Gwen Graham Archives - Florida Politics

Democratic gubernatorial candidates slam Rick Scott for education budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen GrahamAndrew GillumPhilip Levine, and Chris King took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday afternoon, charging that the state budget he signed fails to adequately fund public education, with Graham declaring, “This will be the last budget… that underfunds Florida’s students.”

“Rick Scott’s education budget includes a measly 47-cent increase for education — it fails to even cover the rate of inflation,” Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, declared in a statement issue by her gubernatorial campaign Friday. “The governor is so out of touch with Florida families he may actually think that’s enough to fund our schools, but 47 cents won’t even buy Rick Scott a gum ball.

On Friday Scott signed the 2018-’19 state budget with $88.7 billion in spending, and also vetoed $64 million worth of line items. Scott’s office maintains the budget offers a record amount of spending on public schools, but Graham contends it falls far short of what is needed. Earlier, Graham had called for Scott to veto the budget, call the Florida Legislature back to a special session, and demand more money for public schools.

“When Rick Scott leaves the Governor’s Mansion this year, he’ll leave behind a legacy of cutting and underfunding public schools in Florida. This hasn’t just hurt our students — it hurts our economy and the entire state,” she continued. “Budgets, whether they’re made over a kitchen table or in the Capitol, are about priorities. For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have failed to make public education a priority, and, in 2018, voters will hold them accountable for their failures.”

She added this pledge: “As governor, I will pick apart the Republicans’ budget piece by piece to eliminate their wasteful spending and use those tax dollars where families will benefit — in our schools. Mark my words. This will be the last budget for next eight years that underfunds Florida’s students and schools.”

Gillum’s response took a similar tact he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“A failure to properly fund our students education & not just a response to Parkland, is no surprise from @FLGovScott. Teachers & schools do some of the most important work on Earth: educating our kids. This budget falls well short of what our students need to learn and be safe,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, tweeted.

 Levine, a businessman and former mayor of Miami Beach, also ripped into Scott over the schools spending, and also criticized the state’s spending for health care.

“Governor Rick Scott is ending his tenure as Governor the same way he started it––short-changing our schools, our teachers and our students,” Levine said in a statement issued by his campaign. As governor, I would never sign this out-of-touch budget. This budget does nothing to improve our state’s back-of-the-pack status in teacher pay, and continues to leave too many Floridians without access to health care. We need leaders that will invest in our education and healthcare, not leave them with pennies on the dollar.”

King, a Winter Park developer of affordable housing and senior housing, noted that any budget is a statement of priorities.

“Rick Scott’s [priorities] are dead wrong,” King said. “Our students and teachers deserve better than a paltry 47-cent increase, but nothing will change in Tallahassee until we change the types of leaders we send there.”

The leading Republican candidates are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

All four Democratic gubernatorial candidates commit to Tampa debate

The Tampa debate is on for all four major Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

The campaigns for Andrew Gillum and Philip Levine joined those of Chris King and Gwen Graham Thursday in announcing they have committed to a debate being planned in Tampa on April 18.

After Gillum challenged his rivals to agree to a series of debates Thursday, in quick succession King’s and Graham’s campaigns, and then Gillum’s and Levine’s all announced they have committed to one at WTVT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Tampa.

Gillum’s campaign said they were the first to pledge to that debate but kept quiet about it, waiting for the station to firm everything up and announce.

“We’re pleased two of the other campaigns [King and Graham] have agreed to debate on stage there, and we look forward to adding more debates. Democrats deserve to hear from all of the campaigns all over the state,” said Gillum’s Campaign Communications Director Geoff Burgan.

Around the same time he was issuing that statement, Levine’s campaign also announced his commitment.

“Mayor Levine looks forward to participating in the April 18th debate in the Tampa Bay area, and share his vision for Florida, coupled with his record of progressive accomplishments as a successful two-term Mayor,” said his consultant Christian Ulvert.

The station has not announced any details about time or format.

Andrew Gillum issues debate challenge; Chris King, Gwen Graham say they’ve confirmed

Is a debate between Democratic gubernatorial candidates at a Tampa TV station on April 18 in the works? The campaigns for Chris King and Gwen Graham say yes, while the campaign for Andrew Gillum, who’s been challenging his rivals to debates, and the campaign for Philip Levine are mum.

