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Paul Sanford & Associates earns more than $165K in Q2 lobbying fees

The two-person firm of Paul Sanford and Jane Hennessy earned at least $165,000 for legislative work during the second quarter of 2017. The duo could earn a maximum of $199,993 for their legislative services, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Sanford and Hennessy had a roster of 11 legislative clients during the second quarter of this year. The team did not report any executive branch work, according to an analysis of state records.

Two clients — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, and the Florida Insurance Council — paid the firm an average of $35,000 during the second quarter; while two more clients — JM Family Enterprises and Prime Therapeutics — paid the firm an average $25,000 during the second quarter. Three clients — the American Council of Life Insurance, FCCI Insurance Group, and the Florida Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association — paid an average for $15,000 for legislative work.

Louis Betz & Associates could earn $239K in Q2 lobbying fees

Being small firm doesn’t mean you can’t pack a lot of punch; just ask Louis Betz & Associates.

The two-man team of Louis Betz and Travis Mitchell juggled 25 legislative clients and 11 executive branch clients during the second quarter, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session. The firm earned at least $145,000 — $105,000 for its legislative work and $40,000 for executive branch work — during the three-month period.

The firm could earn up to $239,981 — a maximum of$169,987 for legislative work and $69,994 for executive branch work — during the second quarter, according to analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com.

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Top paying legislative clients during the second quarter included American Traffic Solutions, Tampa Taxi Coalition, Waste Management of Florida, and Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, all of which paid an average of $15,000 for legislative work.

Eight clients — the City of Temple Terrace, Costa Creative, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Energy Systems Group, Link-Systems International, Mindshare Technologies, MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry), and Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority — all paid an average $5,000 for legislative work.

Waste Management clocked in as the firm’s top paying executive branch client, paying Betz and Mitchell $15,000 in the second quarter for executive branch work.

Lori Berman

Lori Berman wants special session to yank Confederate statue from D.C.

Lantana Democratic Rep. Lori Berman sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott Thursday asking him to call a special session to replace Florida’s statue of a Confederate General at the National Statuary Hall in Washington.

Each state gets two slots to fill in the statuary hall and Florida’s current picks are Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, who invented the ice machine, and Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.

“With the recent acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, it is more imperative than ever that we complete the process we started in 2016 to replace this statue,” Berman said. “There is no place for racism or bigotry in our civil society and Florida certainly should not be represented in our nation’s Capitol by General Smith. Let’s finish the job and get this done immediately.”

Berman suggested Scott set the special session during one of the upcoming interim committee weeks, when lawmakers will already be in Tallahassee to discuss legislation ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session, which starts in January.

The South Florida Democrat told Scott that “by expediting this vote, we will be sending a message to all Americans that Florida will not tolerate hate.”

Lawmakers had mixed results in their 2016 and 2017 efforts to change out the statue. In 2016, the Legislature passed a bill to get the process started by creating a panel to nominate possible replacements.

Their picks were black educator and Bethune-Cookman University founder Mary McLeod Bethune, Publix founder and philanthropist George Jenkins, and “The Everglades: River of Grass” author Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Despite the recommendations, lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement during the 2017 Legislative Session.

A bill to send Bethune to D.C. cleared the Senate, but failed in the House, while the Douglas bill was blocked by Orlando Republican Rep. Scott Plakon said he would prefer to send Walt Disney, who although impactful on Florida history never lived in the state.

Smith, who was born in St. Augustine, has represented Florida in the statuary hall since 1922. In addition to the statue, a Jacksonville middle school and the Alachua County School Board administration building are named after him. He is also the subject of numerous private monuments throughout the South.

Art Graham, Ronald Brisé win nominations to be returned to PSC

Art Graham and Ronald Brisé on Thursday won nominations to be returned to their seats on the Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities in the state.

If selected, both men would serve third terms; each was first appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010.

The Public Service Commission Nominating Council also decided on six people to fill the unexpired term of former Commissioner Jimmy Patronis, who stepped down to replace Jeff Atwater as state Chief Financial Officer. Patronis’ term is up at the end of 2018. Those candidates are:

— Bill Conrad, former mayor of Newberry in Alachua County.

— Associate Public Counsel Erik Sayler. The Office of Public Counsel represents the interests of ratepayers before the commission.

— Ted Schrader, a former Pasco County commissioner and Tampa Bay Water board member.

Rich Glorioso, a Plant City Republican and retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who served in the House 2004-2012.

Gary Clark, the Department of Environmental Protection’s deputy secretary for land and recreation.

