Sunburn – Florida Politics

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

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

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

Oh happy day!

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

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

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

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

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

Now, on to politics…


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

It started with a proposal (P3) to repeal an outdated constitutional section known as the “Alien Land Law,” which “bars certain nationalities of immigrants from acquiring land.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the image to watch the ad:

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

Happening Friday:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

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

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

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: 2C Media

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

Craig Gerhart: Avanir Pharmaceuticals

Foyt Ralston, Capitol Advocates: Global Shield

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

— ALOE —

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

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

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.21.18

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

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

The Florida Chamber of Commerce lost a battle Tuesday as its favored proposal at the Constitution Revision Commission tanked — at least for now.

In a nutshell, the proposal would require 60 percent of voters casting a ballot in an election to approve a constitutional amendment, rather than 60 percent of those who vote on the particular ballot question.

But, after several commissioners complained the measure (P97) was “too complicated,” sponsor Belinda Keiser moved to “temporarily postpone” it. That means it could come back at a later date, or eventually withdrawn.

Commissioner Lisa Carlton had raised the specter of Florida’s 2000 presidential election recount, and the proposal’s seeming intent of counting non-votes as votes: “You can’t count votes that are not intentionally there,” she said.

And Commissioner Bill Schifino asked, “You think the public is going to understand this?” He added: “I never heard one person raise this issue (except) a few phone calls from paid lobbyists.”

That stoked the interest of some on Twitter, with Florida Chamber policy director Christopher Emmanuel stepping forward to disclose the organization’s interest. “Happy to show our support for good policy,” he tweeted.

The Chamber’s website explains that Proposal 97 “creates consistency for the passage of constitutional amendments.”

Now, “Article XI calculates the percentage for passage of a constitutional amendment differently based on whether or not it is a taxing amendment … The Florida Chamber of Commerce believes this proposal seeks to create consistency by the way that votes are tallied and eliminates confusion.”

Constitution panel won’t consider tax measure” via the News Service of Florida — The sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of the Legislature to increase taxes and fees is withdrawing the measure from consideration by the state Constitution Revision Commission. The Legislature has decided to place an identical proposal (HJR 7001) on the November ballot. In light of that decision, Constitution Revision Commission member Fred Karlinsky of Weston said he would withdraw his motion (Proposal 72), which had been scheduled for consideration by the commission this week. The Legislature’s ballot measure, which was supported by Gov. Rick Scott, and Karlinsky’s proposal would require two-thirds votes by the House or Senate to pass tax or fee increases in the future. Under current law, taxes and fees are generally subject to majority votes — an easier standard than requiring two-thirds votes.

Fred Karlinsky (right) will withdraw his proposed constitutional amendment on raising taxes.

Greyhound racing ban inches closer to ballot” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — A proposed constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing in the state is one step closer to appearing on the November ballot. The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) approved the amendment (Proposal 67) in an 18-14 vote late Tuesday night, sending it to the Style and Drafting Committee for ballot preparation. It will still have to win the approval of 22 members of the 36-person panel charged with drafting amendments to revise the state’s governing document before being sent to the 2018 ballot. Sen. Lee sponsored the proposal, which was amended on Tuesday night to extend language to also ban the “racing of” greyhounds. When the proposal was filed, it only banned betting on the dog races. Commissioner Chris Smith spoke in opposition to the proposal before the vote, saying it should be up to the Legislature to regulate gaming and related issues.

‘Marsy’s Law’ wins initial OK as state constitutional amendment” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A proposed constitutional amendment to give equal rights to crime victims won preliminary approval from the full Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) on Monday. Commissioners voted 30-3 to send the measure (P96) to the panel’s Style and Drafting Committee for preparation as a ballot question … It would approve a Marsy’s Law for Florida, named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas. The California woman was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, the accused murderer confronted Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, at a grocery store. The family was not informed that the accused was released on bail … The amendment, if OK’d for the 2018 statewide ballot and passed by no less than 60 percent of voters, creates rights for victims or their surviving family members to be heard during certain court proceedings and to “full and timely restitution,” among others.

CRC advances proposal to require civic literacy in public education” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The one sentence item would add to Article IX this language: “As education is essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the legislature shall provide by law for the promotion of civic literacy in order to ensure that students enrolled in public education understand and are prepared to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a constitutional democracy.” Sponsor Don Gaetz … acknowledged that Florida already has a civic education requirement and test, which are helping improve children’s understanding of the issues that undergird the nation and state. But he argued that the knowledge needs to be permanent value, to allow Florida’s system of governance to continue, and not subject to the whims of lawmakers. “The Legislature changes its mind,” Gaetz said. “Especially education issues go in and out of fashion. … The constitution enshrines what we don’t change our minds about.”

Panel rejects added duty for Lieutenant Governor” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Members rejected, in a 20-12 vote, a proposed constitutional amendment (Proposal 66) that would have required the lieutenant governor to oversee a department within the executive branch. “We spend about $1 million a year on support services and salary for the lieutenant governor,” said Sen. Lee. “It was just an idea to get not only a bigger bang for our buck, but at the same time also create some added value and some self-actualization for the individual.” In the past, Lee called the money spent on the office “wasteful” … he said the position is one of the weakest in the nation and simply designed to “help elect a governor at election time.” But several members of the commission noted the governor already could appoint the lieutenant governor to run an agency and that some agency-head positions have required qualifications.

The CRC rejects a proposal to give the Lt. Gov. more responsibility.

Jeanette Nuñez yanks CRC proposal to change Tobacco Free Florida” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — After nearly an hour of discussion, a proposal that would affect the state’s efforts to reduce smoking was postponed Tuesday. CRC member and House Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez, who filed the measure (P94), pulled it from the floor after several commissioners questioned its necessity. Tobacco Free Florida, the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program, now gets 15 percent of the annual proceeds from the historic 1995 settlement between Florida and major cigarette companies. Nuñez told commissioners her motive for removing a funding requirement for anti-smoking marketing — already in the constitution — is because the amount is “an arbitrary number.” That’s one-third of the money the group gets.

Vaping could be added to state smoking ban” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida —  Former state Sen. Lisa Carlton, the main backer of the proposal, said Floridians had been subjected to secondhand vapor when they attend movies or restaurants and other public places since the devices started proliferating. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission voted 26-6 in favor of the vaping ban and placed it one step closer to the 2018 ballot. A final vote must come before early May when the commission is required to finish its work. Armed with a 2016 surgeon general’s report on electronic cigarettes that shows secondhand aerosol exhaled into the air from vaping can expose others to potentially harmful chemicals, Carlton said now is the time to have voters consider the ban.

ICYMI from last night’s “Last Call” — After a surprise Tuesday announcement from sponsor Brecht Heuchan that he was withdrawing his proposed constitutional amendment to add a nursing home and assisted-living residents’ bill of rights, the industry took a victory lap. Florida Health Care Association executive director Emmett Reed quickly issued a statement thanking “Heuchan and the entire Constitution Revision Commission for withdrawing Proposal 88.” The association represents the state’s long-term care providers … “We believe the Legislature is the proper place for these types of discussions and look forward to working together with Florida lawmakers, regulators and other stakeholders on policies that prioritize resident care.”


— @FLGovScott: Florida continues to stand with the people of Puerto Rico on the six-month anniversary of Hurricane Maria. We will continue to do everything we can to help Puerto Ricans fully recover and move forward

— @AndrewGillum: If @adamputnam was any closer to the NRA, he’d be sleeping with both Smith & Wesson. I’m not in bed with the gun lobby — I’m in court with them, and I’m winning.

— @Jay_Fant: The actions … by the Maryland school resource officer show that fast reaction by law enforcement can make all the difference in an active shooter situation.

— @NewsbySmiley: BSO gives us a Friday news dump on a Tuesday: 1) Parkland students arrested for bringing knives to school 2) Parkland student arrested for threatening social media post 3) Parkland deputy found asleep in his car — on campus

— @SchmitzMedia: In @TCPalm editorial meeting, Senate President @joenegronfl says he’s grateful for prior support from the NRA. “I consider Marion Hammer to be a friend.”

— @SVDate: Good lord — CRC? again?? Haven’t you people had enough?

— @CHeathWFTV: The best way to watch the @FloridaCRC is to watch the @fineout @Mdixon55 @JimRosicaFL Twitter feed roll by with its mix of consternation and bewilderment

— @TroyKinsey: Observation by Tallahassee veteran @LevesquePat during @FloridaCRC debate on building naming proposal: “If you follow the legislative process, it’s disgusting.”

— @DennisBaxley: Today (it was yesterday) is National #AgDay! We are so happy to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American and Floridian agriculture. Happy #AgDay!

— @KelliStargel: I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. He taught kindness and respect for all people. We need a little more of that these days.


March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 3; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 8; Easter — 11; NFL Draft begins — 36; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 43; Mother’s Day — 53; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 65; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 93; Primary Election Day — 160; College Football opening weekend — 164; General Election Day — 230; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 330; 2019 Legislative Session — 349.

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


Richard Corcoran has spent $3-million to reach 3 percent; Gwen Graham slips to third place” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — A new robopoll of Florida’s gubernatorial primaries by Gravis Marketing (grade of B- by has ominous results for Democrat Graham and Republicans Adam Putnam and Corcoran. In the Democratic primary, Gravis has Philip Levine at 13 percent support, Andrew Gillum at 11, Graham at 9, and Chris King at 2. In the GOP primary, Ron DeSantis enjoys support from 19 percent of likely Republican voters, Adam Putnam 17 percent and Corcoran 3 percent. The Democratic primary is essentially a three-way tie, and the Republican a two-way tie between Fox News regular DeSantis and Putnam, according to the poll taken over an usually long period, Feb. 26 to March 19. Gravis’ February poll of the race also showed those candidates within the margin of error.

Graham says she’d support local governments defying 2011 gun laws pre-emption” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Such a position could put Graham at odds with the Florida Legislature and also potentially with the Attorney General over who takes which sides, should legal battles begin over local gun ordinances. In 2011, Florida passed a law, signed by Gov. Scott, that pre-empts all local gun laws to the state, and sets stiff penalties, including personal fines, legal liability and threats of removals from office for local officials who seek, retain or vote for local gun laws. “Following the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas, cities and counties across the state want to act where the Legislature and Rick Scott have failed — but Tallahassee politicians have trampled on home rule in an outrageous attempt to block local governments from banning weapons of war from our streets and protecting their citizens from gun violence,” Graham said. “As Governor, I will work with cities and counties to restore local control and their ability to protect their communities by directing my Office of General Counsel to assist local governments challenging the state’s pre-emption law.”

Philip Levine hires Adrienne Bogen as statewide field director —The former Miami Beach mayor and Democratic candidate for governor campaign tapped Bogen to lead “an aggressive grassroots field program in all 67 counties,” it said Tuesday. She led organizing efforts for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial race, Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential bid, and most recently, managing the field program for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman‘s successful re-election campaign. “As our campaign moves full steam ahead to the primary and on to victory in November, Adrienne possesses the talent, leadership and local expertise to build our movement in every corner of our state, from the Panhandle down to the Keys,” campaign manager Matthew Van Name said in a statement.

Putnam doubles down on criticism of Florida gun law in interview with NRATV” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Putnam … does not support raising the gun purchasing age from 18 to 21, nor does he back a mandatory three-day waiting period for all firearm purchases. “If you are 18 you can fight and die for this country,” Putnam said in the interview with the network’s Cam Edwards. “And yet, you wouldn’t be able to be trusted at the same age to go to the sporting goods store and purchase a shotgun to go dove shoot.” … It is noteworthy that Putnam took to the NRA’s broadcasting outfit to express his views. The gubernatorial candidate has become a target of liberal scorn because of his cozy relationship with the gun rights group. The NRA thanked Putnam in February for opposing the new gun buying age.

Adam Putnam doubles down on guns.

Assignment editors — Putnam will host a roundtable in Jacksonville, the second stop on a statewide tour focusing on Florida’s opioid crisis. Roundtable begins 2:30 p.m. at the Gateway community services, 555 Stockton St. in Jacksonville. Interested media can email by 10 a.m. for access.

Lois Frankel backs Lauren Baer for Congress — The West Palm Beach Democratic Congresswoman is endorsing fellow Democrat Baer in her campaign for Florida’s 18th Congressional District. “Lauren was raised in FL-18 and understands firsthand the challenges facing the district and our country. Her passion, experience, and deep roots in our community set her apart and will make her a great Representative for the district.” Frankel said in a statement. “From day one, Lauren will work hard every day to find meaningful solutions. I am proud to stand with Lauren and look forward to serving together in Congress.”

Donna Shalala’s GOP contributions bashed as she campaigns to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Scott Fuhrman said he chuckled at the “gall” of Shalala when her campaign emailed him an invite to her Wednesdaycampaign kickoff fundraiser in Miami. Two years ago, Fuhrman ran for the same seat, but Shalala didn’t contribute to her fellow Democrat. And she did something even worse for Fuhrman. So he let the campaign know it. “You do know that she donated to my opponent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, last cycle? Are you seriously asking me for money? GFY,” Fuhrman emailed the campaign of Shalala. Turns out that Rep. Ileana RosLehtinen, who is retiring, isn’t the only Florida Republican who received contributions from Shalala …  In all, Shalala has personally contributed $21,500 to Florida Republicans running for office in Miami-Dade County, Tallahassee or Washington over the past decade. Her campaign notes that the money’s a pittance compared to the nearly $230,000 she has personally contributed to Democrats nationally in her career. When Fuhrman told the two campaigns about Shalala’s fundraiser, they pulled her political contribution data and discovered 13 donors listed on Shalala’s Wednesday night fundraiser gave $785,000 more to Republicans than Democrats.

— “Joceline Berrios becomes third Democrat challenger to file against John Rutherford” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

’Mystery’ Democrat seeking Gayle Harrell’s HD 83 seat swears Jensen Beach, not Jax, is home” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News — Tiffany Parisi, a Democrat perhaps better known in Jacksonville than on the Treasure Coast, filed papers Feb. 26 to run for the House District 83 seat Harrell is vacating … Parisi is something of a mystery to many in the District. She and GOP opponent Toby Overdorf, a Palm City business owner, are the only two declared candidates in the district that represents Martin County and most of eastern St. Lucie County. In papers filed with the Florida Division of Elections, Parisi listed a Jensen Beach box number as her address, yet just weeks earlier was a candidate for the Duval County Soil and Water District. On her Facebook page she calls herself “a Jensen Beach native” who has “spent every summer snorkeling at Bathtub Beach, hiking in the Savannas, and fishing in the Indian River Lagoon” — yet admits she was born in Broward County, in Hollywood, and lived there until she was 6, when the family moved to Jensen Beach. “This is what happens when you’re in a military family,” she said. “You move a lot and home is where you’re based, even temporarily.” She said her husband, a Michigan native, is stationed at NAS Jacksonville, but the both of them are anxious to be in South Florida permanently. “My mother still lives in the same house in Jensen Beach where I grew up and lived until I finished Indian River Community College,” she said. “It’s the most permanent home I’ve ever known.”

Happening tonight:


Jeff Sessions to visit Tallahassee, talk opioid epidemic” via the Tallahassee Democrat — While at the Federal Courthouse, Sessions is expected to talk about the White House’s response to the crisis in which thousands of people are dying daily from overdoses of prescription medications. His visit comes days after Donald Trump called for drug traffickers to get the death penalty. During his Monday speech, Trump pledged to reduce over-prescription of opioids used to treat pain, research for less addictive painkillers and suggested the federal government may join state attorneys general in suing drug companies found to have used deceptive sales practices to push addictive medicines.

Florida sets another tourism record in 2017” via Florida Trend — Florida set another tourism record in 2017 by welcoming the highest number of visitors in any year in the state’s history with 116.5 million visitors, according to VISIT FLORIDA. This represents a 3.6 percent increase over the 112.4 million visitors in 2016. This number breaks down to 102.3 million domestic visitors, 10.7 million overseas visitors and 3.5 million Canadian visitors … Total enplanements at Florida’s 18 major airports in 2017 increased 4.1 percent over the same period the previous year, with 87.2 million passengers. The number of hotel rooms sold in Florida during 2017 grew by 4.6 percent compared to quarter four 2016. During the same period, Florida’s average daily room rate (ADR) increased by 2.6 percent and occupancy by 3.2 percent … a record 28.5 million visitors traveled to Florida in the fourth quarter of 2017, an increase of 5.5 percent over the same period last year.

Vacation glory: Gov. Rick Scott announced that Florida set another tourism record in 2017 by welcoming a record number of visitors — 116.5 million, according to VISIT FLORIDA.

Scott signs bill on power transmission lines” via the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott signed a bill dealing with the approval of electric transmission lines, an issue that stemmed from a legal battle between Florida Power & Light and local governments in Miami-Dade County. During the Legislative Session … the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the transmission-line bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson, Rep. Bobby Payne and Sen. Tom Lee. The bill was rooted in a 2016 ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in a dispute involving a proposed FPL project that would add two nuclear reactors at the utility’s Turkey Point complex in Miami-Dade. Scott and the state Cabinet approved the project in 2014 in their role as a state power-plant siting board. But the appeals court overturned that decision, with a key part of the ruling saying Scott and Cabinet members erroneously determined they could not require underground transmission lines as a condition of the project approval.

Scott signs bill establishing coral reef conservation area” via Florida Politics — HB 53 forms the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area, which contains a stretch of coastline starting from the St. Lucie Inlet in the north to the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park in the south. The bill doesn’t contain an appropriation for the conservation area, but the designation could make the area eligible for federal funds to protect the reef and allows it to be bracketed for water quality monitoring. The area in recent years has been wracked by coral bleaching and has seen 21 of its 35 coral species die off.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will highlight the anti-trafficking funding as part recently signed state budget with a 10 a.m. ceremony at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home — One More Child Headquarters, 1015 Sykes Blvd. in Lakeland.

Joe Negron disagrees with NRA lawsuit, but supports gun rights” via Ali Schmitz of the Tallahassee Democrat — Negron showed skepticism toward a lawsuit the National Rifle Association filed over legislation drafted after the mass shooting at a Broward County high school, but … did not criticize the gun-rights group. Negron, an attorney, is proud of the legislation and doesn’t think it violates the state constitution … Negron cited the state’s handgun law, which prohibits people younger than 21 from purchasing those firearms. “I don’t begrudge that at all. I think that’s part of our process,” Negron said of the suit. Unlike his colleagues, the NRA has not criticized Negron by name in the wake of the law’s passage. The NRA’s chief Florida lobbyist and former president, Marion Hammer, criticized Speaker Corcoran for his involvement in crafting the bill in an email alert, calling it a “betrayal” to gun owners.

Christian Bax defends MMJ rulemaking process via Florida Politics  — Seventy-one percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 in 2016, yet nearly two years later, the Office of Medical Marijuana Use is still workshopping rules. The road show came to Jacksonville Tuesday afternoon, to a Southside hotel in the absolute doldrums of renovations …  Bax, the director of the program, noted that the rule-making process would go through the spring and summer …  He said that he didn’t think that the department needed further guidance from the Legislature. The department continues to notice and workshop rules at an acceptable pace, with 13 rules noticed last month, Bax said. That said, he understands why the Legislature would withhold pay for senior staff in DOH next fiscal year.  Bax says the “department shares frustration with the timeline.”

Christian Bax, director of the Office of Compassionate Use at the Florida Department of Health.

Noor Salman trial: FBI agent who told widow about Pulse gunman’s death testifies” via Gal Tziperman Lotan and Krista Torralva of the Orlando Sentinel — FBI Special Agent T.J. Sypniewski walked into a room at the bureau’s Fort Pierce office the morning of June 12, 2016, and told Salman that her husband “died in a violent incident in Orlando.” He did not immediately say what else happened — that 49 people were dead and dozens more injured, or that Omar Mateen pledged his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group. “She broke eye contact with me,” Sypniewski said on the witness stand on the 12th day of Salman’s trial. “She looked away.” Salman’s behavior before the massacre, and her reaction to the news of her husband’s death, is important to the case against her because prosecutors say Salman knew in advance about her husband’s intention to commit mass murder — and helped him carry out the attack. Initially, Salman “was silent,” Sypniewski said. “She didn’t ask any follow-up questions.” But soon she began giving reasons why her husband would not have carried out an act of mass violence, or why she couldn’t have known he planned to do so. He’d just paid their bills and had recently bought airline tickets for a family trip. She had recently bought him a Father’s Day present. “How could I have known he was going to commit a violent act if I just bought him a Father’s Day gift?” she said, according to Sypniewski.

A first look at Telemundo’s new Miami HQ” via Sara Fischer of Axios — NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises will unveil new state-of-the-art headquarters, Telemundo Center, on April 9 … The Spanish-language broadcaster will be consolidating several of its business units under one roof for improved collaboration and efficiency. The $250 million facility is being moved into the backyard of its biggest rival, Univision. The new digs, which will include 13 studios, two digital production studios, seven fully-capable production control rooms, and 40 conference rooms, shows Comcast and NBCUniversal’s commitment to growing its Hispanic and international footprint. The multimedia production facility brings under one roof the Telemundo Network (news, sports, entertainment), Telemundo Global Studios, Universo, Digital Media operations, and NBCUniversal International Latin American headquarters.


Slain Florida students’ dads to serve on commission into mass-shooting ‘failures’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — Three dads of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students were tapped to sit on a special fact-finding Florida commission to investigate the failures and circumstances that led up to the Feb. 14 mass shooting, and make recommendations to prevent further such tragedies. The 16-member commission, which has subpoena power, will meet by June 1 and be chaired by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who was chosen by Gov. Scott along with two Parkland parents who helped pass the new law that called for more school safety measures, gun control regulations, and created the commission. The two parents are Ryan Petty, father of Alaina, and Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow. State House Speaker Corcoran appointed the third Parkland parent, Max Schachter, father of Alex, to the commission. Corcoran had wanted one of the parents to chair the commission, but officials thought it best to leave the administrative responsibilities to a career law enforcement official.

Two students arrested at Stoneman Douglas on weapons charges; deputy suspended for sleeping” via Scott Travis and Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Two students were arrested for bringing knives to school and the third is being evaluated for making online threats. Meanwhile, a school deputy has been suspended for sleeping on the job after being caught by a student … The student notified a sergeant patrolling the school that Deputy Moises Carotti was asleep in his patrol car … The sergeant knocked on Carotti’s window to wake him up, she said. Carotti was suspended with pay while an internal affairs investigation is launched.

Scott wants armed police at Stoneman Douglas after disturbing incidents at Parkland school” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Responding to terrified parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Gov. Rick Scott asked Broward County authorities to temporarily post an armed law enforcement officer at “every point of entry” at the school after a series of disturbing events in recent days. Scott’s announcement capped a wild — and frightening — day at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. Two students were arrested for bringing knives to school in separate incidents, a deputy was suspended for sleeping on the job at the school and a third student was hospitalized under the Baker Act after posting menacing messages of himself, armed with a BB gun, on Snapchat while also using the gamer name NickCruz, a reference to the Feb. 14 shooter, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. On Monday, the shooter’s 18-year-old brother, Zachary Cruz, was arrested at the school for trespassingRecent events at the school have demonstrated the need for additional security measures to be implemented,” Scott wrote in his letter Tuesday to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Superintendent Robert Runcie. “Parents, students and teachers have recently endured one of the worst tragedies in Florida history. They must be assured that every necessary step is being taken to increase safety and ensure no unauthorized people are allowed on campus.”

After Parkland shootings, a post-Columbine generation finds its voice” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to gather in cities around the world for an anti-gun violence rally conceived by a small group of Parkland students who suddenly find themselves at the helm of a well-fueled political machine. By the time crowds gather on Pennsylvania Avenue for the March for Our Lives, their effort will have evolved from a protest to the unlikeliest of movements — one that aims to either change the country’s gun laws or change the people who make them. “I haven’t seen a movement like this, period,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district includes Parkland, said last week after an estimated 1 million U.S. students walked out of class. “I think it can be a critical turning point in the politics of this country.” The numbers say he could be right. As far as generations go, voters younger than 30 have as much firepower as any demographic in the nation. Voting-eligible Millennials now rival Baby Boomers as the country’s largest voting bloc by age.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie (center) is impressed with the organization of teens protesting gun control.

Parkland families push for progress in Washington before the March for Our Lives” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Lawmakers from both parties are willing to rearrange their schedules for an in-person meeting with a group of people who have already successfully shepherded a gun bill through the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature that was opposed by the National Rifle Association. But the Florida Legislature is a part-time body, bound by time constraints to pass bills within a few weeks. Congress is under no such pressure, so many bills that have strong support from both parties can still languish for years. “We don’t move as fast as Florida legislatures do,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said. “This Congress, with 500-something members, represents a vast and diverse country and as a result, there are people in different parts of the country that have different views on these issues.” Victims’ families are united behind three bills in Washington, and they’re pushing to get two of them passed before the March for Our Lives … The families are discussing legislation through Slack, an instant messaging application that allows users to break different topics into channels of discussion.

As kids prepare to march in Washington, Ted Deutch is facilitator and consoler” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — He’s met with the families of victims and survivors dozens of times, and he’s also devising a political game plan that turns upset parents and students across the country into single-issue voters capable of changing elections. “We have student activists who have inspired a lot of adults, who because of them are now single-issue voters, Republicans and Democrats,” Deutch said. “We’ve seen some big-name Republicans come together to form groups to say if you aren’t committed to keeping our communities safe by getting weapons of war off our streets, then we’re not going to support you. My colleagues now have been doing events in their districts, town hall meetings, where they tell me that for the first time there are high school kids who are coming out and they’re coming out in droves.”


Key design change stymied bridge cost, schedule” via Jennifer Kay and Jason Dearen of The Associated Press — Documents show that the Florida Department of Transportation in October 2016 advised Florida International University and its contractors to move one of the bridge’s primary support structures 11 feet (3 meters) north to the edge of a canal, widening the gap between the crossing’s end supports and requiring some new structural design. It is still unclear if the design change contributed to the failure. But emails between the school, contractors, Sweetwater city officials and permitting agencies show a project that was behind schedule, which had officials worried that further delays could jeopardize the federal funding. After weeks of back and forth, it was decided to move the pylon 11 feet to the north, sitting near the edge of the canal. According to documents, initial costs for the new design were $204,540, with another $402,723 for construction changes. The final cost was not divulged.

Flags at half-staff for FIU bridge collapse victims” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott has ordered flags at half-staff “in honor and remembrance of the victims of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge collapse” in Miami. His office made the announcement Tuesday. The U.S. and state flags will be flown at half-staff sunrise to sunset Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee, “and at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout Miami-Dade County,” the announcement said.


Florida looks tough on opioids because Trump looks so weak” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In Florida, we got action on the opioid epidemic. In New Hampshire, we got ranting on the opioid epidemic. Guess which will help more? The action came from the Florida Legislature. Gov. Scott toured the state to sign House Bill 21. The ranting came from Trump. He was in New Hampshire trying to head off talk of a primary challenge there in 2020. Since the state has the third-highest drug overdose rate, Trump also chose to announce what the administration had billed as the president’s long-awaited “plan” for the epidemic. Indeed, for all the justified focus on Florida, this state ranks 15th in the rate of overdose deaths. The Overdose Death Belt includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia — all of which Trump won. We must place even Florida’s new law in perspective. It may help to reduce the number of new addicts, but it could have done much more several years ago when Palm Beach and Broward counties were closing down pill mills with little or no help from the state. In 2011, Attorney General Pam Bondi had to prod Scott into creating the drug database. His first budget sought to repeal it. Scott said he worried about patient privacy.

Florida should not move to daylight saving time year-round” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Yes, kids would have more time to spend outdoors in the evenings. They’d also be going to school in the dark. In January, sunrise would be as late as 8:22 a.m. Restaurants could see a benefit with people more inclined to go out when there’s still some sunlight. But other industries would suffer, such as construction businesses that start the day on the job site at 7 a.m. Some proponents say the roads would be safer in the evenings — but more dangerous conditions in the mornings would offset this. Perhaps most disruptive of all would be the impact on interstate business and travel. Florida would be out of sync even with states in the Eastern time zone. If Scott doesn’t veto the bill, Rubio should withdraw his and push the other one he filed, which would move the whole country to a single time standard, if he really wants to play with time.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: 2C Media

Violet Anne Gonzalez: MACtown

Stephen Metz, Metz Husband & Daughton: American Lung Association

Rick Minor: America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend

John Schillo: Lundbeck

— ALOE —

Growers optimistic for Florida peach crop” via Ashley Nickle of The Packer — Flavor of the fruit is always great, but getting those chill hours means yield will be better, said Al Finch, president of Dundee-based Florida Classic Growers. He expects that some cool weather could delay the start of harvesting by a week or so. Harvesting will begin in a limited way the week of March 26, with the most substantial volumes coming available the last two weeks of April and the first week of May. The Florida peach deal has grown rapidly in the last decade, filling the void between when Chile exits the market and before Georgia, California and South Carolina enter the market. “This is not just a local (or) regional program anymore,” Finch said. “We’re taking it out of the Southeast.” Florida peaches are unique in that they are smaller than others and tree-ripened, so they are ready to eat rather than needing a couple of days to ripen after purchase. “Consumer awareness is beginning to really take off on these peaches,” Finch said.