On Thursday afternoon, Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, renewed his call for a series of debates between Democratic gubernatorial candidates. King’s campaign quickly responded by not only saying he agrees with the call for debates, but that he has committed to one on April 18 in Tampa.

Graham’s campaign then confirmed that she, too, has agreed to a proposed debate at WTVT-TV, the Fox affiliate in Tampa.

Since those responses raising the prospect of the Tampa debate came in, there has been no reaction from Gillum’s campaign, nor any response from the campaign of Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor.

Officials at WTVT-TV were not immediately available Wednesday to confirm their plans, or those of any candidates.

“Last October, we challenged our fellow Democratic campaigns to at least six debates in red and blue counties across our state. We are now less than six months from primary election day, but unfortunately we’ve been met with silence,” Gillum’s campaign Communications Director Geoff Burgan said in a news release. “As the policy differences between the candidates have become clear recently, we know it’s time to take this discussion directly to voters. Floridians deserve to know where we stand on expanding health care to every Floridian, transforming the economy for working people, consistently fighting for gun safety, standing up for public schools, and protecting our environment. We hope our fellow candidates will stop avoiding these debates and give our voters a chance to kick the tires.”

We’re in, responded King’s campaign spokesman Avery Jaffe.

“Our campaign has already accepted a televised debate invitation from WTVT-TV in Tampa and we hope the other candidates will join Chris at their studios on April 18,” Jaffe said in a written response issued by King’s campaign.

When advised of King’s campaign statement, Graham’s campaign said that she also has agreed to be in the WTVT-TV debate, and that she has received a confirmation from the station.

In the statement released by his campaign, King said, “Voters deserve to hear where the candidates stand and I’m ready to offer Floridians my vision for new leadership and fresh ideas. If Florida Democrats want to win, we should face the voters and offer them real solutions in a debate, not stale talking points. We must compete in every corner of our state and take no one for granted, and that means making sure Spanish-language, African American, Haitian, Caribbean, LGBT and other diverse media outlets are included in these debates.”

Philip Levine announces Ed Rendell’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has picked up an endorsement from Pennsylvania’s former governor Ed Rendell.

Rendell served as general chair of the Democratic National Committee during the last two years of the Clinton administration. He served two terms as Pennsylvania’s governor after that, and two terms as mayor of Philadelphia before his DNC post.

Levine is a former mayor of Miami Beach.

“I am proud to support Mayor Philip Levine to be the next governor of Florida,” Rendell said in a news release issued by Levine’s campaign. “As a former two-term mayor myself, I am happy to stand behind another mayor with a strong record of success, who has done the right thing for his community by taking bold action on climate change, raising the minimum wage, and fighting for the values that improve the lives of residents. During my time as governor, I realized I was incredibly well prepared for the challenges I would face because of my service as a two term mayor. As the former chair of the DNC, I also know what it takes to win tough races. Philip has everything it takes to win the Governor’s mansion after over 20 years of one-party rule and bring Florida Democrats together with a bold progressive vision for the future.”

Levine is battling with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republican candidates are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“Ed is a good friend, an incredible mayor, and an accomplished governor in his own right,” Levine said in the release. “Our campaign continues to grow its support because Floridians know we will shake up Tallahassee and focus on getting things done. As governor, I’m committed to move Florida forward as a leader in the 21st century economy by investing in our public schools, our environment, our healthcare, and fighting for the real needs of Floridians.”

A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade

Take a good look at the picture below of Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham participating in her latest “workday.”

On Tuesday, the former U.S. Representative was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) in Immokalee. Graham spent a shift helping out at an early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of migrant families.

Of note: Bob Graham performed a workday with the RCMA as Governor in 1983.

What you see in the picture (and the other five or six that Graham’s campaign sent to me) is the very essence of compassion and empathy. It’s Clintonian “I feel your pain.”

I see a mother who knows the value of being patient with a child.

I see a wife who had the strength to help her husband through a battle with cancer.

Burnishing her sympathy cred: Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham spent Tuesday working at an early childhood education center in Immokalee to learn about “the needs of the migrant families” there.

