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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.

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

The ‘policy wonk’ in winter: Joe Negron looks back on lawmaking

Senate President Joe Negron isn’t known for his wisecracks or snappy comebacks. The Stuart Republican, whose time leading the Senate will end after the November elections, instead has a reputation as a sometimes verbose — by his own admission — policy wonk with a methodical and deliberate approach to problem-solving as well as politics.

Negron, who was elected to the Florida House in 2000 before joining the upper chamber in 2009, hasn’t decided whether to stay for the last two years of his final term in the Senate. Negron, 56, will hand over the gavel to his roommate, Bradenton Republican Bill Galvano, in November.

In a wide-ranging interview last week, a relaxed version of the typically buttoned-down Negron spoke about his personal reaction to the “unfathomable” tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, growing up with seven brothers in what sounds like an austere household, and the significance of using fewer words and saying them slowly.

The News Service has five questions for Negron:

Q: You’ve been in politics a long time. What knowledge did you gain that you didn’t have when you started your term as president two sessions ago?

JN: The first is how valuable of a commodity legislators are who are prepared, who do the basic blocking and tackling of presenting their bills, who can be counted on to make persuasive arguments. … Before, I aspired to be one of those people. Now, though, in this position where I’m not doing that, I’m not in committees, the value of that, in my estimation, is very high, even higher than it was before. The value of someone you can rely on. Secondly, it’s the end of the day (during the interview). It’s like the Seinfeld episode. He says one thing funny, and then he tries to do something at the end, so maybe I’m doing that. So I’ll give you an honest one, which is the power of narrative in this town. And narrative is established in the first nine minutes of a circumstance or occurrence and, once established, nearly impossible to rebut. So those would be two things.

(Can you elaborate on that? What narratives do you think ran away from you?)

There was first the narrative that the House was ultraconservative and the Senate was not, was moderate. I think we showed there are a lot of issues where, on the Senate side, we took a more conservative position. Whether it was on stand your ground, whether it was on freedom of expression in public schools, I think some of our consumer positions are the more classically (conservative). So that was a narrative. Then the narrative that the House was getting everything and the Senate’s not doing well. That narrative. Those are sort of meta-narratives to contest. There are little narratives and issues that I would look at and say, “I didn’t even know we were fighting about that.” It could be just a policy area or it could be an industry fight. There is a constant battle to create and sustain narratives from large issues to small issues, from funding issues to … Everything that affects a legislative session, whether it’s a policy item, whether it’s a budget item, there is a constant, unremitting battle for narratives. The person or group who wins the battle to frame an issue on favorable terms, their success rate in achieving their goal goes substantially up. I knew that people try to tell a story. But the narrative that’s out there has a wide-ranging effect on the state of mind of legislators, their view of the world. People read something and even if they were part of it actually occurring, the narrative that’s out there will affect their interpretation of events they were actually a part of and saw. If I was going to give advice to a successor, I would say you should have a chief narrative officer in the president’s office.

Q: What advice have you given to Sen. Galvano?

JN: He doesn’t need my advice. I need advice from him. I wasn’t joking when I said we have a lot in common. His leadership race took 3 ½ weeks. Mine took 3 ½ years. He doesn’t need advice from me. We talk about ideas. He’s been alongside for most of this journey. I’ve probably learned more from him than he’s learned from me. One thing I’ve learned from him that’s practical, is to talk more slowly, and fewer words. Sen. Galvano’s very measured in his words. I tend to, when I get a question about something I feel strongly about, I tend to (say), I have three points, here’s point one, here’s point two. I’m still ridiculed in a playful way. … Playful’s not the right word. Friendly. In a friendly way by my colleagues for — remember I rolled out an amendment in Appropriations … an amendment that I lost — for the four privileges. There’s the husband-wife privilege. There’s the doctor-patient. I went through like all the different privileges and I was trying to get to a point and I was just like losing everybody. See, Galvano doesn’t do that. Galvano has another move, too, where he kind of answers the question and then just sort of stops, like, how’s this question still going on? Whereas I tend to go bop, bop, bop. So I’ve learned that from him. And we both have good preparation skills. That’s one reason why we get along so well. We both get books out and we spread them out on the kitchen table and work through things, and he’s known for his attention to detail, as I think I am. But I’ve learned that from him. Fewer words and delivered more slowly.

(Have you done that?)