Florida peaches go to market earlier than others around the nation, giving growers an advantage.

Falling revenues, lagging interest may force Downtown GetDown to take a knee” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — With area construction expected to continue through the fall, some members of the Downtown Improvement Authority think it might be a good idea to place the Friday night football festivities on the sidelines this season. “This is an opportunity with Adams Street closure to figure out what to do next,” Paige Carter-Smith, CEO of the authority, told DIA board members at their monthly meeting … At least one member was receptive to the idea of retiring Downtown GetDown. “Paige is right,” County Commissioner and DIA member John Dailey said. “I don’t think there’s a problem, especially if Downtown GetDown has run its course.” The board will revisit the issue at its April 9 meeting.

Who’s the highest-paid person in your state?” via ESPN — Sit with this fact for a bit: In 2017, 39 of the 50 states’ payrolls were topped by a football or men’s basketball coach. … Believe it or not, no governors made the list as the highest-paid public employee in their state. When you add up the salaries of all 50 governors, it’s $19.2 million less than just the four coaches (Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney) who made the College Football Playoff this year.

Marvel-themed land heading to Disneyland Resort” via WFLA — According to the Disney Parks Blog, Disneyland will soon invite guests to “become part of a bigger universe filled with epic heroes and adventure.” The blog says the superhero-themed land will “begin recruiting guests” at Disneyland in 2020 and will feature The Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man and the Avengers. Marvel-themed areas will also be built in Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Twitter: ‘Black Panther’ is most tweeted about movie ever” via The Associated Press — Twitter said that Ryan Coogler’s box-office smash had been tweeted about more than 35 million times. That pushes it ahead of the previous record-holder, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The most recent “Star Wars” installment, “The Last Jedi,” ranks third. Over the weekend, “Black Panther” became the first film since 2009′s “Avatar” to top the box office in North America five straight weekends. It has grossed more than $607 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide. In the next week, it’s expected to pass “The Avengers” as the highest grossing superhero film ever, not accounting for inflation.

Happy birthday to state Rep. Paul Renner, Lance Clemons, the generous Richard Gonzmart, the incredible Francoise Haasch, Chuck Hinson, and the legendary Mary Repper.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.20.18

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

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

Before we dive into the action from the first session of the Constitutional Revision Commission, let’s start the day with a major scoop from the campaign trail …

First on #FlaPol — Amid an increasingly competitive GOP primary for governor, Republican candidate Adam Putnam is naming Bret Prater as his new campaign manager, sources confirmed Monday night. In 2016, we called him “the steadiest, calmest, most accessible, friendliest, best-natured individual who has held the role he played in many, many years. He operates under the radar and likes it that way. Never asks for credit, always makes others look good, even when the news is bad.” Prater was the Republican Party of Florida’s Director of Party Development before joining the Florida House as Staff Director for then-Speaker Designate Steve Crisafulli. He became deputy chief of staff before leaving in mid-2016.

The news about Prater’s hiring drew universal acclaim on social media Monday night, with even Ron DeSantis‘s campaign manager, Brad Herold, lauding the pick by tweeting, “Bret is as good as they come and a good choice by @AdamPutnam.”

OK, so what’s breakfast without two good scoops? Our second comes from the arena of public affairs.

Moore Communications Group is announcing a comprehensive rebranding today that “showcases its expansion and reputation as the creative agency of choice for clients across the country.”

The agency is now Moore, a one-word name that the firm says communicates “boldness forged in a quarter-century tradition of excellence.” CEO and Founder Karen Moore gave the company her name 25 years ago.

“We’ve had tremendous success over the past 25 years, and it was time to evolve our brand to reflect the agency we are today,” said Moore. “We’re looking ahead to a new Moore, one that will remain true to its roots and exhibit the type of confidence that can only come from a history of creative, award-winning work that moves the needle for clients.”

Moore’s name and brand identity demonstrate what the agency says is a “belief in the power of simplicity.” The logo, consisting of the Moore “M” and the color magenta, one of the primary colors used in printing, speaks to the company’s “assuredness and convictions.” All involved in the rebranding insist that while Moore has a new name and a fresh look, the agency’s values remain the same.


— @TroyKinsey: .@FLGovScott is announcing he’s directing @MyFDOT to suspend additional payments for the now-collapsed #FIU bridge. “Before another dollar is spent on this bridge, we must know exactly what happened,” he says.

— @CarlosGSmith: Weak. For @adamputnam to say Dems are “politicizing tragedy” at MSD comes straight from his thoughts + prayers playbook. REAL story is Putnam is panicked the Gov’s race he thought he’d locked up by calling himself an ‘NRA sellout’ has slipped thru his gun-loving fingers.

— @LizbethKB: Thank you @FLGovScott for signing the comprehensive opioid bill that we passed this year. I’m proud to have worked with you and @RepJimBoyd to have passed meaningful legislation aimed at stemming the tide of addiction in our state.

— @Fineout: Evergreen tweet — “Why isn’t the Legislature capable of dealing with this?” — Fla. CRC member Hank Coxe

— @MDixon55: First time I’ve heard “vig” used on the Senate floor. That’s what Former Senate President @TomLeeFL calls it when lobbyist gets commission for getting a member project through legislature, then is expected to turn around and give a political contribution to those who have helped

— @Fineout: “Thank goodness not everybody is @mattgaetz,” said his father, Don Gaetz, former state Senate president

— @RTemplin: I’m having intellectual and emotional whiplash. A terrible legislative session really ended over a week ago but my attention is still focused on the Florida Senate Chamber. Why, dear god, why!!

— @NWSMelbourne: Melbourne Airport has hit 90F so far this afternoon. This is the first time reaching 90F or higher since September 30 of last year!


March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 4; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 9; Easter — 12; NFL Draft begins — 37; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 44; Mother’s Day — 54; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 66; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 94; Primary Election Day — 161; College Football opening weekend — 165; General Election Day — 231; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 331; 2019 Legislative Session — 350.

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

— CRC —

The long arm of special interests reaches even into the panel now meeting to review and offer changes to the state constitution, one member said Monday.

Discussion on the first proposal before the Constitution Revision Commission, a mandate on death benefits for survivors of first responders and military members, morphed into a bigger debate on what should really go into the state’s governing document.

CRC member Chris Sprowls, a Republican House member from Palm Harbor, warned fellow commissioners to go back through the 36 active proposals and “find things that are pushed by special interests.”

He didn’t name any, but “I guarantee you (that) you will find some,” said Sprowls, appointed by Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Commissioner Hank Coxe, a Jacksonville-based attorney and appointee of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, said he expected “37 different analyses on why something should go into the constitution,” referring to the 37 members of the commission.

Making a policy part of the constitution should require a “major stroke,” adding he doesn’t define that “by what’s popular.”

And Arthenia Joyner, a former Senate Democratic Leader from Tampa and also a Labarga appointee, said members should ask of any idea, “Is this a fundamental right?”

“Why did we put pregnant pigs in the constitution?” she said. “The people did that, because the legislature didn’t.”

The proposal (P49) went on to win approval 25-7. It now goes to the panel’s Style and Drafting Committee and will come back to the full commission for a final vote.

As of the end of Session on Monday, the panel had cleared eight proposals.

Proposal would make it harder to change constitution” via the News Service of Florida — Voters who decide not to mark ballots on proposed constitutional amendments would be counted as “no” votes, under a measure that the state Constitution Revision Commission began taking up Monday. The proposal, which the commission is expected to consider again Tuesday, would make it harder for constitutional amendments to win voter approval. Currently, constitutional amendments pass if they receive 60 percent support from voters who mark ballots on those issues. Constitution Revision Commission member Belinda Keiser described her proposal (Proposal 97) as a “way to encourage more voters to express their opinion.” But groups that have passed constitutional amendments contend the proposal would “silence” voters. Keiser, the vice chancellor of Keiser University and an appointee to the commission by Gov. Rick Scott, noted that of 22 constitutional amendments approved by Florida voters during the past 12 years, 12 would have failed under her proposal. She also noted that in 2014, Amendment 1 would have been approved with about 70 percent of the vote if her proposal was in place.

Amendment to button up ‘write-in loophole’ gets nod from CRC” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — A plan to close what’s known as Florida’s “write-in loophole” won a preliminary OK from the Constitution Revision Commission on Monday. Commissioners voted 21-12 to send the proposal (P11) to the body’s Style and Drafting Committee for preparation as a ballot question. The proposal would still face a final vote afterward. Commissioner Sherry Plymale, who filed the measure, said the current write-in system is responsible for “delegitimizing elections.” Her measure would “let all registered voters, regardless of party affiliation,” vote in a primary election “if all the candidates … have the same party affiliation and the winner will be opposed only by one or more write-in candidates in the general election” … A Florida primary is open to all voters if candidates from other parties don’t qualify to run. But state elections officials have opined that a write-in candidate qualifying for a general election in a race keeps a primary closed.

Proposal takes aim at hospital ‘certificates of need’” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Commission member Frank Kruppenbacher initially proposed a constitutional amendment (Proposal 54) that would have prevented the state from limiting hospitals, nursing homes, hospices or intermediate-care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities through the granting of certificates of need. The proposed amendment was subsequently altered to make clear that while the so-called CON laws would be repealed, laws that restrict or limit the ownership of facilities would remain in effect. Kruppenbacher is now offering a revision, under the description “access to quality health care.” Under it, the state could not prevent hospitals from entering counties if any existing hospitals in those counties have infection rates higher than the statewide average. The CON program is a regulatory process that has long required hospitals, nursing homes and other health providers to get state approval before adding new facilities or offering expanded services.

‘Marsy’s Law’ delayed at CRC till Tuesday — A proposed constitutional amendment to give equal rights to crime victims is on hold at the Constitution Revision Commission. The plan had been called on Monday, but was ‘temporarily postponed.’ Commissioner Tim Cerio, who is sponsoring Marsy’s Law for Florida (P96) said he wanted to wait to present the measure until co-sponsor Darlene Jordan is in Tallahassee; she had an excused absence for Monday. The amendment, if OK’d for the 2018 statewide ballot and passed by no less than 60 percent of voters, includes the right “to be heard in any public proceeding involving pretrial or other release,” and “full and timely restitution in every case.”

AARP supporting nursing home bill of rights — The AARP is sending letters of support for a proposal (P88) before the Constitution Revision Commission that would amend the state’s governing document with a bill of rights for nursing home (NH) and assisted living facility (ALF) residents. AARP has “nearly 3,000,000 Florida members,” it says. The letter was sent to CRC members, asking them to vote for the proposed amendment. “Establishing such rights in the Constitution would preclude them from diminishment by actions or omissions of NHs, ALFs and state policymakers.”

Bipartisan coalition targets CRC proposal 97” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Citizens in Charge, which has backed initiatives imposing term limits on politicians, and Florida Conservation Voters, which pushed the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, both railed against CRC Proposal 97 in a Monday news release. In the 2016 election, Floridians cast nearly 9.5 million votes yet only 9.1 million marked “Yes” or “No” on the medical marijuana amendment. Under Prop 97, the amendment would need to achieve 60 percent support among the 9.5 million voters who participated in the election rather than the 9.1 million who voted for or against it — a difference of nearly a quarter million votes. Citizens in Charge and Florida Conservation Voters said in the joint news release that the change would make it harder for Florida voters to approve proposed constitutional amendments, by essentially recording a “No” vote any time a voter skips voting on a statewide ballot issue. The groups also announced a trio of ads … to make their opposition known to Florida voters. A recent poll from Clearview Research found 55 percent of voters are in support of the changes, while 27 percent were opposed and 18 percent were unsure.

Click on the image below to watch one of the group’s ads:

Constitutional review panel’s “Process” has its own lobbyists” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — From A. Duda & Sons, Inc., to Zurich American Insurance Co., 44 pages’ worth of concerns now have registered to lobby the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The list of “principals and of lobbyists (259 pages) represents nearly interest and industry in the state, such as education, health care, technology, alcoholic beverages, local governments, and gaming, to name a few.


CFO Jimmy Patronis is swimming in support of a long line of Florida political all-stars backing his re-election bid for the Cabinet seat.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, Patronis’ term-limited colleague, led the pack of recent endorsements and, per a release first shared with Florida Politics, is joined by former Florida House Speakers Crisafulli, Will Weatherford, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul and Allan Bense.

“I have seen firsthand what an impressive job Jimmy is doing as our Chief Financial Officer,” Bondi said in her endorsement of Patronis, who last year was chosen by Gov. Scott to replace former CFO Jeff Atwater.

Nods from superiors: Patronis served in the House under Republican Speakers Cretul, Cannon, Weatherford and Crisafulli — and they all sang praises of his leadership, fiscal responsibility and value-based approach to government. Weatherford said: “I’ve known him for years and his tremendous work ethic along with his heart for his job and genuine care for the well-being of Floridians make him an excellent Chief Financial Officer for our state. I’m looking forward to helping him secure another term in this job.”

Predecessor approval: Patronis took over when Bense left his seat in the Legislature. The former Speaker had this to say of Patronis: “He addresses each issue he encounters with Floridians’ best interest in mind. He truly understands the needs of Florida families.”

That, too: Patronis, who serves as the state’s fire marshal, helped champion a legislative victory this year for first responders in a bill that extended workers’ comp to cover PTSD and related mental health injuries. Both Bondi and Cretul acknowledged his work for police, paramedics and firefighters in their endorsements.


NRA lobbyist accuses Corcoran of ‘treachery’ for supporting gun bill” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist and the past president of the gun rights group, sent out an email blast to NRA members Monday that accuses Corcoran of “treachery” for backing a bill that raises the age for purchasing long guns in Florida to 21, institutes a three-day waiting period for purchasing such guns and bans so-called “bump stocks” that simulate fully automatic fire. Hammer’s email states that Corcoran added “insult to injury” during an interview with the Herald-Tribune last week. During that interview, Corcoran said the gun legislation is a major victory for gun rights supporters because it also includes a provision that creates a pathway for school districts to arm certain employees, including some teachers. “Corcoran tried to justify his treachery by ignoring the damaging gun control he supported and then claimed the effort to arm school employees makes it ‘one of the greatest Second Amendment victories we’ve ever had’ because it ends ‘gun free zones on school campuses,’” Hammer wrote, adding: “That is complete nonsense.”

Ted Deutch, Jared Moskowitz blast Putnam, DeSantis on guns” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — The Florida Dems — who aren’t running for governor, as far as we know — spoke to reporters during a conference call Monday morning, with Moskowitz challenging both “empty suit” Putnam and DeSantis to a debate on the issue. “I’ll meet in Taylor County, if that’s what they want,” Moskowitz, a Coral Springs Democrat who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 14 students and three staff were slaughtered on Feb. 14. Moskowitz condemned Putnam, who has said he would not have signed the bill into law, for failing to visit the school, something Scott and the other members of the Florida Cabinet did, and for not meeting with students who traveled to the Capitol to lobby for school safety measures and stricter gun regulations. “He hid in his office on the ground floor while everybody else was trying to figure out how we work together to keep kids safe in schools,” Moskowitz said during the conference call. DeSantis, too, “did not bring anything to the table,” according to Moskowitz.

A deep-dive of a sensitive issue worthy of the click —As prosecutor, did Ron DeSantis go easy in child porn cases?

Assignment editors — Former Miami Beach mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine will speak at multiple events at Florida International University. He will address climate change activism at 8:15 a.m., give a keynote address on ‘resiliency,’ 9:10 a.m.; and participate in the FIU Climate Resiliency Panel Discussion, 9:50 a.m.; all at FIU’s Ernest R. Graham University Center, 11200 S.W. 8th St., Miami.

Attorney General Pam Bondi endorses Patronis for CFO — Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Patronis got Bondi’s endorsement in his bid for a full elected term: “I have seen firsthand what an impressive job Jimmy is doing as our Chief Financial Officer,” Bondi said in a statement released Monday. “He is dedicated to fighting insurance fraud and scams that hurt Floridians. He is also an unwavering advocate for our firefighters and first responders. I am honored to support Jimmy.” Patronis was appointed to the position by Gov. Scott to serve the remainder of former CFO Jeff Atwater’s second term when he left early to become CFO for Florida Atlantic University.

Al Lawson on defense over gun record in Democratic primary via Emily Goldberg of POLITICO — Lawson has found himself on defense over his gun record in his Democratic primary as opponent Alvin Brown has made firearms a central issue in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Brown, the former mayor of Jacksonville, has scoured Lawson’s record and criticized everything from his 2005 vote in the Florida Legislature for the controversial “Stand Your Ground” bill to accepting $2,500 in “blood money” from the National Rifle Association. Lawson said the alleged NRA donation was a clerical mistake, in which his staff entered a code for the wrong organization. The donation no longer appears on the Federal Election Commission’s website. But the bitterness isn’t going away in what has quickly become the state’s most brutal Democratic congressional primary, which is unfolding in a minority-heavy seat that stretches across half of North Florida. The winner is all but certain to win in November because nearly 60 percent of the district’s registered voters are Democrats.

Mike Miller, Scott Sturgill pick up endorsements in GOP congressional primary” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Miller, a Winter Park Republican, was backed Monday by fellow state Rep. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, also Florida chair of Donald Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, businessman Scott Sturgill was endorsed Monday by former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican, now the owner of consulting firm MJH Consulting. Gruters said he was supporting Miller “because I know he will work with President Trump to protect our borders, ensure tax reforms, and bolster our military.” Haridopolos’ endorsement of Sturgill comes after the Sanford businessman picked up the endorsements this month of Altamonte Springs Mayor Pat Bates, Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere and Longwood Mayor Benjamin Paris and the four other Longwood commissioners.

James Buchanan running for House again” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Looking to bounce back from his loss in the District 72 state House special election, Sarasota real estate professional James Buchanan announced Friday that he will run for the District 74 House seat being vacated by Rep. Julio Gonzalez. Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, lost to Siesta Key Democrat Margaret Good in the closely watched District 72 contest last month. But District 74 leans significantly more Republican. While President Trump carried District 72 by less than five percentage points, Trump carried District 74 by 23 percentage points. District 74 encompasses the communities of Nokomis, Venice, North Port and Englewood in southern Sarasota County, and eastern Sarasota County south of Clark Road.

George LeMieux endorses Matt Spritz for HD 89” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Spritz announced Monday that he’d picked up an endorsement from LeMieux, who served as a U.S. Senator from 2009 through 2011. “I proudly endorse Matt Spritz for State Representative,” LeMieux said. “Matt’s a natural leader, whose energy and commitment to community is refreshing. He’s not afraid to take on tough issues and understands that pro-business policies are absolutely critical to create more jobs for hard-working Florida families.” … Spritz faces Delray Beach accountant Michael Caruso in the Republican Primary for the seat, which is currently held by termed-out Republican Rep. Bill Hager. … Through February, Spritz was in the No. 2 spot in money race behind Caruso. He had nearly $106,000 on hand including $40,000 in loans. … HD 89 leans Republican.

Rob Panepinto’s fundraising success gains attention in Orange Co. mayor race” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — His initial $100,000 self-contribution kicked off a fundraising bonanza that led to the newcomer keeping pace with Demings, a prolific money raiser himself, in a campaign to lead a county with more than 1 million people and a budget of $4 billion. Panepinto’s campaign raised more than $37,000 in February to reach a total of $300,000, according to the Supervisor of Elections office, while Demings raised about $35,000 in February to reach $385,000. The PAC supporting Demings raised more than $28,000 in February to total $155,000, while Panepinto’s related political committee raised an additional $22,000 in February and $116,000 overall. Money isn’t everything in a campaign, of course. Bill Segal outraised Teresa Jacobs with more than $1 million to her $558,000 in the 2010 mayoral race, and yet Jacobs defeated him in a runoff. But Panepinto’s success so far has already had a major impact. (Bill) Sublette, the Orange County School Board chairman, was one of the biggest names running but lagged behind Panepinto in raising money and dropped out in January.


Nikolas Cruz’s brother arrested, accused of trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas” via Tonya Alanez of the Sun-Sentinel — Zachary Cruz, the brother of the man who killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was arrested Monday for trespassing at the Parkland school, officials said. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said Zachary, 18, rode his skateboard at 4:30 p.m. across the campus where his older brother, Nikolas, went on a shooting spree with an AR-15 rifle. Zachary Cruz told deputies he visited the school “to reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the arrest report. He had been warned by school officials to keep away from the school. Zachary Cruz has been living with a family friend, Rocxanne Deschamps, in Lantana since the death of his mother in November. “I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to deal with this stuff,” Zachary Cruz told Deschamps on the night of the shooting, according to a report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Two days after the shooting Zachary Cruz told a deputy that he felt “somewhat responsible and guilty about the incident and that he could have possibly prevented [it],” that report said. He also told the deputy that he “doesn’t understand why his brother would have done this.”

Rick Scott signs opioid bill into law, signifying Florida’s first major response to crisis” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Gov. Scott signed a bill into law on Monday that represents the state’s first wholesale Legislative response to the crisis that kills about 16 Floridians per day. The new law sets aside about $53 million, in addition to funds in the budget signed last week which brings the total to about $65 million, used to enhance opioid treatment, law enforcement response and provide the lifesaving overdose reversal drug Naloxone to first responders … It creates a three-day limit on powerful opioids for patients with acute, short-term pain, with some exceptions for a weeklong supply. Some people, like cancer patients, will not be affected. It also requires prescribers and pharmacists to use the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide database of controlled substance prescriptions and ramps up penalties for doctors that give out drugs without proper medical justification. The opioid bill nearly died in the Legislature this year, after a last-minute dispute broke out between the House and Senate over which types of drugs could be purchased to treat addiction. But lawmakers settled on three drugs and it was passed late on the final night of the Session.

Opioid opposition: Gov. Scott held a bill signing at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for HB 21, to combat opioid abuse. Among other things, it places a “three-day limit on prescribed opioids for acute pain, unless strict conditions are met for a seven-day supply.”

Florida to replace Confederate statute in U.S. Capitol” via The Associated Press — Gov. Scott signed the bill (SB 472) making that step official Monday. The bill removes a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith and replaces it with a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune. She founded a school that would eventually become historically black Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. Bethune’s statue would be the first African-American woman in Statuary Hall.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott has two events Tuesday: He will announce Florida’s 2017 tourism numbers and “highlight VISIT FLORIDA’s $76 million funding level for the coming year” at the Naples Zoo. The announcement is 9:30 a.m. The zoo is at Lagoon Loop (1590 Goodlette-Frank Road), Naples. Scott also will attend the Ardie R. Copas State Veterans’ Nursing Home groundbreaking ceremony. That’s at 2 p.m., 10700 SW Tradition Parkway, Tradition.

Restraining order issued against stalker of Lauren Book” via Florida Politics — The 17th Judicial Circuit Court last week approved a permanent restraining order to keep Derek Logue away from Democratic state Sen. Book, according to documents obtained by Florida Politics. According to the petition filed by Book’s attorneys, Logue has targeted Book since at least 2009 through obscene YouTube videos and a website dedicated to “exposing” her and her father, lobbyist Ron Book. Logue, a convicted sex offender, used often obscene language and blasted Book in those videos for playing the “victim card” to advocate for Lauren’s Kids, her charity focused on stopping child sexual abuse. In April 2017, Logue traveled to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York to heckle Book during a question-and-answer session … A few months after his Tribeca outburst, Logue posted a video on Twitter entitled “You are a C**t” that included lyrics saying he would “f**k up [Book’s] face.” That video was deemed a credible threat to Book’s safety … The court approved the restraining order, which requires Logue to stay at least 500 feet away from Book’s house and car, 1,000 feet from her person, and prohibits him from contacting her directly or indirectly in any way.

Voters want taller buildings for Key West affordable housing. Here’s what happens next” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — Key West voters did what Mayor Craig Cates wanted them to do in last week’s referendum: Approve a measure to raise the allowable building height on a Stock Island property up to 40 feet. The referendum means as many as 104 units of affordable housing can be built on the College Road property, about 30 more homes than if the height limit had stayed at 25 feet. Cates says the next step is to prepare a request for proposals, or a bid, to see which construction companies or developers want in on the project. “I hope to have it ready for the April 3 [City Commission] meeting, for us to approve it and discuss it,” Cates said. “We don’t have to approve it to go out but I think we all want to be on the same page since it’s so important.” Tuesday, 16 percent of registered Key West voters participated in the referendum and it passed 58.4 percent to 41.6 percent (1,383 votes for, 986 votes against).

Appointed — Dr. Rolando Montoya to the Miami Dade College District board of trustees.


Scott orders halt to federal funding to collapsed FIU bridge project” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida — Gov. Scott ordered the Florida Department of Transportation to halt the flow of more than $13 million in federal funding toward the construction of a bridge at Florida International University that collapsed last week, killing six people. In a statement Monday, Scott said no additional money should go toward the project until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation into the cause of the Thursday collapse. The NTSB has said it could take months to finish the investigation. “Before another dollar is spent on this bridge, we must know exactly what happened,” said Scott. “FDOT is working hand-in-hand with the NTSB in its investigation and until it’s completed, all taxpayer dollars will be withheld.” FDOT acted as “a pass-through” for federal funding to FIU. FDOT was quick to distance itself from the project … FDOT serves as a pass-through for the $13.6 million in federal cash set aside for the bridge project. Less than $11.4 million of the money comes from a federal grant created to fix crumbling infrastructure around the country.

FIU president: University ‘followed all proper procedures’ on bridge project” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Florida International University’s president on Monday defended the school’s handling of a project to build a pedestrian bridge that collapsed onto traffic Thursday, killing six and leaving behind questions about what exactly went wrong. “FIU has a thorough process for hiring contractors for building projects and works with all appropriate authorities to follow the legal and regulatory requirements,” President Mark Rosenberg said Monday in a letter to the “university community” released through a university spokeswoman. “We are confident that FIU followed all proper procedures and protocols.” Rosenberg said FIU is working with the National Transportation Safety Board — the federal agency leading the investigation into what happened — and has “a sense of urgency about getting to the bottom of the incident.” In close coordination with the state, the university acted as the lead agency on the bridge project, pushing for a federal funding grant, selecting a developer and conducting inspections.

Orlando law firm files first suit against FIU bridge builders” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando law firm Morgan & Morgan filed Monday the first lawsuit against the companies that built the pedestrian bridge that collapsed near Florida International University in Miami last week, killing six people. The suit was filed on behalf of Marquise Rashaad Hepburn of Miami, who was riding his bicycle to work and passing beneath the south end of the bridge when it crumbled. Amid the chaos, a driver hoping to avoid the wreckage veered into Hepburn’s bicycle, tossing him to the ground, attorney Matt Morgan said at a news conference Monday. The suit, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, names FIGG Bridge Engineers Inc., Munilla Construction Management LLC., Networking Engineering Services Inc., Bolton Perez & Associates and Louis Berger U.S. and alleges negligence. It seeks in excess of $15,000 in damages. In Orlando, Morgan said litigation could take years and speculated legal claims filed by all of the victims could soar.

— “Miami’s prosecutor previously recused herself from FIU case for conflicts of interest” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times.

Where did their Twitter go? FIU bridge builder MCM deletes social media accounts” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — Munilla Construction Management, the construction firm behind the Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed last week, has deleted its Twitter account. It’s unclear when the company did away with the page, along with content that once boasted about the state-of-the-art bridge. The company’s Facebook and Instagram pages also have been deleted. MCM’s website and LinkedIn page are still active. Just a week before the bridge collapsed at the center of Southwest Eighth Street and 109th Avenue, killing six people, MCM tweeted about the mammoth structure’s weight. “#FunFact: The new pedestrian bridge connecting @FIU to the @CitySweetwater weighs 950 tons, equivalent to approximately 271 elephants! #WeAreMCM,” the company posted … An MCM spokesman said Monday that the company temporarily deactivated the accounts “out of consideration to the families of victims.”


The details of health care regulation don’t belong in the Florida Constitution” via the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board — There are some proposals among the three dozen or so the commission is scheduled to consider this week and next that don’t belong anywhere near the constitution. They deal with evolving areas of policy and regulation, rather than enduring governing principles. One misplaced proposal could have a large, lasting — yet uncertain — impact, particularly in Central Florida: Proposal 54, which would eliminate the state’s certificate of need requirement for hospitals. Commissioners would be foolish to sideline legislators and regulators in this area. Gov. Scott, a former private hospital executive, is not a CON fan. So one of the governor’s 15 appointees on the 37-member commission, Orlando lawyer Frank Kruppenbacher, has sponsored a proposed amendment that would effectively eliminate CON for hospitals in many Florida counties. While most states have CON requirements, 14 don’t. It’s difficult to draw general conclusions from their experiences — each state is different — but CON supporters and opponents specialize in cherry picking data to bolster their positions.

— ALOE —

Actual news release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — “April 15 marks start of Florida’s bat maternity season”

Spring break pushing gas prices higher” via John Hielscher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Local gas prices ended their brief retreat, rising 2 cents over the week as demand spiked and supplies tightened. The trend higher is expected to continue. “The national average now stands at its highest level in over a month and is likely to continue moving higher in the weeks ahead as demand continues to recover from the winter blues and the transition to summer gasoline kicks into high gear,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for price-tracking website GasBuddy. “Overall, gas prices this spring will come in some 10 percent to 25 percent higher than a year ago, removing billions of dollars from other areas of the economy that will instead be funneled to the pump.” Prices at the pump had declined slightly for several weeks, but analysts expected them to rebound due to several factors. “Gasoline supplies took a sharp dip last week, as exports rose and refineries began to switch from summer- to winter-blend gasoline,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman at AAA in Tampa. “In addition, demand in the Southeast — especially in Florida — is strong, as Americans hit the road for spring break.”

