Dana Young – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Seminole Tribe fires warning letter to Legislature over fantasy sports

The Seminole Tribe of Florida‘s top in-house lawyer told lawmakers this week that their fantasy sports bills are a dealbreaker.

A $200 million dealbreaker.

The Tribe now says fantasy sports bills filed for the 2018 Legislative Session, if passed, would violate the Seminole Compact. That’s the gambling agreement struck by the state and the Seminoles that, among other things, promises them exclusive rights to certain games. In return, the Tribe pays the state hundreds of millions per year.

Break that deal, the Tribe says, and it’s entitled to pay not one more dime. Around 3 million Floridians say they play some sort of fantasy sports.

Jim Shore, the Tribe’s general counsel, sent a warning letter dated Tuesday to Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican, and Rep. Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican. Hutson chairs the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees gambling issues; La Rosa chairs the House’s Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee.

While Tribal leaders “remain willing” to talk about the legislation, Shore said any violation of their exclusivity deal “would allow the Tribe to cease all revenue sharing payments to the State.” That amounts to over $200 million yearly.

But that’s only if the state “expands” gambling. Fantasy sports fans have long argued their hobby – such as played on websites like FanDuel and DraftKings – is a game of skill and not of chance, and thus shouldn’t be considered gambling.

A bill (HB 223) by Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford would exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation. Another bill (SB 374) by GOP Sen. Dana Young of Tampa would do the same.

Past measures in the Legislature would have gone further by explicitly declaring that fantasy play is not gambling.

Hutson’s own omnibus gambling bill for 2018 (SB 840) includes a section on fantasy sports, defining it as being driven by player performance rather than team performance, and as long as someone isn’t “commissioner” of more than ten leagues, he is exempt from regulation.

A proposed omnibus gambling bill failed this past session, getting caught up in a late-session meltdown over a renewed blackjack agreement with the Seminoles and related measures that would have expanded gambling in the state.

Requests for comment on the letter are pending with lawmakers.

Jacksonville correspondent A.G. Gancarski contributed to this report. 

Senate advances ‘modern-day piracy’ bill requiring marine towing estimates

A Senate bill seeking to control overcharging by marine salvage and towing companies passed its first committee Monday — despite some industry concerns.

SB 664, sponsored by Tampa Republican Dana Young, will require written cost estimates — if requested by customers — before a salvage or towing company can provide work costing more than $500.

Young filed the legislation last month to prevent what she called “modern-day piracy.”

“The actions of a limited number of these companies amount to a form of modern-day piracy, and it must stop,” Young said. “Unfortunately, there have been some terrible abuses in a system that many boat owners rely on.”

Young said consumers throughout the state feel “misinformed and misled” by ambiguous salvage claim fees that pop up when a boat owner requests last-minute aid on the water — particularly in a state such as Florida with an abundance of waterways and boating.

On Monday, Young told members of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee of meetings she had with several industry representatives concerned about the bill.

Young said she expects to amend the bill to avoid deterring companies from “saving human lives, rescuing vessels and ultimately saving money over the long run by not having them sink.”

Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala wondered if Young wanted to build a “consensus package” instead of just kicking the bill “down the road.” She explained she wanted to work with the industry for an agreement, but did not promise a “Kumbaya moment.”

“I think we can get pretty darn close,” she added. “I am committed to working to do that.”

Bonnie Basham, who represents the BoatUS boat towing and insurance company, pointed out that the state of Florida is banned by maritime law against regulating price and penalties.

“We believe there is a better way to skin this cat and help these boaters, and we look forward to working with the senator on that,” she told the board.

Latvala was the only vote in opposition.

Margaret Good says she’s the Democrat who can win HD 72 in 2018

Can Florida Democrats pull off an upset and take northern Sarasota County House District 72 early next year?

There’s a lot of time before that special election takes place next year (Feb. 13), but Siesta Key attorney Margaret Good has emerged as a possible contender — if you gauge her fundraising prowess, where she raised nearly $88,000 in the first month of fundraising after entering the contest.

The HD 72 seat is being fought for after Republican incumbent Alex Miller abruptly left last August.

“I wasn’t getting into a race I didn’t think I could win,” Good said. “And one of the ways you win elections is by building coalitions and networks that are going to support you.”

Good has built support by meeting with as many voters as she can since entering the contest in early September.

A Georgia native, she spent her youth growing up there and in South Carolina, where she received an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina. It was during her youth when the idea of getting into public service first hit her.

She then attended law school at the University of Florida, where she edited the Florida Law Review. Good currently works at the Sarasota-based law firm of Matthews Eastmoore.

