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

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

The Last 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Day

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

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

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

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

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

FP: Why is this so important to you?

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

FP: What’s your main message to constituents?

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

Lobby Up

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

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

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

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

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Committee meetings to watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the image below to watch the video.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Among the explosive findings in the six-part series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Jason AllisonRobert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: CBRE

Robert BeckBryan Cherry, PinPoint Results: Broward County

Anita Berry, Corcoran & Johnston: Florida Independent Glass Association

Joanna Bonfanti, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: South Florida Museum

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

David Bronstein, Bronstein & Carmona: Florida Justice Reform Institute

Kevin CabreraEdgar Castro, Southern Strategy Group: City Year

Rosanna Catalano, Capitol Energy Florida: City of Punta Gorda

Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson: National Lightning Protection Corporation

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

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

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

Kevin Guthrie: Division of Emergency Management

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

Steven Marin, Marin & Sons: Hexagon

Jenna Paladino, Paladino Public Affairs: Gulf Coast Canna Meds

Karl RasmussenJoy Ryan, Meenan: Brookdale Senior Living,

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Locust Branch

Cari Roth, Dean Mead: Lee County Mosquito Control District

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Florida Nurses Association

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

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: TmaxSoft

— ALOE —

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

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

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to Universal Orlando.

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

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

Sixty Days for 10.10.17 — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session

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

The Last 24

Annette Taddeo was sworn into office following her victory last month in District 40. Her fellow Senate Democrats sent a letter to  Gov. Rick Scott urging him to waive KidCare health insurance premium fees in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. A Senate committee approved a bill that could spur the use of “direct primary care” agreements in Florida.

The House Committee on Government Accountability advanced Reps. Bryan Avila and Manny Diaz’s bill prohibiting sports franchises from constructing or renovating a facility on leased public land. The House Appropriations Committee gave the green light to Avila’s bill that would repeal the use of red light cameras.

The House Commerce Committee cleared a bill to remove regulations on hair braiders and labor organizations, among others.

Florida might have to divest from companies doing business with the Venezuelan government under a new bill filed by Bill Hager.

Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, proposed a measure that would create a President Ronald Reagan specialty license plate.

Quote of the Day

“We should put science first.” —Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, speaking Tuesday in support of a fracking ban filed in the Legislature.  

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

Here’s an odd couple: Florida Conservation Voters on Tuesday joined with legislative Republicans to oppose fracking in the state. Sen. Dana Young of Tampa and Rep. Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena are sponsoring this year’s ban, which would prohibit the drilling technique used for extracting oil or natural gas from deep underground. Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said passing a ban this year is vital.

FP: Isn’t fracking safe?

AM: Fracking poses too big of a risk for the millions of Florida families and visitors who trust that our groundwater is safe and clean … Protecting Floridians from hazardous activities like fracking is the right thing to do, and no one should be intimidated by unsubstantiated claims that this good bill interferes with existing property rights. It simply doesn’t.

FP: Who is pushing fracking here?

AM: Those who speculate in the oil and gas process, but it’s not limited to any one company. Also interested are “wildcat” operators from outside the state.

FP: What’s the worst that could happen?

AM: For those who live near a fracking site, their drinking water will be at risk of contamination … we need to be forever protecting our sources of water.

Lobby Up

The Florida Municipal Electric Association said Tuesday that Nicole Stookey Albers is taking over as the trade group’s head of public affairs.

The new job makes Albers the point woman on not only FMEA’s social media and public outreach, but it’s legislative affairs as well, which is familiar territory considering her previous job was serving as deputy director in the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Legislative Planning.

To that end she’ll be working side by side with FMEA’s contract lobbying team, which includes former House Speaker Dean Cannon, Kirk Pepper, and Joseph Salzverg, of GrayRobinson; Bill Peebles and John Smith of Peebles & Smith; and Eduardo Gonzalez of Sun City Strategies. FMEA Executive Director Amy Zubaly, who ditched the “interim” tag over the summer, is also registered to rep the public power group in Tallahassee.

FMEA represents a consortium of public utilities in the Sunshine State and says its membership provides power to 3 million Floridians.

While the team is large, FMEA and other utility groups have a lot on their plate going into the 2018 Legislative Session, especially in the wake of Hurricane Irma which raised questions about how prepared utilities were for storms as well as their power restoration priorities after the winds die down.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

Aides to Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will discuss issues in advance of an Oct. 17 Cabinet meeting. That’s at 9 a.m., in the Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol.

The Task Force on Involuntary Examination of Minors will discuss issues related to the use of the state’s “Baker Act” for minors. It begins 9 a.m., Orange County Sheriff’s Office, 2500 West Colonial Dr., Orlando.

The Florida Commission on Offender Review is scheduled to meet in Manatee County and discuss numerous parole cases related to crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s. The meeting should begin at 9 a.m., Manatee County Sheriff’s Office District III Location, 616 67th St. Circle East, Bradenton.

The Central Florida Regional Planning Council is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m., Okeechobee County Courthouse, 304 N.W. Second St., Okeechobee.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Rep. Nicholas Duran, other members of the Legislature and health care professionals hold a press conference to discuss changes to this year’s open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. That’s at noon, outside the House Chamber, 4th floor Rotunda, The Capitol, Tallahassee.

Get Out Your Checkbooks Dep’t

Lawmakers are prohibited from raising campaign cash during legislative sessions but can do so during committee weeks. Several fundraisers are set for Wednesday, all in Tallahassee.

— 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Reps. Bob Cortes, Tom Leek, David Santiago at Governors Club.

— 12 noon-1 p.m.: Rep. Rick Roth at Governors Club.

— 5-6 p.m.: Reps. Randy Fine, Sam Killebrew, Ralph Massullo at Governors Club.

— 5-7 p.m.: Sens. Dorothy Hukill, Kathleen Passidomo at Governors Club.

— 5:30-8:00 p.m.: Candidate James Buchanan, running for HD 72, at 115 East Park Ave., 2nd floor.

— 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Senate Democrats’ Welcome Back Party at Governors Club, in the Plantation Room.

Expanding Bright Futures makes good policy, better politics

Florida families by the millions are aspiring to a new American dream – debt-free college education for their children.

Considering the myriad challenges facing the Sunshine State, Senate President Joe Negron believes nearly everyone can agree that improving opportunities for Florida students must be placed at the top of the list.

That is why the Stuart Republican has become a driving force behind the effort to expand scholarships for 44,000 Bright Futures Scholars under SB 4, a bill approved Monday by the Senate Education Committee.

Sponsored by Bradenton state Sen. Bill Galvanothe “Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act” – one of Negron’s top priorities – is set for the 2018 Legislative Session.

SB 4 seeks to increase the scholarship available for “medallion scholars” attending state universities, raising it from the current $77 per credit hour to $159, about 75 percent of tuition cost and fees. The legislation will also extend need-based aid programs, doubling the state’s matching funds for “first generation” students in the college scholarship program.

Currently, Florida offers a 1-to-1 match for private donations, providing an average scholarship of $1,270 for the 8,361 participating students during the 2016-17 academic year.

Negron calls the expansion of Bright Futures part of Florida’s commitment to ensuring children have access to “world-class education opportunities” where “no student who earns entry to one of our state colleges or universities is denied that opportunity simply because they can’t afford the cost of tuition.”

If passed, the bill will make permanent Bright Futures Scholarships for approximately 94,000 students, which Negron said will lead to a significant boost in the number of productive individuals entering the workforce to contribute to Florida’s economy.

Expanding Bright Futures also makes good political sense, regardless of party. With some luck, Negron hopes SB 4 can avoid becoming a political pawn, held hostage during the upcoming 60-day legislative work session set to begin in January.

Let’s not forget, politics is an art of connecting not only based on similarities, but also aspirations. It’s the aspirational part that so many seem to forget.

To that end, Negron is challenging a bipartisan group of lawmakers who will soon face Florida voters – namely Republican 2018 gubernatorial candidates Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala, Democrats Chris King and Gwen Graham, as well as a few undeclared names like John Morgan, Richard Corcoran, and potential U.S. Senate hopeful Rick Scott – to take a stand and fight for Florida Bright Futures Scholars.


Is Philip Levine winning the Caputo primary in Fla. governor’s race?

On Tuesday morning, news of Phil Levine retaining a veteran fundraiser for his political committee All About Florida was broke by Marc Caputo, the mile-a-minute POLITICO Florida reporter based in Miami.

The item was clearly a dish from Levine’s camp to Caputo, who led his must-read Florida Playbook with a blurb about Courtney Whitney‘s hiring.

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about campaigns doling out scoops to morning newsletter writers. Heck, that’s what this “Sunburn” author lives for. But in the case of the Levine fundraiser scoop, it begs a larger question …

Is Levine winning the Caputo Primary?

The Miami Beach mayor, who made a fortune through a business that provided media content to the cruise industry, is expected to join the 2018 gubernatorial race at some point in the coming months. Already in the race are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, and Winter Park businessman Chris King.

The race between these three candidates has been in stasis the past few months for a variety of reasons: Graham can’t raise enough money to land a knockout blow to her opponents; Gillum knows no matter what the FBI does with its investigation into the City of Tallahassee, the overwhelming majority of black Democratic primary voters will stick by him, and King is still unknown to (at least) 95 percent of voters.

Also freezing the race was Hurricane Irma, which shut down campaigning for most of September and Hurricane Morgan, i.e., John Morgan, the wealthy Orlando trial lawyer who for so long as he says he is considering running in 2018 will soak up the media’s attention and voters’ imagination.

Enter Levine, who has raised $4.7 million for his committee since February, although $2.6 million of that came from his own checkbook.

Levine began to look the part of a candidate when toured the state as part of his “A Day in the Sun” bus tour. He paints himself a businessman focused “radical centrist” policies — something important he said for Democrats to capture votes outside South Florida. He also likes to remind reporters about door-knocking efforts from his mayoral contests as he said traveling and listening to Floridians helps to better understand the people and the state.

The last month has been an especially busy one for Levine, both politically and on the home front. He recently signed a long-term agreement with the internationally-recognized Art Basel show, which pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy. He led his city’s preparations for and recovery from Irma, then spearheaded relief missions to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Jose devastated that island. And last week, his fiancee gave birth to their son, Henry Joel.

Caputo accompanied Levine on one of the mayor’s trips to Puerto Rico, then framed the Democrat’s efforts as the ‘perfect fight’ for a Democrat. Caputo offered a balanced assessment of what Levine was doing, citing Republicans who accused Levine of using the tragedy for political gain.

Fast-forward to today’s story about Levine hiring a fundraiser and it’s no exaggeration to say that Caputo has spent as much, if not more, time recently writing about non-candidate Levine than he has any of the other announced candidates.

As difficult as this is for me to admit, there’s no more influential political reporter in Florida. There may not be a better one, either. With his morning email and his legion of Twitter followers, Caputo can be a one-man wrecking crew. Just look at what he did to Jeb Bush during the presidential primary.

Caputo can also be an effective house organ for a politician, as he is for Marco Rubio.

Because he’s an old-school journalist, Caputo will say he doesn’t take sides in political campaigns. But he does play favorites. And he famously will refuse to even write about a news item if a PR flak does not first dish it to him.

The 2018 gubernatorial race will be one of the most high-profile contests in the country. There’s simply no way Caputo will sit it out. But, among the current crop of candidates, it’s likely none of them strikes Caputo’s fancy.

Graham, despite her establishment ties, is the kind of centrist candidate Caputo tends to abhor. Gillum is a bad bet, although his campaign’s communications team will push news to POLITICO because it thinks the Tampa Bay Times and Florida Politics are lined up against the mayor. And King’s D.C. connected team would love to get Caputo’s attention, but it’s not at that level yet.

The frontrunner to win the Caputo Primary would be Morgan were he to enter the race. The two are simpatico in their politics and worldview. And many of those close to Morgan are reliable Caputo sources.

But if Morgan doesn’t run, Caputo’s thumb still has to go on the scale. And, right now, it looks like Levine is leading in this all-important race.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Sunburn for 10.10.17 — Election Day in HD 44 & 58; Jack Latvala tees off; Andrew Gillum’s walkback; AHCA eyes $ cuts; Andrew Marcus’ new gig

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

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

In Florida, it seems like every other Tuesday is an Election Day, as it is today in House Districts 44 and 58.

Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez are competing to replace former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, a Republican who resigned this spring to become a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal. Dominguez entered the race last month after Democratic candidate Paul Chandler withdrew amid questions about his eligibility for the seat.

Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure are seeking to replace former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican who resigned this summer for health reasons. The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will move on to a Dec. 19 special general election in House District 58.

Special Election time: Republicans Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure face off Tuesday in HD 58; Republican Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez battle for HD 44.

The last-minute changes:

— Precinct 753 will vote at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McClendon St., Plant City, according to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office. It is a change from the mailed notice recently sent to voters. Precinct 763 will vote at Faith Temple Assembly of God, 4240 N. Frontage Road. This move was made necessary this week by long lines of people signing up for Food for Florida benefits at Plant City Stadium in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The latest fundraising:

— Olszewski raised $21,201 between Sept. 8 and Thursday, according to a newly filed finance report. That brought his overall campaign total to $127,530, with that amount also including money raised for an August Republican primary. Dominguez raised $6,507 from Sept. 19 through Thursday.

— Fry and McClure have each raised more than $100,000, according to newly filed finance reports. Fry raised $44,025 between Sept. 8 and Thursday, bringing her overall total to $112,790, according to her new report. Contributions to Fry during the period included $3,000 from Realtors political-action committees. McClure, meanwhile, raised $28,280 during the period, bringing his total to $135,485. Contributions to McClure during the period included $3,000 from political committees linked to the health care firm HCA.

The latest polling:

— An automated phone poll on election eve of 358 registered voters in HD 58 gave McClure an 18-point lead, 54 to 36 percent.

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Bill to permanently expand Bright Futures passes first legislative hurdle” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — … when the Senate Education Committee gave it the green light. SB 4, sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano would expand the amount of financial aid and scholarship money Florida students could receive under the program, which began in 1997 and is expected to serve nearly 100,000 students this year. Galvano’s proposal would secure full funding for the Academic Scholar award, the top tier of scholarships in the program. Receiving the top award for the scholarship requires students to have at least a 3.5 GPA as well as a score of 1290 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT. At least 41,000 students qualified for the top scholarship tier this year. Funding would also be reinstated for the Bright Futures Medallion Scholar award, which awards 75 percent of tuition and fees for the fall and spring semesters.

Lawmakers look at limits for opioid prescriptions” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel — Patients would only get a week’s supply of opioids on their initial prescription for the drugs under a bill filed by state Sen. Aaron Bean … meant to limit the oversupply of opiates for temporary pain. It would allow for 30-day renewals of opioid prescriptions after the initial seven-day prescription. It includes a requirement that doctors consult the state’s prescription drug monitoring database before prescribing controlled substances. Doctors would also be required to complete a two-hour continuing education course on prescribing opioids for their biennial license renewal. No similar measure has been filed in the state House.

“Water bills already on the move in the Senate” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee OK’d the measure (SB 204) … The bill, by committee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, would approve spending at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on projects related to the restoration of the St. Johns River — the longest entirely within Florida — and its tributaries, as well as the Keystone Heights Lake Region. Bradley said it’s “incredibly important” that the river remain healthy: “It really defines the character of so much of our state” … The committee also took up a bill (SB 174), filed by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala. It would set aside at least $50 million a year to help address issues such as beach erosion … The bill, supported by the affected coastal counties, cleared the committee without opposition.

Not one to hold back, Jack Latvala tees off on tourism. business and electric utilities.

Jack Latvala tees off on business and tourism groups during Hurricane Irma hearing” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Latvala’s sometimes gruff personality was on display as he teed off on business and tourism officials who were giving an update on the state’s efforts following Hurricane Irma. The panel was assembled by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee as part of a weeklong look at the storm and its impact on the state. Among the officials he targeted was Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. During his presentation, Wilson said one of the biggest reasons power was knocked out by the storm was that trees tumbled into power lines. “One thing we need to look at is local policies on tree removal,” Wilson told the committee. “I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but it’s something we need to look into.” Afterward, Latvala asked him about those comments. Wilson again continued to stress he was not sure who was responsible for tree removal. “Let me help you with that,” Latvala said pointedly. “The responsibility is with the utility companies.” Latvala has been publicly feuding with utility companies for weeks. During the meeting, he also was critical of Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor, for her department’s decision to set up a $25 million bridge loan program for the citrus industry hammered by the storm, but not other areas of the agriculture industry. “You could have just as easily set it up for watermelons, beans, corn, tomatoes or any other industry,” Latvala said.

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“Senate committee passes on search bill for now” via Florida Politics — Should Florida law enforcement be required to inform subjects of their right to refuse a search? A Senate panel says that’s a question for another day. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday postponed a bill (SB 262), filed by Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, that seeks to prevent police from conducting searches without first informing subjects they have a right to decline. The bill’s language will need to be revised before the committee reconsiders it — Farmer intended to have the requirement apply strictly to consent searches, but the language doesn’t quite specify that enough. The measure says an officer would have to inform the subject of their right to refuse “unless the law enforcement officer is carrying out a valid search warrant or the search is based upon another legally sufficient justification.”

Today’s fundraiser lineup State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Senate candidate Ed Hooper are hosting a joint fundraising event beginning 5 p.m. at the Florida Retail Federation, 227 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee. Diaz, a Hialeah Republican, is seeking re-election to House District 103; Hooper is seeking to replace term-limited Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater in SD 16. Also at 5 p.m., Republican Reps. Byron Donalds and Jayer Williamson hold a joint fundraiser at the Governors Club Capitol Room; Sen. Dana Young will also be at the Club’s Board Room. At 6 p.m., Republican Reps. Byron Donalds and Bob Rommel join HD 89 candidate Matt Spritz to raise funds at the Club’s Plantation Room. At 6:30 p.m., newly elected Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo will hold an event at the Club’s Capitol Room. Also at 6 p.m., Democratic Reps. Ramon AlexanderLoranne AusleyBen DiamondSean Shaw and David Silvers will be fundraising at the Ology Brewing Company, 118 East 6th Avenue in Tallahassee.

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Andrew Gillum campaign rethinks environmental claim” via Allison Graves of the Tampa Bay Times — In his bid for governor, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Gillum once took responsibility for reducing the city’s carbon footprint in a short period. “Under his leadership, Tallahassee reduced its carbon intensity by roughly 40 percent,” his campaign website said. This was an exaggeration. PolitiFact Florida did not find evidence that supported a carbon cut of that size under Gillum’s watch. But if you check the website now, you won’t find that claim … “You brought it to our attention, and we wanted to make sure it was accurate, so we made the change when you reached out,” said campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said. “We’re trying to get people the accurate information they need.”

— “In Tampa, Gillum speaks frankly about race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

“Gillum raises $78,000 in September via Florida PoliticsGillum for Governor raised $72,000, and the aligned-political committee “Forward Florida” raised $6,000, the campaign and committee announced Tuesday. Spokesman Geoff Burgan said Gillum, a Democrat running for governor, had “paused” fundraising emails and activity. That was so Gillum, also mayor of Tallahassee, “could focus on Tallahassee’s robust response to Hurricane Irma.” Despite that, “we are pleased that grassroots and small-dollar donors continue showing Mayor Gillum strong support throughout Florida,” Burgan said. “These regular people are the ones funding and powering our campaign, not wealthy corporate donors.”

Gwen Graham vows to enact clean power plan” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With President Trump‘s announcement he would be ending the federal clean-power plan initiated by his predecessor, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Graham vowed she would enact a “Florida clean power plan” to continue to seek carbon reductions and increase renewable energy. Graham says she’ll specifically stick to the goals former President Barack Obama had set with his federal order, to work toward a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, compared with what Florida was producing in 2005. That would require significant decreases in coal-fired power. She said that would save the average consumer $85 a year in power bills. Arguing that an aggressive and comprehensive renewable energy policy would combat climate change, protect clean air, create jobs and lower energy prices, she added, “Florida can’t afford to wait for the federal government to act. As governor, I will implement a renewable energy standard, cut carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs.”

Gwen Graham installs solar panel during one of her recent campaign ‘Workdays.’

Hiring fundraiser, Phil Levine takes big step in deciding gubernatorial run” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Levine brought on veteran Democratic fundraiser Courtney Whitney ahead of what he intends to be an intensive month of fundraising for his All About Florida political committee. Levine, in a previous interview, told POLITICO that he intends to make an official decision in November on whether to join the crowded Democratic primary for governor in 2018. “Mayor Levine possesses a unique entrepreneurial background, with a robust network of international business leaders,” Whitney said in a written statement that foreshadows the likely themes Levine will stress as a candidate. “This won’t be a traditional fundraising operation, and I am thrilled to be a part of the team at All About Florida for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.”

“Ashley Moody breaks the $1M fundraising mark” via Florida Politics — Moody, a former Hillsborough circuit judge running as a Republican for Attorney General in 2018, reported on Monday she had raised more than $1 million in contributions. “We’re proud and excited to hit this important fundraising milestone, particularly in the first four months of our campaign,” she said in a statement. “It is a testament to our statewide network of grassroots supporters, community leaders, and well-respected law enforcement professionals who’ve enthusiastically embraced our message of strong, conservative leadership.” Moody said she’d collected over 950 contributions, “outpacing her Republican opponent by a margin of over 5 to 1 in both numbers of contributors and total contributions,” according to a release. Moody also enters October endorsed by over a dozen of Florida’s Republican sheriffs as well as state attorneys from throughout Florida.

September slog in House fundraising for northeast Florida” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The leader among state House hopefuls: Wyman Duggan with $10,650 for HD 15. HD 11 Republican Cord Byrd raised $400 in September, against $2,549 spent; Clay Yarborough continued his consistent fundraising in his HD 12 re-election … $7,500 he brought in last month pushed Yarborough up to $63,675 raised. In HD 16, $4,000 brought Jason Fischer over $55,000 cash on hand. In HD 17, Republican Cyndi Stevenson raised $3,603 and spent $1,052; all told, she has just over $44,000 on hand. HD 18 incumbent Republican Travis Cummings added $2,500 … roughly $52,000 on hand. HD 19 incumbent Republican Bobby Payne raised $2,500, pushing him over $28,000 on hand.

Kionne McGhee backs Emma Collum in three-way HD 93 primary” via Florida Politics — Minority Leader Designate McGee weighed in on the three-way Democratic Primary in House District 93 with an endorsement for Women’s March FL founder Collum. “She is the ideal candidate for Broward County and today’s political environment,” McGhee said in a news release “Floridians urgently need more women in leadership, especially with experience in both business and civic engagement. Emma is a staunch advocate for Democratic values, and I look forward to working alongside her to fight for the interests of working families in South Florida and across the state.” In addition to running the 20-chapter Women’s March group in Florida, the City University of New York law school alumna works as the in-house counsel for JL Audio, a family owned business based in Miramar.

Orlando mayor endorses Robert Stuart” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — Buddy Dyer has endorsed District 3 Commissioner Stuart, asking voters to continue the strong leadership to ensure the city’s future remains bright. The plea was made as voters received their absentee ballots in the mail. “Robert has been an effective advocate and champion for safe neighborhoods, fiscally responsible budgeting, for finding solutions to Orlando’s homelessness challenge, and for increasing and renewing our parks and green spaces,” Dyer said. “As a supporter of Orlando’s Main Street programs, Robert has helped us renew and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts and create thousands of new jobs.” Dyer also talked about Stuart’s lifetime of service to Orlando in the letter. “Even before he was elected to the city council, Robert has been serving people and building community,” Dyer said. “For 46 years, he has been a volunteer coach and umpire for Little League Baseball.” Stuart has worked closely with Dyer during the past 12 years.


Gov. Rick Scott toured the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee on Monday. Earlier this year, President Trump committed to providing federal support to fix the federally-operated dike and Scott worked with lawmakers to set aside $50 million to speed up needed repairs.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will visit Broward County to help serve lunch to elementary school students for National School Lunch Week. Event begins 10:30 a.m. at Discovery Elementary School, 8800 NW. 54th Court in Sunrise.