Jacksonville man sees beach one last time before going blind” via Deanna Bettineschi of WJAX — Woody Parker, who is suffering from glaucoma, wanted to catch perhaps his final glimpse of Fernandina Beach. Wish of a Lifetime, a wish-granting organization for seniors, and Brookdale Senior Living got together to help Parker’s dream come true. With his wife, Genie Parker, by his side, he was able to take in all the sights of the beach one last time. “I love it. I love the beach,” Parker told WJAX. “There’s nothing like the sound of the beach with the waves crashing.”

Proof Brewing relocating to former Coca-Cola building” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee’s first and largest craft beer distributor — is leaving its Railroad Square location and moving a quarter mile away to the south side. The former Coca-Cola Bottling Company, located at 1320 S. Monroe St., allows Proof to drastically upgrade its production capacity from 6,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels per year. Proof first opened in 2012. Owners Byron and Angela Burroughs are pioneers in the city’s increasingly popular beer scene. The new location features a larger tasting room and an outdoor area, a retail store, space for private events, a full kitchen and a beer garden.

Happy birthday to Rep. (soon Judge) Larry Metz, our friend Bill Helmich, as well as Jacob Engels, Chris Licata, Melissa Ross, and Aakash Patel.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.19.18

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

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

It’s hard to believe that just as one “Session” is ending, another is beginning.

The Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) kicks off its own Session this morning at 10 a.m.

The panel is expected to meet through May 4; on May 10, it must file a report with Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

There now are 36 “active” proposals being considered as additions to the state’s governing document.

They run the gamut from banning dog racing to raising the retirement age of judges, also from a crime victims’ bill of rights to a clean-up proposal that would “delete an obsolete provision regarding the development of a high speed (rail) system.”

Commissioners also criss-crossed the state in the last year, holding public meetings to discuss ideas, including a final meeting in St. Petersburg that attracted about 1,200 people.

Members of the Constitution Revision Commission listened to nearly 100 suggestions for changes to the state Constitution last year in Lee County. Photo credit: News-Press.

The full commission meets in the state Senate chamber in the Capitol all this week.

The CRC convenes every 20 years. Any proposals it approves to change the state constitution still must be approved by at least 60 percent of voters on this November’s statewide ballot. (There’s even a proposal that would tweak that.)

Gun control among issues teed up for CRC” via the News Service of Florida – The debate over gun control is ready to move to a new forum, as the Constitution Revision Commission … begins the process of deciding what issues to place on the November ballot. … One measure (Proposal 3), sponsored by Commissioner Roberto Martinez of Miami, is likely to generate debate, as it has attracted several amendments related to gun control in the wake of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. … Meanwhile, Commissioner Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale has another proposed amendment that would ban assault-style weapons. Also, Commissioner Hank Coxe of Jacksonville has filed an amendment that would raise the age of buying a firearm to 21 and would impose a 10-day waiting period. It also would ban bump stocks. Commissioners Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, Sherry Plymale of Palm City and Frank Kruppenbacher of Orlando are supporting Coxe’s amendment.

With a ban under consideration, greyhound racing brings out surprising defenders” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — … as legislators consider a proposed constitutional amendment asking voters to phase out greyhound racing by 2021, the people who love the dogs on both sides of the issue worry about their future. It is the dogs’ apparent contentment that has caused even die-hard racing opponents to say the situation is nuanced. Of the 18 dog racing tracks in America, 12 are in Florida, with an estimated 7,000 greyhounds working in the state. If racing ends, what happens to all those dogs? … “I think they just don’t understand that the dogs are bred for this, that we love the dogs. The trainers love those dogs. They aren’t in that business because they hate them. You aren’t going to win if you have an underfed dog or a hurt dog. It wouldn’t make sense.” … Stuck in the middle of the detractors and the supporters is Greyhound Pets of America. … Adopting a greyhound is unlike adopting any other pet. Dogs that have worked at a track may be so unfamiliar with everyday household features that they walk into a swimming pool or balk at stairs. … “It’s like a 70-pound house cat,” GPA volunteer Don Koppin said.

Anti-smoking group continues to oppose constitutional amendment” via Florida Politics – Despite a proposed tweak to a constitutional amendment, the Protect Tobacco Free Florida coalition says it still opposes the underlying measure. The proposal (P94), filed by Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) member and House Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez, originally would have redirected dollars from tobacco-prevention efforts to cancer research. Nuñez on Wednesday filed an “amendment to the amendment” deleting the section about cancer research funding, however. That change would have to be adopted by the commission, which meets in Session beginning Monday in Tallahassee. “Despite this change, her proposal would still remove the requirement that one-third of Florida’s tobacco prevention funding be dedicated to countering Big Tobacco’s massive marketing efforts in the state,” the coalition said. “Because the one-third provision is required to follow CDC best practice standards for tobacco prevention programs, the Protect Tobacco Free Florida coalition still opposes Proposal 94.”

Assignment editors – Representatives of Constitutional Officer Resource Experts (C.O.R.E.) will hold a press conference to support Proposal 13 being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission. The proposal would amend language already in the Florida Constitution to state that the offices of Sheriff, Clerk of Court, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections must be elected, and counties cannot eliminate these positions. That’s at 1 p.m., Plaza level rotunda, The Capitol.


— @Comey: Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.

— @RepDeSantis: Our pets are not simply another piece of cargo, they are members of our family. @RepMarkMeadows and I sent a letter to the CEO of United Airlines demanding answers regarding their troubling record of pet safety.

— @JaredEMoskowitz (replying to DeSantis): Oh really? Never seen you at any of the animal friendly group meetings. That’s right, we meet! Would you have written the letter if the dog was killed by a gun? We already know the answer.

— @SenReneGarcia: As I stood in front of the bridge collapse yesterday I was confronted with the reality of how fragile life is and that tomorrow is not a given. This weekend I will make it a point of saying “I Love You” to those I care about and will start with you my twitter family. I Love You!

— @PatriciaMazzei: FIU President Mark Rosenberg has called for a universitywide moment of silence at 1:47 p.m. Monday to commemorate victims of collapsed bridge, per email to FIU community.

— @AGlorios: Also the TBT editorial writers continue to refer to Jack Latvala as a “moderate Republican who made too many enemies” & not a former senator who resigned in disgrace after 2 independent investigations concluded he likely sexually assaulted & harassed women

— @JoseFelixDiaz: Took my kids to a speaking engagement and the only thing that they retained was that I was a bouncer in a nightclub in Argentina once

— @JoeReedy: I can’t wait for the 30 for 30 film on UMBC


March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 5; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 10; Easter – 13; NFL Draft begins – 38; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 45; Mother’s Day – 55; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 67; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 95; Primary Election Day — 162; College Football opening weekend – 166; General Election Day — 232; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 332; 2019 Legislative Session – 351.

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

Rick Scott signs new budget, uses veto pen sparingly” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Scott acted quickly on the annual spending plan that had been approved by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature just days earlier. Heading into a crucial election year, Scott spared many individual projects from line-item vetoes. Instead, he vetoed a modest $64 million in projects and spending decisions – the lowest amount he has vetoed during his time in office. … Scott approved a budget that is 29 percent higher than the one he signed his first year, when the Great Recession had hammered Florida’s economy and the governor and legislators responded by ordering deep budget cuts. The budget approved by Scott includes $100 million for Florida Forever, the state’s environmental land buying program, which has received minimal money since the Great Recession. Legislators also set aside $50 million to help deal with the state’s opioid crisis and agreed to expand the amount paid to 100,000 college students eligible for the state’s popular Bright Futures college scholarship program.

Scott’s vetoes touched primarily on projects sprinkled through the budget that he said bypassed the normal process or were local projects. The vetoes included $1.5 million to study extending an existing toll road from north of the Tampa Bay area to the Georgia state line. Legislators backed the idea because the road could be used for future hurricane evacuations, but Scott said the study could be done without extra money. The Governor also vetoed $750,000 legislators set aside to look at reversing the flow on major highways during a storm. Scott said the money isn’t needed because state officials have already concluded reversing highways is not effective.

— “Scott’s election year veto list focuses on member projects” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

— “Democratic gubernatorial candidates slam Rick Scott for education budget” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

— “New budget leaves Florida’s neediest on long waiting lists” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Media

— “FHCA gives Rick Scot thumbs up on budget” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Scott keeps $2M hostage over marijuana rules – Included in the $88.7 billion budget signed by Gov. Scott on Friday was provision that puts a hold on $2 million appropriated for top-level Florida Department of Health employee salaries until the department implements all the rules required in the Legislature’s 2017 bill implementing the medical marijuana amendment. DOH’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use is far behind in in the process, including missing an Oct. 3 deadline to issues 10 licenses. The office has also been slammed for repealing a long list of emergency rules, an action lawmakers say violates state law. “Perhaps we will now see some meaningful movement in the implementation of the new law,” said Rep. Jason Brodeur, who filed the $2 million carveout.

No quilts for you: Scott vetoes museum money” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Out of $64 million in budget vetoes issued, Gov. Scott killed $270,000 slated for the acquisition of the Florida Quilt Museum building in tiny Trenton, the county seat of Gilchrist County. That gladdened Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat who inveighed against the money during debate on the state’s spending plan … Stephanie Metts, the museum’s founder and a board member, first learned of Scott’s line-item veto from a Florida Politics reporter … “What a shame for this little community that is so struggling,” she said. The museum is “not funded by anybody; my husband and I are the only ones putting any money into this.”

— “Talleyrand Connector money survives veto process” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Tweet, tweet:

Quick budget turnaround cuts TaxWatch off at the pass” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Talk about pre-emption. With Gov. Scott speedily approving the 2018-19 state budget and issuing line-item vetoes just two days after it hit his desk, Florida TaxWatch was prevented from holding its signature event: The annual presentation of “Budget Turkeys.” “This historically, exceptionally fast turnaround time did not allow Florida TaxWatch to fully complete the meticulous review of all appropriations required to produce our annual Budget Turkey Watch report,” said Dominic M. Calabro, TaxWatch President and CEO. The group defines turkeys as “legislatively directed projects, usually local member projects, … added to the final appropriations bill without being fully scrutinized by the public.”

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott will sign HB 21, which includes provisions limiting most new opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply, during a 9:30 a.m. stop at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in Bradenton, 616 67th Street Circle East. The governor will also spend time highlighting state funding to help combat the opioid crisis.


In a brief ‘exit interview’ with Florida Politics, the outgoing Senate President said lawmakers over the last two Sessions “made tremendous progress” on goals he set out in his 2015 designation speech, “a blueprint of things I tried to accomplish.”

Among those, beefing up higher education “with world class faculties,” addressing pollution in Lake Okeechobee, and “decriminalizing adolescence” with pre-arrest diversion programs and making it easier to expunge juvenile arrest records.

Joe Negron announces a comprehensive package of legislation to improve the safety and security of Florida students and schools. Photo credit: Colin Hackey.

— What “didn’t get a lot of attention” last year, the Stuart Republican said, was reforming eyewitness identifications in criminal cases “to reduce the chance of wrongful convictions.”

— The Constitution Revision Commission, on which he has nine appointees, starts its Session Monday. Negron, an attorney, said he favors proposals that would raise the retirement age for judges and help with K-12 education “flexibility.” He’s had “general conversations” with his appointees on his “guiding principles,” but added he trusts their “good judgment.”  

— Though redistricting has afforded him an extra two years in the Senate after his 2016-18 presidency, he said he hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll serve that bonus time. “I’m going to take a few weeks to think about it,” he said. “Term limits are there for a reason.”

— Negron now is focusing on his business litigation work for the Akerman firm in its West Palm Beach office: “I’m a lawyer first, a legislator second. This was one part of my life that I greatly value … but my primary professional identity is as a lawyer. I’m back in the office. I enjoy what I do.”

— When asked what advice he’d give to future legislative candidates, he said he’d repeat the advice given him by former House Speaker Allen Bense in 2000: “He told me in order to be strong in Tallahassee, be strong at home. (Candidates’) political efforts and philosophy should be grounded in their community.”


Bill Nelson targeted by pro tax reform ad campaign” via Florida Politics – Americans for Prosperity this week announced a national campaign extolling the benefits of the tax reform package passed by the Republican-led Congress last year, and U.S. Sen. Nelson, who voted against the plan, is one of the targets. The Nelson ad features a black and white photo of the Senator and reads “Senator Bill Nelson voted against putting more money in your pocket.” AFP said its “American Pay Raise” campaign is designed to thank lawmakers who voted for the tax plan and hold accountable those who were against it, though the group so far has only released sample ads it’s running against lawmakers.

A copy of the ad is below:

Richard Corcoran to announce week of April 16? – Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times has the (possible) scoop here.

Oppo dump on Ron DeSantis – Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida has all of the details here.

Adam Putnam posts photo of him at Mar-a-Lago with disgraced congressman Mark Foley” via Amy Hollyfield of the Tampa Bay Times – Putnam … attended the Republican Party of Palm Beach County’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday night at Mar-a-Lago. The sold-out event was headlined by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Putnam tweeted thanks to host Donald Trump Jr. last night with a photo that included Foley, the Florida congressman forced out more than a decade ago for sending texts to teen boys.

Donald Trump Jr., Mark Foley and Adam Putnam at the Palm Beach GOP Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday night in a photo tweeted by Putnam.


— American Bridge’s Josh Karp: “Embracing the support of a sexual predator who abused his power to prey on teenage boys is a new low for Adam Putnam. Floridians ought to be disgusted by Putnam’s behavior, there’s no excuse for this.”

— Florida Democratic Party’s Kevin Donohoe: “It’s despicable that Adam Putnam is so desperate to sell out to Donald Trump that he would hang out with a sexual predator accused of harassing children.”

Assignment editorsDemocratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is set to speak at a meeting of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee. That’s at 6 p.m., IBEW union hall, 966 North Liberty St., Jacksonville.

— “Andrew Gillum talks importance of ‘allyship’ with black women in St. Augustine” via A.G. Gankarski of Florida Politics

— “Darren Soto endorsed by 10 other members of Fla. congressional district” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

First on #FlaPol – “Democrat Catherine Price files for Senate District 26” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics – Price announced Friday that she would run for the Senate District 26 seat being vacated by Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner in the fall. … Price is a Lake Wales native and first-time candidate for public office. Price said the bulk of her career has been helping people get access to affordable healthcare, including organizing a successful half-cent sales tax ballot initiative that currently generates $36 mllion annually for indigent health care in Polk County.

Save the date:

Democrat files for Julio Gonzalez House seat” via the News Service of Florida – With state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice Republican, running for Congress, a Democratic candidate has taken the first step toward running for his Florida House seat. North Port Democrat Yves Junior Chery opened a campaign account Thursday to run in Sarasota County’s House District 74 … Chery joined North Port Republican Nicholas Trolli, who opened a campaign account Feb. 28 to try to win the seat in November. Gonzalez, who was first elected to the state House in 2014, is running for a congressional seat that is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.

>>>Also Thursday, Deltona Democrat Carol Lawrence opened a campaign account to try to unseat state Rep. David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, in Volusia County’s House District 27 … Santiago had raised $114,445 for his re-election bid as of Feb. 28, a finance report shows.

Kevin Rader endorses Tina Polsky in HD 81 race” via Florida Politics – HD 81 candidate Tina Polsky picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Democratic state Sen. Kevin Rader. “I have been tremendously impressed by Tina’s background and her candidacy. I know that her professional training as a mediator will serve her well in Tallahassee – and ultimately provide many benefits to the people of Palm Beach County,” Rader said. “She’ll be a fighter for our community on important issues including gun safety and a woman’s right to choose, as well as an effective advocate for the Glades. I can’t wait to work with Tina on the issues important to all of us.” The Boca Raton Democrat is a lawyer and mediator and is so far the only candidate running for HD 81, currently held by Democratic Rep. Joe Abruzzo. … Abruzzohas only held the seat for one term but announced last month he would forego re-election to focus on spending time with his young son.

— “Rene Placencia draws endorsements from Titusville, Brevard, Cape Canaveral leaders” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

— “Fentrice Driskill raises $40K in first month of House campaign” via Florida Politics

— “Nick DiCeglie announces March 23 fundraiser” via Florida Politics

Broward votes could see straw poll on assault rifle ban” via the Associated Press – Some officials in a Florida county where a school shooting left 17 people dead were considering a referendum to ban assault weapons but they feared possible fines and the state’s power to overturn it. So instead, they will ask Broward County commissioners to add a straw vote to the ballot. A straw vote would give voters a voice but wouldn’t be binding. Several students from Fort Lauderdale High School and a handful of other Broward residents spoke in favor of banning assault rifles at Friday’s Charter Review Commission meeting. A county attorney cautioned against a referendum. Others in favor of a ban feared such a move by the county would be overturned by the state and possibly bring a hefty fine.


Crack on bridge was discussed in meeting hours before collapse” via Nick Madigan, Patricia Mazzei and Christina Caron of the New York Times – Hours before the collapse … the engineering company for the bridge held a meeting to discuss a crack on the structure, according to a statement from the university released early Saturday. The engineering company, Figg Bridge Engineers, delivered a technical presentation on the crack, and “concluded there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge,” the statement said. The construction manager on the project and representatives from the university and the state Department of Transportation attended the two-hour meeting, which was led by Figg’s lead engineer on the project, W. Denney Pate. Two days earlier, Pate left a voice mail message for the Transportation Department about “some cracking that’s been observed on the north end” of the bridge, according to a recording from the department released on Friday. At both the meeting and in his message, Pate said the cracking did not present any safety issues

State played key role on FIU bridge, despite efforts to distance itself after collapse” via Mary Ellen Klas, David Smiley and Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald – In the hours after the collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge that killed six on Thursday, the Florida Department of Transportation quickly attempted to publicly distance itself from liability, calling its role “limited.” But documents of meetings from FIU and the city of Sweetwater over the past three years, and interviews with industry experts who asked that their names not be used because they still work with the agency, show FDOT’s involvement on the design and construction of the bridge was much more significant. … Since the accident that killed six, the department and Gov. Rick Scott have rushed to absolve the state from any liability in the cause of the collapse.

Recovery operations continue Saturday morning, at the site of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge that collapsed five days after been installed over Southwest Eighth Street.

In a rare late-night statement, FDOT released the audiotape and transcript of a voicemail left by an engineer of the design firm, FIGG Bridge Group, warning that the bridge had experienced cracking. The FIGG engineer dismissed the significance of the problem, but the document FDOT sent to the media said the employee didn’t receive the voicemail until Friday when he returned to the office after being on assignment for three days. … Many have read the state’s narrative as directing blame at both FIU and the design-build team of FIGG and contractor Munilla Construction Group. … Although the Friday night statement disclosed the existence of the voicemail from the FIGG engineer, FDOT did not acknowledge that its project manager, Alfonso Reyna, was also aware of the cracks. That revelation didn’t come until Saturday, when FIU released a statement about it.

Tweet, tweet:

— “These are the victims of the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse” via the Miami Herald

Bridge collapse victim’s uncle rages at ‘incompetence’” via Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press – As crews began removing bodies from beneath a collapsed pedestrian bridge Saturday, a victim’s uncle raged against what he called the “complete incompetence” and “colossal failure” that allowed people to drive beneath the unfinished concrete span. “Why they had to build this monstrosity in the first place to get children across the street?” said an anguished Joe Smitha, whose niece, Alexa Duran, was crushed in Thursday’s collapse at Florida International University. “Then they decided to stress test this bridge while traffic was running underneath it?” … Smitha can’t help but believe that this tragedy could have been avoided. “This was a colossal failure of the system,” he said. “This was complete incompetence from the top … I want someone to step up and say, ‘The buck stops with me.’”

Rapid building technique gets scrutiny after bridge collapse” via Jason Dearen of the Associated Press – The pedestrian bridge on the edge of the Miami-area campus was a signature achievement of the school’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center, a research group set up with federal funding a few years ago to show how spans could be built faster and cheaper in the U.S. “FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg boasted that day. “We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community.” While it’s not yet clear what caused the failure of the unfinished span Thursday, the disaster has cast a spotlight on a rapid construction technique widely used around the U.S. Accelerated bridge construction, or ABC, involves assembling large sections of a span offsite, then moving the massive pieces into place all at once. The technique eliminates the lengthy road closings and other traffic disruptions that can result when a bridge is built out over a highway piece by piece. It is also considered by some engineers to be safer for hardhat workers and motorists because much of the construction isn’t done in the middle of traffic.

Civil engineering experts who viewed photos of the planned structure and the collapse have raised questions about how FIU and its contractors approached the project. To some bridge engineers, the decision to install the span’s main concrete segment over a busy road before building its main support tower was puzzling. Traditionally, the tower is constructed first, and the walkway or roadway is anchored to it with cables. “It’s odd,” said Henry Petroski, a professor of civil engineering at Duke University and a leading authority on engineering failures. “That’s probably why they used this so-called ABC method, so they could get the span over the roadway in one operation, because if you do it incrementally, you have to interrupt traffic.”

— “Bridge collapse saps spirits and research efforts at FIU” via Patricia Mazzei and Stephanie Saul of the New York Times


Marco Rubio criticizes timing of Andrew McCabe firing” via Louis Nelson of POLITICO – Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not have fired Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Rubio said Sunday morning, casting doubt on a decision that has been celebrated by President Donald Trump. McCabe, long a target of criticism from President Donald Trump, was fired late Friday over a yet-to-be-released inspector general’s report expected to say the former deputy FBI director lacked candor in interactions with investigators examining his disclosures to the media. McCabe, who has claimed to be the target of a smear campaign because of his role in the bureau’s Russia investigation, had been scheduled to retire as of Sunday. “I don’t like the way it happened,” Rubio told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He should’ve been allowed to finish through the weekend.”

Some wanted Nikolas Cruz committed in 2016” via Curt Anderson of the Associated Press – Officials were so concerned about the mental stability of the student accused of last month’s Florida school massacre that they decided he should be forcibly committed. But the recommendation was never acted upon. … documents in the criminal case against Nikolas Cruz and obtained by The Associated Press show school officials and a sheriff’s deputy recommended in September 2016 that Cruz be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation. There is no evidence Cruz was ever committed. Coincidentally, the school resource officer who recommended that Cruz be “Baker Acted” was Scot Peterson — the same Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who resigned amid accusations he failed to respond to the shooting by staying outside the building where the killings occurred.

Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the Parkland massacre. Photo credit: Getty Images

Stoneman Douglas student says arming teachers ‘stupid’ idea on ’60 Minutes’” via Sergio Bustos of POLITICO Florida – Emma González, the outspoken Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior who has turned into a national gun reform activist, is taking a swipe at the Florida Legislature for wanting to arm teachers, calling the idea “stupid” in an interview with CBS’ “60 minutes” [that aired] Sunday. “Douglas ran out of paper for, like, two weeks in the school year, and now all a sudden they have $400 million to pay for teachers to get trained to arm themselves? Really? Really?” González tells “60 Minutes” correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi. The Parkland student was referring to the $400 million school safety and gun reform bill signed into law March 9 … It included one provision to arm school personnel, but the measure was watered down so that it’s voluntary and doesn’t apply to front-line, full-time classroom teachers. Most large urban counties in Florida have announced or are expected to announce they won’t participate. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, along with many Democrats, rejected the idea.

Shifting money to school officers could be option” via The News Service of Florida – President Negron told The News Service of Florida he believed the Joint Legislative Budget Commission could reappropriate leftover funds but said it’s too soon to say when that might happen. Many school superintendents and school boards have said they will not implement the guardian program, which would allow school employees, including some teachers, to bring guns to school if they are specially trained and deputized by sheriffs. “Let’s see what happens. I hope school boards will consider it, but I accept the fact that many of them may not participate and I think … some of those surplus funds could be redeployed toward school resource officers,” Negron said. “That’s something I would support but I would encourage school boards to evaluate what they believe is best for their students, and that’s all we ask. This (the guardian program) is an option.”

Good read worth the click –Criminal justice reform legislation derailed but not dead” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Release of tourism numbers delayed again” via the News Service of Florida – Gov. Scott’s office said Friday that a planned release of 2017 tourism numbers would again be postponed because of the collapse Thursday of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami. Scott had been expected to release the tourism numbers Friday in Naples. His office did not immediately give a new release date. Scott also had planned to release the tourism figures last month but put the announcement on hold because of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.


FDOT can’t shirk its role in the bridge-collapse deaths – or its responsibility to protect us” via Miami Herald editorial board – (T)his much is clear: State and local construction protocols putting people’s safety first must be rethought, reinvigorated and reinforced. In the ongoing war between safety and convenience, safety lost last week. Six people died tragically, needlessly, because we live in an overbuilt community that loathes traffic jams, yet continually makes them worse; that is sick and tired of negotiating orange traffic cones and detours; that endangers pedestrians trying to cross a river of vehicles — the whole point of the pedestrian bridge that fell; and where time wasted stuck on the road costs money. Thursday, all the things we hate cost six lives.

A long-read editorial worthy of the click –The case for life for Nikolas Cruz” via Sun-Sentinel editorial board

Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris: Fight to protect property rights far from over” via Florida Politics – Though legislation to create statewide standards for vacation rentals did pass committees in both the Florida House and Senate, ultimately time ran out and Senate Bill 1400 and House Bill 773 did not make it across the finish line this Session. Some special interests are promoting this as a win—I challenge that narrative. Continuing to trample the private property rights of Floridians seems, to me, like anything but a victory. The truth is, it is far too early for anyone to declare success just yet—we are only in the midst of this discussion. As president, I personally guarantee the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FL VRMA) will continue to bring forth education and a fierce determination to fight for the rights of property owners across the state of Florida.

Hot takes from Peter Schorsch:

— “The Schorsch governing theory of Florida politics – Part 1” via Florida Politics

— “It’s that Adam Putnam was photographed with Mark Foley…” via Florida Politics

— “Just when you think Andrew Gillum is having a good day…” via Florida Politics


Personnel note: Lorena Holley joins Florida Retail Federation – The trade association announced Friday that Holley, general counsel to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, will become its new general counsel and vice president effective March 26. “With her years of experience in both the public and private sectors, Lorena brings extensive knowledge on business issues that impact almost all of our members in some way,” said R. Scott Shalley, the federation’s president and CEO. “Whether its food safety, small business, utility regulation or legal issues, Lorena will be an invaluable resource to our members.” Holley previously was with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), serving as a Senior Attorney with the Office of General Counsel Division of Appeals, Rules and Mediation. She received her law degree from the Texas Tech School of Law in Lubbock, Texas. Originally from Chile, she grew up in Austin, Texas.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Kimberly Case, Holland & Knight:

Christopher Chaney, Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Kyra Solutions

Leonard Collins, Broad and Cassel: Campbellton-Graceville Hospital Corporation

Jim DeBeaugrine, RFJ Governmental Consultants: CBC

Don DeLoach, DDGov Consulting: Sungard Availability Services

Paul Hawkes, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Guardian Group

Jeff Littlejohn, Littlejohn Mann & Associates: AFI Associates, Lee County, Tech Choice

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

Shannon Segers: Department of Revenue

Black Almanac’s Dr. Edward James II passes away” via WWSB – Dr. James dedicated his life to making the Suncoast a better place to live for families now and future generations. (He died March 13 at the age of 78.) Dr. James joined ABC7 in 1972 as a weekend news anchor. He also spent the past 46 years as the producer and host of “Black Almanac,” which airs Sunday mornings on ABC7. “Black Almanac” is the longest airing, locally produced, public affairs program in the Southeastern United States. Before coming to ABC7, Dr. James served as a columnist and governmental reporter for the Sarasota Journal. He was also the writer/associate producer of “Positively Black,” a weekly half-hour public affairs program on New York’s WNBC-TV. James also worked as an editorial assistant at the New York Post.

Happy birthday belatedly to Rep. Sean Shaw, St. Pete City Councilman Steve Kornell, Conversa’s Kelsey Frouge, our friend Christian Minor, Robert Weissert, and to two principled activists on the opposite ends of the education debate, Ron Matus and Andy Ford. Celebrating today is our very good friend Eric Johnson, as well as Johanna Cervone, Allison North Jones, and Justin York.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.15.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

A proposed amendment that would add a crime victims’ ‘bill of rights’ to the state constitution is a “near lock” to pass in November, a new poll says.

“It sits at 78 percent support and voters seem to clearly want the rights of crime victims to be expanded,” said Steve Vancore, President of Clearview Research, which conducted the poll.

The amendment is among those now being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to review and propose changes to the Florida Constitution.

If cleared by the CRC, Marsy’s Law would be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot. Proposals need at least 60 percent approval to become a part of the constitution.

Marsy’s Law gets its name from Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Later, Marsy’s brother and mother were confronted by the accused murderer in a grocery store. The two had not been told the ex-boyfriend had been released on bail.

Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas (center) a University of California Santa Barbara student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

The amendment includes the rights “to be heard in any public proceeding involving pretrial or other release,” and to “full and timely restitution in every case.” Most states have taken steps to amend their constitutions to enumerate victims’ rights. Fifteen have not — including Florida.

Not polling as well were a ban on offshore oil drilling (54 percent) and another (55 percent) that “requires any proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution to be approved by an affirmative vote of 60 percent of voters who voted in that election, rather than 60 percent of the voters who voted on the specific proposed amendment.”

“This proposal also has the highest number (18 percent) of undecided respondents suggesting some level of confusion, which is understandable given the relatively complex nature of the question,” Vancore said.

… Also, a P.S. from Tuesday’s SUNBURN, in which we reported Clearview poll results that a proposed amendment to ban betting on dog racing would lose at the ballot. On Wednesday afternoon, sponsor Tom Lee — a GOP state senator from Thonotosassa — changed the proposal to include a “prohibition on racing of and wagering on greyhounds (emphasis added).”

“We’ve been tweaking this amendment for a month to be sure the ban protects dogs w/ the least impact on the industry,” Lee tweeted Wednesday. “That poll question was more sterile than a racing greyhound! When properly worded the ban polls @ 60%+.”

Advocates rally to save Tobacco Free Florida funding” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — If passed, a proposed constitutional amendment to redirect dollars from tobacco-prevention efforts to cancer research would turn “a bad idea into a hard reality,” one opponent said Wednesday morning. Later that same day, however, the amendment’s sponsor deleted the section about cancer research funding. Longtime Tallahassee PR man Ron Sachs joined former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and others in a conference call to beat back the proposal (P94), filed by Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) member and House Speaker pro tempore Jeanette Nuñez. The call was sponsored by the American Cancer Society of Florida’s Cancer Action Network.


— @RealDonaldTrump: Today the House took major steps toward securing our schools by passing the STOP School Violence Act. We must put the safety of America’s children FIRST by improving training and by giving schools and law enforcement better tools. A tragedy like Parkland can’t happen ever again!

— @JaclynCorin: It’s been one month. One month since our hearts broke and our innocence was stripped away. Students: join us today at 10 a.m. for the National School Walkout in commemoration of the 17 souls we lost & to display dissatisfaction with current gun legislation.

— @SenBillNelson: Joined the students protesting out front of the Capitol today. So much energy and determination in these kids. They’re counting on us to act and we can’t let them down.

— @StevePersall: I respect @RealJamesWoods as an actor. Watched him passionately work with Ringling film school students. He once called to thank me for writing something that made his Mom happy. His callous, ill-informed attacks on young activists like @davidhogg111 wouldn’t make her proud.

— @ZacJAnderson: Galvano calls politics surrounding the gun bill “disheartening”

— @DavidJollyFL: Historical note: Rep. Tom Foley of Washington served for 30 yrs. He was elected Speaker of the House in 1989. In 1990 he was re-elected w 69%. In 1992 he was re-elected w 55%. In 1994, he lost w 49%, becoming the first sitting Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for re-election.

— @JimRosicaFL: If you are following #FLCRC process, check the website. A slew of “amendments to amendments” have been filed; 2 p.m. today was deadline to file them. (You must click on each proposal to view.)

— @MarcACaputo: If there’s one thing the entire nation should copy from Arizona, it’s the refusal to engage in this daylight-saving time nonsense

— @Grant_Gilmore: Many Florida counties, including Pinellas, Polk and Manatee are forecast to have an EXTREME fire danger index tomorrow. It’d be a good idea to hold off on outdoor burning for now.

— @LizbethKB: Excited for the young ladies of @FGCU_WBB for making the NCAA tournament. They’ve made SWFL proud and I look forward to rooting them on against Missouri!

— @UCF_MarcDaniels: With the walk-off win by the Knights, @UCF_Baseball and @UCF_Football each own a 13 game win streak. Each team has the nation’s longest win streak in their sport.


St. Patrick’s Day — 2; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 9; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 14; Easter — 17; NFL Draft begins — 42; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 49; Mother’s Day — 59; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 71; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 99; Primary Election Day — 166; College Football opening weekend — 170; General Election Day — 236; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 336; 2019 Legislative Session — 355.

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


’Enough is enough’: U.S. students stage walkouts against guns” via Collin Binkley of The Associated Press – Around the nation, students left class at 10 a.m. local time for at least 17 minutes — one minute for each of the dead in Florida. At some schools, students didn’t go outside but lined the hallways, gathered in gyms and auditoriums or wore orange, the color used by the movement against gun violence. Over and over, students declared that too many young people have died and that they are tired of going to school every day afraid of getting killed. “Enough is enough. People are done with being shot,” said Iris Foss-Ober, 18, a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. Some schools applauded students for taking a stand or at least tolerated the walkouts, while others threatened punishment. As the demonstrations unfolded, the NRA responded by posting a photo on Twitter of a black rifle emblazoned with an American flag. The caption: “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

Chuck Grassley slams Florida officials for not attending hearing on school safety” via Lydia Wheeler of The Hill — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley of Iowa blasted a pair of Florida officials for refusing to appear before the committee for its hearing on school safety and gun control measures. The panel had called on Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Michael Carroll, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, to appear for the hearing held following the deadly school shooting in Parkland last month. “By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida they serve,” Grassley said. “As we will discuss during the hearing, the Broward County Sheriff and Department of Children and Families are integral to the Parkland fact pattern.” Grassley said it was disappointing Israel refused to speak before Congress, given the sheriff’s appearance on television in the weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting to discuss the tragedy.

Chuck Grassley is slamming Florida officials for not responding to a hearing on Parkland.

’People are bleeding.’ New 911 calls from Parkland show terror of those trapped inside” via Nicholas Nehmas and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald – The calls shed some light on the terror inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during Cruz’s rampage … Students and staff can be heard begging 911 operators for help — as at least one BSO deputy was waiting outside the building where people were injured and dead. The student being comforted by the 911 operator said three people were shot in her classroom, room 1216. Two were beyond help, she sobbed. A third student, however, lying next to her, was still alive. He’d been shot in the head. “So he’s breathing, yes or no?” the operator asked. “Yes,” the girl replied. Law enforcement had a good sense of where Cruz struck: Many of the callers reported he was shooting up Building 12, where freshman classes were held. “We are getting a lot of calls from that 1200 building,” one Coral Springs 911 operator told a parent who called in to report the shooting.


Andrew Gillum buoyed by gun control, immigration debate” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — After a profile-raising month in which he tangled with both the NRA and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Gillum‘s campaign for governor appears to be on the upswing. He seized the limelight after the school shooting in Parkland, leading a student march on the Capitol and making multiple appearances on national television to push for a ban on assault weapons. He capitalized on the immigration debate after Corcoran unveiled stark TV ads against sanctuary city policies, holding his own against the likely GOP gubernatorial candidate in a highly publicized debate last month. And after a fundraising downturn in January, his campaign and political committee rebounded last month with nearly $250,000 in donations, though a big chunk of the money, some $100,000, came in a single check from a group supporting progressive black candidates. Some of the headwinds against Gillum — namely the FBI corruption probe that has engulfed City Hall — seemed to die down last month after federal court documents surfaced showing the FBI is investigating his colleague, City Commissioner Scott Maddox, in an alleged bribery scheme.

— “Just when you think Andrew Gillum is having a good day…” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

— “A couple of cracks in the Gwen Graham facade” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Assignment editors – Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is hosting a roundtable that focuses on the state’s opioid crisis and will feature representatives of law enforcement and local elected officials. Roundtable begins 2:30 p.m. at The Palm Beach County Robert Weisman Governmental Center, 301 North Olive Avenue, 12th Floor in West Palm Beach.

David Richardson video ad in CD 27 discusses abortion, prison reform, being gay” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Richardson has released his first digital video ad discussing abortion, prison reform, and his status as Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker … “I decided to talk about these issues publicly. I’m not afraid to talk about this stuff out loud. And I’m not going to be afraid to talk about it when I get to Washington D.C.,” Richardson declares in what could be seen as the video’s theme, though the statement immediately follows the discussion of his prison reform initiatives. “Places” is the third video produced by Richardson’s campaign but the first involving a digital media advertising buy. Richardson begins by describing himself as a progressive Democrat and then relating how he grew up in a modest home with parents who lived “paycheck to paycheck,” and says he understands the struggles people go through to make ends meet. From there, he follows a theme “Places Have Meanings,” speaking while footage shows him standing in various locations around Miami-Dade County.

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Save the date — Republican Nick DiCeglie will be raising money for his HD 66 bid Friday, March 23, beginning 6 p.m. at The Mayor’s Mansion, 609 11th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg.

Second Democrat files for House District 98” via Florida Politics – Democrat Andrew Dolberg announced Wednesday that he would run for the House District 98 seat currently held by Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole. Edwards announced last week that she would not run for re-election. … In his announcement, Dolberg touted his active role in the Broward Democratic Party and his background as a small business owner. … “I’m running for the Florida House of Representatives in order to advocate for progressive, long-term solutions to the problems we face here in Broward County,” Dolberg said. “I have spent nearly my entire life in this district and I understand the unique needs of our communities.” … Dolberg is up against Davie resident Michael Gottlieb in the primary race for the safe Democratic seat.


In Tampa visit, Rick Scott highlights $10 billion in tax cuts … and that gun legislation” via William Kennedy of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott kicked off a three-city tour in Tampa by touting his $10 billion in tax cuts while governor and addressing the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against the state. Scott said that during this Legislative Session … the state passed more than $550 million in tax reductions, creating $10 billion during his seven-year tenure. During his appearance … he highlighted the hurricane preparation sales tax holiday, as well as reductions in the tax on agricultural supplies and commercial leases. Scott also spoke on student walkouts across the state in response to the Parkland shooting last month, saying he doesn’t blame the children for wanting to be safe in school. Scott said school safety was a big reason why he signed the measure to raise the legal age to purchase a gun to 21, sparking the NRA action. “I’m going to fight for this legislation. I think it’s going to do what I believe in,” Scott said. “It’s going to increase school safety. I want every parent to know when they send a child to school, I want them to feel comfortable that [their] child is going to a safe place.”

Gov. Rick Scott visits Stevens Construction, a health care and commercial construction management firm founded and headquartered in Fort Myers, to highlight what the Governor’s Office says is more than $10 billion in taxes cut for Florida families and job creators during Scott’s time in office.

School superintendents ask Scott for a special session to boost education funding” via Jeff Solochek and Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — “We are grateful the state stepped up … to pass a school safety bill,” said Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district suffered Florida’s most deadly school shooting in February. “However, that I believe is being done at the expense of our core business.” Legislative leaders scoffed at the idea. Senate President Joe Negron said no special session is needed. “The budget approved by the Legislature … makes an unprecedented investment in K-12 education, including a more than $100 increase in per-student funding,” Negron said. “The funding formula approved by the Legislature directs schools districts to utilize some of the increase in funding to prioritize school safety and mental health. In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just one month ago, providing key resources school districts need to keep our children safe is a priority of the Senate.”

Budget is on governor’s desk — Gov. Scott’s office said it had “received the 2018-19 state budget (HB 5001) from the Florida Legislature, as well as all related implementing bills.” He now has 15 days, or until March 29, to approve it, veto it, or strike out individual spending projects by using his line-item veto power. The $88.7 billion budget was approved by lawmakers Sunday, meeting in an extension of the 2018 Legislative Session.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott continues his statewide tour to promote $10 billion in tax cuts during his time in office. At 10 a.m., he will visit Paradise Exteriors, 1918 Corporate Dr. in Boynton Beach. At 3:30 p.m., the Governor will appear at Industrial Lighting Products, 519 Codisco Way in Sanford.

2018 Legislature was the least productive in two decades” via Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — The Senate passed just 85 of its bills, 10 fewer than it did in 2017 and hundreds less than it regularly passed in the early 2000s. The House passed 286, an above-average number for Sessions during Gov. Scott’s tenure that reflects the relatively more activist nature of Speaker Corcoran. But getting bills through both houses proved difficult. Forty-six percent of bills that passed one house (excluding one-house resolutions) failed to get out of the other. That’s the highest failure rate since 1998, the earliest year for which records were available. The low numbers come after a steady decline in that time span. The trend is going clearly toward fewer bills sent to the governor’s desk. Whether a session is in an election year or not makes little difference in the total number.

New World School of the arts dodged a big budget cut last year. This year it didn’t” via Emily Mahoney of the Miami Herald – Although Billy Corben graduated from Miami’s New World School of the Arts more than 20 years ago, he’s remained connected to that community through its network of star-studded alumni, his classmates. But in recent days, those roots of the documentary filmmaker who produced and directed “Cocaine Cowboys” have meant he’s been getting pinged on social media by current students of the public arts school — kids he’s never met. “I’m getting messages from high school kids who are desperate, petrified, despondent about the fate of their school,” Corben said. That’s because in this year’s budget passed by the state Legislature last week, all of the school’s supplemental state funding — $500,000 — was cut. Those dollars are above what typical public schools receive and are used by New World to provide its unique arts programming and hire specialized faculty to teach in the school’s four core disciplines of dance, music, theater and visual arts. “This is a state jewel that shines brightly across the country. This is the home school for the stars that put ‘Moonlight’ on the map,” said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “What message are we sending to the stars in the making?”

’It was time for a sabbatical’: Scandals drive Brian Pitts away” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — After years of being a persistent — sometimes annoying — presence in committee rooms across the Capitol, only one thing was able to make Tallahassee’s best-known gadfly hang up his corduroy jacket: a snowball of scandals. “[Jack] Latvala, [Jeff] Clemens, [Frank] Artiles — all this happened in one year. In one year! No, that is not acceptable, and it was too much. It was time for a sabbatical,” said Pitts, a self-described “civil activist” for Justice 2 Jesus. “Latvala was an old fool trying to play with the young bucks as they do,” Pitts said. “Instead of using that institutional knowledge, he goes and acts like the young bucks, and he got caught.” But Pitts said cases of misconduct began to take a toll on him early last year, before the sex scandals. The last drop, though, was Sen. Oscar Braynon, he said. “The Braynon and [Anitere] Flores affair, that was it … I gave the Legislature the opportunity to do without Mr. Gadfly or Mr. Preacher.”

Bill Galvano names Lisa Vickers chief of staff” via Florida Politics — “She brings a wealth of management experience gained from serving 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 … 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. 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.


Marco Rubio wants U.S. to keep daylight saving time year-round” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Rubio filed two bills … The Sunshine Protection Act, which would apply to the country, and the Sunshine State Act, which would give Florida approval to establish permanent DST within its boundaries. Rubio said in a release: “Reflecting the will of the Sunshine State, I proudly introduce these bills that would approve Florida’s will and, if made nationally, would also ensure Florida is not out of sync with the rest of the nation.” Rubio said a national adoption would benefit the economy, reduce robberies and car crashes and make children more active, reducing obesity, among other benefits. But not everyone is on board. FLPTA Legislative: “It’s not the will of the PTA as it will negatively impact the safety of our children in the morning. We don’t need more children standing in the dark waiting for a bus.”

David Jolly seeks protection against stalking by man jailed over tweet” via Dennis Joyce of the Tampa Bay Times — Jolly filed a petition March 2 in Pinellas circuit court for protection against stalking by Gerald Patrick McGuire, 55, of Clearwater, who goes by Jerry McGuire on Twitter under the handle @costaricancreat. Clearwater police arrested McGuire Feb. 23 on a felony charge of making written threats to do kill or do bodily harm for a tweet posted Feb. 18 that invokes “2nd amendment rights” and says “shoot David jolly shoot him.” Beginning Oct. 1, the petition says, “a series of harassing statements directed at Jolly” were posted, numbering about 50 and appearing on both Twitter and Facebook. Among the threats cited in the petition are “hope they hang you,” “kick in the mouth,” and “traitor treason tyranny lobbyist trailer trash.” They culminated, according to the petition, in the “most horrific of his posts” on the afternoon of Feb. 18, linking Jolly to Scientology and urging that he be shot. A judge issued an order of no contact in the case March 9 as a condition of McGuire’s release on bail. The order also says, “No social media allowed.”

David Jolly is seeking legal action against a stalker.

Key question in Pulse trial for Orlando gunman’s wife: How much did she know?” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Prosecutors portrayed [Noor] Salman as a calculating partner who joined [Omar] Mateen on trips to scout possible targets and who fabricated a cover story for him on the night of the shooting. They have charged her with aiding and abetting Mateen and with lying to the FBI; if convicted, she could face life in prison. Her defense depicted Salman in an entirely different light: as a devoted parent of a toddler and as a woman with limited intelligence who had been cheated on and abused for years by her controlling husband. Salman has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the attack. Crucial to the outcome of the trial will be what jurors make of statements that Salman gave to the FBI on the day of the attack. While the shooting was still underway, law enforcement officers went to the family’s apartment in Fort Pierce … and found her asleep there. She was taken to a local FBI headquarters and remained with agents, speaking without an attorney, until midnight. During that time, Salman gave statements that agents said were inconsistent. She also signed written statements appearing to acknowledge that she was aware of what Mateen had planned, and saying that she was sorry.

Citizens, hit with $12.7 million verdict, acted in ‘monumental bad faith,’ homeowner says” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times – In 2007, residents of the Cloverplace Condos began to notice unmistakable signs of sinkhole activity. Even as claims were filed on more than 100 units and property values plunged, the community’s insurer, Citizens Property Insurance, never paid a cent. Citizen’s conduct shows “monumental bad faith and (is) a textbook example of how not to deal with a insured customer,” complained homeowner Dennis McKenna. Last week, a Pinellas County jury agreed, announcing one of the largest verdicts ever against state-run Citizens — $12.7 million. That’s the estimated amount it would take to stabilize 83 of the homes. But the story doesn’t end there. Citizens plans to appeal. “Simply making a cash payment that does not require repairs to be made is not in the best interest of Citizens or the community,” the company said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that once again Citizens fights and fights homeowners to where a jury finally has to say, ‘You’re wrong and the homeowner is right,’” said Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Fasano, who as a state Senator tried to help the Cloverplace owners. “I guess the big question is how much does it cost Citizens and its premium payers for these attorneys that keep losing?”

Space Florida President Frank DiBello forecasting thousands of rocket launches in future years” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The market for private space launches is heading toward 800 to 1,000 launches a year of satellites and other space hardware; the Florida Spaceport at Cape Canaveral needs to be positioned to host as much of that business as possible, DiBello told his board: “We’re not going to be able to capture all of that [business] at Florida Spaceport but we sure are going to try.” For now, Cape Canaveral business is limited to launches by SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance and rare launches by other companies such as Orbital ATK at Kennedy and Cape Canaveral AFS. But Space Florida also controls a couple of mostly-dormant launchpads, and now authorized improvements to one of those to accommodate small- to medium-sized private rockets, as well as the beginnings of an aviation fuel farm at the former Space Shuttle Landing Strip at Kennedy, now operated by Space Florida as a private airport.

Former Coke Florida president sues company and CEO” via Margie Manning of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Reginald Goins, a co-founder and former president of Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, says he is owed at least $42.8 million after he was fired from his job March 6. Goins is asking for the money — which he says would represent his equity stake in the company — in a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County Circuit Court against Coke Florida and the company’s chairman and CEO, Troy Taylor. Goins’ lawsuit provides an inside look at the growth and financial position of the company, one of the largest privately held companies headquartered in Tampa Bay, with more than $1.2 billion in revenue in 2017, and details the unraveling of a business partnership between Goins and Taylor. Coke Florida has not yet filed a court response.


Booze bills make their way through the Legislature every year — but some in the business say there’s no need for change.

We got the scoop at a trade show hosted by beer distributor Tri-Eagle Sales, where 30 different breweries showcased their suds on Wednesday. Tri-Eagle distributes for more than 2,000 brands in North and North-Central Florida.

Regarding legislation, Tri-Eagle President Ken Daley said, “I don’t really look out there and say ‘there’s something that can help.’” He said that beer distribution is a vibrant business because “the playing field is level” between retailers, distributors and suppliers — and he’d like to keep it that way.

Advocacy arm: While beer distributors aren’t looking to change laws, they often find themselves needing representation in the Legislature to advocate against potentially harmful proposals. For that, Daley’s turned to Mitchell Rubin, who heads the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association.

Opposition: FBWA and Daley opposed legislation this year that would’ve permitted beer advertisements in theme parks. They said it would’ve led to some brands influencing which beer theme parks choose to stock, which would eventually limit which brands distributors carry.

Laissez-beer: Daley and Rubin want to keep the beer market as fair and competitive as possible — unlike what’s happened to the soda industry. Beer aisles, they said, stock dozens of brands, whereas Pepsi and Coke dominate soda aisles.


Texting, guns, harassment law: A look at what the Florida Legislature didn’t do” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Some of the bills that died should have passed. Others deserved slow, painful deaths: Harassment reform … legislators never approved it … something to remember the next time one of these scandals happens; texting while driving; textbook suggestion … this fringy bill would’ve empowered activists or parents who thought they were better suited than educators to select school textbooks; UCF license plate; no serious gun measures; guns around legislators; recording confessions … they are eager to convict and kill … not as keen on getting the evidence to ensure they’re convicting or killing the right people; “Healthy Marriage” reading requirements … stalled after people starting asking if Florida legislators — four of whom were caught having affairs and for whom the term “session wives” was coined for the mistresses some keep in Tallahassee — were really the right ones to tell other people how to remain faithful.

Major Harding: Keep our Florida Constitution clean” via Florida Politics — A state’s constitution should govern with broad, general concepts, avoiding specifics and micromanagement as to not ruin its special status as a fundamental document.  A constitution is like the foundation of a house and statutes are like the exterior and finishes built upon that foundation. However, the foundation, the Florida Constitution, should only be altered when fundamental change is required. Our state’s constitution is meant to withstand the test of time.  Yet, the Florida Constitution is becoming riddled with countless, ordinary laws and specifics of government policy and regulation, such as the confinement of pregnant pigs, that lessen its status.  The Florida Constitution is already nearly three times longer than the U.S. Constitution …  We simply believe such issues are best addressed through ordinary legislation and not enshrined in our state constitution. We should not allow our Florida Constitution to become even more cluttered.  We must keep our Florida Constitution clean.

Former Supreme Court Justice Major Harding wants to keep the Florida Constitution ‘clean.’

Annie Jae Filkowski: Fake women’s health centers deceive women” via Florida Politics — In March 2014, I was 16 years old and scared because there was a chance I was experiencing an unexpected pregnancy. Every day on my way to school I would pass a Community Pregnancy Center, sometimes called a CPC. I did not know much about this facility, except it advertised on the side of its building: “FREE PREGNANCY TESTING.” I thought maybe this was a legitimate health facility that could help me. I learned quickly this was not a legitimate health care provider — even though the Florida Legislature wants you to think it is. These fake women’s health centers advertise free pregnancy testing and pregnancy-options education, but they oppose abortion and contraception and therefore will not provide comprehensive counseling or referrals. The Florida Legislature passed House Bill 41, legislation that would permanently send millions in tax dollars to these fake women’s health centers that oppose abortion and judge, shame and intentionally try to trick women. If Gov. Scott cares about being a good steward of our tax dollars and supports deception-free, comprehensive, medically accurate women’s health care, he will veto HB 41.


Personnel note: Amy Weintraub joins Progress Florida Weintraub is now the organization’s Reproductive Rights Program Director and Deputy Communications Director, said Damien Filer, the Communications Director. “She will be a great source for the media on issues surrounding reproductive rights and will be available as a spokesperson on abortion rights and a broad range of health care-related issues,” he said. Weintraub most recently served as the League of Women Voters of Florida state chair for the Reproductive Health & Justice Action Team. She also was a lead organizer for the 2017 St. Petersburg Women’s March, St. Pete’s largest public demonstration in its history.

Amy Weintraub (center) is the newest member of the Progress Florida team.

While you were busy with Session — Court records show a Leon County judge set jury selection for April 13 in the case of Lisa Edgar, the former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, who was charged after an alleged drunk-driving hit and run. Edgar, 54, is charged with driving under the influence causing damage to person or property, a first-degree misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a crash with damage, a second-degree misdemeanor. She waived an arraignment and pleaded “not guilty” last April. Last February, Edgar resigned as director of the Florida Park Service after less than two months on the job, citing “an immediate family emergency.” Edgar was a three-term member of the state’s Public Service Commission, the panel that regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities, and has been a deputy secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection.

Appointed — Dr. Ryan Estevez and Marco Lopez (reappointed) to the Florida State Boxing Commission.

— ALOE —

Florida retailers expect St. Patrick’s Day to bring good luck — The Florida Retail Federation expects St. Patrick’s Day spending to set a record of $5.9 billion nationally, the highest level in the 14-year history of the survey and far surpasses last year’s record of $5.3 billion. The average person is expected to spend $39.65 up from last year’s previous record. The survey, conducted by FRF’s national partners at the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, found consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76 … 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant … 50 percent will purchase food, 41 percent beverages, 31 percent apparel or accessories, 26 percent decorations and 16 percent candy. Of those making purchases, 38 percent will go to grocery stores, 31 percent to discount stores, 20 percent to department stores and 19 percent to bars or restaurants.

Happy birthday to former Senate President Mike Haridopolos and state Sen. Audrey Gibson as well as one of the true saints of this earth, Kristin McDonald, who must endure Mike Grissom so that the rest of us don’t have to.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.14.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

A proposed constitutional amendment to ban betting on dog racing would lose at the ballot, according to a latest opinion poll.

The proposal (P67), now before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is polling at only 45 percent approval; it needs 60 percent at the November ballot box to be added to the state’s constitution.

“With the proposal to phase out greyhound racing, as with any ballot proposal, the language will be critical,” said Steve Vancore, president of Clearview Research, which conducted the poll.

The firm asked election attorney Glenn Burhans of Stearns Weaver Miller to “review the staff analyses and provide guidance on developing ‘neutral’ ballot language,” according to a press release.

“We know from other work that animal welfare is usually a very popular concept with Florida voters, and a measure that signals it is a proposal to protect dogs would likely have broader support,” Vancore said.

“However, the current iteration, while technically correct, almost perfectly splits respondents 45 percent to 44 percent,” he added. “As such, if the wording does not change, it will likely fail at the ballot.

“Given this confusion, versus the stated intent during committee discussions, we are relatively confident that changing this approach would have a profound impact on the results.”

We passed along the poll results to the proposal’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Tom Lee of Thonotosassa, for comment.

Also included in this poll were two other CRC proposals, including one that would require a two-thirds ‘supermajority’ vote of each chamber of the Legislature to raises taxes or fees (P72).

“Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents supported this measure,” Vancore said. “This is a clear and easy-to-understand measure that seems to have enough support to pass, and without an organized campaign to defeat it, likely will.

And another would create a nursing home residents’ ‘bill of rights’ (P88).

“While there has been much talk about what should or should not be in the Florida Constitution, we see consistent support for the notion that ‘rights’ of citizens should be included,” Vancore said.

“This proposition is no exception with an astonishing 86 percent supporting this notion. If placed on the ballot and worded even closely to the language drafted by Mr. Burhans, we are confident this will pass by a comfortable margin.”


— @APDiploWriter: While in Africa, Tillerson was told only that there might be a presidential tweet concerning him coming soon. He didn’t know what it might be, when it might come, or even if it would come, He learned of his termination Tuesday morning from the tweet.

— @RepDeSantis: Mike Pompeo will do a great job as Secretary of State. He’s smart, tough, and works his tail off. Congrats to Mike and hats off to @POTUS for making an excellent choice!

— @TroyKinsey: The return of “deplorables”: as #flsen revs up, new @NRSC press memo on @SenBillNelson highlights importance of the Trump base to GOP prospects: “As one of Hillary’s biggest supporters, does Bill Nelson support the dismissive and insulting comments Clinton made about Floridians?”

— @LearyReports: Rubio acknowledges many Parkland families want more but calls bill a good first step. “We just want to get it done.”

— @CarlosGSmith: I’m not afraid to have a public dialogue on gun control. Trying to shout me down or ‘gunsplain’ things to me during a debate will not work. Where is the civil discussion? This is why we can’t have nice things!

— @NoahPransky: This morning in St. Pete, when asked about Florida’s weak texting & driving laws, @FLGovScott seemed unaware @joenegronfl killed the reform. “Our session just ended…so I’m reviewing that bill.”

— @RichardCorcoran: Here in Florida, I am committed to ensuring every student has a world class education. Proud to have passed an education bill that expands school choice and offers hope for students who have been victims of abuse.

— @AmySherman1: It is historic that Fort Lauderdale elected its first openly gay mayor. But this election was largely about water, sewer and development.

— @GBennettPost: There’s no #ElectionNight party quite like a Palm Beach Town Council election night party.


St. Patrick’s Day – 3; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 10; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 15; Easter – 18; NFL Draft begins – 43; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 50; Mother’s Day – 60; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 72; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 100; Primary Election Day — 167; College Football opening weekend – 171; General Election Day — 237; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 337; 2019 Legislative Session – 356.

