Peter – Page 2 – Florida Politics

Takeaways from Tallahassee – Joe Negron’s portrait, explained

The official portrait of Senate President Joe Negron was unveiled last week, but not without some observers asking: “What the heck is that in the background?”

As senators and his wife Rebecca applauded and cheered when the work was revealed, some curious onlookers in the chamber’s galleries were left guessing what the three images looming behind Negron were.

But then Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta explained.

Let’s start with the books in the bottom left corner. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott and “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Why those? Because those books were read to Negron and his brothers by his parents when they were growing up.

The blob on the top right corner? That’s Lake Okeechobee. And it is meant to represent his commitment to reducing harmful discharges into communities east and west of the lake. That includes his home community.

Last but not least, the two images standing by the Stuart Republican are meant to show his vision for the Florida state university system. The top image is Florida State University, which one of his sons attended, and the bottom is the University of Florida, where his daughter went.

So there you have it. Mystery solved.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Ana Ceballos, Jim Rosica, Danny McAuliffe, Andrew Wilson, and Peter Schorsch.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Rick Scott signs budget, sans line-item vetoes—Gov. Scott signed his final state budget Friday, two days after the Legislature sent it to him to review. The $88.7 billion fiscal plan – the largest in state history – landed on Scott’s desk Wednesday, but the governor did not approve it all Friday. He vetoed $64 million worth of line items, the smallest being a $25,000 trust fund appropriation to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. for “affordable housing programs.” The budget approved by lawmakers included the $400 million school safety plan crafted after the Parkland mass shooting with $67 million for a controversial program that would arm school staff and train them for active shooter situations. No funding in that plan was chopped from the 2018-19 blueprint for state spending.

Scott tours the Sunshine State—Gov. Scott is touring the state of Florida and touting a tax cut package that was recently approved. The package includes $10.5 million in tax cuts to the 2018 property tax assessments that will benefit the hard-hit citrus industry after Hurricane Irma, an increase in corporate income tax credit that businesses wanted and a .1 percent tax reduction on the commercial rent sales tax.

Governor signs education bills—Before session concluded Sunday, Gov. Scott signed two big priorities of Senate President Joe Negron (Senate Bill 4) and House Speaker Richard Corcoran (House Bill 7055). The Legislature’s sweeping education bills will reform the K-12 and higher education systems in the state. This includes changes that will strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its accreditation and will decertify teachers’ unions that do not have 50 percent of their membership paying union dues.

CRC to consider assault weapon ban—A new effort to ban assault weapons is heading to the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to consider changes to the state constitution. If the proposal were to be adopted by the CRC panel and voted favorably by 60 percent of Florida voters, it would ban the sale or transfer of tactical semi-automatic rifles, something the Legislature could not do. If the amendment is rejected, the intent is to draft a new proposal for the November 2020 ballot.

Reverberations from Parkland—Exactly a month after the worst school mass shooting in the state took place, students across the country demanded action on gun control by walking out of class. The mass protest was held at 10 a.m. in each time zone and lasted 17 minutes, symbolizing the 17 students and teachers who were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day. Organizers said the purpose of the protest was to highlight Congress’ inaction to prevent school mass shootings.

Adam Putnam priorities get Scott’s signature

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam thanked Gov. Scott for supporting his priorities in the state budget, which was signed into law Friday afternoon.

“I thank Governor Scott for continuing to cut taxes for Florida’s families and businesses and for supporting our budget priorities, including increasing pay for our first responders. The department’s first responders are the best of the best and keep Floridians and visitors safe when lives and property are on the line. They’ve earned this,” Putnam said in a prepared statement.

The budget includes a 7 percent pay bump for all law enforcement officers at the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or 10 percent if they’ve been in the job for at least a decade. It also includes a $2,500 pay raise for state firefighters, effective next year.

“With the Governor’s support, this budget also helps our department protect Florida from wildfire, promote Florida’s agricultural products, support our citrus industry, preserve our natural resources, and much more.”

The week in appointments

Ryan Estevez to the Florida State Boxing Commission —Estevez is a 44-year-old physician with Tampa Bay Neurobehavioral. He will succeed Wayne Kearney for a term ending Sept. 30, 2019.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

JoAnn Rooney to the Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board — Rooney, is a 60-year-old Palm Harbor resident and branch manager for NFM Lending, Inc.

Rooney will succeed Joshua Harris to serve a term ending Oct. 31, 2021. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Larry Metz to the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court—Metz, is a state representative for District 25 and is currently in solo practice.

The 62-year-old is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from Florida State University.

Metz will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge William G. Law.

Chad K. Alvaro to the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court—Alvaro is board-certified in construction law and is a shareholder with Mateer & Harbert, P.A.

The 41-year-old received his bachelor’s degree from Rollins College and his law degree from Capital Law School. He will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Christi L. Underwood.

James “Lee” Marsh to the Second Judicial Circuit Court—Marsh currently serves as chief assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General. He previously served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Navy.

He received his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and his law degree from the University of Florida.

He will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Charles A. Francis.

Tarlika Nunez Navarro to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court—Navarro is a 35-year-old Fort Lauderdale attorney who serves as managing partner at Tarlika Nunez Navarro PLLC.

She previously served as an assistant state attorney for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit. Navarro fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Alfred J. Horowitz.

Nursing homes on the up and up

The Agency for Health Care Administration said this week that quality of life for Florida nursing homes residents is improving.

National data shows that since 2011, nursing homes in the state have seen gains in a number of categories affecting residents lives.

“Our Agency’s top priority is providing the highest level of quality for patients in Florida. Florida nursing home residents today are less likely to fall, less likely to wander, less likely to suffer infections, less likely to exhibit unhealed pressure ulcers, and less likely to be chemically restrained than they were at the beginning of the decade,” AHCA Secretary Justin Senior said.

“Florida tends to do well compared to national averages on these measures as well. This achievement is the product of high standards, consistent regulation, and the hard work of dedicated nursing home employees in the state. It is also the product of swift enforcement action whenever a nursing facility fails to meet Florida’s high standards.”

James Madison Institute chimes in on Session results

The James Madison Institute was pleased to see some measures pass the Legislature this session that covered criminal justice reforms and eliminated free speech zones on public university campuses.

“The policy team at The James Madison Institute worked overtime in Tallahassee and beyond to inform state policymakers on efforts to advance limited government, free markets, and economic freedom,” said J. Robert McClure, the president and CEO of the James Madison Institute.

McClure said JMI was glad to see the Legislature expand school choice through the Hope Scholarship, reforming the state’s criminal justice system by passing a new data-collection system and expanding pre-arrest diversion programs.

“We thank Governor Scott, Senate President Negron and House Speaker Corcoran for their continued leadership and commitment to the Sunshine State’s future,” McClure added.

Dana Young gives measured defense of school safety package

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young admits the school safety package passed by lawmakers isn’t perfect, but at least it’s something.

“My office received hundreds of emails and phone calls from constituents and concerned Floridians.  Many think the school safety bill did not go far enough, while just as many believe that it went too far,” Young said in an email to her constituents. “However, the consensus across the State from constituents, families, parents, and students alike was simple: we must not let a tragedy like this happen again.”

Young said she thinks the bill, which has already been signed into law by Gov. Scott, “will make a significant difference in preventing the senseless violence that took place in Parkland from happening again.”

She pointed to $69 million in mental health funding, $400 million for school security, upping the age for gun purchases, the bump stock ban and the 3-day waiting period for all guns as positive things accomplished by the bi-partisan bill.

“Quite simply, without this legislation we would have done nothing to prevent the violence that occurred in Parkland from happening again,” Young said.

“Whether you believe the legislation went too far, or not far enough, I urge you to carefully consider all that would have been lost had we not acted decisively. We could not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Randy Fine wants to mandate lagoon repairs in Brevard County

After the Brevard County government dumped 22 million gallons of raw sewage in a lagoon in a span of a little over a month, state Rep. Randy Fine worked to craft a consent order mandating reports to the Lagoon.

“These illegal releases are no longer uncommon, and in order to get the local politicians to take their responsibility to protect the Lagoon seriously, I asked the [Department of Environmental Protection to take the strongest possible action to compel them to do what is necessary and right,” Fine said in a statement.

The proposed Consent order would requires the county commission to complete three projects by the end of 2020. That includes a $1.9 million clay pipe rehabilitation project in seven collection basins in the South Beaches and completing smoke testing of sewage pipes in Satellite Beach.

Fine said he worked with the DEP for more than six month to craft the consent order. If the county commission votes to accept the order, the county will further have to report to the state on its progress and actions moving forward.

Appeals court strikes down gun convictions

A Sarasota man who was convicted of illegally carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon got his convictions thrown out this week by the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Lamarcus Slydell was charged and later convicted of the crimes after police approached and searched him based on a tip they had received from a confidential informant.

Slydell’s legal team argued that the tip alone shouldn’t have been enough to stop him, and the court agreed.

“No matter how reliable the confidential informant or how detailed the description of Slydell and the guns, the tip did not allege any criminal activity, and in particular it did not reveal Slydell’s status as a felon nor did it say whether he had a concealed weapons permit,” the ruling said.

St. Pete CRC hearing draws 1,200

More than 1,200 Floridians showed up at the USF St. Petersburg campus this week for a public hearing held by the Constitution Revision Commission.

The Tampa Bay area stop marked the sixth and final hearing slated for the CRC’s 2018 “Road to the Ballot” tour. Past stops on the 2018 tour included Cape Coral, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Melbourne and Fort Lauderdale.

The CRC said 430 attendees filled out speaker cards to give commissioners their opinion on some of the proposals being considered for the 2018 ballot. Everyone who filled out a card had the chance to speak, and it took more than 10 hours to make it through the list.

Recordings of CRC hearings are available to watch online via The Florida Channel.

Priests pan CRC props

A long list of faith leaders signed on to a letter this week urging the Florida Constitution Revision commission to drop proposals they say would cripple religious freedom in the Sunshine State.

At issue are a proposal that would allow state money to be used to fund religion, and another that would allow public money to be funneled to private and religious schools.

“As leaders in our faith communities in the State of Florida, we believe taxpayer dollars should never be used to support private religious organizations or schools—not even our own. Therefore, we urge the members of the Constitution Revision Commission to reject Proposals 4 and 45, which would allow public funds to benefit certain faith communities over others,” the clergy group said in the letter.

“Together, these two proposals would strip away fundamental and longstanding religious freedom protections and threaten the integrity and autonomy of our houses of worship and religious schools.”

The CRC is meeting Monday to begin deliberating all of the proposals it is still considering for the 2018 ballot.

Florida Dental Association does $1.9M of pro bono work

The Florida Dental Association Foundation hosted its fourth “Florida Mission of Mercy” event on last week at the Lee County Civic Center, and provided more than 1,900 Floridians with free dental care valued at over $1.7 million.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to serve Floridians who may have otherwise had to seek temporary care at hospital emergency departments,” said Bob Payne, DDS and president of the FDA Foundation. “The Florida Mission of Mercy brings together over 1,500 dentists, dental professionals and other volunteers from across the state to help relieve pain and restore smiles, while promoting oral health awareness and education.”

FLA-MOM is a two-day event aimed at treating patients who lack access to dental care. Past iterations have been held in Tampa, Jacksonville and Pensacola.

In all, 6,200 patients have been served since FLA-MOM got its start in 2014.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to have good oral health,” said Michael Eggnatz, DDS and president of the Florida Dental Association. “We need to collaborate and work for solutions to leverage Florida’s robust dental workforce to provide oral health education, prevention and comprehensive care to Florida’s underserved and rural communities.”

Hurricane heroes honored

The Florida Municipal Electric Association handed out awards last weekend to each of its member utilities in honor of their work helping Floridians – as well Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders – get their power back on during the 2017 hurricane season.

“This past season’s Hurricane Irma was a powerful and massive Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in the Keys. The second strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, Irma was wider than the Florida peninsula leaving few parts of the Sunshine State spared,” said FMEA President Chip Merriam.

The public utility group said 827,000 of its member utilities’ customers lost power in the wake of Irma, and their crews were able to pull together to get the lights back on to more than half of them within 48 hours, and to 98 percent within a week.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of the out-of-state and even out-of-country utility crews who came to our aid after Hurricane Irma. We’re also incredibly proud of our members who sent their crews to other communities in Florida to help out the areas most affected by Irma, as well as the linemen who left Florida to help our neighbors in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, many of whom left their families and homes during Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director.

Florida history gets 3D treatment

Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced this week the launch of a new online museum exhibit showcasing Florida archaeology, history and innovation in 3D.

“‘Florida History in 3D’ allows worldwide access to some of the most significant and interesting artifacts in Florida’s Archaeology collection. Using state of the art three-dimensional photogrammetry techniques, users can discover and examine artifacts from their computers or mobile devices normally only seen in museums,” Detzner said.

“The artifacts in the State of Florida’s archaeological collection belong to the citizens of our state. allows us to share these unique, historical artifacts and their stories to students, educators, the public and interested individuals around the world.”

The site launch is part of the “Florida Archaeology Month” and “March of Museums” events, and the first set of museum collection to get digitized in three dimensions were artifacts from the  Spanish Plate Fleets lost off the coast of Florida in 1715 and 1733.

Artifacts from the “Plate Fleets,” so named for the plata (silver) coins they carried, are presented within three themes: arms and armor, daily life, and trade.

Gators and Noles compete on education scholarships

The education colleges at the University of Florida and Florida State University have schemed up a new way for the two flagships to compete – scholarships.

“The Duel of the Schools” competition will pit the two rivals in a two-week competition starting Monday to see which can get wrangle the most alumni support for student scholarships at their education colleges.

For the past two years, FSU’s College of Education has awarded more scholarships than any other college at FSU and more than any other public College of Education in Florida. FSU said it aims to keep that momentum going.

“When our students graduate, we want them to be able to focus on their careers, not worrying about how they will pay back student loans,” said Kevin Derryberry, assistant dean for development at FSU’s College of Education.

“Nationwide, we see declining enrollment in education programs, low teacher pay and young people who leave the field after only a few years. In response, Florida State’s education alumni and friends have taken action and created the most robust education scholarship program in Florida.”