I have. I don’t mind you asking. In meetings, especially. People that are talking aren’t necessarily interested in your opinion. They more want to tell you what they want you to hear, what they want to communicate to you. So in meetings, of course I’ll respond to questions if asked and I’m polite and respectful, but I think I’ve learned to listen more and to talk less. There’s a verse in Proverbs that is good for all this. This is the King James, because that’s how we were brought up. It says, “In the multitude of words, there wanteth not sin.” Which is an Elizabethan way of saying, if you keep talking, eventually you’ll say something that’s regretful. It’s true. So I’m going to start talking a little less in this interview.

Q: How did the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and meeting with the students and the parents, affect you on a personal level?

JN: It’s devastating. One reason I don’t talk a lot about it is because I get too emotional just talking about it. Sen. (Lauren) Book I thought was incredibly moving and powerful and persuasive on the Senate floor. The one young man she talked about, Kyle, I was with her when we saw Kyle. That was not an exaggeration. A third of his foot was blown off. The only reason he wasn’t killed was — and he volunteered to tell us this story, some people didn’t want to talk but he did — so he told us that he saw the killer and his instinct was to jump and get out of the way, so literally, he starts diving in mid-air and going through the air horizontally, and by the time the gun was fired, it hit his foot. So about a third of his foot, from the shot, was missing, and they’re trying to put his foot back together, having to get tendons and ligaments from his upper leg to basically rebuild his foot. Then we saw another young man in the hospital who also had injuries from being shot and was recovering. And then, and I don’t even know if I can talk about it, but the Peter Wang funeral that we went to, was … She mentioned it, and her words can speak for, but that — the family and the close Chinese community in that area and just hundreds and hundreds of people who came to walk by to pay their respects and the immense sense of loss the parents felt. I asked the mom, through an interpreter, because, to me, it was a morally correct position when someone is shooting that you would try to escape. There’s nothing immoral about that. Nothing unethical about that. Somebody’s shooting, everybody has a right to leave. And instead of leaving, he’s holding the door and letting multiple people go ahead of him, which resulted in him being killed. Then she told about how he was brought up to care for others. They have a large extended family of cousins. He looks after the younger ones and will even check in on the older ones. Then West Point came down and class of, I believe 2024, and in my head I’m thinking, just the enormity of the whole situation. Then, of course, seeing the school and seeing, there was a stool in one of the classrooms, because we could look through the windows of the classrooms. And there was a stool and there’s blood behind there. And you realize somebody was sitting there. And then there were carnations all over the school and all over the desks, and on one of them, you know how we all have the little Apple earbud things, just sitting there, someone’s Apple thing just sitting on their desk. Stuff strewn all over the campus. People running for their lives. You can see where the coach, Coach Feis that we included in the bill, where he was killed and what happened. I can’t really explain it. It’s overwhelming. There are certain places in our society that are sacred places, sacred spaces. To me, I include courthouses in there. Courthouses are where important things happen and people’s lives are changed. I’ve always considered that a sacred place. And then schools. I have three children. We’ve all waited in line at the pick-up line, and when you see an invasion of that and a temporary destruction of that — and ultimately, the school will prevail and the parents and the community will prevail — but to see the loss that was visited upon people that are just sitting in a classroom, it’s still unfathomable to me. All we can do is, we talked to the parents and we talked to law enforcement, and do our best to address it in a responsible way to try to reduce the risk of it happening again, but on a personal level it’s … It’s bad. Everyone feels safe at school. There’s a whole feeling you get at school — the backpacks, and the routine, and the lunches — and we’ve all spent a lot of time on campuses, volunteering for things, and just to see that turned into a horrible scene, it’s, it’s just devastating.

Q: What are you reading?

JN: My colleagues got me, “Letters from Prison,” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I read that poem at my designation, the “Who am I?” poem which he wrote when he was in prison. … In my portrait, there’s a book called “The Cost of Discipleship,” that he wrote. My dad gave that to me when I was 12 or 13 years old. That’s one reason I’m the earnest person that I am. There was not a lot of frivolity in our family growing up. I hear about kids that are running around, there’s balloons. No. We’re reading. We’re going to church. We’re serious-minded people, and you guys need to work really, really hard if you want to move up. That was the whole theme of our house growing up. I’m not joking at all. My mother said, “You’re born to work. If you have any fun along the way, that’s great, but essentially you’re here to work.” No, I’m not making this up. It’s come full circle. That’s true.

(Negron’s spokeswoman, Katie Betta, says the other book in the portrait is “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott.)

