members of the American military. During his time overseas, Dunn met with officers and enlisted personnel.

“Serving Thanksgiving dinner to our deployed troops at several Forward Operating Bases abroad alongside the leader of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, General [JohnNicholson, was an incredibly humbling experience,” Dunn said.

Neal Dunn visits Afghanistan for Thanksgiving.

Dunn met with several officers and enlisted men based in Florida, including those from Tyndall Air Force Base.

“The young men and women on the front lines work hand in glove with Afghan forces and are the best ambassadors any nation could have,” he said. “I am very thankful for all of those who are away from their families this holiday season and fighting for our freedom.”

Murphy announces federal law enforcement grants

The first-term Democrat from Winter Park revealed last week that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had awarded over $6.2 million to law enforcement agencies in central Florida to help keep families safe. The funding is through the DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant.

Recipients include the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the city of Orlando, the city of Sanford, and the city of Casselberry. The funding will enable these local law enforcement agencies to hire a total of 50 law enforcement officers.

“More officers on the streets will help make our families safer and our communities stronger, which is why this funding is an important boost to our local law enforcement agencies,” said Murphy. “We owe our law enforcement community a debt of gratitude as they put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

The Orange County Sheriff’s office will receive $3.125 million to hire 25 officers; the city of Orlando will receive $1.875 million for 15 officers; the Sanford Police Department is to receive $875,000 to hire seven officers, and the Casselberry Police Department will receive $325,967 to hire three officers.

Wilson reacts to more grim news on Niger ambush victim

Last week, the Democrat from Miami Gardens reacted to the news military investigators and the FBI found additional remains in Niger belonging to murdered soldier La David Johnson. Johnson and his family were friends of Wilson.

“It is difficult to find the words to describe how dismaying it was to learn that some of Sgt. La David Johnson’s remains were found in Niger weeks after his funeral,” Wilson said in a statement. “My heart breaks for his widow, Myeshia, and the rest of his family, who upon hearing this news must have felt like they were losing him all over again.”

More gruesome details have been discovered in the death of Sgt. La David Johnson.

Wilson, Trump and his chief of staff John Kelly were embroiled in a bitter back-and-forth about Trump’s call to Myeshia Johnson intending to offer condolences. Twitter wars and anonymous threats against Wilson followed.

Last week’s news also brought comments from Wilson that nearly all Americans would agree upon. The Pentagon, the White House, Congress and the Johnson family wants to know what happened to Johnson and his three comrades who were also killed.

“I urge all Americans to join me in the push to find out when the government will be able to present a full explanation of the circumstances that led to his death and three other American soldiers,” she said. “We owe it to their families and to every military family.”

Curbelo receives award named for JFK

The Republican from Kendall was recently honored for some of his bipartisan work on Capitol Hill. He received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award for his leadership role in promoting solutions to the effects of climate change.

Curbelo received his award from Jack Schlossberg, son of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and grandson of the award’s namesake. The presentation came during a ceremony at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Congressman Curbelo’s work on climate demonstrates the impact that young leaders, who dare to think differently, and challenge tradition, can have on our national politics,” Schlossberg said while presenting the award. “As a young man and a member of the new generation, one that expects more out of our politics, that believes we aren’t as divided as we may seem, that welcomes climate change as an opportunity for American triumph, I am grateful that Representative Curbelo is representing us in Congress.”

Carlos Curbelo, the newest recipient of the JFK New Frontier Award.

Curbelo joined with Boca Raton Democrat Deutch to form the House Climate Solutions Caucus to take a bipartisan approach to the issue. The group now includes more than 60 members broken down almost evenly.

“As I reflect on this honor, I am reminded of how much President Kennedy did to open our nation to the pursuit of scientific knowledge,” Curbelo said in his acceptance speech. “For me, my knowledge of climate change and confronting the reality of a sea that is rising is of critical importance as I serve my constituents. Like President Kennedy, we need to both know and act — we must take steps now — not tomorrow — to address the environmental challenges that lie before us.”

Paulson’s Politics: Florida’s two most vulnerable congressional districts

No moderate or large state had a higher congressional turnover in 2016 than Florida. Eight of the 27 seats, or 30 percent, had a new representative after the election. Normally, over 90 percent of House members are re-elected.

Will massive turnover be the norm again in 2018? Will Florida Democrats be able to flip the three seats needed to win control of the delegation for the first time in three decades?

Several Democratic groups have already targeted Republican seats for 2018. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced its Republican Retirement Watch List in April 2017. Number two on the list was Vern Buchanan of Florida’s 16th Congressional District. Number three on the hit list was Diaz-Balart in CD 25. They may be targets, but they will be tough to defeat.

Emily’s List, a liberal political group, supports female candidates and issued its “hit list” of 50 members of Congress who are targeted “due to their anti-women and anti-family positions.”

Floridians on Emily’s List of targeted candidates include Ron DeSantis in CD 6, Brian Mast in CD 18 and Curbelo in CD 26. All three of these won the 2016 election by margins ranging from 10 to 17 percent.

This week we will look at the two most vulnerable congressional districts in Florida, Districts 26 and 27 in Miami-Dade County. Republicans currently hold both seats, Democrats must win each if they hope to regain control of the Florida congressional delegation.

Florida’s two most vulnerable congressional districts: CD 27 in Miami is regarded as the most vulnerable district in the nation, let alone Florida. Republican Ros-Lehtinen is the dean of the Florida delegation having held the seat for 29 years. Ros-Lehtinen easily won re-election in 2016 but has announced she will retire at the end of her current term.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s CD 27 is regarded as the most vulnerable district in the nation.