Those looking to chip in toward either school’s fund – or both funds – can drop by

Cascades Park, FIU bridges designed by same company

After a Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapsed, the Tallahassee-based company that designed it—and the local Cascades Park bridge—said it was “stunned,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

“We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why,” officials with Figg Bridge Engineers said in a statement.

“In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before,” they added. “Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

The span of the $14.2 million pedestrian bridge, still under construction, was installed at the Miami university Saturday morning.

FIU officials said the bridge was uniquely constructed along the side of the road using so-called Accelerated Bridge Construction methods. It was mounted atop the eight-late road during a six-hour operation on Saturday. It collapsed Thursday afternoon.

City seeks input on Urban Tree Forest plan

The city of Tallahassee is gathering citizen input as it develops its Urban Forest Master Plan, which will establish an action plan to ensure there is proper tree managements citywide.

“There are many elements to consider when looking at the overall vitality of a community’s trees from species diversity to human impact and so much more,” said Mindy Mohrman, the city’s urban forester.

Tallahassee is covered with iconic canopy, which has grown significantly over the years. The plan is to make sure the urban forest is healthy and properly managed for future generations by including efforts to preserve, plant, remove and maintain trees.

To gather input, the city will hold two public meetings later this month. The first will be March 27 at Jack McLean Community Center from 6-8pm and the second will be on March 28 at the Frenchtown Renaissance Center from 6-8pm. Citizens can also complete a online survey until mid-April available at

Long-time Tallahassee airport employee honored

Tallahassee city officials and staff at the Tallahassee International Airport on Friday hosted a ceremony in honor of longtime airport employee Ervin “Mr. J” Johnson.

Johnson, who will soon celebrate his 80th birthday, has worked as a skycap at the airport since 1991. Johnson is described by colleagues as someone who has an “infectious smile, friendly demeanor, incredible work ethic and outstanding customer service.”

Despite recent health scares, Johnson has continued to work and remain engaged in his career. In honor of his years of dedication, the city will proclaim March 17, which is his birthday, as “Ervin Johnson Day” in Tallahassee.

Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:

The Schorsch governing theory of Florida politics – Part 1

Once the hanky dropped on the 2013 Legislative Session, my family headed to St. Augustine Beach to recuperate from the 60 days of working in that pressure cooker.

Michelle and I had been married for just over a year and our daughter, Ella Joyce, was only months old. Our business was just starting to take off. It was an exciting time.

For whatever reason, we thought it would be interesting to complicate our lives by Michelle running for a state House seat.

The Republican Party of Florida was looking for a candidate to challenge Dwight Dudley, a one-term incumbent who was not particularly well-liked in Tallahassee and was considered vulnerable in a non-presidential election cycle.

Michelle would have been the perfect challenger to Dudley. She’s a moderate Republican woman with strong connections to the Tampa Bay area and a reputation for loyalty and deeply-held convictions. That she had worked as a special adviser to then-Gov. Charlie Crist (and was based out of the USF St. Pete campus) only made her more attractive as a potential candidate.

For a moment, Michelle was excited by the idea, so we took the temperature of some of our friends in the political process. All of them thought Michelle would be a strong candidate. However, one friend informed us that incoming leadership of the House was recruiting another potential candidate they thought could win in a walk.

We spoke with then Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli and, indeed, the GOP was hoping that Bill Young Jr., son of the local legend C.W. “Bill” Young, would enter the race. It’s probably best if Michelle stands down, Crisafulli told us.

Fortunately for our family, that’s exactly what Michelle did, although she said then that it was a mistake to think Young would beat Dudley.

She was right, of course, about that: Billy Young turned out to be a very bad candidate. In fact, he’s one of the very few candidates for office I’ve ever met who gained weight, rather than lost it, on the campaign trail (an indication he was not opening enough time walking door-to-door.)

Michelle and I talked a lot about our future that week in St. Augustine. A point I made then to her was that as busy as the 2014 and 2016 election cycles would be for us (and, Jesus, had they been busier than we could have ever imagined), the 2018 election cycle would actually be even more chaotic.

What I predicted then is only more accurate today. This is already shaping up to be the busiest election cycle in Florida’s modern history. Busier even than 1994, when Jeb Bush emerged from a brutal gubernatorial primary to eventually lose to Lawton Chiles.

As it stands now, here’s the rundown:

— A competitive race for the U.S.  Senate likely pitting Democrat Bill Nelson against Republican Rick Scott.

— A wide-open race for the Governor’s Mansion, with competitive primaries on both sides of the ballot.

— Three competitive statewide races for spots on Florida’s Cabinet: Agriculture Commissioner, CFO and Attorney General.

— Four statewide voter initiatives.

— As many as a dozen constitutional questions put on the ballot by the once-every-twenty-years Constitutional Revision Commission.

— More competitive congressional and state legislative races than at any point since Republicans took over the state in the mid-1990s.

The ballot this November will take the average Floridian twenty to thirty minutes to read and complete.

And that’s what we know about today.

As has been said many times, Florida is the Chinatown of politics. Forget about trying to understand it.

But if you run a political website titled “Florida Politics,” this is a wonderful time to be alive.

Our site’s traffic was busier last week than all but one other week in our history. Last month was busier than any other month in our history. This month looks like it will be busier than last month. And there’s no reason to think next month won’t be busier than this month.

And yet … what happens in December 2018? The campaigns will be over. The 2019 Legislative Session will be months away. The presidential campaign, while talked about daily, won’t be for real for almost another year.

Won’t feast turn to famine?


And not just because the average bear is more interested in politics than in half-a-century.

This is the first part of the Schorsch governing theory of Florida politics.

It all starts to go back to normal today.

Gov. Scott signed the $88 billion fiscal plan sent to him Wednesday. He is now officially a lame duck.

Don’t get me wrong, Scott still has enormous power. And it’s not out of the range of possibilities that the Legislature will be called into Special Session for some sort of crisis.

But, for the most part, the sun has begun to set on Rick Scott’s time in Tallahassee. And with that, everything will begin to change.

Because none of the seven candidates expected to run for Florida governor cannot write a $72 million check to buy the Governor’s Mansion, as Scott did in 2010, the four pillars of political life in Florida will now begin rebuilding their stature in the state.

The lobby corps, the news media (as enervated as it is), the fundraising community, and the political parties should see their influence return in the coming months and next four years.

Lobbyists have been of little use to Scott because they were against him in 2010 and he’s never really forgotten that. Only a handful of big name lobbyists have had access to Scott himself: Brian Ballard, Nick Iarossi, Fred Karlinsky, Bill Rubin, among a few others.

Most governmental affairs firms have relied on a strategy of focusing on the Legislature, while staying under the radar during the gubernatorial veto period. Some firms — Southern Strategy Group, GrayRobinson — have succeeded in their efforts to lobby the executive branch, but, for the most part, this is an administration that has been indifferent to Adams Street.

Before today, the lobby corps would have been unwilling to choose sides in the upcoming gubernatorial race, especially with Richard Corcoran looming as a possible candidate. But the smart firms will start making larger investments in the candidates so that they are in on the ground floor with who they think will win.

Some firms will win, some will lose, but at least the game is being played again. Scott didn’t even roll out the ball.

The media has been kept at arm’s length by Scott ever since his early communications director, Brian Burgess, positioned velvet ropes between the Governor and the Capitol Press Corps. If Scott didn’t need the lobby corps, he needed the press corps even less.

The math was simple: He could write a check larger than the amount of earned media written against him. Also, the Governor’s Office made two smart decisions. One, it prioritized interactions with TV reporters, preferably those who were not plugged in enough to ask difficult questions, and two, it created a reverb chamber with the wire services.

By this I mean, most major announcements by the Scott administration were funneled to the Associated Press (which can’t editorialize the way Florida Politics, POLITICO, or the Times/Herald can and do). It is, in turn, relied on by many TV stations for their state government content. Once a TV station aired the AP version, the Governor’s Office would push out an ICYMI press release touting the story.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Don’t believe me. Consider this: Point to the one process story written about the Scott administration that details how the Governor makes a decision. You probably can’t. Because this is one of the most leak-proof administrations ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. Donald Trump would give away Ivanka if he could have a White House that operates in the quiet way Scott’s office has.

More double-negative evidence: Point to the feature about anyone in Scott’s administration that includes an on-the-record response from the person being profiled. Floridians knew/know virtually nothing about the chiefs of staff, key advisers, etc. who are in Scott’s orbit.

Because none of the seven gubernatorial candidates can’t rely just on paid media to get their message out, they have to create earned media. This instantly makes the press, specifically the Capitol Press Corps and other political journalists, relevant again.

Instead of being kept in the dark, as most journalists have been during the last seven years, now outreach to most favored reporters and bloggers is again part of the communications strategy. What Marc Caputo, Matt Dixon, David Smiley, myself, and others say about the gubernatorial and other races is more important than it was under Scott. A takedown in the press becomes fodder for fundraising emails and digital videos.

Speaking of fundraising emails, get ready to be inundated by them.

Not that you weren’t already, but none of the candidates running for Governor can self-finance in a way that allows them to bypass the need for small donors.

Under Scott, a meeting with him cost an interest group at least $50,000. Only a handful of Floridians or companies can afford that. But Putnam, Gillum, Graham, Levine, etc. are already touting the support they are receiving from donors who can only afford to write checks for $25 or $50.

Whereas Scott was only interested in receiving a $500,000 check from a utility company, almost all of the candidates running in 2018, whether it be for governor or state House, would be happy to receive a check for $500 or $1,000. This returns power to the fundraisers who specialized in bundling, say, 30 checks from a group of local professionals. The entire campaign finance system reverts back to pre-2010 levels without Scott and his checkbook.

This brings me to my final point: Look for the return of the political parties.

No, they’ll never be as powerful as they were 20 years ago, but they certainly won’t do any worse than they have the last eight years. Especially the Republican Party of Florida, which has been so neglected by Scott that there are constant rumors that the party can barely make payroll.

Whoever wins their party’s nomination this fall will need the parties if they want to win the general. They will need the activists. They will need the party’s imprimatur. That shifts power back to the Republicans’ Blaise Ingoglia, the Democrats’ Terrie Rizzo, and the party chairs who will follow them.

I wanted to roll out this theory on the Ides of March because Scott’s tenure reminds me of a line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about.”

Scott, armed with his checkbook, has bestriden Tallahassee like Colossus, while we petty men and women have walked under his indifferent legs and peeped about.

With Scott’s exiting, it’s time again for all of those in The Process to, as Cassius told Brutus, be masters of our own fates.

Last Call for 3.15.18 – 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

Gov. Rick Scott cancelled a “tax cut highlight event” in Sanford Thursday to instead head to the scene of the pedestrian bridge collapse at Miami’s Florida International University.

There, he’ll be “briefed by local law enforcement and university officials,” his office said.

“I’ve reached out to officials in Miami-Dade County to offer every state resource to assist with response to this tragedy,” the governor tweeted Thursday afternoon.

The Miami Herald reported that the bridge, still under construction, “gave way suddenly while the traffic light for motorists on Tamiami Trail was red, so that the concrete span fell on top of a row of stopped vehicles.”

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted it was dispatching a team to investigate. Local police confirmed “multiple deaths.”

“The $11.4 million bridge was meant to connect the school to the city of Sweetwater, part of a $124 million expansion of the campus,” NBC News reported.

It was built by Munilla Construction Management and designed by FIGG Bridge Group, according to FIU officials. FIGG is headquartered in Tallahassee; Munilla is in Miami.

Senate President pro tempore Anitere Flores of Miami tweeted, “Absolutely speechless. @FIU and the area are my home. Prayers for those hurt and those who have perished. 1st priority is search and rescue, and then so many questions need to be answered. Shocked and sad.”

Evening Reads

Mueller subpoenas Trump organization, demanding documents about Russia” via Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times

Trouble brewing? Trump tariffs worry Florida’s craft beer makers” via Sara DiNatale of the Tampa Bay Times

All four Democratic candidates agree to Tampa debate” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Be afraid of the president, Gus Bilirakis. Be very afraid” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

A Democratic wave may be coming in November. Miami Democrats may not be ready.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Video: Deputy never entered building during school massacre” via the Associated Press

Graphic video shown in trial of nightclub shooter’s widow” via the Associated Press

As Florida’s grapefruit supply dwindles, Japanese customers lose interest” via Katie Sanders of the Tampa Bay Times

A slightly embarrassing love for Jack Kerouac” via Amanda Petrusich of The New Yorker

Everything you need to know about the freight yard complex coming to Tallahassee’s All Saints District” via Erin Hoover of 850 Business Magazine

Quote of the Day

“We have enough to worry about with mass casualties in schools due to gun violence. The last thing we need is school infrastructure killing and injuring more students in Florida. This is beyond unacceptable.” —State Rep. Robert Asencio, a Miami Democrat, in a Thursday statement to media.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Gov. Scott will release the state’s 2017 tourism numbers on Friday in Naples. A time and location are pending.

The Able Trust (Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation) holds its quarterly Board of Directors meeting. That’s at 8 a.m., Omni Hotel, 245 Water St., Jacksonville.

The Governor’s Panel on Excellence in Long-Term Care will hold a conference call to review criteria for “gold seal” award designations for nursing homes. That’s at 8:30 a.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525 and the code is 8050334011.

The Policy Subcommittee of the Tobacco Advisory Council will hold a conference call to discuss the Comprehensive Tobacco Education and Use Prevention Program. That’s at 1 p.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525 and the code is 5720848571 then press #.

The Board of Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., meets at 1 p.m. (Central Time), Santa Rosa County Commission Chambers, County Administration Building, 6495 Caroline Street, Milton.

Just when you think Andrew Gillum is having a good day …

On Tuesday, Florida Politics reported that Hollywood stars Alec Baldwin and Alyssa Milano are headlining a California fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

Tallahassee’s mayor is one of three candidates raising money at the Thursday reception; Stacey Abrams of Georgia and David Garcia of Arizona are joining the event, which will also benefit Gillum’s associated PAC, Forward Florida.

For Gillum’s cash-starved campaign, its excellent news that Baldwin, Milano and Co. are raising money for him at the Santa Monica home of entertainment industry lawyer Skip Brittenham and his wife, actress and author Heather Thomas.

Yet, just when you think Gillum is having a good day, he goes and “Gillums” himself again.

Look closely at the fundraising invitation his campaign shared in advance of the event:

What don’t you see?