AHCA eyes hospitals for budget cuts” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott‘s administration continues to target hospitals for potential Medicaid spending reductions in the coming year. The Agency for Health Care Administration’s top four proposed budget cuts for the Legislature to consider during the 2018 session would reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals by nearly $1 billion. Those reductions would be on top of nearly $500 million in recurring cuts made to hospitals during the 2017 session. “It would be devastating, for goodness sakes,” said Jan Gorrie, a hospital lobbyist and managing partner of the Tampa office of Ballard Partners. “I’m surprised to see the magnitude of the cut. It’s mind-blowing. It’s like, whoa.” In addition to a list of proposed reductions for the Legislature to consider, AHCA also submitted its proposed budget requests for the upcoming year. It includes a request for an additional $66 million to cover a deficit in the Children’s Medical Services managed-care plan for the current year. The gap is a result of lower enrollment in the Medicaid specialty plan than anticipated.

“Mega Millions email is a scam, Florida Lottery says” via Florida Politics — If you got an email saying you won $1 million in Mega Millions, it’s a scam, the Florida Lottery said Monday. Scammers are behind the email, seeking “to obtain personal and financial information,” the Lottery said in a news release. “Do not respond to these emails. If you have not purchased a ticket, you cannot win a prize,” it said. “Individuals are asked to provide general information about themselves in order to participate.” But Lottery players “will never be required to transfer funds to secure their winnings for … any Florida Lottery game,” it said.


White House lets Jones Act waiver expire for Puerto Rico” via Melanie Zanona of The Hill — The White House has let a 10-day shipping waiver expire for Puerto Rico, meaning foreign ships can no longer bring aid to the hurricane-ravaged island from U.S. ports. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the Jones Act waiver, which expired Sunday, will not be extended. U.S. lawmakers and Puerto Rican officials had been pushing the administration for an exemption from the Jones Act, a century-old law that only allows American-built and -operated vessels to make cargo shipments between U.S. ports … the White House did not initially lift the shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico, sparking widespread public outcry and fueling accusations that Trump is treating the U.S. territory differently than the states hit by hurricanes … officials have warned that the biggest challenge for relief efforts is getting supplies distributed around Puerto Rico once they arrive, while the U.S. shipping industry maintains that there are adequate domestic companies available to assist with Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

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If Puerto Rico were a state, its health care system would recover faster from Maria” via Anna Maria Barry-Jester of — The problem for Puerto Rico is not only that it’s in debt, but also that it is responsible for paying a much larger share of Medicaid costs than it would if it were a state. Across the U.S. — in both the territories and the states — the federal government reimburses a share of the cost of the program. In poorer states, the federal government pays more — Mississippi, the poorest state, is reimbursed for 75.7 percent of the cost of providing care, while 14 states are reimbursed for 50 percent, the lowest level allowed. But in the territories, the amount is set at 55 percent. If Puerto Rico were reimbursed using the same poverty formula as the states, the federal government would cover 82 percent of the cost, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, a nonpartisan agency that provides policy recommendations to Congress. There’s also a limit on how much the federal government spends each year in the territories. Their reimbursement comes from a block grant and, at less than $400 million, the amount is far below 55 percent of the current annual cost of running the program.

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

Irma insurance claims near $4.6 billion” via the News Service of Florida — 703,671 claims, totaling $4,571,183,588 in insured losses, had been filed … Of the claims filed, payments had been made on 103,994, while 69,432 had been closed without any compensation for policyholders. The Office of Insurance Regulation website does not break down the numbers by the insurer. Claims had been filed in all 67 counties, with Miami-Dade County having the largest number, 87,334. There had been 57,670 claims filed in Orange County and 52,821 in Lee County.

They were married 61 years. They died weeks apart after their nursing home overheated” via David Neal of the Miami Herald — Cecilia Franco, 90, died at 3:45 a.m. Monday, becoming the 13th Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills resident to die from ailments suffered when the nursing home turned into a hotbox following Hurricane Irma. Franco lived only 26 days after her husband of 61 years, Miguel Antonio Franco, was among the eight Sept. 13 deaths at the overheated Hollywood Hills facility across a parking lot from Hollywood Memorial Regional Hospital. Cecilia Franco, one of the residents evacuated hours after residents began dying, was described by family lawyers as being in serious condition. She died at St. Catherine’s Rehab Hospital in Hialeah. “The Franco and Navarro families are now mourning the passing of their mother and grandmother Cecilia Franco, this on the heels of losing her husband of 62 years, their father and grandfather Miguel Franco, both of whom perished in a horrific avoidable tragedy which should never have occurred,” read a statement from Albert Levin, attorney for daughter Margarita Navarro. “Their pain cuts deeply having lost not one but two loved ones.” Navarro filed a wrongful death and negligence suit against Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills Sept. 22.

Irma assistance deadline extended” via the News Service of Florida — Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said a deadline for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program had been extended to Oct. 31. The original deadline had been Oct. 16. The assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning Sept. 10, when Hurricane Irma first made landfall in Florida, until March 17, 2018, so long as the unemployment continues to be a result of the storm. More than 27,000 claims have been filed; Proctor told members of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. The program offers assistance to employees or self-employed people who are temporarily or permanently out of work because of the hurricane. The money is supposed to cover the costs of food, clothing, shelter and other assistance.

Audit warned Florida’s hurricane response system was ‘ill-prepared’ for disaster” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Long before Florida entered the deadliest hurricane season in a decade, auditors at the state’s Division of Emergency Management sent out a warning: the state was ill-prepared for a major disaster. A 23-page annual audit completed in December 2016 by the agency’s inspector general detailed a lengthy list of deficiencies needed to prepare and respond to a hurricane. Among them: Food and water supplies at the distribution center in Orlando were inadequate; contracts with companies that would supply cots to shelters had expired; the agreements many trucking companies had signed with the state’s emergency management agency to distribute supplies had lapsed; the agency was using “a spreadsheet created in the 1980s to help predict the amount of supplies and equipment that may be needed after a storm makes landfall,” as the state’s giant storage facility remained half empty. What’s worse, auditors warned, the state’s emergency managers didn’t know what they didn’t know. The report concluded: “The division’s ability to respond to disasters may be impaired.”


Eldercare watchdog referring fewer complaints for investigation” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel

— The state office charged with inspecting and investigating complaints against nursing homes has become less of a watchdog under Gov. Scott.

— Once well regarded as a patient advocate, the office of Elder Care Ombudsman has referred an average of 3 percent of complaints to investigative agencies annually since Scott came into office in 2011, a Sun Sentinel records review shows. Under the previous administrations, between 6 percent and 10 percent of complaints were referred each year going back to 2001.

— The quality of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities had come to the forefront after 12 residents at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died when Hurricane Irma knocked out the air conditioning. No complaints to the ombudsman’s office about nursing homes in Broward County have been referred for investigation in the past two years.

— But Brian Lee, who was ombudsman from 2003 to 2011 under governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist and is now executive director of an elder advocacy organization, doubts that the drop in complaints is due to an overall improvement in the nursing home industry.

***In the face of Hurricane Irma, Florida Health Care Association’s members successfully cared for more than 68,000 residents. Learn more about how FHCA member nursing centers’ emergency plans protect Florida’s most vulnerable citizens before, during, and after disaster situations.***


Florida lawmakers seek $27 billion for hurricane recovery” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — The request covers the gamut, from money for citrus and livestock losses to funds for the Herbert Hoover Dike to the need for schools that could see migration from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The lawmakers, led by Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, laid out the request in a letter to the top Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and House appropriations committees. Congress has already approved $15 billion to respond to Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The White House last week requested an additional $29 billion, including $16 billion in debt forgiveness for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Marco Rubio went to Arizona to raise money for Jeff Flake” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Tickets for the lunch were $100 and VIP went for $500. Rubio and Flake were part of the Gang of 8 that produced the 2013 immigration bill, and they serve together on the Foreign Relations Committee. Flake, unlike Rubio, has been a proponent for the diplomatic thaw with Cuba. Flake has drawn the wrath of conservatives who see him as too moderate, and he’s also battled with President Trump. But Democrats think they can be competitive should Flake emerge from the primary with Rubio’s help.

Marco Rubio headed to Arizona to help raise money for Sen. Jeff Flake.

National Democrats launch Spanish-language campaign targeting Florida congressional Republicans via a news release from the DCCC — Claiming access to affordable health care is at risk as long as Republicans control Congress, the DCCC launched a bilingual ad campaign — the first of this election cycle — warning Spanish-speaking voters that Medicare is on the chopping block under the GOP. The 15-second ad will appear on Google and Facebook targeting the Florida congressional districts of U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (CD 25), Carlos Curbelo (CD 27) and the open seat formerly held by Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (CD 27).

Click on the image below to watch the ads.


Steve Schale: Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico and Florida politics” via Florida Politics — Like so many things, the answer to the Maria question lies in history. First, it is important to keep in mind just how much has changed in the last 15 years for Puerto Ricans. In 2000, the community was emerging, as was the community’s social and political infrastructure. Today is quite different. Puerto Ricans who come to Orlando now will find a ready-made community, with a social structure solidly in place, a growing job market, and in many cases, friends and family already here. In other words, while moving is never easy, migrating to Orlando following Maria will be a far easier adjustment than it was 15 or 20 years ago. And far more than a Hispanic immigrant, the Puerto Rican impact on the politics is acute. As long as a Puerto Rican migrates and takes up residence in Florida more than 30 days before a given election, they can vote. So while a significant migration from Maria will absolutely impact Central Florida politics, and those impacts will help Democrats statewide — it won’t “tip” the state any more than any other population shift that could occur, because well, Florida is gonna Florida.

An influx of refugees from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria could tip the political scales, but as Steve Schale says: “Florida’s gonna Florida.”

John Simmons: Florida’s nursing centers — setting the record straight on quality care” via Florida Politics — I always thought journalists were trained to avoid reaching a broad conclusion from just one specific example, no matter how shocking it may be. Yet in his guest commentary in the Tallahassee Democrat, opinion columnist Carl Hiaasen unfairly slammed Florida’s entire long-term care profession based on the shameful and inexcusable actions of a single nursing home. In Hiaasen’s view, the tragic deaths of 12 residents at a Hollywood Hills nursing home were the inevitable result of years of neglect, and worse, by a powerful industry that imposed its will on the Florida Legislature. While I certainly agree that the deaths at this facility are intolerable and need to be properly investigated, the assertion that this somehow represents the entire long-term care profession couldn’t be further from the truth. It also does a great injustice to the thousands of highly skilled professionals who dedicate themselves to caring for some of our state’s most fragile residents. I wish to be very clear about this: Nothing is a higher priority for our centers than the well-being of those entrusted to our care.


Lisa Edgar case could be headed to trial via Florida Politics — A pretrial conference has been set for next Wednesday on charges against Edgar, a former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, who was arrested in Tallahassee after an alleged drunk-driving hit and run. The hearing will be before Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith, court records show. In June, local prosecutors filed an information, or formal criminal charges, against Edgar for the April 15 incident. Edgar, 53, is charged with driving under the influence causing damage to person or property, a first-degree misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a crash with damage, a second-degree misdemeanor, court records show. She waived arraignment and pleaded “not guilty” in April.

Personnel note: Andrew Marcus, former insurance regulator, joins Holland & Knight government advocacy team” via Florida Politics — Marcus, a former senior attorney and deputy director of Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), has joined it’s Tallahassee office as a member of the firm’s government advocacy team. “We are thrilled to have Andrew, a talented lawyer who is highly regarded at the OIR, join our team,” said Mark Delegal, co-chair of the firm’s government advocacy team in Florida. “Our clients will be well served by Andrew’s experience and insight as they navigate Florida’s insurance regulatory process.” Marcus was deputy director of Life and Health Product Review and assistant general counsel at the Florida OIR from 2013 to 2016, during the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Veteran Florida journalist, AP courts stringer dies at 88” via The Associated Press — Mort Lucoff, a longtime Florida journalist and Miami courts stringer for The Associated Press, has died. Joel Lucoff said his father died in his sleep Sunday. He had recently suffered from pneumonia and other ailments. A New York native, Lucoff grew up in Miami and earned journalism and history degrees from the University of Missouri and University of Florida. He worked for newspapers in Hartford, Connecticut and Buffalo, New York, where his son said Lucoff interviewed both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Lucoff covered local government for the Miami News from 1963-1988 and had a column, “Ins and Outs.” After that, he worked for the Miami-Dade County court clerk until 2000, when he began stringing for the AP until recently.

