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Senate president Jim King

Sunburn for 3.9.17 – Buckhorn out; King remembered; Negron’s priorities vetted; Akerman lobbyists gone; Lyft in Tally

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

BREAKING OVERNIGHT – Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for Florida governor. The Mayor made the announcement on his social media accounts early Thursday.

REMEMBERING JIM KING

The late state Sen. Jim King, who would have turned 78 this year, was remembered at an annual happy hour in his honor last night in Tallahassee.

The Jacksonville Republican, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009, was first elected to the House in 1986 and became one of the most powerful politicians in the state, serving as Senate President from 2002-04.

After serving as President, King stayed in the Senate as an elder statesman, a jovial mentor to new members or for that matter anyone interested in the legislative process.

Though he didn’t attend, former Sen. Garrett Richter, a Naples Republican, offered a toast to King for the gathering:

The Florida legislature just ain’t the same

Without the man we’re about to name

A man with wit, humor and control

A man that made a difference… he was nobody’s fool

He’d speak his mind …. would drive Sarah crazy

Lots of energy at night …. but in the morning, a bit lazy

Not really lazy, just tired from the night before

He’d take your watch if you tried to head for the door

Nobody was leaving when this fine man held court at night

He’d drink with the left and drink with the right

Yes, fun times, good humor and Bacardi 8 was his thing

Three cheers and God bless our friend Senator Jim King!!!

Hold up your glass … prepare to toast…

Here’s to Jim King …. he was the most

The most fun, the most effective …. yes, he was quite a delight

Yes drink down your drinks …. cheers to Jim King tonight!

Hosting the event were  Ken Cashin, Claudia Davant, Dave Ericks, Scott Dick, Christine Knepper, and the entire Bascom Communications & Consulting team.

“We had some laughs, a drink or two and remembered him as he asked us to do,” said Sarah Bascom, a protégé of King.

Seriously, how many people do you know can still have a room laughing six years after leaving?

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JOE NEGRON’S WATER BILL EXPANDS TO $3.3 BILLION AND CLEARS ANOTHER COMMITTEE, AS OPPOSITION CONTINUES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Despite modifications, the 5-1 vote of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee is closer than it appeared because many supporters expressed reservations that the expensive plan to store water is the most cost-effective solution to address Negron‘s goal of preventing discharges of polluted water from the lake into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries that led to toxic algae blooms and a state emergency. Voting against the bill was Sen. Oscar Braynon … who said the Glades area is “a place that’s hemorrhaging” and he wants to see an economic development bill for the impoverished Glades region, regardless of whether this water bill is passed or not. “I visited Haiti, which is a Third World country, and I would compare some of the areas in the Glades to the conditions of a ravaged Third World country,” he said before opposing the bill.

SENATE CONSIDERS NEGRON’S HIGHER EDUCATION LEGISLATION via Florida Politics – The Excellence in Higher Education Act, a top priority for President Negron, has been set up for a vote by the full Senate. The bill (SB 2), carried by Bradenton Republican Bill Galvano, was discussed Wednesday on the floor. Achieving many of the bill’s goals, which could cost up to $161 million, depend on funding getting approved in the 2017-18 state budget. The legislation, among other things, increases certain scholarship benefits, overhauls how colleges and universities measure progress and attract top professors, and mandates block tuition—a flat rate per semester—rather than by credit hour.

HOUSE FAULTS UNIVERSITIES OVER SALARIES AND SPENDING via The Associated Press – State Rep. Carlos Trujillo suggested that legislators may need to look at how much university presidents are paid, as well as even how much football and basketball coaches are paid. The Miami Republican and House budget chief said too many people work for universities or university foundations who earn more than $200,000 a year. The House is scrutinizing university spending at the same time that the Florida Senate is poised to approve a major overhaul of colleges and universities that includes spending more.

SENATE PANEL ADVANCES BILL ON JUVENILE PUNISHMENT via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Legislation advanced through a second state Senate committee that would make civil citations mandatory for first-time offenders accused of 12 minor crimes, such as possession of alcohol or less than 20 grams of marijuana. The bill is a top priority for President Negron, and is receiving considerable attention in the Legislature this year. But mandatory civil citations are strongly opposed by the state’s two main law enforcement associations and the proposal has run into trouble in the House. At the same time the Senate was advancing the mandatory civil citations bill, the language was being stripped from House legislation dealing with the issue. Instead, the House bill now focuses on automatically expunging the criminal records of first-time misdemeanor juvenile offenders if they complete a diversion program.

RICHARD CORCORAN TELLS DEMOCRATS HE NEEDS THEM TO OVERRIDE EXPECTED RICK SCOTT VETOES via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – If Democrats join with his Republican majority, Corcoran said, the House will be able to override Gov. Rick Scott’s expected veto of legislation to abolish Enterprise Florida, the embattled economic development agency, and another that would place tight restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing entity.  “The bill is going to pass,” Corcoran told the Democrats in a closed-door meeting attended by POLITICO Florida. “I’m asking you to help me get a veto-proof majority.”

FDLE COMMISSIONER: ‘WE KNOW THAT TERRORISTS ARE HERE’ via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – “We know that terrorists are here, either plotting against Florida or using our state as a location to train, raise money and plan attacks in other areas of the country,” FDLE commissioner Richard Swearingen told a Senate committee. Swearingen said FDLE does not currently possess sufficient resources to dedicate adequate personnel to fighting terrorism and needs the $6.4 million to fix that. “What happened in Orlando on June 12, 2016, shook us all,” Swearingen told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice. “But it did not break us. And it convinced all of us in public safety that we can and we must do more to protect our state.”

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE PASSES STATE EMPLOYEE HEALTH INSURANCE CHANGE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The House Appropriations Committee passed HB 7007, which gives state employees a health insurance plan offering four different “benefit levels” to choose from starting in 2020. If the state’s contribution exceeds the cost of the selected plan selected, employees could put that money toward health savings accounts, purchase additional benefits or increase their salary. The bill, previously PCB HHS 17-01, will now head to the chamber floor.

SENATE PANEL OUTLINES $7M IN BUDGET CUTS – The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development unveiled $7.7 million in budget cuts in the senate’s transportation and economic development bill. Departments getting money shaved off their budgets include the Departments of Economic Opportunity, Transportation, State, Military Affairs, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Division of Emergency Management. DOT would get the biggest cut at $2.5 million, mainly through reducing management positions, followed by a $1.8 million cut in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The plan would also take $500,000 out of Initial Skills Review, which are housed under the DEO. The committee said that cut was due to improving jobs numbers, which it says has left the program with unspent money at the end of each year. Each senate appropriations subcommittee will be announcing cuts to programs under their purview due to an expected drop in state revenue from prior estimates.

SENATE PANEL VOTES TO BAN TEXTING AND DRIVING via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – A bill put forward by Sen. Rene Garcia … would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida passed 6-1 in the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, the first of four committee stops. Dubbed the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” SB 144, originally drafted to stop minors from texting while operating a vehicle, was OK’d with an amendment extending the ban to all drivers in Florida. But Sen. Jeff Clemens … who down-voted the bill, voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the legislation. A similar bill (HB 69) by Rep. Emily Slosberg … does not yet have an amendment extending the provision past minors. It has not been heard in committee.

MANDATORY RECESS BILL SAILS THROUGH SECOND SENATE COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – The Senate PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (SB 78) requiring school districts to provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, unstructured free play each week — or 20 minutes of free play each week — to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. While the bill received strong support from the committee, some members expressed concern they were issuing a mandate to local school districts. “Who can be against recess? I loved it. It was one of my favorite portions of the day, and I was pretty good (at it),” said Sen. Doug Broxson. “However, this is a mandate and we are telling our 67 school districts that they must do this. I would’ve preferred to make a strong suggestion and see if they could work it out themselves, but it appears we’re not going to do that.”

SENATE ADVANCES BILL TO WEAKEN CITIZENS’ LEVERAGE IN PUBLIC RECORDS DISPUTES via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The bill, SB 80 by Sen. Greg Steube would give judges more discretion in deciding whether or not to award attorney’s fees in public-records lawsuits. Florida law allows for citizens to be awarded attorney fees to encourage people to pursue their right to access government records and prevent public agencies from violating the public records laws. The bill would remove the requirement that the legal fees be paid by agencies by changing the requirement that judges “shall” award attorney’s fees to “may award the fees.” The Senate Community Affairs Committee adopted an amendment … to require attorney’s fees only if a complainant can show by a preponderance of evidence that “an agency willfully or intentionally violated the public records act.” If the complainant cannot show that, then the judge would have the discretion to not award the fees … open-government watchdogs and First Amendment advocates say that even with the changes, the proposal will still have a chilling effect on people who face obstacles to their efforts to get access to public records.

— “House subcommittee OKs bill aimed at PSC, utilities despite concerns” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida

— “Lawmakers look to phase out community redevelopment Agencies” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida

— “Senate committee signs off on pollution notification rule” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians. PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

WANT RENE GARCIA’S VOTE? START TALKING MENTAL HEALTH. via Michael Auslen and Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – “I can’t find myself voting for any bill that does not have a mental health component to it,” he said. “Making sure that we invest more money into the system, making sure that people have access and treatment abilities. That is my main focus.” Garcia, the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs chairman who has advocated to improve Florida’s mental health system, often finds himself a swing vote in hearings over issues like gun access. A more moderate Republican from an urban district, he has bucked the party line before. In the wake of mass shootings at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, and the Ft. Lauderdale airport, Garcia has become even more concerned about widespread gun access, particularly among people in a mental health or substance abuse crisis who might be more likely to commit a violent crime.

BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS TOUTS BENEFITS OF CUTTING STATE TESTS via Leslie Postal and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – The group wants the Legislature to pass their bill (SB 964), a far-reaching proposal that would eliminate some tests, push back testing dates to the end of the school year and allow schools to use paper-and-pencil exams rather than online ones. The proposals are backed by many school superintendents, who say existing testing requirements eat up too much instructional time. “There is far too much testing and not enough teaching,” said Sen. Bill Montford, the bill’s sponsor. “We have tied the hands of teachers and stressed out our kids.”

BLOCK TUITION COULD BE COSTLY FOR UNIVERSITIES via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – Block tuition — a flat rate for undergraduates whether they take 12 or 15 credit hours a semester — has been bandied about Florida’s halls of higher education for years. Saying it’s time has come, Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano wants to flip the switch from optional to mandatory on block tuition. His omnibus education package, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act, would require the state’s 12 universities to come up with block tuition plans by October to roll out in time for the fall 2018 academic year. How they would do that will be up to the universities, their boards of trustees and the state Board of Governors. Such a plan could cost Florida State University as much as $40 million, Sen. Jeff Clemens said when introducing an amendment to require a fiscal impact study to find out how much it will cost each university to implement block tuition. “It’s a $40 million hit to the bottom line of your university to do this,” Clemens said. He withdrew the amendment.

CARLOS SMITH, JEFF CLEMENS INTRODUCE DECRIMINALIZE POT BILLS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The pair of lawmakers introduced bills this week that would make possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis – described as a “personal use quantity” to be a civil violation, rather than a misdemeanor. Punishment would come in the form of fines and community service, rather than jail time. Smith filed House Bill 1443 and Clemens Senate Bill 1662. Unlike a similar ordinance enacted by Orlando last summer, in these bills police would not have the option of the civil penalty or a misdemeanor. When Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando Police Chief John Mina declared support for that ordinance Mina pointed out that extenuating circumstances, such as a belligerent violator, could lead police to choose an arrest over a ticket.

CHARTER VS. PUBLIC SCHOOLS: WILL STATE FUND CONSTRUCTION OR IS LOCAL TAX HIKE COMING? via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – A complicated and controversial measure to change how Florida’s 4,300 public schools get taxpayer money for construction and maintenance projects is limping through the Florida Senate, advancing even as lawmakers agree it needs a lot more work before it might become law. Senators behind the measure (SB 376) envision the final bill would have two main elements: It would require school districts to share local tax dollars with charter schools, and it would give school boards the freedom to raise local tax rates back to pre-recession levels, so that they could collect more revenue to address the backlog of maintenance needs in traditional public schools.