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


Scoop –Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano raising money for Andrew Gillum” via Florida Politics – Gillum heads to California this week to mingle with celebrities and Democratic activists at a high-profile fundraiser at the Santa Monica home of entertainment industry lawyer Skip Brittenham and his wife, actress and author Heather Thomas. Tallahassee’s mayor is one of three Democratic candidates for governor in 2018 to be featured at the Thursday reception; Stacey Abrams of Georgia and David Garcia of Arizona are joining the event, which will also benefit Gillum’s associated PAC, Forward Florida. Among those on the blockbuster host committee include actors Alec Baldwin, Alyssa Milano and Rashida Jones, Democratic consultant Van Jones, as well as producers Norman Lear (founder of People for the American Way), Susan Harris and Paul Junger Witt, who have been longtime Democratic supporters.

Gwen Graham workday with migrants in Immokalee – Graham’s latest Workday was at the Redlands Christian Migrant Association in Immokalee. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate spent a shift helping the early childhood education center to learn more about their pre-K and Head Start programs, and the needs of the migrant families. “Before the Redland Christian Migrant Association opened its doors, many farmworkers had no option but to take their young children into the fields with them,” Graham said. “Today, the RCMA serves nearly 7,000 children of migrant farmworkers and rural, low-income families in more than 68 centers throughout Florida. These early education and Head Start services for migrant families, who travel between states as the agriculture seasons change, are vital to Florida.”

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.

Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – 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.”

First in Sunburn – Levine names Keith Fitzgerald as policy adviserLevine announced former state Rep. Fitzgerald will serve as the campaign’s policy adviser. “Keith understands what’s at stake in this election and why giving Floridians a bold vision is key to winning the Governor’s race this year,” Levine said in a statement. “Levine will be a Governor who I believe can truly bring the change we need to a state that desperately needs it,” Fitzgerald added. The former two-term Sarasota County state lawmaker currently serves as a professor of political science at New College in Sarasota.

Bob Buesing, Jason Pizzo rake in cash for Senate rematches” via the News Service of Florida – Buesing raised $63,616 last month for his bid to unseat Sen. Dana Young in Senate District 18 … Buesing, who lost to Young in 2016, entered this year’s race in mid-January and had raised an overall total of $81,464 as of Feb. 28. Young raised $271,194 for her campaign account as of the end of February. Meanwhile, in Miami-Dade County, Pizzo, an attorney, raised $50,169 in February for his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38. Pizzo, who lost a 2016 primary to Campbell, also loaned $25,000 to his campaign in January … Campbell had raised $77,784 as of Feb. 28. In North Florida, Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking raised $24,446 in February, bringing the overall total to $179,107 in her bid to unseat Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8. Perry had raised $261,107 for his campaign account as of Feb. 28.

Jeff Brandes backs Ardian Zika for state House” via Florida Politics –  “[House District 37 frontrunner] Zika is a conservative Republican who knows what it takes to build a business, make payroll and grow our economy,” Brandes said. “Ardian’s story – how he left a civil war-torn country to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States – is an inspiration to me … I’m optimistic that the voters of House District 37 will also be inspired by Ardian’s story and will enthusiastically support him. Ardian’s life is proof that if you work hard and play by the rules you will have opportunity and be able to realize the American Dream. Ardian Zika has my strong support and endorsement this election and I hope he can count on you.”


Dean Trantalis elected mayor of Fort Lauderdale” via Peter Burke of – Voters in Fort Lauderdale elected the city’s first openly gay mayor Tuesday. Trantalis defeated Bruce Roberts in a runoff election to replace longtime Mayor Jack Seiler. With all but one precinct reporting, Trantalis received more than 5,600 votes than Roberts.

Bryan Nelson knocks Joe Kilsheimer from Apopka mayor’s office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Nelson, a one-term county commissioner who previously served in the Florida House, defeated Kilsheimer 61 to 38 percent, with a voter turnout of about 20.5 percent, with just over 6,400 votes cast in Orange County’s second-largest city. In unofficial results by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Nelson drew 2,786 votes, and Kilsheimer 1,733. Nelson is an insurance agent with deep family roots in Apopka, who had eschewed the chance to run for a second term, to run instead for the Apopka mayor’s office, a gambit that paid off. He will be sworn in April 24.

Clearwater voters re-elect Hoyt Hamilton, usher in newcomer David Allbritton for two City Council seats” via Tracy McManus of the Tampa Bay Times – Incumbent Hamilton kept hold of Seat 5 with 78 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. He bested challenger John Funk, a real estate broker, in a heated race marked by high tension and attack mailers. Retired building contractor David Allbritton defeated advertising salesman Tom Keller with 67 percent of votes in the tamer race for Seat 4, being vacated by the term-limited Bill Jonson.

Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary breezes to re-election” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in easily defeating Jim Fitch. Leary, first elected mayor in 2015 during a much more contentious growth period for Winter Park, sought re-election pointing to more controlled but still steady growth, while Fitch tried to contend that the city’s growth still was a problem. In unofficial results posted by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, Leary drew 3,301 votes, to Fitch’s 1,278. That is 72 percent to 28 percent. Voter turnout was just over 21 percent in Winter Park.

— “Mike Butler wins big in Hallandale Beach special election” via Susannah Bryan of the Sun Sentinel

— “Angelo Castillo reelected in Pines, Ismael Monroe out” via Brian Ballou of the Sun Sentinel — PARKLAND —

With help of Parkland survivor, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson push school safety bill” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – The bill, led by Sen. Orrin Hatch, is the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act and the House companion is up for a vote this week. It’s sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford … The legislation provides Justice Department grants for schools to train people to identify warning signs of troubled students, improve school security infrastructure, including anonymous reporting system and created threat assessment and crisis intervention teams as well as facilitates coordination between schools and local law enforcement … The bill would authorize $75 million for FY 2018, and $100 million annually for the next 10 years. Joining a bipartisan group of senators was Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv, who has differed with some other students who have demanded more strict gun controls. “I truly believe if this act had been in place a month ago, Parkland wouldn’t have happened,” Kashuv said.

D.C. officials call on Rubio to withdraw bill that steps on local gun restrictions” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other officials, including Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Ted Deutch, will call on Rubio to withdraw a bill that would effectively gut local gun regulations, some of the toughest in the country. Rubio introduced the measure before running for president in 2016, pleasing the NRA, (and has since reintroduced it, with no co-sponsors) but the legislation has become a sore point after the Parkland shooting. Critics note that Rubio said at the recent CNN town hall that he would support raising the purchase age of riles, but that his bill allows DC residents under age 21 to buy assault rifles. “It is heartening that Rubio has recently expressed support for raising the minimum age for purchasing a gun and for comprehensive background checks, but for the residents of the nation’s capital, it is also confounding, because it is the height of hypocrisy to unveil and promote these new stances while simultaneously working to gut D.C.’s local gun laws,” Bower wrote in an op/ed last week for the Miami Herald.

Prosecutors to seek death penalty for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz” via Paula McMahon and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – The decision by prosecutors undermines a defense strategy that would have resolved the case without a trial — Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and the defense team has offered to have Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in exchange for a sentence of life in prison. But the State Attorney’s Office wouldn’t take capital punishment off the table, listing seven “aggravating factors” that a jury can use to justify ordering Cruz’s execution for the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those factors include the “heinous, atrocious and cruel” nature of the crime; the “cold, calculated and premeditated” manner in which it was carried out; and the fact that 17 victims were murdered and another 17 people were shot but survived.

Condition of wounded Stoneman Douglas shooting victim improves” via The Associated Press – Broward Health spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said Anthony Borges‘ condition has now been upgraded to fair. He had been in critical condition. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student is credited with saving the lives of 20 students by attempting to close and lock a classroom door during the Feb. 14 attack … The family’s attorney says that after surgeries, his intestinal area has been sealed off. Alex Arreaza says the student is breathing on his own after being taken off a ventilator. Borges’ family has filed notice that they will sue Florida authorities to seek money to cover the cost of his recovery.

— “Parkland parents, students take advocacy on road. Constitutional panel hears their pleas” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

Thousands of would-be gun buyers failed a Florida background check last year. Here’s why.” via Thomas Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times – Lots of people, including fugitives and convicted felons, apparently do not know the rules for purchasing a gun going in … the FDLE last year received 990,314 inquiries for firearms transfers from licensed dealers, and 96 percent were approved at the time of the transaction. As for the other 4 percent, here are the reasons they were rejected: 4,170 for felony convictions; 717 for being under indictment; 556 for being a fugitive from justice; 920 for being user or addicted to any controlled substance; 871 for having been adjudicated as mentally defective or having been committed to any mental institution; 449 for being an illegal alien; 11 for having been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces; 3 for renouncing his or her U.S. citizenship; 1,185 for being subject to a restraining order; 1,174 for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; 2,587 for a wide range of state offenses, from child or elderly abuse to human trafficking and stalking.

University CFO resigns rather than leave board of gun maker” via the Miami Herald – Anita Britt offered her resignation Tuesday from St. Thomas University. Britt joined the Miami-area Catholic school on Jan. 5. She joined the board for American Outdoor Brands, parent company of Smith & Wesson, on Feb. 6, eight days before a shooting left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. The university’s president, the Rev. Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, said last week that Britt’s role with American Outdoor Brands wouldn’t conflict with her CFO position. But he asked her to make a choice Tuesday after students and faculty expressed concerns.


Seven thousand pairs of shoes, representing the children killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook, are spread out on the U.S. Capitol lawn by the global advocacy group Avaaz. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Local students to participate in national walkout” via Heather Osbourne of the –Students across Northwest Florida are preparing to participate in #ENOUGH National School Walkout Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. In Okaloosa County, School District Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson sent high school and middle school students home with permission slips March 7, so they too could participate in the walkout. The #ENOUGH National School Walkout is organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower and, according to the website, is led by youth in every participating school. Jackson, though, called the event “Students Stand for Safety.” She said in the permission slip that the district’s walkout is not a protest but “rather it is an opportunity to reflect and for all to show unity supporting school safety. … The position of leaders across our county is that student safety should always be a top priority.”

St. Johns County students will join thousands across nation in school walkout” via Colleen Jones of the St. Augustine Record – Inspired by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre who have made public pleas to improve school safety, teenagers here in St. Johns County — mostly at the high school level — will join hundreds of thousands of other American students to voluntarily walk out of class at 10 a.m. that day. Many teachers, administrators and others are expected to join them in support. The goal of the national walkout is to appeal to lawmakers to “pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” according to Women’s March Youth EMPOWERS which is helping promote the event. But it will also be a time for reflection, and 17 minutes of dedicated silence at the beginning. While each of the students interviewed agreed that they wanted to honor the lives lost Feb. 14, not all of them said they wanted to make the protest political.

Students in local schools are planning to leave class for 17 minutes Wednesday. Here’s why” via Sara Nealeigh of the Bradenton Herald – In Manatee County, walkouts are planned at both State College of Florida and New College of Florida, according to EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, website. The page also shows a walkout planned at Manatee High School, along with a moment of silence in honor of the victims. Walkouts aim to “protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods” … Manatee County schools are allowing students to participate in the walkouts … School officials expect it to primarily affect high schools. “Students can go to the courtyard or another designated area inside the campus.”

— “Tampa Bay students prepare for March 14 walkout, say it won’t be the last” via Isabel Mascareñas of WTSP

— “South Florida students to call for gun control during national school walkout Wednesday” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Lee schools unclear on plans for nationwide student walkout Wednesday” via Seth Soffian of – In a one-page document … Lee schools “asks” that students and employees maintain “a normal operating day,” while outlining the consequences that students and teachers “may” be subject to for participating in the walkout. It reads, “The District respects individual viewpoints and is committed to recognizing the First Amendment rights of students and staff, however, we are concerned that walkouts may be a deviation to our schools’ standard supervision and safety procedures and may create a substantial disruption to the educational environment and could potentially create an unsafe situation for participants.” The memorandum to principals also cautions that “teachers do not have the legal right to engage in walkout or other work stoppages to support their students unless the district/school administration or other legal agreement has authorized the walkout.”

How young is too young for protest? A national gun-violence walkout tests schools” via Stephanie Saul and Anemona Hartocollis of the New York Times — With some parents wanting their children to get firsthand exposure to a nationwide political demonstration; others worried that the protests are stoking the fears of young children about a threat that remains uncommon; and still others objecting to the gun-control message entirely, one question has been weighing heavily on school administrators this past week: How young is too young for children to join the walkout? Many districts and schools that are tolerating, if not encouraging, participation in what organizers call the National School Walkout are also calibrating their approach for their youngest students. In New York City, middle and high school students may walk out of class with approval from a parent, such as with a permission slip, but elementary school students cannot leave unless a parent or guardian comes to check them out.


Millions of dollars in local projects still must survive Rick Scott’s veto pen” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – They include roads, water and sewer repairs, festivals, fire stations, street lights, a manatee hospital, a cattle call, and even a quilting museum — all courtesy of Florida taxpayers. Many are championed by a single legislator or a powerful lobbyist. The $88.7 billion budget … pays for dozens of projects in the Tampa Bay region. They include a $1.5 million study of extending the Suncoast Parkway toll road from Crystal River to Georgia for use as a hurricane evacuation route; $1 million for the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority for a long-range regional transit plan; $1.5 million to move sediment from Lake Seminole in Pinellas; and $885,000 for a special needs emergency center in Hillsborough. Some other beneficiaries of the Legislature’s election-year largesse include Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, the Florida State Fair in Tampa and the Brooksville Fire Department. If Scott is faithful to his past record, many projects are doomed, because the two-term Republican governor will again use line-item veto power to reject them as wasteful and unnecessary.

Why are Florida lawmakers trying to get rid of this one ethics rule?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – in the frantic final hours of the legislative session, Florida’s Ethics Commission issued an extraordinary press release expressing “deep concern” and warning senators not to pass a bill that would have gutted part of the state’s ethics rules. The bill didn’t pass, but commissioners are worried after lawmakers have tried three times in the last two years to get rid of an obscure ethics rule dealing with lawyers serving on city and county commissions. Currently, ethics rules say a lawyer with the Gunster law firm representing a trash company, for example, can’t go before a local board in which another Gunster lawyer is a member. The reasons are obvious and irreconcilable, ethicists say. Even if the board member discloses the conflict of interests, the board member could still easily influence the outcome of a bid in other ways, by giving his law partner advice on how to influence the board, or by influencing county staff about the bid. Even the board member’s presence could influence his or her fellow board members. “No matter which way you turn it, it’s just an inherent conflict,” Ethics Commission Executive Director Virlindia Doss said. Nevertheless, lawyers in the Legislature are making a bipartisan effort to do away with the rule.

Workers’ comp, health care bills go to Scott” via the News Service of Florida – Three health care-related bills, including one to expand workers’ compensation insurance benefits for injured first responders, were sent to Gov. Scott, who will have until March 27 to sign, veto or allow the bills to become law without his signature. One (SB 376) would expand benefits for police officers, firefighters, emergency-medical technicians and paramedics who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder … State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a Scott appointee and supporter of the bill, said last week that Scott would sign it into law. Scott also received SB 660, which would broaden a law that exempts health care sharing ministries from Florida’s insurance codes. The bill, if signed by Scott, would benefit some large health care ministries, including Melbourne-based Christian Care Ministries and its health care cost-sharing program known as Medi-Share. The Legislature also sent to Scott an Agency for Health Care Administration bill (SB 622), that would change how the state regulates hospitals, assisted living facilities and clinical laboratories.

University money could help draw top researchers” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida universities will share $151 million in funding next academic year that will allow them to recruit top-level researchers and improve professional and graduate schools. The Legislature increased funding for the World Class Faculty and Scholar Program by $20 million to $91 million and the State University Professional and Graduate Degree Excellence Program by $10 million to $60 million. At the same time, Gov. Scott signed legislation (SB 4) that will make the world-class faculty and professional-degree programs a permanent part of the funding formula for the 12 state universities. Senate President Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who made the “Excellence in Higher Education Act” one of his priorities, said codifying the new programs and other provisions in the law, including using four-year graduation rates to measure university performance, give “the universities tools they need to better serve students and increase their accountability.”

Six days after saying he was out, Larry Lee reconsiders re-election” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — In the midst of an emotional last week of Session, a tearful state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. told his colleagues in the Florida House in a 40-minute speech that he would not seek re-election. Since then the phone has not stopped ringing, he said. Text messages keep blowing up his phone. And his mother has recommended to “close his ears,” search for solitude and reconsider the decision. So that is what he is doing, six days after making the announcement. Lee told Florida Politics on Tuesday that he was not in the “best frame of mind” when he decided to pull the plug on his political career. … Lee was one of the lawmakers who wanted to vote down the controversial gun and school safety measure and have Gov. Scott call for a special session to resolve the issue. … “That morning it all culminated,” Lee said. “It took those kids from Parkland to push me. I felt like we let them down. Some of our members said we should give them something, but I wanted to give them more.”

Retailers say blocking criminal justice proposal was among ‘biggest successes’” via Florida Politics – The head of the Florida Retail Federation said one of the trade association’s “biggest successes” was helping block a criminal justice reform that would have raised the threshold for a felony theft charge. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” said R. Scott Shalley, FRF’s president and CEO. Sen. Randolph Bracy and state Rep. Byron Donalds championed the bipartisan measure. The proposal intended to raise the threshold for a felony theft charge from $300 to $1,500. Florida has three of the lowest thresholds in the country and has not raised the amount since 1986. Shalley viewed the proposal as one that would have made retail more vulnerable. “Keeping the threshold at its current limit of $300 will help to protect retailed by deterring theft, discouraging criminals from stealing larger amounts of merchandise and reducing the impact of organized retail crime,” he said.


Rick Scott goes to appeals court in financial disclosure fight” via the News Service of Florida – Attorneys for Gov. Scott want an appeals court to block a Leon County circuit judge from moving forward with a case that alleges Scott has failed to properly comply with the state’s financial-disclosure requirements. Scott’s attorneys filed a petition last week at the 1st District Court of Appeal after Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers refused to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Tallahassee lawyer Donald Hinkle. The petition by Scott’s attorneys contends, in part, that the Florida Commission on Ethics – not the circuit judge – has authority over financial-disclosure issues. “The circuit court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the underlying action because the subject matter of the complaint below is committed to the jurisdiction of a separate administrative body: the Florida Commission on Ethics,” the petition said. Gievers issued a three-page order Feb. 26 denying the request to dismiss the case.

Assignment editors – Gov. Scott is traveling the state to highlight $10 billion in tax cuts during his two terms in office. This includes nearly 100 individual tax cuts, as well as nearly $500 million during the recently ended 2018 Legislative Session. Scott’s tour begins 9 a.m. with a visit to Cox Fire Protection, 7910 Professional Place in Tampa. At 11:45 a.m., Scott will be at Imeca Doral, 8400 NW 58th St. in Doral. At 3 p.m., the Governor will finish up at Stevens Construction, 6208 Whiskey Creek Drive in Fort Myers.

Backers push for Marsy’s Law—a crime victims’’ ‘bill of rights’ ” via Florida Politics – Before the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) convened its final public hearing Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Gov. Scott joined others to support Marsy’s Law for Florida. A proposed constitutional amendment would grant equal rights to defendants and convicted criminals, and to victims and their family members. “It’s very important that Marsy‘s Law becomes the law of the land,” Scott said. Most states have taken steps to amend their constitutions to enumerate victims’ rights. Fifteen have not – including Florida.

Tweet, tweet:

Assignment editors – Protect Tobacco Free Florida joins former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, experts and health advocates for a 10 a.m. conference call to make the case against Constitution Revision Commission’s Proposal 94, which would allow funds from the 1995 landmark settlement between the Sunshine State and Big Tobacco to be diverted away from prevention and be used for cancer research. Additionally, it would remove a requirement that one-third of the Tobacco Free Florida budget to focus on directly combating the marketing efforts of Big Tobacco. Conference line number is (888) 392-4560; Access code: 4536251.

AppointedRandall Ewers to College of Central Florida District Board of Trustees; JoAnn Rooney to Florida Real Estate Appraisal Board.


Florida has chosen Motorola Solutions for a contract to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System, a deal that could reach upward of $100 million.

“Florida’s selection of Motorola Solutions to build a new statewide public safety radio system is a vote of confidence in our decades of successfully building mission-critical communications solutions throughout the state and nation,” company officials said in a statement.

– In naming Motorola, the state dropped Harris Corp., which had held the contract since September 2000.

– Reasons for the change include concerns over spotty or failed service, as well as Harris’ problems with encryption meant to lock out non-law enforcement radios.

– Problems with communication gear have led to the deaths of several officers across the country.

– The deal comes after nearly three years of bureaucratic and legislative infighting, with some lawmakers — often benefiting from political contributions — backing one side over the other.

– Dozens of consultants and lobbyists were involved in the final agreement – Southern Strategy Group was on Motorola’s side; Harris had Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners, among other firms

The system, known as SLERS, is “a single, unified digital radio network that meets the radio voice communications needs of state law enforcement officers and other participating agencies throughout the state” and covers over 60,000 square miles (including 25 miles offshore) with 98 percent mobile coverage and portable coverage in selected areas.

— ALOE —

Larry Page’s flying taxis, now exiting stealth mode” via Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times – The airborne vehicle has been part of a series of “stealth” test flights by a company personally financed by Larry Page, the co-founder of Google and now the chief executive of Google’s parent, Alphabet. The company, known as Kitty Hawk and run by Sebastian Thrun, who helped start Google’s autonomous car unit as the director of Google X, has been testing a new kind of fully electric, self-piloting flying taxi. This is an altogether different project from the one you might have seen last year in a viral video of a single-pilot recreational aircraft that was being tested over water, and it’s much more ambitious. Imagine starting a network of autonomous air taxis, as Uber is planning to, but long before Uber actually does. That’s what Mr. Page is trying to do.

Snow joke: Weatherman named Meteorologist runs for office” via The Associated Press – A former TV weatherman who legally changed his name to Meteorologist Drew Anderson says there’s a 100 percent chance he’ll run for Congress in Pennsylvania under the new moniker … Anderson is collecting signatures to get on the Republican primary ballot for a run against U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker. Anderson says he’s looking for a climate change in Washington … the weatherman changed his name from Drew Anderson last year and left his job at WPMT-TV Fox 43 two weeks ago. Anderson also has worked for NBC affiliate WGAL-TV in Lancaster and as a science teacher … locksmith Bill Neff also is seeking to run against Smucker in the primary.

Why hundreds of female meteorologists are donning purple for Pi Day” via Ashley Williams of AccuWeather – Weather broadcasters from across the country will once again reunite on Pi Day to encourage the involvement of women and young girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, for the third annual #DressForSTEM, local and national female meteorologists are doing away with “The Dress” and instead invite people of all backgrounds to join them in wearing purple clothing March 14. Photos of meteorologists matching in the famous dress originally went viral in December 2015 and later merged with Pi Day, which celebrates the mathematical constant of 3.14. “We realized that we were limiting it to just ourselves when there are so many other STEM careers,” said AccuWeather broadcast meteorologist Julia Weiden, who originally proposed the idea of female broadcasters donning the same dress.

Why the liquor industry wants to get self-driving cars on the road” via Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post – Two industry groups – one representing wine and liquor wholesalers, and another representing large producers – have thrown their weight behind coalitions lobbying to get autonomous vehicles on the road faster. Inherent in their support, analysts say, is an understanding that self-driving cars could revolutionize the way Americans drink. Brewers and distillers say autonomous vehicles could reduce drunk-driving. Without the need to drive home after a night at the bar, drinkers could also consume far more. And that will boost alcohol sales, one analysis predicts, by as much as $250 billion. “It makes a lot of sense that the industry is interested,” said Jim Watson, a senior beverage analyst at Rabobank, the multinational finance firm. “It’s a win-win for them: Self-driving cars could boost alcohol sales and simultaneously reduce drunk-driving.”

Happy birthday to Wilbur Brewton, Seth Platt, and Jeremy Susac.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.13.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is meeting Tuesday in St. Petersburg — and it “is going to be huge.”

“There’s a busload of folks coming over from Parkland,” said Lisa Hall, spokeswoman for a coalition of progressive and other groups. “One amendment that incorporates all of the legislative changes except arming school employees has already been filed.”

That was filed by CRC member Bobby Martínez, formerly South Florida’s top federal prosecutor and an appointee of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.

The Miami Herald reported he filed the proposal “moments after Gov. (RickScott signed” the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law.

The idea is to make sure the law’s gun-related “age limits and waiting period stand up to any constitutional challenge.”

Hall added her clients “are hearing there are more amendments coming that go further to include what public wants — a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity magazines.”

Indeed, by midafternoon, CRC member and former Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith announced he had filed an assault weapons ban “in an effort to give Florida voters a chance to decide for themselves whether civilians should possess weapons of war.”

The local chapter of the League of Women Voters of Florida will hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m. outside the University Student Center, USF St. Petersburg, where the CRC will meet at 1 p.m.

That’s all at 200 6th Ave. South, in St. Petersburg.

CRC member Erika Donalds proposes changes to her school board term limit proposal” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — After proposing limits to Florida’s school board member terms, Donalds got two messages loud and clear: Floridians seemed to like the idea, but they preferred not to count time served against sitting officials. So as the idea advances in the Constitution Revision Commission, Donalds has suggested changing the language that already won approval at the committee level. Instead of saying board members could serve no more than eight consecutive years, beginning with service started in 2015, she seeks to start the limits with terms begun after the Nov. 6, 2018, election. … She did not consider changing her recommendation from two terms to three, as the state Senate discussed during its brief debate over a bill that did not move out of committee.

Erika Donalds is amending her proposed amendment on school board term limits.

First in Sunburn –Voters want school board term limits, unsure of other CRC proposals” via Florida Politics – Florida voters want term limits for school board seats, but aren’t as enthusiastic about public money heading to churches or open primary races according to a new poll on proposals being considered by the Constitution Revision Commission … Prop 43, which would give school board seats the same 8-year term limits faced by Florida lawmakers, scored 68 percent support among those polled, ith 44 percent saying they would “definitely vote yes” … Support for Prop 11 came in at 58 percent. … The proposal would open up primary elections if all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will be opposed only by write-ins. … While behind the threshold for passage, Clearview said Prop 11’s starting position was “relatively solid.” … Prop 4 would remove the section of the Florida constitution barring the use of public money in aid of any church, sect, religious denomination, or religious institution. … All told, 41 percent of voters said they would vote for the measure, with 26 percent saying they were firm supporters, while 51 percent said they were against the proposal, including 18 percent who said they would definitely vote no. … Clearview said, as worded, Prop 4 stands “virtually no chance of attaining the 60 percent threshold.”

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott joins Sens. Lauren Book and Darryl Rouson as well as advocates of crime victims’ rights to announce support for Marsy’s Law for Florida, which is currently under consideration by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission as Proposal 96. If approved by the CRC, a proposed amendment to give equal rights to crime victims will be on the 2018 General Election ballot. The event begins 9 a.m. at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater Grand Ballroom Salon 2, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. N. in St. Petersburg.

— “Two State Attorneys come out in support of Marsy’s Law” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics


— @RepDeSantis: Focus on Russian misbehavior, not on fake narratives paid for by Hillary and cooked up by Christopher Steele.

— @SenBillNelson: The answer to protecting our kids and communities is not more guns in our schools or arming teachers. That’s a terrible idea. We should be focused on expanding background checks and getting these military-style assault rifles off the streets.

— @RepTedDeutch: I’m inspired by the passion of the Stoneman Douglas students and students from across the country. They are demanding change, and won’t stop until we achieve it. Because of them, I won’t lose hope that we can achieve meaningful action on #GunReformNow.

— @Fineout: The number of Floridians out of work is rising — In December state officials said it was 374k, now it’s up to 397k. Rate has risen from 3.6% in November to 3.9% in January. Governor’s news release today did not note this.

— @FredPiccoloJr: @steveschale gets his wish. Battle royal between @jasonbrodeur and @RepJimBoyd continues with Boyd at 5275 & Brodeur at 4,998. Big moves made by @CarlosGSmith and @JaredEMoskowitz cracks the top 50.

— @EJWenstromElon Musk projects a Mars spaceship will be ready for short trips by first half of 2019

— @AGlorios: Twice now I’ve tried to explain to @CenturyLink I do not have their internet bc it does not reach my apt. I had signed up for it, but then at the rec of their own technician, I canceled it instead of having the tech install it in my apt. He said he documented the change. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for @comcast’s internet. Today, I received a notice from @CenturyLink that they’ve sent me to the debt collectors. So not only am I exhausted from Session but I have to spend even MORE time explaining to them I do not have their internet service.


St. Patrick’s Day — 4; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 11; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 16; Easter — 19; NFL Draft begins — 44; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 51; Mother’s Day — 61; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 73; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 101; Primary Election Day — 168; College Football opening weekend — 172; General Election Day — 238; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 338; 2019 Legislative Session — 357.

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


Scott may be forced to resign early due to Senate bid” via The Associated Press — Thanks to a little-noticed change approved by legislators, Scott may be able to wait until after the November elections to make up his mind. The U.S. Constitution requires Congress to convene Jan. 3 unless a different day is chosen. Scott’s term as governor does not end until the following week. Scott said this weekend he would decide his political future in the next few weeks. If Scott does have to resign early, it could have ramifications on the makeup of the Florida Supreme Court. Age limits are forcing three justices to retire on the day Scott’s successor takes office. Scott has said he planned to name their replacements on the same morning.