Yeah, Little Women. My mom read that to us when we were kids. She read us “Little Men” and “Little Women.” For some reason I remember “Little Women” better so I picked that one. But yeah, we were readers. It was a serious operation, the nine of us, seven boys and two parents. On Saturdays, my mom would write a list. And you had to get all your jobs done on the list and when that was done, then we would do something, go to the park or play Monopoly, or get ready for church on Sunday. But we had a list of things and those things all had to get done. But, you know, list-making works good for appropriations. How do you think I got this job?

Q: What do you listen to on the 5 ½-hour drive home?

JN: I’m not listening to Hits 1 on my Sirius so much anymore. I listen to the comedy channel. There are so many comedy channels. I’m a huge fan. Oh, I went and saw Jim Gaffigan in Jacksonville. Do you guys know Jim Gaffigan? Hot pockets. He’s a comedian. So I listen to comedy, news and then the ‘70s channel. You can’t go wrong with rolling out a Supertramp song every now and then. “Take the Long Way Home.” It’s a classic.

Tampa Bay Times editorial board disgustingly misframes the Jack Latvala scandal

Up until the moment a special master’s report found credible evidence of Jack Latvala‘s sexual misconduct, I was a defender of the Republican state Senator’s right to due process and, to some extent, an opportunity to confront his accusers.

But after former Judge Ronald Swanson issued a report that Latvala inappropriately touched a top Senate aide and may have broken the law by offering a witness in the case his support for legislation in exchange for sex acts, there was no way anyone could still stand by Latvala’s side, especially since he kept many of those close to him in the dark about the full extent of his legal vulnerabilities.

Yet, apparently, there are still a few people not related to Latvala taking up his cause, namely the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times.

In an editorial lamenting the hits, errors and misses of the 2018 Legislative Session, Tim Nickens and Co. rightly criticize lawmakers for failing to deliver on reforming sexual harassment laws and policies.

Yet, inexplicably, if not mind-bogglingly, the editorial board writes that “the rhetoric from many lawmakers about changing a toxic work environment in the state Capitol appears to have been cover for ousting a moderate Republican who made too many enemies.”

I don’t write this lightly, but are you f*cking kidding me?

Is the Times really suggesting that Richard Corcoran, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rob Bradley, Matt Caldwell and others spoke out loudly about “the toxic work environment in the state Capitol” as a ploy to sideline Latvala?

Wasn’t it rather that they, like Latvala’s attorney Steve Andrews, almost threw up when they learned about the extent of Latvala’ serial abuse?

A former lobbyist whose name was redacted in the released copy of Swanson’s report said Latvala would touch her inappropriately, including touching the outside of her bra and panties, every time they were alone in his office.

She said he “intimated to her on multiple occasions, that if she engaged in sexual acts or allowed him to touch her body in a sexual manner he would support legislative items for which she was lobbying,” Swanson wrote. That included explicit text messages sent to the woman.

But if you go by the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, Latvala’s problem was not forcing a lobbyist to engage in a quid pro quo for sexual favors, it’s that he was a “moderate” who “made too many enemies.”

Alexandra Glorioso, one of the POLITICO Florida journalists who first reported about Latvala’s pattern of sexual harassment, took to Twitter Sunday to comment about the Times editorial board’s position. (I took to Twitter Friday night to criticize the editorial as soon as I read it).

Among the smart points Glorioso makes:

— It’s inexplicable that the Times editorial board can criticize the Legislature for failing to take sexual harassment seriously, yet criticize some lawmakers for investigating “its hometown Senator.”

— The Times editorial board “continues to refer to Jack Latvala as a ‘moderate Republican who made too many enemies’ and not a former Senator who resigned in disgrace after two independent investigators concluded he likely sexually assaulted and harassed women.”

This is an interesting point because on the same weekend this editorial ran, the Times published a story about former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, whom it describes as “disgraced” even though his sins were, arguably, not as consequential as Latvala’s.

If you read between the lines of this editorial and the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald’s coverage of L’Affaire Latvala writ large, it’s that – darn it – Florida would have been a lot better off if Latvala had been around to stick up to Corcoran’s House, etc., on the hometown issues the Times feels passionately about (consolidation of the USF system, for example).

Think of it as some sort of victim shaming in which the few lawmakers who spoke out (early) against Latvala are now being editorialized against for having done so.

And one final note: As Glorioso notes, editorials of the Tampa Bay Times are unsigned and “represent the institutional opinion of the newspaper.”

Accordingly, this editorial brings shame to the entire institution.

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Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

Bill Galvano names Lisa Vickers chief of staff

Incoming Florida Senate President Bill Galvano announced Wednesday that longtime senior policy adviser Lisa Vickers will serve as his chief of staff.

