Peter – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Last Call for 3.26.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

Where are they now?

The Governor’s Office announced Monday that deputy chief of staff Brad Piepenbrink would become the next Chief of Staff.

With Jackie Schutz Zeckman out the door as Gov. Rick Scotts CoS — and likely headed to his U.S. Senate campaign — here’s a quick look at the whereabouts of his previous chiefs.

In chronological order of service:

Mike Prendergast: Elected Sheriff of Citrus County in November 2016.

Steve MacNamara: Professor at Florida State University’s College of Communication & Information, specializing in “mass media law, speechwriting, political communication.”

Adam Hollingsworth: A Tallahassee-based minister and “consultant for churches and ministries looking for ways to operate more efficiently or strategically,” according to the Florida Times-Union.

Melissa Sellers (now Stone): CEO of Cavalry Strategies, a Tallahassee PR shop specializing in political messaging and crisis communications. She also is involved with Scott’s super PAC, New Republican.

Kim McDougal: Senior director of government affairs in GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office.

Evening Reads

Why Republicans are now bragging about their investments in education” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post

Rick Scott plans ‘major announcement’ April 9, shakes up staff” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Rick Scott expected to announce U.S. Senate bid in April” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Sen. Bill Montford to stay put in state Senate, ends flirtation with mayoral bid” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Vulnerable Florida Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast get air support on taxes” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Missing: Criminal justice data” via Amy Bach of The New York Times

Court revelation: Pulse club gunman’s dad was FBI informant” via The Associated Press

Women’s group flames Everglades Foundation head for Harvey Weinstein ties” via Jerry Iannelli of Miami New Times

More women look to online classes to earn degrees” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida

FSU lifting ban on alcohol for Greek, registered student organizations” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat

Statewide vote could put a new sheriff in town even if Miami-Dade doesn’t want it” via Elizabeth Koh of the Times/Herald

Gulf Power customers to see lower bills” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Quote of the Day

“I’m not going to answer that. Obviously, when she was a candidate, I campaigned with her. That’s like you asking me would I campaign with Robert Redford … We’ll take that up when we get there.” — Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times, when asked if he would campaign with former presidential candidate and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

The State Board of Education will meet in Hendry County and take up a series of issues, including the proposed designation of two charter-school organizations as “Hope Operators.” That’s at 9 a.m., LaBelle High School, 4050 East Cowboy Way, LaBelle.

Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors will hold a conference call and discuss proposed changes in coverage for water losses that are not caused by the weather. That’s at 11 a.m. Call-in number: 1-866-361-7525. Code: 8632017402.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is scheduled to speak to the Capital Tiger Bay Club. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola St., Tallahassee.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican, will receive a “Special Recognition from The Florida Bar” during a joint luncheon meeting of the Volusia-Flagler Association for Women Lawyers and the Volusia County Bar Association. That’s at 11:30 a.m., Daytona International Speedway, Bill France Room, 1808 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.

Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat, and Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, will debate gun issues during a meeting of the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. That’s noon, Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr., Orlando.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be in Tallahassee, where he will hold a “pen and pad” session with Capitol Press Corps reporters. That’s at noon, 21st floor, The Capitol.

Gov. Scott will hold a signing ceremony for a bill (SB 376), backed by state CFO Jimmy Patronis, which extends workers’ comp benefits to first responders dealing with post-traumatic stress. The event is 2 p.m., Tampa Firefighter Museum, 720 Zack St., Tampa.

The Drugs, Alcohol and Mental Health Task Force, which was created by the state university system’s Board of Governors to address substance-abuse and mental-health issues among college students, will meet at 2:30 p.m., University of North Florida, Student Union, 1 UNF Dr., Jacksonville.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will hold one in a series of meetings about a diesel-emissions mitigation program, which stems from a federal settlement with Volkswagen about violations of the Clean Air Act. That’s at 3 p.m., Department of Environmental Protection Central District Office, 3319 Maguire Blvd., Orlando.

Bill Montford still on the fence on TLH mayoral run

State Sen. Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, had said he would announce a decision on running for mayor of Tallahassee this past weekend, but a spokesman said the longtime elected official has not yet made up his mind.

Montford did not respond to calls and messages left Sunday.

Montford, 70, was a popular school principal, Leon County commissioner and schools superintendent before running for and winning his current position in 2010. His current Senate term is up in 2020.

Montford has faced growing local pressure to run for mayor. Since late January, he has said he would wait until after the end of the legislative session to decide. The session ended March 11.

If he leaves the chamber early, Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee and GOP Rep. Halsey Beshears of Monticello are said to be interested in the seat.

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

If Joe Negron plans to resign, he should…

Joe Negron is making the rounds.

The outgoing Senate President is doing post-Session interviews and sit-downs with the News Service of Floridathe Palm Beach Post, his hometown TC PalmWPTV, and pretty much anyone else with a pen and notepad at the ready.

For the most part, Negron is focusing on policy, including offering his personal reaction to the “unfathomable” tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

However, as much as the button-down’ed Stuart Republican would like to stick to policy, the political is what has made the headlines.

Negron is, yes, mulling an early exit from the Legislature.

He’ll formally relinquish his leadership role to Sen. Bill Galvano after the November elections. After that, Negron says, he might just resign and not serve out the remainder of his four-year term.

While many lawmakers are term-limited after eight years, Negron can stay in the Senate until 2020 because certain quirks, including redistricting, give him more time.

“That’s an extra two years added on through the vagaries of litigation and reapportionment, so we have term limits for a reason,” Negron said. “That extra two years is an option. I literally just got home. I still haven’t unpacked everything.”

Negron’s probably right about wanting to give up the final two years of his term. Ex-Senate Presidents have the same shelf-life as fish and out-of-town visitors. Just look at how curmudgeon-y Don Gaetz and Tom Lee have been in the Senate after having wielded the gavel.

After all, what’s Negron gonna do? Chair an appropriations subcommittee?

Better to go out on top, Mr. President.

And if Negron is going to resign, it would be much better for all involved if he were to make a decision about his future plans BEFORE statewide qualifying in June.

He should announce his resignation plans in enough time for Gov. Rick Scott to call for a special election to coincide with the upcoming primary and general elections.

This way, not only is there no additional cost to taxpayers, but Negron’s Senate district won’t run the risk of going without representation during the run-up to the 2019 Session.

Negron is a considerate man who seems to pride himself on evaluating all options before deciding on a course of action.

He should be afforded enough time to make the right decision about his future political plans. But if he’s leaning toward an early exit, he should also do what’s best for his district and the state and announce those plans in a timely fashion.


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

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.26.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Maybe the March For Our Lives pulled some people off the sideline and converted them to the cause of ending gun violence here and around the world.

We hope so.

But you know what?

We know how the other side thinks, and they are betting against that. They figure that within a few more days, maybe a couple of weeks, the story of Saturday’s world-wide protests will vanish from the nightly news, front pages and the public’s collective interest.

They figure everyone will be distracted by Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, or some other event that becomes THE story of the news cycle.

Sure, the students who organized and led marches – especially those from Parkland – were compelling and the crowds were large. But the other side is wagering that the majority of participants will soon lose the fire in their bellies that pushed them to get involved following the slaughter of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

They’ll be distracted enough with final exams, summer jobs, or heading to college in the fall. Oh sure, some of them will follow through on their vow to stay active during the buildup to the mid-term elections and that might flip a few seats to the Democrats.

Not enough to change the balance of power though.

That’s why we haven’t heard much from Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell.

Just lay low, let it burn out.

That’s why the president, who tweets about everything, acted like the march had typhoid and avoided it – although, to be fair, he did say Friday his administration will work to ban bump stocks.

He did, by the way, find time to declare Sunday national Greek Independence Day – so there is that.


— @Pontifex: Dear young people, never get tired of being instruments of peace and joy among your peers!

— @VP: Karen and I join with millions of believers across the country and around the world as we celebrate Palm Sunday. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” #PalmSunday

@DeFede: “I think Rick Scott is a buffoon.” – @TuckerCarlson just now on @FoxNews ragarding the gun issue.

— @JaredEMoskowitz: . @Montel_Williams Pleasure meeting you yesterday. A powerful advocate. I apologize in advance for my misguided friend @mattgaetz.

@NewsBySmiley: Just bumped into Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. “I have a significant renewed level of hope in this country… our kids are going to lead the way.”

— @PatriciaMazzei: Landed in Miami and the flight crew went on the intercom to “congratulate the millennials” who marched in Washington. “We appreciate your courage,” she said. Passengers applauded.

— @AmyEWalter: We’ll know that the gun-control issue is politically potent one for Dems when they start campaigning on it in the swing CDs they need to win control of Congress.

— @Rob_Bradley: There’s a lot of talk about who the world should be listening to at this moment. I encourage listening to many voices, particularly those that challenge u. I respectfully recommend listening the father of a slain child, a man who inspires me, @rpetty.

@Corey_Clark (re: FSU Basketball): A great run ends in the Elite Eight. That was a fun team to watch and write about. And almost the whole team comes back next year.


Major League Baseball Opening Day — 3; Easter – 6; Reporting deadline for Q1 fundraising – 20; NFL Draft begins – 31; Avengers: Infinity War opens – 32; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 38; Mother’s Day – 58; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 60; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 88; Deadline for filing claim bills – 128; Primary Election Day — 155; College Football opening weekend – 159; General Election Day — 225; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 325; 2019 Legislative Session starts – 344.

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


Inspired by Stoneman Douglas students, marchers rally across Florida to demand tougher gun laws” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida – Tens of thousands of people hit the streets across Florida, joining hundreds of thousands of others in Washington and cities around the country, in calling for tougher gun laws in a nationwide rally and march inspired by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who have sought to turn a terrible tragedy into a massive movement. Stoneman Douglas senior Emma González, who along with several classmates have become the face of the fight to end gun violence, was in Washington for Saturday’s “March for Our Lives” rally … She was joined by some 250 people, mostly fellow students from Stoneman Douglas, who embarked on buses for the sojourn to the nation’s capital. In an op-ed she wrote for Teen Vogue, González said the movement was just getting started. “In just a few weeks’ time, we, the youth of the United States, have built a new movement to denounce gun violence and call for safety in all of our communities. And this is only the beginning,” she wrote.

— “The 6 most memorable species at the March for Our Lives in D.C.” via Kayla Epstein and Teddy Amenabar of the Washington Post

— “Seven most memorable moments from ‘March for Our Lives’ ” via Max Greenwood of The Hill

– “For Parkland students, a surreal journey from ‘normal’ to a worldwide march” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times

— “Impact of March For Our Lives goes as far as Argentina” via Mary Ellen Klas and Emily Kennedy (it’s the latter’s first byline with her mother)

Marco Rubio gets swift pushback for comments on March for Our Lives” via ABC News – “I respect their views and recognize that many Americans support certain gun bans,” Rubio said. “However, many other Americans do not support a gun ban. They too want to prevent mass shootings, but view banning guns as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens that ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.” His statement, released just before the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., ended, immediately attracted a flood of criticism on social media, especially for his characterization of the march as a demand for a “gun ban.” “Was having teens own you on national television not humiliating enough? You need to be owned online too?” author and music journalist Dan Ozzi tweeted. “Saying this march is about banning guns is a gross oversimplification,” Twitter user Alyssa Marie wrote. “Instead of fostering a healthy discussion you are cowering behind a cheap deflection tactics. I hope to God I’m not living in Florida in 2022, but I WILL dedicate time and money to outing you as a senator.”

Maybe Rubio should read this –AP poll: Support soars for stricter gun control laws” via Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson of The Associated Press – A new poll found a majority of gun owners and half of Republicans favor new laws to address gun violence in the weeks after a Florida school shooting left 17 dead and sparked nationwide protests. The poll, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that nearly 7 in 10 adults now favor stricter gun control measures. That’s the strongest level of support since The Associated Press first asked the question five years ago. The new poll also found that nearly half of Americans do not expect elected officials to take action. Overall, 69 percent of Americans think gun laws in the United States should be made stricter. That’s up from 61 percent who said the same in October 2016 and 55 percent when the AP first asked the question in October 2013. Overall, 90 percent of Democrats, 54 percent of gun owners and 50 percent of Republicans now favor stricter gun control laws. Sixty percent believe that making it harder to legally obtain a gun would result in fewer mass shootings; just 49 percent said the same in the 2016 poll. The new poll finds support for specific gun control measures even among those who bristle at the term “gun control.”

Maybe Rick Santorum shouldn’t talk – “Rick Santorum: Parkland students should learn CPR instead of marching” via Kevin Robillard of POLITICO Florida – In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Santorum was arguing gun laws wouldn’t make schools safer on their own when he made the comments, and said the students should instead focus on ways to help respond to a mass shooter instead of advocating for tougher laws. “How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter [so] that you can actually respond to that?” he said during a panel discussion. Santorum went on to suggest that “phony gun laws” wouldn’t keep students safe. “They didn’t take action to say, ‘How do I, as an individual, deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?'” he said. “Instead of going and protesting and saying, ‘Oh, someone else needs to pass a law to protect me.'”

Delta helps hundreds of students fly to DC for gun protest” via The Associated Press – Delta Air Lines has donated three round-trip charter flights that allowed hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to participate in the “March for Our Lives” protest against gun violence in Washington. Delta said the donation is “part of our commitment to supporting the communities we serve.” It’s not Delta’s first involvement with the issue. After last month’s shooting, Delta said it will no longer offer discounted fares to members of the National Rifle Association to reflect its neutral status on the gun-control debate.