I see the gentle wrinkles of time underneath a face beaming with hope.

I know this is cheesy to say, but I got emotional when I first saw these pictures of Graham, who admittedly is probably my first or second choice to be the next Governor of Florida.

If nothing else, what I see here is the exact opposite of the awkward (albeit effective) current occupant of the Governor’s Mansion.

I see the opposite of the wannabe Fox News studio host who is also running for Governor (Ron DeSantis).

I see the opposite of the less-than-genuine Republican who is most likely to face Graham in November (Adam Putnam).

Yet, as I look at the earnestness of this woman, with whom I have connected but really don’t know, I can’t help but wonder:

Why isn’t her campaign doing better?

Why is she struggling to raise real money?

Why do so many Democrats say that she is “boring” on the campaign trail?

Why do I have this bad feeling in my stomach about where Graham’s campaign will end?

Graham is in a difficult position right now as the politics of Parkland reshape the Democratic primary and the gubernatorial race.

On her left, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is winning the competition for earned media. He’s on MSNBC. He’s being written up in The Washington Post. Kevin Cate, one of his media advisers, can show you stats about clicks and likes and retweets that indicate Gillum is the candidate most in sync with Democratic primary voters.

On Graham’s other flank is former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Where Gillum’s campaign is being infused with the oxygen of earned media, Levine’s effort is being propelled by a seemingly unending number of personal checks to pay for a stream of television ads.

Also in the mix is Orlando businessman Chris King, who has yet to register with most voters, but whose presence in the race is just another indication that the primary is a wide-open affair.

The polls indicate that Graham is the nominal front-runner. And it’s a mistake to label Graham, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo does, a “weak” front-runner.

To the contrary, she’s a good candidate running against three other good candidates. This primary will be won with the four candidates separated by no more than a dozen or so points.

Yet there are too-frequent reminders that Graham’s position atop the polls is precarious.

Gillum recently announced that he has the support of top Democratic fundraiser Bob Poe.

On Wednesday, Levine scored the endorsement of former state lawmaker Keith Fitzgerald, who will serve as a policy adviser to the campaign. Why is this significant? Because Fitz — so respected by the Steve Schales of the party — is the kind of center-left Democrat Graham needs to win the primary.

Had Graham won the backing of Poe and/or Fitzgerald, it probably would not have registered. It would have just been another indication of Graham sewing up the establishment’s support.

Instead, there are now two more cracks in Gwen Graham’s facade.

It’s becoming hard to look at.

Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is launching new television commercials Tuesday addressing post-Parkland calls for assault weapon bans and universal background checks.

The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials.

With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.

“Now Floridians are standing up to gun violence, demanding universal background checks, bans on assault rifles, and protecting our schools,” he continues. “I’m Philip Levine, and I’m running for Governor because I’m a parent who will not stop at anything until we make our gun laws stronger and our children safe.”

Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, is in a battle with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“While session has ended with a small step forward on gun reform, the calls for bold action demanded by the majority of Floridians were ignored by the governor and Legislature. It’s deeply frustrating that Republicans in Tallahassee were more focused on arming school personnel than taking military-style weapons off the streets. The new ad released today reiterates Mayor Levine’s commitment to take these issues directly to the people as Governor, and seize the moment to make our gun laws stronger and make sure our children are safe,” Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine, stated in a news release.


Email insights: Gwen Graham blasts ‘devastating cuts to schools’

After going into overtime on the 2018 Legislative Session lawmakers passed an $88.7 billion budget Sunday, but Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham said it doesn’t measure up when it comes to school funding.

She lays the blame on the man she’s looking to replace in the governor’s mansion.

Rick Scott‘s first priority as governor was to cut more than $1 billion from public schools — and in 8 years, while the governor and Legislature have spent our tax dollars on their pet projects and special interests, they have failed to fully restore funding for Florida’s schools and students,” Graham said in a Sunday email.

“Adjusted for inflation, per-student funding will be less under Rick Scott’s last budget, than when he took office. He ceded control of public schools to Richard Corcoran and the most extreme members of the Legislature who have siphoned money away from students to line the pockets of the education industry.”