That’s right; there’s no disclaimer on the invite. There’s no “paid political blah blah blah” anywhere to be found.

Is this a big deal? Normally, it wouldn’t be, but Gillum — from the very day he launched the campaign — has revealed a weakness for not being able to dot the I’s and cross the T’s.

This invitation is just another indication of Gillum’s sloppy campaign. And it reinforces the worst impressions some folks have of the candidate.

Florida Politics reached out to Gillum’s campaign for an explanation. Spokesman Geoff Burgan said “both PFAW (People for the American Way) attorneys and Stearns Weaver attorneys who represent our campaign have approved the invite. We’re confident the invite is within bounds.”

Nancy Watkins, one of the nation’s foremost experts on campaign finance regulations, disagrees with the assessment of Gillum’s attorneys.

“His campaign and committee are subject to Florida campaign finance law which has specific requirements for disclaimers,” said Watkins, who was asked by Florida Politics to review the invitation. “The invitation presented does not even approach the Florida requirements for Andrew Gillum Campaign nor Forward Florida.”

That’s only the beginning of the problems Watkins has with the Gillum invite.

“It appears they are soliciting contributions through a conduit, People for the American Way,” Watkins said, noting that the invite asks donors to contribute via ActBlue. “PFAW may not act as a conduit for contributions to a Florida candidate or committee. No one can.”

In making her case, Watkins cites FS 106.08(5)(a), which reads, ”A person may not make any contribution through or in the name of another, directly or indirectly, in any election.”

She also said the Division of Elections has issued opinions (D10-11 and DE08-03) regarding conduits, specifically Act Blue.

***Update***After Watkins’ opinion was added to this story, Glenn Burhans, an attorney with Stearns Weaver, emailed this statement:

“The assertion that the campaign has violated Florida election law is based on errors of fact and law. The invitation, which was emailed by PFAW to a select group of its members at no cost does not meet the definition of a “political advertisement” and does not require a disclaimer. Similarly, it does not meet the definition of any other form of communication requiring a disclaimer. Neither PFAW nor Act Blue are acting as an improper conduit. When clicking on the link to donate, the donor specifies the recipient of the donation, i.e., a candidate’s campaign or political committee. In short, such contributions are not made in the name of another as asserted in the article. The statute and advisory opinions cited simply do not apply here.”

Don’t you just love a food fight over Florida campaign finance law?

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.15.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

A proposed amendment that would add a crime victims’ ‘bill of rights’ to the state constitution is a “near lock” to pass in November, a new poll says.

“It sits at 78 percent support and voters seem to clearly want the rights of crime victims to be expanded,” said Steve Vancore, President of Clearview Research, which conducted the poll.

The amendment is among those now being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution.

If cleared by the CRC, Marsy’s Law would be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot. Proposals need at least 60 percent approval to become a part of the constitution.

Marsy’s Law gets its name from Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Later, Marsy’s brother and mother were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. The two had not been told the ex-boyfriend had been released on bail.

Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas (center) a University of California Santa Barbara student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

The amendment includes the rights “to be heard in any public proceeding involving pretrial or other release,” and to “full and timely restitution in every case.” Most states have taken steps to amend their constitutions to enumerate victims’ rights. Fifteen have not — including Florida.

Not polling as well were a ban on offshore oil drilling (54 percent) and another (55 percent) that “requires any proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution to be approved by an affirmative vote of 60 percent of voters who voted in that election, rather than 60 percent of the voters who voted on the specific proposed amendment.”

“This proposal also has the highest number (18 percent) of undecided respondents suggesting some level of confusion, which is understandable given the relatively complex nature of the question,” Vancore said.

… Also, a P.S. from Tuesday’s SUNBURN, in which we reported Clearview poll results that a proposed amendment to ban betting on dog racing would lose at the ballot. On Wednesday afternoon, sponsor Tom Lee — a GOP state senator from Thonotosassa — changed the proposal to include a “prohibition on racing of and wagering on greyhounds (emphasis added).”

“We’ve been tweaking this amendment for a month to be sure the ban protects dogs w/ the least impact on the industry,” Lee tweeted Wednesday. “That poll question was more sterile than a racing greyhound! When properly worded the ban polls @ 60%+.”

Advocates rally to save Tobacco Free Florida funding” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — If passed, a proposed constitutional amendment to redirect dollars from tobacco-prevention efforts to cancer research would turn “a bad idea into a hard reality,” one opponent said Wednesday morning. Later that same day, however, the amendment’s sponsor deleted the section about cancer research funding. Longtime Tallahassee PR man Ron Sachs joined former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and others in a conference call to beat back the proposal (P94), filed by Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) member and House Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez. The call was sponsored by the American Cancer Society of Florida’s Cancer Action Network.


— @RealDonaldTrump: Today the House took major steps toward securing our schools by passing the STOP School Violence Act. We must put the safety of America’s children FIRST by improving training and by giving schools and law enforcement better tools. A tragedy like Parkland can’t happen ever again!

— @JaclynCorin: It’s been one month. One month since our hearts broke and our innocence was stripped away. Students: join us today at 10 a.m. for the National School Walkout in commemoration of the 17 souls we lost & to display dissatisfaction with current gun legislation.

— @SenBillNelson: Joined the students protesting out front of the Capitol today. So much energy and determination in these kids. They’re counting on us to act and we can’t let them down.

— @StevePersall: I respect @RealJamesWoods as an actor. Watched him passionately work with Ringling film school students. He once called to thank me for writing something that made his Mom happy. His callous, ill-informed attacks on young activists like @davidhogg111 wouldn’t make her proud.

— @ZacJAnderson: Galvano calls politics surrounding the gun bill “disheartening”

— @DavidJollyFL: Historical note: Rep. Tom Foley of Washington served for 30 yrs. He was elected Speaker of the House in 1989. In 1990 he was re-elected w 69%. In 1992 he was re-elected w 55%. In 1994, he lost w 49%, becoming the first sitting Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for re-election.

— @JimRosicaFL: If you are following #FLCRC process, check the website. A slew of “amendments to amendments” have been filed; 2 p.m. today was deadline to file them. (You must click on each proposal to view.)

— @MarcACaputo: If there’s one thing the entire nation should copy from Arizona, it’s the refusal to engage in this daylight-saving time nonsense

— @Grant_Gilmore: Many Florida counties, including Pinellas, Polk and Manatee are forecast to have an EXTREME fire danger index tomorrow. It’d be a good idea to hold off on outdoor burning for now.

— @LizbethKB: Excited for the young ladies of @FGCU_WBB for making the NCAA tournament. They’ve made SWFL proud and I look forward to rooting them on against Missouri!

— @UCF_MarcDaniels: With the walk-off win by the Knights, @UCF_Baseball and @UCF_Football each own a 13 game win streak. Each team has the nation’s longest win streak in their sport.


St. Patrick’s Day — 2; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 9; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 14; Easter — 17; NFL Draft begins — 42; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 49; Mother’s Day — 59; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 71; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 99; Primary Election Day — 166; College Football opening weekend — 170; General Election Day — 236; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 336; 2019 Legislative Session — 355.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


’Enough is enough’: U.S. students stage walkouts against guns” via Collin Binkley of The Associated Press – Around the nation, students left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in Florida. At some schools, students didn’t go outside but lined the hallways, gathered in gyms and auditoriums or wore orange, the color used by the movement against gun violence. Over and over, students declared that too many young people have died and that they are tired of going to school every day afraid of getting killed. “Enough is enough. People are done with being shot,” said Iris Foss-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. Some schools applauded students for taking a stand or at least tolerated the walkouts, while others threatened punishment. As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photo on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

Chuck Grassley slams Florida officials for not attending hearing on school safety” via Lydia Wheeler of The Hill — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley of Iowa blasted a pair of Florida officials for refusing to appear before the committee for its hearing on school safety and gun control measures. The panel had called on Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Michael Carroll, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, to appear for the hearing held following the deadly school shooting in Parkland last month. “By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida they serve,” Grassley said. “As we will discuss during the hearing, the Broward County Sheriff and Department of Children and Families are integral to the Parkland fact pattern.” Grassley said it was disappointing Israel refused to speak before Congress, given the sheriff’s appearance on television in the weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting to discuss the tragedy.

Chuck Grassley is slamming Florida officials for not responding to a hearing on Parkland.

’People are bleeding.’ New 911 calls from Parkland show terror of those trapped inside” via Nicholas Nehmas and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald – The calls shed some light on the terror inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during Cruz’s rampage … Students and staff can be heard begging 911 operators for help — as at least one BSO deputy was waiting outside the building where people were injured and dead. The student being comforted by the 911 operator said three people were shot in her classroom, room 1216. Two were beyond help, she sobbed. A third student, however, lying next to her, was still alive. He’d been shot in the head. “So he’s breathing, yes or no?” the operator asked. “Yes,” the girl replied. Law enforcement had a good sense of where Cruz struck: Many of the callers reported he was shooting up Building 12, where freshman classes were held. “We are getting a lot of calls from that 1200 building,” one Coral Springs 911 operator told a parent who called in to report the shooting.


Andrew Gillum buoyed by gun control, immigration debate” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — After a profile-raising month in which he tangled with both the NRA and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Gillum‘s campaign for governor appears to be on the upswing. He seized the limelight after the school shooting in Parkland, leading a student march on the Capitol and making multiple appearances on national television to push for a ban on assault weapons. He capitalized on the immigration debate after Corcoran unveiled stark TV ads against sanctuary city policies, holding his own against the likely GOP gubernatorial candidate in a highly publicized debate last month. And after a fundraising downturn in January, his campaign and political committee rebounded last month with nearly $250,000 in donations, though a big chunk of the money, some $100,000, came in a single check from a group supporting progressive black candidates. Some of the headwinds against Gillum — namely the FBI corruption probe that has engulfed City Hall — seemed to die down last month after federal court documents surfaced showing the FBI is investigating his colleague, City Commissioner Scott Maddox, in an alleged bribery scheme.

— “Just when you think Andrew Gillum is having a good day…” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

— “A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Assignment editors – Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is hosting a roundtable that focuses on the state’s opioid crisis and will feature representatives of law enforcement and local elected officials. Roundtable begins 2:30 p.m. at The Palm Beach County Robert Weisman Governmental Center, 301 North Olive Avenue, 12th Floor in West Palm Beach.

David Richardson video ad in CD 27 discusses abortion, prison reform, being gay” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Richardson has released his first digital video ad discussing abortion, prison reform, and his status as Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker … “I decided to talk about these issues publicly. I’m not afraid to talk about this stuff out loud. And I’m not going to be afraid to talk about it when I get to Washington D.C.,” Richardson declares in what could be seen as the video’s theme, though the statement immediately follows the discussion of his prison reform initiatives. “Places” is the third video produced by Richardson’s campaign but the first involving a digital media advertising buy. Richardson begins by describing himself as a progressive Democrat and then relating how he grew up in a modest home with parents who lived “paycheck to paycheck,” and says he understands the struggles people go through to make ends meet. From there, he follows a theme “Places Have Meanings,” speaking while footage shows him standing in various locations around Miami-Dade County.

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Save the date — Republican Nick DiCeglie will be raising money for his HD 66 bid Friday, March 23, beginning 6 p.m. at The Mayor’s Mansion, 609 11th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg.

Second Democrat files for House District 98” via Florida Politics – Democrat Andrew Dolberg announced Wednesday that he would run for the House District 98 seat currently held by Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole. Edwards announced last week that she would not run for re-election. … In his announcement, Dolberg touted his active role in the Broward Democratic Party and his background as a small business owner. … “I’m running for the Florida House of Representatives in order to advocate for progressive, long-term solutions to the problems we face here in Broward County,” Dolberg said. “I have spent nearly my entire life in this district and I understand the unique needs of our communities.” … Dolberg is up against Davie resident Michael Gottlieb in the primary race for the safe Democratic seat.


In Tampa visit, Rick Scott highlights $10 billion in tax cuts … and that gun legislation” via William Kennedy of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott kicked off a three-city tour in Tampa by touting his $10 billion in tax cuts while governor and addressing the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against the state. Scott said that during this Legislative Session … the state passed more than $550 million in tax reductions, creating $10 billion during his seven-year tenure. During his appearance … he highlighted the hurricane preparation sales tax holiday, as well as reductions in the tax on agricultural supplies and commercial leases. Scott also spoke on student walkouts across the state in response to the Parkland shooting last month, saying he doesn’t blame the children for wanting to be safe in school. Scott said school safety was a big reason why he signed the measure to raise the legal age to purchase a gun to 21, sparking the NRA action. “I’m going to fight for this legislation. I think it’s going to do what I believe in,” Scott said. “It’s going to increase school safety. I want every parent to know when they send a child to school, I want them to feel comfortable that [their] child is going to a safe place.”

Gov. Rick Scott visits Stevens Construction, a health care and commercial construction management firm founded and headquartered in Fort Myers, to highlight what the Governor’s Office says is more than $10 billion in taxes cut for Florida families and job creators during Scott’s time in office.

School superintendents ask Scott for a special session to boost education funding” via Jeff Solochek and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — “We are grateful the state stepped up … to pass a school safety bill,” said Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district suffered Florida’s most deadly school shooting in February. “However, that I believe is being done at the expense of our core business.” Legislative leaders scoffed at the idea. Senate President Joe Negron said no special session is needed. “The budget approved by the Legislature … makes an unprecedented investment in K-12 education, including a more than $100 increase in per-student funding,” Negron said. “The funding formula approved by the Legislature directs schools districts to utilize some of the increase in funding to prioritize school safety and mental health. In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just one month ago, providing key resources school districts need to keep our children safe is a priority of the Senate.”

Budget is on governor’s desk — Gov. Scott’s office said it had “received the 2018-19 state budget (HB 5001) from the Florida Legislature, as well as all related implementing bills.” He now has 15 days, or until March 29, to approve it, veto it, or strike out individual spending projects by using his line-item veto power. The $88.7 billion budget was approved by lawmakers Sunday, meeting in an extension of the 2018 Legislative Session.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott continues his statewide tour to promote $10 billion in tax cuts during his time in office. At 10 a.m., he will visit Paradise Exteriors, 1918 Corporate Dr. in Boynton Beach. At 3:30 p.m., the Governor will appear at Industrial Lighting Products, 519 Codisco Way in Sanford.