Florida’s midterms loom large in ‘March for Our Lives’” via Eric Garcia of Roll Call – Many demonstrators voiced anger at lawmakers who, in their opinion, had failed to do enough. In Florida, where the Feb. 14mass shooting in Broward County is still fresh, what candidates are willing to do in response to gun violence has taken on a new importance in midterm campaigns. Florida’s senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, also was at the march. Since the Parkland shooting, he has become increasingly vocal about changing gun laws. His potential Republican challenger, Gov. Scott, signed into law a new set of gun regulations earlier this month. Floridians participating in Saturday’s march in D.C. were divided about the legislation Scott signed. Todd Foote said he and his wife Denise had called “every single member” of the Legislature to urge them to pass the law later signed by Scott, whose actions he sees as positive. “He actually bucked the NRA, which I’m very happy with,” Foote said. But he’s not sure how he’ll vote in the Senate race this November.

— “Stoneman Douglas students won’t be endorsing political candidates” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida

Gun debate dominates campaign talk for Governor, Cabinet” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel –  Adam Putnam went on the NRA’s TV channel to criticize the gun-control provisions passed by state lawmakers in response to the Stoneman High shooting, blaming the news media for conflating Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect charged with 17 counts of murder, with the rest of gun owners. One Republican who helped push the bill through was Speaker Corcoran, who is considering a run for governor. The NRA sent a message to its members alerting them to Corcoran’s “betrayal” for pushing the bill. The NRA has not targeted Scott, who is term-limited but considering a run for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. Despite its support among a majority of Republicans, a significant faction voted against the new law, including every Republican running in a statewide primary. “Folks have very strong opinions about constitutional rights,” said Rep. Ross Spano, running for Attorney General against three other GOP candidates.

Gwen Graham marched with local students, Moms Demand Action volunteers, activists, and community members Saturday at the March for Our Lives in Orlando.

Democratic candidate for governor Chris King joined thousands of Floridians Saturday at the March for Our Lives through downtown Orlando, where he pledged to ban assault weapons and take on the NRA as governor. “I was honored to help lead today’s march and join with these incredible kids to call B.S. on politicians who were silent on gun violence and now want to reinvent their records in an election year,” King said.

Click the image below to watch King rally for gun safety in Orlando:

Assignment editors – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum will speak at the Volusia County Democratic Party meeting beginning 7 p.m. at Daytona State College, UCF Building, 1200 West International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach.

Assignment editors – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will meet with fast food workers and community activists to discuss raising the minimum wage beginning 11:30 a.m. at the home of Westley Williams, 1718 SW. 57th St. in West Park.

Spotted at Sean Shaw‘s campaign kick-off on Saturday at Alex Sink’s home in Thonotosassa – Levine, Reps. Janet Cruz, Ben Diamond, Margaret Good, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, Bob Buesing, Jennifer Webb, Jason Lamoureux, Joe Redner, and Dale Swope.

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw (center), with Rep. Ben Diamond (left) and former CFO Alex Sink at SInk’s home during Shaw’s kickoff for his Attorney General run.

Dem candidate recounts her history with gun violence in new ad to air during gun control march” via Sara Mucha of CNN – Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, whose father was shot and killed in Ecuador by an armed criminal, is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo in one of the country’s most competitive districts. “Oct. 18. To most it’s just another day, but to me, it isn’t. It’s the day my father was shot and killed by a criminal with a gun. And because of that senseless act of violence, my family’s life was never the same,” Mucarsel-Powell says in the ad. “In Congress, I won’t rest until there’s real change that keeps our families, our neighborhoods, and our schools safe. I owe that to everyone who has lost someone to gun violence,” she adds.

Tina Polsky announces two endorsements in HD 81 race” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – Polsky picked up endorsements Monday from and Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner and Boynton Beach City Commissioner Justin Katz. … “In the State House, I’m confident that Tina will be a team player capable of delivering real results and funding for Palm Beach County,” Kerner said … “I’m supporting Tina because she has proven to me that she understands and appreciates the economic and cultural diversity within our county,” said Katz. … Polsky is one of two Democrats running to replace current HD 81 Rep. Joe Abruzzo, who announced last month he would not seek re-election in order to spend more time with his son.

Third Democrat files for Katie Edwards-Walpole seat” via the News Service of Florida – Democrat Raphael Barak Socher opened a campaign account, becoming the third candidate planning to run this year in House District 98 … Socher joined fellow Democrats Andrew Dolberg and Michael Gottlieb, who also opened accounts this month after Edwards-Walpole announced she would not run. Meanwhile, in Hillsborough County, state Rep. Jake Raburn drew a challenger this week as he seeks another term in House District 57. Valrico Democrat Debbie Katt opened a campaign account to challenge Raburn … Raburn had raised $25,200 for his re-election bid as of Feb. 28.

Bill Montford still on the fence on TLH mayoral run – State Sen. Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, had said he would announce a decision on running for mayor of Tallahassee this past weekend, but a spokesman said the longtime elected official had not yet made up his mind. Montford did not respond to calls and messages left Sunday. Montford was a popular school principal, Leon County commissioner and schools superintendent before running for and winning his current position in 2010. His current Senate term is up in 2020. If he leaves the chamber early, Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee and GOP Rep. Halsey Beshears of Monticello are said to be interested in the seat. — STATEWIDE —

The new struggle for Florida schools: paying for education — and security” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida school district leaders are faced with a school security dilemma. Lawmakers are requiring them to add armed safety officers or “guardians” to every elementary, middle and high school campus, and they set aside $170 million for the task. But that won’t come close to projected costs. The gap — as little as $500,000 in some counties, more than $10 million in others — is leading to some potentially unpleasant choices. That’s because school board members also face other budget demands, such as a state-mandated increase in employee retirement contributions, paired with a tiny rise in revenue for general operations, if not a decrease. They’re also required to maintain a 3 percent reserve account or be hit with new and tougher penalties the Legislature imposed in its recent session.

Child marriage ban, year-round daylight saving time signed into law” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics – The marriage bill (SB 140) prevents minors from being granted nuptial licenses. With parental consent, 17-year-olds can wed under the new law to a partner within 2 years of age. allow exemptions for 17-year-olds. Currently, Florida law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry and gives a county judge discretion in providing licenses to women, of any age, who are pregnant and wish to wed their partner. The ban will repeal those provisions at the start of July. The daylight saving time legislation (HB 1013), dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act,” notifies Congress that the Sunshine State wishes to observe Daylight Saving, or ‘summertime,’ year-round. No changes to time observance will be made unless Congress authorizes the U.S. Department of Transportation to exempt Florida from ‘falling back’ each year.

’Direct primary care’ gets Scott approval” via the News Service of Florida – Scott signed a measure (HB 37) that amends the state insurance code to make clear that “direct primary care” agreements do not run afoul of insurance laws. Under direct primary-care agreements, doctors charge patients monthly fees in advance of providing services, with patients then able to access services at no extra cost. The bill, sponsored by House Insurance & Banking Chairman Danny Burgess and Sen. Tom Lee does not spell out how much can be charged or what services need to be included in the agreements. Primary care providers are defined as physicians, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, nurses or primary-care group practices. Speaker Corcoran made a priority of the direct-primary care issue, which also received heavy backing from the small-business group National Federation of Independent Business Florida.

Scott signs off on early start for 2020 Session” via the News Service of Florida – Scott signed a bill (HB 7045) that will lead to the 2020 Session starting in mid-January. Under the state constitution, legislative Sessions typically start in March. But the Legislature can decide to start Sessions at other times during even-numbered years. The Legislature voted to start the 2016 and 2018 Sessions in January. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate, will start the 2020 Session on Jan. 14.

Scott signs Ponce’s Law on National Puppy Day” via Nancy Niles of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – Ponce’s Law — named for the 9-month-old Labrador retriever puppy found beaten to death in the Ponce Inlet backyard of Travis Archer last year — allows a judge to bar someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning a pet and also makes it more likely an offender would go to prison. The bill increases a person’s score on sentencing guidelines for felony animal cruelty from a Level 3 (16 points) to a Level 5 (28 points), bringing an offender closer to a prison term. Someone with an offense greater than 44 points scores prison time. If someone scores more than 44 points and a judge decides not to sentence the person to prison, then the judge would have to explain the reason for departing from the guideline.

Scott signs law placing embattled Pinellas licensing board under county control” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times – Legislators and county commissioners alike hope the new law will subject the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to the oversight and transparency that they believe it has lacked. The Legislature created the board in 1973 as an independent agency, reporting to its own governing board, so only lawmakers could change that. The bill the governor signed has been waiting for a decision ever since legislators passed it March 8. A series of Tampa Bay Times articles detailed how the licensing board’s leaders and staff operated without oversight or accountability, disregarding agency rules and state law. The series also raised questions about whether the agency, tasked with protecting consumers from shady contractors, treated either groups fairly.

Scott OKs Seminole County cardroom – The governor has signed a measure (HB 1017) that gives local control over the opening of a cardroom at the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. The bill allows only the Seminole County Commission to decide whether state gambling regulators can issue a license to offer card games at the pari-mutuel. Currently, Florida law allows the state to issue licenses to pari-mutuels if they get approvals from their city commissions, unless the locations are in unincorporated areas, when the law requires approvals from the county commissions. The dog track in question has been pushing for years to open a cardroom, but has long been rebuffed by the Longwood City Commission.

Greg Evers honored in road-designation bill” via the News Service of Florida – A bill signed by Gov. Scott will honor former state Sen. Evers, a Baker Republican who died Aug. 22 when his truck ran off a road near his home in Northwest Florida. The bill (SB 382), which passed the House and Senate on March 9, designates a portion of State Road 4 in Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties as “Senator Greg Evers Memorial Highway.” Evers served in the Florida House before his election to the Senate in 2010.

Flags were at half-staff for fallen service members – Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff to honor two Navy Aviators: Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King of Port Orange. They died last Wednesday when their F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed on final approach near the Naval Air Station in Key West. The two were assigned to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron 213, Carrier Air Wing Eight based at the Naval Air Station in Oceana, Virginia. Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Volusia County Courthouse Annex in Daytona Beach, the Brevard County Courthouse in Viera, City Hall in South Daytona, City Hall in Port Orange, City Hall in Holly Hill, and at the Capitol in Tallahassee, sunrise to sunset on Saturday.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will hold a signing ceremony for SB 7028 and HB 7099, which makes permanent the emergency rules requiring every nursing home and ALF in Florida to have emergency generators. Scott issued the rule last year following the tragedy at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills during Hurricane Irma. Event begins 10 a.m. at the Calusa Harbor Health Center, Continuing Care Community, 2525 E. 1st St. in Fort Myers.

Protect Tobacco Free Florida applauds amendment’s demise” via Florida Politics – The Protect Tobacco Free Florida coalition is cheering the death of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have affected anti-smoking marketing efforts. “This positive outcome preserves Florida’s constitutional commitment to protect the health of Floridians by using Big Tobacco’s own money to tell the truth about the dangers of their products,” said the coalition’s statement, released Friday. Rep. Jeanette Nunez, a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), said Thursday she will no longer push a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated a requirement that the state set aside 30 percent of overall tobacco-education and prevention funding for an edgy advertising and marketing campaign.


A new series of video testimonies from the Consumer Protection Coalition, spearheaded by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, highlights the growing need for assignment of benefits reform.

The latest video is of “Barbara G.”

Memorial Day weekend of last year, Barbara and her husband discovered a water leak under the kitchen sink of their Weeki Wachee home. In the video, she recounts the contractor telling her to “just sign this piece of paper and everything will be fine.” Before that, Barbara had never heard of an AOB.

So began an ongoing, 10-month nightmare:

– The contractor demolished her kitchen, pulling out the island, breaking and removing her granite countertops and sink, and digging up the flooring. When an insurance adjuster arrived the following day to inspect the water leak damage “there was no evidence left,” Barbara said.

– At one point, the contractor refused to tell Barbara how much he was charging her insurance company for repairs … eventually she learned it was more than $36,000. The contractor also wouldn’t allow her to pick her replacement cabinets or the depth.

– After losing control over the renovation process the couple experienced emotional distress and felt “violated in their own home.”

– To this day, Barbara and her husband are still trying to finish the job … they are still dealing with final payment to the contractor.

Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, explains: “As AOB abuse has grown and spread, more residents are stepping forward to share their stories and warn others about the risks of signing an AOB. These are honest, hard-working Florida families who are being hurt by loopholes in state law that the Legislature can fix.”


Frustrated Matt Gaetz votes against budget, including Gulf Test Range funding” via Jim Thompson of the NWF Daily News – A $1.3 trillion federal spending bill that includes $30 million for upgrades to the Gulf Test Range was passed by Congress without the support of a frustrated Rep. Gaetz. Gaetz is one of the strongest voices in Congress for improving the massive military testing area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Gaetz said he is frustrated that Congress can’t take a line-by-line approach to spending plans, and must settle for “one massive up-and-down vote” on funding the government. In a statement released after the House vote, Gaetz was critical that the 2,232-page bill, and an additional 1,507 pages of explanatory materials, were made available just 16 hours before the scheduled House vote. Gaetz said he had not engaged in any political calculus on the vote, taking a stand against the spending plan while knowing that it likely would pass the House with funding for the Gulf Test Range and other military expenditures even with his “no” vote.

