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Sunburn for 10.13.17 — Mike Pence to keynote RPOF event; House subpoenas VF show $; Debris removal politics; Tom Lee raises serious coin; Happy b’day, Cesar F.

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

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

First on #FlaPol –Mike Pence to keynote Republicans’ conference in Orlando” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –Pence – with “special guest” U.S. Sen. Rubio –  is to highlight the dinner set for Thursday, Nov. 2, at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, kicking off the two-day conference. Also billed for the kickoff dinner to the quarterly party meeting are three of the four members of the Florida Cabinet, though not Gov. Scott. The other advertised guests include Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi, chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis, Florida Senate President Joe Negron, and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. General tickets are $200 for the dinner, with executive committee members and College Republicans getting discounts.

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— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

Fraud concerns prompt House subpoena of VISIT FLORIDA show finances” via Arek Sarkissian of the Naples Daily News – House investigators said Tallahassee-based MAT Media did not respond to repeated requests for information during their investigation into the television contracts, which produced a cooking show with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Members of the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee voted unanimously to demand documents from the producer detailing how it spent the money on the VISIT FLORIDA contracts. “During the course of the House investigation, we uncovered these contracts that raised questions about whether the state has been the victim of possible fraud,” Fred Piccolo, House spokesman, said … “Although this was not the subject of our original investigation, the Florida House will chase down any fact and follow every lead in order to protect the taxpayers’ money.” House General Counsel Adam Tanenbaum told committee members he asked Pat Roberts, owner of MAT Media, for information over the phone and in writing. “What we got was silence,” Tanenbaum said. “We made phone calls and sent letters. Nothing.”

“Leery senators say Rick Scott is stepping on their budget turf” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – (Rob) Bradley is among a group of Senate leaders who this week, during the first committee week of the 2018 legislative session, took shots at some of the Scott administration’s spending decisions in the wake of Hurricane Irma and through a yet untapped $85 million spending pot for infrastructure approved by lawmakers as part of a last-minute budget deal last session. … Senate leaders discussed the issue of sending a strong early budget message after last session, when they were largely cut out of final negotiations that helped finish a contentious 2017 legislative session. “There have been discussions to that regard,” said state Sen. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), the incoming Senate president, of discussions in his chamber about sending a stronger message on the budget.

Irma confounds already straightened state budget prospects, committee learns” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Florida’s tax structure will produce only $52 million in gains on existing state spending during the coming fiscal year, and will leave lawmakers more than $1 billion in the hole during each of the two budget years after that. That doesn’t count what the state needs to spend to recover from Hurricane Irma. The news came as the Senate Appropriations Committee began sorting through the many demands on the government’s pocketbook. It’s grim,” Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala said. “We don’t really have any extra money. We’ve had some money spent on our behalf lately that’s even making it a little tighter … There’ll probably have to be a cut exercise, just like always.”

House ethics panel sets trial in Daisy Baez residency case” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The House’s ethics panel on Thursday scheduled a Dec. 4 hearing on a charge that Democratic Miami-Dade Rep. Baez doesn’t live in the district she was elected to represent. The Public Integrity and Ethics Committee will conduct an evidentiary hearing “somewhat like a court trial,” said chair Larry Metz, a Yalaha Republican. “You’re trying to find what the facts are and make a conclusion.” The hearing will be the first time in modern memory that the House tried a member on a conduct violation related to residency. The committee’s verdict will then go to the full House of Representatives, two-thirds of which would have to vote to expel her.

House insurance chairman hopes to take up AOB, workers’ comp reform again” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Hurricane Irma recovery clearly will dominate the 2018 Legislative Session, but the chairman of the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee hopes to find time to address a few of the state’s other problems. Like assignment of benefits abuse, for example. “I fully expect that to be a policy discussion,” Rep. Danny Burgess said following an extended briefing on Irma response. At last count, Irma had generated 703,671 claims with an estimated value of nearly $4.6 billion — and both numbers will increase in the months ahead, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told Burgess’ committee. With that many claims, and legions of repair contractors in the field, the potential for AOB abuse seems clear. “We’re still waiting to get a lot of the numbers in relation to Hurricane Irma, and seeing if the AOB issue has increased, as some of us maybe expect it will,” Burgess said. He foresees moving an AOB bill off the floor in 2018, as the House did during the 2017 Legislative Session.

Proposal calls for elected Secretary of State” via the News Service of Florida – A proposal to make the secretary of state an elected Cabinet position, eliminating the governor’s power to appoint Florida’s highest elections official, has returned in the Senate. Sen. Aaron Bean filed a proposed constitutional amendment (SJR 506) that would undo a change approved by voters in 1998 that reduced the size of the Cabinet to three members. As a result of the 1998 ballot measure, the positions of secretary of state and education commissioner became appointed in 2002, and the Cabinet posts of comptroller and treasurer were eliminated. To get on the 2018 ballot, Bean’s proposal would have to be approved by three-fifths of both legislative chambers and would ultimately need approval from 60 percent of voters.

Joe Negron: ‘Nothing nefarious’ in Gary Farmer’s reassignment” via Florida Politics – Farmer was taken off the chamber’s Banking and Insurance Committee, but Senate President Negron told Florida Politics there was “nothing nefarious” about the removal. Capitol insiders buzzed that Senate leadership was looking to exact revenge on the trial bar because of its financial support of Annette Taddeo, the Democratic opponent of popular Republican Jose Felix Diaz, in a special election. Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, is a trial lawyer. Negron says that’s not the case. Indeed, newly elected Sen. Taddeo made a “compelling” case that she should be added to the committee, Negron said.

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— STORMS —

Dennis Baxley apologizes for nursing home death comments” via the News Service of Florida – State Sen. Baxley issued an apology for questioning whether the deaths of residents of a Broward County nursing home were related to Hurricane Irma or were an inevitability given their advancing ages. “As a funeral director and ordained elder of my church, I have spent my entire adult life working with families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. In addition to my faith, working in this field has shown me day in and day out that the life of each and every member of our society is special and worthy of respect. Many of the funeral services we coordinate involve elder members of our community, and I take great pride in the opportunity to ensure their lives are honored and celebrated. No family member should have to fear that their loved one is suffering in a nursing home, particularly during a natural disaster,” Baxley, an Ocala Republican, said.  But Jeff Nova, whose 71-year-old mother, Gail Nova, died Sept. 13, isn’t comforted by the prepared apology from the senator. “His first comments were the real comments. That’s what he thought of, and naturally that’s what you’re going to take to heart,” Nova said in a telephone interview. “You can say you are sorry, but it doesn’t take back what you actually said because it’s committed to memory now and it’s in print.”

Marco Rubio calls for congressional investigation of nursing home” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Rubio wants a congressional investigation into a troubled Florida nursing home where 14 residents died after Hurricane Irma knocked out power last month and shut off the facility’s air conditioning. “This has shocked the state of Florida, and rightfully raised questions about the oversight of nursing homes, particularly the enforcement of existing emergency preparedness requirements,” Rubio wrote in his letter … The letter calls for an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid, and by extension nursing home funding. Rubio said the committee should examine what happened in nursing homes across Florida as well as Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria. But the thrust and substance of his letter revolve around the events at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after Hurricane Irma hit Florida … “While this terrible tragedy is currently under investigation, it has been widely reported that these individuals were left in sweltering conditions,” Rubio wrote.

Adam Putnam warns agriculture loss is ‘still unfolding ” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said he worried that the feds’ citrus forecast wouldn’t accurately reflect the devastation to the state’s citrus crop after Hurricane Irma. “I am concerned about what that forecast may be, given that so many of the circumstances that are fundamental to having an accurate forecast have changed,” Putnam said in a news conference. Groves are still underwater and fruit is falling to the ground weeks after Irma plowed up the peninsula.

Victor Torres blasts federal response, Donald Trump tweets on Puerto Rico” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Torres, an Orlando Democrat who’s been active in the Florida-side of the relief efforts since Hurricane Maria devastated the island three weeks ago, also criticized Trump‘s tweet that had declared federal relief agencies cannot stay in Puerto Rico forever. Torres, a former Marine who is Puerto Rican, blamed a lack of coordination between the U.S. Military, working with FEMA and government officials in Puerto Rico in transporting and delivering the relief supplies, and called the preparation and response to the disaster by the federal government “inadequate” … “Americans are dying as we speak,” Torres said. “While fellow Americans have generously rallied to donate relief supplies and money to support recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, the federal government has been too slow to respond to this disaster and there is a total failure of coordinated relief efforts to provide supplies and support to the island.”

Robert Asencio to head Miami-Dade committee for Maria relief” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The Miami-Dade County Legislative Delegation announced the formation of the Puerto Rico/Caribbean Hurricane Relief and transition committee to help coordinate relief efforts for the islands which were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last month. Rep. Asencio, a Miami Democrat, will serve as chairman of the committee. “As a legislator of Puerto Rican descent, I am honored to be given the opportunity to help my fellow Boricua and our fellow Americans in the USVI in their time of need as they make the transition to the mainland,” said Asencio … Miami-Dade County is expected to see an influx of thousands of evacuees fleeing Puerto Rico in the coming months due to its geographical proximity to the island.

— DEBRIS DEBACLE —

CBS Miami’s Jim Defede is reporting that Gov. Scott awarded major contracts for debris removal in the Florida Keys to firms that charged exorbitantly more than other firms with pre-negotiated contracts. Under the governor’s emergency contracts, taxpayers are paying anywhere from three to ten times more to remove debris in the Florida Keys.
This revelation comes after Scott repeatedly emphasized the importance of fair contracts and said, I’m always going to stand on the side of taxpayers and consumers, not on the side of somebody who wants to make extra money after a disaster.
Democrats are pouncing: “This is corruption plain and simple, and Florida taxpayers shouldn’t be fronting the cost of Rick Scott’s corruption. These actions demand an immediate investigation into the governor’s office and his department of transportation.” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Johanna Cervone.
Scott’s office is pushing back, saying the claim that the state misused tax dollars to remove debris “false.” More: “Following a request for assistance from Monroe County, and because it was absolutely critical to clear roadways in the Florida Keys so families could begin to rebuild their lives, the Governor directed the Department of Transportation to immediately begin debris removal in Monroe County and activated 400 National Guard members for the same purpose. Through this process, FDOT entered into emergency debris removal contracts, which they must do to have the personnel and equipment to clear roads. Although not required to do so due to the state of emergency, FDOT went above and beyond emergency procurement requirements to competitively solicit multiple bids from pre-qualified vendors that could safely and efficiently respond to Monroe County’s immediate debris removal needs.”

— STATEWIDE —

A year after Hurricane Matthew, counties ask Rick Scott: Where’s our money?” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – As the costs of Irma’s Category 4 fury are still being calculated, North Florida cities and counties hammered by Hurricane Matthew a year ago are still waiting to be paid for the cost of debris removal, road repair and police overtime. Strangled in red tape, counties fault the state for persistent delays, noting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized tens of millions in reimbursement dollars that Scott’s administration still has not yet distributed. “It’s a bottleneck,” said Larry Harvey, chairman of the Putnam County Commission in Palatka. “We don’t have the resources to float these types of losses.” It will get worse. The county now projects unplanned costs of $1.4 million more for Hurricane Irma recovery, and $300,000 from another storm, a nor’easter that blew through the county two weeks later. Like other cash-strapped counties awaiting payment, out-of-the-way Putnam has a very slim property tax base, scarce rainy-day cash reserves and few new jobs on the way.

After traffic headaches during Irma evacuation, Scott orders FDOT to review I-75” via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – A month after Irma blew through, Scott is now asking state transportation officials to explore ways to better expedite the outbound traffic next time … he wants the Florida Department of Transportation to specifically look at ways the state could speed up the section of northbound I-75 from the interchange in Wildwood — where the Turnpike merges with the interstate — to the Florida-Georgia line. The 144-mile stretch takes about two hours to drive under normal circumstances, but during the Irma evacuation, motorists reported being stuck for hours in gridlock.

Assignment editors: Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis will join firefighters from across Florida to honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty. The yearly “Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service” will be 9:30 a.m., Florida State Fire College, 11655 NW Gainesville Road, Ocala.

Supreme Court won’t reconsider indigent care fight” via the News Service of Florida – A divided Florida Supreme Court declined to reconsider a decision in a dispute about paying for indigent health care in Sarasota County. Justices, in a 5-2 ruling, rejected a request by Sarasota County for a rehearing in the case, which could involve hundreds of millions of dollars. The ruling kept intact a July decision upholding a state law that directed Sarasota County to reimburse private hospitals for providing care to indigent patients. In the July decision, justices overturned an appeals-court ruling that said part of a 2003 law was unconstitutional because it singled out private hospitals in Sarasota County. The 2003 measure was passed as what is known as a “special law,” dealing only with Sarasota County, rather than a general law that would apply to hospitals throughout the state. The Supreme Court agreed with arguments by private hospitals that the 2003 law did not violate the Florida Constitution because it also applied to reimbursements to a Sarasota County public hospital district.

University of Florida, Gainesville brace for Richard Spencer speech” via Susan Washington of Florida Politics – “This is our moment to rise up and show the rest of the world who we are as a community,” Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, brows furrowed, said in a 3-minute-long video titled, “Responding to Hatred in a Welcoming City,” posted on Facebook. “Free speech stops when it becomes dangerous conduct,” Poe said in the video. “We have an obligation to protect our residents’ health and safety and to protect property.” During Spencer’s address on the UF campus … local law enforcement will “stand ready to safeguard that Gainesville does not become another Charlottesville,” Poe said in the video, referring to violent demonstrations that erupted in another college town, Charlottesville, Virginia, home to the University of Virginia, when Spencer spoke there in August … the university’s largest performing arts hall, which seats more than 1,700, has been made available to Spencer and the National Policy Institute that he directs. The fee for the rental is what the university … describes as “the allowable costs of $10,564 to rent the facility and for security within the venue.”

Aramis Ayala moving on after losing death penalty battle” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – Speaking with a gathering of journalists … the controversial, still-new state attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties, said she was settling in to pursue her judicial reform agenda, she was pursuing justice, and she was happy. “I enjoy my office. I enjoy life. Generally, I’m just a happy person. I don’t say that lightly. I enjoy doing what is right,” Ayala said. If she had any regrets about the consternation her previous position or her six-month battle with Gov. Scott and others had caused for anyone, including the families of murder victims, she wasn’t sharing them. “I had an interesting start,” she said. “The day I took office we were dealing with the death penalty. And unfortunately, a lot of people only know me for that. But there certainly is more to me as a person, as a lawyer, as prosecutor that deals with that.”

Man charged with illegal deer hunting” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers in Manatee County arrested a man who they say entered private property with two firearms in his possession while trying to hunt deer during closed season Oct. 1. Terry Gibson, 43, was spotted by three officers who had set a robotic deer replica in the field as bait. When they tried to apprehend him, Gibson attempted to hide his firearms in a field, according to an arrest report. Gibson admitted that he was going to kill the deer for its meat, according to the affidavit.

Florida reports first local Zika case for 2017” via The Associated Press – Florida’s Department of Health said a Manatee County couple traveled to Cuba. One of them contracted Zika while on the Caribbean island and was bitten by a mosquito after returning home. That mosquito then bit and transmitted the virus to the other partner. Officials wouldn’t identify the sex of the couple, citing privacy laws. Officials say there’s no evidence of ongoing, active transmission along Florida’s Gulf coast, or anywhere in the state. Florida reported 296 locally acquired Zika infections last year, mostly in South Florida where a Zika alert was issued.

— NOTES FROM CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

The latest from the Caputo Primary –Free Lolita! Killer whale politics and Levine’s possible bid for governor” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Likely gubernatorial candidate and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wants his city commission to pass a resolution next Tuesday calling on the Miami Seaquarium to release the orca “Lolita” — and the Democrat says he doesn’t care if he’s accused of figuratively riding the killer whale to the governor’s mansion. “People are going to say what they say, but this is the right thing to do,” Levine told POLITICO Florida when asked about the inevitable charges that he’ll be accused of political opportunism.

Voting restoration amendment clears 200,000 signatures” via Florida Politics – And while that’s just the number of confirmed petitions, Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, says 600,000 signed petitions have been gathered and that he expects the organization to have all the petitions it needs by December. The Voting Restoration Amendment wouldn’t apply in the case of murder convictions or sex crimes, but all other Florida felons would be eligible once they exit state custody and finish out parole or probation and pay any restitution owed. To make the ballot, initiatives need to have 766,200 confirmed signatures. Rules require those signatures be spread across Florida’s 27 congressional districts, with the total number due pegged to voter turnout in the most recent presidential election. Former state Senate Democratic leaders Arthenia Joyner and Chris Smith have also filed the proposal with the Constitution Revision Commission, which has the power to put it on the ballot.

As he weighs CFO bid, Tom Lee raised $253K in September” via Florida Politics – Lee has been somewhat open about his intent to run for chief financial officer next year and his committee, The Conservative, just posted its first big fundraising report since the end of the 2017 Legislative Session. The new report, covering September, saw the former Senate President bring in $253,250 in committee cash while only spending $8,500. The Conservative opened up in 2013 and through the end of the month had raised more than $3 million in its lifetime. It currently has about $2.1 million on hand. By far the biggest donor in September was Pepin Distributing Company, a Tampa-based Anheuser-Busch-Inbev distributor, which chipped in an even $100,000.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods adds name to growing support for Ashley Moody – “Over his tenure in law enforcement, Sheriff Woods has been on the front-line of public safety and is a respected leader within his community. I’m proud to have the endorsement of such a beloved and decorated Sheriff and I will continue to work hard to deserve this great honor,” Moody said.