— ALOE —

Florida State finds itself playing for pride, not titles” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — With Florida State off to its worst start in 41 years, coach Jimbo Fisher is left doing something he could hardly fathom two months ago. The coach is fielding questions about what is left to play for the rest of the season. Florida State fell out of the rankings following its loss to North Carolina State on Sept. 16. This week’s poll is the first time since 2011 that Fisher’s program did not receive a vote. “No matter what your record is, you play,” Fisher said. “We’ve got everything to play for. What if you’re a junior-eligible draft guy or senior-eligible draft guy? What’s the NFL looking at?” Fisher is also dealing with increased scrutiny as the Seminoles are headed for their second straight disappointing season. Instead of contending for a conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Seminoles find themselves barely above .500 in their last 15 ACC games (8-7). They have also dropped their first two home games for the first time since 1974 and are 3-4 at Doak Campbell Stadium since having a 22-game home winning streak snapped.

Nobel Prizes are great, but college football is why American universities dominate the globe” via David Labaree of Quartz —Consider, for the moment, that football may help explain how the American system of higher education has become so successful. According to rankings computed by Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, American institutions account for 32 of the top 50 and 16 of the top 20 universities in the world. Also, between 2000 and 2014, 49 percent of all Nobel recipients were scholars at US universities … In order to support a large number of high-powered professors, US universities need to attract a huge number of tuition-paying students, and they need to turn those students into loyal lifelong donors. In order to draw state appropriations, they also need to extend their reach beyond their own alumni by attracting the political support of citizens in the immediate community and in the state at large. And they need to do so within an extremely competitive higher education market consisting of nearly 5,000 degree-granting institutions. Thus, one advantage that football brings to the American university is financial. It’s not that intercollegiate sports turn a large profit; in fact, the large majority lose money. Instead, it’s that they help mobilize a stream of public and private funding.

Happy birthday to Dave Mica and Jared Ross.

Sixty Days for 10.9.17 — A prime-time look at the 2018 Legislative Session

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

The Last 24

​Gov. Rick Scott toured the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee.

A 90-year-old woman named Cecilia Franco became the 13th victim of the Hollywood nursing home tragedy. 95-year-old Francesca Andrade became the home’s 14th fatality.

Sen. Aaron Bean filed a bill meant to limit the oversupply of opioids for temporary pain.

Sen. Linda Stewart proposed a statewide ban on bump stocks, the device law enforcement authorities said the killer in the Las Vegas massacre.

The Senate Education Committee cleared a bill, the Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018, to expand state university and student financial aid, as well as Bright Futures Academic Scholar award and Bright Futures Medallion Scholar award.

Sen. Daphne Campbell and Rep. Al Jacquet filed legislation aimed at ‘holding President Trump accountable to campaign promises to protect Haitian-Americans.’

Rep. Patricia Williams proposed designating a stretch of road in Broward County as “President Barack Obama Highway,” reports the News Service of Florida.

Quote of the Day

“Everybody needs to beard up for appropriations this year.” — Sen. Rob Bradley at a Monday Senate committee hearing, explaining his new facial topiary with a nod to bearded Senate budget chief Jack Latvala, who added that “imitation is the highest form of flattery.”

Bill Day’s Latest

3 Questions

In case you missed it (and really, how could you?), the fall edition of INFLUENCE magazine hit the virtual newsstands earlier today. Among other features, Jim Rosica, our man in Tallahassee, sat down with Lori Killinger, an executive shareholder in the law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker. She chairs the firm’s Legislative, Lobbying and Governmental Affairs practice in the state capital. Here’s a teaser:

FP: Are you treated differently than male counterparts?

LK: I don’t think there is overt discrimination. I never felt looked down upon in The Process because I was a woman. However, there are significant barriers because you’re a woman. The most obvious barrier is the way in which men and women relate to each other generally. For me to reach out to a male (lawmaker) and say “Hey, want to meet for a drink? Want to have dinner?” can easily be taken out of context.

FP: If not overt, what kind of subtle discrimination is there?

LK: I have had incidents over the years where a male lobbyist will try to correct me or tell me a different way to act (I’m often told to “smile” even in the most serious of situations) or even how to be “nicer” at the podium. I just had someone do this to me this past session.

FP: What else would you be doing now if you weren’t lobbying?

LK: I have not thought about what else I would want to do. I love this job. It’s changed a lot over the years, mostly due to term limits, the gift ban and just because politics has gotten really divisive. However, the job remains incredibly dynamic … just being this close to really heady policies that affect our state still fascinates and excites me to this very day.

Breakthrough Insights

The Next 24

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep Florida Fishing will gather for its annual Sportfishing Summit taking place Tuesday through Friday. The four-day meeting will include guest speakers from across the country, along with Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican. It’s at the Opal Sands Resort, 430 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach.

Two special elections will be held Tuesday:

— A special general election will be held in Orange County’s House District 44 The candidates are Republican Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez. Former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, an Orlando Republican, left the seat after being appointed a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal.

— A special GOP primary will be held in Hillsborough County’s House District 58. Republicans Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure are battling it out, with the winner advancing to a Dec. 19 special general election. Former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican, resigned from the seat because of health issues.

The state Elections Canvassing Commission will certify the results of a Sept. 26 special election in which Democrat Annette Taddeo was elected in Miami-Dade County’s Senate District 40. That’s at 9 a.m., Cabinet meeting room, the Capitol, Tallahassee. At the same time, Taddeo will be sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate chamber.

Julio Fuentes, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, holds a press conference with state Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, and others on Puerto Rican evacuees coming to Florida. The event will be 10 a.m. in the 4th floor rotunda of The Capitol, Tallahassee.

Staff members for Sen. Denise Grimsley will hold “mobile” office hours in DeSoto County. They begin at 10:30 a.m., County Administration Building, 201 East Oak St., Arcadia.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will visit Discovery Elementary in Broward County to help serve lunch to students for National School Lunch Week and highlight support available for Puerto Rican student-evacuees, including free school meals. He’ll be there 10:30-11:30 a.m., 8800 NW 54th Ct., Sunrise.

Sen. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, and Rep. Kathleen Peters, a South Pasadena Republican, will debut legislation imposing a statewide ban on fracking. That’s at 1:30 p.m., in front of the Senate Chamber.

The Agency for Health Care Administration is scheduled to hold a administrative workshop about outpatient hospital services. It begins at 2 p.m., AHCA headquarters, 2727 Mahan Dr., Tallahassee.

James Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican running in a special election in Sarasota County’s House District 72, is scheduled to speak to the Gulf Coast Republican Women’s Federated Club. That’s set for 5:30 p.m., Cafe Baci, 4001 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Program note: State candidates, political committees and parties face a midnight Tuesday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through Sept. 30.

Get Out Your Checkbooks Dep’t

Lawmakers are prohibited from raising campaign cash during legislative sessions but can do so during committee weeks. A bevy of fundraisers is set for Tuesday, all in Tallahassee.

— 5-6 p.m.: Reps. Byron Donalds, Jayer Williamson, at Governors Club, Capitol Room.
— 5-7 p.m.: Rep. Manny Diaz, former Rep. Ed Hooper, at Florida Retail Federation.
— 5-7 p.m.: Sen. Dana Young at Governors Club, Board Room.
— 6-8 p.m.: Reps. Ramon Alexander, Loranne Ausley, Ben Diamond, Sean Shaw, David Silvers, at Ology Brewing Company, 118 East 6th Ave. in Midtown.
— 6-7:30 p.m.: Reps. Byron Donalds, Bob Rommel, hopeful Matt Spritz (running for term-limited Rep. Bill Hager’s seat) at Governors Club, Plantation Room.
— 6:30-8:30 p.m.: Sen. Annette Taddeo at Governors Club, Capitol Room.

Sunburn for 10.9.17 — INFLUENCE Mag debuts; Fla. still counting the dead from Irma; Joe Negron’s 2018 priorities; EFI doles out raises; Chris Spencer’s new gig

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

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

Ending an eight year run that included the publishing of more than 51,000 blog posts, I will no longer publish original content to (the site will remain up as an archive for the extensive work produced since 2009).

Going forward, I am devoting my full energies to the Florida Politics brand, whether it be the website, email programs like this and “Last Call,” or our gorgeous, award-winning INFLUENCE Magazine.

2018 promises to be the busiest election cycle in Florida’s modern history. If you love politics as much as I do, I can think of no better platform to watch it all than as publisher of a site dedicated just to that.

You can read the entire post about the end of SaintPetersBlog here. However, you may want to do that later and first enjoy…


This is not a special women’s edition.

There’s no list of the top female lobbyists.

This edition is about some of the best lobbyists in the industry. Period.

What I hope to accomplish with this edition is to show that the industry is changing, albeit slowly. It’s still male-dominated, but increasingly, women do rule. This is especially true within the youngest cohort of professionals.

As many of you, I am the proud father of a young girl, Ella Joyce. This edition is for her.

Few things about parenthood have been more frustrating than the institutionalized effort to limit opportunities for girls. (Why, exactly, are the toys about science in the boys section, but not the girls?)

I want Ella Joyce to grow up in a world where no door is closed to her.

On the pages of this quarter’s edition are features, interviews and stories about the kind of woman Ella’s mother and I hope she grows up to be. Intelligent. Strong. Fierce. Considerate. Ambitious. Empathetic.

Many of these women are recipients of a Golden Rotunda — our award for being among the best in the business. This is the second year of the Golden Rotundas and we received hundreds of nominations and votes. Congratulations to all of the winners.

One final note: in the next edition of INFLUENCE, we’ll unveil who made the INFLUENCE 100 — our list of the most influential people in Florida politics.

I have a feeling there won’t be as many dudes on it as there was on the first list.

Click here to read a digital version of INFLUENCE Magazine.

Click here to subscribe to the print edition of the magazine (the Fall 2017 edition will be in print by October 23.)

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Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday the federal government has issued an emergency declaration for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the Panhandle following Hurricane Nate. A similar declaration was issued for the state of Alabama.

Scott said that will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide any needed disaster assistance in the two counties, although there are no reports of major damage or deaths in the area.

As of midday about 6,800 electric customers were without power in Florida, the governor said.

Nate was a Category 1 hurricane when it came ashore outside Biloxi, Mississippi, early Sunday, its second landfall after initially hitting southeastern Louisiana on Saturday evening. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression by midday Sunday.


As legislative session looms, lawmakers get to work” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat – Tallahassee Sen. Bill Montford wants to know what it means to have billions of dollars of hurricane damage. Hurricane Irma hit Florida hard in the gut, disrupting two of the state’s economic engines, agriculture and tourism. And as chair of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, Montford has a role to play in how the Legislature responds to Irma’s economic damage. “The consequences are far reaching, financially and from a human point of view as well,” said Montford. “Unemployment? If Irma scared off the tourists, if there’s nothing in the field to harvest, the consequences grow for all aspects of government.” Montford has assembled a panel of business leaders and experts for Monday’s Commerce meeting. The meeting is the first of nine the Senate will hold in the coming week to understand how damaging of a hit Irma delivered to Florida. The Health Committee will hear about nursing homes and emergencies. The Environment Committee will receive reports on freshwater storage and beaches. Energy has scheduled a presentation on investor-owned utilities. “It’s uppermost in most people’s minds,” said Montford. “It could easily have an effect on the state budget.”

Bright Futures is Joe Negron’s top priority for 2018 Session” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – In his second — and last — year as senate president, Negron aims to boost state university scholarships and cement the funding into state law … Negron said he wants to make sure any student who’s accepted to the Florida university of their choice can afford to attend. The Republican’s aim isn’t free education for all, just financial aid for the needy. “What I don’t want to happen is that a student would be admitted to Florida Atlantic University or the University of Central Florida and they would have to sit down with their parents at the kitchen table and say, ‘I’ve been admitted, I’m qualified and I can get a degree. But we can’t financially make it work, even when we’re all pitching in in good faith,’” said Negron, whose daughter attended the University of Florida. “I want everybody to have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals.” Lawmakers last year committed over $300 million so top-tier Bright Futures awards included 100 percent of tuition and a $300 book stipend each semester. But it was temporary, for this year only.