Francis Rooney tours Everglades to gain support for restoration projects” via Chad Gillis of the Naples Daily News – “Today was a big day to get funding for our Everglades restoration projects,” he said after a news conference at the Naples Airport. “We need the last $30 million for Picayune Strand to finish it. It’s almost done. We need that $30 million out of $600 million (for the entire project).” The Naples congressman toured the area with Mike Simpson, chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and former Speaker of the House John Boehner, among others. He said the group talked about the health of Lake Okeechobee and discharges down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

Once esteemed by the NRA, Brian Mast now pushes gun control” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – When Mast was elected to Congress 17 months ago, he held a coveted “A” grade and campaign cash from the politically potent National Rifle Association. Now, former supporters are condemning him for what they see as a profound betrayal even as he’s heralded for his courage by one of the nation’s leading gun-control organizations. The transformation stems from Mast’s reaction to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, in which he broke dramatically from the playbook used by the NRA and Republican politicians whenever there’s a mass shooting. The reactions came quickly: Fury among grassroots conservative voters and activists — and angst among Republican Party leaders. Praise from gun-control advocates who are more used to supporting Democrats than praising Republicans. Questions about the effect on Mast’s re-election prospects this year in the northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie county 18th District.— OPINIONS —

Tariffs on paper will hurt us, and our readers” via Paul Tash of the Tampa Bay Times – This month, the U.S. government piled huge tariffs onto the imports of newsprint from Canada, including those from our biggest supplier. As a result, the price will jump from $600 to $800 for every ton, and we use about 17,000 tons every year. That increase is more than 30 percent, and would add more than $3 million to the Tampa Bay Times’ annual newsprint bill. You can multiply our example across the American newspaper industry, which is already facing strong headwinds. Historically, advertising provided the lion’s share of newspaper revenue, but in just 10 years, the recession and other market forces have cut those ad revenues by more than half. These tariffs will hurt our readers, because they create pressure to raise our prices, and they will force publishers to re-examine every other expense. Maybe we will drop some puzzles and comics — no big deal, unless we cut one that is your favorite.

Parkland students are first glimpse of post-millennial wave that will change the country” via Ron Brownstein of CNN – Don’t look now, but here comes the post-millennial generation…in their racial diversity, attitudes toward religion and culture, their digital fluency and their political priorities, this emerging generation — usually called the post-millennials, sometimes labeled Generation Z — might shake American life even more profoundly than the millennials. … For Republicans who have nervously watched polls showing an enormous backlash against President Donald Trump’s insular nationalism among the millennials, this younger generation could represent an even greater threat. … By 2024 — just two presidential elections from now — the generation of young people that includes the students organizing a march on Washington next month to demand gun control will represent 1 in every 10 eligible voters.

Mayors want to pass gun safety laws, but the NRA and our state legislatures won’t let us” via Andrew Gillum, Bill Peduto and Ted Wheeler for USA TODAY – As mayors, we’re elected to take on big challenges. Atop that list should be smart, common-sense local firearms laws that keep guns out of the wrong hands, keep guns out of public spaces, and keep the threat of gun violence and mass shootings at bay. There’s no doubt about the need for thoughtful new gun ordinances. Mayors across the country are ready to pass them, enhancing public safety in our cities. But we can’t — because our states have banned us from enacting local gun laws. Forty-three states have some form of gun preemption, a tactic increasingly used by state legislators to prevent cities and counties from making local laws and decisions. It’s happening in your state. And it’s happening because lobbyists and special interests know it’s easier to influence a few state lawmakers in 50 state capitols than thousands of local mayors and city councils.

Not every good idea belongs in Florida’s Constitution” via Ed Moore for the Tallahassee Democrat – A classic example of how not to amend a state constitution occurred in 2002 when a proposed amendment was added to the ballot via citizen initiative to prevent caging of pregnant pigs. Ask yourself: Would a similar measure belong in the U.S. Constitution? The U.S. Constitution is a document that’s lasted over two centuries, remains focused on ensuring government doesn’t intrude upon the constitutional rights of citizens, and offers a clear and concise description of how national government should be structured. Shouldn’t the purpose of the state instrument be similar in nature and composition? The U.S. Constitution has 8,770 words, whereas, the Florida Constitution has more than 44,000 words. What does that tell you? It tells us we should be very selective. As this process continues, we encourage you to ask yourself if the constitution is the right place for each issue. If you support an idea, but it isn’t one that belongs in Florida’s constitution but rather in statutes, we urge you to contact your local legislators and tell them you support the idea, but not its inclusion in our state constitution.


Mori Hosseini elected chair of University of Florida board” via Florida Politics – Hosseini will succeed Bill Heavener when his term as chair ends in June. Heavener has chaired the board since 2016. “Our new Board Chair exemplifies the leadership, vision and guidance that will be key to moving the University of Florida toward its goal of becoming a top-five university,” UF President Kent Fuchs said in a press release. Hosseini, a homebuilder by trade, is a past chair of the Board of Governors for the State University System. He has been a member of the UF board since 2016, when he was appointed to the post by Gov. Scott. In 2015, INFLUENCE Magazine listed Hosseini as one of the 100 most influential Floridians.

Appointments – Dr. Sue Kim, Dr. Glenda Walters and Thomas Lang (reappointed) to the Florida Humanities Council; Mario Facella to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation; Pamela Tuscany and Pieter Bockweg to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council; Laura DiBella to the Florida State College at Jacksonville District Board of Trustees; Wendell Davis to the St. Johns River State College District Board of Trustees; Major Milton Mandell, Chris Rietow, Jeffrey Obos, Sean McGinnis and Alvin Henderson to the State Emergency Response Commission; Troy Hart and Roger Stevens (reappointed) and John Dalsimer to the Continuing Care Advisory Council; Bart Gaetjens, Marilyn “Bunny” Finney, Sharon Underill and Todd Morley (reappointed) to the Children’s Services Council of Brevard County; Gerald Jowers and Tim Keating (reappointed) and Jeffrey Sedloff to the West Orange Healthcare District; Mario Facella to the Florida Housing Finance Corporation; Christine Sardina and Robert Norris (reappointed) to the Lee County Housing Authority.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Paul Bradshaw, David Browning, James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Abrams Fensterman

Chris Carmody, GrayRobinson: University of Central Florida Foundation

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: North Broward Hospital District

Pete Murray, Colodny Fass: G4S Secure Solutions (USA)

Wayne Huizenga, who built his fortune from trash, dies at 80” via Steven Wine and Terry Spencer of The Associated Press – Huizenga, a college dropout who built a business empire that included Blockbuster Entertainment, AutoNation and three professional sports franchises, has died. The cause was cancer …  Starting with a single garbage truck in 1968, Huizenga built Waste Management Inc. into a Fortune 500 company. He purchased independent sanitation engineering companies, and by the time he took the company public in 1972, he had completed the acquisition of 133 small-time haulers. By 1983, Waste Management was the largest waste disposal company in the United States. The business model worked again with Blockbuster Video, which he started in 1985 and built into the leading movie rental chain nine years later. In 1996, he formed AutoNation and built it into a Fortune 500 company.

— ALOE —

Legoland Florida: Virtual reality now a reality with new great Lego race coaster” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel – Its Great Lego Race roller coaster, a VR reimagining of its previous ride called Project X, debuted here … While the track – along with its up, down and hairpin curves – remains exactly the same, the visual experience is completely, wackily different. For one thing, riders are surrounded by legions of Lego’s trademark minifigures, right from the start. And the attraction now (virtually) goes where it would be nearly impossible to go in real life: over cliffs, down rapids and into a cheering throng at the finish line. The look is crisp and very much like the style seen in “The Lego Movie” series. What you don’t see, thanks to the immersive Samsung headsets, is the rest of Legoland Florida. “What we did is painstakingly map out every inch of this roller coaster. What you feel and what you see are actually in sync with each other. That’s what makes the virtual reality work,” said Keith Carr, a project director of Merlin Magic Making, the creative branch of Merlin Entertainment Group, which operates Legoland parks around the world. “What we wanted to do was take and enhance the drops and take and enhance the turns, and that’s what the VR allows us to do,” he said.

Baseball 2018: Beastly teams, Shohei Ohtani and make way for MVs” via Ben Walker of The Associated Press – Just the thought of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge in the same lineup sent fans into a frenzy. Come opening day, all of baseball will see which teams really have the muscle. A season of haves and have-nots begins March 29 with Derek Jeter’s pared-down Marlins playing the pumped-up Cubs. Later that day, the New York Yankees unleash their most potent pair of sluggers since Mantle & Maris. MVP Jose Altuve and the World Series champion Houston Astros added ace Gerrit Cole to a rotation with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. The Dodgers and Indians are still poised after coming within one win of that elusive crown. The Nationals hired a new manager to help free agent-to-be Bryce Harper, Max Scherzerand Stephen Strasburg reach the top. And the Red Sox got the bopper they needed. Where does that leave the Reds, Pirates, Tigers, Rays and A’s? Well, better luck next year. Or the year after that. A season that will include games in Mexico and Puerto Rico is set to start. And, if all goes as planned, the final game will come in October.

Happy birthday belatedly to state Rep. John CortesBrian Blanco, the wonderful Sara Clements, our friend Glen Gilzean, and Kathy Salerno. Celebrating today are Ralph Arza, Brittany Dover, and Charlie Gray.

Takeaways from Tallahassee — A brewer gets bigger

One of the state’s premier breweries just got a lot closer to the Capitol.

Proof Brewing Company announced this week it would move its operations to an old Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on South Monroe Street, within walking distance of downtown Tallahassee and Cascades Park.

The brewery is now housed in a former warehouse in the capital city’s Railroad Square Art Park.

Proof Brewing Company is moving operations to an old Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on South Monroe Street.

The next 34,000 square-foot building marks an expansion for the brewery, which expects to increase production capacity to 30,000 barrels — up from 6,000 barrels produced in 2017.

Proof, which touts it has doubled production each year since 2012, will add more packaged brands in cans and employees with the move to Monroe Street. The new facility is expected to open as early as this winter and will let customers enjoy an expanded tasting room, retail store, private event space, kitchen, and — yes — beer garden.

“This will be a year of growth and development for Proof Brewing Company,” said Proof owners Byron and Angela Burroughs. “We are proud of our growth in Tallahassee and we’re thrilled to reinvest back into the community that has been so supportive of us.”

Tallahassee, with five brew houses, still has a way to go from challenging Tampa’s unofficial claim of craft beer capital for the state, though.

The Big Guava “has over 50 craft breweries to date,” according to the Tallahassee Beer Society. “But Tallahassee’s craft beer scene is growing … and faster than anyone ever expected.”

In a recent column in the Tallahassee Democrat, the group noted two more “breweries on the horizon”: Fool’s Fire Brewing in the All Saints District, and Tally Brewing Co., now looking for digs.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Andrew Wilson, Danny McAuliffe, A.G. Gancarski and Peter Schorsch.

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

Rick Scott signs opioid legislation — Gov. Scott signed into law this week a bill aimed at curbing the state’s opioid crisis. Specifically, the legislation targets the practice of physicians overprescribing opioids to patients. The new law limits opioid prescriptions for acute pain to a three-day supply, and, when deemed medically necessary, a seven-day supply. Certain patients, such as those suffering cancer, will not be affected by the new prescription limits. Scott signed the legislation at Manatee Sheriff’s Office in Bradenton, a hotbed for opioid abuse in the Sunshine State. Accompanying the bill (HB 21) is more than $65 million in the state budget to target the drug epidemic.

Parkland fact-finding commission formed — State leaders announced the members of a 15-person panel charged with investigating the failures that led to the Valentine’s Day tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The commission, spawned through the passage of the landmark school safety and mental health package this Session, will be headed by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. The panel also includes three fathers of students slain in the shooting and state Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat.

Victims’ rights on horizon —  A high-profile proposal that would codify rights for crime victims won key approval in the Constitution Revision Commission and now heads to the CRC’s Style and Drafting Committee. The constitutional amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, would provide rights that are expected to shield victims from harassment. It also gives victims the option to speak in public proceedings and the right to be informed of the offender’s status in the judicial system. The measure will need to be approved by 22 CRC members after formal ballot language is drafted. It then must win 60 percent voter approval to be written into the state’s governing document. The CRC meets every 20 years to review the state constitution and propose revisions that are placed directly on the ballot.

Greyhound ban could reach ballot — After lengthy debate, the CRC narrowly advanced a proposed constitutional amendment that would effectively end greyhound racing if approved by voters in November. Commissioners pushed the amendment in an 18-14 vote. To appear on the ballot in November, it will need the approval of 22 members of the panel after the amendment’s language is finalized. Critics of the proposed ban say it could adversely affect businesses in the gaming industry and could open the state up to potentially expensive lawsuits. If the prohibition reaches the ballot in November and receives 60 percent voter approval, the amendment would phase out racing by June 30, 2020.

Gun amendments shot down — At the behest of public testimony, CRC Commissioner Roberto Martinez sought — but ultimately failed — to add gun control provisions passed by the Legislature this year to the state’s constitution. The language, which Martinez wanted to tack onto an existing proposal, would have mandated a three-day waiting period for all gun purchases, increased the age requirement to 21 and banned bump stocks. The provisions were in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, but were deemed in violation of the body’s rules and were not considered by the commission. House Speaker Richard Corcoran told the CRC ahead of Martinez’ move that the gun laws were “inappropriate for inclusion” in the state’s governing document.