PINELLAS LAW ENFORCEMENT PROJECT HAS HIGHWAY PATROL UP IN ARMS via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The FHP testified in “stark opposition” to a House plan to shift the handling of car crashes on all state roads and unincorporated areas from the FHP to sheriffs in Pinellas and Polk counties. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee’s bill also would require the patrol to transfer about $6 million of its budget to those two counties for the next two years. “This would be a stark change to our business model,” Lt. Col. Mike Thomas of the patrol testified … In many counties, state troopers are responsible for investigating car crashes on state roads and in unincorporated areas. But sheriffs say that there are so few troopers on the roads that sheriffs end up working those crashes, or staying with traumatized motorists and directing traffic until a trooper arrives. “We’re already doing it,” Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri [said]. “I believe we can do it faster, better, cheaper … The citizen doesn’t understand why the guy in the green uniform goes by five times while they’re sitting there waiting for the guy in the brown uniform.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Lori Berman and Sen. Darryl Rouson will hold a press conference to discuss their proposal to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21 at 11 a.m. outside the Senate Chamber on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here.***

FLORIDA DOESN’T NEED AN ELECTED SECRETARY OF STATE, OR AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER via Martin Dyckman of Florida Politics – It would tax the imagination to come up with anything that Florida needs less than to elect a secretary of state once again. Why would the Legislature even consider that? Sen. Aaron Bean, the sponsor … told the Senate ethics committee that in the main he wants a fifth position on the Cabinet to avoid tie votes that require the governor to be on the prevailing side or the motion fails. Actually, he and nearly everyone else are incorrect when they refer to that group of four as “the Cabinet.” Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution provides for the Cabinet to consist of an attorney general, a chief financial officer, and a commissioner of agriculture. The governor is NOT — I repeat, NOT — a member of the Cabinet. And because they are elected, it’s not “his” Cabinet even though the members too often vote as if it were. They oversee 12 agencies in their collective role as — to put it accurately — “the governor and Cabinet.”

FLORIDA NEEDS TO SAY YES TO AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NO TO PROPOSED FRACKING BAN via Jason Fischer for Florida Politics – Thanks to technological advancements and remarkable improvements in extraction techniques, we no longer have to choose between having a stable and affordable supply of energy resources and being good stewards of the environment, no matter what the naysayers suggest. And record-setting upticks and enhancements in hydraulic fracturing is the biggest reason why. Just look at the numbers, economically and environmentally. It’s not a coincidence. The two go together. Yet come the next legislative session, Florida lawmakers will again take another look at a regulatory curveball they’re better off not swinging at. It’s that outdated one-or-the-other thing rearing its ugly head again.

FCTA CAPTIAL DATELINE ONLINE LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW FEATURES PETER SCHORSCH — FCTA President Brad Swanson chats with EEM President Peter Schorsch about the 2017 Legislative Session. The two chat about the fight over economic incentives, medical marijuana, gambling, and workers’ compensation and other insurance issues. The interview can be found on the Florida Cable and Telecommunications Association’s YouTube site or on its Facebook page, Capital Dateline Online.

ERIC EISNAUGLE A FINALIST FOR APPEALS COURT BENCH via Rene Stutzman of the Orlando Sentinel – Eisnaugle was named one of six finalists for an open job on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach. The Republican lawmaker from Windermere has no judicial experience, but he was one of six people nominated for the job by a local committee of the Florida Bar … The list includes four circuit judges – two from Orlando: Alice Blackwell, who’s been on the bench for 26 years, and Lisa Munyon, who’s been a judge for 14. The other judge-finalists are Circuit Judge John M. Harris, former chief judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit who’s been a judge for 15 years and works in Titusville, and Circuit Randell Rowe III, who works in DeLand and has been a judge for 12 years. The other finalist is Winter Park attorney Margaret “Amie” Kozan, who specializes in appeals.

AKERMAN LAW FIRM, LOBBYISTS ELI NORTELUS, DAVID ROBERTS PART WAYS AFTER ‘WHISKEY & WHEATIES’ ISSUE POSTPONED via Florida Politics – A spokesperson for Akerman said Nortelus and Roberts “have resigned from the firm to pursue other interests.” Sources close to the two lobbyists and the legislative issue told FloridaPolitics.com that Nortelus and Roberts were fired on the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session after Wal-Mart, which Akerman counts as one of its largest clients, insisted the lobbyists be given their walking papers. In a statement, Akerman said that “Wal-Mart was not part of this decision.” … Nortelus and Roberts had represented the Florida Independent Spirits Association, a trade group opposed to ‘tearing down the wall’ separating the proverbial whiskey from the Wheaties. The FISA is on the opposite side of Wal-Mart and other retailers, which support legislation sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Bryan Avila that would repeal the Prohibition-era law requiring liquor be separated from groceries and other retail goods, an issue commonly referred to as the “liquor wall.”

MAGIC JOHNSON TO LOBBY FLORIDA LAWMAKERS ON HIV/AIDS via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News – Johnson, who represents a Medicaid managed-care company known as Anthem in Florida, contracted HIV more than two decades ago and has since been outspoken on treatment for the illness. In an email to Florida Senate Republicans, Sen. William Galvano announced Johnson’s presence as a “meet and greet.” Johnson isn’t lobbying on a specific bill, Galvano said, but he is advocating that “when we make a decision with regard to managed care, that we continue to recognize the importance of covering illnesses like HIV/AIDS.”

PERSONNEL NOTE: FLORIDA STATE HIRES NEW FEDERAL RELATIONS DIRECTOR via Florida Politics – D.C. veteran Jonathan Nurse has joined Florida State University as the new director of federal relations, Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander announced Wednesday. Nurse will serve as the university’s liaison to federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation as well as the state’s congressional delegation. He will be based out of Washington, D.C., and travel to Tallahassee monthly.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Ivette O’DoskiBrett BacottMichael Harrell Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Florida League of Cities

Brian Ballard, Ballard Partners: Lemonade Inc

Slater Bayliss, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: U.S. Submergent Technologies, LLC

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Galt Towers Condominium Association, Inc.

Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight: Pensacola Christian College

Jorge ChamizoCharles Dudley, Floridian Partners: HP Inc

Jacob Cremer, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler: Collier Resources

Daniel Diaz Leyva, Daniel J. Diaz, P.A.: AT&T.

Candice Ericks, Ericks Advocacy Group: TrakWagon

Marnie GeorgeJim MagillTimothy Stanfield, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Coalition of Ignition Interlock Manufacturers

Jeff Kottkamp, Jeff Kotkamp: GA Zero, LLC

Jim McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Asad W. Qamar/Institute of Cardiovascular Excellence (ICE)

Travis Mitchell, Louis Betz & Associates: Ygrene Energy Fund Florida, LLC

Edward Pozzuoli, Tripp Scott: TrakWagon, LLC

Jon Steverson, Foley & Lardner: EH Mitigation Management, LLC

Larry Williams, Larry Williams Consulting: PowerSchool Group

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

SCHOOL BOARD VOTES TO PROTECT KIDS FROM IMMIGRATION RAIDS via The Associated Press – A South Florida school board is taking steps to protect the children of undocumented immigrants who face deportation. The School Board of Broward County approved the resolution in response to increasing fears of more aggressive immigration enforcement polices implemented by the Trump administration. School Board member Robin Bartleman says immigrant families “wanted to know that we had their backs.” Any requests to access schools or get information about a student will be directed to the district’s attorney. The board also agreed to have schools work with parents and community organizations to come up with a plan in case a student’s parents are deported.

JUST HERE FOR THE ARTICLES: CITY’S OLD WEBSITE USED FOR PORN via The Associated Press –  the city of Springfield began receiving complaints last week from citizens who were visiting the city’s old website … Mayor Ralph Hammond said the city apparently let the old domain name expire, and the site now contains pornography. Springfield switched its website to a .gov domain about three years ago. The city’s information technology department is seeking to buy back the old domain and any domains names similar to the city’s current website, springfield.fl.gov.

PHILIP LEVINE TO AIRBNB IN TRUMP-LIKE TIRADE: ‘MIAMI BEACH DOESN’T WANT WHAT YOU’RE SELLING’ via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald – In other words, “You’re fired!” The exchange between the platform and Levine on Twitter was sparked by an article in Sunshine State News … critical of Levine’s push for hefty fines against short-term rental sites. Per the city’s code, short-term rentals are banned in the city except for in some multifamily buildings in specified areas. When Airbnb Citizen, the company’s policy and communications arm, posted the article, Levine fired back. “Against destroying neighborhoods/buildings [with] short-term rentals in Miami Beach! LOVE Airbnb but not in [Miami Beach],” Levine tweeted at about noon Saturday.

WHAT JONATHAN KILMAN IS READING – LYFT EXPANDS TO THE CAPITAL CITY – Lawmakers, lobbyists, and other politicos should feel “upLyfted” with the introduction of a new transportation option available in the Capital City starting today. The ridesharing service Lyft today expands into the Tallahassee market, providing convenient and affordable rides for the area’s residents and visitors. New passengers can use a special code LYFTLOVE17 to receive $5 off their first Lyft ride. Now, let’s see if this is the year Florida finally passes statewide ridesharing legislation.

***The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

GOVERNORS CLUB THURSDAY BUFFET MENU – Thursday’s buffet at the Governors Club offers an Italian flair with tomato basil soup, roasted eggplant salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, Caesar salad, hearts of romaine, Parmesan cheese, Kalamata olives, shrimp Bucatini Pomodoro, roasted garlic chicken, parmesan garlic risotto, cauliflower & plum tomatoes, and eggplant parmesan.

DISNEY REVEALS NEW DETAILS ABOUT PANDORA via Terry Roen of Florida Politics – Pandora – The World of Avatar will share the same core values as Animal Kingdom – the value of nature, discovery through adventure and giving back to the planet earth … the new attraction opens May 27 … “Visitors will walk away from Pandora with information they can apply to the real world of earth,” said Joe Rohde, a Disney Imagineer best known for serving as the leader of the creative team behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flight of Passage, the flying theater ride on the backs of mountain banshees, with have a 44-inch height restriction. All ages can take a tour on the Na’vi River Journey indoor boat ride. A walk-through attraction, called Valley of Mo’ara, will give visitors an up-close look at bioluminescent flora, as well as see Na’vi totems and cultural artifacts.

HEY, ROOKIE! METS’ TIM TEBOW TAKES PRACTICE SWINGS ON WRONG SIDE via The Associated Press – Tebow made his first rookie mistake even before stepping into the batter’s box. The New York Mets newcomer walked behind home plate and took his practice swings near Boston’s on-deck circle. “I didn’t know who that was back there. I thought it was the ball boy,” AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello said. Tebow’s debut as a big leaguer didn’t go much better.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Melissa Akeson of The Rubin Group and Kristy Campbell of, well, Jeb’s group.

Akerman law firm, lobbyists Eli Nortelus, David Roberts part ways after ‘whiskey & Wheaties’ issue postponed

Akerman, one of the state’s largest law firms, and lobbyists Eliakim Nortelus and David Roberts have parted ways after a vote in a legislative committee to repeal the state law requiring businesses to have separate stores to sell liquor was postponed.

Marisa Serrano, a spokesperson for Akerman said Nortelus and Roberts “have resigned from the firm to pursue other interests.”

Sources close to the two lobbyists and the legislative issue told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday night that Nortelus and Roberts were fired on the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session after Walmart, which Akerman counts as one of its largest clients, insisted the lobbyists be given their walking papers.

In a statement, Akerman said that “Wal-Mart was not part of this decision.”