John Ward jumps into race to replace Ron DeSantis” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News – With DeSantis expected to run for governor, businessman and Navy veteran Ward jumped in the race to replace him. “I’m a Ronald Reagan Republican and I’m running for Congress because I believe that Washington needs more ‘Get-It-Done Outsiders’ who will fight for individual liberties and protect our freedoms, so that this generation and future generations can live in peace, prosperity and liberty,” Ward said as he kicked his campaign off. “If we want to make America great again we need to send leaders to congress who have a better vision, a better plan and a better way forward. I want to end the do nothing, business as usual ways of Washington so that Florida’s forgotten families can win again.” The new candidate also unveiled a web video as he begins his campaign. Sources close to Ward insisted he will have $1 million raised by the end of the year and noted he would support President Trump on the issues, including on tax reform.

Nancy Soderberg touts raising $336K in Q3 for CD 6 bid” via Florida Politics – “I’m honored by the outpouring of support our campaign has received. That energy is a vivid testament to how ready people are for a change from Washington’s broken politics and toward real results from their representative in Congress,” Soderberg said. Soderberg was an ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, and is the founder and director of the University of North Florida‘s Public Service Leadership Program. She filed to run in CD 6 in July. The seat covers St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties and is a solidly Republican district, producing a double-digit win for President Donald Trump in July.

Cliff Stearns uses campaign account to pay personal expenses — five years after leaving Congress” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Former Rep. Stearns‘ congressional campaign committee has evolved into an investment account that he uses to fund a host of personal expenses that may raise legal questions … Since losing his seat in 2012, the 12-term congressman has kept his campaign committee open and used it to make investments that have netted nearly $300,000. That money has stayed in the committee, which still has $1.5 million cash on hand. The committee has funded contributions to other members, a monthly cellphone bill, trips to the annual conservative conference Awakening, membership dues at the Capitol Hill Club and payments to his wife, Joan, among other expenditures. The Capitol Hill Club was a longtime favorite fundraising locale for Stearns and many other congressional Republicans, “That to me seems flat out illegal,” said Adav Noti, a former attorney with the Federal Election Commission, in reference to the Capitol Hill Club membership expense. “I’m racking my brain to think of a legal use here.”

— MOVEMENTS —

Ballard Partners brings in more clients: report” via Florida Politics – New adds: Advanced Roofing, Inc., Crowley Maritime Corporation and Hawkers USA. Ballard, which opened a Washington DC office after President Donald Trump won the election, has been busy — signing 47 new clients … Ballard’s next move seems to be into the global sphere; the government-affairs firm has formed a “strategic alliance” with Alber & Geiger, one of the most significant lobbying firms in the European Union.

Nicole Stookey Albers: Florida Municipal Electric Association

George Anderson, Southern Strategy Group: Airbnb, Boyd Development

Ron Book, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: City of Margate

Dean Cannon, Kirk Pepper, Robert Shave, GrayRobinson: Hendry County Board of County Commissioners

Kenneth Granger, Dean Izzo, Capital City Consulting: Tallahassee Retail Ventures

Fred Karlinsky, Greenberg Traurig: MLU Serivces

Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting: Florida Fuel Connection

James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: International Speedway Corporation

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Optimum Software Solutions; QlikTech; Wholesale & Specialty Insurance Association

Mike Yaworsky: Office of Insurance Regulation

— WEEKEND TV —

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James will discuss “Tax Cuts and the Federal Budget” with political analyst Dr. Lawrence A. Miller.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on the contributions and celebrations of Hispanic culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month; addressing the Puerto Rico crisis due to Hurricane Maria. Guests include Rep. Darren Soto, state Reps. Amy Mercado and Bob Cortes; National VP Southeast, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Lydia Medrano; Immigration attorney and Stetson Law professor Art Rios; and President/CEO, National Puerto Rican Leadership Council Education Fund Carlos Guzman.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A discussion about new online voter registration procedures and the threat of voter fraud with Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel. Also, there will be a discussion of the Wisconsin gerrymandering case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court with UCF associate professor of Political Science Dr. Aubrey Jewett; PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim regarding Florida’s infrastructure and its storm-readiness.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Sen. Latvala and Dr. Michael Binder of the UNF Public Opinion Research Laboratory.

— ALOE —

Airbnb, developer partner on home-sharing apartments” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel – Developer Harvey Hernandez wouldn’t reveal exactly where the 324-unit building is but said it’s a few minutes from the theme parks in the Kissimmee area. He said he expects it to open in the first quarter of 2018. Osceola officials said they didn’t know about the project, called “Niido Powered by Airbnb.” “Niido is a community where we embrace home sharing for the benefit of our tenants,” said Hernadez, CEO of Newgard Development … Niido would allow renters to make income by leasing out their unit on Airbnb for up to 180 days per year. Any money earned would be shared between the renter and Niido, said Jaja Jackson, an official with Airbnb.

What Alan Suskey is reading – Tricked out: pickup trucks get more luxurious” via Dee-Ann Durbin of The Associated Press – At the State Fair of Texas this month, Ford Motor Co. is displaying its most expensive pickup yet: The F-Series Super Duty Limited, a luxury heavy-duty truck with a starting price of $80,835. It has custom two-tone leather seats, a heated steering wheel wrapped in hand-stitched leather and high-tech features like a 360-degree camera system that guides drivers when they’re hitching up a trailer. A fully-loaded F-450 — the biggest version of the Super Duty — will top out at $94,455. It’s capable of towing an Air Force F-35 fighter plane, but it also has massaging seats. Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand is also showing luxury pickups at the fair. The 2018 Laramie Longhorn Southfork edition has a walnut-trimmed steering wheel and 4G Wi-Fi capability. The Heavy Duty Lone Star Silver — sold only in Texas — has a luxurious bright chrome grille. Both start around $50,000 and will be available later this fall. On a recent visit to the fair, some visitors balked at the prices. One said he’s rather buy a Mercedes S-Class if he had $80,000 to spare. But others took the high prices in stride.

Happy birthday to my protege, Cesar Fernandez.

Jacksonville Bold for 10.13.17 — Power, money and timing

Jacksonville Bold is intended to appeal to a discerning audience, particularly to those who see politics for what it truly is — a confluence of money, power and timing.

We see evidence of that in every Bold — and this week is no different, as Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s Kids Hope Alliance reform bill advanced through the City Council by an 18-1 vote.

Its success comes as no small feat, given Council President Anna Brosche attempted to forestall both discussion of the bill and the vote itself, even going so far as to accuse an administration member and a city lawyer of working to keep the bill from the public.

And Brosche was the sole vote against discharging the bill to the Council floor — a nearly unheard of repudiation of a legislative body’s presiding officer.

In the end, though, Brosche overcame those qualms and voted for the bill — but not before Curry issued a statement condemning her accusations. Of course, there have been schisms between Council presidents and mayors in the past; but this one is different.

That’s because politics in this region are different.

Stakes are higher. Money is bigger. Operatives work 27/6. Nowadays, the way to win a political argument is not through churches and town halls. It’s all targeting and microtargeting, persuasion of the “velvet glove, iron fist” variety, and an understanding that when a bluff is called, most people will cave.

As we move toward the 2018 election cycle — and the 2019 local derby — file those insights; they may end up being predictive.

Fundraising roundup

September was not a record-breaking month for campaign finance reports in Northeast Florida. Blame Hurricane Irma.

State Senate incumbents, however, did well in amassing money for re-election bids — Aaron Bean brought in $33K, and Audrey Gibson brought in $12K.

In state House races, HD 15 Republican hopeful Wyman Duggan topped $10K for the month. And his Democratic opponent, Tracye Polson, brought in $51K in September. Otherwise, no one topped $7,500.

There was, however, marginally more exciting committee action: Palm Coast Speaker-of-the-future Paul Renner saw his committee give $20K to Speaker-of-the-present Richard Corcoran — who just may be running for Governor as soon as next year’s Legislative Session ends.

Lenny Curry’s political committee cleared $38K in September — and $25K of that came from Shad Khan. And Sheriff Mike Williams finally paid for a controversial August poll through his committee; price tag was almost $9,000 … more than he brought in.

Lenny Curry reaches up for high-fives with Jags’ owner Shad Khan.

The big play of the month came from Attorney General candidate Jay Fant, who loaned his campaign $750,000 — just the kind of thing a candidate that’s not part of the “establishment” does because all the cool kids have three-quarters of a million bucks sitting around. Fant had faced questions about his fundraising, but with one stroke of the pen, he established resource parity with Ashley Moody.

Will that bring Downtown Jacksonville around?

One candidate who won’t be loaning herself $750,000 — Jacksonville City Council hopeful Randy DeFoor. DeFoor, in his first month in the District 14 race, brought in $51,000 — more money, by far, than every other active local 2019 candidate combined brought in during September.

Her political committee brought in an extra $25,000.

Rob Bradley: Senate sentencing bill a ‘win-win’

Florida’s prison industry has endured scrutiny in recent years, and a new bill from Sen. Bradley may offer some relief for the sector.

SB 484 will authorize a court to sentence prisoners to county jail for up to 24 months if that county has a DOC contract.

The bill would also require prisoners to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Those prisoners will have sentences that don’t run longer than 24 months, and most felony convictions are exempt from this proposal.

State prison overcrowding could mean stable revenue for counties with room in jails.

On Wednesday, Bradley told Florida Politics that this is not a new idea.

“This is an idea that I’ve discussed with Senate and House colleagues for a couple of years now,” Bradley asserted.

Part of the problem is that the state has more prisoners than its facilities can handle, Bradley said.

“Right now,” Bradley said, “the state incarcerates 100,000 inmates. After dealing with this issue for years, I’ve come to the conclusion that our infrastructure and personnel is simply not equipped to handle that number. We need to reduce the state population. This is a strategy to accomplish this goal.”

Good news/bad news as Bradley bill clears committee

WGCU reports a good news/bad news scenario for a Bradley bill to put more money into the St. Johns River and North Florida springs.

St. Johns River money, a priority of Rob Bradley, may not be the Senate’s priority in the end.

Latvala chairs the Appropriations Committee.

“At some point in time — probably [on] the Appropriations Committee — we’ll have to put all those bills that we have this year, and the bills that we’ve passed over the last couple cycles on one sheet and figure out how we divide it up,” Latvala said.

With budget pressures mounting for Florida on several fronts, Bradley’s attempt to bring more Amendment 1 money to North Florida will be worth watching. It might be a heavier lift than locals hope.

Aaron Bean backs Jay Fant

One favorable augury for Fant: An endorsement this week from Republican state Sen. Bean.

Jay-mentum continues as Aaron Bean support sprouts for the AG hopeful.

“Senator Bean has been a longtime voice for conservative politics in Northeast Florida,” Fant said. “His endorsement is one to be very proud of. We look forward to working with Senator Bean on our conservative platform for years to come.”

Fant still has his last year to serve in the Florida House; since he is not running for re-election, candidates have filed already on the Democratic and Republican lines both in his House District 15.

Fant has gotten roughly a dozen House colleagues to endorse him; his strategy seems to be as the regional candidate who can roll up his sleeves and talk to the grassroots.

Rory Diamond launches Jax Council run

It was no surprise that Neptune Beach City Councilor Rory Diamond started a campaign to succeed Bill Gulliford on the Jacksonville City Council.

Rory Diamond is a candidate to watch for 2019, and likely beyond.

What will be a surprise: If anyone can mount a serious challenge to the Republican alum of the George W. Bush White House and Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor’s Mansion.

A broad cross-section of the city’s power elite supports Diamond and is very comfortable with policy discussions — including those affecting the broader expanse of Duval County, as well as the more granular issues relative to Jacksonville Beach.

Expect him to message heavily on public safety — and, bearing the gravitas of a former federal prosecutor — meaningfully. One of his recurrent theorems: that a lot of the Beaches’ crime problem is coming over from the other side of the ditch.

Censure for Councilors?

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche raised the possibility of censure for two legislators who supported her run for the Council presidency.

The subject: A confrontation between Councilors Reggie Gaffney and Katrina Brown and police officers after a Council meeting last month.

Gaffney has issued the expected mea culpa statements for attempting to leverage his power as a Councilman to check the officers who pulled him over. However, Brown — who accused officers of racial profiling — has yet to apologize.

That point was not lost on the Fraternal Order of Police, which saw its national and state presidents in Jacksonville Tuesday night to condemn Councilwoman Brown’s accusations and unwillingness to walk them back.

“The ultimate repercussion is going to be leveled by their districts … if there is any,” Brosche said.

Brosche has requested “options” from the General Counsel, including what authority Council has, and expects them at the next Council meeting.

“The question is around censure — is it an option for Council,” Brosche said.

Did Irma kill crops?

It’s a race against time for Northeast Florida farmers, per the Florida Times-Union. Hurricane Irma devastated crops last month, and yields — and farms themselves — hang in the balance.

Irma created a big problem for large — and small — farms throughout the state.

Per a Florida Farm Bureau representative: “Many of the losses will be calculated in coming weeks. It’s very difficult for folks to make a total estimate if they’re still struggling to get to their fields, their pastures, round up animals, to repair buildings.”

Among the potential culinary casualties: Christmas coleslaw from St. Johns County.

Clay County, hit hard by Irma, may have suffered more grievously had it not been for delayed planting … as heavy rains had already pushed back planting schedules.

Turn around, don’t drown

The Tampa Bay Times published a long-form, damning article laying out Jacksonville’s vulnerability to flooding during a hurricane.

“The city is dangerously flood-prone,” the TBT attested, as Irma was merely a tropical storm by the time it affected Jacksonville … and the storm could have been worse.

Floods from Irma were unprecedented … yet could be the future in Jacksonville, per TBT.

Of course, some caveats led to the epic flooding: a full moon drove the storm surge, the rain was another factor. But where the TBT article makes its point is a twofold contention.

— Jacksonville has not put money into drainage in older neighborhoods, especially those close to the water.

— Jacksonville officials have no real plan to deal with the matter.

The city’s finances are stretched: millage rates are low, there is no political appetite to raise them. Pension reform offered some fiscal relief, but the recurrent investment of that aid is in human resources — public-sector unions, legacy costs.

John Thrasher enters Confederate monument debate

Florida State University President Thrasher set up a 15-person committee to review Confederate markers and monuments, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

“I expect them to be deliberate, to be thoughtful and to seek input from the entire Florida State community as they do their work,” Thrasher said about the new  President’s Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions.

John Thrasher is involved in a monument controversy, but not the local Jacksonville one.

The Democrat reports that “the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society has sought the removal of the statue of Francis Eppes near the Westcott Building. Eppes, the grandson of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, is a former Tallahassee mayor who helped found West Florida Seminary, the forerunner of today’s FSU.”

JTA CEO elected chair of national org

JTA CEO Nat Ford this weekend was elected as Chair of the American Public Transportation Association and calls the election “one of the greatest honors” he’s received in his career.

JTA CEO Nat Ford has been named Chair of the American Public Transportation Association.

Ford expects his chairmanship to bring “national attention” to Jacksonville, a city that is currently involved in attempts to modernize its approach to mass transit through various infrastructural investments — including a regional transportation center under construction.

Among his focuses in the APTA chair: “leveraging big data,” “enterprise risk management,” and the “new mobility paradigm” — which, we hear, will also double as the name for Ford’s indie rock group.

Jax loves Shad; Republicans cool to Jags

University of North Florida polls shows high approval ratings for both the owner and coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While Shad Khan and Doug Marrone sit at 65 and 58 percent approval, there nonetheless is still some grievance from Republicans toward the home team’s anthem protest in London.

Republicans are less likely to watch games on television or attend, per the survey; almost 63 percent indicated they were less likely to watch NFL games and 57 percent said they were less likely to attend games.

Democrats are unmoved; while 14 and 11 percent respectively said they were less likely to watch or go to games, a full 18 percent of Dems are more likely to watch and attend.

Pollsters conducted the live-dial survey with 512 registered Duval County voters between Oct. 2 and Oct. 4.

The first-place Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Los Angeles Rams at home, Sunday at 1 p.m.

Bean calls for elected Secretary of State

This week, the Fernandina Beach Republican filed a proposal to ask Florida voters to make the secretary of state an elected Cabinet position, removing the governor’s power to appoint Florida’s highest elections official. The News Service of Florida reports that SJR 506 seeks to undo a change approved by voters in 1998 that reduced the size of the Cabinet to three members.

Under that ballot measure, the positions of secretary of state and education commissioner became appointed in 2002 and dropped the Cabinet posts of comptroller and treasurer. It also created a new Cabinet position, chief financial officer, while keeping the attorney general and agriculture commissioner.

For inclusion on the 2018 ballot, Bean’s proposal must be approved by three-fifths of both legislative chambers and would ultimately need approval from 60 percent of voters. Bean sponsored similar legislation in the 2017 session, with the Senate approving it in a 33-2 vote, but failed to advance in the House.

Able Trust lauds Bean

“Senator of the Year” — that’s the designation the Able Trust put on Sen. Bean Monday.

“I look forward to continuing to work with The Able Trust to ensure that Floridians with disabilities are never left behind and are given the opportunities they so rightly deserve,” Bean added.