2018 Legislature was the least productive in two decades” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — The Senate passed just 85 of its bills, 10 fewer than it did in 2017 and hundreds less than it regularly passed in the early 2000s. The House passed 286, an above-average number for Sessions during Gov. Scott’s tenure that reflects the relatively more activist nature of Speaker Corcoran. But getting bills through both houses proved difficult. Forty-six percent of bills that passed one house (excluding one-house resolutions) failed to get out of the other. That’s the highest failure rate since 1998, the earliest year for which records were available. The low numbers come after a steady decline in that time span. The trend is going clearly toward fewer bills sent to the governor’s desk. Whether a session is in an election year or not makes little difference in the total number.

New World School of the arts dodged a big budget cut last year. This year it didn’t” via Emily Mahoney of the Miami Herald – Although Billy Corben graduated from Miami’s New World School of the Arts more than 20 years ago, he’s remained connected to that community through its network of star-studded alumni, his classmates. But in recent days, those roots of the documentary filmmaker who produced and directed “Cocaine Cowboys” have meant he’s been getting pinged on social media by current students of the public arts school — kids he’s never met. “I’m getting messages from high school kids who are desperate, petrified, despondent about the fate of their school,” Corben said. That’s because in this year’s budget passed by the state Legislature last week, all of the school’s supplemental state funding — $500,000 — was cut. Those dollars are above what typical public schools receive and are used by New World to provide its unique arts programming and hire specialized faculty to teach in the school’s four core disciplines of dance, music, theater and visual arts. “This is a state jewel that shines brightly across the country. This is the home school for the stars that put ‘Moonlight’ on the map,” said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “What message are we sending to the stars in the making?”

’It was time for a sabbatical’: Scandals drive Brian Pitts away” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — After years of being a persistent — sometimes annoying — presence in committee rooms across the Capitol, only one thing was able to make Tallahassee’s best-known gadfly hang up his corduroy jacket: a snowball of scandals. “[Jack] Latvala, [Jeff] Clemens, [Frank] Artiles — all this happened in one year. In one year! No, that is not acceptable, and it was too much. It was time for a sabbatical,” said Pitts, a self-described “civil activist” for Justice 2 Jesus. “Latvala was an old fool trying to play with the young bucks as they do,” Pitts said. “Instead of using that institutional knowledge, he goes and acts like the young bucks, and he got caught.” But Pitts said cases of misconduct began to take a toll on him early last year, before the sex scandals. The last drop, though, was Sen. Oscar Braynon, he said. “The Braynon and [Anitere] Flores affair, that was it … I gave the Legislature the opportunity to do without Mr. Gadfly or Mr. Preacher.”

Bill Galvano names Lisa Vickers chief of staff” via Florida Politics — “She brings a wealth of management experience gained from serving as executive director of the Department of Revenue under two Governors, combined with a strong and diverse background in public policy,” Galvano said in a statement … Vickers is a well-known figure among senators and Senate staff as she has served as an adviser to the last three Senate presidents. She also worked for the state’s Department of Revenue for more than 20 years. Vickers is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Business and the Florida State University College of Law. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1990. The Tallahassee-based chief of staff will work with Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, during his 2018-20 legislative term.


Marco Rubio wants U.S. to keep daylight saving time year-round” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Rubio filed two bills … The Sunshine Protection Act, which would apply to the country, and the Sunshine State Act, which would give Florida approval to establish permanent DST within its boundaries. Rubio said in a release: “Reflecting the will of the Sunshine State, I proudly introduce these bills that would approve Florida’s will and, if made nationally, would also ensure Florida is not out of sync with the rest of the nation.” Rubio said a national adoption would benefit the economy, reduce robberies and car crashes and make children more active, reducing obesity, among other benefits. But not everyone is on board. FLPTA Legislative: “It’s not the will of the PTA as it will negatively impact the safety of our children in the morning. We don’t need more children standing in the dark waiting for a bus.”

David Jolly seeks protection against stalking by man jailed over tweet” via Dennis Joyce of the Tampa Bay Times — Jolly filed a petition March 2 in Pinellas circuit court for protection against stalking by Gerald Patrick McGuire, 55, of Clearwater, who goes by Jerry McGuire on Twitter under the handle @costaricancreat. Clearwater police arrested McGuire Feb. 23 on a felony charge of making written threats to do kill or do bodily harm for a tweet posted Feb. 18 that invokes “2nd amendment rights” and says “shoot David jolly shoot him.” Beginning Oct. 1, the petition says, “a series of harassing statements directed at Jolly” were posted, numbering about 50 and appearing on both Twitter and Facebook. Among the threats cited in the petition are “hope they hang you,” “kick in the mouth,” and “traitor treason tyranny lobbyist trailer trash.” They culminated, according to the petition, in the “most horrific of his posts” on the afternoon of Feb. 18, linking Jolly to Scientology and urging that he be shot. A judge issued an order of no contact in the case March 9 as a condition of McGuire’s release on bail. The order also says, “No social media allowed.”

David Jolly is seeking legal action against a stalker.

Key question in Pulse trial for Orlando gunman’s wife: How much did she know?” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Prosecutors portrayed [Noor] Salman as a calculating partner who joined [Omar] Mateen on trips to scout possible targets and who fabricated a cover story for him on the night of the shooting. They have charged her with aiding and abetting Mateen and with lying to the FBI; if convicted, she could face life in prison. Her defense depicted Salman in an entirely different light: as a devoted parent of a toddler and as a woman with limited intelligence who had been cheated on and abused for years by her controlling husband. Salman has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the attack. Crucial to the outcome of the trial will be what jurors make of statements that Salman gave to the FBI on the day of the attack. While the shooting was still underway, law enforcement officers went to the family’s apartment in Fort Pierce … and found her asleep there. She was taken to a local FBI headquarters and remained with agents, speaking without an attorney, until midnight. During that time, Salman gave statements that agents said were inconsistent. She also signed written statements appearing to acknowledge that she was aware of what Mateen had planned, and saying that she was sorry.

Citizens, hit with $12.7 million verdict, acted in ‘monumental bad faith,’ homeowner says” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times – In 2007, residents of the Cloverplace Condos began to notice unmistakable signs of sinkhole activity. Even as claims were filed on more than 100 units and property values plunged, the community’s insurer, Citizens Property Insurance, never paid a cent. Citizen’s conduct shows “monumental bad faith and (is) a textbook example of how not to deal with a insured customer,” complained homeowner Dennis McKenna. Last week, a Pinellas County jury agreed, announcing one of the largest verdicts ever against state-run Citizens — $12.7 million. That’s the estimated amount it would take to stabilize 83 of the homes. But the story doesn’t end there. Citizens plans to appeal. “Simply making a cash payment that does not require repairs to be made is not in the best interest of Citizens or the community,” the company said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that once again Citizens fights and fights homeowners to where a jury finally has to say, ‘You’re wrong and the homeowner is right,’” said Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Fasano, who as a state Senator tried to help the Cloverplace owners. “I guess the big question is how much does it cost Citizens and its premium payers for these attorneys that keep losing?”

Space Florida President Frank DiBello forecasting thousands of rocket launches in future years” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The market for private space launches is heading toward 800 to 1,000 launches a year of satellites and other space hardware; the Florida Spaceport at Cape Canaveral needs to be positioned to host as much of that business as possible, DiBello told his board: “We’re not going to be able to capture all of that [business] at Florida Spaceport but we sure are going to try.” For now, Cape Canaveral business is limited to launches by SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance and rare launches by other companies such as Orbital ATK at Kennedy and Cape Canaveral AFS. But Space Florida also controls a couple of mostly-dormant launchpads, and now authorized improvements to one of those to accommodate small- to medium-sized private rockets, as well as the beginnings of an aviation fuel farm at the former Space Shuttle Landing Strip at Kennedy, now operated by Space Florida as a private airport.

Former Coke Florida president sues company and CEO” via Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Reginald Goins, a co-founder and former president of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, says he is owed at least $42.8 million after he was fired from his job March 6. Goins is asking for the money — which he says would represent his equity stake in the company — in a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court against Coke Florida and the company’s chairman and CEO, Troy Taylor. Goins’ lawsuit provides an inside look at the growth and financial position of the company, one of the largest privately held companies headquartered in Tampa Bay, with more than $1.2 billion in revenue in 2017, and details the unraveling of a business partnership between Goins and Taylor. Coke Florida has not yet filed a court response.


Booze bills make their way through the Legislature every year — but some in the business say there’s no need for change.

We got the scoop at a trade show hosted by beer distributor Tri-Eagle Sales, where 30 different breweries showcased their suds on Wednesday. Tri-Eagle distributes for more than 2,000 brands in North and North-Central Florida.

Regarding legislation, Tri-Eagle President Ken Daley said, “I don’t really look out there and say ‘there’s something that can help.’” He said that beer distribution is a vibrant business because “the playing field is level” between retailers, distributors and suppliers — and he’d like to keep it that way.

Advocacy arm: While beer distributors aren’t looking to change laws, they often find themselves needing representation in the Legislature to advocate against potentially harmful proposals. For that, Daley’s turned to Mitchell Rubin, who heads the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association.

Opposition: FBWA and Daley opposed legislation this year that would’ve permitted beer advertisements in theme parks. They said it would’ve led to some brands influencing which beer theme parks choose to stock, which would eventually limit which brands distributors carry.

Laissez-beer: Daley and Rubin want to keep the beer market as fair and competitive as possible — unlike what’s happened to the soda industry. Beer aisles, they said, stock dozens of brands, whereas Pepsi and Coke dominate soda aisles.


Texting, guns, harassment law: A look at what the Florida Legislature didn’t do” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Some of the bills that died should have passed. Others deserved slow, painful deaths: Harassment reform … legislators never approved it … something to remember the next time one of these scandals happens; texting while driving; textbook suggestion … this fringy bill would’ve empowered activists or parents who thought they were better suited than educators to select school textbooks; UCF license plate; no serious gun measures; guns around legislators; recording confessions … they are eager to convict and kill … not as keen on getting the evidence to ensure they’re convicting or killing the right people; “Healthy Marriage” reading requirements … stalled after people starting asking if Florida legislators — four of whom were caught having affairs and for whom the term “session wives” was coined for the mistresses some keep in Tallahassee — were really the right ones to tell other people how to remain faithful.

Major Harding: Keep our Florida Constitution clean” via Florida Politics — A state’s constitution should govern with broad, general concepts, avoiding specifics and micromanagement as to not ruin its special status as a fundamental document.  A constitution is like the foundation of a house and statutes are like the exterior and finishes built upon that foundation. However, the foundation, the Florida Constitution, should only be altered when fundamental change is required. Our state’s constitution is meant to withstand the test of time.  Yet, the Florida Constitution is becoming riddled with countless, ordinary laws and specifics of government policy and regulation, such as the confinement of pregnant pigs, that lessen its status.  The Florida Constitution is already nearly three times longer than the U.S. Constitution …  We simply believe such issues are best addressed through ordinary legislation and not enshrined in our state constitution. We should not allow our Florida Constitution to become even more cluttered.  We must keep our Florida Constitution clean.

Former Supreme Court Justice Major Harding wants to keep the Florida Constitution ‘clean.’

Annie Jae Filkowski: Fake women’s health centers deceive women” via Florida Politics — In March 2014, I was 16 years old and scared because there was a chance I was experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. Every day on my way to school I would pass a Community Pregnancy Center, sometimes called a CPC. I did not know much about this facility, except it advertised on the side of its building: “FREE PREGNANCY TESTING.” I thought maybe this was a legitimate health facility that could help me. I learned quickly this was not a legitimate health care provider — even though the Florida Legislature wants you to think it is. These fake women’s health centers advertise free pregnancy testing and pregnancy-options education, but they oppose abortion and contraception and therefore will not provide comprehensive counseling or referrals. The Florida Legislature passed House Bill 41, legislation that would permanently send millions in tax dollars to these fake women’s health centers that oppose abortion and judge, shame and intentionally try to trick women. If Gov. Scott cares about being a good steward of our tax dollars and supports deception-free, comprehensive, medically accurate women’s health care, he will veto HB 41.


Personnel note: Amy Weintraub joins Progress Florida Weintraub is now the organization’s Reproductive Rights Program Director and Deputy Communications Director, said Damien Filer, the Communications Director. “She will be a great source for the media on issues surrounding reproductive rights and will be available as a spokesperson on abortion rights and a broad range of health care-related issues,” he said. Weintraub most recently served as the League of Women Voters of Florida state chair for the Reproductive Health & Justice Action Team. She also was a lead organizer for the 2017 St. Petersburg Women’s March, St. Pete’s largest public demonstration in its history.

Amy Weintraub (center) is the newest member of the Progress Florida team.

While you were busy with Session — Court records show a Leon County judge set jury selection for April 13 in the case of Lisa Edgar, the former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, who was charged after an alleged drunk-driving hit and run. Edgar, 54, is charged with driving under the influence causing damage to person or property, a first-degree misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a crash with damage, a second-degree misdemeanor. She waived an arraignment and pleaded “not guilty” last April. Last February, Edgar resigned as director of the Florida Park Service after less than two months on the job, citing “an immediate family emergency.” Edgar was a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, the panel that regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, and has been a deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Appointed — Dr. Ryan Estevez and Marco Lopez (reappointed) to the Florida State Boxing Commission.

— ALOE —

Florida retailers expect St. Patrick’s Day to bring good luck — The Florida Retail Federation expects St. Patrick’s Day spending to set a record of $5.9 billion nationally, the highest level in the 14-year history of the survey and far surpasses last year’s record of $5.3 billion. The average person is expected to spend $39.65 up from last year’s previous record. The survey, conducted by FRF’s national partners at the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, found consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76 … 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant … 50 percent will purchase food, 41 percent beverages, 31 percent apparel or accessories, 26 percent decorations and 16 percent candy. Of those making purchases, 38 percent will go to grocery stores, 31 percent to discount stores, 20 percent to department stores and 19 percent to bars or restaurants.

Happy birthday to former Senate President Mike Haridopolos and state Sen. Audrey Gibson as well as one of the true saints of this earth, Kristin McDonald, who must endure Mike Grissom so that the rest of us don’t have to.