Democrats hammer Scott’s finances, statements with new digital ads” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is releasing the digital ads “Truth” and “Blind,” and both question whether Scott is using the governor’s office to enhance his own wealth. “Rick Scott has only ever looked out for one person: himself,” David Bergstein of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee stated in a news release. “In order to advance his agenda, Scott’s shown he’ll mislead Floridians, abuse his position as governor to make himself richer, and help his political donors and cronies at Floridians’ expense. He’ll say and do anything to benefit himself, which is why Floridians just don’t trust Scott to look out for them.” The “Blind” ad cites media reports including one from the Tampa Bay Times and that suggest that Scott’s has handled his finances in a way as governor that would not be permitted if he runs for federal office, and raising questions about potential conflicts of interest.

Click on the image below to watch the ads:

— “Scott turning attention to possible Senate bid” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Capital Bureau

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham will hold her latest Workday with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association beginning 10 a.m. at 402 W. Main St. in Immokalee.

Tribe, Disney ante up for gambling amendment” via the News Service of Florida – The Seminole Tribe of Florida and Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. contributed $700,000 in February to a proposed constitutional amendment that could make it harder to expand gambling in the state. The tribe and Disney have largely bankrolled the political committee “Voters In Charge,” which spearheaded efforts to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The tribe, which operates casinos that are a major player in the state’s gambling industry, contributed $500,000 in February, while Disney contributed $200,000 — all of the cash received during the month by Voters In Charge, according to a finance report posted Monday on the state Division of Elections website.

Democrats file in Denise Grimsley, Katie Edwards-Walpole districts” via the News Service of Florida — Democratic candidates have opened campaign accounts to try to succeed Sen. Grimsley of Sebring, and Rep. Edwards-Walpole of Plantation. Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price opened an account to run in Senate District 26, which includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties … 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 … 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.

A Democrat has filed to succeed Denise Grimsley of Sebring, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. 

Kayser Enneking announces 15 local endorsements for SD 8 campaign” via Florida Politics — Enneking announced a bulk endorsement from local officials in the Gainesville-based district currently held by Republican Sen. Keith Perry. On the endorsement list were Alachua County Commissioners Hutch Hutchinson and Chuck Chestnut, Putnam County Commissioner Chip Laibl, Alachua County School Board members Gunnar PaulsonEileen RoyRob Hyatt, and Gainesville City Commissioners Helen WarrenAdrian Hayes-Santos and David Arreola. Enneking also picked up support from former Gainesville Commissioners Susan BottcherThomas Hawkins, and Warren Nielsen, as well as former mayors Jean Chalmers and Paula Delaney. Enneking is running against Olysha Magruder for the Democratic nomination in SD 8. Perry is currently the only other candidate running for the seat.

Robert Doyel’s self-donation pushes February contributions to $17K in SD 22 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Doyel upped his commitment and his campaign fund in February, in his Democratic bid to unseat Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel in Florida Senate District 22. Doyel, a retired judge from Florida’s 10th Judicial Circuit, reported donating $5,000 to his campaign, helping it bring in $17,677 in cash and another $700 in in-kind services in February. It was the second consecutive month he has made a significant donation to his campaign, and the first month he’s been able to clear more than $10,000 in outside contributions. Doyel contributed $10,000 in January. That’s in addition to $7,500 he lent to his campaign last summer at the start. At least financially, the self-donations have fueled and sparked his campaign into something approaching a competitive position against Stargel, who was not allowed to do any fundraising in February because the Florida Senate was in Session.

Two Democratic newcomers make up cash ground in Central Florida House races” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A handful of Central Florida challengers — mainly women first-time-candidate Democrats — played a little catch-up on fundraising in February, led by Ann Fuller, who reported raising $8,520 in her first month of a House District 52 campaign, and  Joy Goff-Marcil, who reported raising $7,500 in just two weeks in her new bid for House District 30. Fuller, of Melbourne, is taking on Republican state Rep. Thad Altman … In her first month, she reported receiving more than 50 donations totaling $8,520, and she finished the month with about $7,800 in the bank … Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Commission, entered the race Feb. 16 and picked up $7,550 in cash plus another $3,000 in in-kind professional campaign services in the final 13 days of February. She finished the month with all $7,550 in cash left. She’s seeking to take on Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs.

Rob Panepinto adds $60K to his Orange County mayoral run accounts” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Panepinto reported raising $38,300 for his official election campaign and $22,500 for his independent political committee, Vision Orange County, according to data posted on public sites. He now has raised $284,100 in his campaign fund and had about $230,000 left in the bank at the end of February, according to post on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. Vision Orange County now has raised $116,649 and finished the month with just over $50,000 left.

Ron Panepinto banks another $60K in his bid for Orange County mayor.

Bill Montford still on the fence about running for Tallahassee mayor” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — When it comes to a big political announcement, nobody can sit on the fence like Montford. He could cut his Senate term short and run for mayor, and perhaps easily win a four-year term presiding over a City Commission engulfed with a two-year FBI investigation … or he could remain in the Florida Senate for the next two years, where he is a high-ranking member respected by both parties and is one of three Democrats to hold a committee chairmanship. Term limits prevent him from seeking another term. “Senator Montford is a friend and productive member of the body,” said incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. “I look forward to working with him during my presidency as I have done for years now.” However, he’s made no deal to try to get Montford to stay. “Whether he stays or runs for mayor is his decision,” Galvano said. “People who love Tallahassee have asked me to consider it, and out of respect for them I am considering it,” Montford told the Democrat a month ago. But he told Florida Politics reporter Jim Rosica that he was going to take a few days off to mull things over and that he and his wife were “on the fence” about it. Make that two weeks, he told a Democrat reporter.

Digital ads, social media hide political campaign messaging” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — The main events in a political campaign used to happen in the open: a debate, the release of a major TV ad or a public event where candidates tried to earn a spot on the evening news or the next day’s front page. That was before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as political platforms. Now some of a campaign’s most pivotal efforts happen in the often-murky world of social media, where ads can be targeted to ever-narrower slices of the electorate and run continuously with no disclosure of who is paying for them. Reporters cannot easily discern what voters are seeing, and hoaxes and forgeries spread instantaneously. Journalists trying to hold candidates accountable have a hard time keeping up.


In Monday’s SUNBURN, we linked to an edition of our 2018 Legislative Session winners and losers article, which incorrectly stated that a proposal to name a road in honor of the late Sen. Greg Evers stalled in the Legislature. The bill (SB 382) passed and will designate a “Greg Evers Memorial Highway” in the Panhandle, where Evers was from. We regret the error.

Good news: Greg Evers memorial has clear sailing, after all.


Adam Putnam: I would not have signed school gun bill” via Craig Patrick of Fox 13 News — Putnam said he supports provisions that improve safety in public schools and reform the Baker Act to keep mentally ill individuals from having firearms. However, he opposes the provisions that raise the purchasing age for long guns from 18 to 21 and add a waiting period for purchase. … Putnam said he, therefore, would not likely have signed the law that Gov. Scott signed last week. “Likely not because I oppose raising it from 18 to 21,” Putnam said. “I don’t believe that is the right approach.”

Private voucher schools face new rules but still free to hire teachers without degrees” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Among the law’s 207 pages are provisions that aim to make it harder for the nearly 2,000 private schools that take Florida scholarships to forge fire or health inspections or to hide criminal convictions of school owners. There are also new rules that allow the Florida Department of Education, starting in 2019, to visit every private school that applies to take state vouchers. But an effort to demand those schools hire teachers who have earned four-year degrees proved too unpopular for some lawmakers, particularly in the House, said Sen. David Simmons … “When the dust settled, the college requirements were not in there,” Simmons said. “It certainly bothers me,” he added. “I also understand that this is a process in which compromise is essential.”

Legislature approves $1 million for regional transit plan” via Caitlin Johnston of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Legislature has approved $1 million for the recently revamped Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority to create a 10-year plan for transit projects in the five-county area. Known as a Regional Transit Development Plan, the clunky term refers to a 10-year plan that would outline what projects the region should focus on, such as bus rapid transit, streetcars or rail, and when they should be built. This appropriation, should Gov. Scott approve it, gives the agency $1 million to hire a contractor. Michael Case, Principal Planner and project manager for TBARTA, expects the project to take about a year. That means it will wrap up around the same time as a state-funded initiative to choose a preferred regional transit project. Planners are still refining that concept, but currently a 41-mile bus rapid transit line between Wesley Chapel, Tampa and St. Petersburg is the lead concept.


Jeff Brandes loses a couple of priorities, but brings home other wins” via Florida Politics — His criminal justice reforms were sailing through committees, along with their companion bills in the House. His proposals would have created a council to oversee the criminal and juvenile justice systems, prohibit issuance of attorney’s fees in proceedings for a protective injunction for repeat sexual offenders and allowed judges to depart from mandatory sentences in drug trafficking cases. A transportation bill he championed landed on the full Senate floor with a week left to go in Session. And CFO Jimmy Patronis was helping him champion a consumer report bill that ultimately passed the Legislature. By Sine Die though, most of his criminal justice priorities were dead, as was the broad transportation package. But it was not all bad for Brandes. Some of the measures he championed that passed the Legislature included those seeking to prohibit state agencies and local governments from entering or renewing contracts with companies that boycott Israel, adding new protections to health care sharing ministries, and barring consumer reporting agencies from charging a fee for security fees on a credit report.

Jeff Brandes brought home some wins in Session.

Florida Chamber sums up likes, dislikes this session” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce wanted to see the cost of living reduced this Session, but after lawmakers’ focus turned to the Parkland school massacre, the measures passed by the Legislature did not impress the organization. “Rightly so, the last three weeks of Session were focused on school safety following the Parkland tragedy,” said Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately … when you look at the other work of the Legislature, on balance they made it a little more expensive for families and a little less competitive for businesses.” The Florida Chamber worked to defeat efforts that it believed would have “further worsened Florida’s abysmal lawsuit abuse climate,” which included a PIP repeal without accompanying bad faith lawsuit reforms. Among the proposals the chamber is proud to have helped block in the Republican-controlled Legislature was a ban on plastic bags, increasing the minimum wage, added hurricane-related employer mandates, open-carry liability and gambling expansion. The chamber was also happy to see the Legislature pass a $10.5 billion transportation budget, funding for computer science classes in state schools, making it easier to decertify public employee unions, and a proposal that will make it harder to raise taxes and fees in the future.

Florida Realtors laud lawmakers for cutting business rent tax” via Florida Politics — Realtors are praising lawmakers for including $31 million in cuts to the business rent tax and $110 million for affordable housing projects. “I’m so proud of our membership for responding to our call for action to cut the business rent tax,” said Bill Martin, the chief executive officer of Florida Realtors. “They stayed engaged throughout the process on this and many other of our key issues,” Martin added, “realtors absolutely rock!” Other measures passed by the Legislature during the 2018 legislative session that will benefit realtors and property owners include House Bill 1011, which revises flood insurance notices. If signed into law, flood insurers may see more people purchasing flood insurance coverage. The organization also lauded the Legislature for allocating about $500,000 to prevent unlicensed real estate activity.

Generation Opportunity lauds move to eliminate ‘free-speech zones’” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Generation Opportunity, a center-right political advocacy organization, commended Scott and the Legislature for including the provision in the higher education bill this year. Eliminating the free-speech zones, the organization said, will expand First Amendment rights on campuses. “The bill includes a provision ending wrongly named ‘free speech zones’ which, in reality, restrict students from exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights on the state’s publicly funded college and university campuses,” a news release from Generation Opportunity explained. The group pushed for removing free-speech zones through legislation filed earlier this year by Rep. Bob Rommel and Sen. Dennis Baxley. Those provisions were eventually lumped into the bill.


Assignment editors — U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Orrin Hatch will host a news conference on the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act beginning 11 a.m. at the U.S. Capitol East Lawn. Scheduled to attend are Sens. Steve DainesJoni Ernst and Dan Sullivan as well as Kyle Kashuv, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Ryan Petty, father of Parkland student Alaina Petty, who was killed in the shooting.

Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Eleanor Holmes Norton will join District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Coalition the Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz for a media conference call to demand Sen. Rubio withdraw his bill to cut many of D.C.’s local gun safety laws. The call begins 2 p.m. at (605) 472-5937, Access Code: 949684.

Assignment editors — Gov. Scott will hold a bill signing ceremony for HB 29 and HB 75, which seek to help Florida military, veterans and their families get a job and a quality education. The event begins 3 p.m., Jacksonville National Guard Armory, 9900 Normandy Blvd. in Jacksonville.

No change in jobless rate from Dec. to Jan.” via Lobby Tools — Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in January 2018, unchanged from the revised December 2017 rate, but down 0.7 percentage point from a year ago … There were 397,000 jobless Floridians out of a labor force of 10,152,000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in January. Florida’s seasonally adjusted total nonagricultural employment was 8,670,500 in January 2018, an increase of 10,500 jobs (+0.1 percent) over the month. The state gained 150,900 jobs over the year, an increase of 1.8 percent.

Video from outside Stoneman Douglas must be released, judge orders” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The public should be allowed to see the security video from outside last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a judge ruled … The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, along with other media organizations, sued the Broward Sheriff’s Office last month for access to the video, arguing that it is critical for the public to analyze law enforcement’s response to the shooting. Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Levenson signed an order authorizing the video’s release but immediately delayed the order until Thursday to give the Sheriff’s Office and the School Board a chance to appeal. School district officials, including an assistant principal from Stoneman Douglas, argued in court last week that releasing the video would expose the limits of the cameras mounted at various positions on campus, creating a security risk.

Talleyrand Connector money shows Lenny Curry’s long game via Florida Politics. As the 2018 Legislative Session progressed, Curry made a little-noticed (at the time) trip to Tallahassee. Curry met with Gov. Scott; However, there was a secondary purpose to the trip. From the Senate, he met with Aaron Bean, Senate Minority Leader Designate Audrey GibsonTravis Hutson and Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, along with Wilton Simpson. Curry also met with Speaker Corcoran, in addition to meeting with regional representatives Travis Cummings, Jason FischerClay Yarborough, and Tracie Davis. Soon after that, there was movement on the Talleyrand Connector issue, with Sen. Bean getting a $1 million ‘placeholder’ into the budget. “It will be a conference issue — rules say it has to be in either the Senate or House budget to become a conference issue. $1M is all I was able to muster today.  It is a start and hopefully not the final number,” Bean said on February 8. Indeed, it’s not the final number. That final number was the $12.5 million Curry wanted from the state all along.

Lenny Curry’s long game is exposed.

St. Pete and Duke Energy partner to bring solar power to the new Pier” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The city of St. Petersburg is taking steps to construct a solar canopy at its new pier, to create enough power for as many as 60 homes. The structure will provide shaded parking in what is now the pier Pelican Lot, with future capabilities to power electric vehicle charging stations for pier visitors and restaurant patrons at the planned Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille that’s intended for the same lot. The agreement between Duke Energy and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman stipulates the solar array cannot interfere with the restaurant and its aesthetics must match that of the rest of the pier district  … Kriseman and Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris tentatively agreed on a series of arrangements to install the solar array, according to a letter that will come before City Council this week.


Tell Constitution Revision Commission to shape up” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Here are five areas where voters should make clear to the commission that they expect better: Proposal 11: Primary elections … Write-in candidates’ names don’t appear on the ballot, and no write-in candidate has ever won an election. This amendment would close that loophole, opening primaries when all candidates are from the same party or the only other opposition is a write-in candidate. Proposals 4 and 45: Separation of church and state; public education … Proposal 4 repeals a prohibition on steering public money to churches and religious institutions. Proposal 45 clears the way for the state to provide “other educational services” separate from public schools. Proposal 54: Hospital deregulation … This proposed amendment would repeal the “certificate of need” process and prohibit the state from limiting the number of hospitals in particular areas. Proposal 97: Constitutional amendments … This proposal would require approval by 60 percent of all voters voting in the election, not just on a particular measure. Proposal 22: Information privacy … This failed to pass two CRC committees and is not on the list of finalists still under consideration. But the commission is operating under opaque rules, so voters should be on alert for a last-minute effort to revive it.


Appointed — James “Lee” Marsh to the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court; Chad Alvaro to the 9th Judicial Circuit Court; Carolyn Bell to the 15th Judicial Circuit Court.

Appointed — Juan Zapata to the Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees; Eric Grant to the Tallahassee Community College District Board of Trustees; Maria Montalvo (reappointed) to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

— ALOE —

Alexa is coming to the office” via Ina Fried of Axios — Amazon is bringing its voice assistant into a range of business settings, big and small, like hotels and co-working spaces … While people always think of Amazon as a consumer company, it has shown itself time and again to have larger ambitions. This move could help it expand its business services beyond its already popular Amazon Web services … Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said that exposure to the workplace would improve Alexa by exposing it to new types of conversations. “The kind of language we use in our offices is sometimes radically different from the more conversational things we do in our(homes),” he told Axios. Alexa “will greatly improve by being exposed to different kinds of statements or conversations.” Vogels said many businesses are still stuck with the technology consumers used in the 1990s. Adding support for voice to automate tasks could leapfrog several missed generations of consumer technology.

Alexa is coming to an office near you.

Industry: $10B will be bet on March Madness, most illegally” via The Associated Press — That’s one of the reasons the American Gaming Association favors the full legalization and regulation of sports betting in the United States. The group found 54 million people — or about a quarter of the U.S. adult population — participated in sports betting pools last year. The U.S. Supreme Court is weeks away from ruling on New Jersey’s challenge to a law limiting legal sports betting to just four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. AGA President Geoff Freeman says only 3 percent of the $10 billion the group predicts will be wagered on the games will be done through legal Nevada sports books.

On a Disney Cruise, it’s a stressful world (after all)” via Dan Saltzstein of The New York Times — Things had not started well even before we boarded … We had to delay our flight to Miami because Anna had a fever and a cough. After a night in Miami, we headed to board the ship — though before we could, we had to sign a paper indicating that no one in our party had a fever and a cough (or a handful of other symptoms) … Then we took a family photo in front of a sailing-themed Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and boarded the boat, along with more than 2,500 other cruisers. Over the course of the next four days, many of my fears were confirmed. In other moments, my cynical soul was warmed — a bit like Anna’s heart (the “Frozen” character, not my daughter), thanks to her act of true love. Our Anna learned to love pirates and magicians. I spent a lot of money on drinks, a princess makeover and Disney merch. Anna proclaimed the trip one of the best experiences of her life. As we sat in our stateroom bed one night, trying to figure out how much to spend on the measly Wi-Fi offerings, Nancy captured it well: “Everything,” she said, “is enchanting and horrifying.”

Happy birthday to Rep. Scott PlakonBob Asztalos of the FHCA, Jennifer Wilson of Adams & Reese, and Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.12.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

Nobody expected a tragedy like Parkland to suck all the oxygen out of the Legislature’s 2018 Regular Session. Lobbyists were left scrambling to save their clients’ priorities as lawmakers hustled to rejigger the budget to accommodate hundreds of millions of dollars for school safety and mental health initiatives.

Some survived, many did not; although that’s no different from any other 60-day tumble in the Capitol.

So who enjoyed the thrill of victory in 2018? Who suffered the agony of defeat? And who got out by the skin of their teeth to try again next year?

Read our 10,000 words on who are the winners and losers emerging from the 2018 Legislative Session by clicking here.


— @NateSilver538: Stating the hopefully-obvious, but the fact that PA-18 is competitive is a really bad sign for Republicans. It voted for Trump by 20 points and Romney by 17. The previous Republican incumbent there (Tim Murphy) didn’t even have a Democratic challenger in 2014 or 2016 & won by 28 points the last time he did, in 2012.

— @Fineout: Asked @FLGovScott about the idea of letting 2 non-government organizations that provide vouchers get a list of confidential tax information so they can ask them for money. Scott’s answer – “I believe in transparency.”

@JaredEMoskowitz: Dare ya to debate me on this one. If you can’t handle me how can you be governor? (to Ron DeSantis)

— @ShevrinJones: Earlier this week my colleague, Rep. Porter said that “young people don’t have the wisdom or experience to make laws”. Let me introduce you to @Emma4Change -she’s done more in 1 month than the FL legislature has done in 20 yrs on #gunreform.

— @SShawFL: I just voted NO on the state budget…I don’t think it reflects an adequate commitment to environment, public education, mental health, etc…

— @MiamiSup: Inexplicably, this year’s Ed budget is historically disappointing for South FL schools. How can anyone justify per-student increases of $65.06 and $52.35 for Miami-Dade and Broward, respectively, with significantly higher costs of living, compared to the state average of $101.50?

— @JimRosicaFL: Democratic Sen. Bill Montford says he’s “taking a few days off” now that Session is over to think about a run for Tallahassee mayor. Did not say when he’ll decide. He and his wife are “on the fence” about it.

— @SenatorAbruzzo: As Democratic Whip, had incredible working relationship with Republican Whip @DaneEagle built on trust and respect. Thank you my friend.

— @FrankWhiteFL: I just cast the final vote of my final regular session as a member of the Florida House. Serving our state has been the honor of a lifetime. I’ll always appreciate my constituents in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze for the privilege to serve

— @LawrenceKS_PD: Please do not call 911 to complain about the format of the NCAA tournament selection show. We can’t do anything about it, no matter how bad it is.


St. Patrick’s Day – 5; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 12; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 17; Easter – 20; NFL Draft begins – 45; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 52; Mother’s Day – 62; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 74; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 102; Primary Election Day — 169; College Football opening weekend – 173; General Election Day — 239; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 339; 2019 Legislative Session – 358.

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


Rick Scott signs gun limits into law, breaking with the NRA” via Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times – In a dramatic turnaround in one of the most gun-friendly states in America, Gov. Scott signed into law an array of gun limits that included raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and extending the waiting period to three days. It was the most aggressive action on gun control taken in the state in decades and the first time Scott, who had an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association, had broken so significantly from the group … The law imposes new restrictions on firearm purchases and the possession of “bump stocks,” funds more school police officers and mental health services, broadens law enforcement’s power to seize weapons, and allows certain staff members to carry guns in schools. Florida’s action gave hope to gun control proponents and sent the NRA scrambling to contain the damage. Outside of Tallahassee, the law might not look that groundbreaking: It does not go as far as laws enacted by other more Democratic-leaning states after deadly shootings. But this is Florida, a laboratory for the NRA and a state that has become recognized for its consistent efforts under legislative Republican control since 1996 to expand gun rights. That such a gun-friendly state adopted any firearm restrictions represents a sea change, even more so as the restrictions were drafted and approved in a matter of three weeks, after a bipartisan vote and the signature of a Republican governor likely to be on the ballot later this year as a Senate candidate.

#ParklandStrong: Family members of victims, lawmakers & others look on as Gov. Scott on Friday signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

NRA sues Florida over gun bill same day” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat – “We filed a lawsuit against the state for violating the constitutional rights of 18- to 21-year-olds,” said Marion Hammer, lobbyist for the NRA in Florida. NRA lawyers in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., were working on the complaint Friday afternoon, and filed the complaint moments before the court’s deadline. The suit was filed just over an hour after Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act into law. He expected opposition from the gun lobby. “I’m an NRA member, and I was an NRA member when I became governor. I’m going to be an NRA member when I’m not governor,” Scott said at the bill signing. “I’m sure there are NRA members that agree with this bill, some that don’t agree with this bill.” The lawsuit names Attorney General Pam Bondi and Rick Swearingen, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “This blanket ban violates the fundamental rights of thousands of responsible, law-abiding Florida citizens and is thus invalid under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments,” it says. “Females between the ages of 18 and 21 pose a relatively slight risk of perpetrating a school shooting such as the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, or, for that matter, a violent crime of any kind.”

Critics across partisan lines assail new gun law” via Gary Fineout and Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press – Ron DeSantis … went on Fox News to criticize the law, which raises the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21; extends a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases to include long guns; and bans bump stocks, which allow guns to mimic fully automatic fire. “I think when you start getting into some of the blanket restrictions on people’s Second Amendment rights, I think that that is constitutionally vulnerable. … I mean think about it, you have an enumerated right in the Bill of Rights, there’s really no precedent to just do a blanket ban on certain adults,” DeSantis said on the show. The new law fell short of achieving a ban on assault-style weapons, but it creates a so-called guardian program enabling some teachers and other school employees to carry guns. Five legislators seeking statewide office voted against it, as did the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

After Parkland, how the #NeverAgain movement proved Tallahassee wrong” via Mary Ellen Klas and Kyra Gurney of the Tampa Bay Times – Jared Moskowitz seethed in anger as he met with the families of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the evening of Feb. 14 … “My colleagues will do nothing,” he predicted, a jaded and discouraged response informed by the Republican-led Legislature’s lack of action after the 49 murders at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub 19 months earlier. But Parkland proved him wrong. Within 12 hours of the massacre, a group of student government, journalism and drama students gathered at North Community Park near the school and turned media interviews into calls for action. Students David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Jaclyn Corin and Cameron Kasky became instant celebrities, recruited as the newest voices of activism on television shows like “Dr. Phil,” “Ellen,” “Real Time with Bill Mahrer” and on cable news. At a CNN Town Hall, they went head-to-head with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Before a week had passed, when their nights were still tormented by fear and their days filled with funerals, more than 100 of them traveled to Tallahassee to demand new laws. What their community accomplished is now being touted as a model for other states — and Washington, D.C.

New gun restrictions a start, but not nearly enough, Parkland students say” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – One day after Scott signed into law a sweeping school safety bill, student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas vowed to continue pressuring lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws, staging a rally down the street from the school … Organized by students Angelina Lazo and Sarah Cummings, the rally served in many ways as a prelude to a planned march on Washington, D.C., at the end of the month. At least 50 sister marches are also scheduled across the country and globally, according to student organizers with the #NeverAgain anti-gun violence group. Although Lazo admitted she was not well-versed in the guns and school safety bill passed by the state Legislature last week, she nevertheless said it did not go far enough. “We must keep going — a week, a month, a year from now. We need to continue to fight for everyone’s safety,” she said, her voice strained. “They say we’re just kids. Not only are we just kids, but we are tomorrow’s future.”

How a Republican teacher groomed Parkland teens for the fight of their lives” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Jeff Foster doesn’t think Rubio is a “child murderer.” And he doesn’t think a ban on assault weapons is likely to pass. Unlike many of the students he advises, the Advanced Placement government teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sees “merit” in both arming faculty members and tightening gun laws. Foster, who is far from the liberal teacher stereotype, has been credited nonetheless for grooming students like González, Hogg, and Delaney Tarr for their new roles as teenage activists leading a nationwide push for stricter gun laws. A longtime Republican — but also a Hillary Clinton voter whose views are “almost Libertarian to a degree” — Foster admits he catches himself wincing at some of the more inflammatory rhetoric his students and other members of the #NeverAgain movement have unleashed, especially when they attack the right. But he admires their passion and how quickly and effectively they’ve mobilized. “When it gets a little extreme… I cringe a little at times,” Foster said. “I think their hearts are in the right place.”

Thrust into gun debate, freshman Sarasota lawmaker grapples with tough choices” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – On the same day Margaret Good arrived in Tallahassee to be sworn in as Florida’s newest state House member, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and killed 17 people. During her first day on the job — Valentine’s Day — Good was thrust into one of the most passionate political debates to descend on the Capitol in decades. In the end, Good faced a tough choice. For the first time since seizing control of the Legislature two decades ago, Republican leaders advanced a series of meaningful gun control measures. The gun control proposals were paired with a plan to allow school districts to arm certain school personnel, including some classroom teachers. Good liked the gun control ideas and was deeply opposed to the proposal to arm school personnel. Good joined with 31 House Democrats and 19 Republicans to vote against the bill in the House. There were 10 House Democrats who supported the bill. “In the end I felt like I needed to vote my values and I could not stomach voting for a bill that provided a pathway to arm teachers and school personnel,” Good said.

How would you vote on age limit, 3-day wait for gun purchases? It might be on ballot” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times – With the first gun control measure signed into law in decades, a key Republican member of the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission has drafted a proposal to make sure the age limits and waiting period stand up to any constitutional challenge from opponents. The proposal, by Miami attorney and CRC member Roberto Martinez, was filed with the CRC on Friday, just moments after Gov. Scott signed SB 7026 into law … “I think the law is constitutional,” said Martinez, a partner at Colson Hicks Edison and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “Can lawyers come up with arguments against it? Of course. To the extent this eliminates any constitutional challenges, we should adopt it.” Martinez said he has spoken with individual members of the 37-member CRC to discuss his proposal and “everybody has said they are open to considering it. There has been strong support from some,” he said.


Scott signs major education bills, including controversial K-12 measure” via Daniel Ducassi of Florida Politics – The more popular of the two measures, FL SB4 (18R), restores the top and second-level awards in the state’s broad, merit-based Bright Futures scholarship program to once again cover 100 percent and 75 percent of tuition and fees, respectively, along with other sweeping changes aimed at boosting the university system and promoting four-year graduation rates. But the real controversy centers on FL HB 7055 (18R) … The bill includes sweeping changes to the K-12 system. The governor touted that the newly signed law “expands school choice.” However, the state’s largest teachers’ union has been up in arms over a provision they describe as “union-busting” that requires solely teachers unions to go through a recertification process if their dues-paying membership falls below 50 percent of eligible employees. The Florida Democratic Party blasted Scott for “gutting” the state’s education system in a statement issued after the governor signed the bills into law. “Just like he’s done for years, Rick Scott is draining funding from our public schools in order to give his political donors and cronies another taxpayer funded handout — it’s just the latest demonstration that Scott puts his own self-serving politics over Florida’s schools, teachers and students,” said FDP spokeswoman Caroline Rowland.