Sen. Aaron Bean gets plaudits from the Able Trust.

This has been Bean’s third award from the Able Trust. He has historically fought to ensure the nonprofit received funding that was on the chopping block.

Meredith Charbula to Duval County Court

Eric Roberson’s vacancy, left when the former Duval judge moved to the 4th Circuit Court, has now been filled.

Meredith Charbula counted Lenny Curry as an ally.

Meredith Charbula, 59, of Jacksonville, will leave her role as Director of the Legal Division for the Office of the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit to fill the slot.

Charbula, an alumna of FSU’s law school, was recommended four times by commissions … and passed over four times in the past, reported the Florida Times-Union.

“Some people call me stubborn. I call it tenacious,” she said when asked why she kept trying.

Leadership moves for KIPP Jacksonville

After more than eight years with KIPP Jacksonville Public Charter Schools, Executive Director Tom Majdanics has passed the leadership torch to Dr. Jennifer Brown, who will move from her role as Chief Academic Officer.

Zach Rossley, formerly Chief Operating Officer, will now serve as president and COO, taking on new and added responsibilities.

New Executive Director, Dr. Jennifer Brown, with students at KIPP Jacksonville Elementary.

Brown joined the KIPP Jacksonville team in 2015, with more than 15 years of experience as an educator and leader in large urban, rural, and nonprofit settings. She earned both a B.A. and M.A. in English from Winthrop University and an Ed.D. in Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.

Brown is also a proud U.S. Army Veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

KIPP Jacksonville Schools are part of the KIPP non-profit network of college-preparatory, public charter schools.

Sixty Days for 10.12.17 — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session

Sixty Days — A prime-time read of what’s going down for Florida’s 2018 Legislative Session.

The Last 24

Gov. Rick Scott is asking state transportation officials to figure out how to better get traffic out of areas under hurricane evacuation orders.

Sen. Jeff Brandes called on his fellow lawmakers to do a ‘deep dive’ into the juvenile justice system.

Trying to figure out which students left or arrived because of hurricanes may put state officials in a bind as they estimate how many students will be in Florida’s public schools.

VISIT FLORIDA said it would redouble its tourism marketing efforts to show visitors around the world that Florida is open for business after Irma.

The House’s ethics panel voted to subpoena a television production house for details on exactly how it spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a fishing show and a cooking show with celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.

A priority bill to require more fiscal transparency by local governments is on the move in the House.

Sen. Gary Farmer, a trial lawyer, was taken off his chamber’s Banking and Insurance Committee, but Senate President Joe Negron said there was “nothing nefarious” about his removal.

The House decided to put Democratic Miami-Dade Rep. Daisy Baez on trial this Dec. 4 for a  charge she doesn’t live in the district she was elected to represent.

Quote of the Day

“I apologize if my comments yesterday did not properly convey the deep respect I have for elder members of our communities and the concern I share regarding the preventable tragedy that occurred in Hollywood.” —Funeral home director and GOP Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala, a day after remarking on the South Florida nursing home deaths that “…eventually everyone who was in that nursing home will die. OK? We don’t need to attribute all those to the storm.”

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

Larry Metz, the Yalaha Republican who chairs the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, is following up on House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s mandate to ‘keep ‘em honest.’ His committee OK’d subpoenas to get information from a vendor who got millions of tax dollars to produce TV shows promoting the state. One featured celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. Corcoran wants the producer to stand and deliver on exactly how the money was spent. Metz talked to reporters after a Thursday hearing; the questions and responses have been edited for clarity and brevity:

Q: VISIT FLORIDA is funded by taxpayers. Why wouldn’t all the information you could possibly seek be available as public records?

Metz: We’re seeking information from a vendor of VISIT FLORIDA, which was completely cooperative with our request for information. It’s the vendor we’re looking to get information from. We’re simply going the formal route. If we were in court on a civil case, you’d ask for the documents first. Then you start taking depositions of witnesses. Then you fill in the gaps with questions of witnesses. We’ll see what the documents show.

Q: What if the vendor refuses to produce documents because they’re protected trade secrets?

Metz: I think that’s too speculative. We’ll have to wait and see. If it comes back that way, we’ll address that at that time. The first step is to see what’s going on. Then we can hold those accountable for past wrongs or at least make things better going forward. The committee has the charge to get answers. We need to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively, and in accordance with the intent of the Legislature.

Q: Why is the committee pursuing this particular vendor?

Metz: We had information to act on and that’s what we’re doing. In an ideal world, you’d be able to do oversight on every single dollar every single day, but that’s not the world we live in. We have to pick our battles. And there are millions of dollars at issue here. I know people think 10 or 20 million dollars is a rounding error in a budget that’s $83 billion. But from my perspective, I look at every dollar as being important. If we’re not sure what value was returned to the taxpayer, we have an obligation to pursue that.

Lobby Up

Several new principals with techy sounding names have started picking up lobbyists ahead of session, including WebCE.com signing with the team at Meenan and TmaxSoft pulling in Alan Suskey earlier this week.

WebCE.com has been in business for 20 years and provides online continuing education courses for several professions, including accounts and financial planners, and it’s not unheard of for lawmakers to slap more stringent continuing education requirements on some professions.

This year, however, a couple lawmakers have toyed with going in the other direction and relaxing requirements, especially for lower-income licensed professionals.

TmaxSoft is a South Korean enterprise software company that believes, according to their mantra, that “there is always a better way.”

Given the long list of web and software bungles in Florida’s recent history, even at the hands of big multinationals like Deloitte, there are more than a few lawmakers who have probably looked at state technology bills and their rollouts and thought pretty much anybody could have done a better job.

Given the company’s diverse business – from web servers to banking frameworks – they are likely eying at least a couple state contracts.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Republican Sen. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach is slated to speak about the upcoming legislative session during a meeting of the Florida Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. That’s at 9 a.m., The Ritz-Carlton, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Fernandina Beach.

Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis will join firefighters from across Florida to honor those who lost their lives in the line of duty. The yearly “Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service” will be 9:30 a.m., Florida State Fire College, 11655 NW Gainesville Road, Ocala.

Also Friday, independent bodies, Cabinet departments, and executive-branch agencies under Gov. Scott will review their Legislative Budget Requests in the Capitol.

9-11:30 a.m.

— Agency for Health Care Administration, Agency for Persons with Disabilities,  Department of Children and Families, Department of Elder Affairs, Department of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, in 110 Senate Office Building.

— Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Division of Emergency Management, in 401 Senate Office Building.

12-1:30 p.m.

— Department of Education, Office of Early Learning, State University System Board of Governors, in 401 Senate Office Building.

— Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Citrus, Department of Environmental Protection, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Public Service Commission, in 110 Senate Office Building.

2-4:30 p.m.

—  Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Department of Financial Services, Office of Financial Regulation, Office of Insurance Regulation, Department of Lottery, Department of Management Services, Division of Administrative Hearings, Agency for State Technology, Department of Military Affairs, Department of Revenue, Commission on Human Relations, Public Employees Relations Commission, in 110 Senate Office Building.

— Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Legal Affairs, Justice Administrative Commission, Florida Commission on Offender Review, in 401 Senate Office Building.

Joe Negron: ‘Nothing nefarious’ in Gary Farmer’s reassignment

State Sen. Gary Farmer was taken off the chamber’s Banking and Insurance Committee, but Senate President Joe Negron told Florida Politics there was “nothing nefarious” about the removal.

Capitol insiders buzzed that Senate leadership was looking to exact revenge on the trial bar because of its financial support of Annette Taddeo, the Democratic opponent of popular Republican Jose Felix Diaz, in a special election. Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, is  a trial lawyer.

Negron says that’s not the case.

Indeed, newly elected Sen. Taddeo made a “compelling” case that she should be added to the committee, Negron said.

Committee chair Anitere Flores, also the Senate President pro tempore, said B&I “is one of the top committees in the Senate.”

“Sen. Taddeo’s district has a history of being hard hit by hurricanes and other insurance issues in her community,” said Flores, a Miami-Dade Republican. “I understand she made a compelling case (but) when a new senator joins the Senate, some of the committee have to be shuffled.”

Bill Nelson fundraises off Irma again, Republicans say it’s ‘disgusting’

Bill Nelson just cannot help himself.

After Republicans blasted a “tone deaf” email last month that sought to raise funds off Hurricane Irma, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator is at it again.

Nelson writes: “There’s been a lot going on in Washington recently, from finding ways to fund these massive hurricane recovery efforts to prevent the passage of yet another disastrous GOP health care bill.”

The senator then proclaims his focus on “one thing,” which is doing everything he can to fight for constituents, adding that it is his job to “make sure your voice is heard in the Senate.”

Since Hurricane Irma happened over a month ago (supposedly past its disaster expiration date), Nelson seems to think now would be the right time to “survey” Floridians on how he’s doing.

Along with a money pitch, of course.

And once again, national Republicans are quick to this point out, saying it’s time he answers for his “disgusting” move.

Memories of Irma are still fresh in the minds of many Floridians, and Hurricane Maria continues to be an active disaster for the people of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and their families and loved ones in Florida. Republicans feel any extra money and resources should be used to help those suffering, not for a campaign more than a year away.

“Bill Nelson needs to explain why he continues to fundraise off Hurricane Irma,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin in an email Thursday. “Floridians are still struggling to clean up from this devastating storm, yet all Bill Nelson cares about is filling his own campaign coffers.”

Politics can wait, says the GOP, calling for Nelson to resist the urge to raise money. There will always be time to fundraise later.

Joe Negron’s class act: ‘Here, Dorothy Hukill, take my spot’

Session hasn’t even started, and we already have a winner for “Legislative Nice Guy of 2018″—Senate President Joe Negron.

Negron, who we’ve already reported as having found a new gear as he enters his last year in leadership, gave up his primo parking spot in the Capitol garage so that his colleague, Dorothy Hukill, can use it.

Hukill missed the entire 2017 Legislative Session due to cancer treatments. But she returned this week to a round of applause from her colleagues during roll call in the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

The Port Orange Republican spent the 2017 Session watching the session on a pair of screens — a home computer and an iPad — at her home while recovering from cervical cancer. Radiation treatments ended just as the 2017 Session was coming to a close.

“It’s very exciting to be in the (committee) room,” Hukill told Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida. “It’s lovely to watch it on the wonderful Florida Channel, which I was very, very happy to have. But I’d rather be here.”

Undoubtedly, Hukill still is recovering from her treatments. And because every extra step walked can be a chore, a few hundred feet saved by having the Senate President’s parking spot has to be a relief.

Still, Hukill told reporters she expects the welcome-backs and hugs from her colleagues to quickly give way to legislative normalcy.

“It’s exciting to be back,” she said. “People are giving give me a breather for a day or two.”

The Delegation for 10.12.17 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State

Delegation at the forefront of gun control debate

Members of the Florida delegation are taking a lead role in the most recent discussion on gun control following the tragedy in Las Vegas. While pleas for “reasonable” gun control measures are always part of the discussion, the specific targeting of devices such as “bump stocks,” which turn semi-automatic weapons basically into automatic rifles, is gaining steam.

Bill Nelson joined fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein from California and others, to launch a Senate bill that would make it unlawful to add devices which “functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle, but not convert the semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun.”

The bill has a military and National Guard carve-out.

Republican Carlos Curbelo joined Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton to introduce a bill banning “Bump Stocks.”

“I’m a hunter and have owned guns my whole life,” Nelson said in a news release. “But these automatic weapons are not for hunting; they’re for killing.”

Kendall Republican Carlos Curbelo is teaming with Massachusetts Democrat Seth Moulton to craft a House bill, but with a twist. While developing the proposal, the duo is seeking co-sponsors to make it a “perfectly bipartisan effort.”

To join this bill, co-sponsors must sign on in tandem with a member of the other party. Curbelo and Moulton describe this as the “Noah’s Ark” approach.

“For the first time, there is growing bipartisan consensus for firearm reform, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo said in a news release. “Common sense legislation that does not restrict Second Amendment rights is an important step in addressing gun violence in our country.”

“It’s time for Members of Congress to find the courage to come together and finally do something to help stop the epidemic of mass shootings,” Moulton said. “As Members of Congress, it is our responsibility to protect the American people.”

This action appears to be an idea whose time has come. President Trump essentially gave his thumbs-up, while the National Rifle Association (NRA) said: “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

It will be sometime in 2018, at the earliest, before any action would take effect. Even if the legislation somehow quickly moves through Congress, the Nelson/Feinstein bill states that the ban on any outlawed device takes place “180 days after the date of enactment.” The Curbelo/Moulton bill would likely have the same provision.

In other words, perhaps the time has almost come.

Rubio, commission to Trump: Engage China on human rights

With President Donald Trump set to go to Beijing in November, North Korea will undoubtedly be a significant topic of discussion between the president and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. The second-term Republican Senator wants to add human rights to the agenda.

Last week the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which Rubio chairs along with GOP Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, released its 2017 annual report. Among the detailed report’s recommendations (the executive summary alone is 65 pages), is for the Trump administration to embark on a policy “that challenges China to abide by its international commitments, adhere to universal standards and embrace the rule of law.”

Marco Rubio is calling for the Trump administration to embark on a policy “that challenges China to abide by its international commitments, adhere to universal standards and embrace the rule of law.”

Rubio, Smith and the committee detailed a regression on freedom of expression in China, as well as infringements on religious liberties. In an op-ed, they cited Xi’s continuing efforts to consolidate his power.

“Over the past year, Chinese authorities targeted labor and environmental activists; demanded loyalty from scholars and intellectuals; and clamped down on foreign nongovernmental organizations, media outlets, think tanks and internet companies,” they wrote.

They also offered a reminder to Trump.

“President Trump would do well to remember, even in the midst of heightened diplomacy on North Korea, that governments which trample the basic rights of their own citizens are unreliable international partners.”

Comprising the bipartisan Commission is nine senators and seven representatives. Also, five executive branch commissioners are provided, which have not yet been appointed.

Nelson proposes gasoline supply reserve in Florida

The three-term Democrat, who has seen numerous hurricanes come through Florida during his 17 years in the Senate, is calling on the federal government to make it easier for residents to evacuate. He is proposing a “Florida Gasoline Supply Reserve” that would store at least 1 million barrels of gasoline for distribution when disaster-related evacuations are required.

Stories of Florida residents remaining in place as Hurricane Irma approached due to limited fuel access, prompted the call for the reserve. He filed a bill last week that would require the U.S. Department of Energy to create the reserve.

“When a major storm is heading toward our state, we have to make sure people have access to the gas they need to get out of harm’s way, Nelson said. “A Florida gas reserve would not only help prevent some of the gas shortages we saw ahead of Hurricane Irma but would also help ensure that our first responders have the fuel they need to help people during and after the storm.”

Nelson will likely gain bipartisan support for his bill, especially within the delegation. Republican Richard Corcoran, Speaker of the Florida House, had recently made a similar suggestion.

Rubio: Told you so

As the U.S. military took over the Puerto Rico relief efforts, Florida’s junior senator pointed out that the federal government was doing what he called for almost two weeks ago. As some of the smaller-town mayors “stumble on the job” of getting relief to their constituents, the military is now charged with ensuring lifesaving supplies are distributed to those in need in the island’s more remote areas.

Soon after his visit to the island shortly after Hurricane Maria had left, Rubio pledged the federal government would not forget them. Militarizing the relief effort was one of his recommendations.

“We need to push it directly to the barrio to ensure that everyone’s getting it,” Brig. Gen. Jose J. Reyes told the Miami Herald.

After visiting Puerto Rico shortly after Hurricane Maria, Marco Rubio pledged the federal government would not forget them.

Between 10-20 soldiers will be placed in the communities with the responsibility of delivering supplies.

“They will have some vehicles. They will have radio communications, as well as logistics support … they are going to be living there,” said Reyes. “They are going to be operating 24/7.”

On Sunday, Rubio tweeted “12 days ago said @DeptofDefense must take over @PuertoRicoRelief appears they have finally reached same conclusion.”

Delegation calls for $27 billion in additional hurricane recovery funding

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, both U.S. Senators from Florida, along with 26 delegation members from the House, submitted Friday a line-item list of budget requests totaling $26.945 billion worth of federal hurricane recovery funding.

In a letter penned to members of the House Committee on Appropriations, nearly the entire Florida delegation outlined specific recovery funding requests in addition to the $29 billion requested this week from the White House.

“Three hurricanes have hit U.S. soil in a short time, stretching our federal agencies, first responders and community resources thin,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “With more than a month left in the 2017 hurricane season and another storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, Americans need to know that the federal government is ready to respond.”

Daniel Webster’s name is noticeably absent in a letter from the Florida delegation urging $27 billion in additional hurricane recovery funding.

The letter stresses that additional funding will likely be needed once a more thorough damage assessment is complete and the funding sought will probably cover only part of the state’s overall recovery costs.

The largest of the requests include $10 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to help repair and sustain port and river functionality, along with repairing any damage to ongoing projects like the Herbert Hoover Dike. There is also $7 billion for the Community Development Block Grant to fund any unmet needs, including seawall restoration in South Florida; and $5 billion for the Department of Agriculture to assist with crop and livestock losses from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Congressman Daniel Webster, a Republican from Florida’s 11th District, was the only Florida delegation signature absent from the letter Friday.