— Ritch Workman, a former state representative. The Melbourne Republican lost a bruising primary battle last year to fellow GOP Rep. Debbie Mayfield for Senate District 17.

The council also recommended another four for Graham’s and Brisé’s seats; their terms are up at year’s end. Those candidates include Conrad and:

— Former state Rep. Kenneth Littlefield, a Pasco County Republican who once chaired the House Utilities & Telecommunications Committee. Littlefield is a former PSC member himself, having been put on the commission by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist replaced him the following year.

— Anibal Taboas, an Illinois-based consultant and former U.S. Department of Energy official.

— Jody Ann Newman, who chairs the Florida Board of Nursing.

Taboas and Newman won their nominations in a runoff vote, after initially not capturing the required seven votes.

Losing candidates include Greg Evers, a Baker Republican who left the Senate to run last year for northwest Florida’s Congressional seat, losing to Matt Gaetz; and current state Rep. Tom Goodson, a Brevard County Republican who chairs the House Agriculture and Property Rights subcommittee and is term-limited next year.

Another noteworthy applicant, former state Comptroller and retired Marine general Bob Milligan, was shut out early in the process, receiving no votes to move forward when the council met in Tampa last week.

The council will forward its recommendations to Gov. Rick Scott, who will decide on the appointments, subject to final approval by the Florida Senate.

Senate committees to meet three days in September

Starting to prepare for the 2018 Legislative Session, Senate committees will hold meetings over three days in mid-September, according to a tentative schedule posted online.

The meetings are slated to start the afternoon of Sept. 12, with time set aside that day for the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, the Finance and Tax Appropriations Subcommittee, the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, the Commerce and Tourism Committee, the Criminal Justice Committee and the Education Committee.

The meetings will run through the afternoon of Sept. 14, with seven appropriations subcommittees slated for the final day.

Also, the tentative schedule indicates the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, made up of House and Senate leaders, will meet Sept. 13.

The 2018 Session will begin in January.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Personnel note: Cesar Fernandez appointed to Hispanic Chamber board

A top Uber executive in Florida has been named to the Board of Governors of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC).

Cesar Fernandez, the ride-booking company’s Miami-based Senior Public Policy Associate, is joining the board, said Julio Fuentes, the chamber’s president and CEO, in a statement.

“Cesar’s breadth of experience in political and government affairs coupled with his innate leadership qualities, makes him a powerful addition to our board,” Fuentes said. Fernandez was a member of the 2015 class of Florida Politics’ “30 Under 30” Rising Stars of state politics.

“He knows first-hand the business community’s critical role in and impact on our state. Uber is an innovative company that will help bolster employment and economic opportunities for our state. We welcome Cesar’s leadership and support of our mission to educate our statewide members on free market principles and economic growth.”

Fernandez added: “Cultivating entrepreneurs is critical to the success of Florida’s economy. I’m honored to be part of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Governors, which represents the interests of more than 600,000 Hispanic-owned businesses across the state, and look forward to serving with these distinguished leaders.”

Fernandez joined the Uber Public Affairs Team in Florida in January 2015. He has worked at the city, county and state levels to secure regulatory frameworks for transportation network companies (TNCs), a press release said.

Before working for Uber, he was political director on Gov. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial campaign and successfully managed the political campaigns of incoming Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Clemens and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

In 2011-12, he was a legislative aide in the Florida Senate. Fernandez was born and raised in Miami and is a graduate of the University of Florida.

Top Senate Republicans holding Big Apple fundraiser Thursday

If you’ve ever dreamed of slurping spaghetti with state senators, top Florida Republicans have an offer you can’t refuse, so long as you can snag a flight to the Big Apple pronto.

Senate President Joe Negron will make a fundraising trip to New York Thursday with the two senators set to succeed him in his role, Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson. Also attending are Senate budget chief and gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala as well as Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rob Bradley and Anitere Flores.

Don’t worry about accommodations, either – the last minute invitation to the fundraiser says the powerful cadre of politicians has organized a discounted rate at the Ritz Carlton. It’s not home, but it’ll do for a night.

Whoever manages to get to New York by 6:30 p.m. Thursday will have the opportunity to sit down with the Tallahassee elite at the city’s “Quality Italian” restaurant which, for whatever reason, is a steakhouse. Don’t worry, the menu includes a handful of classics from the old country.

Those fortunate enough to be able to spend a Friday evening in the city can also drop by a cocktail hour at the posh Ascent Lounge. A drink will set you back about $20, and you better be a fan of vodka.