“She brings a wealth of management experience gained from service as executive director of the Department of Revenue under two Governors, combined with a strong and diverse background in public policy,” Galvano said in a statement Wednesday.

Vickers is a well-known figure among senators and Senate staff as she has served as an adviser to the last three Senate presidents. She also worked for the state’s Department of Revenue for more than 20 years. In 2007, she was appointed to be the executive director of the department and served under both Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott.

“Lisa came to the Senate the same year I was elected … [and] quickly earned a reputation as a problem-solver due to her tireless work ethic and ability to combine institutional knowledge with a thoughtful, innovative approach to public policy,” Galvano said.

Vickers is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Business and the Florida State University College of Law. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1990.

The Tallahassee-based chief of staff will work with Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, during his 2018-20 legislative term.

 

Democrats file in Denise Grimsley, Katie Edwards-Walpole districts

Democratic candidates have opened campaign accounts to try to succeed Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, and Rep. Katie EdwardsWalpole, a Plantation Democrat, in November.

Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price opened an account last week to run in Senate District 26, which includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties, according to the state Division of Elections website.

Grimsley is running this year for state agriculture commissioner.

The only other candidate in the race is Rep. Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican who had raised $142,600 as of Feb. 28, a finance report shows.

Meanwhile, with Edwards-Walpole’s recent announcement that she will not run for another term in Broward County’s House District 98, Plantation Democrat Louis Reinstein became the first candidate to open an account to try to win the seat.

Early start approved for 2020 Session

Continuing a trend, the Florida Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would start the 2020 Legislative Session in 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 (HB 7045) approved Thursday in a 34-3 vote would start the 2020 Session on Jan. 14. The House has also approved the bill, which means it is now ready to go to Gov. Rick Scott.

Three South Florida Democrats — Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami Democrat, and Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat — opposed the bill Thursday.

“It’s too cold in Tallahassee during the winter so I cannot support this bill,” Braynon said.

That drew a reply from Senate bill sponsor Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican.

“It’s, frankly, too hot later, so I would ask you to support it,” Galvano said

Kelli Stargel gets pushback over ‘thoughts and prayers’ remark

Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, said she’s been inundated with angry and hateful messages after she said “thoughts and prayers” were the best way to stop the evil behind mass shootings like the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

“The pushback has been incredible. As my daughter called it, it was the quote heard ‘round the world,” Stargel told The News Service of Florida.

Stargel said her son, who lives in Chile, told her it showed up in his news feeds.

The senator called the reaction “unfortunate.” Lawmakers have passed a $400 million “comprehensive piece of legislation” that addresses firearms, mental health, school resource officers and school hardening, she said.

“So we’re not just thinking and praying. But I think the pushback is indicative of the hate and anger that’s going on in our culture,” Stargel said.

Stargel remains unapologetic for her comments, delivered during debate on the school-safety measure this week.

“I don’t know when it became inappropriate to pray for our country, pray for people, have compassion, common decency, kindness,” she said.

Pro-gun bills look doomed in Senate

Without hesitation, the state Senate temporarily postponed on Wednesday two bills that would’ve expanded gun rights in Florida.

This late in the Legislative Session, the move is a sign that the chamber does not intend to vote on the two pieces of legislation.

One bill, SB 1048, had been postponed by Senate President Joe Negron ahead of a final vote in the chamber last month. Negron’s decision to delay the bill came when survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre filled the Capitol.

The legislation, filed by Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, sought to allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry guns at churches attached to schools. Florida law provides for carrying firearms at churches, so long as they aren’t attached to school properties. The bill prohibits carrying guns at churches when school-sponsored activities are going on.

The other bill, HB 55, passed the House and was primed for a vote in the Senate — before 17 were fatally gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.

The legislation would only slightly expand gun rights, allowing for electronic payments of criminal history checks for potential firearms buyers.

Both bills were approved by their respective committees before the Parkland tragedy. Since then, both chambers have passed significant gun reforms, including a three-day waiting period to buy any firearm, and a new age limit — 21 (up from 18) —  for firearms purchases, along with an all-out ban on bump stocks.

Senate passes gambling bill, requests conference

The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed the latest version of comprehensive gambling legislation for 2018, and asked the House to go into conference to bang out a compromise.

Bill sponsor Travis Hutson offered an amendment to the House bill (HB 7067) that already passed off the floor. The chamber OK’d it 22-10, sending it back.

Hutson—a St. Augustine Republican who chairs the Regulated Industries Committee—noted further concessions in his measure while saying, “The House has not come closer to us at all.”