Good news/bad news on GOP passing 2018 budget resolution

The good news, depending on one’s point of view, is the House passed a budget for the next fiscal year. The bad news, depending on one’s point of view, is the House passed a budget for the next fiscal year.

The vote of 219-206 represents complete unity against the resolution by Democrats with 18 Republicans crossing over to vote with them. Delegation members were only too happy to provide the good news and bad news for constituents and the media.

“It’s time to put Washington on a responsible fiscal path, and this budget is a step in the right direction,” said Panama City Republican Neal Dunn. Dunn pointed to estimates the budget would achieve $6.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years and produce a budget surplus of $9 billion in fiscal year 2027.

“Budgeting is about setting priorities, and the FY 2018 budget does just that,” said Lakeland Republican Dennis Ross. “From funding America’s defense to balancing the budget in 10 years, and rolling back regulations that hinder our economy, we are getting American back on track.”

Democrats had a different, but familiar reaction.

Al Lawson blasted the Republican 2018 budget resolution that includes $5.4 trillion in spending cuts to programs “critically important” to his constituents.

“I voted against the Republican budget resolution that includes $5.4 trillion in spending cuts to programs critically important to my constituents,” said Democrat Al Lawson of Tallahassee. “This devastating budget included cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and education assistance, all while cutting taxes for the wealthy.”

For those expecting a fiery response from Boca Raton Democrat Ted Deutch, he did not disappoint.

“The House Republican budget is a callous proposal to shut down essential programs like Medicare, steal billions of dollars from middle-class Americans’ wallets and funnel it to billionaires, and undermine key national priorities by cutting infrastructure funding and wreaking havoc on our health care system,” he said.

In September, the national debt topped $20 trillion. At that time, Congress approved stopgap funding until Dec. 8, when the debt ceiling will again need to be raised.

Water Wars headed for U.S. Supreme Court

The legal fight between Florida and Georgia over water flow into the Apalachicola River (aka “Water Wars”) will move before the full U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court announced Tuesday that it will set a date for oral arguments in the case during its current term, which runs through June.

“The exceptions to the special master’s report are set for oral argument in due course,” the court said in a one-sentence announcement.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court granted oral argument and look forward to presenting our arguments in court,” said Kylie Mason, the press secretary for Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Neal Dunn weighs in on Florida’s water wars, saying the state has “suffered harm from low water flows upriver and that stopping implementation of the revised water manual is necessary to right this wrong.”

Florida filed a lawsuit in 2013, alleging Georgia diverts too much water from the river system and that the diversions have damaged Apalachicola Bay and Franklin County’s seafood industry. Earlier this year, a special master appointed by the Court recommended that Georgia’s position prevail.

“The key finding in the special master’s decision is that Florida has suffered harm from low water flows upriver and that stopping implementation of the revised water manual is necessary to right this wrong,” Panama City Republican Neal Dunn said in a news release.

Dunn, “with support from several of my Florida colleagues in Congress,” sought to halt “implementation of the water control practices” laid out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Both Florida senators and Congressmen representing the Panhandle area have been fighting the uphill battle. Earlier this year, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson filed a bill in the Senate that would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers send more freshwater into Florida.

“The oystermen whose livelihood depends on having enough fresh water in the bay are relying on us to get this fixed,” he said.

Speaker appoints Gaetz to debt ceiling group

The first-term Republican from Fort Walton Beach will now be watching the nation’s debt ceiling much more closely. Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed Gaetz to the House Debt Ceiling Working Group.

He brings a history of fiscal conservatism with him to the post. In a release announcing his appointment, his office reminded those watching the issue that Gaetz “has never voted to raise the debt ceiling.”

That includes last month, when he was among 90 House Republicans voting against both raising the debt ceiling until December and emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to deal with hurricanes. Gaetz later stood by that vote.

“I am honored to have been chosen by the Speaker to work in the debt ceiling group,” Gaetz said. “In the past month, our government debt finally exceeded 20 trillion dollars. This is not only generational theft, but morally repugnant.”

Though they were on the opposite sides of the September debt ceiling increase, Ryan praised Gaetz for his fiscal responsibility.

“This is exactly why we wanted Matt Gaetz on the Budget Committee; because of how serious he is about getting our fiscal house in order,” said Ryan in a statement. “He brings to this working group the kind of fresh approach and long-term thinking taxpayers deserve right now. I appreciate his willingness to take on this responsibility at this critical time.”

The group’s first meeting was Tuesday.

Murphy, Demings, Soto announce transportation grant

The three Central Florida Democrats announced the Federal Highway Administration will provide the region with a $12 million grant to develop “intelligent transportation technologies.” Recipients are the Florida Department of Transportation, MetroPlan Orlando, and the University of Central Florida.

The specific purpose is to use technology to make transportation safer and more accessible for drivers, transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists in the Orlando area. Generally, it is intended to help central Florida ease traffic congestion and promote traffic safety.

In March, the three Members of Congress wrote to White House Budget Director Nick Mulvaney, with a copy to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, providing a list of more than a dozen projects that would benefit from the funds. The letter respectfully reminded Mulvaney of President Trump’s repeated pledge to invest in infrastructure.

Murphy said the grant “will help make Orlando’s roads safer and less congested, and give residents a wider range of transportation options.” Soto called it “great news for Central Florida! We all know firsthand the problems of traffic congestion and lack of cyclist safety in the Orlando area.”

“This grant will help residents and our 68 million annual visitors get from place to place quicker, faster, safer and with less fuel usage and air pollution,” Demings said.

Soto: Congress has come to terms with Puerto Rico, USVI devastation

The Orlando Democrat spent the early part of the week touring Puerto Rico and then Thursday met with the House Natural Resources Committee, leaving convinced that the island is in desperate straits, that the Trump administration still has not come to terms, but that Congress has.

“We’ve had much better success in getting Congress to understand the devastation than we have in getting the Trump administration to do so,” Soto told Florida Politics.

Darren Soto says there is some good news in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria … Congress has finally come to terms with the massive devastation in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands.

“That’s the good news in all this,” Soto said, noting that he expects Congress to pass an emergency $29 billion Federal Emergency Management Agency package for hurricane relief to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with Puerto Rico getting $10 billion of that.

Soto also called attention to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which he did not visit, but about which, he said, has been briefed on numerous times. Soto said the Virgin Islands were in as bad of shape, with no schools or hospitals standing, and, he said, the additional burden of a local government that was not responding well.

“One of the big things we [on the Natural Resources Committee] all agreed to do is we need to stand united for both Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on this because we’re worried that the Virgin Islands will be left out. But everything needs to be rebuilt,” Soto said.

Orlando Republican Daniel Webster is also a member of the Committee.

Het he said he remains convinced that the Trump administration does not understand the “damage or the heightened sense of the urgency of the need.”

“If President Trump said today, ‘Bring down 500 helicopters and get them out to all these towns immediately,’ it will happen,” Soto added. “But to the best of my knowledge, unless something has changed over the last day or so, it still hasn’t.”

Upon his return from Puerto Rico, Soto filed a report of his findings.

Agents from the Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico with personnel from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist with recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Bilirakis bill clears committee

The Republican from Palm Harbor is working his legislation, named the Community CARE Act, through the House of Representatives. The bill, co-sponsored by New York Republican Elise Stefanik, reauthorizes funding for community health centers for the next two years.

Bilirakis announced the bill passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The centers provided health and dental care for underserved populations.

“This important bill reauthorizes funding for community health centers for the next two years at a level of $3.6 billion per year,” Bilirakis said in a newsletter to constituents. “Community health centers provide high quality, comprehensive health care to over 25 million Americans, including 7 million children and 300,000 veterans.”

Democrat Kathy Castor of Tampa also serves on the committee with Bilirakis.

Buchanan calls out California “Governor Moonbeam”

It is safe to say the Sarasota Republican is not a fan of California in general, and their governor, in particular. In an email message titled “Governor Moonbeam Strikes Again,” Buchanan lamented to his district that California is now a “sanctuary state.”

“There’s a reason I’m leading the fight in Congress to crack down on sanctuary cities,” Buchanan wrote. “It’s because of people like (Gov.) Jerry Brown.

Brown was given that moniker in the 1970s by Chicago columnist Mike Royko.

Buchanan was responding to Brown signing a bill which will “vastly limit local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.” The U.S. Department of Justice agrees with Buchanan.

In a new email, Vern Buchanan calls out “Governor Moonbeam,” Jerry Brown of California.

“The state of California has now codified a commitment to returning criminal aliens back onto our streets, which undermines public safety, national security and law enforcement,” said department spokesman Devin O’Malley.

In response, California Senate President Kevin de León said the bill “will not provide full sanctuary,” but would prevent local police from being “commandeered” into doing immigration enforcement.

Buchanan called on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate to approve two bills Congressional Republicans support, Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, immediately. Both bills, co-sponsored by Buchanan and GOP colleague Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, passed the House in July.

Deutch leads 180+ Democrats asking Trump not to nix Iran deal

The Democrat from Boca Raton has joined with his Democratic colleague from North Carolina, David Price, in writing to President Trump asking him not to decertify the nuclear materials agreement with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration. Reports are circulating Trump may do just that as early as Thursday or Friday.

“The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act requires the president to provide to Congress credible evidence of Iranian noncompliance should violations of (the agreement) occur,” they wrote. “We have received no such information to date.”

Decertifying the agreement would not come as a total surprise. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to “get rid” of it or “tear it up.” According to POLITICO, he may decertify it, but not reimpose sanctions on Iran, thereby preserving the opportunity to “save” it.

“If President Trump decertifies Iranian compliance without clear evidence of Iranian violations, it will jeopardize this united front against Iran,” Deutch said in a news release. “The (agreement) is an imperfect agreement, but to address the problematic provisions, including the sunset clauses, we will need to stay in lockstep with our global partners.”

Joining the U.S. in negotiating the agreement was China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

According to the list provided by Deutch, all Florida Democrats signed on to the letter except Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park.

DCCC launches Spanish-language ads targeting “vulnerable” Republicans

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is stepping up its attacks in three South Florida congressional districts. Digital advertisements, focusing on Medicare, targets Mario Diaz-Balart from the 25th District and Carlos Curbelo in the 26th. They will also run in the 27th District, currently held by the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The boogeyman in these ads is House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans for their attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. Democrats say the GOP legislation would take $500 billion from Medicare.

“Ryan and the Republicans in Washington,” the ad says. “Medicare is yours, not theirs.”

“Medicare has allowed millions of hardworking Latino families across the country to receive quality and affordable health care coverage,” said DCCC spokesman Javier Gamboa. “House Republicans will stop at nothing to rip away affordable health care coverage from their constituents, and we are all at risk as long as they’re in office.”

The ad, “No Pueden Parar,” (They Can’t Stop), is the first Spanish-language digital ad of the 2018 election cycle from the DCCC. The 15-second advertisement is targeted through Facebook and Google to those living in the three districts that have set their computer and phone settings to Spanish.

In addition to the three districts in Florida, another 16 heavily Latino areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas will see the ads. No dollar figure on the cost of the ad buy was provided.

Floridians honored in Washington for work on mental illness

This week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) recognized two Florida advocates for their work. Judge Steven Leifman and Peggy Symons of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Orlando were presented with two of PhRMA’s 2017 Research & Hope Awards.

Leifman is a Miami-Dade County judge who spends considerable time outside the courtroom working on the issue of mental health. For more than seven years he has chaired the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court.

He tirelessly works to improve the broken system and has developed groundbreaking resources within the 11th Judicial Circuit.

Symons is a diagnosed schizophrenic with bipolar disorder. After failing for more than 30 years to find the right medication to control her disease, she discovered two that worked. After enduring the struggle dealing with insurance companies, she found herself on the right path and committed herself to work on behalf of others similarly afflicted.

“The award recipients are inspirational leaders in mental health research, support and advocacy,” said PhRMA President and CEO Stephen J. Ubl. “We are grateful for their extraordinary commitment to helping patients build better and healthier lives.”

Award recipients were honored at a Tuesday ceremony in Washington that featured keynote speaker Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in U.S. history.

Paulson’s Principles: The more things change, the more they stay the same

We are nine months into President Donald Trump’s first term, and many Republicans and Democrats are anxiously looking forward to the 2018 midterm elections.

As is often the case, both parties see a reason for optimism.

Republicans are optimistic because they hold the White House, they control 35 of the 50 governorships, 67 of the 98 partisan state legislative bodies, and they gained almost 1,000 new state legislators during the eight years of the Obama administration.

Democratic optimism is based on Trump’s abysmal approval ratings which they believe will help drag down Republican candidates. Democrats also believe that the special election victory of Democrat Annette Taddeo in a state senate race will help Democrats attract better candidates, raise more money and boost enthusiasm.

Democrats believe they have nowhere to go but up. After Republican control of the Florida congressional delegation since 1990, Democrats and believe they have the opportunity to flip three additional seats and take control of the congressional delegation for the first time in almost three decades.

Democratic optimism is based on Trump’s low approval ratings, the electorates desire for political change after three decades of Republican dominance in Florida, and based on demographic changes occurring in Florida.

Two hundred thousand Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida since 2012 and most reside in the Orlando metropolitan area. Because of hurricane Maria and its devastation of Puerto Rico, another 100,000 island residents could migrate to Florida. They would bring with them their strong ties to the Democratic Party. Orlando-area Hispanics are now 54 percent Democrat and only 14 percent Republican.

But, as Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times has recently noted, not all demographic changes favor the Democrats. The Villages, an area northwest of Orlando, has been the fastest growing metro area for the past four years. Its residents are overwhelmingly Republican and pro-Trump. Just as the in-migration of Puerto Ricans has benefited Democrats, the growth of the 98 percent white Villages will help Republican candidates.

The cleansing of voter rolls is another factor benefiting Republicans. Hillsborough County, which moved 46,264 voters to the inactive roll, more than twice the number of any other county, resulted in 18,514 Democrats and 9,140 Republicans being moved to inactive status.

Statewide, 114,000 voters were moved to the inactive status. 27,000 were Republicans, but 82,000 were Democrats.

As Tim Russert said on election night 2000, everything came down to “Florida, Florida, Florida.” As we know, it is almost impossible to predict anything in Florida other than close elections.

Statewide, Democrats now make up 37.6 percent of the electorate, Republicans are 35 percent and No Party Affiliation is 27 percent. This gives Democrats a lead of 275,330 voters out of 13 million registered voters.

As political guru Steve Schale has noted, since 1992, over 50 votes have been cast in Florida presidential elections and Republicans lead by 12,000 votes or 0.02 percent. It can’t get closer than that.

Who wins in Florida in 2018 will come down to candidate quality, money and political organization.

Double duty for Scalise?

Recently, Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise returned to Capitol Hill to resume his duties as he still recovers from his near-fatal shooting. In addition to representing his state’s 1st Congressional District, he also serves as the House Majority Whip; otherwise known as the guy responsible for rounding up votes on the side desired by leadership.

By most accounts, Scalise has been successful in his Whip post. With all of the division among House Republicans, that chamber was able to at least get a “repeal and replace” Obamacare bill across the finish line.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the NLDS between the Cubs and Nationals.

The Senate is a different story, where a GOP majority experienced multiple failures. This prompted first-term Republican Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach to joke about expanding Scalise’s duties.

“Maybe we’ll send him over to the Senate to whip them into shape,” he quipped.

While the Constitution does not permit that, a Senate run may be a part of Scalise’s future.

Sunburn for 10.12.17 — Richard Corcoran warming up; State budget already being crunched; Rick Scott criticized; Janet Cruz delivers PR aid; SpaceX goes 3-for-3

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

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

Richard Corcoran has “planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway.”

Yes, he does it his way.

The House Speaker is on a tear this week, going Sinatra on Visit Orlando after it disclosed, among other things, that it spent over $76,000 “to advertise on a traffic and weather camera,” the Sentinel reported.

Moreover, a House committee could decide on Thursday “whether to subpoena a TV producer who declined to detail how he spent $14.4 million he received from VISIT FLORIDA,” according to the Naples Daily News.

Pat Roberts, owner of Tallahassee-based MAT Media, refused to cooperate in a House investigation into his cooking show starring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and a fishing show,” the paper said.

Corcoran, whom we’ll bet will announce a run for governor after the 2018 Legislative Session, vilified VISIT FLORIDA earlier this year, seeking to defund it and Enterprise Florida because they were dispensers of “corporate welfare.”

Corcoran later agreed with Senate President Joe Negron and Gov. Rick Scott to fund the tourism marketing agency with $76 million. Also created was an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund.

In return, Corcoran got Scott’s signature on a still-controversial education bill creating “Schools of Hope” that will benefit charter schools.

To think he did all that—and may we say, not in a shy way—yep, he does it his way.

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— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

— @MarcoRubio: Richard Spencer craves publicity.Desperate to incite outrage b/c terrified of @UF speech no one shows up for.

— @TiffanaySalameh: Racially disturbing video allegedly features a UNF student mocking those who attended a BLM rally.

— @MaryEllenKlas: Ophelia becomes a hurricane, tying century-old record

— @Scott_Maxwell: Rick Scott says Congress should make citrus/Ag whole for $2.5B in losses – while also saying farmers don’t want “government handouts.”

— @VentureTampaBay: Yes, grandkids, I remember when oranges grew by the millions in Florida… Quit pulling our legs, grandpa.