“When I moved to Sarasota, I started thinking more seriously about it, because I knew this was going to be the place I called home for the rest of my of my life,” she said.

Last year’s election results inspired Good to look seriously at pursuing such an opportunity.

Earlier this year she helped her friend, attorney Hagen Brody, get elected to the Sarasota City Commission. When Miller announced she wanted out in late August, Good pounced.

“I thought it was a really great opportunity for the Democrats to win a Florida House seat, and decided that this was the time to step up and serve my community.”

Good is running against businesswoman Ruta Jouniari in the Democratic primary scheduled for Dec. 5.

Ruth’s List and the Sierra Club have endorsed Good, but a co-endorsement from the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida was rescinded earlier this month after the group incorrectly said both Democrats support raising the minimum wage from $8.10 to $15 an hour.

“I’m for any increase that we can actually get passed in the state Legislature, but I do think we need to take an incremental approach,” Good says, refusing to define a specific hourly wage.

(Three years ago, South Florida Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard pushed legislation that would have raised the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. In 2015, Democrats, fueled by the Fight for $15! movement, then began raising that proposal to $15. In both cases, those plans have gone nowhere in the GOP-led Legislature).

It’s been reported that the two Democrats also differ when it comes to legalizing marijuana, with Jouniari supporting the idea and Good opposed, but Good says she’s “open to the idea of it.”

“The voters in Florida passed a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, and the implementation has, in my opinion not gone particularly well. I don’t think the Legislature has done a very good job in creating the laws implementing it,” she said, adding, “I think we need to get that off the ground first, and then look and see where we go from there.”

If elected, Good thinks she can work with Republicans on environmental issues, such as a fracking ban (sponsoring a proposal to do that in 2018 are Republicans Dana Young of Tampa in the Senate and Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena in the House).

Much of the Florida Democratic establishment believes in Good and support her campaign. That includes Florida House Victory and Christine Jennings, the former Sarasota County Democratic Executive Committee Chair who calls her a “dream candidate.”

In less than two weeks, HD 72 Democratic voters will make their choice.

Rob Bradley offers glimmer of hope for fracking ban

A top senator is leaving open the possibility that a proposed ban on ‘fracking’ in Florida will be considered in the 2018 Legislative Session.


Rob Bradley, the Fleming Island Republican who recently was named chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also leads the chamber’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee.

That’s the first committee of reference for Sen. Dana Young’s bill (SB 462) to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the controversial drilling technique that involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground.

That breaks up rock to get at oil and natural gas that’s unreachable by conventional drilling, but critics say it can potentially damage subterranean drinking water supplies.

This is the second year Young, a Tampa Republican, has run a fracking ban. Similar legislation died in the House last Session. And this upcoming Session’s Senate measure has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

When asked whether he would hear the bill, Bradley on Tuesday offered a terse text-message response: “No final decisions have been made on future agendas.”

But that was enough to steel Young as to her bill’s chances.


“My good friend Sen. Bradley has just moved into a major role as Appropriations Chair, and I want to give him all the time and flexibility he needs to consider the bills on his environmental policy agenda,” she told Florida Politics.

“I am pleased that Sen. Bradley supported the bill last year in committee and I’m hopeful that he will place it on his agenda in the near future,” she added.

An identical companion (HB 237), sponsored by Republican state Rep. Kathleen Peters of Treasure Island, also has been assigned to committees but not heard.

“The oil and gas industry has been misleading the public and our lawmakers for decades about the safety of their equipment and infrastructure,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, in a statement.

“Now they want to bring fracking to Florida. And they are making the same impossible promises,” she added. “But the Legislature has a choice this year. They can ban fracking now, or they can wait until after a spill. With more than 90 percent of Floridians getting their drinking water from underground aquifers, the choice shouldn’t be this difficult.”

‘Pregnancy support services bill’ divides senators

A Senate panel on Tuesday narrowly approved a bill that would place into law a program that seeks to dissuade women from having abortions.

Sen. Aaron Bean on Tuesday seemed surprised that his proposal was controversial. The National Organization for Women, which opposes the measure, encouraged its members to dress like the concubines in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a dystopian novel where the United States is overthrown and women are stripped of their rights.

“Maybe you think I’m too naive,” Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, said. “It’s not meant to be controversial. It’s not meant to drive a wedge between members. It really is a choice bill. A choice for life. A place where people can go that fosters life.”

Florida has had a “pregnancy support services” program since 2005, when lawmakers first agreed to fund it. Housed in the Florida Department of Health, the program exists because the Legislature annually provides money for it.