Before yesterday, Nortelus and Roberts had represented the Florida Independent Spirits Association, a trade group opposed to ‘tearing down the wall’ separating the proverbial whiskey from the Wheaties.

State records indicate that Tuesday Nortelus and Roberts canceled their representation of the FISA. As of Wednesday afternoon, they are still registered to represent their other clients.

The FISA is on the opposite side of Wal-Mart and other retailers, which support legislation sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Bryan Avila that would repeal the Prohibition-era law requiring liquor be separated from groceries and other retail goods, an issue commonly referred to as the “liquor wall.”

In Tuesday’s meeting of the House Government Operations and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, Avila’s HB 81 was temporarily postponed because, apparently, it didn’t have the votes to pass. The same scenario almost happened last month when the bill narrowly escaped the Careers & Competition Subcommittee with an 8-7 vote.

After three years of defeat, hopes had been high for the bill with the Senate’s second-in-command backing the proposal, but the bill has failed even when watered down to simply allow a door in the wall between a main store and an attached liquor store.

The initiative was first sponsored in 2014 by state Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican in line to become Senate president in 2018-20.

State Rep. (now state Sen.) Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican, and state Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, pushed the proposal the following session.

Last Session, it was carried by Republicans Carlos Trujillo of Miami in the House and Lizbeth Benacquisto of Fort Myers in the Senate.

Did Charlie Crist pull an oopsie naming his PAC after himself?

We’re not campaign finance experts, but we think Charlie Crist pulled an oopsie when he named his new Political Action Committee after himself. Simple reason: Federal law doesn’t allow it.

Former Republican Gov. and now Democratic Congressman Crist opened “Charlie Crist PAC” Monday, calling it “a Leadership PAC.”

In doing so, Crist – or his money people – forgot the distinction in federal campaign finance law between “authorized” and “unauthorized” committees.

“No unauthorized committee shall include the name of any candidate in its name,” the law says, and unauthorized committees are PACs which raise funds primarily to make contributions to other candidates.

That’s typically the purpose of so-called “leadership” PACs.

So watch for the letter from the Federal Election Commission telling Crist to change the name.

Charlie Crist PAC has also captured the attention of nonpartisan watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a nonprofit organization promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic life.

Matthew Whitaker, FACT’s Executive Director, says: “Congressman Crist is no stranger to ethical problems, and this blatant campaign finance violation further demonstrates that he thinks he operates by one set of rules while asking his constituents to abide by another. We are calling on Representative Crist to immediately fix this violation, and failure to do so in a timely fashion will result in a FACT complaint to the FEC.  Campaign finance laws exist to ensure that our elected officials are serving the people’s interests, not using politics to promote their own self-interests.”

Sunburn for 3.8.17 – Governor gets personal; Speaker gets joyful; Bills get moving; Don Gaetz’ next run?; It’s Space Day!

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

#HUMBLEBRAG

It’s that time of year when everyone in the process emails around CATECOMM’s annual legislative aide study — even the clients he’s working against. It’s a must-read perennial reminder for advocacy groups and coalitions to not send spam form emails or do other dumb things that don’t work.

Here is the Medium post everyone is sharing.

But this year, something special happened and Kevin Cate gave me the heads up — FloridaPolitics.com is about to overtake SayfieReview.com as the most-read political news website by lawmakers. We tied Justin’s aggregator this year, and we’ve been on a huge curve up since the study began five years ago.

The top five overall go-to news outlets for lawmakers goes like this:

— Local TV News

— Local Print Newspapers

— Local Print Newspapers Online

— FloridaPolitics.com, Sayfie Review, and POLITICO Florida (tied)

— News Service of Florida

To give you an idea of how far we’ve come, compare the 2013 survey results…

… with this year’s results:

And we get our numbers without the benefit of receiving direct links from Marc Caputo‘s POLITICO Playbook or Sayfie Review.

The full results are now available on the Medium post.

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RICK SCOTT GETS PERSONAL IN 2017 ‘STATE OF THE STATE’ ADDRESS via Florida Politics – The Governor … told a joint session of the state’s House and Senate that he knew “what it’s like to be poor” … “I have lived in poverty …  I watched my parents struggle to put food on the table. When most kids were playing Little League or riding bikes, I had a job … I went from delivering papers, to opening a small business so my mom could have a job, to running the nation’s largest health care company.” … “It’s easy to throw out catch phrases like ‘picking winners and losers’ and ‘corporate welfare,’ ” he said. “(T)hat’s not what we are doing. We are competing with 49 other states and hundreds of countries for jobs. When we bring new jobs to Florida, there are only winners … I will admit it is probably more difficult for people who have never gone hungry, or gone through foreclosure, or seen their family car repossessed, to understand this.”

— “Scott sets off for D.C. to meet with GOP leaders on ACA overhaul” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

ANDREW GILLUM CRITICIZES  SCOTT FOR NOT MENTIONING GUNS OR LGBT IN PULSE COMMENTS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “No mention of common sense gun law reforms, nor the continued discrimination against the LGBTQ community in @FLGovScott’s State of the State,” Gillum tweeted after the speech. Potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham also weighed in, criticizing Scott and other notable Republican leaders – led by House Speaker Corcoran, though she did not mention names – for fighting with each other rather than working together for Florida. Before the speech, Gillum anticipated that with a prebuttal statement that said Floridians are looking for someone to champion “the issues and values that matter to us, and sadly Governor Scott will not and cannot rise to that level.”

MORE REAX: “He made a pretty vigorous sales pitch for a lot of his ideas — Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida; also keeping that alive. We expected him to lay out his vision for Florida. We expected him to lay out his priorities. The House in special order calendar, I believe on Thursday or Friday, is going to take up those bills and I’m sure we’ll have a very robust debate.” – Rep. Carlos Trujillo, House Appropriations Chairman; “It was a good one. He played it on the line in terms of the need for EFI and Visit Florida. The governor’s very passionate about helping those who need some help. That’s been his trademark since he got here, and I appreciate that and respect that.” – Sen. Bill Montford; “It was great. He set out his goals for the session and what he wants to accomplish and we’re ready to go.” – Senate President Joe Negron; “Obviously we have some points we have disagreements on. I thought it was encouraging. He did a good job of building some consensus around things that we all believe in — Republican and Democrat, different branches of the government. You can take out a couple of the points of contention that we have, but overall, I didn’t leave with a bad feeling after the speech.” – Rep. Clay Ingram; “It’s opening day, so I expected them both to do what they did. They set the tone. They laid out their plans.” – Rep. Cynthia Stafford; “There were a couple of hot-button issues, obviously, with the House. I think there was some truth for some members, but I think it’s probably a little bit of an exaggeration for some. … I know that there are real concerns here in the House about some of the ways state money has been spent. We’re taking a good, hard look at it. I don’t think the outcome is 100 percent clear of what’s going to end up at the conclusion of session.” – Rep. Joseph Geller.

RICHARD CORCORAN: ‘LET’S FIGHT … JOYFULLY CRASHING AGAINST THE SPECIAL INTERESTS AND STATUS QUO’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Corcoran opened the legislative session Tuesday with a defiant tone, urging his flock to “keep fighting” and “joyfully crashing against the special interests” that control Tallahassee. …. Corcoran did not mention Gov. Scott by name — but he left no doubt that his remarks were directed mostly at his fellow Republican. … He also has accused Scott of trying to impose a half-billion dollar property tax increase on Floridians, the result of higher property values, to pay for a per-pupil increase in public school spending. Scott and the Senate disagree with Corcoran and say it’s not a tax hike.

JOSE OLIVA TALKS DOUGHNUTS AND INCENTIVES AFTER RICK SCOTT SPEECH via Florida Politics – Oliva, a cigar company executive, said Scott underestimated House members’ experience. “Very many of us in that chamber know what it’s like to be poor,” said Oliva, who remains as CEO of Oliva Cigar Co. after selling the company last year to a European concern. “We know what it’s like to have a car repossessed, to have the power cut in your house. “We also know what it’s like to start a business … I don’t know that when I was building my business I would have liked some of my tax dollars to go to help a competitor.” Scott, who didn’t mention it specifically … often has spoken of a doughnut shop he ran in the 1970s. “Imagine if the governor, while he had that same doughnut shop, had his tax dollars go to Dunkin’ Donuts so they could come across the street and compete against him?” Oliva said.

ADVOCATES CALL ON LEG. TO FOCUS ON WORKING FLORIDIANS DURING ANNUAL ‘AWAKE THE STATE’ EVENT via Florida Politics – “In 2010, Rick Scott said ‘let’s get to work.’ In 2014, he said ‘let’s keep working,’” said Rich Templin, the legislative and political director for the Florida AFL-CIO. “The problem is, Florida is not working for most of our families and nobody in the building is fighting for them.” Templin was one of several advocates who spoke out during the “Awake the State” event at the Florida Capitol. The annual event generally serves as a response to the governor’s State of the State speech, and this year speakers touched on a variety of issues, including poverty, the environment and immigrant rights. Citing the United Way of Florida’s 2017 ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report, Templin said millions of Floridians are struggling. “They’re doing everything they’re supposed to do, working a job, working two jobs, working three jobs, but they still have to make decisions between food and rent, medicine and child care, decisions no worker should have to make in this state,” he said. “Millions of Floridians are suffering, and the state is doing very little to support (them).”

— “Isn’t it time Florida progressive put the ‘Awake the State’ mantra to bed?” via Peter Schorsch

AFP-FL ENCOURAGES LEGISLATURE TO CONTINUE TO SUPPORT BILL TO ELIMINATE ENTERPRISE FLORIDA via Florida Politics – “There is no question that Governor Scott and the Florida legislature have helped Florida endure the recent recession, and through their effective leadership the state of our state is strong,” said Chris Hudson, the state director for AFP-FL … “But make no mistake, the positive strides and gains we’ve made together are not because of top-down big-government programs. Because Florida entrepreneurs are the best investors of their dollars, they are thriving in the low tax, low regulatory environment which are among the most critical reasons millions of Americans from across the country have migrated to the Sunshine State.” … It’s also out in full force in support of a bill (HB 7005) that would eliminate Enterprise Florida and a slew of other incentive programs.

NEW HOUSE VIDEO ASKS: WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE MEMBER ACROSS THE AISLE — The Florida House didn’t waste much time after the “State of the State” to try and show unity among its members, releasing a video showing Republicans and Democrats talking about their favorite representative across the aisle. The 2-minute video includes Reps. Chris Sprowls, Carlos Guillermo SmithByron DonaldsRandy FineJackie ToledoEmily SlosbergAmy Mariano, and Dane Eagle. Several Republican picked Rep. Tracie Davis, with Rep. Cyndi Stevenson even saying she seemed “delightful.” Davis response when asked her favorite member across the aisle: “I don’t have any. I don’t like any of them.” (Don’t worry, she was teasing).

AS TENSE SESSION OPENS, SOME SAGE WORDS FROM A ‘HAS-BEEN’ via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Former House Speaker Allan Bense is home in Panama City, tending to his businesses and mostly watching from a safe distance. “There’s clearly room for improvement in Tallahassee,” Bense said. “He (Corcoran) has unveiled things that really weren’t working very well … Clearly, he’s aggressive, and I respect him for that.” He said Corcoran is right to call for a stricter six-year revolving-door restriction before ex-lawmakers can become lobbyists. It’s hard to believe Bense was eight speakers ago … “Remember, I’m a has-been. A nobody,” Bense said over coffee at a Panama City diner. “I was, at best, a C as speaker. Probably a C-minus.” On that, few would agree. Bense was viewed as evenhanded and unpretentious … His advice to Scott, Corcoran and Negron is to keep the line of communication open, which now is not the case. “Communicate,” Bense said. “It’s like a marriage. The more you talk, the more you learn.”