Last Call for 3.14.18 — 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

A coalition of business leaders is “applauding” the Legislature for “defeating the anti-immigrant, anti-jobs ‘show me your papers’ bill, which would have eroded” the relationship between immigrants and law enforcement authorities, according to a Wednesday release.

The measure (HB 9/SB 308) was better known as the “sanctuary cities ban,” spearheaded by Republican Speaker Richard Corcoran.

The group includes MBF Healthcare Partners chairman Mike Fernandez, a South Florida billionaire and longtime Republican political contributor.

Others are Greenberg Traurig Senior Chairman Cesar Alvarez, retired CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines Bob Dickinson, and Related Companies Chairman and CEO Steve Ross.

“Despite a $700,000 ad-buying campaign to promote (it), the bill was defeated,” the release said.

Why their opposition? The bottom line.

They referred to “similar anti-immigrant legislation passed in Arizona (that) resulted in the loss of $141 million in direct tourist spending and a 2 percent annual reduction in Arizona’s (gross domestic product) from 2008 to 2015.”

Evening Reads

Thousands of students, teachers march on White House to call for better gun control” via Mel Leonor and Kimberly Hefling

Chuck Grassley slams Florida officials for not attending hearing on school safety” via Lydia Wheeler of The Hill

In Tampa visit, Rick Scott highlights $10 billion in tax cuts … and that gun legislation” via William Kennedy of the Tampa Bay Times

Ban Assault Weapons Now’ starts Florida constitutional amendment push” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

School superintendents ask Rick Scott for a special session to boost education funding” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times

Andrew Gillum buoyed by gun control, immigration debate” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Officer describes first moments of Pulse massacre during Noor Salman’s trial: ‘Time froze’” via Krista Torralva and Bianca Padro Ocasio of the Orlando Sentinel

Space Florida President Frank DiBello forecasting thousands of rocket launches in future years” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Florida has the 9th lowest tax rates in the country” via Florida Trend

St. Johns ranked healthier county in Florida” via Dan McAuliffe of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“Until FDLE determines the actual facts of what occurred on February 14, our agency is respectfully refraining from participating in any other public reviews of the incident.” — Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, in a letter to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m., Embassy Suites West Palm Beach Central, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.

Gov. Rick Scott continues his statewide tour to promote $10 billion in tax cuts during his time in office. At 10 a.m., he will visit Paradise Exteriors, 1918 Corporate Dr. in Boynton Beach.

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

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is hosting a roundtable that focuses on the state’s opioid crisis and will feature representatives of law enforcement and local elected officials. Roundtable begins 2:30 p.m. at The Palm Beach County Robert Weisman Governmental Center, 301 North Olive Avenue, 12th Floor, in West Palm Beach.

At 3:30 p.m., the Governor will appear at Industrial Lighting Products, 519 Codisco Way in Sanford.

Former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham will give a keynote address during a Florida Conservation Coalition conference on the “Endangered Apalachicola.” That’s at 6 p.m., Florida State University, University Center Club, Tallahassee.

A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade

Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”

On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.

Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.

What you see in the picture (and the other five or six that Graham’s campaign sent to me) is the very essence of compassion and empathy. It’s Clintonian “I feel your pain.”

I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.

I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.

Burnishing her sympathy cred: Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham spent Tuesday working at an early childhood education center in Immokalee to learn about “the needs of the migrant families” there.

I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.

I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.

If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.

I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).

I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).

Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:

Why isn’t her campaign doing better?

Why is she struggling to raise real money?

Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?

Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?

Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.

On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.

On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.

Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.

The polls indicate that Graham is the nominal front-runner. And it’s a mistake to label Graham, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo does, a “weak” front-runner.

To the contrary, she’s a good candidate running against three other good candidates. This primary will be won with the four candidates separated by no more than a dozen or so points.

Yet there are too-frequent reminders that Graham’s position atop the polls is precarious.

Gillum recently announced that he has the support of top Democratic fundraiser Bob Poe.

On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.

Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.

Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.

It’s becoming hard to look at.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.14.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

A proposed constitutional amendment to ban betting on dog racing would lose at the ballot, according to a latest opinion poll.

The proposal (P67), now before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is polling at only 45 percent approval; it needs 60 percent at the November ballot box to be added to the state’s constitution.

“With the proposal to phase out greyhound racing, as with any ballot proposal, the language will be critical,” said Steve Vancore, president of Clearview Research, which conducted the poll.

The firm asked election attorney Glenn Burhans of Stearns Weaver Miller to “review the staff analyses and provide guidance on developing ‘neutral’ ballot language,” according to a press release.

“We know from other work that animal welfare is usually a very popular concept with Florida voters, and a measure that signals it is a proposal to protect dogs would likely have broader support,” Vancore said.

“However, the current iteration, while technically correct, almost perfectly splits respondents 45 percent to 44 percent,” he added. “As such, if the wording does not change, it will likely fail at the ballot.

“Given this confusion, versus the stated intent during committee discussions, we are relatively confident that changing this approach would have a profound impact on the results.”

We passed along the poll results to the proposal’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa, for comment.

Also included in this poll were two other CRC proposals, including one that would require a two-thirds ‘supermajority’ vote of each chamber of the Legislature to raises taxes or fees (P72).

“Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents supported this measure,” Vancore said. “This is a clear and easy-to-understand measure that seems to have enough support to pass, and without an organized campaign to defeat it, likely will.

And another would create a nursing home residents’ ‘bill of rights’ (P88).

“While there has been much talk about what should or should not be in the Florida Constitution, we see consistent support for the notion that ‘rights’ of citizens should be included,” Vancore said.

“This proposition is no exception with an astonishing 86 percent supporting this notion. If placed on the ballot and worded even closely to the language drafted by Mr. Burhans, we are confident this will pass by a comfortable margin.”


— @APDiploWriter: While in Africa, Tillerson was told only that there might be a presidential tweet concerning him coming soon. He didn’t know what it might be, when it might come, or even if it would come, He learned of his termination Tuesday morning from the tweet.

— @RepDeSantis: Mike Pompeo will do a great job as Secretary of State. He’s smart, tough, and works his tail off. Congrats to Mike and hats off to @POTUS for making an excellent choice!

— @TroyKinsey: The return of “deplorables”: as #flsen revs up, new @NRSC press memo on @SenBillNelson highlights importance of the Trump base to GOP prospects: “As one of Hillary’s biggest supporters, does Bill Nelson support the dismissive and insulting comments Clinton made about Floridians?”

— @LearyReports: Rubio acknowledges many Parkland families want more but calls bill a good first step. “We just want to get it done.”

— @CarlosGSmith: I’m not afraid to have a public dialogue on gun control. Trying to shout me down or ‘gunsplain’ things to me during a debate will not work. Where is the civil discussion? This is why we can’t have nice things!

— @NoahPransky: This morning in St. Pete, when asked about Florida’s weak texting & driving laws, @FLGovScott seemed unaware @joenegronfl killed the reform. “Our session just ended…so I’m reviewing that bill.”

— @RichardCorcoran: Here in Florida, I am committed to ensuring every student has a world class education. Proud to have passed an education bill that expands school choice and offers hope for students who have been victims of abuse.

— @AmySherman1: It is historic that Fort Lauderdale elected its first openly gay mayor. But this election was largely about water, sewer and development.

— @GBennettPost: There’s no #ElectionNight party quite like a Palm Beach Town Council election night party.


St. Patrick’s Day – 3; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 10; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 15; Easter – 18; NFL Draft begins – 43; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 50; Mother’s Day – 60; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 72; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 100; Primary Election Day — 167; College Football opening weekend – 171; General Election Day — 237; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 337; 2019 Legislative Session – 356.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Scoop –Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano raising money for Andrew Gillum” via Florida Politics – Gillum heads to California this week to mingle with celebrities and Democratic activists at a high-profile fundraiser at the Santa Monica home of entertainment industry lawyer Skip Brittenham and his wife, actress and author Heather Thomas. Tallahassee’s mayor is one of three Democratic candidates for governor in 2018 to be featured at the Thursday reception; Stacey Abrams of Georgia and David Garcia of Arizona are joining the event, which will also benefit Gillum’s associated PAC, Forward Florida. Among those on the blockbuster host committee include actors Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano and Rashida Jones, Democratic consultant Van Jones, as well as producers Norman Lear (founder of People for the American Way), Susan Harris and Paul Junger Witt, who have been longtime Democratic supporters.

Gwen Graham workday with migrants in Immokalee – Graham’s latest Workday was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association in Immokalee. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate spent a shift helping the early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of the migrant families. “Before the Redland Christian Migrant Association opened its doors, many farmworkers had no option but to take their young children into the fields with them,” Graham said. “Today, the RCMA serves nearly 7,000 children of migrant farmworkers and rural, low-income families in more than 68 centers throughout Florida. These early education and Head Start services for migrant families, who travel between states as the agriculture seasons change, are vital to Florida.”

Burnishing her sympathy cred: Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham spent Tuesday working at an early childhood education center in Immokalee to learn about “the needs of the migrant families” there.

Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials. With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.”

First in Sunburn – Levine names Keith Fitzgerald as policy adviserLevine announced former state Rep. Fitzgerald will serve as the campaign’s policy adviser. “Keith understands what’s at stake in this election and why giving Floridians a bold vision is key to winning the Governor’s race this year,” Levine said in a statement. “Levine will be a Governor who I believe can truly bring the change we need to a state that desperately needs it,” Fitzgerald added. The former two-term Sarasota County state lawmaker currently serves as a professor of political science at New College in Sarasota.

Bob Buesing, Jason Pizzo rake in cash for Senate rematches” via the News Service of Florida – Buesing raised $63,616 last month for his bid to unseat Sen. Dana Young in Senate District 18 … Buesing, who lost to Young in 2016, entered this year’s race in mid-January and had raised an overall total of $81,464 as of Feb. 28. Young raised $271,194 for her campaign account as of the end of February. Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade County, Pizzo, an attorney, raised $50,169 in February for his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38. Pizzo, who lost a 2016 primary to Campbell, also loaned $25,000 to his campaign in January … Campbell had raised $77,784 as of Feb. 28. In North Florida, Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking raised $24,446 in February, bringing the overall total to $179,107 in her bid to unseat Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. Perry had raised $261,107 for his campaign account as of Feb. 28.

Jeff Brandes backs Ardian Zika for state House” via Florida Politics –  “[House District 37 frontrunner] Zika is a conservative Republican who knows what it takes to build a business, make payroll and grow our economy,” Brandes said. “Ardian’s story – how he left a civil war-torn country to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States – is an inspiration to me … I’m optimistic that the voters of House District 37 will also be inspired by Ardian’s story and will enthusiastically support him. Ardian’s life is proof that if you work hard and play by the rules you will have opportunity and be able to realize the American Dream. Ardian Zika has my strong support and endorsement this election and I hope he can count on you.”


Dean Trantalis elected mayor of Fort Lauderdale” via Peter Burke of – Voters in Fort Lauderdale elected the city’s first openly gay mayor Tuesday. Trantalis defeated Bruce Roberts in a runoff election to replace longtime Mayor Jack Seiler. With all but one precinct reporting, Trantalis received more than 5,600 votes than Roberts.

Bryan Nelson knocks Joe Kilsheimer from Apopka mayor’s office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Nelson, a one-term county commissioner who previously served in the Florida House, defeated Kilsheimer 61 to 38 percent, with a voter turnout of about 20.5 percent, with just over 6,400 votes cast in Orange County’s second-largest city. In unofficial results by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Nelson drew 2,786 votes, and Kilsheimer 1,733. Nelson is an insurance agent with deep family roots in Apopka, who had eschewed the chance to run for a second term, to run instead for the Apopka mayor’s office, a gambit that paid off. He will be sworn in April 24.

Clearwater voters re-elect Hoyt Hamilton, usher in newcomer David Allbritton for two City Council seats” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times – Incumbent Hamilton kept hold of Seat 5 with 78 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. He bested challenger John Funk, a real estate broker, in a heated race marked by high tension and attack mailers. Retired building contractor David Allbritton defeated advertising salesman Tom Keller with 67 percent of votes in the tamer race for Seat 4, being vacated by the term-limited Bill Jonson.

Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary breezes to re-election” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in easily defeating Jim Fitch. Leary, first elected mayor in 2015 during a much more contentious growth period for Winter Park, sought re-election pointing to more controlled but still steady growth, while Fitch tried to contend that the city’s growth still was a problem. In unofficial results posted by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, Leary drew 3,301 votes, to Fitch’s 1,278. That is 72 percent to 28 percent. Voter turnout was just over 21 percent in Winter Park.

— “Mike Butler wins big in Hallandale Beach special election” via Susannah Bryan of the Sun Sentinel

— “Angelo Castillo reelected in Pines, Ismael Monroe out” via Brian Ballou of the Sun Sentinel — PARKLAND —

With help of Parkland survivor, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson push school safety bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, is the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act and the House companion is up for a vote this week. It’s sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford … The legislation provides Justice Department grants for schools to train people to identify warning signs of troubled students, improve school security infrastructure, including anonymous reporting system and created threat assessment and crisis intervention teams as well as facilitates coordination between schools and local law enforcement … The bill would authorize $75 million for FY 2018, and $100 million annually for the next 10 years. Joining a bipartisan group of senators was Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv, who has differed with some other students who have demanded more strict gun controls. “I truly believe if this act had been in place a month ago, Parkland wouldn’t have happened,” Kashuv said.

D.C. officials call on Rubio to withdraw bill that steps on local gun restrictions” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials, including Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Ted Deutch, will call on Rubio to withdraw a bill that would effectively gut local gun regulations, some of the toughest in the country. Rubio introduced the measure before running for president in 2016, pleasing the NRA, (and has since reintroduced it, with no co-sponsors) but the legislation has become a sore point after the Parkland shooting. Critics note that Rubio said at the recent CNN town hall that he would support raising the purchase age of riles, but that his bill allows DC residents under age 21 to buy assault rifles. “It is heartening that Rubio has recently expressed support for raising the minimum age for purchasing a gun and for comprehensive background checks, but for the residents of the nation’s capital, it is also confounding, because it is the height of hypocrisy to unveil and promote these new stances while simultaneously working to gut D.C.’s local gun laws,” Bower wrote in an op/ed last week for the Miami Herald.