Per-pupil funding was at $6,897 in the 2010-11 budget Graham is citing. That budget was crafted during Gov. Charlie Christ’s tenure and lasted through the first six months of Scott’s first term.

Scott’s first budget had per-pupil funding of $6,217 and subsequent budgets have yet to cross the 2010-11 line when inflation is taken into account, let alone the higher 2007-08 budget which featured per-pupil funding of $7,126.

Graham said if she is elected in the fall that “change is coming.”

“This will be the last Florida budget to underfund public schools. As governor, I will restore our promise to public schools by ending high-stakes testing, ending the degrading system of school grades, and ending the lottery shell game,” she wrote.

“We will restore funding from Rick Scott’s devastating cuts, pay teachers what they deserve, and ensure every child has access to a quality public education.”

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Where is Justice 2 Jesus?

The 2018 Legislative Session came and went, and Brian Pitts of the advocacy group Justice 2 Jesus was nowhere to be found.

One of the last times he was spotted was November at the Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee. It was the last meeting for former state Rep. Neil Combee and after he said farewell, Pitts came to the podium to scrutinize the Venezuela divestment bill.

“This really makes my day because this is my last committee,” Combee told Pitts. “I would have been heartbroken if Brian Pitts did not want to talk about a bill before the committee.”

“I love you too,” Pitts told Combee before hammering on the proposal.

Brian Pitts and Justice 2 Jesus are MIA this Session.

Since that meeting though, the 46-year-old gadfly, who has long been a staple of the legislative process has been absent.

His last Twitter rant, in its usual all-caps matter, was sent out Jan. 2, a week before Session started.


And as reporters and lobbyists inquired about the disappearance act, he favorited tweets of those who speculated that he might be out because of a “long flu” or “influenza.” Pitts, however, never confirmed why he’s been out.

After multiple attempts by Florida Politics to reach him, calls went unanswered and straight to voicemail.

“Our Lord is here, Jesus Christ … good day and God bless,” he says before the beep.

Coming up, the usual assortment of tidbits, leftovers and not-ready-for-prime-time moments by Ana Ceballos, Jim Rosica, Danny McAuliffe, Andrew Wilson and Peter Schorsch.

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

Stoneman Douglas Act signed — Gov. Rick Scott signed the “Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act” Friday while parents who lost their children in the school shooting stood by him. The $400 million proposal creates unprecedented gun-control measures in the state, gives more funding to schools for security and mental health services and allows school staff to participate in a program that trains them to shoot active shooters. The bill defies the National Rifle Association, which is opposed to banning the sale of bump stocks, raising the legal age to buy assault weapons from 18 to 21 and a three-day waiting period for all firearms. The legislation does not include a ban on assault weapons despite outcry from Parkland shooting survivors.

Leaders close out budget — Legislative leaders reached a deal on a roughly $89 billion state budget early Thursday morning, setting in motion the 72-hour “cooling-off” period before lawmakers can vote on it. The spending plan for the 2018-19 fiscal year has nearly $90 million in last-minute funding including hurricane-related items that are contingent on federal reimbursements. The budget also has $67 million for arming school staff, $8 million in pay raises for juvenile detention and probation officers and a 36 percent pay increase for Florida Supreme Court justices who will now make more than $220,000 annually. Nursing homes will also get a $130 million bump in Medicaid payments.

Gambling conference surprise — Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran released a joint statement Friday night: “Despite the good faith efforts of both the House and Senate, a gaming bill will not pass the Legislature this session.” At last look, the House had offered five ‘limited gaming’ licenses in response to the Senate position for six new slots licenses in the state for counties that had OK’d slots expansion in local referendums. “Limited gaming” had meant slots or designated player games — a poker-blackjack hybrid — but not both. Another proviso from the House: Any new slots facility would have to be at least 100 miles away from the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, and at least 25 miles away from any other Seminole casino, including the one in Hollywood. It’s not clear when lawmakers will get another shot.

Member projects janked for votes — Before the gun and school safety bill passed the House, rank-and-file members who strongly opposed the measure had project funding for their districts removed from the budget. A POLITICO Florida analysis found that at least $10 million in House member projects the House and Senate had agreed to were pulled. As legislative leaders wrapped up the 2018 session, the budget came in late, and according to the analysis  it was “increasingly clear that the budget [was] used to whip members on the gun bill.”