ANTI-POVERTY LOBBYIST SKEPTICAL AS SESSION OPENS via Florida Politics – Karen Woodall … at the Florida Center for Economic and Fiscal Policy …  spent 37 years lobbying in Tallahassee on behalf of the poor … wasn’t impressed. Unfortunately, particularly this year, it seems that the conversations about poverty have to do with attacking poor people. We have bills to cut people off food stamps where the staff analysis says the majority of the people impacted will be children. We have bills to cut people’s temporary cash assistance the first time they commit some violation, without ever asking what are those violations — it could be missing a meeting, or not filling out a form. We’re talking about evictions. We have bills filed to block grant Medicaid, which is going to severely impact not only very, very low income and vulnerable people in this state, but it’s going to cripple the health care industry. There are a lot of other areas of poverty. So many people are working, yet still struggling. There just seems to be, over and over and over again, a denial. It’s like don’t ask, don’t tell. We want to talk about the symptoms without digging really deep into the causes.

FOLKS COME FROM AFAR TO SEE LEGISLATURE BEGIN via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – About 20 minutes after the House convened at 9:30 a.m.Jon Karl Kuykendall sat outside the Capitol next to his backpack. The former Eastside High student from Gainesville and freshman at the University of Florida spent the first two days of spring break hiking with his friend Oscar Psychas from St. Marks Lighthouse to Tallahassee, to demonstrate their commitment to the environment … Tom Hunt, a long-serving member of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office, celebrated his 32nd legislative session with a Happy Face tie. He’s got 98 funny ties and each year he starts the first day of session wearing one of them … Mark Byington had the important job: holding a box of sandwiches and snacks for the covey of fourth-graders from Community Leadership Academy. The Tallahassee school was started by Peter Boulware, a Florida State University football all-star who spent his professional career with the Baltimore Ravens.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

JUDGE SIDES WITH HOUSE SPEAKER IN LOTTERY LAWSUIT via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Circuit Judge Karen Gievers on Tuesday ruled the Florida Lottery lacked the legal authority to sign off on more than $700 million contract with IGT Global Solutions to run lottery games. Gievers declared the contract, which is supposed to run until 2031, “void and unenforceable.” … During a daylong hearing on the lawsuit held this week, top aides who work for the Florida House also testified that the contract also was structured in a way to sidestep legislative oversight. They noted that lottery officials last fall asked legislators for more money to pay for the contract. … Gievers said the Florida Lottery did not follow state law and that the contingency clause did not give lottery officials the authority to approve the contract.

SCOTT COMMITTEE ROLLS OUT MORE ROBOCALLS via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Scott is again targeting members of his own party for their votes against a bill that would abolish Enterprise Florida, the mostly-taxpayer funded economic development entity that Scott chairs, and place tight restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing arm. Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, sent the messages, including emails, to the voters in districts of 17 House Republicans, each of whom backed the measure. “Unfortunately, your state representative … is playing politics with Florida’s jobs,” the ad says to voters. “He voted to decimate Florida’s tourism and jobs programs. And that will destroy our economy and lead to higher taxes.”

2017 SESSION BRINGS A RECORD NUMBER OF BILLS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Legislators have been busy this session … House and Senate members filed 2,905 bills before the noon bill filing deadline … That makes 2017 the session with the most bills filed, eclipsing the 2004 session’s previous record of 2,691 bills. The trend in recent years has been toward fewer individual pieces of legislation filed. However, House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s new process for member’s appropriations project requests is largely responsible for the increased number of bills, with 1,210 member projects filed in total. The total number could increase even more, as legislation in the form of proposed committee bills, or PCBs, may continue to be filed after the deadline.

HOUSE MEMBER PROJECTS TOTAL $2.58 BILLION via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – Members of the Florida House have filed 1,205 active appropriations projects bills, totaling $2.58 billion. The largest appropriation project filed is the $100 million requested in HB 3767 by Rep. Jose Felix Diaz for Florida Residential Citrus Canker Litigation Judgments. In all, 74 bills request appropriations that were vetoed in previous budgets including the $15 million for HB 2521, funding the Center for Innovative Technology Education (CITE) at Eastern Florida State College. Who filed the most member projects? That is Rep. Brad Drake with 46. He’s followed by Rep. Halsey Beshears with 42 and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz with 33. Members had to file their appropriations project bill request forms by Feb. 7, 2017, and bills had to be filed by the opening day deadline of noon March 7, 2017.

SENATE ADOPTS COMPROMISE BUDGET RULES via Florida Politics – Senators convened at 9:30 with a prayer and the traditional singing of the national anthem. “They need wisdom, direction, and understanding,” Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network said during the invocation. … “I know I’m asking for a miracle, but make this session end on time.” … One of the first orders of business was approval of rules changes designed to prevent a meltdown over the House’s strict new rules for member projects in the state budget while respecting the Senate’s prerogatives. In reaching the agreement with the House Friday, “potentially we dodged a bullet that could have stopped our appropriations process in about the fifth week,” budget chairman Jack Latvala said.

CABINET MEMBERS UNAWARE OF PROPOSED PROVISION EXEMPTING THEM FROM ‘GUN-FREE ZONES’ via Kristen Clark of the Tampa Bay Times – Among many gun bills Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube has filed for the 2017 session, one proposal being considered for the first time Tuesday calls for letting the three members of the Florida Cabinet carry guns virtually anywhere — so long as they have a concealed weapons permit and federal law doesn’t prohibit guns in that location. Each of the Cabinet members … said they were unaware until contacted by the Herald/Times this week that Steube had proposed exempting them from the state’s “gun-free zones.” But only one Cabinet member – Jeff Atwater – would say whether they themselves might be affected by the potential law change. A spokeswoman for Atwater confirmed he has a concealed weapons permit, but also said Atwater did not seek out the provision.

SENATE COMMITTEE REVERSES YEARS OF OPPOSITION AND PASSES FRACKING BAN via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation voted unanimously to prohibit  “advanced well stimulation treatment,” specifically hydraulic fracturing, acid fracturing and matrix acidizing — the high pressure process that is used to inject water into rock formations to extract oil and gas. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dana Young … who reversed her opposition to a fracking ban last year, promising voters in her newly-drawn Senate seat that she would make passage of the ban a top priority.  “This has been a wonderful journey,” Young said, acknowledging the shift in position since she voted for a House bill lasts year that would have regulated and authorize fracking beginning in 2017, after a state study.

WHY THE LONG FACES?

HOUSE RELEASES PLAN FOR MEDICAL POT, WHICH ACTIVISTS CRITICIZE via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill (HB 1397) gives the existing seven growers licensed under more limited cannabis statutes the first crack at selling the drug. It automatically adds five second-place growers that applied for regionally awarded licenses previously but were rejected after 150,000 patients have registered with the state. Beyond that, it bans edible cannabis products and smoking. It limits “vaping” — using vaporizer devices with a cartridge of the drug — to only terminal patients, though vape pens and cartridges are currently being sold under the existing state laws. Ben Pollara, executive director of advocacy group Florida for Care, said in a statement that the House’s proposal is “moving backward.” … “HB 1397 also offers only a modest expansion of the marketplace for medical marijuana treatment centers and again takes a step backward in doing so,” he said.

HMMM… HOUSE’S WHISKEY & WHEATIES BILL STUMBLES IN SECOND COMMITTEE via Florida Politics – The Walmart-backed HB 81, sponsored by Hialeah Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, would allow grocery stores and other retailers to sell liquor, rather than keeping up the so-called “liquor wall.” The issue is a top priority for Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and a boatload of retailers, but conservatives in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee wanted nothing to do with it. The bill was temporarily postponed … because, apparently, it didn’t have the votes to pass, which almost happened last month when it narrowly escaped the Careers & Competition Subcommittee with an 8-7 vote. Pulling up that vote record might give an indication of which lawmakers are squares.

BILL TO CLOSE PENSION PLAN OPTION FOR CITIES STARTS TO MOVE IN SENATE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Senate Community Affairs Committee agreed to legislation (SB 0428) that would close enrollment in the Florida Retirement System’s defined benefit or “pension” plan to any city not currently involved on a 5-2 vote … Employees would instead have to enroll in a defined contribution or “investment” program. The legislation is being carried by Sen., Jeff Brandes and Rep. Jason Fischer with HB 353, who described his hometown as being “crippled” by unfunded liabilities.

HOUSE PANEL BACKS PRIVATE SCHOOL CHOICE BILL via Travis Pillow of redefinEd.com – The House K-12 Innovation Subcommittee passed HB 15 on a 12-3 vote. The measure by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan … would triple the size of Florida’s Gardiner Scholarship program, which offers education savings accounts to children with special needs. It would also broaden eligibility for special needs vouchers, known as McKay scholarships, and increase per-student funding for tax credit scholarships, with help low-income and working-class students pay private school tuition. A bill in the state Senate would match the House’s Gardiner scholarship funding proposal, and a separate measure mirrors its tax credit scholarship changes.

SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE PASSES RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES ACT via Sunshine State News – Senate Bill 436 by Sen. Dennis Baxley … Senate President Negron emphasized during his Opening Day speech as a bill he favors … creates the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” and specifies that a school district may not discriminate against a student, parent, or school personnel on the basis of a religious viewpoint or religious expression. Senate Bill 436 authorizes students to express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments, free from discrimination. Students may also wear clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display a religious message or symbol to the same extent secular types of clothing, accessories, and jewelry that display messages or symbols are permitted in public school dress codes. Further, students may pray, or engage in and organize religious activities before, during and after the school day, to the same extent student engagement in secular activity or expression, and the organization of secular activities and groups are permitted.

LEGISLATION THAT WOULD MAKE SECRETARY OF STATE AN ELECTED POSITION ADVANCES via Florida Politics – Historically, the Secretary of State in Florida was elected by the public, but that changed in 1998 … Fernandina Beach Republican Aaron Bean wants to bring that position back into the Cabinet. At the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections committee meeting … Bean told his colleagues that the main motivation for his joint resolution (SB 882) is to add another member to the Cabinet, which currently consists of four members – the governor, attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner. “I always felt that it’s been odd,” Bean said. “We have some strange rules when it comes to voting with our cabinet,” referring specifically on the state rule that in two-two ties on the Cabinet, the governor must be on the prevailing side.

— “Bill to fund a $1M in-state marketing campaign clears House committee” via Florida Politics

— “Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously OK’s claim bill for man injured in bus accident as teen” via Les Neuhaus of Florida Politics

BILL WOULD REQUIRE LEOS TO WEAR BODY CAMERAS DURING TRAFFIC STOPS via Florida Politics – State Rep. Al Jacquet filed HB 513 … The bill would, if enacted, require officers to wear and use body cameras while conducting routine traffic stops every time. “Body cameras are a tool to increase public safety that help protect both officers and the citizens they serve,” Jacquet said in a statement. “Dashboard cameras have helped to protect people for years and this builds off that idea. It’s our responsibility to do all we can to increase accountability, safety and trust for both officers and their communities.” HB 513 is a companion proposal is SB 828, proposed by Sen. Bobby Powell.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Jacquet and Sen. Powell will hold a press conference to discuss legislation require police to wear and use body cameras when conducting traffic stops at 11:30 a.m. outside the House Chambers on the Fourth Floor Rotunda.

‘SPILL BILL’ APPROVED BY SENATE COMMITTEE – Senate Bill 532 “Public Notice of Pollution Act” passed its first committee – the Environmental Preservation and Conservation – by a unanimous vote. Its next stop is the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources. SB 532 will require companies to notify the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) about the release of any dangerous substance within 24 hours of discovery, and DEP must then publish a public notice within 24 hours. This legislation comes in the aftermath of multiple high-profile incidents over the past year that resulted in chemical contaminants possibly being leaked into local drinking water supplies – without the public being made aware of the situation.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

IT’S SPACE DAY IN THE CAPITOL!

Time for lawmakers and others in Tallahassee to put on their space geek hats.

Space Florida is leading the charge to Tallahassee for the annual Space Day tour, with representatives of three dozen space companies and other institutions, including two astronauts, in the invasion.