Prosecutors to seek death penalty for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz” via Paula McMahon and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – The decision by prosecutors undermines a defense strategy that would have resolved the case without a trial — Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and the defense team has offered to have Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison. But the State Attorney’s Office wouldn’t take capital punishment off the table, listing seven “aggravating factors” that a jury can use to justify ordering Cruz’s execution for the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those factors include the “heinous, atrocious and cruel” nature of the crime; the “cold, calculated and premeditated” manner in which it was carried out; and the fact that 17 victims were murdered and another 17 people were shot but survived.

Condition of wounded Stoneman Douglas shooting victim improves” via The Associated Press – Broward Health spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said Anthony Borges‘ condition has now been upgraded to fair. He had been in critical condition. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student is credited with saving the lives of 20 students by attempting to close and lock a classroom door during the Feb. 14 attack … The family’s attorney says that after surgeries, his intestinal area has been sealed off. Alex Arreaza says the student is breathing on his own after being taken off a ventilator. Borges’ family has filed notice that they will sue Florida authorities to seek money to cover the cost of his recovery.

— “Parkland parents, students take advocacy on road. Constitutional panel hears their pleas” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Thousands of would-be gun buyers failed a Florida background check last year. Here’s why.” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times – Lots of people, including fugitives and convicted felons, apparently do not know the rules for purchasing a gun going in … the FDLE last year received 990,314 inquiries for firearms transfers from licensed dealers, and 96 percent were approved at the time of the transaction. As for the other 4 percent, here are the reasons they were rejected: 4,170 for felony convictions; 717 for being under indictment; 556 for being a fugitive from justice; 920 for being user or addicted to any controlled substance; 871 for having been adjudicated as mentally defective or having been committed to any mental institution; 449 for being an illegal alien; 11 for having been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces; 3 for renouncing his or her U.S. citizenship; 1,185 for being subject to a restraining order; 1,174 for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; 2,587 for a wide range of state offenses, from child or elderly abuse to human trafficking and stalking.

University CFO resigns rather than leave board of gun maker” via the Miami Herald – Anita Britt offered her resignation Tuesday from St. Thomas University. Britt joined the Miami-area Catholic school on Jan. 5. She joined the board for American Outdoor Brands, parent company of Smith & Wesson, on Feb. 6, eight days before a shooting left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. The university’s president, the Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, said last week that Britt’s role with American Outdoor Brands wouldn’t conflict with her CFO position. But he asked her to make a choice Tuesday after students and faculty expressed concerns.


Seven thousand pairs of shoes, representing the children killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook, are spread out on the U.S. Capitol lawn by the global advocacy group Avaaz. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Local students to participate in national walkout” via Heather Osbourne of the –Students across Northwest Florida are preparing to participate in #ENOUGH National School Walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. In Okaloosa County, School District Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson sent high school and middle school students home with permission slips March 7, so they too could participate in the walkout. The #ENOUGH National School Walkout is organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower and, according to the website, is led by youth in every participating school. Jackson, though, called the event “Students Stand for Safety.” She said in the permission slip that the district’s walkout is not a protest but “rather it is an opportunity to reflect and for all to show unity supporting school safety. … The position of leaders across our county is that student safety should always be a top priority.”

St. Johns County students will join thousands across nation in school walkout” via Colleen Jones of the St. Augustine Record – Inspired by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre who have made public pleas to improve school safety, teenagers here in St. Johns County — mostly at the high school level — will join hundreds of thousands of other American students to voluntarily walk out of class at 10 a.m. that day. Many teachers, administrators and others are expected to join them in support. The goal of the national walkout is to appeal to lawmakers to “pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” according to Women’s March Youth EMPOWERS which is helping promote the event. But it will also be a time for reflection, and 17 minutes of dedicated silence at the beginning. While each of the students interviewed agreed that they wanted to honor the lives lost Feb. 14, not all of them said they wanted to make the protest political.

Students in local schools are planning to leave class for 17 minutes Wednesday. Here’s why” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald – In Manatee County, walkouts are planned at both State College of Florida and New College of Florida, according to EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, website. The page also shows a walkout planned at Manatee High School, along with a moment of silence in honor of the victims. Walkouts aim to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods” … Manatee County schools are allowing students to participate in the walkouts … School officials expect it to primarily affect high schools. “Students can go to the courtyard or another designated area inside the campus.”

— “Tampa Bay students prepare for March 14 walkout, say it won’t be the last” via Isabel Mascareñas of WTSP

— “South Florida students to call for gun control during national school walkout Wednesday” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Lee schools unclear on plans for nationwide student walkout Wednesday” via Seth Soffian of – In a one-page document … Lee schools “asks” that students and employees maintain “a normal operating day,” while outlining the consequences that students and teachers “may” be subject to for participating in the walkout. It reads, “The District respects individual viewpoints and is committed to recognizing the First Amendment rights of students and staff, however, we are concerned that walkouts may be a deviation to our schools’ standard supervision and safety procedures and may create a substantial disruption to the educational environment and could potentially create an unsafe situation for participants.” The memorandum to principals also cautions that “teachers do not have the legal right to engage in walkout or other work stoppages to support their students unless the district/school administration or other legal agreement has authorized the walkout.”

How young is too young for protest? A national gun-violence walkout tests schools” via Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis of the New York Times — With some parents wanting their children to get firsthand exposure to a nationwide political demonstration; others worried that the protests are stoking the fears of young children about a threat that remains uncommon; and still others objecting to the gun-control message entirely, one question has been weighing heavily on school administrators this past week: How young is too young for children to join the walkout? Many districts and schools that are tolerating, if not encouraging, participation in what organizers call the National School Walkout are also calibrating their approach for their youngest students. In New York City, middle and high school students may walk out of class with approval from a parent, such as with a permission slip, but elementary school students cannot leave unless a parent or guardian comes to check them out.


Millions of dollars in local projects still must survive Rick Scott’s veto pen” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – They include roads, water and sewer repairs, festivals, fire stations, street lights, a manatee hospital, a cattle call, and even a quilting museum — all courtesy of Florida taxpayers. Many are championed by a single legislator or a powerful lobbyist. The $88.7 billion budget … pays for dozens of projects in the Tampa Bay region. They include a $1.5 million study of extending the Suncoast Parkway toll road from Crystal River to Georgia for use as a hurricane evacuation route; $1 million for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority for a long-range regional transit plan; $1.5 million to move sediment from Lake Seminole in Pinellas; and $885,000 for a special needs emergency center in Hillsborough. Some other beneficiaries of the Legislature’s election-year largesse include Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, the Florida State Fair in Tampa and the Brooksville Fire Department. If Scott is faithful to his past record, many projects are doomed, because the two-term Republican governor will again use line-item veto power to reject them as wasteful and unnecessary.

Why are Florida lawmakers trying to get rid of this one ethics rule?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – in the frantic final hours of the legislative session, Florida’s Ethics Commission issued an extraordinary press release expressing “deep concern” and warning senators not to pass a bill that would have gutted part of the state’s ethics rules. The bill didn’t pass, but commissioners are worried after lawmakers have tried three times in the last two years to get rid of an obscure ethics rule dealing with lawyers serving on city and county commissions. Currently, ethics rules say a lawyer with the Gunster law firm representing a trash company, for example, can’t go before a local board in which another Gunster lawyer is a member. The reasons are obvious and irreconcilable, ethicists say. Even if the board member discloses the conflict of interests, the board member could still easily influence the outcome of a bid in other ways, by giving his law partner advice on how to influence the board, or by influencing county staff about the bid. Even the board member’s presence could influence his or her fellow board members. “No matter which way you turn it, it’s just an inherent conflict,” Ethics Commission Executive Director Virlindia Doss said. Nevertheless, lawyers in the Legislature are making a bipartisan effort to do away with the rule.

Workers’ comp, health care bills go to Scott” via the News Service of Florida – Three health care-related bills, including one to expand workers’ compensation insurance benefits for injured first responders, were sent to Gov. Scott, who will have until March 27 to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature. One (SB 376) would expand benefits for police officers, firefighters, emergency-medical technicians and paramedics who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder … State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Scott appointee and supporter of the bill, said last week that Scott would sign it into law. Scott also received SB 660, which would broaden a law that exempts health care sharing ministries from Florida’s insurance codes. The bill, if signed by Scott, would benefit some large health care ministries, including Melbourne-based Christian Care Ministries and its health care cost-sharing program known as Medi-Share. The Legislature also sent to Scott an Agency for Health Care Administration bill (SB 622), that would change how the state regulates hospitals, assisted living facilities and clinical laboratories.

University money could help draw top researchers” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida universities will share $151 million in funding next academic year that will allow them to recruit top-level researchers and improve professional and graduate schools. The Legislature increased funding for the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program by $20 million to $91 million and the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program by $10 million to $60 million. At the same time, Gov. Scott signed legislation (SB 4) that will make the world-class faculty and professional-degree programs a permanent part of the funding formula for the 12 state universities. Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who made the “Excellence in Higher Education Act” one of his priorities, said codifying the new programs and other provisions in the law, including using four-year graduation rates to measure university performance, give “the universities tools they need to better serve students and increase their accountability.”

Six days after saying he was out, Larry Lee reconsiders re-election” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — In the midst of an emotional last week of Session, a tearful state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. told his colleagues in the Florida House in a 40-minute speech that he would not seek re-election. Since then the phone has not stopped ringing, he said. Text messages keep blowing up his phone. And his mother has recommended to “close his ears,” search for solitude and reconsider the decision. So that is what he is doing, six days after making the announcement. Lee told Florida Politics on Tuesday that he was not in the “best frame of mind” when he decided to pull the plug on his political career. … Lee was one of the lawmakers who wanted to vote down the controversial gun and school safety measure and have Gov. Scott call for a special session to resolve the issue. … “That morning it all culminated,” Lee said. “It took those kids from Parkland to push me. I felt like we let them down. Some of our members said we should give them something, but I wanted to give them more.”

Retailers say blocking criminal justice proposal was among ‘biggest successes’” via Florida Politics – The head of the Florida Retail Federation said one of the trade association’s “biggest successes” was helping block a criminal justice reform that would have raised the threshold for a felony theft charge. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF’s president and CEO. Sen. Randolph Bracy and state Rep. Byron Donalds championed the bipartisan measure. The proposal intended to raise the threshold for a felony theft charge from $300 to $1,500. Florida has three of the lowest thresholds in the country and has not raised the amount since 1986. Shalley viewed the proposal as one that would have made retail more vulnerable. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” he said.


Rick Scott goes to appeals court in financial disclosure fight” via the News Service of Florida – Attorneys for Gov. Scott want an appeals court to block a Leon County circuit judge from moving forward with a case that alleges Scott has failed to properly comply with the state’s financial-disclosure requirements. Scott’s attorneys filed a petition last week at the 1st District Court of Appeal after Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Tallahassee lawyer Donald Hinkle. The petition by Scott’s attorneys contends, in part, that the Florida Commission on Ethics – not the circuit judge – has authority over financial-disclosure issues. “The circuit court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying action because the subject matter of the complaint below is committed to the jurisdiction of a separate administrative body: the Florida Commission on Ethics,” the petition said. Gievers issued a three-page order Feb. 26 denying the request to dismiss the case.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott is traveling the state to highlight $10 billion in tax cuts during his two terms in office. This includes nearly 100 individual tax cuts, as well as nearly $500 million during the recently ended 2018 Legislative Session. Scott’s tour begins 9 a.m. with a visit to Cox Fire Protection, 7910 Professional Place in Tampa. At 11:45 a.m., Scott will be at Imeca Doral, 8400 NW 58th St. in Doral. At 3 p.m., the Governor will finish up at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Drive in Fort Myers.

Backers push for Marsy’s Law—a crime victims’’ ‘bill of rights’ ” via Florida Politics – Before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) convened its final public hearing Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Gov. Scott joined others to support Marsy’s Law for Florida. A proposed constitutional amendment would grant equal rights to defendants and convicted criminals, and to victims and their family members. “It’s very important that Marsy‘s Law becomes the law of the land,” Scott said. Most states have taken steps to amend their constitutions to enumerate victims’ rights. Fifteen have not – including Florida.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors – Protect Tobacco Free Florida joins former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, experts and health advocates for a 10 a.m. conference call to make the case against Constitution Revision Commission’s Proposal 94, which would allow funds from the 1995 landmark settlement between the Sunshine State and Big Tobacco to be diverted away from prevention and be used for cancer research. Additionally, it would remove a requirement that one-third of the Tobacco Free Florida budget to focus on directly combating the marketing efforts of Big Tobacco. Conference line number is (888) 392-4560; Access code: 4536251.

AppointedRandall Ewers to College of Central Florida District Board of Trustees; JoAnn Rooney to Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board.


Florida has chosen Motorola Solutions for a contract to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, a deal that could reach upward of $100 million.

“Florida’s selection of Motorola Solutions to build a new statewide public safety radio system is a vote of confidence in our decades of successfully building mission-critical communications solutions throughout the state and nation,” company officials said in a statement.

– In naming Motorola, the state dropped Harris Corp., which had held the contract since September 2000.

– Reasons for the change include concerns over spotty or failed service, as well as Harris’ problems with encryption meant to lock out non-law enforcement radios.

– Problems with communication gear have led to the deaths of several officers across the country.

– The deal comes after nearly three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.

– Dozens of consultants and lobbyists were involved in the final agreement – Southern Strategy Group was on Motorola’s side; Harris had Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners, among other firms

The system, known as SLERS, is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state” and covers over 60,000 square miles (including 25 miles offshore) with 98 percent mobile coverage and portable coverage in selected areas.

— ALOE —

Larry Page’s flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode” via Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times – The airborne vehicle has been part of a series of “stealth” test flights by a company personally financed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google and now the chief executive of Google’s parent, Alphabet. The company, known as Kitty Hawk and run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google’s autonomous car unit as the director of Google X, has been testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi. This is an altogether different project from the one you might have seen last year in a viral video of a single-pilot recreational aircraft that was being tested over water, and it’s much more ambitious. Imagine starting a network of autonomous air taxis, as Uber is planning to, but long before Uber actually does. That’s what Mr. Page is trying to do.