Workers’ comp drops off the legislative map” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Just a year after dire predictions that the state’s economy was in peril due to rising insurance costs, Florida businesses could see an average 9.3 percent reduction in workers’ compensation premiums in the coming year … If approved, manufacturing businesses could see a 10.3 percent reduction in their workers’ compensation rates, and rates for office and clerical businesses could decrease by 11.3 percent … the proposed reduction filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance presents a hurdle for business lobbyists and special interests who have warned lawmakers for more than a year that a pair of 2016 Florida Supreme Court rulings would drive workers’ compensation rates so high that employers would be forced to slash jobs. Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, acknowledged that after traveling the state in the summer of 2016 discussing the issue and spending the majority of the 2017 session unsuccessfully pushing a workers’ compensation bill, it’s not a priority this year. Enthusiasm to tackle the complicated issue has waned since the proposed 9.3 percent reduction was filed in August, he said.

Today in the Capitol:

— Senate committee considers St. Johns restoration, beach nourishment projects – The Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee will meet to consider SB 174, filed by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala, which seeks to invest $50 million a year on beach erosion in other issues. Also on the agenda is SB 204, from Environmental Preservation and Conservation Chairman Rob Bradley that looks to spend at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on restoration projects for the St. Johns River and its tributaries and Keystone Heights Lake Region. Meeting begins 1 p.m. at Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Human trafficking examined – A meeting of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee will consider SB 96, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, allowing schools to teach about identifying signs of human trafficking as part of a health-education curriculum. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 401 of the Senate Office Building.

— Hurricane Irma consequences discussed – A panel discussion on Hurricane Irma and its “consequences and responses” is on the schedule for the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, beginning 3:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— Senate looks at police searches – The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will consider SB 262, from Sen. Gary Farmer, which prohibits law-enforcement officers from searches without first informing the individual that they the right to decline such searches. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— Higher education proposal moves through Senate – A higher education bill in front of the Senate Education Committee would, in part, require universities to develop “block” tuition plans, expand Bright Futures scholarships and other need-based aid programs. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano, chair of the Higher Education Appropriations committee, SB 4 is a priority of Senate President Joe Negron. Meeting begins 3:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Capitol’s Knott Building.

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Closing Florida’s write-in loophole is right thing to do” via Sherry Plymale for TCPalm – There currently exists a dubious “loophole” in the Florida Constitution that has allowed individuals across the political spectrum to manipulate state and local elections. Florida, like many other states, has a closed primary system. This means that during primary elections, registered voters can only vote in their own party’s primary. In 1998, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment to open primary elections to all voters, regardless of political affiliation, when the winner of that primary election would face no opposition in the upcoming general election. In 2000, a state agency issued an advisory opinion stating “a write-in candidate constitutes opposition in a general election” as it related to Article VI, Section 5(b) of the Florida Constitution. In other words, the advisory opinion concluded a write-in candidate was enough to close a primary election in Florida, even if the winner would not face a major party rival in the general election. It’s important to note that a write-in candidate has never won any major election in Florida, and they don’t pay filing fees or collect petitions when qualifying for office. This makes it all too easy for individuals to close primary elections by propping up write-in candidates to create an unfair political advantage.

“Lawmakers must protect tourism by addressing illegal rentals” via Troy Flanagan for Florida Politics – On behalf of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), I am honored to go before the Senate Community Affairs Committee to discuss short-term rentals — an important topic of concern in recent years given the emergence of online rental platforms. While these platforms provide people with a new method to access and advertise short-term rentals, there have also been many unintended side effects. Alarmingly, these platforms are being exploited by commercial operators who run illegal hotels without adhering to Florida’s commercial rental laws — putting legal hotels at an unfair competitive disadvantage, and tourists and residential neighborhoods at risk from a health and safety perspective. Countless Floridians have even felt the effects of this platform manipulation on their basic peace of mind — ask anyone who has found themselves living next door to something akin to a year-round spring break party house. Florida is a mecca for tourism, continually inviting new and innovative industry endeavors. But with any new business development — like online short-term rental platforms — there comes a time when that change must be reviewed to ensure operations are occurring fairly and soundly, in order to protect consumers who choose to utilize that new business offering, as well as those who may be unintentionally impacted by it.


Weeks after Irma, Florida is still counting the dead” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union – They are the final victims of Hurricane Irma: 66 people whose deaths across Florida are officially tied to the storm’s high winds, flooding rains and lasting effects on roads, emergency services and power grids … Other deaths that seem storm-related are not attributed to Irma, while some on the state list appear to have little connection. Medical examiners’ offices statewide handle all death investigations, and only they can officially attribute any deaths to the storm that ran up the peninsula last month, said Florida Division of Emergency Management spokesman Alberto Moscoso. Those causes of death are as varied as heat exhaustion and diabetic issues. About 20 are attributed to a blunt-force injury or some kind of impact, including people killed in traffic crashes or crushed by a fallen tree or collapsed structure. Eight people died from drowning, and 13 died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused in some cases by running generators indoors. The most deaths listed are in Broward County but don’t include the 12 victims, ages 57 to 99, who died after the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills lost its air conditioning for three days post-Irma. As of the Wednesday tally — the numbers are revised weekly — only one of Broward’s deaths is even heat-related.

Nursing home that had 12 people die lays off all workers” via The Associated Press –  The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills … was evacuated last month, several days after the storm damaged the electric transformer that powered the facility’s air conditioning. State officials later suspended their license, and owners eventually closed the facility permanently. The layoffs include 79 certified nursing assistants, 37 licensed practical nurses, 23 occupational or physical therapists, 18 registered nurses, 25 environmental or laundry workers, 10 administrative assistants, five doctors, and others who worked in activities, dietary aid, engineering and supplies.

Fed up residents haul storm debris themselves” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel – Fed up with the turtle pace of government-funded, storm-debris cleanup, thousands of Central Florida residents are tackling the task. Others are hiring junk crews, landscapers with trailers or ambitious teens with shovels, muscles and a truck to take it away to free drop-off locations. Most “convenience centers” — the name given to the sites — opened a few days after Hurricane Irma hit Central Florida on Sept. 11, when it became clear the chore was overwhelming local governments, some of which were abandoned by professional removal contractors. Orange County has 11 locations, Lake has five plus its landfill, while Seminole and Osceola counties created four each. More than 35,000 people have taken debris to the sites since the first one opened Sept. 13 — some have taken more than one load. They’ve dumped more than 75,000 cubic yards. That’s enough logs and limbs to fill more than 5,000 dump trucks, which would form a bumper-to-bumber convoy stretching about 23 miles — longer than Lake Mary to downtown Orlando on Interstate 4.

A case for underground power lines” via Marcia Heroux Pounds of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – So what if power lines were underground — and not above ground where poles and lines were knocked out by high winds and fallen trees? In a post-storm survey of South Florida cities and other communities … many are either undertaking or considering burying power lines. Even Florida Power & Light Co., which historically supported overhead construction because it’s easier to fix, says it is now evaluating underground projects in the next phase of “hardening” its electric grid, which powers half the state. James Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, the utility company’s parent … said that burying more lines was a “potential” part of a corporate plan to harden the system. FPL has spent $3 billion since 2006, and plans to spend another $17 million to $19 million through 2020 to improve reliability, he said. Robo’s statements followed comments by FPL CEO Eric Silagy, who said that “we’re big fans of undergrounding.” Currently, 40 percent of Florida Power & Light Co.’s distribution system is underground, according to FPL spokesman Bryan Garner. And there are several underground installation projects underway, including one on the island of Palm Beach. But burying lines is expensive. And below-ground networks offer no guarantees of outage-free storms. It costs an average of $1 million a mile to move power lines to subterranean levels, according to FPL.

— D.C.  MATTERS — 

Donald Trump lists immigration demands that could derail ‘dreamers’ deal” via Seung Min Kim of POLITICO – “The priority for Congress ought to be to save American lives, protect American jobs and improve the well-being of American communities. These reforms accomplish that,” a senior administration official told reporters … “They live up to the president’s campaign commitment to have an immigration system that puts the needs of hardworking Americans first.” The broad parameters of the immigration wish list have been telegraphed in recent days. But some of the key provisions run counter to an agreement Democratic leaders believed they’d struck with Trump during a White House dinner last month. Trump announced in September that he would wind down the Obama-era immigration executive action starting in March, throwing the onus to Congress to codify DACA into law and launching in earnest an immigration battle in Washington. The list will certainly turn off Democrats and even Republicans — many of whom have endorsed providing a pathway to legal status for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.

’The New Washington’: Once racing to flee the Senate, Marco Rubio now digs in” via Carl Hulse of The New York Times – As the Florida Republican settles into a second term in a Senate that he once couldn’t leave fast enough, Rubio is aggressively pursuing his legislative interests in ways he did not while chasing the presidency. “We just have more time than we perhaps didn’t have the last couple of years when I ran for president,” Rubio said in an interview … “We were still doing our job, but you can’t be in two places at once sometimes.” Rubio seems determined to shrug off the disappointment of a presidential race that didn’t go his way and show he is serious about the Senate, making up for lost time. Given his personal ties to Puerto Rico, as well as the substantial Puerto Rican population in his state, Mr. Rubio has been engaged in ensuring that the relief effort there gets on track and stays there. He has flexed his influence on American policy toward Cuba and Venezuela. He has worked with Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, on a proposal to expand the child tax credit that could become an important element of the coming tax debate. He has helped push to passage a bill to help the Department of Veterans Affairs hold employees more accountable. He was part of a bipartisan group behind a new law directing drug companies to pursue more pediatric cancer treatments. He is an important party voice on immigration. Whether this is all a prelude to a future presidential run for Rubio, 46, is hard to gauge.

Rubio and Lin-Manuel Miranda tussle over Puerto Rico” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “As much as anyone else, I have called out the shortcomings in the initial response to #HurricaneMaria in #PuertoRico,” Rubio wrote on Twitter. “But to say entertainers doing more for #PuertoRico than military @FEMA & local responders is inaccurate & unfair.” He was referring to this Herald story, whose headline originally read: Lin-Manuel Miranda says he is doing more for Puerto Rico than the government. But as Miranda points out the story does not hold up that headline, and he pushed back at Rubio: “Sir, in no UNIVERSE did or would I say that. And certainly nowhere in that article. False headline, @MiamiHerald.” The headline has been changed. It now reads: Lin-Manuel Miranda hopes new Puerto Rico song will inspire a stronger federal response.

Darren Soto: Congress understands Puerto Rico plight” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Soto spent the early part of the week touring Puerto Rico and then met with the House Natural Resources Committee, leaving convinced that the island is in desperate straits, that the administration of President Trump still has not come to terms, but that Congress has … Soto said many parts in the island still have not seen any federal officials, let alone airdrops of food, water and supplies. And he expects it to be many months before the society is even minimally functional again in many parts of the island outside of San Juan. “We’ve had much better success in getting Congress to understand the devastation than we have in getting the Trump administration to do so,” Soto said. “That’s the good news in all this,” Soto said, noting that he expects Congress to pass an emergency $29 billion FEMA package for hurricane relief to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with Puerto Rico getting $10 billion of that. “Keep in mind it took over 90 days for the tristate area [New Jersey, New York, Connecticut] to get their FEMA relief from Hurricane Sandy, and it took more than that for Louisiana to get relief from Hurricane Katrina. So the fact that we’re getting this hurricane relief package out in an expedited manner is the positive news in all of this,” he said.

Trump campaign Florida chief Karen Giorno seeks national Republican post” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsGiorno, a former Trump campaign senior adviser and Florida campaign director, announced she is a candidate to be the state’s National Republican committeewoman for the Republican National Committee. Giorno’s candidacy comes after the Republican Party of Florida’s previous national committeewoman, Sharon Day, stepped down in August to serve as U. S. ambassador to Costa Rica. Giorno’s career has spanned three decades in the political world, as a consultant and operative working with presidential candidates and campaigns, four American presidents, and the governor of Florida. She was the first female state director for the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign, serving that role in Florida from October 2015 to March 2016.