The state’s space industry development corporation has virtually missed battles being fought over Enterprise Florida Inc., VISIT Florida, and wants to keep it that way.

They’ll be touting 150,000 jobs, bringing $20 billion in annual sales and revenues into all 67 Florida counties. Yet much of the focus is on the Space Coast, where Space Florida and others are seeking to transform the space economy from government-sponsored to entrepreneurial driven.

Space Florida gets almost $20 million a year from the state, and arranges business incentive grants and tax deferments, through other agencies, that have totaled  tens of millions of collars in recent years.

The space business invaders will include rocket companies such as United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Orbital ATK.

And, for celebrity power, those reps will include former NASA space shuttle astronauts Chris Ferguson and Sam Durrance.

BILL GALVANO TELLS SEMINOLE TRIBE HIS GAMBLING BILL “WILL MOVE FORWARD” via Florida PoliticsGalvano, the Florida Senate’s point man on gambling, has told the Seminole Tribe of Florida “inaction … is not an option” this year. Galvano, the Bradenton Republican in line to be Senate President in 2018-20, responded this week to a letter sent by Tribal Chairman Marcellus Osceola to legislative leaders and Gov. Rick Scott. Both chambers have gambling legislation filed this year with competing priorities, but both contemplate a new agreement, or “compact,” with the Tribe offering exclusive rights to keep offering blackjack in return for $3 billion in revenue share over seven years.

FILM FLORIDA GIVES UP THE FIGHT FOR INCENTIVES THIS YEAR via Florida Politics – The president of Film Florida, the state’s nonprofit “entertainment production association,” says her group is taking a “step back” from fighting for film and TV show incentives this year. “For the first time since 2004, Florida does not have a statewide program to entice film, television and digital media projects and companies to our state,” wrote Film Florida President Kelly Paige in a Tuesday email to supporters. As part of a plan to get rid of business incentives deemed “corporate welfare” by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, legislation would “close the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment (the State Film Office)” and “also end the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption program,” Paige said.

HOUSE CHAIRMAN SEEKS ‘GOOD FAITH’ AS HEARINGS OPEN ON WORKERS’ COMP DRAFT BILL via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee opened hearings on a 28-page draft bill on workers’ compensation reform, as Chairman Danny Burgess urged members and interest groups to “conduct ourselves in good faith — that we not plant our flags on one side or the other and be absolutely inflexible.” Burgess said the draft represents a “fair, comprehensive approach to fixing this problem.” He also conceded: “It’s by no means perfect … The draft bill achieves four overarching goals … We have addressed and implemented case law by the Supreme Court. We have increased opportunities for competition. We are offering measured changes based on workers’ compensation cost drivers. And we are looking to protect the injured workers’ personal information through a separate (bill).”

HOW LEGISLATORS PLAN TO OPEN THE DOOR FOR FPL TO CHARGE ITS CUSTOMERS FOR EXPLORATORY FRACKING via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The bill, HB 1043 by Rep. Jason Brodeur, is titled “Prudent Utility Investments in Natural Gas Reserves,” and the Senate companion is SB 1248 by Sen. Aaron Bean … “Natural gas is a proven commodity that brings rates down and so we are going to allow FPL to go forward with a proven technology to have these reserves so that we pay down the road,” Bean said. The bill would essentially overturn a Florida Supreme Court ruling last year that said that Florida regulators exceeded their authority when they allowed FPL to become the first utility in the nation to be allowed to charge its customers, not its shareholders, for its speculative investment in fracking operations.

‘STAND UP FOR NORTH FLROIDA’ RELEASES TV AD CRITICAL OF LAKE O LAND BUY via Florida Politics — The group released a television ad Tuesday designed to call attention to what it calls “the threat of the South Florida land buy, proposed by Senators Joe Negron and Rob Bradley, to the limited conservation funding resources available to the North Florida region.” The group objects to Senate Bill 10 which would bond money backed with Amendment 1 funds to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for water storage. “North Florida has precious water resources – lakes, rivers, springs and beaches – that desperately need protecting. There are limited funds available and it is imperative we receive our fair share,” said former Rep. Steve Southerland, chairman of the group. “Yet South Florida received more than 90 percent of the Amendment 1 funding for water projects last year.”

COURT: SCHOOL CHILDREN MUST TAKE STANDARDIZED TEST via The Associated Press – A Florida appeals court says school districts have a right to hold third-graders back when they score badly on a mandated standardized reading test. A three-judge panel threw out a ruling by a lower court judge who said school districts must consider options other than students’ performances on the Florida Standards Assessment test when deciding whether to promote a student. The decision is a blow to parents who try to “opt out” on standardized tests. Parents in six counties instructed their children to fill their name in on the test and not answer any questions. School officials then told the children they’d have to repeat third grade.

DON GAETZ PENSACOLA’S NEXT MAYOR? via Duwayne Escobedo of Rick’s Blog – A recent survey commissioned by Inweekly found Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, a two-term incumbent, could be vulnerable in the 2018 election should he run a third time. Among likely voters, Hayward garnered just 27.9 percent of the vote, setting up room for other candidates to run. Might one of those be former Florida Senate President Gaetz, a Republican from Niceville? Gaetz did point out he owns property in Pensacola, runs a business in Pensacola, TLC Caregivers, and has paid taxes in Pensacola for 20 years. “I see that Mayor Hayward is vulnerable,” Gaetz said in an exclusive interview with Inweekly. But he added he will “probably not run for mayor.” Throughout his 10 years in the Senate, his wife of 35-plus years, Vicki, was right there with him in Tallahassee by his side. Gaetz said it was “very much a partnership in politics” … “Every time I say, ‘No,’ my wife reminds me that I run for office,” Gaetz said. “My wife says never say, ‘No.’”

***The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

LEGISLATIVE STAFFING MERRY-GO-ROUND via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

On: House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee has brought on budget analyst Bryan Mielke, formerly a legislative assistant for Sebring Republican Rep. Cary Pigman.

On: Brandon Miller is replacing Mielke as Pigman’s legislative assistant.

On: Daniel Brackett is a new attorney for the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee.

On: Angelique Rinaldi is the new legislative assistant for Port Orange Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

On: Jervonte Edmonds is the new district secretary for West Palm Beach Democratic Rep. Al Jacquet.

Off: Andrew Green is no longer a district secretary for Orlando Republican Rep. Mike Miller.

On: Charles Martin is the news district secretary for St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Wengay Newton.

Off: Nathan Klein is no longer a district secretary for Cape Coral Republican Rep. Dane Eagle.

On: Samantha Surdin is the new district secretary for Orlando Republican Rep. Eric Eisnaugle.

Off: Elizabeth Casimir is no longer a district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBY REGISTRATIONS

Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Florida Education Association

Brian BallardMonica Rodriguez, Ballard Partners: K9s for Warriors

Erin Daly BallasJack CoryKenya Cory, Public Affairs Consultants: Stiles Corporation

Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Florida MEDS, LLC

Laura Boehmer, Southern Strategy Group: Locust Branch, LLC

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Galt Mile Apartments, Inc.; Southpoint Condominium Association, Inc.; The Lands of the President Condominium Seven Association, Inc.

Brittany Dover, Hopping Green & Sams: Florida Water Environment Association Utility Council

Angela Drzewiecki, Peebles & Smith, Inc.: City of Tampa; InVesta Services

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting, LLC: VIMRO

Richard Heffley, Heffley & Associates: Florida Community Services Corp of Walton Co (dba Regional

Utilities); Humane Society of the United States,

Jeff Kotkamp, Sunshine State Consultants: Florida Distribution Association; Mint Organics

Bruce May Jr., Holland & Knight: Florida Society of Ophthalmology

Frank MayernickTracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: State Farm Florida Insurance Co.; State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Timothy Parson, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: AAA Scholarship Foundation, Inc.; Auto Care Association

William Peeples, John Wayne Smith, Peebles & Smith, Inc.: InVesta Services

Bob Pritt, Roetzel & Andress: City of Naples; Matlacha Pine Island Fire Control District; Port Labelle Community Development District; Sanibel Public Library District; Upper Captiva Fire Protection and Rescue Service District

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Lincoln Memorial University

PERSONNEL NOTE: NEW DEPUTIES APPOINTED AT OFFICE OF INSURANCE REGULATION via Florida Politics – The new deputy commissioner for property and casualty insurance in the Office of Insurance regulation is Susanne Murphy, Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier announced … Eric Johnson becomes deputy for life and health insurance. [Murphy’s] job will include oversight of a new Property & Casualty Market Conduct unit. Johnson joined the office in 2011, “and since that time has been a nationally recognized thought leader on issues from the Affordable Care Act to long-term care,” Altmaier said.

#SUITSFORSESSION IS COMING – A week from today, Wednesday, March 15, lawmakers, agency heads, aides, and lobbyists will be carrying something extra to the Capitol: new or gently-used professional attire for job-seekers. Volunteer Florida and Uber are hosting the second annual #SuitsForSession event on the third-floor Rotunda from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect attire for job seekers statewide. For those who can’t make it to the Capitol, Uber will pick up clothing from individuals across Leon County for free all day March 15. #SuitsForSession has quickly grown into a can’t-miss Capitol event, and for a good cause: the new or gently-used professional attire will be donated to the Chapman Partnership (Miami); Dress for Success Tampa Bay; ECHO Outreach Ministries (Leon County); Bridges of America (statewide); and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program (Tallahassee). More here.

WORTH THE CLICK — “Brian Goldmeier: The man behind the money” via Cheshire Academy|1794

GOVERNORS CLUB WEDNESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU – Wednesday’s Governors club menu hails from the Caribbean: conch chowder soup; yucca salad; seasonal greens; three dressing sections; tomato salad; carne asada- beef; chicken ala planca; BBQ grilled salmon; arroz con gandules and black beans.

FLORIDA STATE BEGINS REPLACEMENT SEARCH FOR RB DALVIN COOK via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – With Cook leaving early for the NFL draft, coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff began spring practices seeing who can replace the school’s career rushing leader. Cook is still a big fixture around the school’s football facilities, and not just from the 20-foot mural of him that adorns the player’s lounge. Fisher said that he saw Cook working out in the weight room after he returned from the NFL scouting combine. Fisher believes it may take more than one player to replace Cook’s contributions. “You would always love to have that one guy, but you also know at that position that you are going to need to have a stable of guys,” Fisher said. “That’s just something we will constantly be continuing to grow in.”

LEGOLAND TO CELEBRATE THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE WITH SPECIAL EVENT THIS WEEKEND via Terry Roen of Florida Politics – Fans can meet Gotham City’s iconic superhero –  in LEGO form – at the Winter Garden theme park. LEGO Batman Movie Days will include a photo op with LEGO Batman, a Batman-themed scavenger hunt throughout MINILAND USA and a variety of hands-on LEGO building activities inspired by the movie. Guests can also watch master builders create a 7-foot tall LEGO Joker. The Big Shop and LEGO Studio Store will have LEGO building sets, limited-edition LEGO mini figures, costumes, accessories and more from the Batman movie. Regular admission and annual passes will apply for the LEGO Batman Movie Days. No extra ticket is required.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Michael Bileca and to Ryan Smithapalooza.

Hmmm… House’s whiskey & Wheaties bill stumbles in second committee

The House version of the “whiskey and Wheaties” bill stumbled and then face planted in its second committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The Walmart-backed HB 81, sponsored by Hialeah Republican Rep. Bryan Avila, would allow grocery stores and other retailers to sell liquor, rather than keeping up the so-called “liquor wall.”

The issue is a top priority for Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores and a boatload of retailers, but conservatives in the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee wanted nothing to do with it.

Their message to Walmart and Avila: no whiskey and Wheaties this year. Or vodka and veggies, or cachaça and chicken.

They were also unamenable to a simple scotch and soda.