Snow joke: Weatherman named Meteorologist runs for office” via The Associated Press – A former TV weatherman who legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson says there’s a 100 percent chance he’ll run for Congress in Pennsylvania under the new moniker … Anderson is collecting signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot for a run against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker. Anderson says he’s looking for a climate change in Washington … the weatherman changed his name from Drew Anderson last year and left his job at WPMT-TV Fox 43 two weeks ago. Anderson also has worked for NBC affiliate WGAL-TV in Lancaster and as a science teacher … locksmith Bill Neff also is seeking to run against Smucker in the primary.

Why hundreds of female meteorologists are donning purple for Pi Day” via Ashley Williams of AccuWeather – Weather broadcasters from across the country will once again reunite on Pi Day to encourage the involvement of women and young girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, for the third annual #DressForSTEM, local and national female meteorologists are doing away with “The Dress” and instead invite people of all backgrounds to join them in wearing purple clothing March 14. Photos of meteorologists matching in the famous dress originally went viral in December 2015 and later merged with Pi Day, which celebrates the mathematical constant of 3.14. “We realized that we were limiting it to just ourselves when there are so many other STEM careers,” said AccuWeather broadcast meteorologist Julia Weiden, who originally proposed the idea of female broadcasters donning the same dress.

Why the liquor industry wants to get self-driving cars on the road” via Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post – Two industry groups – one representing wine and liquor wholesalers, and another representing large producers – have thrown their weight behind coalitions lobbying to get autonomous vehicles on the road faster. Inherent in their support, analysts say, is an understanding that self-driving cars could revolutionize the way Americans drink. Brewers and distillers say autonomous vehicles could reduce drunk-driving. Without the need to drive home after a night at the bar, drinkers could also consume far more. And that will boost alcohol sales, one analysis predicts, by as much as $250 billion. “It makes a lot of sense that the industry is interested,” said Jim Watson, a senior beverage analyst at Rabobank, the multinational finance firm. “It’s a win-win for them: Self-driving cars could boost alcohol sales and simultaneously reduce drunk-driving.”

Happy birthday to Wilbur Brewton, Seth Platt, and Jeremy Susac.

Last Call for 3.13.18 — 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

As if employers didn’t have enough to be concerned about with the rising cost of workers’ comp, they also have to worry about employees injuring themselves on the job because of an opioid addiction.

In a Tuesday email, the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) said it was adding a “new and informative session” at its conference later this month in Boston on “Saving Lives — Building a Modern Pharmacy Program amid a Deadly Epidemic.”

“In 2011, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) found that more than 8,000 injured workers were opioid-dependent for taking the equivalent of at least 60 mg a day of morphine for 60 or more days,” according to the WCRI email.

“By the end of 2017, that number was reduced to 3,315, which meant 4,714 fewer injured workers were at risk for opioid addiction, overdose, and death than in 2011.

“In this session, Dr. Terrence Welsh, OBWC’s chief medical officer, will discuss the Bureau’s interventions to address the opioid epidemic, the impact of those interventions, and what the OBWC has on the horizon to build on its successes.”

We trust the good doctor has more hopeful news to share.

Ed. Note — Last night’s First Shot was in error; a corrected version is here.

Evening Reads

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke continues to confuse on oil drilling” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

With help of Parkland survivor, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson push school safety bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Death penalty sought for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz” via Rafael Olmeda and Paul McMahon of the Sun Sentinel

Condition of wounded Stoneman Douglas shooting victim improves” via Local 10 ABC

Thousands of would-be gun buyers failed a Florida background check last year. Here’s why.” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times

Voters would back school board term limits” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Backers push for Marsy’s Law — a crime victims’ ‘bill of rights’ ” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics

Millions of dollars in local projects must survive Rick Scott’s veto pen” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Why are Florida lawmakers trying to get rid of this one ethics rule” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Arts groups face major cutbacks in Florida budget” via Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Quote of the Day

“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on … Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice.” — Florida Congressman and candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis, speaking Tuesday on Fox News.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

Gov. Rick Scott is traveling the state to highlight $10 billion in tax cuts during his two terms in office. This includes nearly 100 individual tax cuts, as well as nearly $500 million during the recently ended 2018 Legislative Session. Scott’s tour begins 9 a.m. with a visit to Cox Fire Protection, 7910 Professional Place in Tampa.

Enterprise Florida holds a Board of Directors Meeting at 9 a.m., Embassy Suites West Palm Beach Central, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Marketing and Development holds a conference call at 9:30 a.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525 and the access code is 6610760704 then #.

The Space Florida Board of Directors is scheduled to meet at 11:30 a.m., Embassy Suites West Palm Beach Central, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.

At 11:45 a.m., Scott will visit Imeca Doral, 8400 NW 58th St. in Doral.

At 3 p.m., the Governor will finish up his daylong tax cut tour at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Drive in Fort Myers.

Lauren’s Kids will host the 8th Annual Walk in My Shoes advocacy walk with the St. Petersburg Police Department. Registration begins at 3 p.m., St. Petersburg Police Department, 1300 1st Avenue N, St. Petersburg.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.13.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is meeting Tuesday in St. Petersburg — and it “is going to be huge.”

“There’s a busload of folks coming over from Parkland,” said Lisa Hall, spokeswoman for a coalition of progressive and other groups. “One amendment that incorporates all of the legislative changes except arming school employees has already been filed.”

That was filed by CRC member Bobby Martínez, formerly South Florida’s top federal prosecutor and an appointee of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.

The Miami Herald reported he filed the proposal “moments after Gov. (RickScott signed” the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law.

The idea is to make sure the law’s gun-related “age limits and waiting period stand up to any constitutional challenge.”

Hall added her clients “are hearing there are more amendments coming that go further to include what public wants — a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines.”

Indeed, by midafternoon, CRC member and former Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith announced he had filed an assault weapons ban “in an effort to give Florida voters a chance to decide for themselves whether civilians should possess weapons of war.”

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters of Florida will hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m. outside the University Student Center, USF St. Petersburg, where the CRC will meet at 1 p.m.

That’s all at 200 6th Ave. South, in St. Petersburg.

CRC member Erika Donalds proposes changes to her school board term limit proposal” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — After proposing limits to Florida’s school board member terms, Donalds got two messages loud and clear: Floridians seemed to like the idea, but they preferred not to count time served against sitting officials. So as the idea advances in the Constitution Revision Commission, Donalds has suggested changing the language that already won approval at the committee level. Instead of saying board members could serve no more than eight consecutive years, beginning with service started in 2015, she seeks to start the limits with terms begun after the Nov. 6, 2018, election. … She did not consider changing her recommendation from two terms to three, as the state Senate discussed during its brief debate over a bill that did not move out of committee.

Erika Donalds is amending her proposed amendment on school board term limits.

First in Sunburn –Voters want school board term limits, unsure of other CRC proposals” via Florida Politics – Florida voters want term limits for school board seats, but aren’t as enthusiastic about public money heading to churches or open primary races according to a new poll on proposals being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission … Prop 43, which would give school board seats the same 8-year term limits faced by Florida lawmakers, scored 68 percent support among those polled, ith 44 percent saying they would “definitely vote yes” … Support for Prop 11 came in at 58 percent. … The proposal would open up primary elections if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will be opposed only by write-ins. … While behind the threshold for passage, Clearview said Prop 11’s starting position was “relatively solid.” … Prop 4 would remove the section of the Florida constitution barring the use of public money in aid of any church, sect, religious denomination, or religious institution. … All told, 41 percent of voters said they would vote for the measure, with 26 percent saying they were firm supporters, while 51 percent said they were against the proposal, including 18 percent who said they would definitely vote no. … Clearview said, as worded, Prop 4 stands “virtually no chance of attaining the 60 percent threshold.”

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott joins Sens. Lauren Book and Darryl Rouson as well as advocates of crime victims’ rights to announce support for Marsy’s Law for Florida, which is currently under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission as Proposal 96. If approved by the CRC, a proposed amendment to give equal rights to crime victims will be on the 2018 General Election ballot. The event begins 9 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Grand Ballroom Salon 2, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N. in St. Petersburg.

— “Two State Attorneys come out in support of Marsy’s Law” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics


— @RepDeSantis: Focus on Russian misbehavior, not on fake narratives paid for by Hillary and cooked up by Christopher Steele.

— @SenBillNelson: The answer to protecting our kids and communities is not more guns in our schools or arming teachers. That’s a terrible idea. We should be focused on expanding background checks and getting these military-style assault rifles off the streets.

— @RepTedDeutch: I’m inspired by the passion of the Stoneman Douglas students and students from across the country. They are demanding change, and won’t stop until we achieve it. Because of them, I won’t lose hope that we can achieve meaningful action on #GunReformNow.

— @Fineout: The number of Floridians out of work is rising — In December state officials said it was 374k, now it’s up to 397k. Rate has risen from 3.6% in November to 3.9% in January. Governor’s news release today did not note this.

— @FredPiccoloJr: @steveschale gets his wish. Battle royal between @jasonbrodeur and @RepJimBoyd continues with Boyd at 5275 & Brodeur at 4,998. Big moves made by @CarlosGSmith and @JaredEMoskowitz cracks the top 50.

— @EJWenstromElon Musk projects a Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

— @AGlorios: Twice now I’ve tried to explain to @CenturyLink I do not have their internet bc it does not reach my apt. I had signed up for it, but then at the rec of their own technician, I canceled it instead of having the tech install it in my apt. He said he documented the change. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for @comcast’s internet. Today, I received a notice from @CenturyLink that they’ve sent me to the debt collectors. So not only am I exhausted from Session but I have to spend even MORE time explaining to them I do not have their internet service.


St. Patrick’s Day — 4; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 11; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 16; Easter — 19; NFL Draft begins — 44; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 51; Mother’s Day — 61; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 73; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 101; Primary Election Day — 168; College Football opening weekend — 172; General Election Day — 238; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 338; 2019 Legislative Session — 357.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. #NeverStopReaching***


Scott may be forced to resign early due to Senate bid” via The Associated Press — Thanks to a little-noticed change approved by legislators, Scott may be able to wait until after the November elections to make up his mind. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to convene Jan. 3 unless a different day is chosen. Scott’s term as governor does not end until the following week. Scott said this weekend he would decide his political future in the next few weeks. If Scott does have to resign early, it could have ramifications on the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court. Age limits are forcing three justices to retire on the day Scott’s successor takes office. Scott has said he planned to name their replacements on the same morning.

Democrats hammer Scott’s finances, statements with new digital ads” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is releasing the digital ads “Truth” and “Blind,” and both question whether Scott is using the governor’s office to enhance his own wealth. “Rick Scott has only ever looked out for one person: himself,” David Bergstein of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee stated in a news release. “In order to advance his agenda, Scott’s shown he’ll mislead Floridians, abuse his position as governor to make himself richer, and help his political donors and cronies at Floridians’ expense. He’ll say and do anything to benefit himself, which is why Floridians just don’t trust Scott to look out for them.” The “Blind” ad cites media reports including one from the Tampa Bay Times and that suggest that Scott’s has handled his finances in a way as governor that would not be permitted if he runs for federal office, and raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.

Click on the image below to watch the ads:

— “Scott turning attention to possible Senate bid” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Capital Bureau

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham will hold her latest Workday with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association beginning 10 a.m. at 402 W. Main St. in Immokalee.

Tribe, Disney ante up for gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida – The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. contributed $700,000 in February to a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. The tribe and Disney have largely bankrolled the political committee “Voters In Charge,” which spearheaded efforts to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The tribe, which operates casinos that are a major player in the state’s gambling industry, contributed $500,000 in February, while Disney contributed $200,000 — all of the cash received during the month by Voters In Charge, according to a finance report posted Monday on the state Division of Elections website.

Democrats file in Denise Grimsley, Katie Edwards-Walpole districts” via the News Service of Florida — Democratic candidates have opened campaign accounts to try to succeed Sen. Grimsley of Sebring, and Rep. Edwards-Walpole of Plantation. Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price opened an account to run in Senate District 26, which includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties … Grimsley is running this year for state agriculture commissioner. The only other candidate in the race is Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who had raised $142,600 as of Feb. 28 … with Edwards-Walpole’s recent announcement that she will not run for another term in Broward County’s House District 98, Plantation Democrat Louis Reinstein became the first candidate to open an account to try to win the seat.

A Democrat has filed to succeed Denise Grimsley of Sebring, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. 

Kayser Enneking announces 15 local endorsements for SD 8 campaign” via Florida Politics — Enneking announced a bulk endorsement from local officials in the Gainesville-based district currently held by Republican Sen. Keith Perry. On the endorsement list were Alachua County Commissioners Hutch Hutchinson and Chuck Chestnut, Putnam County Commissioner Chip Laibl, Alachua County School Board members Gunnar PaulsonEileen RoyRob Hyatt, and Gainesville City Commissioners Helen WarrenAdrian Hayes-Santos and David Arreola. Enneking also picked up support from former Gainesville Commissioners Susan BottcherThomas Hawkins, and Warren Nielsen, as well as former mayors Jean Chalmers and Paula Delaney. Enneking is running against Olysha Magruder for the Democratic nomination in SD 8. Perry is currently the only other candidate running for the seat.

Robert Doyel’s self-donation pushes February contributions to $17K in SD 22 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Doyel upped his commitment and his campaign fund in February, in his Democratic bid to unseat Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel in Florida Senate District 22. Doyel, a retired judge from Florida’s 10th Judicial Circuit, reported donating $5,000 to his campaign, helping it bring in $17,677 in cash and another $700 in in-kind services in February. It was the second consecutive month he has made a significant donation to his campaign, and the first month he’s been able to clear more than $10,000 in outside contributions. Doyel contributed $10,000 in January. That’s in addition to $7,500 he lent to his campaign last summer at the start. At least financially, the self-donations have fueled and sparked his campaign into something approaching a competitive position against Stargel, who was not allowed to do any fundraising in February because the Florida Senate was in Session.

Two Democratic newcomers make up cash ground in Central Florida House races” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A handful of Central Florida challengers — mainly women first-time-candidate Democrats — played a little catch-up on fundraising in February, led by Ann Fuller, who reported raising $8,520 in her first month of a House District 52 campaign, and  Joy Goff-Marcil, who reported raising $7,500 in just two weeks in her new bid for House District 30. Fuller, of Melbourne, is taking on Republican state Rep. Thad Altman … In her first month, she reported receiving more than 50 donations totaling $8,520, and she finished the month with about $7,800 in the bank … Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Commission, entered the race Feb. 16 and picked up $7,550 in cash plus another $3,000 in in-kind professional campaign services in the final 13 days of February. She finished the month with all $7,550 in cash left. She’s seeking to take on Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs.