The week in appointments

Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees

Rolando Montoya is the retired provost of Miami Dade College. The 63-year-old Miamian is an alum of the Technological Institute of Monterrey, where he picked up his 4-year, and of Florida International University, where he earned his master’s and doctorate. He’s filling a vacant seat for a term ending May 31, 2021.

Florida Humanities Council

Dr. Sue Kim, 73, of Ormond Beach, is a retired psychiatrist. She is reappointed for a term ending Nov. 13, 2020.

Dr. Glenda Walters, 75, of Lynn Haven, is a community volunteer and retired teacher from Bay District Schools and adjunct professor with Gulf Coast Community College, Florida State University Panama City, and Barry University. She is reappointed for a term ending Nov. 13, 2020.

Thomas Lang, 74, of Orlando, is the owner of the Law Office of Thomas F. Lang. He is reappointed for a term ending Jan. 1, 2021.

Florida Housing Finance Corporation

Mario Facella, 50, of Loxahatchee, is a senior lender with TD Bank. He fills a vacant seat and is appointed for a term ending Nov. 13, 2020. This appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council

Pamela Tuscany, 62, of Melbourne, is the vice president of production at Universal Orlando Resort. She is reappointed for a term ending Aug. 19, 2019.

Pieter Bockweg, 43, of Miami, is the executive director of Midtown CRA. He is reappointed for a term ending Aug. 19, 2021.

Agency for State Technology, UWF launch new cybersecurity initiative

The state is leading an effort to protect digital records and data, keeping pace with the ever-evolving field of technology.

The Agency for State Technology and the University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity launched nuanced cybersecurity education and training this week for state personnel.

State workers tasked with handling information received primary education intended to increase awareness of cyber threats in the digital age. Other modules included cybersecurity incident management, network defense, operating system hardening, risk management and cloud security.

AST Executive Director and state Chief Information Officer Eric Larson.

“As the threats evolve, we must continue to train our information security and technology resources,” said AST Executive Director and state Chief Information Officer Eric Larson.

The Center for Cybersecurity at UWF will use its resources to provide simulations, ranges and training environments for state personnel. A national academic leader in the field, the center will use its Cybersecurity for All program to increase the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals throughout the state and later the nation.

“This program will position Florida as a leader in cybersecurity resiliency and innovation, enhance higher education and research, and serve as a best practice model for cybersecurity workforce development,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, UWF Center for Cybersecurity director.

Dane Eagle touts under-the-radar school district reform

Legislation seeking to increase fiscal responsibility in the state’s school districts didn’t get much playtime in the media, but, according to state Rep. Dane Eagle, it could be a game changer for how tax dollars are spent in the state.

The bill (HB 1279) brings greater transparency to each district by requiring school districts to post financial summaries to their websites, Eagle — a Cape Coral Republican — said in an email to supporters.

Dane Eagle is seeking greater transparency for school districts by requiring financial summaries posted to their websites.

Those summaries will include data that measures the efficiency of per-pupil spending and other nuanced indicators of how well money is spent in each district.

The bill also will require each district to hire an internal auditor and caps school board member salaries to an amount no higher than that of a first-year teacher’s salary.

In instances of financial emergencies, the bill mandates that superintendent and school board member salaries be withheld until the issue is resolved. All changes go into effect July 1, 2019.

“I believe this bill ensures that our state’s public schools use your tax dollars in the most efficient and effective way possible,” Eagle said in the email. “I am proud to support legislation that gives Florida’s taxpayers the transparency and accountability they deserve from their elected officials.”

Bill Montford, Loranne Ausley secure funds for Big Bend food bank

When disasters strike, food banks are critical to recovery.

Tallahassee-area state lawmakers Rep. Loranne Ausley and Sen. Bill Montford highlighted that fact this week and stressed the importance of a $1 million state budget appropriation they successfully sponsored for Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

The Northwest Florida food bank serves the 11-county region of the Big Bend and will use the money to buy its warehouse facility, purchase and install a generator, and make facility upgrades ahead of the 2019 hurricane season.

Loranne Ausley joined Sen. Bill Montford in sponsoring a $1 million state budget appropriation for Second Harvest of the Big Bend.

One of three Feeding America centers in the state, Second Harvest of the Big Bend plays a critical role in disaster response. During hurricanes Irma and Hermine, it distributed more than 350,000 pounds of emergency food, water and supplies to affected areas.

“A hurricane disrupts everyday life, but for a family already facing food insecurity, it can be disastrous,” said Montford. Added Ausley: “I am honored to help Second Harvest continue to strengthen our statewide capacity to address food and water needs in the event of a disaster.”

Instagram of the week

Ads thank lawmakers for campus ‘free speech’ bill

Generation Opportunity-Florida is thanking lawmakers for greenlighting a proposal to ban “free-speech zones” on college campuses with a new mail campaign.

“When free speech was under attack on Florida’s college campuses…,” the mailer reads. “Your leaders stood up to protect the First Amendment.”

Bob Rommel and Dennis Baxley are getting accolades for their ‘free speech’ bill.

GO-FL didn’t list all the lawmakers who will get mailers in their districts, though earlier this year the group thanked Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Bob Rommel for sponsoring the “Campus Free Expression Act” in the Senate and House. Also on the list are House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron.

“We are encouraging Floridians to thank the officials who stood up for their First Amendment rights by supporting legislation that finally brought an end to the unconstitutional practice of ‘free speech zones’ on college campuses,” Generation Opportunity Florida head Demetrius Minor said.

“Thanks to the efforts of these legislators, free speech will no longer be banished to the hidden corners of our state’s publicly funded campuses.”

Byron and Erika Donalds to headline JMI event

Husband and wife duo Rep. Byron Donalds and CRC Commissioner Erika Donalds will give a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Legislative Session and the Constitution Revision Commission during an April event hosted by The James Madison Institute.

Husband and wife team of Byron and Erika Donalds will give a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Legislative Session during an April event hosted by The James Madison Institute.

The Tallahassee think-tank event, titled “Inside Sources,” will take place at The Columns, 100 North Duval Street, on April 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Heavy hors-d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided.

Those looking to attend can contact The James Madison Institute at (850) 386-3131 or email JMI’s director of events and logistics, Jessica Brewton, at

State bat eviction deadline approaches

Your taxes aren’t the only things due in the middle of April — it’s also the deadline for removing bats from buildings or other privately-owned structures.

Under Florida law, it’s illegal to remove bat colonies — a process known as ‘exclusion’ — from their roosts each year between April 15 and Aug. 15.

The Florida bat eviction approaches.

The reason? According to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, April 15 marks the beginning of bat maternity season, when young bats cannot yet fly and are essentially trapped at the roost.

“During bat maternity season, bats gather to give birth and raise their young,” said Terry Doonan, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologist and mammal conservation coordinator. “The season lasts until the young bats can fly and feed themselves. In Florida, this occurs from mid-April through mid-August for most bat species.”

It is illegal to harm or kill bats in Florida, although guidelines are available for those who want to evict or exclude the flying creatures from specific areas. Florida is home to 13 bat species, which help control insect populations. Across the nation, bats’ insect suppression results in benefits to agriculture valued in the billion-dollar range.

County officials back CRC prop protecting their jobs

County constitutional officers — sheriffs, tax collectors, clerks of the court and property appraisers — came out in support of a Constitution Revision Commission proposal requiring those jobs be chosen via elections.

CRC proposal 13 would bar counties charters from abolishing offices, transferring their duties, altering the length of terms, or eschewing elections.

County constitutional officers are in favor of a CRC proposal requiring those jobs be chosen via elections.

The county officials last year launched Constitutional Officer Resource Experts (CORE), to unite Florida’s constitutional officers and educated the public on their role in the state and the constitutional revision process.

“Proposal 13 will only improve the customer service constitutional officers provide to the citizens they serve. As an elected and independent property appraiser I am able to focus on the process, and if a problem arises, I can fix it quickly. I am able to do this because I am elected and directly accountable to the people,” said Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker.

Proposal sponsor and Martin County Clerk of the Court Carolyn Timmann echoed those sentiments, adding that the proposal “is about the framework of our state constitution; it is about trusting and allowing the voters to decide the qualifications and responsibilities for their elected officials.”

Florida Physical Therapy Association lauds opioid legislation

A state-backed move to address the opioid crisis drew praise this week from a group representing more than 6,000 physical therapists in the state.

The Florida Physical Therapy Association commended a comprehensive opioid bill signed into law Monday by Gov. Scott. The group played a supporting role in implementing into the bill mandatory training for physicians who prescribe opioids.

Citing a report released in November by the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission that showed 5,725 opiate-related deaths in the state in 2016, FPTA President Jamie Dyson said the “seriousness of this epidemic cannot be understated.”

Florida physical therapists are applauding the state’s new opioid regulations.

“This bill which recently passed and was signed into law by Governor Scott hopefully will go a long way toward stemming the death rate by helping patients manage their pain and minimize their risk,” Dyson said. “We pledge that FPTA will continue its work on multiple advocacy fronts to support additional efforts to add to this initial legislation.”

The Florida Physical Therapy Association specifically thanked Gov. Scott and state lawmakers Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Rep. Jim Boyd, who championed the legislation through their respective chambers.

Florida No. 1 in building codes

Florida’s buildings can take a beating from hurricanes like no other, according to a new report released by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

While the Sunshine State topping the list in hurricane hardening might seem like a no-brainer, the 2018 score moves Florida past Virginia for the top spot in the rankings.

Florida scored a 95, one point up from its 2015 score of 94, while the Old Dominion state did the inverse, slipping from 95 to 94 over the three-year stretch.

The report said: “Evidence shows that strong, well-enforced building codes reduce loss and facilitate recovery.”

“This was most apparent in Florida, where nearly 80 percent of homes subjected to Irma’s highest winds were built after adoption of building code improvements following Hurricane Andrew.”

The only thing needed to bring Florida to a perfect score is a continuing ed requirement, so builders and can keep up to date on the residential code.

FSU Law on the rise

Florida State University Law School is the 47th best in the nation, according to the latest batch of U.S. News and World Report rankings.

The new designation is up one spot from last year, showing the university continues to prove itself as a top destination for aspiring legal minds. The school came in at the 24 spot among the nation’s best public law schools.

Florida State University Law School is among the tops in the nation.

FSU and the University of Florida are the best law schools in the state, according to the report. UF ranked 41 across all law schools.

FSU law received the designation for its selectivity and graduation placement rates. It ranks among top law schools for graduate employment, and the 2017 incoming class had a median LSAT of 159 and a median GPA of 3.61.

“We are thrilled that U.S. News continues to rank us among the nation’s top law schools and that we continue to improve in these rankings,” said Dean Erin O’Connor.

It’s not just the law school, FSU says

Florida State’s law school took the No. 47 spot on U.S. News’ list, but that’s not the only fresh entry on the Seminole brag board: graduate programs in criminology, business, education, nursing and engineering all made significant jumps in the publication’s annual rankings.

“These new rankings reflect Florida State University’s ascent in national prominence as one of the top research institutions in the nation,” said Sally McRorie, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “This is evidence of the excellence of our faculty and students across a breadth of disciplines.”

The new rankings put the criminology and criminal justice school in the top-5 nationwide, a two-spot bump.

“We are pleased that our college continues to be recognized as a national and world leader in academic excellence with renowned faculty and highly gifted students,” said Thomas G. Blomberg, dean of the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

The nursing master’s program had the most impressive gain, rising 37 spots in the rankings, while the doctoral program gained 15 places. Both finished at No. 66 nationally. The part-time MBA program also had a dramatic gain — it rocketed up to No. 44 from last year’s No. 71 position.

Education graduate programs rose six spots to No. 46, while the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering climbed seven places. Its public finance and budgeting specialty in the public affairs category moved up eight spots to No. 15.

Leon County public works feted

Leon County picked up some awards from the Big Bend Branch of American Public Works Association earlier this month.

APWA says its awards program “promotes excellence in the management and administration of public works projects by recognizing the alliance between the managing agency, the consultant/architect/engineer, and the contractor who accomplished the projects together.”

Leon County Commission Chair Nick Maddox.

Leon County took home some hardware: The Lake Heritage Dam Improvements won for best Emergency Construction or Repair; the first phase of the Magnolia Drive multiuse trail topped the Multifunction category; the Robinson Road flood relief efforts was the best of the bunch on the Environmental and Stormwater front.

“These award-winning public works projects demonstrate that the Board of County Commissioners is committed to improving safety, protecting our community’s natural beauty, and investing in the future,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Nick Maddox.

Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:

Absolutely, positively no: No AG bid for Richard Corcoran

A brief campaign note:

Amid some less-than-spectacular poll numbers, some (and by some we’re looking at you, Ron DeSantis supporters) are whispering whether House Speaker Richard Corcoran will shift his future political focus to another office, from that of Governor.

Namely, whether the Land O’ Lakes Republican and attorney might instead run to succeed Pam Bondi as Attorney General as a consolation prize. Bondi is term-limited this year.

Nope. He’s going big or going home.

“Richard Corcoran has never considered and will not run for Attorney General,” said his right-hand man, James Blair. “Period. The end.”