The bill was temporarily postponed during the committee’s 1 p.m. meeting Tuesday because, apparently, it didn’t have the votes to pass, which almost happened last month when it narrowly escaped the Careers & Competition Subcommittee with an 8-7 vote. Pulling up that vote record might give an indication of which lawmakers are squares.

Compared to the House, the Senate seems to be looking forward to some one-stop shopping for all their food and booze needs. Flores’ bill, SB 106, has already cleared both of its committees and is ready for a floor vote in the Senate.

It might not matter though if the House doesn’t clear Avila’s bill.

Kathy Castor calls new GOP House health care plan ‘Robin Hood in reverse’

Congresswoman Kathy Castor has always been an unflagging champion of the Affordable Care Act, so you could bet she would have a harsh reaction to the plan unveiled by House Republican leaders on Monday night.

“It’s pretty horrendous,” the Tampa Democrat told a group of reporters gathered in front of a medical building Tuesday morning on West Swann Avenue in South Tampa.

Castor said Floridians arguably have the most to lose under the GOP proposal. More than 1.7 million Floridians signed up for ACA plans on Healthcare.gov in 2016, the most of any state. They would automatically lose coverage when the exchanges are eliminated.

Although Florida Gov. Rick Scott did not allow for Medicaid expansion which could have brought on at least 750,000 more Floridians to the ACA, there are groups of Floridians — children, the disabled, people with Alzheimer’s and others — whose coverage is funded by Medicaid. The GOP House plan calls for a change Medicaid funding which would have it distributed by a per-person allotment to the states.

“If they devastate Medicaid, they will harm families across the state,” Castor warned.

Approximately 85 percent of those on the ACA receive some government subsidy to pay for their coverage. Under the House GOP plan, that subsidy would go away, to replaced by a tax credit that would start at $2,000 annually for those under 30 years of age, and max out at $4,000 for seniors.

“Instead of going to the doctor’s office, they want to ask working families across America to go to the accountant’s office for care,” Castor remarked, adding that such credits won’t be available until after a citizen gets their income tax refund, which could be a full year or longer from when they would have to pay for a medical procedure.

Higher-income Americans could pay fewer taxes and get more tax benefits with the new plan, according to an analysis from CNN/Money. The legislation would eliminate two taxes that Obamacare levied on the wealthy to help pay for the law. Nearly everyone in the top one percent who earn more than $774,000 a year, would enjoy a hefty tax cut, averaging $33,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Those in the top 0.1 percent would get an average tax cut of about $197,000.

“It’s a reverse Robin Hood,” the Congresswoman quipped. “It’s a steal from the poor to give to the rich, and even (a) steal from working families,” adding, “to give huge tax cuts for the wealthiest among us and withdraw coverage to so many more of our neighbors? I don’t understand that.”

As she has done in previous news conferences focused on maintaining the ACA, Castor featured a Tampa citizen who testified on behalf of the current health care system. Joe Nammour, 36, is a small-business man who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago, where he said that he was denied access to coverage because it’s a disease that is very expensive to treat. He praised the ACA for not discriminating against people like him who have a pre-existing condition.

Republicans are touting that the most popular provisions of the ACA, including not discriminating against pre-existing conditions, are maintained in their proposal. Like Obamacare, it requires insurers cover these people and prevents carriers from charging them more because of their health.

However, the GOP plan would lift the requirement that insurers cover a certain share of the cost of getting care. This change would allow carriers to offer a wider selection of policies, including more with higher deductibles and copays. That could make it harder to find plans with low deductibles that the sick often want.

Castor is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which will be voting on the new bill on Wednesday. That’s despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has yet to score this repeal bill, which would determine what it would cost and how many people would remain uninsured. She disputed a reporter’s question that the Democrats pushed the ACA through Congress without anyone reading the bill.

“The difference is, before we went to a committee markup, we had had months and months of hearings and heard from experts and folks from all across the spectrum, and many academics and crafted that bill,” she said, calling that notion “a canard.”

Isn’t it time Florida progressive put the ‘Awake the State’ mantra to bed?

Later this morning, Gov. Rick Scott will give his seventh State of the State address as lawmakers kick off their annual 60-day legislative session.

After the applause from his fellow Republicans dies down, Florida Democrats and progressives will offer a response to the GOP’s agenda.

“Labor leaders, legislators and advocates for access to health care, quality public schools, reproductive and immigration rights will provide a counterpoint to Gov. Rick Scott and his legislative allies’ agenda that rewards their corporate backers while ignoring the needs of everyday Floridians,” reads a press release from Damien Flier of Progress Florida.

In addition to the press conference in Tallahassee, there will be events in other cities across Florida, including Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.

Organizers of this progressive response describe this effort as “Awake the State.

To which I must reply, “Zzzzz.”

It’s been going on six years that Florida progressives have been trying to awake the state, yet, clearly, Florida voters seem to enjoy sleeping in.

Scott was re-elected in 2014. So, too, was Marco Rubio in 2016. Florida went for Donald Trump for President, while also returning to the Florida House every Republican incumbent.

This is not to suggest Democrats and progressives should just roll over and die. In fact, a vocal opposition is probably needed now more than ever.

But, since the slogan Florida progressives have employed during three losing campaign cycle obviously isn’t working, maybe they should go back to the drawing board and update their branding efforts.

What do you do after you quit Enterprise Florida? Enjoy a glass of red wine, of course!

On Monday, Chris Hart IV abruptly resigned as Enterprise Florida CEO.

Hart cited an ongoing conflict with Gov. Rick Scott over the future of the outfit responsible for recruiting companies to the state.

Hart’s departure comes during a critical time. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is pushing a bill to scuttle the organization and strip it of all state money. The legislation could reach the House floor this week.

So how did Hart end such a tumultuous day?

With a glass of red wine, of course.

The former legislator posted to Facebook late Monday a simple, albeit telling photograph from, presumably, his back yard.  A glass of wine is in the foreground.

Hart’s message, “Tonight…ahhhh!”

After Hart published his post, capital insiders fervently speculated about whether the wine’s varietal. Was it a Cabernet or a Pinot Noir?

Asked about what really went down between him and Scott, Hart said he would let the letter he sent the governor speak for itself. However, he did want to make it clear that his resignation did not have anything to do with his compensation, as I speculated.

Cheers!

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post. 

Sunburn for 3.7.17 – Scott’s SoS; Curtain raises on Leg.; Cruz is ready; Brodeur’s haul; Ander’s new gig

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

TAILSPIN

A stall, it is said, “can best be described as the situation where there is not enough air flowing over the wings to create the amount of lift needed to hold up the airplane.”

“If pilots can recognize an impending stall,” one website explains it, “they can take corrective action to either avoid the stall altogether or to recover as quickly as possible.”

Based on the events of Monday, the administration of Gov. Rick Scott is now in a stall. Indeed, by later in the day it seemed there was “not enough air … to hold up the airplane.”

Case in point: The day before the 2017 Legislative Session was set to begin, this Governor’s hand-picked CEO for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, quit with no warning. Chris Hart IV had been in the position for little more than two months. 

Why? Hart and this governor “do not share a common vision or understanding” for the organization going forward, he wrote in a resignation letter—a disconnect apparently so bracing Hart believed he could “no longer be effective.”

What was this governor’s reaction? An astounding puzzlement. This Governor never knew of “any differences of opinion or vision” until he read Hart’s resignation, spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said. 

No matter—the nose of the aircraft had dipped. 

Later in the day, the House Rules committee slaughtered 23 of this Governor’s prized business incentive programs, which House Speaker Richard Corcoran has framed as “corporate welfare.” 

That panel also voted to abolish Enterprise Florida and saved VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency, though hobbling it like Annie Wilkes did to Paul SheldonThose measures could go to the full House as early as this week. 

“What you see is gathering momentum – bipartisan momentum, with only a couple of no votes – for what we’re trying to do,” Palm Coast Republican Paul Renner said, virtually standing over the carcasses. 

This Governor now will walk into a Legislature Tuesday to deliver a State of the State address that, at least according to the snippets his press shop has released, is backward-looking. 

He will mention the tragedies of the Pulse nightclub and Fort Lauderdale airport shootings, the fight against the Zika virus, Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. He will mention his ongoing feel-good commitment to tax cuts. 

But after the speech, what then? What “corrective action” will he take “to recover as quickly as possible”? It may be that the Senate will arrest the House’s assault in the weeks ahead. But in the air show of public opinion, this governor is in a tailspin.

— “Why did Chris Hart eject from Enterprise Florida?” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

EXCERPTS FROM RICK SCOTT’S SOS

Over the coming weeks, we will have many debates over bills and policies, but what unites us will always be stronger than what divides us – and what unites us is the resiliency of our great state. After every challenge, every heartbreak and every tragedy, Florida comes back stronger and better any time we are knocked down.

Since I last stood here to address you, Florida has endured many heartbreaks. I have prayed for families around our state who have been impacted by tragedy, and my own heart has been broken for their losses. Our state has been rocked by the gruesome terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando. We endured two hurricanes, fought against the rapid spread of the Zika Virus, and were devastated by the deadly Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting.

And, if there is one thing you remember from this speech today, I hope it is this: Florida is a state full of fighters, and I will never stop fighting for our families.

Nothing could have prepared me for the horror we saw on June 12, 2016 when a terrorist inspired by ISIS stormed into Pulse and senselessly killed 49 innocent people.

This was a terrorist attack and 49 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and spouses were murdered.

The days I spent in Orlando following the shooting will always be with me.

This year, I am fighting to cut taxes by $618 million to cut costs for small businesses, students, veterans, teachers and families.

Our Fighting for Florida’s Future tax cut package will boost our economy and encourage businesses of all sizes to create jobs and build opportunities for generations of Floridians.   Let’s remember, when jobs are created, it helps the poorest, most disadvantaged families who need a job the most…families just like mine when I was growing up.

One of the taxes we are fighting to cut is the commercial lease tax, which unfairly targets small businesses.

Even more important than continuing to cut taxes in our state is that we prevent against unfair tax increases in the future so our progress is not undone. My goal before I leave office is that we work together on a solution to make it harder for any future legislature – even one not as conservative as we have here today – to raise taxes.

START OF SESSION BRINGS PROCEDURAL CHANGES via LobbyTools Legislative IQ — The Senate will convene Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. while the House will go into session at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m.Gov.  Scott will deliver the “State of the State” address during the Joint Session in the House Chamber. Ahead of the chambers convening, members are required to submit all bills to be considered during session. Members face a noon deadline on Tuesday for filing bills for introduction, but committees can continue to propose legislation throughout session as PCBs, or “Proposed Committee Bills.”

… Committee meeting notice deadlines also change during Session. Instead of the seven days notice that must be given before meetings during interim committee weeks, Senate meeting notices must be given three weekdays in advance of the meeting and House meeting notices must be given by 4:30 p.m. two days before the meeting. Committee amendments must be filed by 6 p.m. the day before a House committee meeting and 24 hours in advance of a Senate committee meeting.

The start of Session also affects campaign fundraising — according to both House and Senate rules, members cannot accept contributions during any regular or special session.

***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***

HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE VOTES TO KILL MOST ECONOMIC-DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS via Florida Politics – The House Rules committee voted, 15-3, Monday to kill state support for 23 economics development programs worth around $200 million, including Enterprise Florida, but spared Visit Florida, the state’s tourism promotion organization. The members then voted, 15-2, to subject Visit Florida to stringent oversight, comparable to contract, pay, and disclosure requirements that apply to state agencies. “They could come to the floor soon — perhaps as early as this week,” sponsor Paul Renner said of the bills. “What you see is gathering momentum — bipartisan momentum, with only a couple of no votes — for what we’re trying to do,” the Palm Coast Republican said.