Lawmakers earmarked $4 million in general-revenue funds for the initiative in the fiscal year that started July 1.

Bean’s bill, which was approved in a 5-3 vote Tuesday by the Senate Health Policy Committee, would codify the program in state law and require that at least 90 percent of the state funds that support it be spent on pregnancy support and wellness services rather than the currently required 85 percent. Codifying programs in law helps make them more permanent than approving them annually in the budget.

The bill would require the state to contract with the Florida Pregnancy Care Network, a nonprofit organization that provides financial and other support to pregnant women and their families through an alliance of pregnancy support organizations. The bill is filed for the 2018 Legislative Session, which starts in January.

This is the second time Bean has sponsored such a proposal. Meanwhile, the House Health & Human Services Committee next week is expected to consider the House version (HB 41), filed by Tampa Republican Rep. Jackie Toledo. 

University of South Florida Student Annie Filkowski testified before the Senate panel Tuesday about her experience at a Fort Myers center when she was 16 and thought she was pregnant.

After passing a clinic with the sign “free pregnancy tests” on her way to school, she decided to seek help.

“The room they took me into looked nothing like any doctor’s office I’ve ever been in before,” said Filkowski, now 19. “It looked more like a therapist office; there was one big couch, a love seat, a tissue box and a Bible.”

Filkowski said the providers gave her a pamphlet on Christianity before being told the results of the pregnancy test. After being told the test was negative, Filkowski said, she was given a lesson on “abstinence and how I could still be saved despite the mistakes I’ve made.”

Senate committee member Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, proposed an amendment to the bill that would have required the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to conduct a study on the effectiveness and cost of the program and to recommend whether it should be continued or eliminated. Bean opposed the amendment, which failed in a 5-3 party-line vote.

Bean said his bill would require information distributed by the pregnancy support centers to be up to date and the sources of medical information cited.

Book and Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat, weren’t assuaged and asked if any Florida Department of Health staff members were in attendance.

When department Maternal and Child Health Administrator Carol Scoggins appeared, Book asked her, “Do abortions cause breast cancer?”

Book asked the question after picking up literature at one of the centers that she visited several weeks ago with a friend, she said.

After a brief pause, Scoggins replied to Book: “I am not medical staff.”

When Book pressed on, committee Chairwoman Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, gently chided Book, telling her Scoggins wasn’t a doctor and wasn’t qualified to answer the question.

Before voting on the bill, Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, said she had gotten emails from people all over the state about women being required to go to the clinics.

Bean stressed, though, that the centers help women who go voluntarily.

Book told Bean she planned to work with him as the bill moves forward to ensure that information provided at the clinics is accurate.

Bean, though, reserved the right to keep a focus on preventing abortions.

“If medically correct information includes abortion, then maybe we just have to disagree,” Bean said. “Because this is a place that’s abortion free. It’s an abortion-free zone.”

Dana Young, Shawn Harrison fight ‘modern-day piracy’

There were no Jolly Rogers or parrots in the Capitol Tuesday, but two lawmakers are seeking to put what they call a predatory boating-assistance practice in Davy Jones’ locker.

Sen. Dana Young and Rep. Shawn Harrison, both Tampa Republicans, held a press conference on legislation they’re sponsoring (SB 664, HB 469) to combat “modern-day piracy,” they said.

Their measures would “require maritime salvage and towing companies to provide boaters with the option of a written cost estimate before rendering assistance on the water,” according to a statement.

The idea is to “put a stop to the predatory practice of those salvage operators who provide relatively minor assistance to boaters and then charge outrageous fees by labeling the service a ‘salvage claim,’ ” it said.

One example given was a $30,000 bill to replace a hose on a bilge pump.

If passed into law, however, it would be in effect only within the state’s territorial waters: Three nautical miles on the Atlantic Coast and nine nautical miles along the Gulf Coast.

The bills would “require operators to provide a written estimate if the cost of service could be more than $500. The final bill may not exceed 20 percent of that written estimate, and a boater may waive the written estimate if they choose.”

A Periscope video of the news conference can be viewed below:

Ed Hooper heading to Tallahassee for Wednesday fundraiser

Republican SD 16 candidate Ed Hooper is holding a fundraiser for his 2018 bid on Wednesday in Tallahassee, and the choice of venue should make him feel right at home.

FPF building interior view
A view of the bar at FPF’s new building in Tallahassee.

The funder is set to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the swanky new headquarters of The Florida Professional Firefighters, located cattycorner to the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center at 343 West Madison Street. Before seeking elected office, Hooper spent 24 years working for Clearwater Fire & Rescue.