— @MDixon55: Sen. Gibson does not sugar coat it. Says Senate got “sucker punched” when house tied Scott’s funding pot to Visit Florida money

@Fineout: City of Tallahassee says it handed 150,000 electronic records to FBI today & 1.500 more will be turned over in coming weeks

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

‘LIP’ money falls short of initial estimates” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – At the height of a budget showdown earlier this year, Gov. Scott boasted that his friendship with President Trump‘s administration would result in Florida getting $1.5 billion to help the state’s hospitals. But months later, the final amount will be considerably smaller, a top state Medicaid official said. Instead the state will have about $790.4 million in supplemental Medicaid funds to spend this year. Beth Kidder, a deputy secretary at the state Agency for Health Care Administration, told the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee that the agency has $303 million in funding commitments from counties to help fund the Low-Income Pool. The money will be used to draw down $487 million in federal Medicaid dollars bringing the total available to just more than $790 million for the supplemental program widely known as LIP. “The $1.5 billion is not $1.5 billion,” Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores said. Kidder told the panel that the size of the Low-Income Pool has always been contingent on the receipt of matching local dollars to fund it.

Senate may tap reserves to plug $1.6 billion budget hole” via Arek Sarkissian of the USA Today Network-Florida – With Medicaid costs rising and tax revenue socked by Hurricane Irma, Senate President Joe Negron says next year’s legislative session may include tapping into the state’s $3.8 billion in cash reserves … “It’s called the rainy day fund and it’s raining,” he said in a one-on-one interview. “I think we will also let the appropriations process look into some of the issues in that base budget so we’re not continuing to fund the priorities of lawmakers from the past.” State economic reports show lawmakers need to trim the budget or face a $1.6 billion hole created by the state’s $26.2 billion Medicaid program and an increase in student enrollment.

Senators sound skeptical of new state jobs fund” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Lawmakers asked lots of questions but didn’t get the answers they wanted Wednesday as a Senate panel tried to get a handle on the state’s new $85 million jobs fund. The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee heard from Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) head Cissy Proctor on the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund … Senators soon started peppering Proctor with questions: “It’s a lot of money … we want to understand what the parameters are,” said subcommittee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican.

Jeff Brandes calls for juvenile justice review in wake of Herald series” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The lawmaker who oversees a powerful criminal justice committee said he will spearhead a much-needed reform of the state’s juvenile justice system in the wake of a Miami Herald series that detailed the existence of a mercenary system in which detainees are given honey buns and other treats as a reward for pounding other youths. Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who is the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, said he believes the state is ripe for reform. “It gives me pause. There is a lot of work that can be done,” Brandes said at a meeting of the committee Wednesday. “There are going to be many tough questions that we’re going to be going through in the next committee weeks.”

Fireworks bill clears first Senate panel” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The latest attempt to end a decades-old prohibition on fireworks sales in Florida received its first hearing in the state Senate Wednesday, and it was a bit bumpy. The bill cleared the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on a 8-2 vote, but bill sponsor Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, admits it still needs some work. For more than half a century, Florida law on fireworks has been banned, but there is a loophole that allows fireworks to be used “solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.” Floridians who buy fireworks from roadside stands sign a form that they fall under one of the exemptions. Like, yes, scaring birds.

Bullied students could get state scholarships to private schools” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – Speaker Corcoran said he’ll push legislation to give scholarships to children abused at school, allowing them to attend another public school or a private school of their choice, if their parents opt to remove them. “Children who are subjected to violence and abuse at school deserve hope, dignity, and a real opportunity to succeed,” Corcoran said. “No child should ever be afraid to go to school and no child should have to continually suffer abuse. They deserve a way out.” Corcoran said total funding for the scholarships was yet to be determined, but would likely be structured similarly to the state’s other three voucher programs for low-income and disabled students, which are funded with tax credits. He said the money would not come out of the Florida Education Finance Program, the main funding source for public schools. About 47,000 incidents of bullying, abuse, physical and sexual assault and hazing reported by schools during the 2015-2016 year, Corcoran said.

Robert Olszewski gets committee assignmentsOlszewski, also known as “Bobby O,” a Winter Garden Republican elected to the House this week in a special election, has been assigned to the following panels, according to the House website: Careers & Competition Subcommittee, Government Accountability Committee, Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee. Olszewski now represents House District 44, replacing former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, a Republican who stepped down to become an appellate judge. Olszewski won by a 56-44 margin over Democratic businessman Eddy Dominguez of Dr. Phillips.

Great read –I got rejected from Harvard. then I won a state election” by Rep. Amber Mariano via Cosmopolitan – “I worked really hard in high school because it was my dream to go to Harvard. I remember when I got the Harvard email. I was at Chili’s, which is my favorite restaurant. I had a friend with me who also really, really wanted to go to Harvard. She opened hers and she started crying, and then I opened mine and I started crying. We didn’t get in and it just felt like disaster. I decided to go to UCF [University of Central Florida] in Orlando.” Regarding her election last year: “People were encouraged and excited because, obviously, with Trump’s election, they wanted something new and different than what they’re used to seeing, so for them, I fit that bill.”

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— DAMAGES —

Frustrations boil over in D.C. as Rick Scott meets with Florida representatives” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz pointedly challenged the Republican governor over debris removal and alleged he was unresponsive to her personal calls and requests for help. “I have tried to reach you and I have gotten no response from you,” Wasserman Schultz said, charging that Scott’s administration has hindered cities from paying contractors more than pre-negotiated rates, by refusing to submit contracts to FEMA. “If you’ve contacted me, I don’t have any evidence that you contacted me,” Scott said. “I have your cellphone number, governor, and I’ve called you on it. And I’ve also contacted your office,” Wasserman Schultz replied. Scott said that existing contracts must be honored. “I’m always going to stand on the side of taxpayers and consumers, not on the side of somebody who wants to make extra money after a disaster.” Finally, Rep. Vern Buchanan, co-chair of the delegation, broke it up. “Let’s work all that out a little later,” he said.

Lawmaker questions cause of nursing home deaths” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “We keep getting new deaths attributed to the storm, because they came from the nursing home, when in fact, look at the population you’re dealing with: they’re 90-somethings,” Baxley said. “Some of these deaths would have naturally occurred, storm or no storm. So to automatically pushing these over to the medical examiner as part of this case that they’re are studying, I think could be a bit unfair on the other side of the equation “There need to be some evaluation of are these natural deaths or storm deaths, because, that makes a difference in policy, what kind of policy we set. I think we can face the reality that some of these are naturally occurring deaths,” Baxley said. “The more the time clicks off, the more of them there will be, until eventually everyone who was in that nursing home will die. OK? We don’t need to attribute all those to the storm, or we’re in bad policy.”

Republicans see Irma as an opportunity to review energy regulations” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The issue came up during hearings before the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee. “Are there any regulations, whether laws that we’ve passed or administrative procedures the PSC might have put in place, that might be slowing down the recovery time or restoration time?” Republican Jason Fischer asked Florida Power & Light’s Bryan Olnick. “And if there are, could you identify what some of those might be? I’d be willing to work with you to pull some of those back.” Olnick thought not. “Right now, I really don’t think that there are necessarily any rules or regulations I would say are a major hindrance when it comes to restoration strategy, restoration philosophy, prioritizing how we restore. I wouldn’t really say there are any major roadblocks,” Olnick said.

Citrus industry feels squeeze from Irma, waits for help” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News – The massive storm walloped citrus crops in Florida’s five top-producing citrus counties: DeSoto, Polk, Hendry, Highlands and Hardee. Groves in Hendry and Collier were especially hard hit. Before Irma, the citrus industry’s impact on the state’s economy was estimated at $8.6 billion a year. Last season, nearly 437,000 acres of citrus were grown in Florida, generating roughly 45,000 full-time and part-time jobs, according to Florida Citrus Mutual. A preliminary damage estimates Hurricane Irma’s toll on the state’s agricultural industry at more than $2.5 billion. Florida’s orange crop suffered the most, taking a more than $760 million hit. The damage from Irma — estimated to have taken out as much as 70 percent of Florida’s orange crop this year — will have a ripple effect. Less work for farmers means less work for pickers, processors and others — from the caretakers who fertilize their trees to the accountants who keep their books. With less money in their pockets, farmers will tighten their belts in other ways, spending less at local stores and restaurants.

Debris hauler touts post-Irma prices as potential savings for taxpayers” via Lisa Huriash of the Sun-Sentinel – Randy Perkins, the founder and chairman of AshBritt Environmental Inc., said his Deerfield Beach-based company won’t collect extra fees from eight South Florida cities after all. The cities had agreed to pay higher amounts in taxpayer money for cleanup service from AshBritt, concerned they were left with debris-strewn streets after Irma left a mess. Perkins said he was forced to increase the fees to keep his subcontractors from leaving town for more lucrative jobs. Those higher costs remain, but Perkins said he’ll eat the difference. He declined to say what that will be, only saying, “It is what it is.”

Long lines greet those seeking disaster food aid” via Ashley Harding of News 4 Jax – The line at the Food for Florida disaster benefits center at Regency Square Mall in Jacksonville formed well before opened at 7 a.m. By 10 a.m., officials with the Florida Department of Children and Families announced that the event had reached capacity for the day and no one else should come out … The Regency location, which is for residents of Duval and Nassau counties, will be open for six days, and each day is prioritized by the first letter of the applicant’s last name. Wednesday was for people with last names beginning with letters A through D. Residents with those names who didn’t make it out Wednesday can attend a makeup day Tuesday. People were strongly encouraged to pre-register online at least one day in advance to allow for faster processing of applications on-site.

Mark Zuckerberg sorry for virtual tour of devastated Puerto Rico” via The Associated Press –Zuckerberg has apologized for showcasing Facebook’s virtual reality capability with a tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. The Facebook founder and another executive discussed the platform’s virtual reality project through avatars in a video recorded live Monday. The video begins with the avatars pictured on the roof of Facebook’s Mountain View, California, headquarters before heading to Puerto Rico by using a 360-degree video recorded by National Public Radio as a backdrop. Zuckerberg later responded to critics, writing that his goal of showing “how VR can raise awareness and help us see what’s happening in different parts of the world” wasn’t clear. He says he’s sorry to anyone who was offended.

— “Puerto Rico’s health care is in dire condition, three weeks after Maria” via Frances Robles of the New York Times

Janet Cruz heads to Puerto Rico on aid trip” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa traveled to Puerto Rico Wednesday “to deliver 30,000 pounds of much-needed relief supplies, including food, water, and medical necessities,” her spokesman said. Cruz is working with “Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Moffitt Cancer Center,” according to Anders Croy, communications director for the House Democratic Office. “Additionally, the group will also be bringing back tissue samples currently on the verge of spoiling that represent years of critical medical research, cancer patients seeking care on the mainland here in Florida, and a group of nuns displaced by the storm,” he added.

Janet Cruz with Evelio Otero, on Oct. 4. Otero collected more than 2 million pounds of goods for Puerto Ricans. Photo credit: NSF.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida trims Medicaid HMO payments” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Florida has reduced by 3.7 percent the rates it pays HMOs and provider-sponsored networks in the biggest part of the Medicaid managed-care system but has given a 2.4 percent hike to plans that offer managed long-term care.  The net result: The state is projected to spend $16 billion-plus on premiums to Medicaid HMOs to care for the poor, elderly and disabled between October 2017 and October 2018. That’s about a $300 million premium reduction from what they were paid last year, according to Milliman, an accounting firm that helps state Medicaid officials establish actuarially sound HMO rates. The hospital cuts accounted for 94 percent of the reduction in rates. Meanwhile, the Legislature’s decision to add nearly 14,300 people to the Medicaid managed long-term care program in the coming months helped lower a potential rate increase from 3.3 percent to 2.4 percent.

Appeals court upholds major tobacco verdict” via the News Service of Florida – Though it raised concerns about a jury instruction, a state appeals court upheld a nearly $35 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in the death of a longtime smoker. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal sided with Colette O’Hara, who filed the lawsuit in Escambia County after the death of her husband, Garry O’Hara. A jury awarded $14.7 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. R.J. Reynolds appealed on a series of grounds, but the ruling focused heavily on the propriety of a jury instruction sought by Colette O’Hara’s attorneys. The instruction involved an issue about whether Garry O’Hara relied on tobacco-company advertisements. The appeals court found problems with the instruction but concluded it couldn’t determine whether the instruction affected the jury’s decision … Garry O’Hara was a 30-year Air Force veteran who started smoking at age 14 and was diagnosed with fatal lung cancer at age 49.

Regulators shoot down medical marijuana payment proposalvia Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – State regulators have rejected a California bank’s proposal to operate in Florida as a financial middleman for medical marijuana-related transactions. The Office of Financial Regulation denied a request from PayQwick for a declaratory statement so it could operate here. Christian Bax, director of the Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, gave a presentation Wednesday to the House Health Quality Subcommittee on the state’s regulation of medicinal cannabis. Though he did not mention the PayQwick case, decided in late August, Bax did say there has been “reticence” on the part of the banking industry to get involved with marijuana sales. Florida has more or less legalized medical marijuana, through statute and constitutional amendment, but selling marijuana still is a federal crime. And banking, by its nature as “interstate commerce,” falls under federal law.

Poll finds Floridian’s want ‘Marsy’s Law’” via Florida Politics – The survey found 85 percent of the 700 likely voters polled agreed with the proposed ballot language being tossed around by Marsy’s Law for Florida, the major backer of the measure which also commissioned the poll. The ballot language played well with voters from both major parties, with 83 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Independents saying they would vote for the amendment. Marsy’s Law establishes a “Victim Bill of Rights” which would require victims to be told about their rights as well as services available to them, and would add updates on criminal proceedings, meetings with state attorneys before plea deals are handed out, and the ability to be attend and speak during court proceedings to the list of rights crime victims have. The proposal is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983

FDLE seeking $29M for new Pensacola regional office” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is asking for an additional $29.3 million in the 2018-19 state budget to build a local office in Pensacola. An FDLE representative told a meeting of the Florida Cabinet Aides on Wednesday that the budget request was being moved from the Department of Management Services (DMS), the state’s real estate manager. “The total estimated cost is $32.3 million for design and construction,” according to a Cabinet meeting agenda item. “An additional $4.8 million will be required for fixtures, furniture and equipment in (fiscal year 2019-20).” If the agency doesn’t get the building money, it says it “will be forced to re-sign a new lease agreement with the same owner despite the building condition,” the agenda says.

Polluted stormwater pouring into St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon, Florida beaches” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – The water is a combination of rainfall runoff from western Martin and St. Lucie counties and Lake Okeechobee discharges since Hurricane Irma struck in September. Farther north, about 20 billion gallons of post-Irma rainwater runoff has poured out the C-54 Canal along the Indian River-Brevard county line and into the lagoon. In between, a plume of brown water from western farmland extends into the lagoon from the mouth of Taylor Creek north of Fort Pierce. “What’s worse than the color of the water is what’s in the water,” said Grant Gilmore, a marine biologist who’s studied life in the lagoon for more than 40 years … with the silt-laden brown water comes “all the chemicals we put on our crops and our lawns,” Gilmore said. “The chemicals kill the plankton in the river and lagoon that all the fish depend on for food.”

UF security costs top $500,000 for Richard Spencer’s talk on white ‘separation’” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – UF will be the first school to host the notorious white nationalist since his “Unite the Right” rally brought torches, Nazi chants and bloodshed to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Still, his speech will center on his primary concern: what he calls the necessity of white identity, and a white homeland, in a multiracial era … Yet the university, bound by the First Amendment, has found itself playing host to his contentious talk with an estimated security price tag for UF, and taxpayers, of more than $500,000. Spencer and his National Policy Institute, which advocates for European heritage, know well that targeting large, public universities like UF is a win-win. They get free speech protections and a built-in audience. Whether students cheer or protest, headlines follow. And for the most part, universities pay the bill. That’s because the Supreme Court has ruled that speakers can’t be made to pay the costs for whatever hostile audience may appear, just like a university can’t ban a speaker in anticipation of protesters.

Tweet, tweet:

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

South Florida leaders endorse Gwen Graham – The Graham campaign on Wednesday said she had received the support of four more local South Florida Democratic leaders: West Palm Beach Commissioner Shanon L. Materio, Pompano Beach Commissioner Barry Moss, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson, and state Rep. Matt Willhite. “After 20 years of one-party rule in Tallahassee, our state is out of time. I’m honored to have the support of these South Florida leaders and look forward to fighting with them to renew our promise to public schools, protect our clean land and water, and to build an economy that works for every Floridian,” Graham said.

Another state attorney endorses Ashley Moody for AG – State Attorney Phil Archer of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit is the latest to endorse Moody to succeed Attorney General Pam Bondi. “As a career prosecutor and the top attorney for my circuit, I can say without reservation Ashley Moody is the kind of leader Florida needs right now. Her extensive legal background, temperament, and energy will help us make headway on some of Florida’s most critical issues such as mental health in our court system and elder abuse,” Archer said in a statement.

U.S. Sugar drops $1.5 million into legislative committees; biggest check goes to Jose Oliva” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Oliva was designated as the Republican’s choice to be their next speaker if the GOP retains the majority in the Florida House. On Aug. 18, his political committee, Conservative Principles for Florida, received a single $100,000 check from U.S. Sugar — more money than any single contributor had ever given Oliva’s PC. It far exceeded the $5,000 the company had given the committee previously in 2015. What does U.S. Sugar expect in return for this investment? Sugar has aggressively fought Senate President Joe Negron‘s push to force agricultural interests to relinquish some of their land to build a water-storage reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area. It relied on the House and the governor to weaken the proposal last session, and succeeded.