Scientists call on Florida’s senators to oppose Trump nominee for NASA” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Last month Trump nominated an Oklahoma congressman, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, to run NASA, marking the first time in history that any president picked a politician to run the scientific agency. Prior NASA administrators have almost all been scientists, engineers or former astronauts. The sole exception: James Webb, a former Treasury Department and State Department official who had served as vice president of the company that manufactured radar and navigation systems during World War II. Both Nelson and Rubio have blasted Trump’s choice, but neither has said whether they will vote against Bridenstine. In their letter, the scientists pointed out that Bridenstine has no formal science education. And while he serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, he has no experience running such a large agency and no experience with scientific research. A former Navy pilot, he once ran Tulsa’s Air and Space Museum. They were also critical of his stance on climate change. Bridenstine has been openly skeptical of whether climate change exists and has questioned why the United States has to do anything to combat it.


Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will tour the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee starting at 11 a.m., 709 Hoover Dike Road in Clewiston. Later, the governor will attend the grand reopening of Tin City, a historic marketplace and tourism destination in Naples which had closed from Hurricane Irma. Event begins 2 p.m. at 1200 Fifth Ave. S. in Naples.

Enterprise Florida gives raises, ditches bonuses” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida – Raises will be provided to 16 upper-level and mid-level employees of Enterprise Florida, as the state’s business-recruitment agency does away with a controversial bonus program. The Enterprise Florida Executive Committee voted unanimously to approve a recommendation – supported by Gov. Scott – to replace the bonus program. The pay increases are seen by committee members as a way to maintain Enterprise Florida without causing an exodus of employees. The public-private agency has faced heavy scrutiny during the past year, with House leaders even seeking to eliminate it. The raises – retroactive to July 1 range from $3,000 to $25,000 and will increase payroll by $118,000 for the year, under the plan outlined for the committee. The bonus program, which officials promoted as coming from money pooled by private contributions rather than tax dollars, was tied to a series of recruitment and hiring objectives for each year.

Medical pot has learning curve” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times – More than 39,000 Floridians have signed up through the Florida Department of Health to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment for a list of qualifying illnesses since the registry opened in 2016. And more than 1,000 physicians have taken the state-mandated course that officially qualifies them to examine those patients and recommend products that might help. But some patients are finding themselves in the unsettling position of being in the examining room with physicians who seem tentative, unable to speak with much authority about medical marijuana. One issue may be the state course, which doesn’t go into great detail about dosages, common side effects and other information doctors should have when recommending the substance to patients — at least not to the degree the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does with legal prescription drugs. And the course, initially eight hours long at a cost to doctors of $1,000, now lasts only two hours under a new Florida law. The cost has been slashed to $250. The Florida Medical Association and Florida Osteopathic Medical Association oversee the required course for Florida physicians interested in recommending cannabis. Doctors, many of whom took the original eight-hour course, are expected to retake the newer two-hour program and exam when they renew their medical license each year.

New report details Florida airport shooting that killed 5” via The Associated Press – A 30-page report released by a sheriff’s office in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a Florida airport details how an Alaska man waited at a baggage carousel for several minutes January before being paged to pick up the bag containing his gun, which officials said he used to kill five people and injure six others. Delta Airlines was paging Esteban Santiago, 27, to retrieve the bag after his flight arrived at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Jan. 6. Minutes after he picked up the bag, the shooting began … the document is the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s final review of its actions following the mass shooting. The page by Delta is a new detail in the airport shooting. The report didn’t disclose whether airline officials knew what was in the bag.

Altamonte Springs forms its own utility as it moves toward renewable energy” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel – Hoping to slash the city’s annual $2 million power bill, Altamonte Springs soon will launch its own municipal utility with the goal of providing electricity from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources to government facilities, including City Hall and police and fire stations. Residents and commercial properties — such as the Altamonte Mall on State Road 436 — will continue receiving power from Duke Energy as part of the city’s franchise agreement with the North Carolina-based power company. The plan, approved by Altamonte Springs commissioners last week, is unique in Central Florida and comes after St. Petersburg officials voted last year to move toward having its entire city — not just its municipal facilities — operate with renewable energy in the coming years. “We’re not taking over from Duke Energy,” City Manager Frank Martz said. “We formed a municipal electric utility in order to explore alternative energy in the new millennium and save our taxpayers money.”

Water farm on ex-citrus grove reduces Lake O discharges into estuaries” via Susan Salisbury of the Palm Beach Post – For decades, thousands of orange trees thrived at Caulkins Citrus Company’s 3,200-acre grove in Palm City, producing a bountiful crop each year. But now another “crop” is being harvested — polluted water from Lake Okeechobee. On Tuesday, the Martin County water farm’s expansion from a 413-acre pilot project to a 2-mile by 3-mile reservoir that stores dirty water from the C-44 Canal linked to Lake O was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting event attended by more than 100 people. The goal is to store up to 35 billion gallons of water every year to keep the dirty water from heading to fragile estuaries, rivers and the coast, causing fish kills and harming marine and tourism industries. Even George Caulkins III, the company’s president, admits that water farming can be a difficult concept. The expansion’s construction cost $7.5 million, and Caulkins is being paid $5.5 million a year under a 10-year agreement. It’s not a lease; it’s for a service provided, said Ansley Marr, the water management district’s section administrator for the Northern Everglades. While water farming has been done in other places, Marr said that in terms of scale, the SFWMD is at the forefront.


Old news – “Tom Lee says he’s running for CFO” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times; “Joe Henderson wrote this on August 17: Tom Lee gets closer to formally entering CFO race

Matt Haggman appears to top CD 27 field with $512K haul in third quarter via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Haggman, a Coconut Grove resident who is a former program director at Miami’s Knight Foundation and a former award-winning investigative reporter at the Miami Herald, appears to have topped the field in fundraising for the third quarter of 2017 in the CD 27 contest. He and a bevy of other candidates seek to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring. His campaign is reporting that Haggman raised $512,000 in just two months, August and September, and he entered October with $469,000 in the bank. That includes no loans from the candidate, and all the money was raised through individual donations, the campaign reported. That’s the most reported by any of the candidates in that race so far, even though the field includes some high-profile political veterans.

Jason Brodeur spends $18K on 2020 SD 9 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics Brodeur, who’s aiming to succeed Republican state Sen. Dave Simmons after the 2020 election, reported raising $1,000 and spending nearly $19,000, mostly on messaging … He has raised more than $160,000 so far, including in-kind contributions, and has spent more than $67,000, leaving him with about $92,000. The biggest expenditure in the latest report, through the end of September, was $15,000 to a New Jersey company, which allowed him to send — via texts to cell phones — public service updates on power and hurricane response information to 66,000 people of Seminole County following Hurricane Irma, which knocked out more than half the county’s power on Sept. 10-11.

Happening tonight – Rep. Jim Boyd is hosting a fundraiser supporting the “Building on Your Dreams” committee. Event begins 5 p.m. at the Governors Club Board Room, 202 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee.

Financial disclosure forms raise questions about candidates’ business savvy” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – One of the candidates for a state House seat covering much of northern Sarasota County is amending his financial disclosure … while another is declining to offer documentation to support her claim that her business is doing well despite losing $24,000 last year. Republican James Buchanan, 35, touted his “small business background” in launching his campaign for the state Legislature. The real estate company owner lists a net worth of $1.2 million, and earned $22,712 last year from his firm, Amerestate Global, LLC. The sum Buchanan collected from Amerestate originally was listed as his only income in 2016. After the Herald-Tribune questioned his campaign about the disclosure form, Buchanan submitted an amendment to the form listing another $164,053 in income from the sale of his personal residence. Democratic candidate Ruta Jouniari’s business lost money in 2016. Jouniari said last year’s income is not indicative of the health of her business. She said her staffing company is cyclical and that “every three years I take a loss.” Jouniari recruits former U.S. military members to help service military vehicles and other equipment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which purchases large amounts of military equipment from the United States. “On the third year they freeze because they don’t know who’s going to be awarded the contract,” she said of the Saudi agencies doing the hiring.


Ballard Partners signs the Democratic Republic of Congo” via Kevin McCauley of – Ballard Partners, which has close ties with the Trump White House, has inked a $600K one-year contract to promote “free and fair elections” in the Democratic Republic of Congo … to provide “strategic consulting and advocacy services” to the Group of Seven political coalition regarding its pitch to Washington. DRC president Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, booted G-7 representatives from the government for voicing opposition to his continued rule. Kabila was supposed to leave office by the end of 2016, but a new election date has not been set for the nation of more than 70M people. BP also will make G-7’s case before the United Nations about its return to the Congo and ability to participate in the electoral process.

New and renewed lobbying registrations

Michael Abrams, Ballard Partners: The Pew Charitable Trusts

Natalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Community Champions

Anthony Monaco: KPMG

Chris Moya, Jones Walker: Aptim Environmental & Infrastructure, Leon Medical Centers

Patrick Shortell: Renovate America

John White, Mercury Public Affiars: International Institute of Orthotics and Prosthetics

“Personnel note: Paul Jess becomes FJA executive director” via Florida Politics – Paul Jess has become executive director of the Florida Justice Association (FJA), the group announced Monday. Jess, a veteran attorney and association executive, had been acting as FJA’s interim executive director since January. “Paul has been with FJA for almost three decades, during which time he served in just about every professional capacity at the association,” said FJA President Dale Swope of Tampa … “With Paul as FJA’s Executive Director, the modes by which we defend and enhance the civil justice system for the afflicted in our state are about to be more effective and powerful than they have been in the history of our organization” … While with FJA, Jess continued to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an intelligence officer, eventually serving three tours as Commanding Officer of various commands before retiring at the rank of Captain … He has decades of experience lobbying the Florida Legislature and executive branch, has testified before legislative committees, and drafted countless pieces of proposed and adopted legislation.

“Personnel note: Chris Spencer heads to GrayRobinson” via Florida PoliticsSpencer, longtime aide to Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, is leaving the Legislature to become a lobbyist at the Tampa office of GrayRobinson, the law firm announced Monday. “Spencer has nearly a decade of experience working with Florida’s legislative and executive branches,” a press release said. “Prior to joining GrayRobinson, he managed successful campaigns for multiple legislators, including Brandes and Sen. Dana Young,” a Tampa Republican. “We are thrilled for Chris to join our Tampa office,” Tampa managing shareholder David L. Smith said. “He will be an asset to our Tampa-area clients in addition to supporting the Firm’s statewide lobbying practice.”

— ALOE —

“Beer, wine from vending machines? Fla. company says ‘yes’ ” via Florida Politics – A newly-formed Miami-Dade company is seeking an OK from state regulators to install what it calls “self-checkout micro marts” with beer and wine … La Galere Markets of Coral Gables, which filed articles of incorporation with the state in August, submitted its request with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco on Sept. 27, records show. The company asked the agency for a declaratory statement that the machines would be legal under existing law and regulations … But Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who sits on the Senate’s Regulated Industries committee, said he’d “be shocked if that’s legal.” … “Look, I’m open to considering all kinds of options, but (as a state) I don’t think that’s where we heading,” he said, referring to La Galere’s business idea.

Indigenous Peoples Day? Italians say stick with Columbus” via Deepti Hajela and Dake Kang of The Associated Press – A movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day has gained momentum in some parts of the U.S., with Los Angeles in August becoming the biggest city yet to decide to stop honoring the Italian explorer and instead recognize victims of colonialism. But the gesture to recognize indigenous people rather than the man who opened the Americas to European domination also has prompted howls of outrage from some Italian-Americans, who say eliminating their festival of ethnic pride is culturally insensitive, too. “We had a very difficult time in this country for well over a hundred years,” said Basil Russo, president of the Order Italian Sons and Daughters of America. “Columbus Day is a day that we’ve chosen to celebrate who we are. And we’re entitled to do that just as they are entitled to celebrate who they are.” It’s not about taking anything away from Italian-Americans, said Cliff Matias, cultural director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, which is hosting a Re-Thinking Columbus Day event Sunday and Monday in New York.

Mystery: Where’s the sign that welcomes visitors to Key West” via The Associated Press – Officials in Key West have a mystery on their hands. They want to know who took the sign that welcomed visitors to “Paradise U.S.A. Residents say they last saw the “Welcome to Key West” sign on the ground after it was presumably knocked down by Hurricane Irma on Sept. 10. The sign at the island’s entrance off U.S. 1 features a painted sunset. It was an $8,000 gift from the local Rotary Club, whose members just want the sign back, no questions asked. For now, a hand-painted sign marks its spot at the busy intersection. “Welcome to Paradise,” it says.