Included on the host committee are Senate President Designate Bill Galvano, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young.

The event comes on the heels of another big month for Hooper on the fundraising trail.

Though his campaign hasn’t posted its full report for October, it said more than $80,000 was raised last month, putting the former four-term state representative over the $200,000 mark in cash on hand.

The campaign had about $128,000 in the bank at the end of September.

Hooper also has a political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper, which raised $38,000 in October and sits with $72,000 in the bank.

So far, Hooper is the only Republican running for the Pinellas County-based district, though he faces a challenger in Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, who had about $7,000 in his campaign account at the end of October.

Those looking to attend can RSVP with Mari Riba via Mari@Hooper4Senate.com or by calling 727-455-9550.

The invitation is below.

Tom Lee wants to know more about local bill for Water Street Tampa

A local bill that would make the Jeff Vinik-led Water Street Tampa development a “stewardship district” was passed by the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation at its meeting Friday in Plant City.

But first, state Sen. Tom Lee said the bill needed additional vetting before becoming law.

Such special districts aren’t out of the ordinary; the Legislature created two last year – the Sunbridge Special District and one in East Nassau – explained state Sen. Dana Young, who was tasked with presenting the somewhat obtuse bill in the absence of its sponsor, Republican Rep. Jamie Grant.

Special districts allow developers (here that’s Vinik’s Strategic Property Partners and Bill Gates‘ Cascade Investment) to essentially tax themselves as the only commercial property owners in the district. It specifically excludes residential owners in the district.

The developer can then use those taxes to “install, operate and maintain upscale amenities and infrastructure within the district that are far above and beyond what the city of Tampa would be able to do,” Young said, adding that they would be able to do so at no cost to Tampa taxpayers.

Although not listed in the bill, Young says the amenities could include bus shelters, enhanced landscaping and bike paths.

Tampa resident Beth Eriksen Shoup questioned the motivation for the developers to tax themselves, asking if they were doing it as a write-off.

Young replied that the developers were doing it to access the tax-free municipal bond market, just as other municipal cities, county or Community Redevelopment Areas do.

While most of the local delegation had nothing but platitudes to offer about how great the project will ultimately be, Lee suggested that this local bill was more complex than most.

“We are granting some very sweeping power here to this special district,” said Lee.

Referring to how items like “eminent domain” were listed in the wordy bill, he admitted he didn’t understand why they were included in the legislation but said he wouldn’t attempt to block it at this early stage.

A longtime real estate and development executive, Lee said he understood why the developers wanted to become a stewardship district as opposed to a community redevelopment district (CDD). He said that the Water Street Tampa project would be “transformational,” but said he wanted to make sure, as the Senate Chairman of the Community Affairs Committee, that he’d be able to work with Grant on the bill.

“I’d really like the chance to scrub it,” he said, adding “it’s a lot to absorb on the fly.”

State Sen. Darryl Rouson said he shared some of Lee’s concerns, but said most of them had been allayed by meeting privately with the developers.

“I’m confident that any bugs will be swatted before we pass it on the floor,” he said.

The $3 billion, 50-acre Water Street Tampa district will include more than 9 million square feet of development when it is completed. The developers unveiled renderings of the first residential properties last week. They include a 26-story condominium tower and a 21-story rental tower.


Greyhound steroid ban filed for 2018 Session

A bill to ban the use of steroids in racing dogs has again been filed in the Legislature.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat, is behind the House bill (HB 463), and Sen. Dana Young, a Tampa Republican, has the measure in the Senate (SB 674).

The legislation, which died in the Senate in the 2017 Session, bans the use of the drugs as called for by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, or ARCI.

“The legislation also enacts penalties against dog trainers who continue using them,” a press release said. “An identical measure, also sponsored by Rep. Smith, overwhelmingly passed the full Florida House of Representatives during the 2017 Session.”

“I will not give up on our bipartisan work to protect racing greyhounds from harmful anabolic steroids,” Smith said in a statement. “We passed the bill in the House last session and are ready to do it again in 2018. These beautiful dogs are depending on us.”

Added Young: “Greyhounds are gentle dogs, and deserve to be protected. I’m proud to fight for this good bill, and am confident we can pass it this year.”

Last Session’s measure had been vehemently opposed by racetrack and racing dog associations. There are 18 race-dog tracks remaining in the United States, 12 of them in Florida.

Smith had argued in committee that trainers use steroids on female greyhounds to keep them from going into heat and losing racing days, and thus the ability to make money. He called the use of steroids on dogs equivalent to “doping.”

This summer, 12 greyhound racing dogs in Florida tested positive for cocaine, and their trainer had his license suspended.