And that’s that.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.23.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Joe Henderson, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

The echo of bullets ripping through the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has given way to millions of voices demanding an end to gun violence, and Saturday they will be heard.

An estimated 500,000 protestors are expected to attend the “March For Our Lives” Saturday in Washington, D.C.

But that’s just the start.

#ParklandStrong: Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school grace the latest cover of Time magazine.

Organizers say additional rallies are scheduled around the country, including 56 in Florida. Marches also are scheduled in cities throughout Europe, South America and world, including Tel Aviv, Hanoi and Tokyo.

A reported 720 rallies have been scheduled overall.

The ride-sharing company Lyft said it will offer free rides to many of the rallies.

One march in Palm Beach is scheduled just two miles from where President Trump is expecting to spend the weekend at his Mar-A-Lago retreat. Trump has not indicated if he plans to attend any rally.

Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, along with many Democratic lawmakers, plans to attend a march, telling the Miami Herald he will go “wherever the kids are.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has not indicated if he plans to attend a march, nor has Gov. Rick Scott.

Following the deaths of 14 students and three school staff members on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Scott signed a bill over strong protests by the National Rifle Association that imposed some restrictions on gun sales.

The minimum age to buy a weapon like the AR-15 used at Parkland was raised from 18 to 21. So-called bump stocks that can increase the firing speed of AR-15s were banned, and the minimum waiting period to buy a gun was increased to three days.

“It just shows that the youth are tired of being the generation where we’re locked in closets and waiting for police to come in case of a shooter,” Alex Wind, a junior at Stoneman Douglas High School, told The Associated Press.

Shortly after the killings, suWind is credited along with several friends at the school for starting the idea of a protest through a movement they called #NeverAgain.

Through social media, it quickly grew into a global phenomenon and into the rallies that will take place today.

Supporters are demanding changes in the nation’s gun laws that they believe could prevent future mass killings.

Congress has been unresponsive thus far.

Assignment editors – This weekend, former Miami Beach mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Philip Levine will embark on a “Weekend of Action” to “engage with voters on common-sense gun safety reform.” On Saturday, Levine will be speaking at the Miami Beach rally, 10 a.m. at Miami Beach Senior High School, 2231 Prairie Ave. Other rallies are planned for 9 a.m., Pine Trails Park, 10555 Trails End, Parkland; 10 a.m., Kiley Garden, 400 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa; 11 a.m., St. Petersburg Courthouse, 545 1st Ave N., St. Petersburg; 1 p.m., Lake Eola Park, 512 E. Washington St., Orlando; and 2 p.m., Dreher Park, 1100 Southern Blvd, West Palm Beach.

Assignment editors – U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch joins Sens. Bill Nelson and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Captain Mark Kelly for a 9 a.m. news conference in the House Triangle to demand gun safety.

— “Linda Stewart to attend Washington march with granddaughter” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Meanwhile … NRA’s Hammer slams longtime GOP donor over gun controlvia Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer is taking a swing at billionaire Mike Fernandez, a longtime Republican rainmaker who has said he is cutting off cash for candidates who do not pledge to push for gun control. “I will not give one cent to anyone who does not support major change regarding military-type weapons being sold,” Fernandez, chairman of Coral Gables-based MBF Healthcare Partners, told the Miami Herald in February. The fact that those types of weapons are part of Fernandez’s sizable gun collection has Hammer irked. She says it’s hypocritical that he is pushing for a ban on weapons that he himself collects. “From what I’m seeing, he is a big-shot billionaire who brags about his collapsible gun collecting, which includes machine guns and assault weapons,” Hammer told POLITICO. “At business and social gatherings, he … loves to show it off.”


@stevenportnoy: JUST IN: Asked by @jeffzeleny whether he would still talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Trump says, ‘Yes. I would like to. I would like to

— @SenBillNelson: Thrilled to announce that @NASAKennedy is in line for a huge boost to modernize its launch facilities! Not only could it create hundreds of jobs, it will help us get to Mars quicker and safer.

— @RepTedYoho: Last night members of Congress were given a 2,232-page bill that outlines $1.3 trillion in spending. There is no way anyone can properly vet this bill in less than 48 hours.

— @RepMattGaetz: I voted ‘NO’ on the #Omnibus because voting blindly for legislation as large-scale & costly as this bill is an insult to the American people, whose tax dollars deserve to be treated with respect. Today is a bad day for fiscal conservatives and for responsible governance alike.

— @RepCurbelo: Despite the inclusion of several policies I’d traditionally support & have championed, I made a commitment to my constituents, #Dreamers & those who support them that I wouldn’t continue to let Washington ignore their calls for a solution

— @MarcoRubio: Congratulations to @RepCTrujillo who we just confirmed in the Senate by unanimous consent a few minutes ago to be the U.S. Ambassador to the @OAS_official

— @DanaYoungFL: It was a great honor to attend and celebrate the achievements of 3 great women today at the Women’s Hall of Fame Luncheon. Our community is blessed to have so many strong women who go above and beyond the call!

— @MDixon55: The St. Joe Company, Florida’s second largest private land owner, telling investors in its annual report that the federal tax reform bill passed in December could impact home sales.

— @Rob_Bradley: Today we said goodbye to our beloved Dixie. She helped Jenn and I raise 3 kids. She was the sweetest soul. Fortunately, she lived a happy and full life and was very comfortable and content in her last days.

— @BSFarrington: So anyone got a couch in San Antonio @SteveSchale and I can crash on?


March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 1; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 6; Easter – 9; Reporting deadline for Q1 fundraising – 23; NFL Draft begins – 34; Avengers: Infinity War opens – 35; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 41; Mother’s Day – 51; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 63; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 91; Deadline for filing claim bills – 131; Primary Election Day — 158; College Football opening weekend – 162; General Election Day — 228; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 328; 2019 Legislative Session starts – 347.

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


If Adam Smith predicts something is likely not to happen, shouldn’t you bet the other way? –A Democratic wave from younger voters and Puerto Ricans? Don’t bank on it” via Adam C. Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Save the date:

Absolutely, positively no: No AG bid for Richard Corcoran – A brief campaign note: Amid some less-than-spectacular poll numbers, some (and by some we’re looking at you, Ron DeSantis supporters) are whispering whether House Speaker Corcoran will shift his future political focus from Governor. Namely, whether the Land O’ Lakes Republican and attorney might instead run to succeed Pam Bondi as Attorney General. Bondi is term-limited this year. Answer: Nope. He’s going big or going home. “Richard Corcoran has never considered and will not run for Attorney General,” said James Blair, his chief political aide. “Period. The end.”

Bernie Sanders-linked group endorses Andrew Gillum for Governor” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times – “Andrew Gillum is a driven public servant who has already shown his commitment to the working people of Florida, Our Revolution President Nina Turner said in a statement. “Our Revolution is proud to support his campaign because we believe in his ability to bring bold progressive policies to all Floridians.” Our Revolution wasn’t the only group to weigh in on the Democratic primary. The Republican Governor’s Association took to Twitter to celebrate Our Revolution’s endorsement — and bash Gillum’s rival, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.

Personnel note: Philip Levine taps Max Flugrath as communications director” via Florida Politics – Flugrath, a Miami native, comes to the Levine campaign via the Florida House Democratic Office, where he served as communications director for House Leader Janet Cruz. Campaign manager Matthew Van Name said in a statement: “We are thrilled to bring Max on board to implement a robust communications strategy that effectively connects the Mayor’s vision and proven record of success with Floridians in each corner of our state.” “Levine is the candidate with the bold progressive vision and experience necessary to move our state forward and build a Florida that delivers opportunities for all,” Flugrath responded.

Sean Shaw sets campaign kickoff for Saturday – The Democratic House member from Tampa, now running for Attorney General, has set his kickoff for Saturday, 2-5 p.m., at the Thonotosassa home of former state CFO Alex Sink. She was his boss when Shaw was Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate. The maximum contribution per person is $3,000. Shaw, son of the late state Supreme Court Justice Leander J. Shaw Jr., formally announced his bid in January. For now, he faces fellow Democrat Ryan Torrens and Republicans Jay Fant, Ashley Moody, Ross Spano, and Frank White. Current Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, faces term limits this year.

Two more sheriffs back Ashley Moody for AG” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics –Moody picked up endorsements Thursday from Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden and Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Public safety is on the minds of many Floridians and when it comes to the security of our state we must have an Attorney General with experience who can hit the ground running,” said Whidden.  … “Now more than ever Florida’s next Attorney General must be someone who understands our criminal justice system and the ways we can combat the growing law enforcement challenges that deputies confront on a daily basis,” said Ramsay. … The new endorsements make for 35 sheriffs who have lined up behind Moody, a former judge and one of four Republicans running to replace termed out Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall. … Moody faces Republican Reps. Jay Fant, Ross Spano and Frank White in the primary race. Competing for the Democratic nomination are Tampa Rep. Sean Shaw and Ryan Torrens.

Tom Gallagher, Bob Milligan back Jimmy Patronis for CFO” via Florida Politics – “As the former Florida Comptroller, I appreciate the personal qualities that Jimmy Patronis brings to the Florida Cabinet position of Chief Financial Officer,” said Milligan. “His integrity and genuine concern for people earns my support for Florida’s CFO.” Gallagher said: “Having held the position of CFO and knowing personally what the job entails, I am proud to give Jimmy Patronis my backing. Jimmy has done a tremendous job and I know he has the qualities needed to best serve our state.”

Democrats add Nancy Soderberg, CD 6 to ‘Red to Blue’ program” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján, a congressman from New Mexico, announced that Soderberg is being added to the DCCC’s highly competitive Red to Blue program. Soderberg is one of only 33 Democratic candidates in the country to receive this designation thus far. Her campaign already has been assisted by DCCC staff. The Red to Blue designation means more, recognizing that she has surpassed goals for grassroots engagement, local support, campaign organization and fundraising. “Nancy Soderberg is a results-oriented problem solver, which she has proven many times throughout her career, including her years of work as a national security expert, projecting American strength abroad,” Luján stated in a news release.

Democrats gang up on ex-Clinton Foundation head Donna Shalala” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “It was so jarring and so disappointing to see the newest candidate in the Democratic primary, Shalala, has donated to the Republican incumbent last cycle, has donated in the past to the current Republican running for Congress in this very congressional seat, has donated over $20,000 to anti-choice, anti-LGBT, pro-NRA, Republican politicians, and has donated $20,000 to a corporate PAC that has given $125,000 to the NRCC — an organizations whose sole goal is to keep a Republican majority, and Paul Ryan as speaker,” retired Circuit Judge Mary Barzee Flores and state Rep. David Richardson said in a joint statement … Richardson and Barzee Flores pointed out that the PAC for the Shalala-affiliated company MEDNAX gave $4,875 to Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016. Also, Shalala had personally contributed $500 in 2009 to Rubio’s friend, scandal-plagued former Congressman David Rivera, when he was in the state House, as well as another $500 in 2011 to former state Sen. Frank Artiles, who in 2017 resigned his seat after using racially charged language.

Assignment editors – U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois will speak during a Pinellas County Democratic Party “Prelude to Victory” dinner. Also expected to take part is St. Petersburg Congressman Charlie Crist. Event begins Saturday 6:30 p.m., Kapok Special Events Center, 923 North McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater.

Assignment editors – North Port Vice Mayor Linda Yates will discuss her intentions about Florida House District 74. News conference begins 1 p.m. at the Garden of the Five Senses, 4299 Pan-American Boulevardin Northport. The HD 74 seat will be coming open because Rep. Julio Gonzalez is pursuing a run for Congress.


911 calls show quick reaction to Florida bridge collapse” via Freida Frisaro and Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press – Police and rescue workers arrived at the scene of a pedestrian bridge collapse near a Florida university campus even before witnesses could finish making 911 calls for help, according to audio files … Miami-Dade Police released 15 calls made to 911 dispatchers in the moments after the collapse March 15. Sirens could be heard blaring behind several frantic callers moments after the 950-ton (860-metric ton) structure fell into traffic. “Oh, my gosh. A lot of cars are under the bridge,” one woman told a 911 dispatcher. She started crying and added, “Hurry up, please,” before realizing police had arrived at the scene.

Oh My God…It’s fake:’ Far right falls for hoax about Broward County sheriff” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, the far-right fever swamps buzzed with conspiracies about student “crisis actors” who were paid to lie about the mass shooting. But ironically, conspiracy-minded conservatives fell for a political hoax involving a different can of actor. The subject? Broward County’s Democratic sheriff, Scott Israel … assailed as everything from a “rapist” to a philanderer to a crooked cop thanks to three old YouTube videos in which a mystery woman accused him of impregnating her when she was 17 and forcing her to get an abortion. The videos together have been viewed almost 130,000 times since the Feb. 14 shooting. But all of it was a lie, the woman and her attorney now tell POLITICO.

On gun safety, Rick Scott gives Corcoran the credit” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott went out of his way to lavish praise on Corcoran, the outgoing House speaker who’s expected to join an unpredictable Republican primary for governor next month. At a veteran’s event in Orange Park, Scott was asked about criticism over guns from Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a GOP candidate for governor. Putnam has stepped up his criticism of the gun law Scott signed in response to the Parkland shooting that imposes a minimum age of 21 and a three-day waiting period to buy a firearm. “With regard to the school safety bill, I’m proud of what I signed,” Scott told reporters. “The school safety bill wouldn’t have passed without the speaker’s hard work.”