Child marriage ban pushed through — Gov. Scott’s office said the governor intends to sign a measure that would ban all marriages under the age of 17. The “child marriage bill” was among the most-debated issues in the 2018 legislative session. Republican state Rep. George Moraitis was one of the toughest critics of the bill, saying that some minors should be allowed to marry with parental consent. He was the lone ‘no’ vote against SB 140. The bill would give Florida the strictest marriage law in the country in terms of age limits.

On Friday, Rick Scott signed the “Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.” Immediately afterward, the NRA filed an injunction to block the new law.

Scott talks school security with police chiefs

Gov. Scott headed to Orange Park this week to talk about his school security plans with police chiefs from South and Northeast Florida.

Scott’s proposals following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre last month include raising the minimum age to buy a gun in Florida to 21, increasing funding for school security and mental health, and giving law enforcement the ability to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Promises after Parkland: Gov. Rick Scott met with South and Northeast Florida police chiefs to discuss his action plan to help keep Florida students safe.

Scott said after the meeting that it was one of the things he didn’t propose — arming school employees — that ended up dominating the discussion.

Lawmakers added to the school safety plan a provision that would allow school employees who are not solely classroom teachers, such as coaches or support staff, to carry concealed weapons on campus after completing a training program.

Scott cheers bill blocking Venezuela investment

The Legislature got some praise from Gov. Scott this week for passing a bill that would bar the state from investing in any company that is doing business with the Venezuelan government.

Scott said the move would hold the Nicolas Maduro regime accountable and the bill was one of his announced priorities ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session.

“With the passage of this landmark legislation, Florida continues its commitment to the people of Venezuela who are fighting for freedom and democracy. This legislation will prohibit all state agencies from investing in the Venezuelan government and puts even more financial pressure on the Maduro regime by stopping any future state investment with them,” Scott said.

“I want to thank Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, as well as sponsors Senator Rene Garcia and Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Nunez, for their great work on this important bill.”

HB 359 cleared both the House and Senate with a unanimous vote.

Putnam names 2017 Forestry Firefighter of the Year

During a Wednesday Cabinet meeting, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and the Florida Forest Service presented Senior Forest Ranger John DeWolfe with the Forestry Firefighter of the Year award.

“Our wildland firefighters risk their lives daily to protect Florida’s wildlife and residents from wildfire, and last year they courageously battled one of the most severe wildfire seasons in recent history,” Putnam said. “I congratulate John on being named the 2017 Forestry Firefighter of the Year and thank him for his selfless service.”

Adam Putnam names Senior Forest Ranger John DeWolfe  2017 Forestry Firefighter of the Year.

DeWolfe has been on the job for 20 years and has worked nearly every job in the field, from training to emergency response to land management. He also mentors the next generation of wildland firefighters.

“John is a crucial asset to our agency as a wildland firefighter, instructor and leader. He repeatedly demonstrates his commitment to his job and the safety of Floridians,” said Florida State Forester Jim Karels.

Instagram of the week

The week in appointments

Florida Commission on Human Relations Maryam Laguna Borrego will succeed Clyde Daniel on the commission. The 30-year-old is the assistant vice president of public affairs at the University of Miami, Coral Gables.

Borrego received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Florida. Her term ends Sept. 30, 2021.

Samantha Hoare is the executive director of Teach for America, Miami-Dade. She received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and her MBA from Florida International University.

Hoare, 36, will succeed Sandra Turner for a term ending Sept. 30, 2021.

Both appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.

St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners —  Anthony Bonna is a 30-year-old director of advertising and digital strategy for The Stoneridge Group LLC. He is also the founder of The Good Help Group LLC.

Bonna received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Georgetown University. He is appointed to a term ending Nov. 13, 2018.

Board of Employee Leasing CompaniesRon Hodge is the president and chief executive officer of Cornerstone Capital Group.

The 62-year-old fills a vacant seat on the board and will serve a term ending Oct. 31, 2019. His appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Southwest Florida CRC stop draws 300

More than 300 Floridians attended a March 5 public hearing held by the Constitution Revision Commission in Cape Coral.