Rob Panepinto adds $60K to his Orange County mayoral run accounts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Panepinto reported raising $38,300 for his official election campaign and $22,500 for his independent political committee, Vision Orange County, according to data posted on public sites. He now has raised $284,100 in his campaign fund and had about $230,000 left in the bank at the end of February, according to post on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. Vision Orange County now has raised $116,649 and finished the month with just over $50,000 left.

Ron Panepinto banks another $60K in his bid for Orange County mayor.

Bill Montford still on the fence about running for Tallahassee mayor” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — When it comes to a big political announcement, nobody can sit on the fence like Montford. He could cut his Senate term short and run for mayor, and perhaps easily win a four-year term presiding over a City Commission engulfed with a two-year FBI investigation … or he could remain in the Florida Senate for the next two years, where he is a high-ranking member respected by both parties and is one of three Democrats to hold a committee chairmanship. Term limits prevent him from seeking another term. “Senator Montford is a friend and productive member of the body,” said incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. “I look forward to working with him during my presidency as I have done for years now.” However, he’s made no deal to try to get Montford to stay. “Whether he stays or runs for mayor is his decision,” Galvano said. “People who love Tallahassee have asked me to consider it, and out of respect for them I am considering it,” Montford told the Democrat a month ago. But he told Florida Politics reporter Jim Rosica that he was going to take a few days off to mull things over and that he and his wife were “on the fence” about it. Make that two weeks, he told a Democrat reporter.

Digital ads, social media hide political campaign messaging” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — The main events in a political campaign used to happen in the open: a debate, the release of a major TV ad or a public event where candidates tried to earn a spot on the evening news or the next day’s front page. That was before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as political platforms. Now some of a campaign’s most pivotal efforts happen in the often-murky world of social media, where ads can be targeted to ever-narrower slices of the electorate and run continuously with no disclosure of who is paying for them. Reporters cannot easily discern what voters are seeing, and hoaxes and forgeries spread instantaneously. Journalists trying to hold candidates accountable have a hard time keeping up.


In Monday’s SUNBURN, we linked to an edition of our 2018 Legislative Session winners and losers article, which incorrectly stated that a proposal to name a road in honor of the late Sen. Greg Evers stalled in the Legislature. The bill (SB 382) passed and will designate a “Greg Evers Memorial Highway” in the Panhandle, where Evers was from. We regret the error.

Good news: Greg Evers memorial has clear sailing, after all.


Adam Putnam: I would not have signed school gun bill” via Craig Patrick of Fox 13 News — Putnam said he supports provisions that improve safety in public schools and reform the Baker Act to keep mentally ill individuals from having firearms. However, he opposes the provisions that raise the purchasing age for long guns from 18 to 21 and add a waiting period for purchase. … Putnam said he, therefore, would not likely have signed the law that Gov. Scott signed last week. “Likely not because I oppose raising it from 18 to 21,” Putnam said. “I don’t believe that is the right approach.”

Private voucher schools face new rules but still free to hire teachers without degrees” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Among the law’s 207 pages are provisions that aim to make it harder for the nearly 2,000 private schools that take Florida scholarships to forge fire or health inspections or to hide criminal convictions of school owners. There are also new rules that allow the Florida Department of Education, starting in 2019, to visit every private school that applies to take state vouchers. But an effort to demand those schools hire teachers who have earned four-year degrees proved too unpopular for some lawmakers, particularly in the House, said Sen. David Simmons … “When the dust settled, the college requirements were not in there,” Simmons said. “It certainly bothers me,” he added. “I also understand that this is a process in which compromise is essential.”

Legislature approves $1 million for regional transit plan” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Legislature has approved $1 million for the recently revamped Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority to create a 10-year plan for transit projects in the five-county area. Known as a Regional Transit Development Plan, the clunky term refers to a 10-year plan that would outline what projects the region should focus on, such as bus rapid transit, streetcars or rail, and when they should be built. This appropriation, should Gov. Scott approve it, gives the agency $1 million to hire a contractor. Michael Case, Principal Planner and project manager for TBARTA, expects the project to take about a year. That means it will wrap up around the same time as a state-funded initiative to choose a preferred regional transit project. Planners are still refining that concept, but currently a 41-mile bus rapid transit line between Wesley Chapel, Tampa and St. Petersburg is the lead concept.


Jeff Brandes loses a couple of priorities, but brings home other wins” via Florida Politics — His criminal justice reforms were sailing through committees, along with their companion bills in the House. His proposals would have created a council to oversee the criminal and juvenile justice systems, prohibit issuance of attorney’s fees in proceedings for a protective injunction for repeat sexual offenders and allowed judges to depart from mandatory sentences in drug trafficking cases. A transportation bill he championed landed on the full Senate floor with a week left to go in Session. And CFO Jimmy Patronis was helping him champion a consumer report bill that ultimately passed the Legislature. By Sine Die though, most of his criminal justice priorities were dead, as was the broad transportation package. But it was not all bad for Brandes. Some of the measures he championed that passed the Legislature included those seeking to prohibit state agencies and local governments from entering or renewing contracts with companies that boycott Israel, adding new protections to health care sharing ministries, and barring consumer reporting agencies from charging a fee for security fees on a credit report.

Jeff Brandes brought home some wins in Session.

Florida Chamber sums up likes, dislikes this session” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce wanted to see the cost of living reduced this Session, but after lawmakers’ focus turned to the Parkland school massacre, the measures passed by the Legislature did not impress the organization. “Rightly so, the last three weeks of Session were focused on school safety following the Parkland tragedy,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately … when you look at the other work of the Legislature, on balance they made it a little more expensive for families and a little less competitive for businesses.” The Florida Chamber worked to defeat efforts that it believed would have “further worsened Florida’s abysmal lawsuit abuse climate,” which included a PIP repeal without accompanying bad faith lawsuit reforms. Among the proposals the chamber is proud to have helped block in the Republican-controlled Legislature was a ban on plastic bags, increasing the minimum wage, added hurricane-related employer mandates, open-carry liability and gambling expansion. The chamber was also happy to see the Legislature pass a $10.5 billion transportation budget, funding for computer science classes in state schools, making it easier to decertify public employee unions, and a proposal that will make it harder to raise taxes and fees in the future.

Florida Realtors laud lawmakers for cutting business rent tax” via Florida Politics — Realtors are praising lawmakers for including $31 million in cuts to the business rent tax and $110 million for affordable housing projects. “I’m so proud of our membership for responding to our call for action to cut the business rent tax,” said Bill Martin, the chief executive officer of Florida Realtors. “They stayed engaged throughout the process on this and many other of our key issues,” Martin added, “realtors absolutely rock!” Other measures passed by the Legislature during the 2018 legislative session that will benefit realtors and property owners include House Bill 1011, which revises flood insurance notices. If signed into law, flood insurers may see more people purchasing flood insurance coverage. The organization also lauded the Legislature for allocating about $500,000 to prevent unlicensed real estate activity.

Generation Opportunity lauds move to eliminate ‘free-speech zones’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Generation Opportunity, a center-right political advocacy organization, commended Scott and the Legislature for including the provision in the higher education bill this year. Eliminating the free-speech zones, the organization said, will expand First Amendment rights on campuses. “The bill includes a provision ending wrongly named ‘free speech zones’ which, in reality, restrict students from exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights on the state’s publicly funded college and university campuses,” a news release from Generation Opportunity explained. The group pushed for removing free-speech zones through legislation filed earlier this year by Rep. Bob Rommel and Sen. Dennis Baxley. Those provisions were eventually lumped into the bill.


Assignment editors — U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch will host a news conference on the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act beginning 11 a.m. at the U.S. Capitol East Lawn. Scheduled to attend are Sens. Steve DainesJoni Ernst and Dan Sullivan as well as Kyle Kashuv, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Ryan Petty, father of Parkland student Alaina Petty, who was killed in the shooting.

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Eleanor Holmes Norton will join District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Coalition the Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz for a media conference call to demand Sen. Rubio withdraw his bill to cut many of D.C.’s local gun safety laws. The call begins 2 p.m. at (605) 472-5937, Access Code: 949684.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will hold a bill signing ceremony for HB 29 and HB 75, which seek to help Florida military, veterans and their families get a job and a quality education. The event begins 3 p.m., Jacksonville National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd. in Jacksonville.

No change in jobless rate from Dec. to Jan.” via Lobby Tools — Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in January 2018, unchanged from the revised December 2017 rate, but down 0.7 percentage point from a year ago … There were 397,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,152,000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in January. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8,670,500 in January 2018, an increase of 10,500 jobs (+0.1 percent) over the month. The state gained 150,900 jobs over the year, an increase of 1.8 percent.

Video from outside Stoneman Douglas must be released, judge orders” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The public should be allowed to see the security video from outside last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a judge ruled … The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, along with other media organizations, sued the Broward Sheriff’s Office last month for access to the video, arguing that it is critical for the public to analyze law enforcement’s response to the shooting. Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson signed an order authorizing the video’s release but immediately delayed the order until Thursday to give the Sheriff’s Office and the School Board a chance to appeal. School district officials, including an assistant principal from Stoneman Douglas, argued in court last week that releasing the video would expose the limits of the cameras mounted at various positions on campus, creating a security risk.

Talleyrand Connector money shows Lenny Curry’s long game via Florida Politics. As the 2018 Legislative Session progressed, Curry made a little-noticed (at the time) trip to Tallahassee. Curry met with Gov. Scott; However, there was a secondary purpose to the trip. From the Senate, he met with Aaron Bean, Senate Minority Leader Designate Audrey GibsonTravis Hutson and Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, along with Wilton Simpson. Curry also met with Speaker Corcoran, in addition to meeting with regional representatives Travis Cummings, Jason FischerClay Yarborough, and Tracie Davis. Soon after that, there was movement on the Talleyrand Connector issue, with Sen. Bean getting a $1 million ‘placeholder’ into the budget. “It will be a conference issue — rules say it has to be in either the Senate or House budget to become a conference issue. $1M is all I was able to muster today.  It is a start and hopefully not the final number,” Bean said on February 8. Indeed, it’s not the final number. That final number was the $12.5 million Curry wanted from the state all along.

Lenny Curry’s long game is exposed.

St. Pete and Duke Energy partner to bring solar power to the new Pier” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The city of St. Petersburg is taking steps to construct a solar canopy at its new pier, to create enough power for as many as 60 homes. The structure will provide shaded parking in what is now the pier Pelican Lot, with future capabilities to power electric vehicle charging stations for pier visitors and restaurant patrons at the planned Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille that’s intended for the same lot. The agreement between Duke Energy and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman stipulates the solar array cannot interfere with the restaurant and its aesthetics must match that of the rest of the pier district  … Kriseman and Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris tentatively agreed on a series of arrangements to install the solar array, according to a letter that will come before City Council this week.


Tell Constitution Revision Commission to shape up” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Here are five areas where voters should make clear to the commission that they expect better: Proposal 11: Primary elections … Write-in candidates’ names don’t appear on the ballot, and no write-in candidate has ever won an election. This amendment would close that loophole, opening primaries when all candidates are from the same party or the only other opposition is a write-in candidate. Proposals 4 and 45: Separation of church and state; public education … Proposal 4 repeals a prohibition on steering public money to churches and religious institutions. Proposal 45 clears the way for the state to provide “other educational services” separate from public schools. Proposal 54: Hospital deregulation … This proposed amendment would repeal the “certificate of need” process and prohibit the state from limiting the number of hospitals in particular areas. Proposal 97: Constitutional amendments … This proposal would require approval by 60 percent of all voters voting in the election, not just on a particular measure. Proposal 22: Information privacy … This failed to pass two CRC committees and is not on the list of finalists still under consideration. But the commission is operating under opaque rules, so voters should be on alert for a last-minute effort to revive it.


Appointed — James “Lee” Marsh to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court; Chad Alvaro to the 9th Judicial Circuit Court; Carolyn Bell to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court.

Appointed — Juan Zapata to the Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees; Eric Grant to the Tallahassee Community College District Board of Trustees; Maria Montalvo (reappointed) to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

— ALOE —

Alexa is coming to the office” via Ina Fried of Axios — Amazon is bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces … While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand its business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services … Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace would improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. “The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes),” he told Axios. Alexa “will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations.” Vogels said many businesses are still stuck with the technology consumers used in the 1990s. Adding support for voice to automate tasks could leapfrog several missed generations of consumer technology.

Alexa is coming to an office near you.

Industry: $10B will be bet on March Madness, most illegally” via The Associated Press — That’s one of the reasons the American Gaming Association favors the full legalization and regulation of sports betting in the United States. The group found 54 million people — or about a quarter of the U.S. adult population — participated in sports betting pools last year. The U.S. Supreme Court is weeks away from ruling on New Jersey’s challenge to a law limiting legal sports betting to just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. AGA President Geoff Freeman says only 3 percent of the $10 billion the group predicts will be wagered on the games will be done through legal Nevada sports books.

On a Disney Cruise, it’s a stressful world (after all)” via Dan Saltzstein of The New York Times — Things had not started well even before we boarded … We had to delay our flight to Miami because Anna had a fever and a cough. After a night in Miami, we headed to board the ship — though before we could, we had to sign a paper indicating that no one in our party had a fever and a cough (or a handful of other symptoms) … Then we took a family photo in front of a sailing-themed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and boarded the boat, along with more than 2,500 other cruisers. Over the course of the next four days, many of my fears were confirmed. In other moments, my cynical soul was warmed — a bit like Anna’s heart (the “Frozen” character, not my daughter), thanks to her act of true love. Our Anna learned to love pirates and magicians. I spent a lot of money on drinks, a princess makeover and Disney merch. Anna proclaimed the trip one of the best experiences of her life. As we sat in our stateroom bed one night, trying to figure out how much to spend on the measly Wi-Fi offerings, Nancy captured it well: “Everything,” she said, “is enchanting and horrifying.”

Happy birthday to Rep. Scott PlakonBob Asztalos of the FHCA, Jennifer Wilson of Adams & Reese, and Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.

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