Puppy love: Gov. Rick Scott was in Ponte Vedra at “K9s for Warriors” to highlight $180 million in the budget “for Florida’s active military, veterans and their families.” The group pairs dogs with vets with PTSD.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will announce February job numbers at a 10 a.m. news conference at 24 SE. 1st Ave. in Ocala.

Adam Putnam warns of wildfire risk – Putnam, who oversees the Florida Forest Service as Agriculture Commissioner, says persisting drought in the state is stoking the possibility for wildfires. As of Thursday morning, there were currently 41 active wildfires throughout Florida, his office said. Most wildfires this year were caused by “escaped yard trash burns.” The Forest Service has battled over 700 wildfires across the state so far in 2018. “Florida’s wildland firefighters have proven time and again that they are prepared to put their lives on the line to keep Floridians safe,” Putnam said in a statement. “Floridians can do their part by keeping preventable human-caused wildfires at bay and preparing their families and homes for wildfire.” Floridians also can download the “FLBurnTools” app to get wildfire conditions in real-time. It’s now available in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

Forecast Fire Danger Index for March 22.

ICYMI from last night’s “Last Call” newsletter – As far as Brecht Heuchan’s concerned, Constitution Revision Commission proposals that haven’t made it to his Style & Drafting Committee are dead and buried. With a caveat. “The committee can adopt amendments” to proposals, said Heuchan, who chairs the committee. He spoke to a Florida Politics reporter right before its Thursday meeting. “My view of it is, I’m going to object to things that were defeated being reintroduced. But I’m one person. These people may have their own view,” referring to other panel members. By the end of the meeting, however, no one had mentioned or suggested bringing back anything that was killed outright or died while on “TP,” meaning temporarily postponed. (Full version here.)

Tobacco funding fight extinguished” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Rep. Jeanette Nunez, a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, said Thursday she will no longer push a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated a requirement that the state set aside 30 percent of overall tobacco-education and prevention funding for an edgy advertising and marketing campaign. Anti-smoking groups that have lobbied fiercely against the proposal, though, aren’t letting their guard down. “We don’t want to assume anything with regard to the process they are following,” Protect Tobacco Free Florida spokeswoman Heather Youmans said in a prepared statement. Commission rules make clear that the Style and Drafting Committee can only consider proposals that have been backed by the full commission. When asked whether the tobacco-money proposal was dead, Style and Drafting Committee Chairman, Brecht Heuchan told The News Service of Florida “yes.” State records show that companies such as Altria Client Services, the parent company of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA, and Miami-based Dosal Tobacco Corporation hired lobbyists to lobby the commission. “I haven’t had one conversation with one tobacco lobbyist on that proposal or any other proposal,” Nunez said.

Confederate monument has quiet start at new Brandon home” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – Memoria in Aeterna, the Confederate monument that for more than a century stood downtown until a contentious decision August to move it, has had a low-key start at its new home. Seven months after the vote to take it down from outside the old Hillsborough County courthouse, the county is putting the finishing touches on the relocated statue. All that’s left is some sod work and stump trimming, Hillsborough spokeswoman Michelle Van Dyke said. The new location on the corner of Brandon Boulevard and Lithia Pinecrest Road satisfied critics who said public land is no place for a monument celebrating those who fought to maintain slavery. The old courthouse on Pierce Street once carried out justice for Hillsborough residents and today hosts traffic court and weddings. “The message was sent that it was time for those (Confederate) monuments to be moved,” said County Commissioner Les Miller, the catalyst for the statue’s relocation. “They shouldn’t have been put on government property to begin with.”


Kathleen McGrory usually shares stories of other people — now she’s telling her own.

The Tampa Bay Times investigative journalist, who helped uncover data on Florida’s astonishing rate of gun-related child casualties, this week delivered a keynote address to California Fellows at USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism. Writer Ryan White recapped her story in an article published by the university.

In 2015, McGrory wondered whether there was an uptick in gun injuries affecting Florida children. “Yet turning that hunch into rigorous stories would first require data, something McGrory quickly realized didn’t exist,” writes White.

The data: McGrory found that 3,168 children had been injured or killed by guns between 2010 and 2015, or one child shot every 17 hours. That data, along with stories of those who have lost their young loved ones to guns, was compiled into the Times’ “In Harm’s Way,” published early last year.

Moving the needle: Despite her reporting, which also showed a correlating uptick in guns in the state, McGrory said the Republican-controlled 2017 Legislature didn’t pass gun laws. “In that year at least any type of gun legislation was unthinkable,” she said.

Parkland: After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, however, McGrory adds: “The political climate has changed, both in Florida and nationwide. There’s a big national conversation about guns and the laws the cover them, making this a prime time to cover the issue in your community.”


Joe Henderson: Some GOP leaders dancing around gun issue” via Florida Politics – Some of the state’s leading Republicans are finding their new dance steps a little tricky to master. Many of them, including outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, have long pledged support for the National Rifle Association and, by association, its no-compromise stance on the Second Amendment. But Corcoran drew the wrath this week of NRA uber lobbyist Marion Hammer for his role in passing recent gun restrictions. Now, Putnam kind of tap-danced his way around the question of whether he would try to repeal that law if he is elected governor. Putnam has called himself a “proud NRA sellout” and opposed the restrictions pushed by Corcoran and signed by Scott. He said as governor, he would not have signed the bill. But as A.G. Gancarski reported for Florida Politics, Putnam dodged the question when asked if he would work to repeal the law if he is elected. “We’re going to enforce the law. I mean, that’s what governors do. You enforce the laws that are on the books,” Putnam said before ending the interview. Hmmm.

— ALOE —

Thoughts and prayers to Sen. Kelli Stargel on her birthday.

Last Call for 3.22.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

As far as Brecht Heuchan’s concerned, Constitution Revision Commission proposals that haven’t made it to his Style & Drafting Committee are dead and buried.

With a caveat.

“The committee can adopt amendments” to proposals, said Heuchan, who chairs the committee. He spoke to a Florida Politics reporter right before its Thursday meeting. “My view of it is, I’m going to object to things that were defeated being reintroduced.

“But I’m one person,” he added. “These people may have their own view,” referring to other panel members.

By the end of the meeting, however, no one had mentioned or suggested bringing back anything that was killed outright or died while on “TP,” meaning temporarily postponed.

That includes the contentious and confusing Proposal 97, which would require 60 percent of voters casting a ballot in an election to approve a constitutional amendment, rather than 60 percent of those who vote on the particular ballot question.

The full commission had cleared 25 proposals after its three-day Session this week, including measures to ban offshore drilling, greyhound racing and indoor ‘vaping,’ put term limits on local school board members, and create a ‘bill of rights’ for crime victims.

Heuchan gave fellow committee members a homework assignment: To come up with their own suggested summaries and groupings of amendments, so voters won’t get ballot fatigue. The panel plans to meet again next Tuesday.

Eventually, finished proposals go back to the full commission, where they must receive no less than 22 votes to be placed on the ballot. Then they face a minimum approval of 60 percent of statewide voters to be added to the state constitution.

The commission’s final report is due to Secretary of State Ken Detzner by May 10. “This has to be member-driven … but staff is incredibly important,” Heuchan said later during the meeting. “We need to do our best.”

Evening Reads

What Florida is getting from the massive ‘omnibus’ spending bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

March for Our Lives organizers want fast, tough action on guns. They won’t get it.” via Kate Irby of McClatchy

Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson want states to adopt court programs that could take guns from dangerous people” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

Absolutely, positively no: NO AG bid for Richard Corcoran” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

911 calls show quick reaction to Florida bridge collapse” via Freida Frisaro and Jennifer Kay of The Associated Press

How one reporter overcame lack of data and political traps to tell story of rising numbers of children shot in Florida” via Ryan White of the Center for Health Journalism

ICE detains Havana father of two” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida’s citrus farmers put on hold for hurricane relief” via the News Service of Florida

Jefferson clerk suspended over courthouse sex sues Governor” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Soccer in the suburbs? David Beckham group is looking beyond Miami for its stadium site” via Barry Jackson, Doug Hanks, and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald

Quote of the Day

“We’re going to enforce the law. I mean, that’s what governors do. You enforce the laws that are on the books.” — Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam, who opposes the school safety, mental health and guns bill passed after the Parkland shooting.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The Florida Historical Commission is scheduled to hold a quarterly meeting at 9 a.m., Governor Martin House, 1001 De Soto Park Dr., Tallahassee.

Gov. Rick Scott will announce February job numbers at a 10 a.m. news conference, 24 SE 1st Avenue in Ocala.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is scheduled to release February unemployment numbers at 10 a.m.

The state Office of Medical Marijuana Use is slated to hold a meeting about a rule dealing with pesticide use on marijuana at 10 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice will dedicate a “Fallen Officer Memorial” to honor eight alumni who have died in the line of duty. That’s at 3 p.m., Florida State University, Westcott Plaza, Tallahassee.

Former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will open a new campaign office in St. Petersburg. That’s at 5:15 p.m., 2501 1st Ave N., St. Petersburg.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.22.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Oh happy day!

Congratulations to Sarah Busk and Alan Suskey on their engagement. They shared the news yesterday with family and friends — and via a certain blogger’s Twitter account. We hear an impromptu celebration party broke out last night in Southwood.

I don’t think Alan got this at Jared’s.

Affectionately known as #Buskey, these two amazing individuals just seem perfect for each other and are certain to spend many, many happy years together.

Undoubtedly, the #BusktoSusk wedding will be the event of the year, but first Donovan Brown, Richard Reeves, and Co. must plan an awesome (but, of course, respectful) bachelor party.

Oh, and someone needs to make sure Michael Johnston isn’t wandering the streets of Tallahassee, heartbroken that he’s lost his bae to the soon-to-be Mrs. Suskey.

Now, on to politics…


House Speaker Richard Corcoran, the National Rifle Association and no doubt countless others got their way on gun measures before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Wednesday.

It started with a proposal (P3) to repeal an outdated constitutional section known as the “Alien Land Law,” which “bars certain nationalities of immigrants from acquiring land.”

On top of that measure, however, were filed several gun-related amendments, including one to put gun provisions from the recently approved “Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act” into the state constitution itself. Those provisions are now being challenged by the NRA.

America’s has “a history of gun rights and reasonable gun restrictions,” said Commissioner Bobby Martinez, a former federal prosecutor who filed the proposal and the amendment. “It all depends on whose hands a gun is in.” He said he visited with Parkland students: “They’re not going to forget this.”

Another amendment, by Commissioner and former Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith, would have added an assault weapon ban. Corcoran wrote a letter to commissioners objecting to that amendment—after being slammed over gun provisions in the school safety legislation by NRA Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer. The NRA also is suing in federal court over the measure.

Still another gun-related measure was filed by Commissioner and Jacksonville lawyer Hank Coxe.

Each one was challenged on parliamentary grounds by Rick Scott CRC appointee Emery Gainey, a longtime law enforcement official who now works for Attorney General Pam Bondi. The argument: The amendments weren’t “germane” to a measure having to do with real estate ownership.

Each amendment was shot down on germanity grounds, with Martinez even appealing chair Carlos Beruff’s decision to the entire body. “Let’s not punt … we’re better than that,” Martinez said. His appeal was voted down.

And Smith and Coxe asked for the germanity rule to be suspended for their amendments. Smith noted how the commission has waived its rules to extend its daily sessions this week “and there wasn’t anarchy.” They lost.

The proposal itself, however, later went on to pass unanimously. It goes to the Style & Drafting Committee.

Richard Corcoran: ‘Grave concern’ about gun-related CRC measures” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Speaker Corcoran is telling the CRC that a pending gun proposal is “inappropriate for inclusion in the state Constitution.” The speaker sent a one-page letter to commissioners Wednesday. He singled out “an ‘assault’ weapons ban, a ban on specific magazines, and an extended waiting period,” saying he had “grave concern.” An amendment, filed by CRC member Smith, to Proposal 3 (P3) would prohibit “sale or transfer of assault weapons,” among other things. Smith, a former Senate Democratic Leader, is an appointee of Senate President Joe Negron.

25 constitutional proposals advance” via the News Service of Florida – After three days of floor debate, the CRC ended its initial session Wednesday, approving 25 proposals that could be on the November general-election ballot. The proposed changes to the state Constitution now move to the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, which has the power to amend and group the proposals before they return to the panel for a final vote in April. Eleven measures either never received a vote in the preliminary review by the commission or were rejected in floor votes during this week’s three-day session. Among the proposals still under consideration are an off-shore oil drilling ban (Proposal 91), an ethics package (P39), a ban on greyhound racing (P67), survivor benefits for law enforcement and military members (P49), victims’ rights (P96), a workplace ban on vaping (P33) and school board term limits (P43). The Style and Drafting Committee will begin reviewing the measures in meetings scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Panel backs plan to circumvent ‘certificates of need’” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — With the sponsor taking aim at Florida’s controversial “certificate of need” law, the CRC on Wednesday advanced a proposal that would tie new hospital growth in the state to hospital-acquired infection rates at existing facilities. Though the proposed constitutional amendment doesn’t mention the words “certificate of need,” it would have the effect of circumventing the regulatory process that has required hospitals to get state approval before adding facilities or offering expanded services. The proposal (Proposal 54) would only impact so-called CONs for hospitals and wouldn’t affect regulations for nursing homes or hospices. Before the commission voted 19-14 to approve the measure, sponsor Frank Kruppenbacher assured the panel that he would continue to work on it, including clarifying which infection rates would be used as the measuring stick and how those rates would be determined. Kruppenbacher initially proposed a version that would have more directly addressed certificates of need. But the commission agreed Wednesday to a revised version that included limiting the reach of the proposed constitutional amendment to hospitals.