More than 180 individuals filled out speaker cards to comment on proposals being considered by commissioners. All Floridians who attended the public hearing and wanted to speak were given an opportunity to be heard by the CRC.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting survivor addressing the CRC in Cape Coral.

The meeting was part of the CRC’s “Road to the Ballot” public hearing tour, which has already stopped in Fort Lauderdale, Melbourne, Jacksonville and Pensacola.

PIP repeal crashes

On Wednesday, Gov. Scott killed any hope for the newest attempt to repeal the state’s no-fault auto insurance system.

The PIP repeal bill, SB 150 by Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee, had already stalled out at its most recent committee stop in the Senate, with Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier among those speaking out against the measure.

During a Wednesday Cabinet meeting, Scott praised Altmaier for his testimony, telling him he “did a good job on PIP.”

Lee intimated that Scott and CFO Jimmy Patronis weren’t behind his bill when it was in committee last week, pointing to Altmaier’s presence as evidence.

Tampa tweens take home Champion of Service Award

During a Wednesday Cabinet meeting, Gov. Scott and Volunteer Florida presented a Champion of Service Award to 12-year-olds Chase Hartman and Vance Tomasi.

The duo from Tampa founded read. repeat.,” an organization that collects gently used books from companies and individuals and distributes them to those in need. So far, they have collected more than 40,000 books and given more than 13,000 of them to public schools with high poverty rates.

Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida presented a Champion of Service Award to 12-year-olds Chase Hartman and Vance Tomasi.

“At such a young age, Chase and Vance have devoted their time to giving back and making a difference in their community. Their incredible work to deliver books to students across the state makes them worthy recipients of the Champion of Service Award today.”

Volunteer Florida CEO Vivian Myrtetus said it was “inspiring to see their commitment and dedication to helping others at only 12 years old.”

Legislature passes generator rule sans funding

A bill that would make Gov. Scott’s executive order requiring assisted living facilities to have power generators cleared the Legislature Friday, but it doesn’t carry an appropriation to help such facilities pay for upgrades.

Scott handed down the rule in the wake of a prolonged power outage at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills led to more than a dozen heat-related deaths after Hurricane Irma.

The rule would require such facilities to have 96 hours of emergency generator capacity to make it through power outages.

Lawmakers were never planning to cover the whole cost of the measure — experts estimate it will cost $280 million — but there were talks in the Senate of some funds to help smaller facilities make the change without a large capital outlay.

But that plan was not favored by the House, which passed SB 7028 with a 108-1 vote Friday.

Lawmakers back bill to incorporate Hobe Sound

The Legislature passed a bill this week to incorporate Martin County community Hobe Sound as a town.

HB 395 cleared the Senate with a unanimous vote Thursday and is now ready for a signature from Gov. Scott. If approved the residents of Hobe Sound would vote on whether or not to incorporate.

Lawmakers give the OK to incorporate Hobe Sound; now it’s up to voters.

“This legislation includes the opportunity for the citizens of Hobe Sound to vote on whether or not they would like for their town to become incorporated,” said Senate President Negron, a native of Hobe Sound. “The people of this community have waited years for this legislation, and I am pleased to see it earn the favorable support of both the House and Senate, and move to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.”

The U.S. Census includes Hobe Sound in the Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area and estimated the community had 11,521 residents in 2010.

Sexual assault victims bring shoes to Capitol

Hundreds of shoes were on display in the Capitol Monday, and each pair carried a message to lawmakers from survivors of sexual assault.

Pairs came in from women, men and children aging in range from 3 to 89. The event was coordinated by Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.

One thousand shoes like these sit in the Florida Capitol — a reminder that survivors of sexual assault come from all walks of life.

The rotunda display was part of the annual “Walk in My Shoes” events hosted around the state by Lauren’s Kids, a charity started by South Florida Sen. Lauren Book.

The first of 15 planned walks all over Florida this month was held in Panama City Friday. A listing of the other walks is available online.

Identity theft bill gets NFIB stamp of approval

The National Federation of Independent Businesses cheered lawmakers for passing a bill that would alert business owners whenever their corporate filing information is changed and allow them to fix incorrect changes free of charge.