’The Florida Project’ is probably the best movie you’ll see this year” via Glenn Whipp of the Orlando Sentinel – Let’s just say that “The Florida Project,” an unforgettable, immersive film about itinerant families (particularly their mischievous children) living in the cheap motels in Disney World’s shadow, has set the bar very, very high. Directed and co-written by Sean Baker(“Tangerine”), the movie is also, as my colleague Justin Chang points out in his rave review, as rousing and vivid a portrait of childhood as you’ll ever see on the big screen. “A dazzling neorealist sugar rush of a movie,” Justin writes in his review … And, yes, I think the sky’s the limit with this one in terms of awards potential. “The Florida Project” is the kind of movie that critics groups will wholeheartedly embrace with the academy following suit.

Happy birthday to Senate President Joe Negron, Rep. Ben Diamond and former Rep. Janet Atkins, as well as our dear friend Keyna Cory, Tia Mitchell and our frenemy Mike Grissom. Belated wishes to Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — FSU takes on campus names, markers

Florida State University President John Thrasher announced the members of the President’s Advisory Panel on University Namings and Recognitions, according to a news release.

“I want to thank the members of this panel for their willingness to take on this important matter,” Thrasher said in a statement. “I expect them to be deliberate, to be thoughtful and to seek input from the entire Florida State community as they do their work.”

FSU President John Thrasher takes on naming and recognition rules in light of the controversy over Confederate monuments.

(The full release with names of the members is here.)

The panel was created in the wake of ongoing controversy about Confederate memorials in Florida and across the nation, and white nationalist rallies, including one in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a car last month plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring dozens of others.

“The creation of the panel follows Thrasher’s condemnation of last month’s hateful and violent acts by white supremacists in Charlottesville, and his pledge to the FSU community to protect free speech while ensuring the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff,” the university has previously said.

“The 15-member panel of university students, faculty, staff and alumni will examine and review current university policies concerning campus names and markers, including statues and other recognitions,” the latest release said. The university’s chief diversity officer, Renisha Gibbs, will chair the panel.

Last October, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that FSU students “overwhelmingly defeated a proposal seeking the removal of a statue honoring former Leon County slave owner Francis Eppes from campus and the removal of his name from a campus building.”

The statue is on the campus’ Westcott Plaza. Eppes was the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, who also owned slaves.

“The panel has been asked to complete its work with all deliberate speed,” Thrasher said. The date and time of its first meeting will be announced next week.

“Panel meetings will be noticed, open to the public and will include opportunities for public comment,” according to the release. The university will also “launch a website to provide additional information and updates on the panel’s progress.”

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Jim RosicaPeter Schorsch and Andrew Wilson.

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

Here comes Nate — As of Friday, a hurricane warning was issued for a stretch of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Grand Isle, Louisiana, to the Alabama-Florida border. The National Hurricane Center said residents in those areas should brace for possible storm surges amid the expected strengthening of Tropical Storm Nate. The storm battered Central America with rain this week, killing at least 21 people. The center says the storm is likely to strengthen Friday over the northwestern Caribbean Sea before a possible near-hurricane-strength hit in the Cancun region at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Forecasters warn that the storm, after crossing open water, could then smash into the northern rim of the U.S. Gulf Coast as a hurricane.

Nursing home expands lawsuit — A Broward County nursing home has amended a lawsuit challenging moves by Gov. Scott‘s administration that effectively shut down the facility after residents died following Hurricane Irma. The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills filed a lawsuit last month in Leon County circuit court challenging state orders that placed a moratorium on patient admissions and suspended the facility from the Medicaid program. It filed an amended complaint this week that challenged a Sept. 20 emergency order that suspended the facility’s license. The state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) acted after eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died Sept. 13, three days after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning. Four other residents who were evacuated died later.

Annette Taddeo’s plum assignments — With a swearing-in ceremony scheduled Tuesday, newly elected Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo will serve on five Senate panels, including committees that play crucial roles in insurance and environmental issues. Taddeo won a closely watched special election Sept. 26 to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who resigned in April from the Senate District 40 seat. Senate President Joe Negron appointed Taddeo to serve on the Banking and Insurance Committee; the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee; the Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee; the Transportation Committee; and the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee.

Brian Ballard rolls on — Ballard Partners, which has close ties with the Trump White House, inked a $600,000 one-year contract to promote “free and fair elections” in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Brian Ballard, a top Republican fundraiser, chaired the Trump Victory organization in Florida during the 2016 presidential campaign. Ballard Partners, which opened a D.C. office earlier this year, is to provide “strategic consulting and advocacy services” to the Group of Seven political coalitions regarding its pitch to Washington. DRC President Joseph Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, booted G-7 representatives from the government for voicing opposition to his continued rule. Ballard also this week formed an international strategic alliance with Alber & Geiger, a political lobbying powerhouse in the European Union, in efforts to leverage both firms’ governmental expertise.

Fundraising stops and starts — GOP candidate for Attorney General Jay Fant said this week he loaned his campaign $750,000 toward his election. The loan brings his total campaign funds raised to just over $958,000. “I am investing my own funds because Floridians deserve an alternative to the establishment candidates in the field,” Fant said in a statement. “We have over a year until the election, and we are just getting started.” Meantime, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine attributed his political committee’s lack of fundraising in September to his focus on the recent hurricanes. Levine, a Democrat, is widely expected to jump into next year’s race for governor. “When others are struggling to survive massive hurricanes and rebuild their lives, it is not a time for fundraising but a time for lifesaving,” a spokesman said. And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor, added new finance director Akilah Ensley this week to spark fundraising after losing ground to opponents Gwen Graham and Chris King.

Irma looks to make her mark in Tallahassee

The first interim committee week ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session was canceled due to Hurricane Irma last month, and it seems like the fallout from the superstorm will dominate the conversation when lawmakers head to Tallahassee next week.

Not only are state legislators shorted one of their handful of planning periods, but Irma brought up some policy issues that lawmakers are looking to tackle during the 60-day Legislative Session, which starts in January.

Fallout from Hurricane Irma is still being felt in Florida’s Capitol.

According to the Senate calendar, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will get a presentation on hurricane insurance issues; the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee will get an Irma update from utility companies; the Senate Agriculture Committee will discuss Irma’s impact on agriculture, which has been called the most significant crop-loss event in state history.

Also on the docket is a meeting of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, which will discuss emergency rules to force assisted living facilities and nursing homes to have enough generator power to keep the A/C running for several days in the event of a storm-related outage.

That issue spawned the hottest debates post-Irma due to an outage at a Hollywood nursing home directly leading to heat-related deaths for a dozen residents, ranging from 57 to 99 years old. The body temperatures of some of the deceased were as high as 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rick Scott activates citrus grower emergency loan program

Gov. Scott activated a $25 million Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program to support citrus growers impacted by Hurricane Irma. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide interest-free loans to citrus growers that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. The application period will begin next week and be open through November 30, 2017.

DEO will administer the Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network to provide cash flow to businesses affected by a disaster. The interest-free loans will help bridge the gap between the time damage occurs and when a business secures other financial resources, such as crop insurance payments or federal disaster recovery appropriations.

Rick Scott activates a $25 million emergency loan program for citrus growers affected by Hurricane Irma.

Citrus growers maintaining groves in any of Florida’s 67 counties affected by Hurricane Irma can apply for interest-free loans up to $150,000 in terms of up to one year. To be eligible, a grower must have been set up prior to September 4, 2017, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage from Hurricane Irma.

To complete an application by the deadline of Nov. 30, or for more information on the program, visit For questions, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 850-898-3489 or email

Jimmy Patronis helps out in Puerto Rico

Chief Financial Officer Patronis said law enforcement personnel from the Department of Financial Services will join the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and others to offer aid in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

CFO Jimmy Patronis is sending a joint team taken from several state agencies to aid Puerto Rico hurricane recovery.

“Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving many families with nothing but the few belongings they could carry as they fled their homes,” he said in a statement. “As Florida continues to rebuild after Irma, I know that disaster recovery requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, and I’m proud to make resources available to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet. The needs are great, and we’ll do what we can to assist during this difficult time.”

The Department is deploying Major Karl Morgan from the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations to join an eight-person incident management team. Additional resources, including heavy land-clearing equipment used during Hurricane Irma recovery efforts, remain on standby.

While in Puerto Rico, a joint law enforcement team coordinated by FDLE will conduct recovery missions and offer security resources to protect relief materials being shipped or flown into the coastal country. Florida-based personnel and resources are made available to Puerto Rico through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

Trial lawyers establish Hurricane Irma task force

The Florida Justice Association has formed a task force to answer policyholders’ questions about their rights when pursuing insurance claims arising from Hurricane Irma.

The FJA Insurance Emergency Response Task Force will comprise experts in property insurance hailing from the areas of the state hit hardest. Stephen Marino of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin in Miami will chair the task force.

Stephen Marino of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin.

“Consumers need straight answers about how they should proceed with their claims, things they can do to expedite the claim process, and their rights and obligations under their insurance policies,” FJA President Dale Swope of Tampa said.

“The task force members are available to attend town halls and other events where constituents can raise questions related to insurance claims in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma,” he said.

Members also are available to brief legislators on how to help constituents with claims.

Puerto Rico family response centers launched

With up to 100,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico expected in Florida and the U.S. mainland, the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) and Orlando-based nonprofit Latino Leadership have partnered to create the Puerto Rico Family Response Center (PRFRC), they said in a news release.

“Currently operating in Orlando, PRFRC is assisting thousands of Puerto Rican evacuees every day. FSHCC plans to open PRFRCs in Tampa, Jacksonville and South Florida,” the release said. Current offerings include housing counseling, a 10-person computer lab, special needs services and a referral services network.

Florida is bracing for a wave of Puerto Rico evacuees displaced by Hurricane Maria.

FSHCC President Julio Fuentes announced that he will be holding a news conference in Tallahassee next week to call on Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers “to send a clear and unified message to Puerto Ricans that they’re welcomed to the Sunshine State.”

“Florida is going to become the new home for tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who’ve had to flee from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Maria,” Fuentes said. “Corporate leaders, elected officials and good Samaritans are lending their support, and with their help, we’ll transform lives for the better.”

For more information, visit the initiative’s website at

Florida insurers prepare for Nate

With recovery efforts still underway for Hurricanes Irma and Floridians now preparing for Tropical Storm Nate to hit Florida as early as this weekend, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) offers advice on filing an insurance claim.

“Following storms, like Irma, we generally get questions about the insurance claims process,” said Logan McFaddin, PCI Florida regional manager. “If you haven’t already, it is important to reach out to your insurance company or agent right away to start the claims process, especially with Tropical Storm Nate now in our sights.”

Next up, Tropical Storm Nate.

Insurers are also working with state and federal disaster-response agencies to help families recover as quickly as possible. Local and national call centers are available to process claims. Moreover, insurers are using the latest technology to allow claims to be reported online or through mobile apps.

“We would also caution consumers to be careful of any bad actors who are looking to prey on storm victims. These unscrupulous third-party contractors come in all varieties — and can lure in unsuspecting families with deals and offers that seem too good to be true,” McFaddin added.

Progress Florida unveils ‘People First’ report card

The report card, by the progressive organization, grades every lawmaker on the votes they cast this past session across a broad spectrum of issues relevant to Floridians. All 158 current legislators were graded based on floor votes taken in their respective chambers — 20 votes in the House and 12 in the Senate.

To achieve an “A” grade on the Report Card, lawmakers had to consistently vote to put ‘People First’ instead of powerful interests.

Key votes scored include opposing a reckless state budget that rewards wealthy corporations at the expense of hardworking Floridians, standing up for our local public schools, protecting our land and water including the Everglades and rejecting the ‘Shoot First’ expansion of the misguided Stand Your Ground law.

“Floridians deserve to know where their legislators stand on major issues from gun safety and environmental protection to the economy and local schools,” Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo said in a statement. “We scored our senators and representatives based not on what they say, but on how they actually voted on issues important to Floridians.”

The 2017 Progress Florida “People First” Report Card for all legislators can be found at

Tracie Davis throws ‘community baby shower’

State Rep. Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, will co-host a “Community Baby Shower” for expectant or new mothers in Duval County, Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with The Magnolia Project, at 5300 N. Pearl St. in Jacksonville.