ACLU ‘pleased’ by death of privacy proposal — The Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is happy to see that Proposal 22, expected to scale back the privacy rights of citizens, has died in the Constitution Revision Commission. The 37-person panel this week briefly resurrected the proposal, which was voted down in the Judiciary Committee, on the condition that the sponsor, Commissioner John Stemberger would withdraw it. He ultimately withdrew the proposal, which would’ve limited privacy rights in abortions. “This attack on reproductive rights would have had broad unintended consequences that would reverberate across many aspects of Floridians’ lives,” said Howard Simon, ACLU Florida director. “Proposal 22 sought to undermine Floridians’ constitutional right to privacy, and we are pleased that last-minute parliamentary maneuvers to bring it back after it failed in committee ultimately failed as well.”


— @MarcoRubio: I don’t agree with congratulating #Putin but bigger outrage is this leak that could only come from someone in @POTUS inner circle. If you don’t like President resign, but this ongoing pattern of duplicity holds potential for serious damage to the nation

— @LoisFrankel: Here we go again – America is looking at another budget deadline. It’s time for the @HouseGOP to put an end to their obsession with short-term stop-gap spending bills! It’s irresponsible and no way to run a government #DoYourJob

— @RepStephMurphy: Major Breakthrough: It appears #Omnibus will make it clear CDC can research gun violence – something I’m proud to have led the fight on & worked w/House leaders to get done. It’s a victory for our country & children. Our work to stop gun violence will continue.

— @PatriciaMazzei: Robert W. Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, announces that only clear backpacks will be allowed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after Spring Break, which is next week. The school will provide each student with a backpack at no cost.

— @LongLiveKCX: s/o to America for making my school seem like jail now because legislators don’t have common sense gun reform on their agendas

— @MarcACaputo: Marion’s never gonna come back, Richard.

— @Fineout: So: A powerful state panel – which could take items straight to Florida’s voters – rejected several gun restrictions on procedural grounds on Wed, ruling them out of order. This means the state’s voters will not get a chance to weigh in directly on gun restrictions

— @Fineout: 1 last @FloridaCRC post script – top commission members said if something was not moved forward during this week’s session it will not be considered any further. That eliminates about a dozen proposals that got postponed over last 3 days

— @JoseFelixDiaz: I am happy to report that the @FloridaCRC has agreed not to use tear gas this cycle

— @WomenontheMove1: Hmmmm. Gary Fineout never said one word about @GwenGraham dropping to third in a poll, but an endorsement that he thinks makes @AndrewGillum look bad gives him the feels? Gotcha!


March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 2; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 7; Easter – 10; NFL Draft begins – 35; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 42; Mother’s Day – 52; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 64; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 92; Primary Election Day — 159; College Football opening weekend – 163; General Election Day — 229; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 329; 2019 Legislative Session – 348.

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


Rick Scott: Decision on U.S. Senate race to wait behind stack of bills” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – If Scott hears the clock ticking on his decision of whether to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, it will have to wait until after he gets through the stack of billsthe Florida Legislature put on his desk. At least that’s what he suggested Wednesday when asked, during a stop in Orlando, about his timetable. “I just finished Session. I just finished the budget. I have a variety of bills to go through. I’ll make a decision after that. You know, most politicians can think about their next job. I’ve got to finish the job I’ve got here,” Scott said.

Tallahassee Commissioner Gil Ziffer endorses Graham – “Graham has a proven record of standing up for Florida families — as a local PTA volunteer, as a public school official, and representing us in Congress,” Ziffer said in a statement. “She also is a fierce defender of home rule and strongly supported local communities in their fight against Fracking in Florida. Gwen defeated an incumbent, NRA-endorsed, tea party Congressman and is a fighter who’s proven she can win the big battles. I am proud to offer her my most enthusiastic endorsement for governor.” Ziffer’s endorsement comes one day after Graham’s pledge to use her legal resources as governor to support local governments challenging the state’s firearm preemption law with common-sense gun safety regulations.

First in Sunburn – Trial attorneys rallying support for Gwen Graham – Florida Politics has obtained a letter from 10 powerhouse trial attorneys intended to rally the state’s legal community to support Graham. The letter, from respected attorneys across the state, details how many in the legal community were disappointed by major loses in 2014 and 2010 — but that in 2018, with a candidate like Graham, they expect Democrats to be able to take back the Governor’s Office. “All of us vividly remember the disappointments of 2010 and 2014. Republican waves rolled across the nation, giving Rick Scott just enough momentum to eke out narrow wins in his races for Florida Governor. But 2018 is different,” they write. The letter is signed by Wayne Hogan, Howard Coker, Mike Maher, John Romano, Bob Kerrigan, Curry Pajcic, Rod Smith, Mike Haggard, Holt Harrell and Don Hinkle. Early in the race, many of the state’s prominent attorneys donated to Richard Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC. But now that the Legislative Session is over, it remains to be seen if the trial lawyers will continue to support Corcoran, or if they’ll follow their historic approach and begin to line up behind Graham or another Democratic challenger in line with their agenda.

Assignment editors – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will speak with college students at Florida SouthWestern State College, followed by a screening of the Leonardo DiCaprio climate change film “Before the Flood.” Discussion begins 5:45 p.m. at Florida Southwestern State College Thomas Edison campus, 8099 College Pkwy. Building One, Robinson Hall – Room 228, in Fort Myers. Event continues at 6:45 p.m. in Building J, Room 103 (Rush Auditorium).

Adam Putnam calls for return of statewide drug czar” via Florida Politics  — If Putnam becomes Governor, expect the “drug czar” concept to be revived as the state grapples with opioids. And if that’s the case, that’s a reversal of current policy. In 2010, incoming Gov. Scott was cutting costs, and eliminated the Office of Drug Control, which was formed when Jeb Bush was Governor. Putnam, speaking at an opioid roundtable in Jacksonville, floated the “drug czar” concept. Putnam said “someone needs to be the quarterback, because the opioid crisis and its response touches virtually every agency of government, from health care to practitioners to the insurance providers to the law enforcement and prosecutors and judicial system. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a reinvention of the old drug czar, but we need a coordinator of the response to this crisis.”

In Jacksonville on his statewide tour on opioids, Adam Putnam met with patients in recovery and heard from families who have been impacted by Florida’s opioid crisis.

After Mark Foley tweet, unearthed video shows Putnam’s Dennis Hastert ‘problem’ won’t go away” via Florida Politics – A decade-old interview with CNN shows then-Congressman Putnam defending his “friend and mentor” Hastert, the longest-serving Republican House Speaker in history. At one time, Hastert was one of America’s most powerful politicians, but now the Illinois Republican is a felon, branded a “serial child molester” by the judge who found him guilty of illegally structuring bank withdrawals for hush money to a former student he sexually abused. Putnam’s extensive history with Hastert is being revisited once again in the wake of a tweet of the gubernatorial candidate with Mark Foley, the disgraced Florida congressman who stepped down a dozen years ago for sending sexually suggestive texts to teenage boys. Becoming the youngest person ever elected to Congress in 2001, Putnam quickly rose through the Republican ranks, thanks in large part to Speaker Hastert’s tutelage. “He really caught the Speaker’s eye,” fellow Florida Republican Rep. Clay Shaw told The Weekly Standard in 2006, without a hint of irony. “Putnam stayed close to the speaker throughout Hastert’s tenure and hired many of his former aides when the Illinois Republican relinquished his post atop the party when the GOP lost control of the House after the 2006 elections,” POLITICO wrote.

Donna Shalala starts early ad war” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Shalala entered the race to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as a front-runner, and she’s trying to keep her lead with an early television ad buy … Shalala’s ad, called “Ready to Deliver,” highlights her time as President Bill Clinton‘s Health and Human Services secretary, her role creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program and her leadership at the University of Miami, where she served as president. Though the eight-candidate Democratic primary is Aug. 28, Shalala’s campaign adviser Fernand Amandi said she wanted to advertise early to make a statement in the race. She’s also advertising in Spanish. Shalala’s opponents trail her in name ID and support, according to a poll Amandi conducted before she decided to run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Click on the image to watch the ad:

Arthenia Joyner considers 2020 comeback in Florida Senate” via Windy March of the Tampa Bay Times – Joyner, a Tampa Democratic icon, is considering a 2020 run for her former District 19 Senate seat now held by Sen. Darryl Rouson. “I’m giving it serious thought,” said Joyner, 75. A primary between Joyner and Rouson, 62, would match two of the leading black political figures on their respective sides of Tampa Bay. The winner would be a lock to win the seat in a district drawn to elect a minority senator. But it could turn into an Tampa vs. St. Petersburg battle, as did the 2016 primary between Rouson and two Tampa candidates, former Reps. Ed Narain and Betty Reed.

Happening Friday:

Bill Montford to make mayoral decision this weekend” via Andrew Quintana of WFSU – Tallahassee state Senator, Montford, has picked a date to decide whether he will step away from his Senate seat and run for mayor. “Because of a number of issues, I could not focus on that,” Montford said. “So, I’ve taken a few days off here. And my plan is by this weekend I’ll have a decision.” “By this weekend,” asked a reporter. “Yes,” replied Montford.

Lori Berman endorses Tina Polsky for Joe Abruzzo’s HD 81 seat – House Minority Leader Berman is widely anticipated to win her own upcoming special election to the Florida Senate in April. Her endorsement comes hot on the heels of Sen. Kevin Rader’s announcement he will also be backing Polsky’s candidacy in the Palm Beach County district. Berman stated: “I’m standing with Tina because I know that she will be a fierce advocate for the people of Palm Beach County. On women’s issues in particular, we can count on her to continue moving the ball forward. As a working mother and a strong progressive, Tina embodies the change that we so desperately need in Tallahassee.” Polsky, a mediator and elder care advocate, declared her intention to run earlier this month.


Documents: Scott administration had long-running role in collapsed FIU bridge” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – From the selection of the politically powerful firm that led the project to the days leading up to the collapse, the Florida Department of Transportation, overseen by Gov. Scott, had direct involvement in a project whose collapse has rocked South Florida and sparked a federal investigation. As recently as September 2016, more than 10 months after the selection of the firms to design and build the project, his transportation agency was reviewing all construction-related material. The department quickly sought to distance itself from the March 15 collapse, sending out a “preliminary fact sheet” hours after the disaster saying it was a “local agency project, not a Florida Department of Transportation project.” Even under the department’s own guidelines, though — under the so-called local agency projects they administer — FDOT has oversight responsibility.

The ‘rights’ fight: Gov. Scott was in Lakeland Wednesday to highlight efforts to fight human trafficking.

Scott signs trauma center bill” via Florida Politics – HB 1165, sponsored by Panama City Republican Jay Trumbull, in part aims to stem the flow of litigation against the state’s Department of Health, charged with reviewing the need for new centers and approving them. The number of trauma centers in Florida is capped at 44 across 19 trauma-service areas, with 34 currently operating. The new law cuts the number of trauma-service areas to 18 and states no area may have more than five trauma centers. It also directs DOH to set up an advisory council for the trauma care system and codifies a formula for approving new trauma centers. Proponents of the plan say more trauma centers make for better access for patients coming in with gravely serious injuries. Opponents, which include those operating the state’s 34 trauma centers, say the facilities are expensive to operate and more centers could put the thumbscrews on existing ones.

Tax package headed to Rick Scott” via the News Service of Florida – A $171 million tax package, featuring sales tax “holidays” for back-to-school shoppers in August and for people buying hurricane supplies in June, was delivered Wednesday to Gov. Scott. The measure (HB 7087) was among 35 bills that landed on Scott’s desk … Scott will have 15 days to act on the bills, which were passed during the Legislative Session that ended March 11. Scott already started highlighting the tax package last week, leaving no doubt he will sign it. The package includes a three-day back-to-school tax holiday on clothes and classroom items and a seven-day holiday for hurricane supplies. It also includes a tax break for homeowners displaced by Hurricane Irma, a break for nursing homes that purchase electric generators, and a reduction in a commercial lease tax from 5.8 percent to 5.7 percent. The package also includes a 9 percent reduction on civil penalties for non-criminal traffic infractions — such as speeding within 30 mph over the posted limit — if motorists attend driver-improvement school.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will visit K9s For Warriors to highlight funding for Florida military, veterans and families included in his newly signed state budget beginning 11:15 a.m., 114 Camp K-9 Road in Ponte Vedra.

Gun owners sue Florida for banning bump stocks” via the News Service of Florida – The case, filed last week in Leon County circuit court, asks a judge to certify a class action and order “full compensation” for what the plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate are “tens of thousands, or more” Floridians who own bump stocks or similar devices. The ban on bump stocks, which make semi-automatic weapons mimic fully automatic firearms, was included in a law passed this month in response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School … Because the new law deprives the plaintiffs and other members of the class of the “economically beneficial uses of their lawfully-owned property,” the statute “constitutes a ‘regulatory taking,’ ” argued lawyers … The law “is so onerous that its effect is tantamount to a direct appropriation of property, and therefore, a compensable taking under the Fifth Amendment,” the lawyers argued.