“NFIB applauds the passage of HB 661, which will protect small-business owners from becoming the victims of fraud,” said NFIB Florida director Bill Herrle.

Bill Herrle gives his approval for a bill against identity theft.

“This bill requires the Division of Corporations to notify business owners when changes have been made to their corporate filings without their knowledge or approval. This will provide significant protections for small-business owners against fraudulent activities and will go a long way toward thwarting the rising problem of business identify theft.”

HB 661, sponsored by Orlando Republican Rep. Mike Miller, cleared the House with a unanimous vote and was approved by the Senate Tuesday.

Bill amendment sparks giggles

One of the more entertaining amendments of the 2018 Legislative Session was introduced last week, courtesy of St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes.

The one-line amendment to SB 1042 reads: “Where are you? Name everyone you know in the room with you.”

Jeff Brandes amendment on a bill elicited chuckles.

No, the bill is not about narcs, confidential informants or anything of the like. And no, even though this amendment came from Brandes, an unabashed technophile, it has nothing to do with his proposed regulations keeping Alexa or Siri from being creepy.

The amendment — which was approved — belongs to SB 1042, Brandes’ bill regulating online notaries public. It’s one of seven essential questions a notary would have to ask a customer when witnessing an electronic signature.

A couple of the others, which would be equally appropriate to ask before someone gets a tattoo or a marriage license: Are you of sound mind? Are you under the influence of any drugs or alcohol that impairs your ability to make decisions?

Registration open for 2018 Insurance Summit

Registration is now open for the 2018 Florida Chamber Insurance, set for Nov. 27 through Nov. 29 at the JW Marriott in Miami.

A ticket to attend the summit costs $325 for members of the Florida Chamber, while non-members can pick one up for $375.

The annual event features speakers from top companies in the insurance industry as well as question and answer panels on the most pressing insurance issues faced by the Sunshine State.

The Florida Chamber also said sponsorship opportunities for the 2018 summit are still available.

Those looking to attend can register online.

Now for this week’s edition of Capitol Directions:


Chris King raises $265,441 in February

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King raised $265,411 in February for his campaign and his political committee combined, his campaign announced Thursday.

The campaign raised $201,091 during the month and his political committee Rise and Lead raised $64,350, according to his campaign.

Official reports have not yet been posted by the Florida Secretary of State. Through the end of January the campaign had raised just over $2 million and through  February 15 Rise and Lead had raised just over $1.2 million.

King’s campaign is announcing Thursday that it and the political committee have now raised a grand total of $3,492,133, and have a combined total of $1,760,061 left in the bank.

“Our campaign continues to build momentum as voters hear Chris’s message of fresh ideas and new leadership to take on the corrupt culture in Tallahassee,” Campaign Manager Zach Learner stated in a news release. “Chris’s bold progressive values are standing out in this wide-open race and our strong financial support shows our message is resonating with the voters.”

King faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for the nomination to run for governor.

Andrew Gillum raises $245K in February for gubernatorial bid

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum‘s campaign announced Wednesday that in February he raised more than $105,270 through his official campaign account and another $140,250 for his political committee, Forward Florida.

The net haul of nearly a quarter million dollars gives Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, his third-straight six-figure money month, leading the campaign to declare it is building momentum.

“Mayor Gillum is taking on the fights and issues that matter, and his courageous stands are resonating with our supporter,” Communications Director Geoff Burgan said in a statement issued Wednesday by the campaign. “Last month he took Speaker Richard Corcoran head on, in the first debate of the governor’s race, over his divisive anti-immigrant TV ad and won, and he’s been on the frontlines with Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ students and families fighting for gun safety reforms. Floridians need a governor who isn’t afraid to stand up for those who need a voice in this fight, and they’re going to elect Andrew Gillum to do that in November.”

His detailed campaign finance reports have not yet been posted by the Florida Division of Elections. Gillum finished January with about $1.1 million raised and about $400,000 of that left in his official campaign, and with just under $1 million raised and just under $200,000 left in his political committee.

Gillum faces Winter Park businessman Chris King, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor.

Corcoran is not officially a gubernatorial candidate, but is expected to enter the fray soon. The other leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

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