So, why is a district that the Republicans have held since 1989 considered the most vulnerable district in America? The reason is that it is a “Democratic” district held by a Republican. The district has a +5 Democratic Partisan Voting Index (PVI). It is a district Hillary Clinton won by 19 percent.

As soon as Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed the rating from “leans Republican” to “likely Democrat.” Seven Democrats and three Republicans are scrambling to replace Ros-Lehtinen.

Neighboring CD 26, represented by Republican Curbelo, is vulnerable for the same reasons as District 27. It has a +6 Democratic PVI, making it the most Democratic district in America held by a Republican. Clinton carried the district by 16 percent, improving on President Obama’s 7-point margin in 2012.

Curbelo is vulnerable, but will not be a pushover. Curbelo was awarded a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee after his 2016 victory over Democrat Joe Garcia, who outspent Curbelo by $1.5 million. Curbelo has almost $1.4 million in his 2018 campaign account.

CD 26 includes all of Monroe County (the Keys) and the Southwest part of Miami-Dade. Miami-Dade has always been essential to Democratic success in statewide races, but the party has had trouble winning local races. Until recently.

Annette Taddeo, who had lost four political races between 2008 and 2016, defeated Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz 51-47 percent in a special election to replace Republican Frank Artiles, who was forced to resign his state senate seat due to racist and anti-women remarks against fellow legislators.

Miami-Dade is increasingly friendly to Democratic candidates across the board, and Democrats hold a commanding 42 to 27 percent advantage over registered Republican voters.

Curbelo was recently rejected for membership in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus because of his support for “repeal and replace” of Obamacare and his support for the Trump tax reform plan. Curbelo criticized the all-Democratic Hispanic Caucus for its “unbelievably petty partisan politics,” which has led the Caucus “to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has just listed Curbelo’s district as part of its “Majority Maker” plan for 2018. Public Policy Polling released a mid-November poll showing that only 37 percent of his constituents approved of Curbelo, while 46 percent disapproved.

The demographic trends in CD 26, along with the dislike of President Trump and his policies, has led Charlie Cook to revise the rating for the district from “leans Republican” to “tossup.”

Democrats have never had a better opportunity to flip two Republican congressional seats. Even if they flip both, they still need to find one more district to flip if they want to regain political control of the Florida delegation. That is the focus of next week’s edition of Paulson’s Politics.

Next Week: Can Democrats turn Florida’s congressional delegation blue?

One federal agency; two acting directors

The personnel operation of the Trump administration has received its fair share of criticism both before and since the president took office. Multiple senior positions remain unfilled.

In a twist of irony, one federal agency now has two individuals claiming to be the acting director. That is proving to be a bit awkward.

Mick Mulvaney is one of two competing heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

When Richard Cordray announced his resignation as director of the (CFPB), he announced the appointment of deputy director Leandra English as interim director. When Trump was informed, he quickly appointed White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to the post.

On Saturday, the CFPB’s general counsel, Mary McLeod (appointed by Cordray), sent a memo to the bureau’s leadership team stating her opinion that Mulvaney is the lawful acting director.

English filed a lawsuit on Sunday naming Trump and Mulvaney as defendants. She seeks a temporary restraining order and claims the president’s appointment of Mulvaney unlawful.

Both Mulvaney and English showed up Monday claiming to be the acting director. After English sent an email to employees using the acting director title, Mulvaney emailed them with instructions to ignore any directions from English.

No matter what happens, all of this will be moot when Trump names a permanent director. No one, at least at this point, is challenging the president’s authority in that regard.

Trump may see himself on Fox News

Trump has said (on multiple occasions) that he is a big fan of Fox & Friends, the cable channel’s three-hour morning program. Starting Tuesday, he may see himself or someone paid to look like him.

The progressive group Not One Penny is launching a “six-figure” television ad buy that takes on the GOP tax reform plan. Republican Senators are the target, especially those on the fence and/or are not particularly fond of Trump.

The group’s mission is about ensuring that not one penny in tax cuts go to the well-off. “The last thing America needs is for the tax code to be even more rigged in favor of billionaires and wealthy corporations.”

The ads are slated to run mostly on Fox News, including Fox & Friends.

Florida Chamber tackles poverty with inaugural Prosperity Summit

Is Florida ready to tackle poverty for a more prosperous future?

That’s the subject of a new Florida Chamber of Commerce summit to address the extent of poverty — and possible solutions — throughout the Sunshine State.

Starting Tuesday in Tampa, the Chamber’s inaugural “Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity Summit” features members of the business, political, and academic community to discuss ways to boost prosperity for all Floridians.

According to the Chamber, Florida has more than 3.1 million people living in poverty, with nearly 945,000 under the age of 18. A recent study found that in many Florida counties, the least expensive child care expense costs more than the least expensive rents.

“The large number of Floridians living in poverty in our state impacts not only individual families, but also businesses, Florida’s economy, and our state’s global competitiveness,” says the Chamber website. “Florida will find it harder to succeed in 2030 and beyond if more than 1 in 6 Floridians continues living in poverty.”

Among the topics of the one-day event include “The Path to Prosperity,” hosted by Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson; “Framing the Issue: Understanding the Building Blocks for Economic Prosperity,” moderated by Florida Chamber Foundation Executive Vice President Tony Carvajal and an overview of state leadership with Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg.

The summit will also take a deeper dive into topics like safety and criminal justice, food security, affordability of housing, the impact of education and more, with guests such as former House Speaker Will Weatherford, CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard and more.

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a welcome address from Doug Davidson of Bank of America, who serves as chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Less Poverty, Through More Prosperity, will continue through 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, N. Ashley Dr. in Tampa. It will also be live streamed at

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