Lottery ends appeal over multi-million dollar contract” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – As expected, the Florida Lottery has withdrawn its appeal of a lawsuit over a multi-million dollar agency contract launched by Speaker Corcoran. A “notice of voluntary dismissal” was filed in the case at the 1st District Court of Appeal Wednesday. “The issues raised on appeal were mooted by the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018-2019, and this matter is therefore resolved,” the filing said. In December, the Lottery agreed to tweak a multi-year deal—for new equipment and other items—to require legislative oversight and approval.

Supreme Court to decide ‘PIP’ payment dispute” via the News Service of Florida – The Florida Supreme Court agreed to take up a dispute about how much Progressive Select Insurance Co. should pay to a hospital for treating a man injured in an auto accident. The Orange County case deals with calculation of payments to Florida Hospital under the personal-injury protection auto policy of Progressive customer Jonathan Parent. Parent’s policy had a $1,000 deductible, and his total hospital charges were $2,781, according to the appeals-court ruling. In seeking payment from the insurer, the hospital first subtracted the $1,000 deductible and then calculated the amount owed using a formula in the state’s so-called PIP law. The hospital billed the insurer for $1,068. But Progressive used a different method that first applied part of the formula to reduce the overall $2,781 charge. The crux of the dispute centers on whether the deductible should be subtracted from the overall charges or from the reduced amount.

Despite attempted election hack, state did not create cyber security unit” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The revelations that Russian hackers tried to penetrate voting systems in at least five Florida counties caused widespread alarm last year and prompted Gov. Scott to ask the Legislature for five cyber security experts in his “Securing Florida’s Future” budget. But it didn’t happen. The $88.7 billion budget that the Legislature gave Scott and that he signed into law does not include those five positions. Instead, Florida will sign one-year contracts with all 67 county supervisors of elections to improve network monitoring of county voting systems, not the statewide database that keeps track of 13 million Florida voters. The program, specified in the state budget, will use $1.9 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) money so that counties can buy devices and pay for a monthly monitoring service that detects efforts to penetrate their systems.

Jeff Brandes: Florida should move forward with driverless cars despite recent death” via Caitlin Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times – Uber halted testing of its autonomous vehicles after a woman was struck and killed by one of its self-driving cars in Tempe early Monday. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. Brandes said that the accident in Tempe was “very shocking” considering the vehicle, which was in driverless mode, also had a safety driver behind the wheel. “Neither the person nor the autonomous feature identified the woman,” Brandes said. “I think it continues to show that more work needs to be done.” Overall, Brandes and other supporters of driverless cars believe the technology will lead to fewer accidents. “Our focus is to make sure that any time there is a specific incident like that, we learn everything we can to make an entire fleet of vehicles better so it never happens again,” Brandes said.

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward says he will not run for third term” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal – Hayward said he made the decision after reflecting and praying with his family: “Serving as Pensacola’s mayor for the past seven years has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I’ve been humbled to lead our city during a truly transformational time and to advocate for Pensacola across the state, throughout the nation, and around the world. My love for this city, for its people, for its families and neighborhoods, knows no bounds … But I have always believed that the best leaders are not career politicians but citizen servants. True leaders know when to step aside and make way for new voices and new ideas. After reflecting and praying with my family, I have decided not to seek a third term as mayor of Pensacola.”

>>>Hayward has been a man on a mission to create a safe, affordable, and business friendly city. If you have visited the City of Pensacola recently, you will understand. If not or it has been a long time, well then you won’t understand and need to visit to copy shamelessly the city’s model for a quality of life. Hayward has put Pensacola back on the map while downtown has undergone a renaissance explosion. Talk about a city with a new foundation in Florida. Let’s see where the Mayor lands next and what’s in store. Northwest Florida and Florida is losing a true public servant.

Koch brothers’ group targets new Tampa Bay Rays stadium” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times – Residents of the Tampa Bay area may start to see a new video ad on their social media feeds assailing the idea that public money could be used to build a new baseball stadium — complete with an animated “taxpayer” being bowled over by a player sliding into a base. It’s part of a new campaign by Americans for Prosperity, the activist arm funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David … the group aims to draw a line in the sand as discussions continue between local government officials and the Rays to ensure no taxpayer money is used to woo the team from one side of the bay to the other. “When it comes to the big game of corporate welfare, the taxpayers are always the losers,” the video says. While the video remains fairly generic — it cites pricy baseball stadiums around the country, including for the Miami Marlins — the group will also include a form letter for residents to sign. It’s intended for the Hillsborough County Commission.

Assignment editors – The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce holds its annual legislative reception, moderated by Tampa Bay Times Editorial Editor Tim Nickens. Scheduled to appear are Sen. Jeff Brandes and Reps. Larry Ahern, Ben Diamond, Wengay Newton and Kathleen Peters. Reception begins 5:30 p.m. at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Kate Tiedemann College of Business, 140 7th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg.


More than 97 percent of nearly 200 strip searches during a three-month period in 2017 were conducted on females at Baker prison in Northeast Florida.

That statistic, other disturbing numbers and accounts from visitors were unearthed and compiled into a story published Wednesday by Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union.

Through a collection of anecdotes, Conarck depicts the hardships of female visitors at Florida prisons — which is unwarranted, he writes, because “former corrections officials and prison researchers generally agree that visitors are less likely sources of contraband than officers and staff.”

Contraband crackdown: The Florida Department of Corrections told Conarck the strip searches were a response to an “influx of prison contraband.” DOC Secretary Julie Jones refused to conduct an interview for the story.

Bras: Through interviews, Conarck discovered that underwire bras set off alarms when visitors attempted to enter secured facilities. The DOC previously used a wand to determine if a bra had set off the alarm, but scrapped that practice in an attempt to prevent visitors from smuggling illegal items into prisons.

Ouch: From Tara Wildes, former corrections director at Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office: “These are shortsighted, and quite frankly, sloppy, rules that are designed to discourage people from coming into visit, period.”


Despite new law, Florida needs bigger commitment on opioids” via the Palm Beach Post editorial board – Although the governor last year declared a public health emergency, the reality is that he has done far too little to attack a crisis tied to 5,725 deaths in his state last year: 15 deaths a day. His declaration made it possible to immediately draw $27 million from a federal grant for some prevention, treatment and recovery-support services but didn’t do much beyond that. Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay is right in calling the just-signed law “a small step in the right direction.” Disappointingly, “it falls woefully short of meeting the demand for services our families need.” The $53.6 million package ($65 million, when additional money from the budget is added in) is simply no match for the need. Lest we forget, Scott was late to the opioid fight. It took weeks of public pressure last year to get him to declare a public health emergency. Whoever takes over must take this epidemic far more seriously. And voters must make clear that they’ll accept nothing less.

Joe Henderson: Do we really need amendment about teaching civics? Maybe” via Florida Politics – Laws that most directly affect our lives are made closer to home. So, I’ll ask someone to name the state representative or senator from their district. Or the county commissioner that represents them. Or who is running for those offices in November from both major parties. Most of the time they can’t. Usually, the conversation ends with “well, I don’t really care about politics” and that’s the problem. That’s why it’s interesting that the Constitutional Revision Commission is considering a proposal to place an amendment on the ballot in November to ensure public schools continue teaching how the government works. A final decision on that will be made in April … How much longer until someone in Tallahassee gets the bright idea that it’s a lot better for their job security to eliminate that messy how-it-works requirement and just add on more math and science, lest future graduates decide to vote them out of office. But the point of all this is to learn how things work — and, if need be, work around those who think they have a copyright on “wisdom” and knowledge. That’s a lesson everyone needs to learn.


New look, same firm: Becker & Poliakoff rebrands to keep pace with growth” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics – Becker & Poliakoff has changed its look — but it still brings the same expertise and services to Florida and the East Coast. The multi-faceted commercial law firm recently underwent a rebranding initiative that its leadership says authentically positions Becker to the marketplace and legal community. The new brand brings with it a cutting-edge website, nuanced messaging and a logo built around a bold magenta color palette. Known colloquially as ‘Becker,’ the firm opted to embrace the shortened nickname in its brand, but it’s still legally named Becker & Poliakoff. The brand accents different practice areas within the firm that have grown over time but might not have been immediately associated with the firm’s old brand. Among those services: lobbying.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian Bautista, Paul Bradshaw, Rachel Cone, Nelson Diaz, James Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Waymo

Ron Pierce, Ed Briggs, RSA Consulting Group: Brevard County Sheriff’s Office

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: 2C Media

Marc Dunbar, Daniel Russell, Jones Walker: Penn National Gaming

Craig Gerhart: Avanir Pharmaceuticals

Foyt Ralston, Capitol Advocates: Global Shield

Exiled Russian vodka tycoon hires former Fla. congressman – Former Reps. Cliff Stearns a Florida and Don Bonker Washington are part of a team of APCO Worldwide lobbyists working on behalf of billionaire Yuri Shefler, who has ramped up his advocacy in Washington after being included on a Treasury Department list of Russian oligarchs earlier this year (Congress asked the Treasury Department to compile the list as part of a Russia sanctions bill last year. While the individuals on it are not necessarily under sanction, the report will be used to help determine who to sanction in the future). Shefler’s company, SPI Group, which makes Stolichnaya vodka, recently registered to lobby and also hired Covington & Burling last month to lobby on its behalf. APCO, meanwhile, is lobbying on behalf of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the New York law firm … APCO will engage in outreach “in connection with the Stolichnaya vodka brand in light of ongoing U.S. trademark litigation.”

— ALOE —

Fun bunch: Willie Taggart’s first FSU practice sets different tone” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – It also began a lot earlier. The practice fields were abuzz with the sounds of AC/DC, Wiz Khalifa and Blake Shelton during the morning workouts instead of assistants yelling during the middle of the afternoon. The first practice was also at a quicker pace, with five-minute instruction periods instead of the 10-minute periods that were common under Jimbo Fisher. Taggart wants to see the Seminoles play fast and not worry about making mistakes. “It is going to be a fast practice. We’ll get in and out. We’ll do a lot of coaching in the film room,” said Taggart, who was named coach Dec. 5, less than a week after Fisher resigned to go to Texas A&M. Many of the changes are staples of Taggart’s previous stops at Western Kentucky, South Florida and Oregon. The changes have received rave reviews from the players.

Happy birthday to former state Rep. Alan Williams, Sean Daly, Ash Mason, the great Paul Mitchell, and Jason Unger.

Last Call for 3.21.18 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

First Shot

The city of Vero Beach is selling its power.

The governing boards of the Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) announced Wednesday they gave unanimous final approval to “agreements enabling the city of Vero Beach to exit FMPA’s power projects and sell its electric utility.”

That was after 19 client cities had agreed to Vero Beach’s buyout of its power contracts. Vero Beach participates in three FMPA power supply projects.

For Vero Beach to sell its system, the city needed to find another municipal utility to assume its obligations in the FMPA projects.

“FMPA and its members have invested significant time and effort to help Vero Beach facilitate the sale of its electric utility,” said Jacob Williams, FMPA’s general manager and CEO. “All the cities worked well together to create a solution that meets the needs of everyone.”

The FMPA said it “will continue to work with Vero Beach to finalize remaining details for closing of the utility sale.”

Evening Reads

Facing NRA heat, Richard Corcoran slams assault weapons ban” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

After Mark Foley tweet, unearthed video shows Adam Putnam’s Dennis Hastert ‘problem’ won’t go away” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Rick Scott to place 8 cops at Stoneman Douglas entry to ease parents’ fears” via Scott Travis and Rafael Olmeda of the Sun Sentinel

Documents: Scott administration had long-running role in collapsed FIU bridge” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Despite attempted election hack, state did not create cybersecurity unit” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Gil Ziffer endorses Gwen Graham for governor” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat

Donna Shalala starts early ad war” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida

Jeff Brandes expected to draw challenge from trial lawyer Carrie Pilon” via Florida Politics

Koch brothers launching campaign to oppose public money for Rays stadium” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Is Florida still the leader in citrus” via Alex Hagan of WPTV

Quote of the Day

“I don’t want anybody taking away your guns … it’s about guns in the hands of the wrong people.” — Constitution Revision Commissioner Roberto Martinez, a Republican and former federal prosecutor, explaining why he filed a measure to put gun provisions from the recently passed post-Parkland legislation into the constitution.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights  

Wake Up Early?

The influential Style and Drafting Committee of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission will convene to draft ballot language for tentatively approved constitutional amendments. That’s at 9 a.m., 412 Knott Building, The Capitol.

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which works on issues related to military missions and installations in the state, will meet in Clay County. That’s at 9 a.m., Courtyard Marriott Jacksonville Orange Park, 610 Wells Road, Orange Park.

The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees will meet after holding committee meetings. Among the topics will be an update on the 2018 legislative session. Committees start at 9:30 a.m., with full board at 1 p.m., University of Central Florida, Fairwinds Alumni Center, Orlando.

Staff members for Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, will hold “mobile” office hours in Lee and Hardee counties. 10 a.m., The Shell Factory, Chamber of Commerce office, 2787 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. Also, 1:15 p.m., Hardee County Chamber of Commerce, 135 East Bay St., Wauchula.

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

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will deliver remarks on the Donald Trump administration’s response to the opioid crisis. That’s at 3:20 p.m., U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, U.S. Courthouse — Jury Assembly Room (Floor 3), 111 North Adams St., Tallahassee.

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