Bill Galvano leads Senate campaign arm to record-breaking Q3 haul” via Florida Politics – The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee raised more than $3.2 million from July through the end of September. Those numbers are way up from the April to June reporting period, when FRSCC took in $720,000. Over the same three-month stretch in 2011, FRSCC brought in a little over $2.1 million. Two years later, the committee had a $1.85 million third quarter, while Q3 2015 saw a little more than $2 million head to the committee’s coffers. The special election in Miami-Dade’s SD 40 can claim credit for the some of that boost, same as the 2015 special in SD 6 and the 2011 contest for the old SD 1, but those quarters still fall short of Q3 2017. The only other difference maker is Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano, who took over fundraising duties for the committee in the summer.

Rebekah Bydlak adds $14K for HD 1 bid, as Mike Hill struggles out of the gate” via Florida Politics –Former Rep. Hill opened a campaign account to return to the House last month, but his first three weeks on the trail haven’t put much of a dent into Bydlak’s lead in Escambia County-based HD 1, where current Rep. Clay Ingram faces term limits in 2018. Hill’s effort brought in just $5,900, including $1,000 from a committee tied to Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, $1,000 a piece from Pensacola flight instructor Mark Freymiller and his wife, Mia, and another $1,000 from Gulf Breeze chiropractor John Newlin. Bydlak, for her part, piled on another $14,272 for her campaign account in September, a respectable follow up to her banner opening month, which saw her pull in $50,000 for her campaign and another $10,000 for her political committee.

Spotted: Hill in a story out of the McClatchy D.C. Bureau on “The Steve Bannon primary.” Hill, a “Trump backer who is running again in 2018, displays a picture of himself with Bannon on his campaign website.”

Berny Jacques fundraising slows as Nick DiCeglie enters race” via Florida Politics – DiCeglie has been in the race for House District 66 for a month and his first campaign finance report signals a momentum shift in the GOP primary between him and Jacques. Jacques filed March 3 and was the first-in candidate for the Pinellas County-based seat. Since showing $30,000 raised in his initial report, his contributions have slowed. April brought him about $11,000 in campaign cash, and after the dog days of summer, he posted another five-figure report in August. His September report, though, brought about a new low: just $1,875 in new money came in, while about $5,500 went out the door. His lone $1,000 check for the month came in from Sarasota attorney Patrick McCardle, while the remainder came from a smattering of small-dollar donors most of whom gave $50 or less. In all, Jacques has raised $67,344 over the past six months and has about $52,000 in the bank.

Happening tonight – A kickoff fundraiser for DiCeglie’s bid for House District 66 will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Belleair Country Club, 1 Country Club Lane.

Fmr Rep. Jim Waldman “actively looking” at county commission race” via Buddy Nevins of BrowardBeat.com – If Waldman runs, the contest for the seat now held by Commissioner Chip LaMarca could become a freewheeling donnybrook. There are two candidates already running: Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher, a Democrat. Former Oakland Park Commissioner Shari McCartney, a Republican. Both campaigns expect to be well funded. A well-to-do lawyer and real estate investor, Waldman’s entrance would shake up the race. He pledges to kick-start his campaign with $250,000 from his own pocket. A House member from 2006 to 2014, Waldman was the Democratic floor leader in 2006-2008. LaMarca’s Commission District 4 overlays the northern part of the district that Waldman lost in an expensive, three-way scorch-and-burn race for state Senate last year.

— OPINION —

Matt Kiessling: Florida needs commonsense short-term rental policies” via Florida Politics – Short-term rentals have been available across the nation for decades, but have become more popular as technology has helped make them more accessible and affordable. Technology innovators have helped to create a vibrant marketplace for travelers and property owners, expanding the travel landscape by making it easier for travelers to find and book short-term rental accommodations and providing economic benefits to communities around the world. It is important for public policy to reflect the changing travel dynamics brought on by the popularity of short-term rentals, allowing both travelers and residents the ability to benefit from the options and flexibility that short-term rentals provide. Destructive short-term rental regulations being pushed by the hotel lobby can have the unintended consequence of limiting those benefits for both the residents and economy in Florida. Whether the hotel lobby likes it or not, the sharing economy is here to stay. For everyone’s benefit, it is critical for local municipalities in Florida to develop reasonable, efficient policy frameworks that ensure short-term rentals continue to thrive, protect property rights, and promotes economic growth throughout the state.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Joe Garcia to join global strategy firm Mercury” via Florida Politics – Mercury, a leading global, bipartisan public strategy firm, is adding former U.S. Congressman Garcia to expand its Miami team and capabilities both in Florida and across the firm’s national offices. Garcia, who served Florida’s 26th Congressional District, joins the team at Mercury as co-chairman based in the Miami office. “We are excited to welcome Joe Garcia to the Mercury family. His extensive policy experience will be invaluable as we expand our footprint in Miami, and across the Sunshine State,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker.

Reappointed Bob Davis and Mary Ann Haas to the District Board of Trustees of Daytona State College.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Robert Beck, Bryan Cherry, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: Broward County

Ron Book, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: City of Coral Gables

Jim Boxold, Ron LaFace, Jr., Capital City Consulting: Florida Fuel Connection, LLC

David Browning, Mercer Fearington, Jim Smith, Southern Strategy Group: MMI Development

Nelson Diaz, Southern Strategy Group: City Year, Inc.

Candice Ericks, Lauren Jackson, Ericks Advocacy Group: Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Griffin Finan: DraftKings, Inc.

Allison Flanagan: Department of Education

Nicole Graganella, Colodny Fass: Broward Teachers Union

Timothy Meenan, Meenan: WebCE.com

Joe Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Mattamy Homes

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: TmaxSoft, WeatherSTEM

— ALOE —

SpaceX launches communications satellite, lands booster” via Marcia Dunn of the Associated Press – SpaceX has launched and landed its second rocket in three days, this time from the U.S. East Coast. The unmanned Falcon – recycled following a February flight – blasted off with a communications satellite Wednesday evening from Kennedy Space Center. Minutes later, the leftover booster landed on an offshore barge. The booster launched Wednesday was previously used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station for NASA. It’s only the third time SpaceX has reflown a rocket on an orbital mission.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from pad 39A at the Florida spaceport at 6:53 p.m.

Halloween haunts Disney Springs” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Four Halloween-themed backdrops are scattered through the shopping district including the iconic Mickey pumpkin and a “Shopped ‘Til I Dropped” photo location. PhotoPass photographers will also roam the property with fall-themed props. Once the sun goes down, Halloween music haunts the Disney Springs promenade. A family-friendly DJ Dance Party occurs nightly near Once Upon a Toy. Stilt walkers will join the festivities with daily appearances from Oct. 20-31. The area’s restaurants and shops will also offer seasonal indulgences, like the Pumpkin at Midnight Cocktail with smoked rum and pumpkin liqueur at Paddlefish and caramel apple, black velvet and pumpkin cupcakes at Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Two new attractions to open next year at Legoland” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – The Ninjago action continues with the Jan. 20 opening of the 4D theatrical attraction starring the cast of TV’s “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu.” Lego Ninjago: Master of the 4th Dimension combines 3D computer animation with 4D effects in the Wells Fargo Fun Town Theater. Lego Ninjago Days will let kids become ninjas and battle against famous Lego foes on three consecutive weekends: Jan. 20-21, Jan. 27-28 and Feb. 3-4. The Winter Haven theme park announced its new virtual-reality roller coaster, The Great Lego Race, will open next spring. The new attraction that will transform the existing Project X ride into a virtual adventure starring a wacky cast of LEGO minifigures. In May, the park will unveil the newest addition to LEGO Star Wars MINILAND Model Display.

Happy birthday to future Governor Lauren Book, former Rep. Jimmie Smith, Allyce Heflin of Southern Strategy Group, and Doug Kaplan of Gravis Marketing.

Sixty Days for 10.11.17 — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session

Sixty Days — A prime-time read of what’s going down for Florida’s 2018 Legislative Session.

The Last 24

A Senate panel asked lots of questions but didn’t get the answers they wanted as members tried to get a handle on the state’s new $85 million jobs fund.

An ethics committee cleared a bill that would clarify that “local officials can meet and socialize outside of publicly noticed meetings as long as no official business or shop talk takes place.”

The House of Representatives GOP caucus formally named Jose Oliva as the next House Speaker, after Richard Corcoran, for 2018-20.

House leaders unveiled a plan to file a bill for a scholarship program to give students who’ve faced violence and abuse in their school a way out.

Legislation to establish a slavery memorial at the state Capitol passed its first committee.

Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam met with members of Florida’s congressional delegation to discuss the state’s citrus industry. Florida’s orange crop has reached a 76-year low in production after being crushed by Hurricane Irma.  

House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa traveled to Puerto Rico “to deliver 30,000 pounds of much-needed relief supplies, including food, water, and medical necessities.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) asked for an additional $29 million in the 2018-19 state budget to build a local office in Pensacola.

Quote of the Day

“A couple of us can’t ‘beard up’ for appropriations.” — Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto at a Senate committee meeting on Wednesday, referring to fellow Sen. Rob Bradley’s joke earlier this week about the reason for his new facial topiary.

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

Rep. Nicholas Duran and Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, both of Miami-Dade County, and other Democratic members of the Legislature held a press conference today in the Capitol to discuss this year’s open enrollment period, Nov. 1-Dec. 15, for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Democrats have pledged their help to save Obamacare and make sure people can still sign up for coverage for the coming year.

FP: What are you planning to do to help people sign up?

ND: Many of us have pledged to assist and coordinate with our Navigators and trusted brokers to host in-person enrollment events in our communities and in our districts. The Senator and I are working to host two events in our (area) this fall.

FP: Why is this so important to you?

ND: We know how important the policy has been to create more healthy, more economically secure families and individuals … Florida has the largest (ACA) marketplace in the country.

FP: What’s your main message to constituents?

JJR: We want people to know that despite everything they’re hearing, they can still go sign up on the exchange. Financial assistance is still available … Florida led the way in signups. But a lot of the public is only hearing the rhetoric coming out of Washington, the negative side of this. That’s why there’s so much urgency for us to get the word out. The Trump administration has actively said they want to put Obamacare in a death spiral. They want premiums to go up. They want people to not enroll. That’s why we’re so intent on making people know about open enrollment.

Lobby Up

The Pew Charitable Trusts is one of the biggest names in using data to push meaningful policy reform, and ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session the Washington, DC-based nonprofit has teamed up with Ballard Partners.

The partnership hasn’t sussed out any specific policy to push yet, but Wansley Waters is among the lobbyists working with Pew and their “results first initiative,” and she’s optimistic the partnership could lead to some reforms at the state’s corrections and juvenile justice departments.

The timing is right, too, according to Waters, who once headed up the DJJ and is a recognized leader in all things juvenile justice. Waters sees the current chiefs at both departments as reformers amenable to some real solutions backed by Pew’s data-driven approach to policy reform. Pew does, too.

“Right now DOC and DJJ are very open to reform,” she said. “Believe me, if they weren’t open to it, Pew wouldn’t be here.”

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Administrative Law Judge G.W. Chisenhall is scheduled to start a two-day hearing in a challenge to emergency rules by Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration that would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to install generators within 60 days to power air-conditioning systems. Industry groups LeadingAge Florida, the Florida Assisted Living Association and Florida Argentum challenged the rules, which were issued after the deaths of Broward County nursing-home residents following Hurricane Irma. The hearing begins at 9 a.m., DeSoto Building, 1230 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee.

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

House Democratic Leader-Designate Kionne McGhee and Reps. Robert Asencio, John Cortes, Amy Mercado and Carlos Guillermo Smith will hold a press conference to discuss relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Maria. They will also outline proposals to ease the transition process for evacuees to Florida. That’s at 12:45 p.m. outside the House Chamber, 4th Floor Rotunda, the Capitol, Tallahassee.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel are expected to take part in the Jackson County Democratic Party Blues & Boots BBQ and Dance. Also expected to attend are gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham and Chris King. It’s at 6 p.m., National Guard Armory, 3645 U.S. 90 West, Marianna.

Sunburn for 10.11.17 — HD 44 & 58 results; Closing the Charlie Crist loophole; Frank White for A.G.?; A must-read from the Miami Herald; Pepi Diaz for prosecutor?; Happy b’day Lucy Morgan

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

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

Tuesday was a very big day for political consultants Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo.

The Tampa-based duo known for their sharp elbows and close connections to House leadership began the day seeing one of their clients, Daniel Perez sworn in as the new state Rep. from House District 116. Perez on Sept. 26 won a special election, replacing former Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for an open Senate seat.

Later in the day, Jose Oliva, which will count on Pedicini’s Strategic Image Management as one of his go-to firms as he works to keep a Republican majority in the House, was officially sworn in as Speaker-designate of that chamber.

Less than an hour after Oliva was sworn in, SIM clients in House District 44 and 58 won their special elections.

Winter Garden Republican Bobby Olszewski, of Winter Garden, won by a 56-44 margin over the Democrats late-entry replacement candidate, businessman Eddy Dominguez of Dr. Phillips, in the special election to replace Republican state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

Olszewski was sworn in Tuesday night and immediately departed for Tallahassee, where he expects to begin participating in committee action representing HD 44 starting Wednesday.

Looking to join Olszewski as a redshirt freshman in the House is Lawrence McClure, who defeated the well-regard Yvonne Fry, 55 to 45 percent. The two Hillsborough County natives ran a contentious campaign for the GOP nomination to fill the seat of former Rep. Dan Raulerson, who stepped down in August for health reasons.

McClure’s win is especially satisfying for Pedicini, who was inexplicably featured in a mailer attacking McClure. If you’re a big enough target that your client’s opponent is wasting money on a mailer criticizing you, then that says something.

But so too does the scoreboard. And on that, Pedicini and Piccolo are big winners.

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

— CAPITOL INSIGHT —

House panel concludes there’s probable cause to punish Daisy Baez for not living in her district” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Baez, a Democrat, was elected last year to House District 114 after having lived in her Coral Gables home, located in House District 112, since 2009. The five-member bipartisan House Select Committee on Member Conduct made its unanimous recommendation of probable cause, after hearing a presentation by House investigators. The House Committee on Ethics and Elections will take up the issue again Thursday when it will give Baez her first hearing, and decide whether she should be punished. A complaint was filed in May after the Miami Herald reported that Baez appeared to continue to be living in her home on Malaga Avenue, a half mile away from the district she was elected to serve. Baez said at the time that she had two residences, including an apartment in her district on Anderson Avenue that she was renting.

“Dana Young will try for fracking ban again” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Democrats and Republicans from both sides of the Capitol rotunda came together Tuesday to back Sen. Dana Young‘s latest try to ban fracking in Florida. Also known as hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground, breaking up the rock to get at oil and natural gas that’s unreachable by conventional drilling. “Advocates insist it is a safe and economical source of clean energy,” the LiveScience website explains. “Critics, however, claim fracking can destroy drinking water supplies, pollute the air and contribute to the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.” In Florida, the process “makes no sense,” said Young, a Tampa Republican, at a Tuesday news conference. It is the second year she’s run a fracking ban bill (SB 462). “It puts our drinking water supply, and everything we build our economy on, at risk,” she said.

“Daisy Baez residency investigation moves to trial” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A House investigative panel on Tuesday found that Miami-Dade Rep. Baez likely broke member residency rules. The Select Committee on Member Conduct decided to refer Baez’s case to the Public Integrity and Ethics Committee for the equivalent of a trial. A finding of “probable cause,” required for further proceedings, means it is more likely than not that a violation occurred. Baez, a Democrat, was elected last year to represent South Florida’s House District 114, but questions soon arose whether she really lived in the neighboring District 112, represented by Democrat Nicholas Duran.

Senate Democrats urge governor to waive KidCare payments through November” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The governor and the KidCare agencies have refrained from asking for a federal waiver, preferring instead to give families who lost jobs, income and homes in Hurricane Irma an extension of the Oct. 1 deadline. As a result, families must make two payments by Oct. 31 to make sure their children remain insured under the state and federal program. “Thousands of Florida families were hit hard by the hurricane and are working to get their homes, jobs and lives back in order,” wrote Sen. Oscar Braynon, the Senate Democratic leader in a letter to Gov. Rick Scott. “Merely extending the time to pay a premium until the end of the month, and then compounding it by asking for a double payment, adds to the financial hardships with which many of them are currently struggling. Given the ongoing emergency situation, these fees should have been waived.” KidCare covers about 160,000 children ages 5-18 and charges most families $15 to $20 a month depending on their family size and income.

Sports franchise bill passes only committee, heads to House floor” via Florida Politics — Florida sports franchises will be banned from constructing or renovating facilities on leased public land under a bill advanced by the House Committee on Government Accountability. HB 13, sponsored by Republican state Reps. Bryan Avila and Manny Diaz, is identical to HB 77, which died in the Senate during the 2017 Legislative Session. As for HB 13, Government Accountability was the bill’s only committee of reference, meaning it now heads to the House floor for consideration by all members during the 2018 Session.

A Senate committee advanced the bill tweaking Florida’s resign-to-run law that prevents politicians from running for two offices, closing a “loophole” used by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 when he was seen as a possible vice presidential candidate.