Blue pens for everyone: Gov. Scott signed HB 7055, which increases scholarship opportunities and expands school choice in Florida’s K-12 education system.

Email insights: Gwen Graham blasts ‘devastating cuts to schools’” via Florida Politics – “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 … 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.

First on #FlaPol –Pinellas County superintendent slams proposed funding for public education” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – “It’s clear that the additional safe schools and mental health funding has come on the backs of teachers and students,” Michael Grego wrote in an open letter. The $88.7 billion state budget proposed for the 2018-19 fiscal year includes a significant funding boost for mental health services and school security in response to the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland that left 17 dead. Gov. Scott signed the $400 million “Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Act” into law … Grego is in favor of the Legislature excluding most teachers from being armed, but has yet to determine if Pinellas County will participate in the program. And while he has been for expanding mental health services and safety measures, Grego said the money allotted to public education is not enough to cover operational costs like utilities, health care coverage for employees and other areas impacted by inflation.


Lawmakers pass $88.7 billion budget to end Session” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Florida lawmakers ended their 2018 session Sunday by passing an $88.7 billion budget … The votes concluded an annual session that ran two days into overtime … Republican leaders touted increases money for the education system. Funding in the kindergarten-through-high-school system increased by $101.50 per student, while performance funding for state universities was increased by $20 million. … The budget continues expansion of the state’s main need-based aid program, Florida Student Assistance Grants … Lawmakers also backed a $53 million initiative to deal with the state’s opioid crisis … pay raises in the state budget for law enforcement officers, including the Florida Highway Patrol, and workers at the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Legislature approves tax cut package” via Florida Politics – The Legislature on Sunday gave the final OK of a negotiated tax relief package that would, among other things, allow Floridians to buy tax-free clothes and school supplies during three days in August and tax-free hurricane gear at the start of June. The roughly $171 million package (HB 7087) was passed by the Senate 31-5, then approved by the House 95-12 at an extended legislative session Sunday to also vote on the state budget … The House and Senate scaled back tax cuts as money was shifted after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Money had to come “from everywhere, from tax cuts, from member projects, the K-12 budget,” Rep. Paul Renner of Palm Coast, chair of the Ways & Means Committee, told reporters Sunday. “We did the best we could with available dollars.”

House Sergeant at Arms Russell Hosford and Senate Sergeant at Arms Tim Hay drop their hankies at 4:17 p.m. Sunday in the Capitol rotunda during the annual Sie Die ritual that marks the end of the legislative session. Photo credit: Hali Tauxe of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Lawmakers agree on plan to battle opioids” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – The Legislature approved tough new restrictions Friday on prescription drugs and agreed to spend more than $53 million on treatment and prevention to battle the state’s opioid crisis. Despite the issue being a top priority for the 2018 session, the final vote on the measure (HB 21) almost didn’t come as the Senate and House were at odds for hours over whether the bill should include dedicated funding for Vivitrol, which is a monthly shot that has been successful in helping people with opioid addictions. The House and Senate passed a compromise that sets aside money but makes clear that it shouldn’t be used only for naltrexone, which is sold under the brand name Vivitrol. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and is headed to Gov. Scott’s desk.

Trujillo accuses Senate of handout to Negron’s favored lobbyists in opioid bill” via Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida – Trujillo is accusing the Senate of giving a handout to President Negron’s close friends and lobbyists, Frank and Tracy Mayernick, by inserting an amendment to Gov. k Scott’s $54 million opioid bill to benefit the lobbyists’ clients. Trujillo says the Senate added a provision to [the bill] that specifically requires that $5.3 million be spent year over year on extended-release injectable naltrexone. Naltrexone is a generic drug, but only one company — Alkermes — makes an injectable form. That company is represented by the Mayernicks. … “Holding up the passage of vital addiction services legislation while demanding one company receive over $5.3 million of taxpayer money every year puts profits before people,” Trujillo (R-Miami) said. “Provider-specific appropriations are unheard of in the budget.”

Snake eyes: Gambling bill dies for 2018” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – The Legislature’s last best chance to pass comprehensive legislation on gambling came up a bad beat on Friday, with a conference committee calling it quits. President Negron and Speaker 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,” they said. That means the status quo abides, and no renewed deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would have guaranteed $3 billion into state coffers over seven years. Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner declined comment. It’s not clear when lawmakers will get another shot: A proposed “voter control of gambling” constitutional amendment will be on November’s ballot. If that’s approved by 60 percent, it would give statewide voters sole power to approve future expansions of gambling in Florida.

Worth the click –Sunshine State gambling #fails: A short history (updated for 2018)” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics 

Lauren Book calls Legislature ‘old boys club’ after Senate kills sex-harassment reform bill” via Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso – After believing they’d reached a compromise, lawmakers failed to reform the state government’s sexual harassment policy, which became a victim of last-minute disputes between the House and Senate. “It’s no secret that I’ve said time and time again that Tallahassee is an old boys club and the old boys club is alive and well,” said state Sen. Lauren Book, who carried the bill in the Senate. State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, the bill’s House sponsor, accused Senate leadership of killing the bill, FL SB1628 (18R). She said Senate leaders reneged on a deal to pass the measure after it was adjusted on the House floor and sent back to the Senate. … President Negron called the bill cumbersome and blamed the House for its failure to get to the Senate floor for a vote. He said all state agencies have the right to terminate staff once allegations of sexual harassment have been proven.

Human trafficking bill dies on a technicality” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times – It was killed after Republicans grilled the bill sponsor, Sen. Book and protested the bill on a technicality. Sen. René Garcia who was breathing heavily after running back to his desk, so he could speak against the bill, said he supported Book’s effort. But because the House didn’t take up a separate portion of the bill – one that would have created a trust fund for trafficking victims – Garcia urged fellow lawmakers to vote it down. The Senate already passed a separate trust fund bill. “I have to stand up today and ask you to vote down this amendment … because our friends in the House did not do the right thing,” Garcia said.


Post-Hurricane Irma, lawmakers require generators for assisted living facilities” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times – House lawmakers voted with almost no discussion to require that assisted living facilities have generators, ratifying a rule pushed by Gov. Scott in the days after Hurricane Irma. The Department of Elder Affairs rule … passed in the Senate through SB 7028 but was waiting on action from the House. Lawmakers in both chambers had already passed a similar rule for nursing homes from the state Agency for Health Care Administration earlier this week. But the assisted living facilities rule — unlike the nursing home rule — was not heard by any House committee before it was brought to the floor from the Senate. The pair of rules require backup power sources that could continue to maintain cooling systems in the event of an outage and require power sources that can be portable but must provide at least 30 square feet of cool space for each resident. Nursing homes and larger assisted living facilities must have 72 hours of fuel at those locations. Smaller assisted living facilities with fewer than 17 beds would only be required to have 48 hours of fuel on-site. Nursing homes will also be required to have equipment that can control indoor temperatures for 96 hours after an outage and maintain an ambient temperature of no more than 81 degrees.

Legislature slashing Health Dep’t pay because of medical marijuana delays” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Lawmakers included a provision to withhold more than $1.9 million in Department of Health salaries and benefits in the final 2018-19 state budget until regulators fully implement medical marijuana. The proviso language… means certain Health officials will get a pay and benefits cut until they “implement” medical cannabis … House Republican Jason Brodeur of Sanford, who first submitted the budget provision, on Friday clarified that the withheld pay applies to the department’s “executive direction entity.” He defined that as including Health Secretary and state Surgeon General Celeste Philip, her chief of staff, legislative affairs director, and the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, including its director, Christian Bax. The withheld pay is effective July 1, the start of the next fiscal year, but “wouldn’t have an impact until later in the year so it won’t cripple them right away,” Brodeur said.

New College gets big funding increase in state budget” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – The funding is boosting university budgets across the state, from large institutions such as the University of Florida to the smallest one, New College of Florida in Sarasota. The University of Florida is getting a $14 million boost in recurring general revenue as lawmakers try to push it from a Top 10 public university into the Top 5 nationwide. New College of Florida will receive an additional $4.2 million in recurring general revenue and other funds to help grow the tiny liberal arts college. The school is in the second phase of a growth plan that will bring hundreds of additional students and dozens of new faculty to the campus. Next year’s state budget will provide a 14 percent increase in funding for New College. “Gee whiz, we very much appreciate the confidence they have in New College to fund us this way,” said John Martin, the college’s vice president for finance and administration. “The depth and breadth of the academic offerings, the student support services — everything from careers to counseling to student life is going to be immensely enhanced because of this.”

Legislature adds to the more than 1,000 exceptions to Florida’s public records law” via Elizabeth Koh and Emily Mahoney of the Miami Herald – At least two of those exemptions — crafted as part of the state’s response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last month — have already been approved by Gov. Scott after he signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Safety Act … One of the two exemptions, SB 7024, shields the home addresses of victims of mass violence. The other, SB 1940, withholds the identities of armed school staff who are trained as part of the state’s new “guardian” program. That last one has open government activists particularly concerned. Not all exemptions are created equal, but they are part of a years-long trend in the Legislature to whittle down identifying information for certain groups. Among the exemptions lawmakers voted to add this year to the state’s public records law: Home addresses for public guardians, employees of child advocacy centers and addiction treatment facilities, and members of child protection teams — and that of their immediate family members … Construction documents for some health care facilities, such as building plans and blueprints … Some United States Census address data.

Bill changing write-in rules clears Legislature” via Florida Politics – A bill that would allow write-in candidates to run for districts they do not live in cleared the Legislature in the closing days of session and is now ready for a signature from Gov. Scott. HB 6009, sponsored by Dania Beach Democratic Rep. Joe Geller, fixes some inconsistencies in the law when it comes to candidate residency. The law on the books requires write-in candidates to live in the district by the time the candidate qualifying period ends … The write-in rule was declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in 2016 since it put a separate limitation on candidacy than what was laid out in the Florida Constitution.

Municipal elections bill dies in Senate” via Florida Politics – A bill that would have changed election dates for municipal offices died in the closing days of the 2018 Legislative Session. HB 7037, sponsored by Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell, aimed to narrow the choices for when municipal governments could set elections to either the third Tuesday in March, or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, when general elections are held. … HB 7037 would have impacted dozens of cities that hold elections outside of those dates, and was sharply opposed by the Florida League of Cities on the grounds that it preempts local governments. “For over half of cities that provide for runoff elections, municipal campaigns [would] be in full swing during summer and winter holidays – when voters are highly distracted or absent, and media access exceedingly expensive,” the League said.

Ballard snags last-minute tax package tweak to help web-based client” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics – The lobbying powerhouse Ballard Partners swayed lawmakers to add a new section to the state’s labor law that mirrors the exact business model of one of its online-based clients. Handy Technologies, Inc., which hired Ballard Partners, will directly benefit from a last-minute add on to the tax cut package championed by Senate Budget Chair Rob Bradley. The amendment language clarifies that those hired to do work through an online-based or mobile-app company are treated as independent contractors and not employees, and lists the exact household and handyman work services offered by Handy Technologies. The change will not change workers’ compensation or healthcare requirements for those who currently receive them. It would just clarify that if an online-company is not paying those now to a contract worker, it doesn’t have to pay them in the future. “We are pleased the Legislature continued to support the emerging marketplace contractor economy,” said Chris Dorworth, who is representing Handy Technologies as a registered lobbyist for Ballard Partners.

Jeff Vinik scores legislative win with passage of Water Street Tampa bill” via Florida Politics – The special improvement district created by HB 1393 would allow an appointed board to levy assessments on commercial properties and charge property tax of up to one mil – $1 per $1,000 of assessed value – on property within in the district. Water Street Tampa, a private development, seeks to bring the first new office towers to Tampa in a quarter century, as well as retail, educational and entertainment space. The building project will clock in at 9 million square feet once completed. The measure cleared the House and the Senate passed it with a pair of amendments cleaning up the language before kicking it back to the House with a 37-1 vote. Sarasota Sen. Greg Steube was the lone no-vote on the bill.

Parents of student killed at Conniston in 1997 finally win claims bill” via Kenya Woodard of the Palm Beach Post – Ashraf Kamel’s 14-year-old son, Jean Pierre Kamel, was killed 21 years ago when a classmate shot him dead at Conniston Middle School in West Palm Beach. Five years after their son’s death, Kamel and his ex-wife, Marguerite Dimitri, won a $1.6 million judgment against the Palm Beach County School Board in a lawsuit alleging negligence by district and school officials. But the school board paid only the $200,000 maximum that governments are allowed to pay in legal actions in Florida. And almost every year since 2004, Kamel and Dimitri have gone to the Florida Legislature to seek passage of a special type of bill known as a claims bill that would allow the school district to pay at least some of the remainder of the judgment … they finally won, when the Senate voted 34-1 to pass a House bill (HB 6523) approved by that chamber on a 112-3 vote March 1. The legislation would award Kamel and Dimitri $180,000 each for $360,000, the same balance they agreed to in a previous legislative session.

Free market fights end in wins for 2018, group says” via Florida Politics – Americans for Prosperity-Florida, the free market fighters, are celebrating a long list of legislative accomplishments as the 2018 Legislative Session comes to an end. Among their top priorities this year was a bill to allow direct primary care contracts, SB 80, and the House education package which includes a requirement that teacher unions to have at least 50 percent of eligible members pay dues. “As Floridians continue to suffer under the restrictions of Obamacare, the passage of Direct Primary Care will expand access to quality care by removing third parties from the doctor-patient relationship. This will ensure Floridians receive the care they need from the providers of their choice,” said AFP-FL state director Chris Hudson. The group also celebrated the lack of a funding increase for state economic incentives arm Enterprise Florida and the defeat of “corporate welfare” proposals, such as the bills to create a new film and television program funding pool (HB 341/SB 1606).


The House Media Team has one last blockbuster for the Legislative Session: A farewell to the class of 2018. “Senior representatives reflect upon their time in the Florida House of Representatives,” says the video’s description, now on YouTube. Republican Tom Goodson and Democrats Lori Berman and Janet Cruz make appearances.

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Lake Okeechobee reservoir is Senate President Joe Negron’s legacy as he reflects on tenure” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – The Stuart Republican said his greatest local accomplishment is a reservoir to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal estuaries. SB 10, which secured funding and set deadlines for the project, was approved in 2017, the year after toxic algae closed the St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon and — for the first time — Atlantic beaches. Treasure Coast residents like Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, a former Sewall’s Point mayor and longtime Martin County environmental advocate, agreed. “The reservoir is his legacy. He looked around and saw how important this reservoir is to our area and the people in our area, and he put that gorilla on his back and carried it for two years,” she said. “I challenge anyone to do what Joe Negron did.”

Making an exit: Capitol character retires after guarding Senate chamber doors for 33 years” via Hali Tauxe of the Tallahassee Democrat – Tommy Hunt is retiring at the end of session from a 33-year career with the Senate Sergeant at Arm’s Office. During Session, Hunt’s official duties include guarding the doors to the Senate chambers. He must make sure no one gets in who shouldn’t be there. Hunt says he’s memorized thousands of faces – every senator, every representative and Cabinet member — since Bob Graham was in the Governor’s Mansion. Unofficially, he sees his job as a chance to make everyone’s day just a little bit better. “I’ve had fun over the years at the front door, mostly making people laugh and smile –especially the ones that come in with a bad mood or are down, I can usually make ‘em smile.” Why? “I don’t know. I guess it’s just me.”


A new poll of the 2018 U.S. Senate race shows Gov. Scott with a two-point lead over Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Clearview Research poll contacted 750 likely voters by phone between March 1 and March 7 and found Scott with a 43-41 advantage with 15 percent undecided.

The poll shows Scott leading among white and Cuban Hispanic voters, while Nelson leads among black and non-Cuban Hispanic voters.

Scott also holds the edge among voters aged 35 and older, while Nelson wins the 18-34 bracket by 7 percentage points.

Scott’s edge falls within the margin of error for poll, which is one a very few to show Scott with a lead over Nelson.

Where the poll differs with other recent head-to-heads is the turnout model, which estimates Republicans will make up 41 percent of the electorate, while Democrats take a 39 percent share.

Clearview says the two-point advantage for Republicans is consistent with the past few election cycles.

In 2016, Republicans outpaced Democrats at the polls by 0.6 points, a first in modern history for a presidential race, and in 2014 there was a four-point turnout margin on election day.

Read more about the poll here.


C’mon Jamie Jodoin –Richard Corcoran fined by Division of Elections” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – Corcoran‘s Watchdog PAC was only a day late in filing the report, and its treasurer received just a $50 fine. But it’s ironic that a Republican leader who constantly touts his commitment to transparency failed to comply with disclosure requirements. And it’s not the only part of his political committee that is opaque about its campaign finances … try to be a watchdog on the campaign finances of Corcoran’s The information is virtually hidden in a reference to “State of Florida Reporting Requirements.” Nor does Corcoran’s committee list the addresses of his campaign donors, which is required under Florida law.

Fox News is helping Ron DeSantis catch up in governor race” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal – DeSantis has stayed away from the media circuses in Parkland and Tallahassee, releasing only a written statement critical of the FBI and Broward County sheriff, calling for more funding for mental health services, defending efforts to harden school security and criticizing lawmakers’ move to raise the legal age for the purchase of semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. DeSantis appeared on Fox News 29 times from 2012 to 2016, according to researcher Gregory Martin of Emory University. By contrast, Putnam appeared just once during that time and Corcoran hadn’t been on at all … the politically progressive Media Matters for America nonprofit notes that DeSantis had appeared on Fox News 15 times during the first two months of 2018, while Putnam hadn’t been on once. Following the Feb. 14 South Florida school shooting, Corcoran made four appearances.

Ronda Storms announces HD 59 bid” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics – Storms announced on her Facebook page that she will run for the seat currently held by Ross Spano, who is running for the Republican nomination for Attorney General. “After much prayerful consideration, my family and I have decided to step forward and make the personal sacrifice necessary to run for public office,” she said. Storms frequently made headlines during her eight years on the County Commission. She advocated sterilization for men or women convicted of child abuse and led a movement to cut off county funding for Planned Parenthood. Her most controversial moment came when she took the forefront of a commission decision to abstain from any involvement with Gay Pride parades or celebrations. She even stipulated the ordinance would be labeled “little g, little p.”


Gov, Scott tells Tampa Bay CareerSource boards to make leadership changes” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times – His message came after board members for CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay in Hillsborough rescinded votes to fire their president and CEO Edward Peachey. “With multiple ongoing investigations currently being conducted … including potential criminal charges, it’s unbelievable that the proper steps to protect taxpayers have still not been taken,” said Scott’s communications director John Tupps. Peachey was fired last week, but only for a short period of time before board members pulled back the decision. Small executive committees of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay had voted to terminate him without cause at the end of last month, electing to give him five months severance in exchange for him not suing the agencies. Within days of the firings, board members in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties invoked a rule to void the decisions until the matter could be brought before the full boards.

Florida Virtual School wasn’t hacked, it left the door open, Leon County schools says” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – Florida Virtual School, which insists it was hacked, refused to answer questions about the claims that its data was leaking online. But Leon County Schools, which was the first public entity to find out about the data breach, confirmed that a privacy advocate who runs a blog about data breaches called was indeed the person who tipped them off about the data leak. To find a trove of personal data on thousands of Leon County teachers and students, essentially all one had to do was go to the right website and download the files. Leon County Schools spokesman Chris Petley said it “was not a hack, it was a server left open” by Florida Virtual Schools. He also said, that contrary to FLVS’ claim that it “contacted” Leon County Schools and state law enforcement about the breach, LCS was the one — along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement — that contacted FLVS to notify the digital quasi-school district that its data was leaking.

Lake Okeechobee reservoir to cut discharges approved by SFWMD; heads to Army Corps” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm – The South Florida Water Management District board unanimously approved a design for the project developed over the last several months by district scientists and engineers. The project’s plans are to be given to Ryan Fisher, who heads the Corps as acting assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, by March 30. The Corps is scheduled to review and forward the plans to Congress for inclusion in the upcoming Water Resources and Development Act by Oct. 1. “We’ll push hard for congressional approval and appropriation,” said Matt Morrison, the district’s head of federal policy and coordination who led the design and planning for the project.

More manatees died from cold stress this winter” via Jim Waymer of Florida Today – Florida is on pace for another cold, harsh record year for manatee deaths, according to an environmental watchdog group. Already, 166 manatees have died statewide, state statistics through March 2 show. … More than 150 manatees died in just the first seven weeks of 2018, putting Florida on pace to set an annual record for manatee deaths, according to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit government watchdog group. “Florida’s manatees are one big freeze away from an ecological disaster and need more, not less, protection,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. … Florida’s annual manatee counts have more than doubled in the past 20 years, to more than 6,600 animals, according to statewide yearly aerial and ground counts. As a result, the federal government reclassified the manatee from an endangered to a threatened species … But the statewide annual counts are only a minimum count of the manatee population, so there could be thousands more.

Answer or ignore? Robocall ‘epidemic’ worsens, and Florida’s a prime target” via Jessica Saggio of FLORIDA TODAY – Data collected by the Federal Trade Commission, which monitors complaints, show Florida has always been among the worst states in sheer volume. Last year, 588,021 formal complaints were filed to the FTC, second only to California, which reported 823,692 spam or scam telemarketing calls — and those are just the calls actually reported. “We accurately define it as an epidemic,” said Ethan Garr, co-creator of RoboKiller, an app made to stop the calls. “What drives this is basic economics. Making these phone calls is so inexpensive for scammers. It costs them less than a penny per minute.” Many of the calls are run by small companies or even large overseas call centers that are looking for leads. They aim to refer people to different health care companies or loan agents who then pay them for the referral … They key is to find out who is calling, he said, and if it’s a legitimate company a person can sue if they’re being harassed.


Governor surprises Larry Metz: He’s a judge” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – In a surprise announcement Sunday from the dais of the Florida House, Gov. Scott said he had appointed Republican Rep. Metz as a circuit judge. Metz, a Yalaha Republican and 62-year-old lawyer in private practice, applied for a judgeship in the 5th Judicial Circuit, covering Lake, Marion, and Sumter counties. He’s term-limited in the House this year. “This caught me clearly off guard,” he said Sunday. “… It shows that (Scott) has very special trust and confidence in me … I’ll never forget this day and I look forward to being able to uphold the rule of law as a member of the judiciary.”

Corrine Brown appeals conviction citing juror’s visit from Holy Spirit” via Griffin Connolly of Roll Call –Brown’s attorney filed a 76-page appeal to her conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges Thursday, saying the judge in the case wrongfully removed a juror who claimed a “higher power” told him Brown was not guilty … “The district court reversibly erred when it questioned a juror who had voted to acquit Congresswoman Brown,” the appeal states, “and then dismissed the juror over [a] defense objection based on nothing more that the juror having prayed for guidance and [believing] that he received guidance from the Holy Spirit that Congresswoman Brown was not guilty.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jim Boxold, Nicholas Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Ronald LaFace, Daniel Newman, Scott Ross, Christopher Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: Provado Mobile Health

Chip Case, Capitol Advocates: Global Shield, LLC

Martin Fiorentino, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto, The Fiorentino Group: Estuary

Paul Hawkes, James Magill, Kimberly McGlynn, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Guardian Group

Jim Horne, Strategos Public Affairs: Education Corporation of America

Frank Mayernick, Tracy Hogan Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: FTRB Holdings

William Rubin, Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Fisherman’s Community Hospital

Stephanie Grutman Zauder, Ballard Partners: Alma Advertising Agency

— ALOE —

Florida teams picked for the Big Dance – Florida, Florida State and Miami have each earned a spot in the NCAA “March Madness” Tournament among the 68-team field announced Sunday. The Gators (20-12) were named as No. 6 seed in the East Region and will play the first round Thursday in Dallas as the favorite against the No. 11 seed opponent, either St. Bonaventure (25-7) or UCLA (21-11). Florida is 2-0 all-time against St. Bonaventure, and last faced them Nov. 17, 2016. UF is also 4-0 against UCLA – winning the NCAA Tournament games against them in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2014. The Florida State Seminoles (20-11) is ranked No. 9 seed in the West Region, facing No. 8 seed Missouri (20-12) in the first round Friday in Nashville. In the last 10 years, the Seminoles made the tournament six times, the best record in Florida State history. The Hurricanes (22-9) are No. 6 seed in the South Region, opening Thursday against No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago (28-5).

Happy birthday to a slew of Florida politicos, including Sen. Alan Hays, Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times, Brian Franklin, Frank Mayernick, Sarah Revell, and Jeff Ryan.

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.9.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

Last call for “Winners and Losers,” the Session-end list of who’s swimming and who’s underwater.

We need your suggestions by noon today. Our first draft will go live when the hanky drops, and then updated.

Keep sending us your suggestions and inside juice, driven by schadenfreude or not.

The usual disclaimer: Don’t send stuff on big-ticket items like the Governor or the budget. We’re looking for specific people and issues.

Your answers will remain confidential and can be sent to


— @MarcACaputo: A poll having Sen. Bill Nelson leading Gov. Rick Scott by 10 in FL is, charitably, a pretty big outlier

— @RepCharlieCrist: If FL legislature can pass #gunsafety legislation, Congress can too. Disappointed no #AssaultWeaponsBan and more guns allowed in schools, but this is meaningful progress improving public safety. Our work is far from over! #MSDStrong

— @Fineout: So a little process 101 for national/international media — the clock doesn’t start ticking for @FLGovScott until the gun/school safety bill is actually signed and presented to his office. That’s important to know because much of the bill takes effect upon becoming law

— @MDixon55: Budget closed out before @richardcorcoran or @joenegronfl had a meeting. Usually presiding officers have to do at least one brief pow wow

— @MaryEllenKlas: Here’s a follow up Q for @richardcorcoran, if the House really believed in passing sexual harassment, why not pass the stand-alone bill by @Kristin_Jacobs, instead attaching it to an ethics bill you knew the @FLSenate wasn’t going to accept?

— @Daniel_Sweeney: But it just goes to show the old saying’s true — nothing’s dead till the hanky drops.

— @JoseFelixDiaz: Ambassador @RepCTrujillo gave his farewell today. He proudly spoke of his true priorities; God, family and Country. Our speaker referred to him as the “most fearless amongst us.” Which is true. What he didn’t say was that he was also the most talented and the most loyal

— @TroyKinsey: A funny thing happened on the road to sine die: it appears the #flleg‘s legendary joint Black-Hispanic Caucus sine die gala at The Moon is now no more. @FLBlkCaucus is doing its own thing (last night)

— @AustinMKnipper: Big thank you to Senator @JeffreyBrandes for taking the time out his busy end-of-session schedule to speak with us UF Tallahassee Fellows last night. His honest and substantive words were both enlightening and inspiring. I wish him the best.


Sine Die (maybe) — 2; St. Patrick’s Day — 8; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest — 15; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 20; Easter — 23; NFL Draft begins — 48; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office — 55; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 75; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 105; Primary Election Day — 172; College Football opening weekend — 176; General Election Day — 242; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 340.

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


Last night, in the Senate bubble, during what was supposed to be a routine vote for the next Democratic leaders (the presumptive winner here is Audrey Gibson and the next-in-line was thought to be Gary Farmer), all hell broke out.

As an anti-Farmer movement began to develop, members began publicly voicing their disapproval. At that point, Randolph Bracy unexpectedly nominated Lauren Book. After she accepted the nomination, that’s when things got heated. In an effort to calm down and unify the caucus, Oscar Braynon pulled both Farmer and Book into a private meeting.

Gary Farmer is causing a ruckus at the caucus.

We are hearing that during the negotiations Farmer mansplained to Book that she could not possibly fulfill the duties of Leader-designate because she has two young children.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, by the way.

This comment was not well-received by the current Pro-tem, who also serves as chair of an appropriations subcommittee and has had quite a first term in the upper chamber, despite the fact that said impediments to job fulfillment were ever-present throughout her first term.

So where does that leave things?

As of this morning, Book is now holding enough pledge cards to defeat Farmer.

… if the Democrats hold the vote today.


Florida legislators finish work on budget” via The Associated Press — Legislators agreed on a long line of last minute changes on Thursday. The final $88.7 billion budget was delivered to legislators by midafternoon. Florida has a 72-hour “cooling off period” to make sure everyone can read the budget before the final vote. Legislative leaders said they plan to vote on the budget on Sunday. Legislators got bogged down in budget negotiations while they spent hours debating and working on a comprehensive gun and school safety bill. The new budget includes boosts in money for public schools and universities and sets aside $100 million for Florida’s land preservation program.