The Project is a part of Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition.

Tracie Davis helps new mothers by hosting a ‘community baby shower.’

“The event will provide mothers with the tools necessary to raise a happy and healthy baby,” a news release said. “Classes on breast-feeding, safe sleep, nutrition, and yoga will be offered throughout the event. There will also be raffles and smoothies available.”

“Teaching new mothers these important skills is absolutely critical in building strong communities,” Davis said in a statement. The event is aimed at raising awareness for high infant mortality rates in Duval.

“I’m proud to help host our first community baby shower. I hope these events are a beneficial experience for the women in Duval County and help our families to raise happy and healthy children.”

Rising lobbyist has praise for mentors

On his way out the door from FCCI Insurance Group, James Kotas had kind words for legislative affairs director Bob Hawken and chief legal officer Tom Koval.

“It was the hardest decision to go and sit in front of Hawk and Tom and tell them that I had this opportunity in front of me,” Kotas said. “They could not have been more supportive. They said, ‘You need to do this. These kinds of jobs  come around not that often, and this could be even more of a launching pad for your career and your life.’”

Rising lobbyist James Kotas.

Kotas is off to become a manager for state and local government relations for 23 eastern states for Darden Concepts Inc., a national restaurant chain with brands including The Capital Grille, LongHorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden.

Hawken and Koval were keen mentors, Kotas said.

“What I learned from them was, look down the road. What’s the best thing for everybody,” he said. “It was very hard to leave.”

DACS nabs $135K back from schemers in September

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it recovered nearly $135,000 last month for Sunshine State customers who were scammed or defrauded by Florida businesses.

DACS said it helped 18,740 consumers through its phone hotlines last month, including taking down 2,403 complaints and adding nearly 17,000 phone numbers to the to Florida’s Do Not Call List.

The department said those phone leads sparked 177 new investigations into unscrupulous businesses. The month also saw DACS arrest 10 people accused of ripping off customers.

All in all, the department helped those consumers recoup $134,640 from shady movers, mechanics, pawnbrokers, travel sales schemers and telemarketers. Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA, or 1-800-FL-AYUDA for Spanish speakers.

FHP names new deputy director

Gene Spaulding, director of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), this week announced that Troy Thompson became deputy director of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Thompson is a 24-year law enforcement veteran who most recently served as Chief of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement with the FHP.

“Thompson is a forward-thinking leader who is dedicated to accomplishing the mission of the Patrol,” Spaulding said in a statement. He “will help secure the agency’s vision of ‘A Safer Florida and carry on its proud traditions.”

Policy Pub talks medical pot over pints

A professor at FSU’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy will go over Florida medical marijuana and same-sex marriage laws during happy hour Tuesday evening.

The event is the next in the “Policy Pub” series put on by the college and hosted in the bar area of Backwoods Bistro on the corner of Gadsden and Tennessee streets.

Dr. Tim Chapin speaks at an FSU Policy Pub event in January (Photo: Codi Cain/FSView)

Each edition features a faculty member giving a plain-language talk on a public policy topic before opening up the floor for discussion and questions. Professor Frances Berry will lead off the event, which runs Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Berry’s presentation, “Medical Marijuana and Same-Sex Marriage: Understanding State Choices,” will cover how states determine laws that are sometimes at odds with federal regulations and policy, including an overview of how state laws differ and the roles the courts played in both policy areas.

The event is free and open to the public, though attendees are encouraged to get there early to snag a parking spot and a seat at the bar.

Bring out your hazardous waste

Leon County holds its next Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Collection today (Saturday), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Public Works Operations Center, 2280 Miccosukee Road.

You can bring up to 50 pounds of hazardous waste, in addition to electronics. Only one large-screen television per vehicle will be accepted.

Propane tanks must weigh less than 40 pounds, and there is a limit of one tire per participant. There is also a limit of 25 fluorescent tubes per vehicle at the collection event.

Medical sharps, medicines and radioactive waste cannot be accepted. Also, bulky items such as appliances (refrigerators, stoves/ovens, washing machines, dryers, etc.), as well as furniture, yard waste, construction and demolition debris, household garbage and Styrofoam won’t be taken.

Again, these collections are for residents; businesses and others should call (850) 606-1816 to make an appointment, Monday through Friday, to drop off their items at the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center, 7550 Apalachee Parkway. Fees will apply.

For more information, call the Leon County Hazardous Waste Center at (850) 606-1803 or visit for the complete collection schedule and safe packing guide.

Leon County goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

During October, Leon County Government will recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a news release said. To show support, Leon County will host activities and educational opportunities as part of “Paint the Town Pink” initiative.

Leon County goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.

The county will ‘Paint the Town Pink’ in several ways:

— The LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System, including the County Main Library and its branch libraries, will feature select books related to breast cancer awareness.

— Leon County Parks and Recreation will use pink chalk to chalk boundaries on county athletic fields.

— Leon County EMS paramedics will wear pink medical gloves for all service calls during October.

— The Leon County website will feature a unique pink County seal.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness and share information on the disease.

To view photos of Leon County’s Pink Initiative during October, visit

Leon County hosts ‘Fire Truck Roundup’

Leon County will host the 20th Annual Fire Truck Roundup this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Growing Room Child Development Center, 1271 Metropolitan Blvd. in Tallahassee.

The event is in honor of Leon County’s volunteer firefighters. Children will be able to explore fire truck equipment and enjoy family-friendly music. Volunteers will offer free food and drinks, face painting, a ‘bounce house’ and other giveaways.

Information on how to become a volunteer firefighter will be available, along with the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a volunteer firefighter. For more information, call or email Jeri Bush, Director of Volunteer Services, at (850) 606-1970 or

Tallahassee Alzheimer’s group aims for $97K in annual walk

The Tallahassee edition of the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” is seeking to raise $97,000 to fight the debilitating disease during the Oct. 14 event.

More than 522,000 — or about 1 in 40 — Floridians have the neurodegenerative disease known for causing memory loss and dementia, giving the Sunshine State the second highest incidence rate in the country. Around 6,000 of those individuals live in the Tallahassee/Big Bend region.

WCTV anchor Ben Kaplan serves as emcee of the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s.’

Money raised through the Tallahassee walk will go toward community programs and research efforts in the region as well as care for area patients to help lift some of the burden brought on by the insidious disease for them and their caregivers.

WCTV anchor Ben Kaplan will emcee the event, which is expected to draw in 600 walkers. Registration opens at 8 a.m. at 1001 South Gadsden St., followed by a 9 a.m. ceremony before the three-mile walk kicks off at 9:30 a.m. in Cascades Park.

Those who can’t make the hike can celebrate without walking in the on-site pavilion area, and walkers can also bring along their furry friends, strollers and wheelchairs. While there is no fee to participate all are encouraged to pitch in with a personal donation.

To sign up ahead of time, or to start a team, head to the event’s website.

Stone crabs up for grabs next weekend

Stone crab claw season opens Oct. 15 in state and federal waters, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a couple tips and a rules refresher for those looking to take part.

First and foremost, go set your traps. Recreational crab catchers can set up to five baited traps 10 days before the season starts, but leave traps with round entrances (also called “throats” or “funnels”) at home if they’re going off the coast of Collier, Monroe or Miami-Dade.

Bring a measuring tape when you check your haul, too and no cheating —  claws have to be at least 2.75 inches measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower, fixed place part of the claw. It’s illegal to use anything that could puncture, crush or injure your catch. Though it’s not a rule, FWC said taking both claws leaves the crab defenseless and is unsustainable.

You’ll also have to familiarize yourself with, ahem, the female crab anatomy since egg-bearing crabs are off limits. Don’t worry, it’s strictly PG: just flip the crab over and if there’s an orange or brown egg mass, also known as a “sponge,” leave the claws and let her go.

If you grab a legal crab, FWC put out a video showing would-be fishermen how to properly harvest the claws. Fair warning to crustacean lovers, there’s a loud crack when the claws are removed even though the crab doesn’t seem to mind.

Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:


Some material in this week’s “Takeaways from Tallahassee” was also provided by The News Service of Florida and The Associated Press, republished with permission.


Last Call for 10.5.17 – A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

A proposed Florida Commission on Ethics opinion says Tony Glover, formerly the state’s top gambling regulator, can lobby his former department as long as he doesn’t do it for the specific divisions he once worked for.

Glover had requested the staff-written advisory opinion, released Thursday, which will be considered for approval at the commission’s Oct. 20 meeting.

Glover, who now has his own law firm, was deputy director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) and later of the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (DPMW), which regulates gambling. Both are under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

State law says certain state employees “may not personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the agency with which he or she was employed for a period of two years following vacation of position, unless employed by another agency of state government.”

But the ethics commission has interpreted that to mean “one’s agency is not necessarily one’s entire department, but rather the lowest departmental unit within which one’s influence would exist.”

Therefore, the lobbying ban applies to Glover as to ABT for two years after he left April 29, 2016, and two years after he quit DPMW this Sept. 5, the opinion says. Other parts of DBPR are fair game.

The opinion adds that Glover is not prohibited “from providing advice concerning a particular subject matter with which you were involved while in public employment,” as long as it doesn’t violate the ban as applies to him.

An update on last night’s ‘First Shot’: Yesterday, we told you about an elevator certificate in a downtown Tallahassee parking garage that listed “Graf Orlok” as the governor of Florida.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which issues such certificates, Thursday said an official visited the elevator, removed the prank one, and replaced it with a real one.

The fake one appeared to be, yes, a cheap, doctored photocopy.

As explained previously, “Graf Orlok” is the name of the main character, based on Dracula, in the 1922 silent film “Nosferatu.” (“Graf” is German for “Count.”)

So somebody really doesn’t like Gov. Rick Scott—and is a connoisseur of Expressionist horror films. Go figure.

Evening Reads

FEMA removes statistics about drinking water access and electricity in Puerto Rico from website” via Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post

Still booming with retirees, The Villages gives Donald Trump, GOP edge in Florida” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Yes, Florida’s pool of voters is shrinking. Here’s why.” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Repealing the Jones Act would help Puerto Rico. But it could hurt Florida.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

Hurricane Irma’s lawsuit chasers” via the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

Multiple Democrats raise over six figures in race to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

After Irma, state doesn’t waive fees for KidCare insurance” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Fearing Nate, state of emergency declared in North Florida” via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald

Workers’ comp drops off legislative map” via the News Service of Florida

Last shelter used for Hurricane Irma evacuees closes” via The Associated Press

Hulk actor wants to smash fracking in Florida” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Filmed near Disney, ‘Florida Project’ shines bright light on hidden homeless” via Jake Coyle of The Associated Press

Quote of the Day

He has never voted to support things like Obamacare expansion, the Charlie Crist tax increases, and Big Brother-style red light cameras.” — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of northwest Florida, explaining why he endorsed fellow Republican Matt Caldwell for agriculture commissioner in 2018. They also served together in the Florida House.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights 

Wake Up Early

The state Board of Respiratory Care is scheduled to meet in Central Florida. That’s at 8:30 a.m., Sheraton Lake Buena Vista, 12205 South Apopka Vineland, Orlando.

Sen. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, is expected to tour a Rayonier Advanced Materials plant in Nassau County. The tour begins at 9 a.m., Rayonier Fernandina Plant, 10 Gum St., Fernandina Beach.

The state Revenue Estimating Conference will hold what is known as an “impact” conference. It begins at 9 a.m., 117 Knott Building, the Capitol, Tallahassee.

The Florida Board of Orthotists and Prosthetists will hold a conference call. That’s at 9 a.m. The call-in number is (888) 670-3525 and the participant code is 7342425515.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, is scheduled to speak about legislative issues during an annual conference of the Property Appraisers’ Association of Florida. It’s at 10 a.m., Courtyard by Marriott Cocoa Beach-Cape Canaveral, 3435 North Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach.

Campaign-finance reports are due for candidates in special elections in state House District 44 and House District 58. Former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, an Orlando Republican, left the District 44 seat this spring after being appointed a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal. The candidates in an Oct. 10 special general election are Republican Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez. Former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican, resigned from the District 58 seat because of health issues. Republicans Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure are battling in an Oct. 10 GOP primary, with the winner advancing to a Dec. 19 general election.

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