Race for Senate presidency gets underway, but at stately pace

Could a third woman serve as president of the Florida Senate?

That’s one of the intriguing questions at the core of behind-the-scenes maneuvering now fully underway within the Senate’s Republican caucus (currently at 24 members) as the race to succeed Bill Galvano and Wilton Simpson has quietly begun.

Galvano was designated Tuesday as the next president of the Senate by a unanimous vote by his Republican colleagues. Simpson has locked up enough support to follow the Bradenton Republican. Galvano and Simpson’s successor will come from the class of lawmakers elected last November.

But, unlike in the Florida House, where future Speakers begin soliciting support before winning their first election, the upper chamber prefers to take its time and pick a leader after members have had a session (or two or three) to evaluate the chops — and collegiality — of those who seek to lead.

Despite this stately pace for deciding a Senate presidency, two members of the 2016 class are emerging as leading contenders to hold the gavel beginning in 2022.

The two front-runners are St. Augustine’s Travis Hutson and Tampa’s Dana Young, according to more than a dozen sources, including several members, who spoke to Florida Politics on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to appear favoring one senator over another.

Florida Politics brings a well-established record of exclusive, accurate reporting on legislative leadership races.

For example, Florida Politics was first to report about the conclusion of the race between current Senate President Joe Negron and one-time rival Jack Latvala, as well as the eventual outcome of the recently concluded contest for House Speaker beginning in 2022.

It was the (unseemly, some say) pace of the most recent House Speakership race that, in part, influenced the Senate Republican caucus’ consensus decision to take its own damn time before choosing another leader.

Another difference between the House and the Senate: it’s not a given Republicans will still hold a majority come 2022.

While most capital observers, even Democrats, concede that it would take no less than a political tsunami to end Republican hegemony in the House by 2022, it’s not impossible to envision Democrats winning the four seats needed to force a power-sharing scenario with Republicans.

This is especially true after Democrat Annette Taddeo defeated Republican Jose Felix Diaz in the September Senate District 40 special election.

However, until that change comes, the action rests within the Republican caucus.

Although Hutson and Young are the probably the leading contenders to win the support of colleagues, other state senators could be in the mix.

Beyond Hutson and Young, sources say Dennis Baxley and Greg Steube should be seen as dark horses. And just because senators would like to hold off selecting a leader, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some movement in the Hutson-versus-Young scrum.

Sources close to both Hutson and Young say an unofficial coalition of as many as five freshman senators are serving as a bulwark against any rush to choose a leader prematurely.

Names most often associated with this coalition of the, um, unwilling: Baxley, Doug Broxson, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, and Steube.

Then again, another handful of sources say Perry has already thrown his support to Hutson, joining Debbie Mayfield as key supporters.

Just the whisper that Perry has accelerated the race has led many of his colleagues to say “slow down” — and let the contest unfold at a pace more befitting the upper chamber.

Another factor at play: Unlike the House, senators are not as bound to class as their colleagues across the rotunda.

Whereas Paul Renner was elected Speaker-in-waiting via a vote of exclusively freshmen House Republicans, all members of the Senate in the chamber at the time of the designation vote will decide a Hutson versus Young contest. That vote won’t happen till 2020.

For six years, Young represented South Tampa and western Hillsborough County in the House, before graduating to the Senate to represent roughly the same geography. Before crossing the rotunda, Young rose to become House Republican Leader.

Young and Hutson are both former House members.

After winning a contested battle for HD 60 in 2010 against the late Stacy Frank, Democrats failed to put up a candidate to oppose Young in her 2012 and 2014 re-election bids, before recruiting attorney Bob Buesing to face her in the Senate District 18 race.

Young defeated Buesing — as well as independent candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove — in what was a bruising campaign.

Now chair of the Senate’s Health Policy Committee, Young is also vice-chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Pre-K-12 Education. Most recently, she filed a ban on fracking for the 2018 Legislative Session.

She’s a political scion: Her grandfather, Randolph Hodges, served in the Florida Senate from 1953-63, rising to Senate President in 1961-63. And her uncle, Gene Hodges, was in the House of Representatives from 1972-88.

Hutson, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee, was in the House from 2012-15 before being elected to the Senate in April 2015.

That was when John Thrasher quit the chamber to become Florida State University president. Hutson then took Thrasher’s seat.

The St. Augustine Republican, who last reported a $7.2 million net worth, works for his family’s business, The Hutson Companies. According to its website, the company developed “more than 40 communities, encompassing more than 20,000 home sites, throughout the northeast Florida and south Georgia region.”

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