“Change to resign-to-run law clears first committee” via Florida Politics — A bill that would require state and local officeholders to resign if they qualify to run for federal office cleared its first committee on Tuesday. The bill (SB 186), filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, got a unanimous ‘yes’ vote from the Senate’s Ethics and Elections Committee without debate. The resign-to-run law now only applies to state and local officeholders who run for other state and regional elective offices. Lawmakers in 2008 had repealed the part of the resign-to-run law about federal offices. The bill “also makes a conforming change to clarify that state and local officers seeking to run for U.S. President or Vice President must resign their office if the terms overlap,” a bill analysis says. The measure next heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

– “GOP’s attack on ‘Charlie Crist loophole’ loaded with intrigue” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate begins search for consensus on AOB reform” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Assignment of benefits reform was among the first topics tackled by the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee as it began preparing for the 2018 Legislative Session. A panel of interested parties, invited to debate points of contention, appeared to agree that so-called AOB agreements ought to be in writing, and that a deadline should be imposed for delivering them to insurance carriers. Working out the details could be tricky, however, not least over which parties could sign AOB contracts. The policyholder, certainly. But what if a divorcing couple holds the policy jointly? Should mortgage-holders have a say? “That’s why we’re doing this rather methodically — putting the issues out, giving everybody their time,” committee chairwoman Anitere Flores said following the hearing. “There is more that the sides agree on than they disagree on. So, let’s try to get something passing.”

Venezuela divestment bill filed in House” via the News Service of Florida — Florida would have to divest from companies doing business with the Venezuelan government, under a proposal filed by Rep. Bill Hager. Hager’s proposal (HB 279) is similar to a measure (SB 70) filed in August by Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez. The bills are filed for the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. “The people of Venezuela are suffering under the Maduro regime,” Hager said. “Florida has the ability to ensure that our state’s monies are not used to benefit this tyrannical regime.” On Oct. 2, Gov. Scott announced he would push for legislation to expand a Cabinet directive against conducting state business linked to the Maduro regime.

Law would make ‘political beliefs’ subject to hate-crime criteria” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Joe Gruters — a freshman Republican from Sarasota and co-chairman of Donald Trump’s Florida campaign — wanted Florida to punish people more harshly if they commit crimes based upon “political beliefs.” He said he’d seen people intimidated for wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and felt he needed to do something to curb political violence “on all sides.” So he filed House Bill 209, calling for harsher punishments for crimes “based on political affiliation or beliefs.” That means if you’re a Red Sox fan who punches a Yankees fan for wearing an Aaron Judge jersey, you could get 60 days in jail. But if you’re a Donald Trump supporter who punches a Hillary Clinton fan for wearing a “Trump’s an idiot” T-shirt, you could get imprisoned for a year. So, Democrats would be a protected class. As would Republicans, communists … even Nazis. Yes, under Gruters’ bill, you’d get a harsher penalty for smacking a Nazi than an old lady. (If you smacked the Nazi for being a Nazi, anyway.)

Assignment editors – State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez and Rep. Nicholas Duran will join other members of the Legislature and health care professionals for a news conference on changes to this year’s open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. Event begins noon outside the House Chambers on the 4th Floor Rotunda of the Florida Capitol.

Committee meetings to watch

— Slavery Memorial debated — On the agenda of the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee is HB 67, filed by Rep. Kionne McGhee, to establish a slavery memorial at the state Capitol. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— House panel talks education-budget requests — The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee will hear presentations on 2018-19 budget requests by the Department of Education and the Office of Early Learning. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— Tourism marketing discussed — The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee will get updates on tourism marketing. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building of the Capitol.

— Prison population updates — The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on Florida’s prison population. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Water infrastructure presentations — The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will hear several presentations on the state’s water infrastructure needs. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 301 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate talks `Job Growth Grant Fund’ — on the schedule of the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee our presentations from the Department of Economic Opportunity about the state’s newly launched Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. Meeting begins 10 a.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Electricity restoration updates — The House Energy & Utilities Subcommittee will receive updates on storm restoration efforts by electric utilities. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building in the Capitol.

— House updates on medical marijuana — The House Health Quality Subcommittee will receive updates on the laws passed to enact a 2016 constitutional amendment legalizing some forms of medical marijuana. Schedule speakers include Christian Bax, director of the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Room 306 of the House Office Building.

— House discusses transportation, tourism budgets — The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will address 2018-19 budget requests. Meeting begins 1 p.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— Senate addresses nursing home generator rules — The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on emergency rules to require generators at nursing homes and assisted living facilities to run air conditioning systems during power outages. Meeting begins 2 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate considers ending fireworks ban — A bill in front of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee seeks to end a decades-old ban on fireworks sales. SB 198, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, would end the need for consumers to use the loophole allowing fireworks sales only for agriculture-related purposes. Meeting begins 2 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Storm damage to agriculture assessed — The House Agriculture & Property Rights Subcommittee will receive updates from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on storm-related agriculture damage. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 12 of the House Office Building.

— Low-Income Pool updates — The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will receive updates on the Low-Income Pool, which reimburses hospitals and other health providers for caring the care of poor and uninsured people. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— House panel considers Greg Evers memorial — The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will discuss a bill (HB 171) to name a stretch of road in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties as the “Senator Greg Evers Memorial Highway.” Filed by state Rep. Jayer Williamson, the bill honors Evers, a former Republican senator and House member, who died Aug. 21 in Okaloosa County. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

Fundraising roundup — Starting 11:30 a.m., state Rep. Bob CortesTom Leek, and David Santiago will host a joint fundraising event at the Governors Club. At noon, Rep. Rick Roth will also be fundraising at the Club. Later, Reps. Randy FineSam Killebrew and Ralph Massullo will host a Club event beginning 5 p.m. At the same time, state Sens. Dorothy Hukill and Kathleen Passidomo will be in the Club’s Board Room. Beginning 5:30 p.m., Republican candidate James Buchanan will be fundraising at 115 East Park Avenue, second-floor conference room, in Tallahassee. Buchanan is seeking to succeed former state Rep. Alex Miller in HD 72. Finally, at 6:30 p.m., Senate Democrats will hold a “welcome back” event in the Governors Club Plantation Room. The Governors Club is at 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

***AGRiMED Industries is a leading medical cannabis company committed to improving the health and wellness of ailing patients. With state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities and over 200 years of collective experience in the agricultural and health care fields, AGRiMED produces high-quality agricultural medicine with tremendous health benefits. Learn more at AGRiMEDIndustries.com.***

— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL — 

Florida Democrats report $3.5M haul, likely raised much less” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — FDP would not comment on the funding breakdown, but almost certainly including $607,000 in contributions from political committees run by the party’s highest priority campaigns, which is money not raised by the party and is generally spent on the specific campaign that raised the money. Each campaign’s aligned political committee is giving money to the party. That money, though, quickly flows through the party and is in turn spent on the campaigns, not other races or FDP expenses. It’s a common practice for campaigns, especially at the statewide level, to send money through the party to fund things like staff. Because statewide parties have human resources departments, they are better positioned to be the entity actually funding staffers for a campaign. That money shows up as a contribution to FDP but is mostly raised by outside political committees.

Ron Sachs says Andrew Gillum threw city under ‘campaign bus;’ mayor calls it a ‘cheap shot’” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Sachs has taken to social media to push back at Mayor Gillum for his recent remarks about the racism he sees every day in Tallahassee. And Gillum pushed right back. Posting on his Facebook page, Sachs, the CEO of Sachs Media Group, said he was disappointed that Gillum “essentially trashed the very community that propelled his political career by electing him repeatedly to the city commission and most recently as mayor.” Speaking at the University of Tampa last week, Gillum said, “There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by in my city where I’m not driving behind a truck on my way to work that has a big old Confederate flag.” Gillum also said he saw institutional racism in the prison system and even in the awarding of contracts at City Hall. Sachs defended the capital city noting that it has been designated as an “All-American City” twice in the past 30 years, most recently while Gillum was mayor.

Chris King surpasses $2.6 million raised King, an Orlando-area entrepreneur and Democratic candidate for governor, announced that his campaign and political committee took in $148,044 in September. The political newcomer’s campaign and political committee, Rise and Lead Florida, has raised more than $2.6 million since launching the campaign, and finished the month with over $1.7 million cash on hand. “Chris continues to remain competitive with career politicians with deep institutional and establishment support,” campaign spokesperson Hari Sevugan said. “… This consistent fundraising has also demonstrated that Chris is positioned to be the clear alternative to Gwen Graham.”

– “Is Philip Levine winning the Caputo primary in Florida governor’s race?” via Peter Schorsch

Utility companies give $800K, funneling up to $2.5M, to Adam Putnam’s campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A review of campaign finance data shows Florida Power & Light and Duke Energy have been major contributors to Putnam’s Florida Grown, the political committee supporting his Republican gubernatorial candidacy. Gulf Power Co. and TECO, the natural gas company, also have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Florida Grown. All totaled, they’ve provided $795,560 directly to Florida Grown since the start of 2015, when Gov. Scott‘s second term began, and the cycle for the 2018 gubernatorial race officially began. Counting contributions from utility companies made to other business groups, which then cut checks to Florida Grown around the same time or shortly after, the amount of money passing from utilities to Florida Grown may be more than triple that amount, as much as $2.5 million.

Seminole County Sheriff backs Ashley Moody for AG — Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma is the latest law enforcement leader to endorse Moody in her bid to succeed Attorney General Pam Bondi. “The safety and security of our local community is the top priority of each Sheriff in Florida. It is important that Sheriffs have a supporter and ally in the next Attorney General,” Lemma said in a statement. “As a former federal prosecutor and a wife of a fellow law enforcement officer, Ashley Moody understands firsthand the dangers and challenges of those who wear a uniform. I can think of no other more qualified to be our next Attorney General.”

Ag Commissioner hopeful Matt Caldwell holds oyster ranch workday – Caldwell continued his campaign for Agriculture Commissioner with a statewide #2LaneTravels Work Days Tour, including a recent visit to Saucey Lady Oyster Company to harvest oysters in the Gulf. Caldwell is using the Work Days Tour to highlight Florida businesses that are vital to the state’s economy. Founded in 2014 by Tim Jordan and Walt Dickson, Saucey Lady is a charter member of an oyster growing program that promotes aquaculture and creates jobs in Wakulla County.

Click on the image below to watch the video.

“Frank White ready to join GOP race for Attorney General” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – White, a first-term state House member from Pensacola, told the Times/Herald he’ll make a final decision in a few days. “We need a proven conservative,” White said. “We need someone who has experience managing a large organization.” He said the state needs a leader who can “protect the Constitution from liberal attacks.”

Disney pumps more money into gambling measure” via the News Service of Florida — Disney Worldwide Services sunk another $575,000 in September into a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in Florida. The political committee Voters In Charge, which is spearheading the proposal, had submitted 285,526 valid petition signatures to the state … It needs to submit 766,200 signatures to get the measure on the November 2018 ballot. The initiative would change the state constitution and give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state. It would require voter approval of casino-style games in the future. Efforts to get the measure on the ballot have been mainly bankrolled by Disney, which had contributed $2.325 million as of Sept. 30, according to the committee’s newly filed finance report.

Republican planning run against Ted Deutch raising Washington cash” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel — Javier Manjarres, who is exploring a candidacy for Congress against U.S. Rep. Deutch, is raising money in the nation’s capital. And he has the help of a conservative freshman, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz … Gaetz is the draw for the Wednesday evening event in Washington. A member of Congress helps draw attention — and contributions from lobbyists, who are the biggest source of contributors to Washington, D.C., fundraisers. Along with the prospective candidate’s picture, the invitation states simply “Javier Manjarres U.S. Congress in Florida’s 22nd District.” Checks and credit card payments go to the America First Agenda PAC, which is nominally independent but is a fundraising vehicle that can help Manjarres who said in June that he’s considering a challenge to Deutch, a five-term Democrat who represents most of Broward and southeast Palm Beach County.

Pride Fund endorses David Richardson for Congress — Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC — America’s only national LGBTQ political organization focused solely on gun violence prevention — is endorsing Richardson in Florida’s 27th Congressional District … for his commitment to championing LGBTQ equality and support of common-sense gun safety reforms. “David is running for Congress because he knows we need to finally end senseless gun violence — not ignore it,” said Jason Lindsay, Pride Fund Executive Director. “Last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas brought gun violence to the forefront of the conversation on the national level yet again, but David has been leading this conversation in Florida’s State House for years. We’re excited to get involved in this race early because we’re confident David will be a leader on both common-sense gun reforms and LGBTQ equality in the United States House of Representatives, just as he has been at the state level.”

David Rivera uses personal cash to boost House race as congressional debt remains” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Former congressman Rivera’s congressional account remains littered with more than $130,000 in debts to ad houses and political fundraising firms three years after his last attempt at returning to Washington. The Miami Republican’s current race for House District 105 was boosted by $150,000 in personal loans he gave to his campaign, and another $100,000 contribution he wrote the campaign. Rivera is running in the GOP primary against Ana Maria Rodriguez for the seat being vacated by term-limited Republican Carlos Trujillo. He also loaned his failed 2016 bid to join the Florida House $50,000, of which he has paid back $18,238, according to campaign finance records.

Who gave foreign money to Beach PAC? Prosecutors are asking this Norwegian millionaire.” via Nicholas Nehamas and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Add a new name to the strange cast of characters caught up in the downfall of Miami Beach Commissioner Michael GriecoPetter Smedvig Hagland, a member of a billionaire Norwegian shipping-and-oil family, has been contacted by Miami-Dade public corruption investigators seeking to track the foreign money they believe was illegally funneled into People for Better Leaders, a fundraising group tied to Grieco’s campaign. Hagland, 37, might know about a $25,000 donation to the political action committee, according to sources familiar with him and the ongoing state investigation. Hagland lives primarily in London and Stavanger, Norway. He has invested millions in Miami Beach real estate, although with poor results: He took a bath on one deal and is involved in litigation over another.

— DAMAGES —

Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Maria, distributing aid across Puerto Rico is a mess” via Oren Dorell of USA TODAY — The barriers range from a lack of communication to blocked roads. As a result, one Port of San Juan terminal is storing 3,400 containers — more than double the usual number, said Jose “Pache” Ayala, vice president and general manager for Puerto Rico at Crowley Maritime Corp. Because of tangled power lines across roads, washed out bridges and highways and knocked out cellphone towers and radio antennas across the island, materials are leaving the Crowley terminal gate at 70 percent the normal rate before the storm, Ayala said. The backlog affects goods and equipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, such as food and bottled water, bucket trucks, front-end loaders and 275,000 gallons of diesel and 75,000 gallons of gasoline. “That relief cargo has priority,” Ayala said. It also affects commercial cargo such as building materials and medications that are also in great demand, he said. “It’s easier to help internationally than it is in Puerto Rico,” said Neil Frame with Operation USA in Los Angeles. The nonprofit, which ships donated medical supplies into disaster areas around the world, has not yet found a way to deliver goods onto the U.S. territory.

Nearly 3 weeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is still a mess.

Puerto Rico’s economy at ‘a near standstill’ ” via McClatchy DC Bureau – Economic activity has skidded to a near halt in significant parts of Puerto Rico, leaving the hurricane-smashed island on a knife’s edge between slow recovery and partial collapse. Thousands of small businesses are teetering toward insolvency, unable to operate. Heading into the fourth week since Hurricane Maria slammed into the island, barely one out of six clients of the island-wide electric utility has power. The rest remain in darkness. The hum of generators has become the new soundtrack of island life.

Radios headed to info-starved Puerto Rico, thanks to broadcasters” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The National Association of Broadcasters is donating 10,000 battery-operated radios to Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria. The effort is being funded by NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and multiple U.S. broadcasters, according to a press release issued by NAB. The broadcasters are working with Federal Emergency Management Agency and local Puerto Rican authorities “to ensure that the radios are properly distributed to those most in need,” the release said. Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Darren Soto “were instrumental in coordinating this effort,” according to the release.

Senators eagerly waiting for hard facts on how the power grid stood up to Irma” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Will Hurricane Irma inspire the Legislature to light a fire under the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) efforts to buttress the electric grid against powerful storms? Likely. But it’s too soon to know what changes might help. That picture emerged during hearings before the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities: Regulators won’t have digested the data situation in time for opening day in January. Chairman Aaron Bean put the question directly to Cayce Hinton, the PSC’s director of industry development and market analysis, during a presentation on that agency’s 10-year infrastructure “hardening” efforts. “How did we do? Cut to the chase. Did it turn out? Did we get our money’s worth?” … “So, we don’t know yet?” Bean said. “We don’t know yet.”

“Don’t get duped by insurance scams or you’ll fall victim to Irma again” via The Miami Herald – Hurricane season isn’t over and therefore neither is consumer scam season, which has gone into hyper mode following Irma’s destructive sweep through Florida. Homeowners are particularly vulnerable to fast-talking, document-waving con artists who promise to help with repairs, insurance claims and FEMA payments. “Hurricanes bring out a lot of good in people and also the worst in those few bad actors preying on homeowners whose most prized asset has been damaged,” said Jon Moore, spokesman for Florida’s Department of Financial Services. “We’re trying to educate and protect Floridians so they don’t fall victim to Irma for a second time.”