CONTROVERSIAL PUBLIC RECORDS BILL CLEARS SECOND SENATE PANEL via Florida Politics — The bill (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, aims to give judges discretion in whether they should award fees to the plaintiff and requires request be made in writing in order to be eligible to collect attorney fees. The committee amended the bill Tuesday to add provisions that allow the court to consider “if the request to inspect or copy the public record was made in bad faith or was made to harass the agency or to cause a violation … and if the responsible agency responded in good faith to request to inspect or copy the records.” … But the amendment did not appear to alleviate concerns. Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, spoke out in opposition of the bill. … The bill now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Steube said he is prepared to “work with anybody to try to bring it in for a landing.”

CITING DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHRISTIANS, SENATE PANEL PASSES SCHOOL RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION PROTECTIONS via Jessica Bakeman of POLITICO Florida – The Senate education committee approved a bill broadening protections for religious expression in public schools that appears to be fast-tracked for passage despite critics’ contentions that it would be unconstitutional and carry unintended consequences. The bill would explicitly allow public school students to express their religious beliefs in assignments without being discriminated against. It protects students’ ability to pray before, during or after the school day. It requires school boards to adopt policies allowing students to discuss religion at any school event in which they are allowed to speak publicly. Under the bill, the state department of education would be directed to design a model policy school boards could adopt.

— “Bill to allow law enforcement officers who wear body cameras to review footage advances in Senate committee” via Florida Politics

— “Democrats file bills that would allow citizens to directly propose legislation” via Florida Politics

— “Jack Latvala files bill to create regional transit authority for Tampa Bay” via Florida Politics

— “Med Mal exempt from CAT fund assessments under bill approved by Senate panel” via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida

— “Parenting plan bill that skip courts, lift court overload gets unilateral support in Senate committee via Florida Politics

— “Paul Renner elections bill affects filing fees, extended polling hours” via Florida Politics

— “Victor Torres seeks to save call-center jobs” via Florida Politics

“DON’T FEAR THE DEBATE?” – Anders Croy, the Communications Director for the House Democrats, emails: “In the spirit of transparency, the House Democratic Caucus would like to provide you with a quick update on the breakdown of bills that have been heard in committee as we kick off Session tomorrow morning. We’ll be keeping a running count each week as we proceed through Session. To this point, there have been 131 bills heard in committee in the Florida House. Of those 131 bills, 117 are sponsored by Republicans, 13 are sponsored by Democrats, and 1 bill has bipartisan prime co-sponsors. To put that in a percentage, 89.3% of the bills that have been heard are Republican bills, 9.9% are Democratic, and .8% are bipartisan. As former Senate President Andy Gardiner liked to say, ‘Don’t fear the debate.’ “

BUSINESS GROUPS OPPOSE TAX BREAK SWAP via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A coalition of Florida business groups is giving the thumbs-down to state Sen. Anitere Flores’ proposal to pay for a cut in the state’s tax on mobile phone and satellite and cable TV service by repealing a tax break to insurers. The legislation (SB 378) would swap the insurance break for a 2 percent reduction in the state’s communications services tax (CST). The proposal is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron … But the coalition – including Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida Insurance Council (FIC) – suggested the move would be a net neutral.

LEGISLATION WOULD REQUIRE REPORTING ON RACE DISPARITIES IN CRIMINAL SENTENCING via Florida Politics – Sponsors of legislation requiring the state to produce a report each year on criminal sentencing disparities based on race said Monday that they don’t mean an attack on judges but need to know what the data show. “I’ve heard there’s been some consternation from some judges,” said Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat from Jacksonville. “The bill is not about judges. It’s justice, and it’s about data. Nobody should fear data,” she said.

***The State of the Taxpayer Dinner — March 8 (6-9 p.m.) — The one event in 2017 you can’t afford to miss. While the annual State of the State address and opening statements of each legislative chamber cover the accomplishments and future of our elected leadership, none specifically highlight the issues affecting taxpayers. This unique event puts the spotlight back on the taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch and Host Committee Chairman Gov. Bob Martinez present the 2017 State of the Taxpayer, the premier event for Florida’s elected leaders to discuss the issues that will impact taxpayers over the next year. The 2017 event welcomes speakers Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, Speaker Richard Corcoran, Sen. Jack Latvala, and Rep. Jim Boyd. Last year’s event sold out and just a few tickets remain for next week’s event – visit Floridataxwatch.org/sotd for more info or to purchase tickets.***

RICHARD CORCORAN NAMES NINE APPOINTEES TO CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – Among Corcoran’s appointees are school board members, state lawmakers and lawyers, with a heavy significance on Corcoran’s home base of Tampa Bay. Corcoran tapped two Miami-Dade lawmakers in his selection: Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nunez. From the Tampa Bay region, Corcoran chose Rep. Chris Sprowls, Sen. Darryl Rouson, and Sen. Tom Lee … Sheriff Chris Nocco of Pasco County … School boards and charter schools will also have a friend in the CRC: Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds. Donalds has been a longtime advocate of the charter school movement and is a founding member and past President of a nonprofit organization focused on representing parents and students in Florida, Parents Rights Of Choice for Kids (R.O.C.K).

LOTTERY CASE NOW IN JUDGE’S HANDS; AGENCY SAYS IT DID NO WRONG via Florida Politics – The Florida Lottery went on an illegal spending spree when it inked a multiple-year, $700 million contract for new equipment and “blew up” the state’s budget process, a lawyer for Speaker Corcoran argued Monday. The Lottery’s lawyer countered that it takes money to make money, and the agency simply did what lawmakers told it to do: Maximizing its revenue for education, Barry Richard said. Lottery proceeds go to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. Both sides gave closing arguments after a one-day, non-jury trial over Corcoran’s contention that the contract with International Game Technology (IGT) went “beyond existing budget limitations,” as House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum told Circuit Judge Karen Gievers … Gievers did not rule immediately from the bench, saying she would … issue a decision “as quickly as I can.”

JANET CRUZ IS READY TO LEAD HER CAUCUS DURING WHAT’S EXPECTED TO BE A RAUCOUS SESSION via Florida Politics – Tallahassee has a “priority problem,” the House District 62 representative said. “The Republicans have continued to focus on massive handouts for the ultrawealthy and the large corporations at the expense of our public education, at the expense of our hospitals, at the expense of our environment, and at the expense of small businesses, which in my opinion is the backbone of this country,” Cruz said. While acknowledging that the Scott versus Corcoran contretemps will entertain Capitol observers this spring, she supports Corcoran’s attempts to kill Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency that entices companies to add jobs in the state.

‘DRAMATIC’ REFORMS IN PLAY FOR ALL LEVELS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – Just some of what’s on the table: “Dramatic” expansions of school choice alternatives in K-12 public schools and the state’s voucher-like scholarship programs are a top priority of Republican House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The operations of Florida’s 28 public colleges could be reined in over what some senators see as unnecessary competition with the state’s public universities, sparking a need for more oversight. And the State University System itself faces a changed future as Republican Senate President Joe Negron seeks to make Florida’s 12 public universities globally competitive with the likes of the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan.

RANGE OF DCF OVERSIGHT ISSUES, BILLS TO BE DEBATED BY LAWMAKERS THIS SESSION via Florida Politics – Hot-button subjects with bipartisan support in the Senate and House include improvements in mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, working toward identifying and reducing human trafficking, better child protection and a funding shift from the federal level … The agency has had a string of high-profile incidents drawing negative attention beyond the state’s borders … In a few instances, historically, lying on such reports led the agency to lose track of where children are located … Worse yet are the deaths of minor children continuing under the department’s care or in instances where the agency had been alerted to a situation but didn’t act in a time appropriate manner. Among the most sensationalist stories making headlines around the country — shocking Florida residents — were the deaths of Naika Venant in Miami Gardens and Phoebe Jonchuck in St. Petersburg. DCF had been warned or involved in both cases.

— “A look ahead at the Florida 2017 Session: What to expect” via USA TODAY

— “Florida reporters to See how lawmakers stand on open records via Eliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post

— “Legislative Session highlights local impacts of statewide issues” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union

— “Republicans ready to ‘duke it out’ over budget, ideological differences” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

— “Top education issues to watch in 2017 Legislative Session” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News

LAWMAKERS GEAR UP TO HEAR COURTROOM CARRY, OPEN CARRY BILLS via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear two bills, SB 616 and SB 646, both sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube … SB 616, dubbed “courthouse carry,” would give courthouses permission to temporarily store firearms carried by concealed weapons permit holders while they are conducting business at Florida courthouses. The bill aims to reassure permit holders that they’ll be able to carry their firearms always rather than be unarmed while going to places like a courthouse. The second bill, SB 646, would decriminalize temporarily exposing one’s firearm for concealed carry permit license holders. The proposal would also law enforcement from arresting CCW permit holders who are lawfully carrying their concealed weapons and whose firearms become temporarily visible.

***The Florida Health Care Association knows how legislators can save taxpayers $68.2 million per year in unnecessary spending, while safeguarding the highest level of care for Florida’s frailest residents. Learn more here.***

HAPPENING TODAY – DENISE GRIMSLEY HOSTS BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER — It’s never too early in the day to start fundraising. Sen. Grimsley will hold a fundraising reception for her 2018 bid for Agriculture Commissioner at 7:30 a.m. at Florida Finance Strategies, 111-B East College Avenue in Tallahassee. The reception is hosted by Sens. Aaron BeanDennis BaxleyRob BradleyAnitere FloresGeorge GainerBill GalvanoRene GarciaJack LatvalaTom LeeDebbie MayfieldDavid SimmonsWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Greg Steube.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Rep. Shevrin JonesAliki Moncrief, the executive director of Florida Conservation Voters; Rich Templin, the legislative and political director of the Florida AFL-CIO, and others will hold a press conference to unveil the “Awake the State” progressive agenda at noon on the fourth floor Rotunda.

ON3 PUBLIC RELATIONS RELEASES COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF LEGISLATOR EMAILS, TWITTER HANDLES — Want to give a certain a lawmaker a shout-out, but don’t know their Twitter handle? Don’t worry, On3 Public Relations has Florida covered. “We put in the work, so you don’t have to,” wrote Christina Johnson. The firm released its updated guide to the emails and Twitter handles of members of the 2017 House and Senate members. We hope you find it a useful tool in connecting with our elected leaders,” she said.

SPOTTED: Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon on Travel Channel’s “Big Time RV.”

TWEET, TWEET:

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by The Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF). PIFF was formed in late 2010 with three charter members: Allstate and Castle Key Insurance Companies, The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies, to create a dynamic, efficient, and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of all Floridians.  PIFF charter members serve forty-five percent (45%) of the automobile insurance market and more than twenty percent (20%) of the homeowners’ property insurance market. The association is the leading voice for personal lines property and casualty insurers in Florida. Learn more here.***

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT CONSIDERS VOTING RIGHTS AMENDMENT via The Associated Press – The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to approve the wording of a proposed amendment that could allow convicted criminals to vote … Justices must decide whether the amendment is misleading. The amendment would allow most convicts to have their rights automatically restored after they have completed their prison sentence. Felons convicted of murder or a sexual offense would not be eligible. Amendment supporters still must gather more than 700,000 signatures to place the amendment on the 2018 ballot.

BAD NURSING HOMES BENEFIT FROM AHCA’S PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE WAR ON #TRANSPARENCY via Florence Snyder of Florida Politics – The Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) high profile flack works hard duty playing hardball with some of Florida’s best reporters, but makes tens of thousands of dollars less than men paid by taxpayers to tell tall tales about #Transparency … Taking up the cause of families who love their grandparents, reporter Kate Santich asked AHCA to explain why inspection reports are being scrubbed of “dates, places and pivotal words” that make it possible to gauge the quality and safety of Florida’s nursing homes. People who pay attention to Transparency and Accountability (T&A) in Florida had no trouble believing the attorney who told Santich “I’ve been looking at these reports for 20 years, and I know what they used to look like and what they look like now. It has become arbitrary and inconsistent what they redact — but I think it’s all part of a bigger purpose to confuse people and make the reports useless.”