To RSVP, call Kelly Schmidt at 407-415-2879. You might need to call her from the plane.

The invitation is below:

Lewis Longman & Walker earns more than $300K in Q2

Lewis Longman & Walker PA pulled in more than $300,000 during the second quarter of 2017.

The six-person government affairs team earned the firm at least $305,000 — $150,000 for legislative work and $155,000 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session.

The firm could report earning a maximum of $489,963 — a maximum of $239,982 for legislative work and $249,981 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Led by Lori Killinger, the team of Natalie Kato, Terry Lewis, James Linn, Martin Christopher Lyon, and Glenn Thomas juggled 24 legislative clients and 26 executive branch clients during the second quarter.

Six clients — the Florida Association of Mitigation Bankers Inc., Florida Association of Nurse Anesthetists Inc., Florida Associations of Special Districts, Florida Manufactured Housing Association, Minto Communities, and Seminole Improvement District — paid the firm an average of $15,000 for legislative services during the second quarter.

The same six clients paid an average of $15,000 for executive branch services during the second quarter.

Tom Lee reintroduces two insurance-related bills for 2018 Session

Republican state Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa doesn’t give up easily. He has filed two bills that for the 2018 session that are essentially repeats of proposals that didn’t pass this year.

If enacted, SB 150 would eliminate the state requirement that would require motorists to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection. The 131-page measure would increase the minimum coverage requirement to $20,000 per individual and $40,000 per incident.

It updates the state’s no-fault insurance provisions that were enacted nearly 40 years ago to reflect inflation.

“The Senate has wrestled with this for 20 years,” Lee said. “From my perspective, it’s about adequacy of coverage.”

Lee also introduced SB 80, which would focus on direct primary care agreements between doctors and patients, employers or guardians. It would provide a system where physicians could receive a monthly retainer fee that would cover agreed-upon services.

“That’s a growing movement in this country,” Lee said. “The physician gets the ability to work directly with the patient and bypass the insurance bureaucracy.”

Lee said he was especially surprised and disappointed that the measure didn’t pass last year. He pulled it from the floor after last-minute amendments were added.

Rick Scott, Cabinet members OK Venezuela investment ban

With no discussion, Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Cabinet Wednesday approved a policy to forbid any investments benefiting the Nicolás Maduro regime in Venezuela.

Scott, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Pam Bondi sit as Trustees of the State Board of Administration, which oversees state investments.

The state currently has no investments that involve Venezuela, Ash Williams, the SBA’s executive director & chief investment officer, told reporters.

Scott, widely expected to run for U.S. Senate next year, has championed opposition to President Maduro, calling out the government for placing opposition leader Leopoldo López under house arrest after he was released from prison following a 3-year sentence for leading anti-government protests.

“It’s disgusting what’s happening down there,” Scott said Tuesday. “Maduro needs to step down; he needs to release all political prisoners; we need democracy again.”

The policy bans any investments by the state’s $193 billion pension plan that would benefit the government of Venezuela, including “any securities issued by the government of Venezuela or any company that is majority-owned by the government of Venezuela.”

It will last “until such time as the SBA determines it is otherwise prudent to do so,” it says. Legislation (SB 70) also has been filed for the 2018 Session that would ban the state from doing business with the Maduro government or companies financially tied to it, including Goldman Sachs.

Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, the Miami-Dade Democrat who filed the bill, released a statement later Wednesday that, as of June, “the SBA holds 687,581 shares of Goldman Sachs stock worth $147,135,458 and $171,071,885 in Goldman Sachs bonds/paper and the SBA has several agreements with Goldman Sachs to manage funds.”

“The people of Venezuela need us to side with them not just in word, but also in deed,” Rodríguez said in the statement. “I welcome the SBA’s initial step and look forward to continuing to work with them on taking concrete steps to support the Venezuelan people during a deepening political and economic crisis of Maduro’s making.”

Williams said the pension plan is roughly 85 percent funded; the “unfunded liability” is the difference between the money it has and the money it needs to cover current and expected future payouts.

But financial experts generally call pension plans healthy if they’re at least 80 percent funded. That’s because employees retire at different times, making a virtual ‘run on the bank’ unlikely.

The latest guidance will be incorporated into the state’s Investment Policy Statement, Williams added. “It doesn’t have to be there, but we think it’s better that it be there,” he said.

“I think what we have done today, based on an analysis of the facts, the law and our fiduciary obligations, is completely appropriate,” Williams told reporters.

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