Postponed by Irma, Florida restaurant show returns” via Kyle Arnold of the Orlando Sentinel — The annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show makes a comeback through Friday at Orange County Convention Center, featuring demonstrations from prominent Florida chefs such as Art SmithMichelle Bernstein and Jeff Philbin. It will also have more than 400 exhibitors and dozens of classes on everything from liquor to legal requirements. The show was originally scheduled for three days beginning Sept. 10, just when Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida and knocked out power and transportation to much of the state for days.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott and Ag. Commissioner Putnam will visit Washington D.C. to update Florida House members on Hurricane Irma recovery efforts and the state’s influx of Puerto Rican evacuees from Hurricane Maria.

Assignment editors – AshBritt Environmental Chairman Randy Perkins will make a major announcement on post-hurricane Irma pricing during the Parkland City Commission meeting beginning 5 p.m. at 6600 University Dr. in Parkland.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida survey on gun control in Sunshine State shows big divide” via Wayne Price of FLORIDA TODAY — The 2017 University of South Florida Nielsen Sunshine State Survey found 49 percent of those questioned believed gun restrictiveness in Florida is “about right,” while another 40 percent took the position that they’re not restrictive enough. About 8 percent said current laws were too restrictive. Interestingly, the question about gun restrictions being “about right” rose to 49 percent from 42 percent — the last time they asked the question was in 2015. Of those content with current gun measures, more men are more content with current gun laws than women — 54 percent versus 44 percent. More whites and Hispanics favor current measures than African-Americans — 53 percent versus 31 percent. Regionally, support is highest in the Orlando area — 57 percent and North Florida 56 percent.

“Rick Scott wants generators required at nursing homes” via Florida Politics – Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday directed state agencies to “immediately begin the formal rulemaking process to permanently enact a rule requiring emergency generators at assisted living facilities (ALFs) and nursing homes.” His edict went to the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the Department of Elder Affairs. “An emergency rule adopted Sept. 16 requires all ALFs and nursing homes to obtain ample resources, including a generator and the appropriate amount of fuel, to sustain operations and maintain comfortable temperatures for at least 96 hours following a power outage,” according to a press release. “The formal rulemaking process will permanently codify these life-saving measures and allow for extensive public comment ….”

Scott says Lake Okeechobee dike must be fixed or algae blooms will continue” via Chad Gillis of News-Press.com — One message from Gov. Scott, who flew into Clewiston to talk about the response to Hurricane Irma and the future of the Herbert Hoover Dike: “We’ve got to put this lake in the position that we don’t have to do these discharges … If the (Army Corps) has to do these discharges, we’re going to see these algae blooms.” … “We see the algae blooms in the Indian River Lagoon, and we see the dirty water coming out of the Caloosahatchee River, so we’ve got to fund this,” Scott said of an Army Corps rehabilitation project that’s ongoing. Scott said the federal government is about $900 million behind on fixing the dike and funding for Everglades restoration projects.

Changes slated for state worker health insurance” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — As many as 2,000 obese state employees who suffer from conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure can enroll online for a program that provides coverage for treatment and management of obesity and related conditions. The offering is one of the several changes legislators authorized to the state group health insurance plan during the 2017 Session. Available to employees enrolled in Aetna, AvMed, Florida Blue or UnitedHealthcare plans in 2017, the benefit is available for 2018. Foster & Foster also will assist the state as it moves forward with two new health care offerings that will be made available in the 2019 plan year: an online tool to shop and compare the quality of available in-network providers; and a service that offers employees access to comprehensive pricing for surgery and other medical procedures. Both of those benefits also will include a “shared savings program,” where employees can receive a portion of any savings attributable to their health care choices.

State seeks to scuttle marijuana-smoking case” via the News Service of Florida — Attorney General Pam Bondi‘s office is asking a judge to toss out a challenge to a new law that bars patients from smoking medical marijuana. A 39-page motion filed last week in Leon County circuit court argues that a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana did not require smoking to be allowed and that lawmakers had good reasons to approve a smoking ban. Orlando attorney John Morgan, who largely bankrolled the medical-marijuana legalization drive, filed a lawsuit in July contending that lawmakers violated the constitutional amendment by barring smoking … The law allows medical marijuana to be used in other ways, including by allowing patients to vaporize, or “vape,” marijuana products. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit said lawmakers pointed to health reasons for approving the smoking ban. “The Legislature considered several significant health-related factors and reasonably determined that the harms caused by smoking were ample reason to exclude smoking from the definition of `medical use,’ “the motion said. It also contended that the constitutional amendment did not specify that smoking would be allowed.

Visit Orlando discloses it spent $76,500 to advertise on the Fox 35 AccuWeather forecast … to people already in Orlando. 

What Richard Corcoran is reading — “Visit Orlando discloses it spent $76,500 on Fox 35 advertising” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Visit Orlando said the deal brought it exposure in several markets across the state and no conflict of interest existed, even though a Fox 35 executive serves on its board. The agency said it sent the letter to “clear up any misunderstandings” with [House Speaker RichardCorcoran [who] demanded to know whether the marketing organization spent taxpayer money for a Fox 35 traffic and weather camera after Visit Orlando CEO George Aguel and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs refused to release the terms at a recent public meeting.

Worst story you’ll read today — “Florida couple accused of prostituting child in exchange for drugs” via Sarah Elsesser of the Palm Beach Post — Kevin Wyatt and Celeste Chambers, of the Florida Panhandle, were both arrested last week … The couple is said to have traded sexual acts with a child for drugs, and the abuse started when the girl was 3 years old, according to WTXL. Sunday afternoon, Wyatt was captured while hiding on a houseboat on the East River near Apalachicola, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

— WHY CHILDREN DRINK BLEACH AND HANG THEMSELVES —

In “Fight Club,” the Miami Herald’s latest must-read investigative seriesCarol Marbin Miller and Audra D.S. Burch uncover the dark secrets behind the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice’s philosophy of “tough love” — and its emphasis on “tough.”

What the investigative team discovered was not a system designed to reform juvenile delinquents, but one where “already troubled youths have been further traumatized,” often turning into hardened felons.

Though a decade of records, documents, interviews and surveillance videos, a pattern of abuse emerged — regular beatings, poor health care, underpaid staff, neglect, coercion and staging fights for wagering and entertainment. Reporters also examined a dozen suspicious deaths of youths since 2000.

Among the explosive findings in the six-part series:

— For years, youths have complained of staff turning them into mercenaries, offering honey buns and other rewards to rough up fellow detainees. It is a way for employees to exert control without risking their livelihoods by personally resorting to violence. Criminal charges are rare.

— Of the 12 questionable deaths since 2000, including an asphyxiation, a violent takedown by staff, a hanging, a youth-on-youth beating and untreated illnesses or injuries, none has resulted in an employee serving a day in prison.

— The public defender’s chief assistant for the juvenile division, Marie Osborne, said detainees are turned into enforcers by outnumbered staff, and that “in here, a honey bun is like a million dollars.”

— The official response via DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly, who said her agency does not tolerate the mistreatment of youth in its care. “The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been and continues to be committed to reform of the juvenile justice system in Florida. We have worked over the past six years to ensure that youths receive the right services in the right place and that our programs and facilities are nurturing and safe for the youths placed in our custody,” she said.

— One of the main problems: The state offers starting detention officers $12.25 an hour to protect and supervise youths often dealing with mental illnesses, drug addiction, disabilities and the lingering effects of trauma. That’s $25,479.22 a year for a recruit. The Legislature hasn’t seen fit to raise the starting pay since 2006 — although it did give current staff a $1,400 raise on Oct. 1.

— Another problem: Having a violent or sexually abusive past has been no bar to employment with the Department of Juvenile Justice and the private agencies that operate Florida’s residential compounds for kids.

— Why nothing gets done: Over the past 10 years, DJJ has investigated 1,455 allegations of youth officers or other staffers failing to report abusive treatment of detainees — or, if they did report an incident, lying about the circumstances. That’s nearly three times a week.

— The long-term issue: If harsh treatment is meant to deter youths from reoffending, it doesn’t seem to be working. The state says 45 percent of all detainees wind up back in the justice system within one year, many as adult offenders. Although no precise tracking data could be found, it is clear that Florida’s juvenile justice programs have become an on-ramp for the adult prison system.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Is Trump’s chief of staff trying to bar him from Mar-a-Lago members?” via the Palm Beach Post — According to Vanity Fair, Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has developed a “Mar-a-Lago strategy” to prevent Trump from getting advice from club members and friends. The plans, citing sources, included trying to keep Trump “out of the dining room.” In one memorable dinner there, Feb. 11, as Trump and Melania were hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife on the terrace, it was learned that the North Koreans had launched a missile. As staff members and heads of state huddled at the table, printed reports were passed around and examined by the light of cell phones or flashlights. The scene played out in front of at least 100 people, members or guests of The Mar-a-Lago Club. The Washington Post referred to the incident as an “open-air situation room.”

Social media shows Donald Trump and staff members during the Mar-a-Lago “open-air situation room” in February.

8 things I’ve learned from nearly 30 years in Congress” via Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as told to Rebecca Nelson of Cosmopolitan — Listening is an underrated leadership quality … “When you participate in a congressional hearing, it is amazing to me how members are so quick to put in their opinion and their view and their analysis, and they’re not really taking the time to listen to what the witnesses are saying. And so many times — especially the male members, if it’s some topic that they’re not as familiar with — they just presume to know what the female witness is talking about. And I’m thinking, did you not hear anything that this presenter said? Because it’s actually the opposite of what you’re portraying to us.” Don’t be afraid to speak your mind — even if it means going against your party … Or, for that matter, against your president. Don’t tolerate mansplaining … “When I first got to Congress many years ago, there weren’t that many female members of Congress. And now there’s so many more of us, and I think the male members have understood the changing nature of society. They’re more cognizant that maybe what they’re thinking and their points of view are not the Magna Carta.”

Carlos Curbelo, Seth Moulton file bill to ban ‘bump stocks’ like ones used in Las Vegas shooting” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — The bipartisan effort to draft the bill began last week after the Las Vegas shooting, where the shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed 58 people using, at least in some cases, weapons outfitted with bump stocks. Under the bill, violating the ban would be a felony offense with increased penalties for offenders. “For the first time in decades, there is growing bipartisan consensus for sensible gun policy, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo said in a statement. “This common-sense legislation will ban devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law without restricting Second Amendment rights. I’m proud to join Rep. Moulton to lead our colleagues in this important first step to address gun violence in our country and show that Congress is capable of working constructively in a bipartisan way to make Americans safer.” The legislation has 20 original co-sponsors — 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Additional members of Congress can only sign on if a lawmaker from the opposing party also inks their name to the bill. Among them is Miami Republican Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

“Matt Gaetz using NFL ‘knee’ controversy for fundraising appeal” via Florida Politics – The freshman GOP congressman from northwest Florida sent a fundraising email Tuesday on pro football players who “continue to disrespect the American flag by taking a knee during the National Anthem.” Gaetz has filed legislation to take away what he calls “special tax breaks” for National Football League teams, which pay taxes as for-profit businesses. The league itself was once tax-exempt, but gave up that status in 2015. Gaetz wrote: “We need to keep fighting back to let the NFL and their millionaire players and billionaire owners know what we really think about their outrageous behavior … I need your help to win this fight. Can you donate $25, $50, $100, $1,000 or more to help?”

“Pepi Diaz again in consideration for South Florida prosecutor job” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In gameshow-like fashion, former state legislator and one-time “Apprentice” contestant Jose Felix Diaz is again in the hunt to be the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida, which covers President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Diaz once looked like a leading candidate to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, but his name faded from consideration when he decided to run a special election last month for Florida’s 40th Senate District. … But almost as soon Diaz lost his race, his name began circulating again in Miami legal circles and, in a sign that Diaz is under serious consideration, the normally talkative and affable Republican didn’t respond to a text message from POLITICO Florida.

— OPINIONS —

Bill Herrle: Joint employer standard stifles entrepreneurship” via Florida Politics – Small businesses and entrepreneurs are facing troubling challenges due to a recent 2015 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision. The decision … dismantles the way small businesses work with one another and prevents entrepreneurs of all trades from following their dreams. The NLRB’s decision in the Browning-Ferris Industries case brought sweeping changes to the joint employer standard and posed a direct threat to businesses striving for growth. Joint employer is a legal theory that seeks to more broadly define who is an employer, particularly in certain instances where two companies may have a working relationship. The most common example is the franchise model, under which franchisees operate independently of the parent company except for the branding. Under the NLRB’s ruling, the franchisor is the “joint employer” of the franchisee’s employees, and is thus liable for the franchisee’s employment law violations. If forced to assume such additional liability exposure, or spend more money and time overseeing their franchises, why would companies continue to use the franchising model as a method of business growth? This new standard has sown so much confusion with small business owners we work with on a day-to-day basis, leading to higher legal and compliance fees, and it has held back further investment given the legal limbo that has been thrust into existing contracts.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Nicole Stookey Albers Joins Florida Municipal Electric Association — Albers will be the association’s new public affairs manager, managing legislative affairs and social media. “Having been a part of state government and the political process for nearly 15 years, Nicole brings a wealth of legislative and governmental affairs experience to FMEA,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director. “She will be a great asset to our members as we work to advance the legislative agenda of the association.” Before joining FMEA, Albers was deputy director of the Office of Legislative Planning at the Florida Department of Health and has been deputy legislative affairs director at the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Rick Scott reappoints Chip Diehl to HCC Board of Trustees – The governor announced Diehl’s reappointment to the Hillsborough Community College District Board of Trustees. The 63-year-old Tampa resident is the managing director of Diehl and Associates and a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Air Force. He is reappointed for a term beginning Oct. 10 and ending May 31, 2021. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Palm Coast drops lobbyist of 17 years to hire Southern Strategy, mayor’s former employer” via FlaglerLive.com — For as long as it’s existed, Palm Coast government has employed the same lobbying firm: Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell & Dunbar, which has had numerous clients in the region. That reign is over. The Palm Coast City Council last week voted 3-2 to replace it with Southern Strategy Group for $45,000. Southern Strategy is Mayor Milissa Holland’s former employer, though that never entered into the 10-minute discussion preceding the vote last week, the culmination of discussions through meetings going back to September, when the council sifted through four firms and heard presentations from three of them, including Southern Strategy.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Jason AllisonRobert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: CBRE

Robert BeckBryan Cherry, PinPoint Results: Broward County

Anita Berry, Corcoran & Johnston: Florida Independent Glass Association

Joanna Bonfanti, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: South Florida Museum

Ed Briggs, RSA Consulting Group: Florida Association of Community Health Centers

David Bronstein, Bronstein & Carmona: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Kevin CabreraEdgar Castro, Southern Strategy Group: City Year

Rosanna Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: City of Punta Gorda

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: National Lightning Protection Corporation

Michael Dobson, Dean Mead: B.J. Alan Companies

James DaughtonWarren HusbandPatricia GreeneAimee Lyon, Metz Husband & Daughton: Orexo US

Pamela Fort, The Commerce Group: American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches

Kevin Guthrie: Division of Emergency Management

Jonathan Kilman, Foley & Lardner: Innovative Psych Solutions d/b/a Innovative Interactive Therapies

Steven Marin, Marin & Sons: Hexagon

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: Gulf Coast Canna Meds

Karl RasmussenJoy Ryan, Meenan: Brookdale Senior Living, WebCE.com

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Locust Branch

Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Lee County Mosquito Control District

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Florida Nurses Association

Corey Staniscia, Tripp Scott: Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: TmaxSoft

— ALOE —

Adults spend 12 hours per day with media” via Sara Fischer of Axios — According to eMarketer’s latest media time spent figures … adults will spend an average of 12 hours, one minute per day with major media this year. Here’s the breakdown by medium, in hours: Digital: 5:53 (3:17 on mobile; 2:03 desktop/laptop; 0:33 on other connected devices); TV: 3:58; Radio: 1:26; Print: 0:24; Other: 0:21. “People have become more efficient at multitasking, thanks largely to mobile devices (excluding voice),” according to the study. “Multitasking via mobile is primarily responsible for the overall increase in time spent with media.”

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to Universal via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — On Jan. 26-28 …  Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum) will attend the special event and participate in festivities throughout the weekend, alongside returning fan-favorites James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). During the three-day celebration, guests will also have the opportunity attend Q&A sessions with film talent and visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida — plus, ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to Universal Orlando.

Disney’s big bet on streaming relies on little-known tech company” via Brooks Barnes and John Koblin of The New York Times — With Disney’s board exhorting speedy action, Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive and chairman, proposed a legacy-defining move. It was time for Disney to double down on streaming. And that was how the Disney board … came to bet the entertainment giant’s future on a wonky, little-known technology company housed in a former cookie factory: BamTech. In August, Disney announced that it would introduce two subscription streaming services, both built by BamTech. One, focused on sports programming and made available through the ESPN app, would arrive in the spring. The other, centered on movies and television shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, would debut in late 2019. “We’re going to launch big, and we’re going to launch hot,” Iger promised at a subsequent investor conference. Based in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, a former factory for the National Biscuit Company, the 850-employee company has a strong track record — no serious glitches, even when delivering tens of millions of live streams at a time. BamTech also has impressive advertising technology (inserting ads in video based on viewer location) and a strong reputation for attracting and keeping viewers, not to mention billing them.

Happy birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Lucy Morgan. They don’t make ’em like her anymore.

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