POLICE RADIO PANDEMONIUM: IS THE HARRIS CORP. IN OVER ITS HEAD? ASK PENNSYLVANIA via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – Floridians should feel relieved Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature insisted on open and competitive bidding for a new Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) … After what happened in Pennsylvania, Florida will want a chance to look beyond the dollar figure of each bid for P25 equipment and consider the bidder’s performance. Pennsylvania had such a bad experience with their police-radio contract that after two decades, hundreds of millions of wasted dollars, and problems that never did get fixed, the state kicked the contractor off the job. Fired him. It’s a vendor Florida knows well … it’s the Harris Corp. of Melbourne — Florida’s current vendor, the vendor trying occupy the catbird’s seat in the process — that was just bounced out of Pennsylvania.

WITH ROLE ON THE LINE, NCCI INSISTS: WE’RE NOT ‘AN EVIL EMPIRE UNTO ITSELF’ via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – The National Council on Compensation Insurance will take no position on a Senate bill that would require workers’ compensation carriers to propose their own rates to the Office of Insurance Regulation. “We don’t have an opinion in it. We operate in both environments,” Susan Donegan, chief regulatory services officer for NCCI, said in a telephone interview. SB 1582 would shift Florida from a “fully administered” state to a “loss cost” system. That means that instead of proposing premium levels for most of the carriers in the state, as NCCI does now, the companies would compete on rates. NCCI would have a role under either system, Donegan said. In fact, of the 36 states in which it operates, only four — including Florida — are fully administered. In the others, the company crunches numbers for individual carriers.

ANDREW GILLUM’S GET via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, who announced his bid for governor last week, is counting cash and endorsements. From a campaign source email: “Former Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, who raised over $350K for President Obama in 2012 and $250K for Secretary Clinton in 2016, is hosting a private finance dinner for Andrew’s core supporters Tuesday evening. Big name donors who have contributed … include Chris Findlater & Howard Wolfson. Gillum raised more than $110K in the last week with over 1,500 donors contributing online.”

GILLUM COURTS BERNIE SANDERS WING OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Gillum will be the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida … which last year endorsed Bernie Sanders for president … Said it is “inspired by (Tallahassee) Mayor Gillum’s leadership on gun safety, education, criminal justice reform, immigration, marriage equality, and making Florida’s economy work for everyone.” In a crowded field of Democratic candidates being seen as the most passionate advocate for working class Floridians could be a significant help for Gillum, who is also widely expected to earn the support of the influential Service Employees International Union.

TRUMP’S VICTORY IN FLORIDA WASN’T BECAUSE OF HIS NEWFOUND HARDLINE CUBA POLICY via Latin America Goes Global – At a meeting at The White House in the final days of the Obama Administration, a senior adviser to the 44th president shared a remarkable observation: members of the incoming Republican administration believed that Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes because of his 180° turn on U.S.-Cuba policy. Apparently, even President Trump believes it. Problem is: it isn’t true. Not even close. […] The reality, though, is that all of the empirical evidence—both polling and actual election results—points in the opposite direction. Not only did Trump not perform well with Cuban-American voters, his changing position on the issue did not help him one bit. And one more thing: the Cuban-American vote did not determine the winner in Florida.

***The 2017 Florida Blue Foundation Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards are coming to Kissimmee April 19-20 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. The two-day event – with the theme “Creating a Culture of Health” – will feature several Florida-based, regional and national health professionals. The symposium will give attendees an opportunity to learn more about health care culture, purpose built communities and communities of health. Discussions will center on health issues, policy, reform and engagement. Network with 400+ executives from a range of private sector, government, universities, nonprofit organizations and more. To view agenda and register, click here***

JASON BRODEUR RAISES $405K IN FEBRUARY FOR STATE SD 9 BID via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political Observer – Brodeur has raised about $405K for his State Senate District 9 bid in February according to state campaign finance reports. Brodeur’s personal campaign finance account brought in about $87.5K, which brings him over the century mark when added to his January totals which began later that month. He has essentially all of it on hand. The “Friends of Jason Brodeur” PAC brought in about $318K, with $282K on hand when the other figures are totaled in since the PAC was established almost a year ago.

APPOINTED: Major General Michael Calhoun as Representative on Florida Defense Support Task Force.

ANDER CRENSHAW MOVES ON TO D.C. LAW FIRM KING AND SPALDING via Florida Politics – Crenshaw, who represented the Jacksonville area from 1993 to 2016, will serve as senior counsel in the Government Advocacy and Public Policy practice in King & Spalding’s Washington, D.C., office. “King & Spalding’s roster of former government officials—elected and non-elected, both Democrat and Republican—was a compelling platform as I contemplated life after Congress,” said Crenshaw. Officers from the firm noted Crenshaw’s knowledge and affinity for consensus-oriented solutions as unique value adds for its newest hire.

CHIP IGLESIAS NAMED MANAGING PARTNER OF BALLARD PARTNERS MIAMI OFFICE — Ballard Partners announced Monday Genaro “Chip” Iglesias has been promoted to managing partner of the Miami office. “As the chair of our Local Government Practice, Chip has been an integral part of our Miami team and we are pleased to promote him to this new leadership role,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president, in a statement. “His keen insight into the Miami-Dade government affairs landscape and the wealth of contacts in the area will continue to help our clients achieve their policy goals, while allowing us to grow our business in South Florida.” Iglesias joined Ballard Partners as a seasoned public affairs expert in 2014. His resume touts several key senior level positions, from deputy mayor/chief of staff of Miami-Dade County and chief executive officer of the Village of Key Biscayne, to chief of staff to then-City of Miami Manager Carlos Gimenez and a 24-year stint as a firefighter and paramedic at the City of Miami Fire Department. Iglesias will take over the position previously held by Sylvester Lukis, who moved to Washington, D.C., to lead the firm’s newly-opened office.

KIM BERFIELD NAMED CHIEF LOBBYIST FOR ALL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL via Florida Politics – Berfield, a former deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health and state Representative from Clearwater, has been appointed Vice President of Government and Community Affairs for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Following her work for the state, Berfield served as Business Strategy and Development Contractor for the Florida branch of Primerica and Director of Government Affairs for Tampa-based Wellcare Health Plans. Her duties included developing and implementing multiyear business plans, building and maintaining collaborative relationships and providing strategic counsel in the government relations arena.

NEW AND RENEWED LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Brian BallardChristopher Hansen, Ballard Partners: Eastern Florida State College Foundation

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Becker & Poliakoff: Town of Lake Park

Chr CarmodyRobert Stuart, GrayRobinson: RB Jai-alai, LLC

Jon CostelloGary Rutledge, Rutledge Ecenia: Neurology Diagnosis & Applied Solutions, Inc.

Pete Dunbar, Martha EdenfieldBrittany FinkbeinerCari Roth, Dean Mead: City of Holmes Beach

Kimberly Fernandes, Kelly Kronenberg: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Chris Finkbeiner, The Rubin Group: Patients for Fair Compensation, Inc

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: Transdev North America, Inc

Brecht Heuchan, The Labrador Companies: Waterford Institute

Kari Hicks, Sunshine State Consultants: Mint Organics

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Florida Power & Light Company

Douglas Mannheimer, Broad and Cassel: U.S. Submergent Technologies, LLC

Robert Spottswood, Baker & Hostetler LLP: American Resort Development Association

Herschel Vinyard, Foley & Lardner: GCM Contracting Solutions, Inc.

***Sen. Jack Latvala is fighting to protect Florida’s small business owners by leveling the playing field for owners of franchise establishments. This will lead to more economic growth and jobs for our communities. Tell Sen. Latvala you support him and learn how to help protect small businesses in Florida at ProtectFLBusiness.com.***

GOVERNORS CLUB TUESDAY BUFFET MENU – For first day of Session, the Governors Club offers an All-American buffet menu: KC steak soup, egg salad, macaroni salad, seasonal greens, three dressing sections, fried chicken, meatloaf with brown gravy, garlic Yukon mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and green beans.

THE GROVE MUSEUM SET TO OPEN via Gerald Ensley of the Tallahassee Democrat – It’s taken nearly eight years in the 21st century to turn the antebellum mansion into a state-operated museum. But visitors should find the wait worthwhile. Following a thoughtful and assiduous restoration, The Grove, opens this week to the public – fulfilling the intention of its longtime owners, the late Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins and his wife, Mary Call Collins. The Grove’s grand opening is this coming Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be guided tours of the two-story brick mansion, music performances, children’s games and food trucks. Following the grand opening, The Grove will be open to the public four days a week (Wed-Sat). Admission is free.

‘HAMILTON’ THE MUSICAL COMING TO TAMPA via Francis McMorris of the Tampa Bay Business Journal – The much-heralded Broadway production is coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts for the 2018-2019 season. Season ticket holders for this year’s Best of Broadway Tampa Bay season are guaranteed seats to the musical when renewing for the 2018-2019 season. However, they must renew their subscription by the deadline in order to guarantee those seats. “Even though we’ve had big shows like ‘Wicked’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ this is by far the biggest,” said Straz Center CEO and President Judy Lisi of the show. “It is absolutely a phenomenon.”

AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS IN NEWS, MIKE DEESON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT via Florida Politics – “I know this will come as a surprise to many of my friends in Tampa Bay,” Deeson says in a Facebook post, “but I have decided to retire from Channel 10 effective today.” Deeson, named one of the INFLUENCE Magazine’s top 100 Florida influencers in 2015, will use the time to “put more effort into many of other projects I have been trying to juggle while working full time … Maybe I’ll even improve my golf game.” He explains that he had been thinking about retiring for a while “especially because of the changing landscape of TV news.” As for his seemingly sudden announcement, Deeson says he “didn’t want the long goodbye tour,” instead “ripping off the bandage” and go forward immediately. “My nature is to come to a conclusion and act on it quickly without looking back,” he says.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA — As the Florida Legislature begins its 60-day session, Trimmel Gomes previews some of the controversial issues on the latest episode of The Rotunda. As the White House conducts its review of America’s foreign policy towards Cuba, Gomes documents his travels to the Communist-run Island as Cubans share their views on proposed policy changes. Plus, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum sits down for a one-on-one interview about his bid for governor in 2018. Plus, University of South Florida Political Scientist Susan McManus provides analysis on Gillum’s early start in what is expected to be a crowded field of candidates.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Rep. Joe Geller and Rochelle Koff, who writes about food and dining for INFLUENCE Magazine and on her blog, Tallahassee Table.

Joe Gruters voices support for incentives programs in op-ed

Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters voiced his support for state economic development arms Enterprise Florida and VISIT Florida in an op-ed published Tuesday.

Gruters said the two organizations are “effective tools helping us to compete with other states to bring jobs and investments home to benefit our communities,” and that he “cannot support a proposal to slash funding for these organizations that would cripple our state’s ability to compete for jobs.”

“We cannot unilaterally disarm,” he said. “Thousands of Florida jobs depend on us doing the right thing.”

The two organizations, along with a slew of other incentive programs, have been targeted by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and other lawmakers during the ramp up to the 2017 Legislative Session, with the top House Republican calling the programs little more than “corporate welfare.”

The House has advanced a bill, HB 7005, that would kill Enterprise Florida and strip the VISIT Florida budget down to $25 million. That bill is currently ready for a floor vote in the House.

Gruters, currently in his first term, is on a different track.

Last month he filed HB 889, which he says calls for “strict transparency and accountability requirements” for state economic development programs and “ensures that Florida’s tax dollars are spent efficiently and effectively, without hamstringing our vital job-creating organizations.”

“As long as I have a voice in the Florida House, I will continue to fight for jobs for Florida families, using every tool at our disposal,” he wrote. “All Floridians deserve a good paying job and the opportunity to support their families. Embracing the strong value our economic development organizations provide is an essential step toward making that a reality.”

Gruters’ bill would impose tougher ethics requirements, such as disallowing board members in economic development organizations drawing up deals that would directly benefit them or a family member. The bill would also apply more stringent public records requirements on incentives deals.

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