“voter control of gambling” constitutional amendment will be on November’s ballot. If it passes by the required 60 percent, the initiative would give voters power to approve or kill future expansions of gambling in Florida. That could shut out lawmakers from having a say over gambling indefinitely.

The latest language adds, among other things, what Hutson called a “partial decoupling” for thoroughbred horse racing, referring to the term for removing provisions in state law requiring dog and horse tracks to run live races if they wish to offer other gambling, such as cardrooms.

It also adds a ban on steroid use in racing greyhounds, but removes a ban on video games known as “pre-reveal” that look and play like slot machines, and that critics say are illegal gambling. Pre-reveal game makers say they’re only for entertainment, though they do pay out winning plays.

Not discussed Wednesday was a plan by a consortium of pari-mutuel owners to increase the money they give to the state if lawmakers agree to grant slot machines in counties that OK’d them in local referendums. Allowing such slots is now in the Senate bill.

The idea is to match or beat the revenue share—estimated at $200 million-$300 million a year going forward—coming from the Seminole Tribe of Florida for their exclusive rights to offer slots outside South Florida and to offer blackjack.

A working proposal would guarantee $250 million in “slot machine taxes and license fees to the state.”

Other significant differences exists between the chambers: The Senate is OK with designated player games, a hybrid of poker and blackjack played at pari-mutuel cardrooms; the House would ban them. The House also would ban pre-reveal games.

Both chambers would extend a gambling exclusivity agreement with the Seminoles in exchange for $3 billion in revenue share over seven years. But the Senate is at 22 years; the House is at 20 years.

The Senate also does not specify how that Seminole gambling money is spent. The House would divvy it up three ways:

— A third to “K-12 teacher recruitment and retention bonuses.”

— Another third to “higher education institutions to recruit and retain distinguished faculty.”

— The final third to “schools that serve students from persistently failing schools,” or Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s priority “Schools of Hope” program.

There’s more time for lawmakers to address gambling because the chambers failed to finalize a state budget on time this week to finish the 2018 Legislative Session on Friday.

Session, at least for now, looks likely to continue at least through Monday.

A conference would include Senate President-designate Bill Galvano and House Speaker-designate José Oliva, the two gaming negotiators for the Session.

Texts reveal Gary Farmer still lobbying for trial bar

The headline above this story probably comes as no shock to those who follow the annual trial bar versus insurance industry drama and have witnessed Sen. Gary Farmer buzzing around committees. What’s surprising is how casually Farmer has been – messily even – doing the trial bar’s bidding.

Public records requested by Florida Politics legitimize what many have quietly whispered: Farmer should just go ahead register as a lobbyist for the trial bar.

His messages from Jan. 23, 2018, offer a glimpse into the inside baseball of the Florida Senate, and demonstrate that lawmakers so engrained in special interests actively interfere in the fate of Florida law.

For weeks prior to the Banking and Insurance Committee meeting, the trial bar had been trying to pressure the insurance industry into a PIP (Personal Injury Protection) compromise using the threat of killing an industry-promoted “Named Driver Exclusion” bill as a means of forcing the industry “to the table” on PIP repeal.

Trial lawyers are behind the attempt to repeal PIP, Florida’s Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, replacing it with a lawsuit-based system and mandatory “bodily injury” insurance, which insurers say reduces consumer choices and will increase rates for Floridians.

The bill at issue, SB 518, would have essentially allowed families to keep their auto insurance policy even if one of the family members was a poor driver, because that driver could be excluded from coverage under the policy. While this is a common practice in other states, SB 518 provided an opportunity for the trial bar to interfere with its passage as a tool of coercion over the PIP issue, despite it not having any meaningful effect on the liability of drivers (the family member removed from the policy would get coverage elsewhere).

Farmer’s texts on Jan. 23

On that day, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee heard Named Driver Exclusion. And if you attended the meeting, Farmer, a former trial bar lobbyist who is not on the Committee, made no secret of texting and doing what appeared to be active lobbying of the committee members.

At 3:41 p.m., Farmer texted Senator Anitere Flores: “Beach [sic] & steube not here…Please TP named driver…Without them we need you as a no”

Named Driver Exclusion was voted down.

At 5:27 p.m., Farmer texts Flores: “You are the master, I bow down in aw & reverence!!…Thank you!! It’s hard for me not knowing the play.”

In this same time window, Farmer texted Senator Annette Taddeo, who had voted no, a quick, “Thank you!”

Bottom line: This is an unsurprising example of how special interest proxies exercise their influence. But maybe next time Farmer will register before he lobbies for the trial bar.

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