#Sprinkle details” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — As the House and Senate finalized differences on the roughly $89 billion 2018-19 budget, the supplemental funding — informally known as the “sprinkle fund” — was unveiled in a 10 a.m. budget meeting. The 21 last-minute spending list includes $30 million for charter school maintenance projects, $20 million for performance-based incentive in the state university system and $3.3 million for the University of South Florida. From that list, a dozen items are hurricane-related costs and contingent on reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Education budget increases amid shadow of shooting” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida — A new $88.7 billion state budget, expected to be approved Sunday, includes a $21.1 billion spending plan for the 67 school districts. It would boost per-student funding by $101.50 during 2018-2019 to $7,408 and represents a $485 million increase in state funding and local property taxes. A significant increase in school spending is tied to the Feb. 14 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The annual school funding formula would include a new category for mental-health funding with $69 million. It would increase the “safe schools” program, which helps pay for school resource officers, to $162 million, a $97.5 million increase. Outside of the funding formula, the school districts also could apply for grants to improve the security of their campuses in a $98.9 million program. But lawmakers pared Gov. Scott’s request for an $18 million increase in funding for classroom supplies for teachers. Lawmakers backed an $8.8 million increase, which should boost the annual payments by about $50 to $300.

Legislature slashing Health Dep’t pay because of medical marijuana delays” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Lawmakers on Thursday included a provision to withhold more than $1.9 million in Department of Health salaries and benefits in the final 2018-19 state budget until regulators fully implement medical marijuana. The proviso language, which “qualifies or restricts a specific appropriation,” means Health officials will get a 7.75 percent pay and benefits cut until they “implement” medical cannabis as authorized under the state constitution and statute. The full budget was released midday Thursday. The money will be “held in reserve,” with its release “contingent upon implementation,” the language says. That means “solely and exclusively by adopting all rules required by statute and any other rules necessary to implement this constitutional provision.”

Safety net hospitals take a win in 2018-19 budget” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Hospitals serving large numbers of the state’s Medicaid patients “applauded” funding in the 2018-19 budget they say “puts patients before profits.” In a Thursday news release, the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida thanked budget writers for maintaining funding. The Legislature agreed to fund another $319 million — including the federal share — in the upcoming year’s budget, as they did for this year (2017-18). “Safety net hospitals ensure the highest level of care to all Floridians, regardless of their ability to pay,” it said. “By leaving intact this important funding policy, legislators showed compassion for the needs of low-income elderly, pregnant women, critically ill children and fragile newborns.”

Florida judges in line to get large raises” via The Associated Press — The new budget has a 36 percent pay raise for the seven justices on the Florida Supreme Court. It also raises the salaries of all judges, as well as prosecutors and public defenders. State law enforcement officers are in line for a seven-percent or 10 percent pay raise. State firefighters would receive a $2,500 pay raise. The Republican-controlled Legislature is scheduled to vote on the budget on Sunday and then send it to Gov. Scott.

Lawmakers give juvenile officers pay raises” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics ﹘ There is good news for juvenile detention and probation officers. They are getting a pay raise. The House and Senate agreed Wednesday to set aside $8 million in pay raises for the more than 2,000 detention and probation officers who work with at-risk youth in the state. That amount goes hand in hand with Gov. Scott’s spending plan proposal was before the Legislative Session began. The money commitment will amount to a 10-percent pay raise, which Scott hopes will help recruit and retain better detention and probation officers to work in the Department of Juvenile Justice.

‘It’s silly’: Senate won’t punish Enterprise Rent-a-Car for NRA move” Senate Budget Chief Rob Bradley said it would set “bad precedent” to go along with a House plan that would have financially punished Enterprise Rent-A-Car for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. “I think that it’s silly to get involved in rebidding contracts … because you’re mad at a temporary moment in time about something that they have or haven’t done politically,” Bradley said. House members, mirroring what Georgia lawmakers were doing, tried to target an aviation fuel tax reduction benefiting Delta and a statewide rental car contract held by Enterprise after the companies severed ties with the NRA, according to a POLITICO Florida report. The rental car company’s contract expires in 2020. The House quietly proposed a plan that would have hurt Delta and Enterprise after the companies decided not to give NRA members discounts following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

It’s ‘silly’ to want to punish Enterprise Rent-A-Car for its stance on the NRA, says Rob Bradley.

Legislative leaders increase funding for UF project” via Ana Ceballos of Florida Politics — Dozens of member projects were zeroed out as legislative leaders reached a deal on an $89 billion budget deal, but one University of Florida project was not only salvaged, it got double of what the House and Senate had initially agreed to. “It was about making sure that the projects that we chose had the greatest impact on the economy and greatest return on investments,” Senate Budget Chair Bradley told reporters after budget conference Wednesday night. The House and the Senate had initially agreed to fund the Data Science and Information Center at the University of Florida at $25 million, but on Wednesday once the budget deal had been agreed to, it got $50 million in funds.

Oscar winner’s Miami alma mater on the chopping block — again” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida — The Legislature’s Republican leadership formally agreed to cut $500,000 in state grant funding to a Miami arts high school with a string of famous alumni, including 2017 Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney. Last year, lawmakers had considered but abruptly reversed course on eliminating entirely a $650,000 recurring annual grant to New World School of the Arts after an outcry from McCraney and other graduates of the high school. McCraney, who won an Oscar for writing “Moonlight” together with Barry Jenkins, led a social media campaign decrying the cut to his innovative alma mater. The grant supports the school’s art programs through things like equipment and supplies, while money for the academic programs comes from the K-12 funding formula in the state budget. Other notable alumni include Alex Lacamoire, who served as music director and orchestrator for the Broadway shows “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” and “Cocaine Cowboys” director Billy Corben. But it’s likely too late this year to put the money back in.


Standing with victims’ families, Scott expected to sign into law gun control, school safety billvia Marc Caputo of POLITICOGov. Scott is expected to sign or signal support for an unprecedented $400 million school safety and gun control bill on Friday when families of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre meet with him in Florida’s Capitol, according to state lawmakers who worked on the legislation. Scott’s office would neither confirm nor deny the governor’s intentions and instead pointed to his public statements pledging to study the bill in depth and to listen to the 17 families of those killed in the state’s worst school shooting in history. Those families banded together and urged the Florida House on Wednesday to approve the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, FL SB7026 (18R), which is now on Scott’s desk and awaits his approval or veto. The legislators who helped craft and push the bill — which passed the Florida Senate by just one vote on Monday — said they’ve been told or been given strong hints that Scott will approve the legislation, which closely mirrors a proposal he put forward after the Feb. 14 shootings in Parkland, Fla. State Sen. Lauren Book, a Broward County Democrat who helped organize and pay for Stoneman Douglas students to travel to Tallahassee to meet legislators, said she was being told on good authority that the Republican governor is “going to sign it. That’s my understanding.”

Largest school districts may skip armed ‘guardians’ program, even if Governor signs it” via Emily Mahoney and Jeffrey Solochek of the Miami Herald — The Broward, Duval and Hillsborough county school boards adopted formal statements opposing the idea of arming school personnel, and calling for adequate funding to support sworn officers in the schools instead. A day earlier, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made clear his district’s position, saying anyone who thinks arming educators is a solution is “absolutely out of their mind.” Also, a majority of Pasco County board members have signaled their dissent, as have officials in Pinellas County. “What’s the liability on that?” Pinellas board chair Renee Flowers asked … “We’re here to educate our students. Everyone has their own area of expertise. Cafeteria workers, maintenance people, librarians. … That’s not what they were hired for.” Among the state’s 12 biggest districts, only Brevard County leaders are seriously considering a proposal to arm school staff, though district spokeswoman Jennifer Wolfinger noted, “We haven’t agreed to it.” Lee County district leaders have not taken any public position.

Miami-Dade Schools chief Alberto Carvalho is one of the school leaders against arming teachers.

Donald Trump says Florida lawmakers were ‘listening to me’ on arming school personnel” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — “I want to congratulate the state of Florida and your representatives on some very good legislation that’s been passed,” Trump said at a Cabinet meeting. “I guess they’ve been listening to me a lot more because, unexpectedly, they passed concealed-carry for some very special teachers that have a great ability with weapons and with guns.” Trump added: “I guess they liked what I said. … A lot of people were surprised. I wasn’t so surprised. I think they did a great job in many respects.”

Lauren Book revives human trafficking legislation” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Sen. Book made headlines last week when she unexpectedly tabled a bill that would give victims of human trafficking the right to sue hotels that are complicit in the illicit activity. Only a few days later, the same provision is back — this time as an amendment Book sponsored and successfully tacked onto a House-backed bill that expands control and monitoring of sex offenders and predators in the state. The amended bill, HB 1301, was primed for a Senate floor vote on Thursday and could be voted on by the chamber as soon as Friday’s floor session. If approved, it would be sent back to the House for another vote. Though some in the chamber could have unspoken reservations for the otherwise popular measure. SB 1044 had stalled in a committee chaired by Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who also objected to Book’s attempt to bring the amendment onto HB 1301. Because Book’s amendment language already is provided in other legislation, Benacquisto argued the amendment was out of order.

House makes modest offer toward gambling compromise” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The House’s first stab on comprehensive gambling legislation this year includes a Spartan offer to the Senate of only three new slot machine licenses for pari-mutuels in counties that OK’d slots in local referendums. The Conference Committee on Gaming met for the first time Thursday evening; Rep. Mike La Rosa was elected chair. The proposal on the table would also require the selected counties to conduct a second referendum to confirm the first, to be held after July 1, the offer says.


Teachers union urges Scott to veto funds for arming school staff” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Education Association wrote to the governor the day after the Legislature approved a gun-control and school-safety package that aims to improve school security in the wake of last month’s deadly shootings at a high school in Parkland. The union’s letter did not suggest Scott veto the bill but instead asked him to use his line-item power to cut from the state budget funding for the “Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program.” That program would allow some school employees, with training, to carry guns on campus. That section of the bill (HB 7026) was one of the most controversial and has prompted lots of debate.

’Thoughts and prayers’ bring pushback” via Dara Kam and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Sen. Kelli Stargel 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 said her son, who lives in Chile, told her it showed up in his news feeds. The senator called the reaction “unfortunate” … “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.

Legislature backs bill removing black farmer medical marijuana requirement” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Senate passed a bill (HB 6049) that would delete a provision from statutes requiring a black farmer to be a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association Florida Chapter to be eligible for one of the state’s medical marijuana growing licenses. The House passed the bill earlier, meaning it now awaits Gov. Scott’s approval to become law. The move comes in the wake of an ongoing lawsuit filed by Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City who argued that the BFAA stipulation barred him from receiving a growing license.

Legislature backs PBMS, drug pricing legislation” via Lobby Tools —  Legislation revising requirements for pharmacy benefit managers and pharmacists heads to Gov. Scott’s desk after getting unanimous backing from the Florida Senate … HB 351 requires PBMs to register with the Office of Insurance Regulation if they do business in Florida. It also compels pharmacists in the state to relay the availability of lower cost, generic prescription drugs to patients. Scott will also receive a health care measure (HB 283) intended to allow the Lower Keys Medical Center to qualify for a Level I adult cardiovascular services license and better recruit cardiac physicians.

Lawmakers give boost to health care ‘ministries’” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — A bill that could increase enrollment in health care sharing ministries was passed by the Florida House and is headed to Gov. Scott. The House passed the measure (SB 660) by an 89-27 vote, with opposition coming from Democrats who expressed concerns that the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation doesn’t regulate the sharing arrangements. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill earlier in the session. Health care sharing ministries have been exempt from Florida’s insurance code since 2008 and limit participation to people who share the same religious beliefs. The bill would broaden the current law to include people with the same set of ethical or religious beliefs. The bill, if signed by Scott, would benefit some large health care ministries, including Melbourne-based Christian Care Ministries and its health care cost-sharing program known as Medi-Share.

Legislature wants to move up date of 2020 session” via The Associated Press — The Senate voted 34-3 to move the date of that year’s annual session from March to January. The House has already approved the bill and it now goes to Gov. Scott. Florida’s Constitution requires that legislators hold a session in March during odd-numbered years but legislators can move the date in even-numbered years. Sen. Oscar Braynon voted against the bill, saying that Tallahassee was “too cold” in January. Sen. Bill Galvano retorted that it was too hot later in the year.

Soon, troubled Pinellas construction board will lose independence” via Mark Puente of the Tampa Bay Times — County commissioners have been calling for the Legislature to reform the licensing board since January 2017. The coming reforms will reduce the number of licensing board members from 21 to 15. It also would subject the agency to annual financial audits and make commissioners responsible for appointing board members, instead of just approving recommendations made by the former executive director. The agency and its employees currently report to a board of mostly private contractors appointed by trade associations, not elected officials. Some current board members have served for decades. But the new rules will prevent board members from serving more than two consecutive four-year terms. The agency will also have to produce annual reports on how it serves contractors and taxpayers. A provision in the new law says the agency will be eligible for state funding for three years as it transitions to county government. But that doesn’t automatically mean the agency will become taxpayer-funded.

Governors Club special Friday lunch buffet menu — As Session extends (for a few more days), the Governors Club will offer a special Friday lunch menu with mixed green salad and assorted dressings; antipasto salad; egg salad; potato salad; macaroni salad; beefsteak; sausage and peppers; wild mushroom ravioli Bolognese; herb buttered orzo; Italian zucchini casserole; corn on the cob; strawberry cheesecake for dessert.


State Sen. Aaron Bean announced the winners of the Florida Legislature’s Annual Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition. The eight-week contest is open to members of the legislature and Capitol employees who compete to lose the most weight during the legislative session.

“Session is a stressful time for everyone at the Capitol, and it is easy to put on a few pounds if you’re not careful,” Bean said.

The 2018 Biggest Loser Weight Loss Competition winners are:

— Men: Rep. Clovis Watson (27.5 lbs.); Gary Austin of the Sergeant’s Office (22 lbs.) and Kurt Schrader of Bill Drafting (16.5 lbs.).

— Women: Mary Cowart, an aide to Rep. Cynthia Stafford (17.5 lbs.); Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (16 lbs.) and House Policy Chief Heather Bishop (12 lbs.).

Honorable mentions: Reps. Larry Ahern, Tracie Davis and Bob Cortes, as well as Bean, Kevin Rader and Daphne Campbell. Rep. Bobby Payne won the “Steady Eddy” award by staying the same weight.


Chris King raises $265,441 in February” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The campaign raised $201,091 during the month and his political committee Rise and Lead raised $64,350, according to his campaign. Through the end of January, the campaign had raised just over $2 million and through Feb. 15 Rise and Lead had raised just over $1.2 million. King’s campaign 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.

Assignment editors — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will speak at two events in Lee County, starting with a 7 p.m. speech at the Lee County Democratic Party Annual Gala at the La Venezia Ballroom, 4646 SE. 10th Pl. in Cape Coral. At 8 p.m., Levine will speak at the 2018 Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus Winter Conference at the Holiday Inn Fort Myers airport at town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Dr. in Fort Myers.

Crystal Ball updates Florida congressional seats to favor Democrats Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball made several updates in predictions for Congressional seats across the country, nearly all favoring Democrats. In Florida, Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan’s 16th Congressional District moved from “safe Republican” to “likely Republican.” For Orlando Democrat Stephanie Murphy, her 7th Congressional District has been updated from “leans” to “likely Democratic.”

Larry Sabato made some ‘Crystal Ball’ changes, all good for Democrats.

Democratic super PAC reserves $1.1 million in Miami TV time” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — House Majority PAC has reserved just over $43 million for television ads in the final weeks of the 2018 election cycle nationwide. The outlay includes $1,119,500 in Miami and $420,000 in West Palm Beach. “The Republicans are panicking about losing their majority in the House, because they know that across the country Democrats have top-notch candidates running, and there’s a surge in grassroots participation,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Charlie Kelly said in a statement. “2018 will bring a barrage of frantic negative attack ads from GOP outside groups, but HMP is ensuring we’re prepared early-on to fight back. Momentum is on our side, and with smart, strategic investments, we will help Democrats win across the country.” The most competitive House election in Miami is expected to be incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo‘s race against Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Donna Shalala seeks to fight Trump if elected to Congress” via Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press — Former Bill Clinton cabinet member Shalala is vying to win the Democratic nomination to flip a Florida district long held by a popular Republican congresswoman, but her sights are already set on Trump. President Clinton’s former Health and Human Services secretary is 77, a decade older than the retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and she’s never run for elective office before. But she told The Associated Press that Trump is an “embarrassment” and Democrats must stop him “from making terrible decisions.” Shalala says it will be no easy feat to replace Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring after 30 years in Congress and is well loved among Miami’s Cuban-American voters. … a poll in late January showed her ahead in a crowded Democratic field that includes Florida Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, former federal judge Mary Barzee Flores and four other contenders. At least two Republicans also are running.

Joe Gruters is running for the state Senate” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Gruters will run for Florida’s Senate District 23, which covers Sarasota County and part of Charlotte. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Greg Steube, who is resigning to run for Congress. “This campaign is about fighting every waking hour for a community that has given me so much,” Gruters said in his announcement. After losing two state House races at a young age, Gruters worked for U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and eventually took over as Sarasota GOP chairman, a position that brought him in contact with Trump. With Gruters hinting for weeks that he will run for the Senate, a number of potential candidates have been exploring running for his state House seat, including Lakewood Ranch Republican Club President Steve Vernon and Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh. Democrat Liv Coleman, a college professor from Bradenton, already has filed to run for the House seat.


Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz withdraws not guilty plea, stands mute on 34 counts” via Elliot Kleinberg of the Palm Beach Post — Nikolas Cruz withdrew his not guilty plea Thursday and instead chose to “stand mute,” according to a court motion. A grand jury in Broward County has formally indicted Nikolas Cruz in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High … The panel charged the 19-year-old with 17 counts of premeditated first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the mass shooting.

— “Nikolas Cruz handcuffed over Xbox fight with mom; reports reveal years of turmoil” via David Fleshler of the Sun-Sentinel

Audio files detail response in Parkland school shooting” via Linda Trischitta of the Sun Sentinel — It had been 11 minutes since Cruz unleashed his deadly barrage of gunfire inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. That’s when four Coral Springs police officers and two Broward Sheriff’s deputies entered the 1200 building, according to a timeline and radio calls released Thursday by the sheriff’s office. Responders didn’t know where the gunman was or whether there were more shooters. … “Analysis of the audiotapes indicates that there was not a lot of accurate information, it was a rapidly evolving scene and the sounds of gunfire were difficult to pinpoint,” Broward Sheriff Colonel Jack Dale said Thursday. … Coral Springs fire dispatchers got the first 911 call about a shooting a minute after it started. Cell calls made to 911 in Parkland go to Coral Springs’ communications center.

Anthony Borges, Stoneman Douglas student shot five times, returns to intensive care” via David Fleshler, Wells Dusenbury and David Lyons of the Sun-Sentinel — Anthony Borges is a tough, well-conditioned student-athlete who is defying the odds. Doctors operated on Borges on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and he is now in stable condition … During the shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the 15-year-old used his body to block a classroom door, saving the lives of numerous students. Shot five times, he was among the most seriously wounded of the survivors … “He’s doing OK now,” the lawyer, Alex Arreaza, said Thursday afternoon. … Doctors detected a possible abdominal infection and an ulcer in his small intestine from the impact of one of the bullets, his father, Royer Borges, wrote on Facebook. “So they decided to intervene and cut that section of the small intestine so that my son’s life wasn’t further compromised,” he wrote.

Hillary Clinton gives Emma Gonzalez a shout-out on International Women’s Day” via the Sun-Sentinel — Parkland student Emma Gonzalez has been an inspiration to many — including Hillary Clinton. The former presidential candidate tweeted about who inspires her on International Women’s Day. She listed Gonzalez among a group “whose righteous voices have pushed us to see possibility and a path forward on gun violence prevention.” With her tweet, Clinton included a photo of Gonzalez speaking at the emotional town hall at the BB&T Center following the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Bill Nelson takes Twitter to task, says hoax ‘scares me to death’” via Tim Johnson for the Miami Herald — Nelson said Twitter is taking steps to guard against the kind of fake tweets that hit The Miami Herald last month, but that “a lot more has got to be done.” Nelson called for a technical summit, led perhaps the Federal Trade Commission, to “get all of the relevant companies in the same room and talk about this problem with a collective sense of urgency and come up with some solutions.” Such a summit should include social media platforms, digital content companies, software developers, news organizations and government agencies, he said. However, the Twitter executives who met with Nelson declined to identify those behind the hoax, which came shortly after the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. In the aftermath of the school massacre, a perpetrator sent out tweets containing manipulated images purporting to tweet from a reporter at the Herald … The fake tweets appeared intended to rile the public, asking the race of the gunman and seeking photos from the scene.


Scott, Cabinet delay dozens of voting rights cases after legal setback” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Dozens of people who lost the right to vote from long-ago felony convictions remain in limbo because a federal judge has struck down Florida’s civil rights restoration process as unconstitutional. After waiting for years for their petitions to be considered, they traveled to Tallahassee to seek mercy from Scott and the three Cabinet members, who meet quarterly as the board of clemency. But with the restoration process discredited by the courts, the cases weren’t considered. “Several cases that were scheduled to be heard have been continued because a federal judge has objected to our system for restoring civil rights,” Scott said as the meeting began. “Although we strongly disagree with the judge’s ruling, we will respect his order not to consider applications for restoration of civil rights while we appeal his decision.”

Gun falls out of Florida kindergartner’s backpack in class” via The Associated Press — A gun fell out of a kindergartner’s backpack in a Florida charter school classroom, but it didn’t fire and it is unclear how it got there. Somerset Academy Lakes Elementary spokeswoman Lynn Norman-Teck said the child’s teacher immediately picked up the gun after it fell Thursday morning and no students were endangered. Principal Clint Duvo informed parents about the incident on the West Palm Beach school’s Facebook page. He wrote that the child didn’t know how the gun got into the backpack and had no intention of bringing it to school.

Noor Salman trial: ‘I would view her as a terrorist,’ man says in jury selection for Pulse gunman’s widow” via Krista Torralva of the Orlando Sentinel — A retired Air Force veteran considered for the jury in the federal trial of Noor Salman served a harsh opinion of Pulse gunman Omar Mateen’s widow. “I would view her as a terrorist,” he said Thursday, day six of jury selection. “I question why she’s being tried in [civilian] court versus a military tribunal.” The man, whose work since 2001 has included involvement in the War on Terror, was excused. By the end of the day, lawyers had approved 46 potential jurors. … U.S. District Judge Paul Byron has said he wants to get 60 for the lawyers to pick from. During questioning, some potential jurors admitted their judgment might be influenced by media coverage; their proximity to the club, which has been a makeshift memorial since the June 12, 2016, shooting that killed 49; and relationships with survivors.

Worst story of the day — “At Florida home for the disabled, scathing report comes on heels of bizarre death” via Monique Madan of the Miami Herald — Carlton Palms Educational Center in Mount Dora is a gorgeous place … the only one in the state that’s licensed to care for intellectually disabled Floridians with severe behavioral challenges … It’s also the place where 26-year-old William James Lamson died last week after beating his head against objects in his bedroom …  Five years before that, it was where a nonverbal Broward girl succumbed to dehydration days after her arrival at her new home. In 1997, it was where Jon Henley, 14, was found dead in his bed with low levels of anti-seizure medicine in his system. Most recently, it was where a man was beaten up by his caregivers. The young man’s death — currently being investigated by the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Children & Families — came days before a federally funded advocacy group released a 33-page report detailing “abuse or neglect” at the long-troubled complex for disabled people with complex behavioral problems.

Carlton Palms facility for mentally disabled in Mount Dora.

Pinellas sheriff: Former investigator lied about protecting kids” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Steven Urban, 29, faces 10 counts of falsifying records, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. An internal review found that his conduct spans many more cases: Out of 142 child welfare cases over a year period, Urban lied or reported misleading information in 75 of them, the review found. In one recent case, he reported that he had interviewed a family member who died in 2014. “This guy needs to go to prison,” Gualtieri said during a news conference. “He needs the harshest of consequences … because he put kids in harm’s way.” Urban, who had worked at the sheriff’s office for six years, resigned Jan. 17 soon after he was confronted with the allegations, Gualtieri said. He made about $47,500 a year.


Scott should veto school safety bill, demand better” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — To be sure, there are positive provisions in this $400 million package. Yet those improvements are outweighed by a dangerous plan to secretly arm school personnel such as counselors, librarians, coaches — and some teachers. Allowing more guns in schools held by anyone other than uniformed law enforcement officers is opposed by teachers, Tampa Bay school districts and most voters. It’s also opposed by black lawmakers who legitimately fear children of color could be particularly at risk in a violent situation. A last-minute revision that renames this program and exempts many teachers from participating may help solve a political problem for the governor, who has opposed arming teachers. In practice, it would be just as risky and unacceptable. The scope of the reforms should match the magnitude of the challenge of protecting our children. Scott should veto this bill, call the Legislature into special session later this month and insist on a more vigorous approach.


Fish and Wildlife picks spark Senate debate” via the News Service of Florida — Senate Democrats objected to three of Gov. Scott’s appointees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission — though the appointees were ultimately confirmed. Sen. Gary Farmer questioned the qualifications of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appointees Gary Nicklaus, Sonya Rood and Gary Lester. That led Republicans to defend the governor’s choices. “These people are of honor and integrity and deserve our vote,” Sen. Aaron Bean said. Senators then voted 23-14 to approve the nomination of Nicklaus; 25-12 to approve the nomination of Rood, and 24-13 to approve the nomination of Lester.

UCF poised to choose its next president” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The Board of Trustees is expected to select the University of Central Florida’s next President Friday from a pool of four finalists who have visited the campus for interviews and meetings with students, staff and the public. All of the finalists, which include UCF Provost Dale Whittaker, are high-level administrators at research universities. The others vying for the post are Suresh Garimella, executive vice president for research and partnerships at Purdue University; Mark Kennedy, president at the University of North Dakota; and Matt Wilson, president of the University of Akron.

Former El Nuevo Herald editor is Miami-Dade mayor’s new spokeswoman” via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald — Myriam Marquez, the former El Nuevo Herald editor, will take on the top communications job in Miami-Dade County as the new spokeswoman for Mayor Carlos Gimenez. The veteran editor and columnist takes on the $175,000-a-year county post with the title of senior adviser and communications director for the county. That puts her in charge of all press shops across the bureaucracy. Marquez, who left the Spanish-language paper last summer, also used to be the Miami Herald’s Editorial Page. Marquez replaces Mike Hernández, a political consultant hired in 2014 as Gimenez revved up for what was a successful 2016 reelection campaign. Term limits require Gimenez to exit the mayor’s office in 2020. In a news release, Marquez said: “I share the Mayor’s vision of improving our residents’ quality of life in cost-efficient ways that protect their pockets, and I am excited about all the innovations underway.”


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion of domestic violence, the rise in reported cases and the need for dedicated detectives on these types of cases. Joining Walker-Torres are Clara Reynolds, president and CEO, Crisis Center of Tampa Bay; Carolina Cassedy, senior at Robinson High School, Get Loud Program; Roseanne Cupoli, chief program officer, The Spring of Tampa Bay; Michelle Sperzel, CEO, Harbor House; Judge Alice L. Blackwell, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look back at the 2018 Legislative Session. Anchors Ybeth Bruzual and Al Ruechel along with reporter Troy Kinsey will break down the legislative session and discuss which bills were passed and failed. Allison Graves with PolitiFact Florida will use the Truth-O-Meter to rate claims that came out of Session.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests: Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg talk current events and host a weekly roundtable with newsmakers.

— ALOE —

Landmark restaurant Andrew’s completes major renovations” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Dressed in a loose black T-shirt and jeans, Andrew Reiss is a casual contrast to the army of suits at Andrew’s. He spoke about how $300,000 in renovations offered an overdue face-lift to his landmark restaurant … The interior, a museum of downtown images, was dated. Two years ago, Reiss stepped down as the owner and took on a supervisory role as longtime General Manager Jack Penrod took ownership of Epicurean Partners Inc., the company that owns Andrew’s Grill and Bar, Andrew’s 228 and Andrew’s Catering. Now, trendy garage doors replaced windows. The pergola’s wood slots allow sunshine to poke through in the fall and winter and provide protection in the warmer months. At night, gas lamps burn bright. Remodeling also included fresh paint, indoor furniture (outdoor furniture to come), refreshed bathrooms and a timeline of Andrew’s history through its various logos since the restaurant opened as The Deli in 1972.

How pink became sine die tradition in Tallahassee” via Florida Politics — Pink is the tradition for Capitol veterans to pay tribute to the late lobbyist Marvin Arrington. “Marvin was here for a long time, and he had a tradition of wearing a pink sports coat on the last day of Session,” said Wayne Malaney, who lobbies for newspaper publishers. In 2002, Arrington succumbed to a heart attack in a parking lot a block north of the Capitol. It was the Monday of the last week of session for that year. By the time people realized he was in crisis, smoke from the spinning of his car tires filled the downtown area. “Marvin wore pink carnations and no one serving today was here when Marvin was, but those who remembered him by wearing pink,” said Keith Arnold, who served in the House in the 1980s and 1990s and now lobbies. The last day of the 2002 session, Arrington’s son, Reynolds, and nephew, Patrick, showed up at the Capitol wearing Arrington’s trademark pink jackets. Joining them are more than 100 lobbyists sporting pink: carnations, jackets, shirts, all responding to Reynolds’ request to remember his dad with a display of pink.

Lobbyists wear their pink, in honor of Marvin Arrington, an insurance lobbyist with an affinity for pink who died during the last week of the 2002 Session, on the fourth floor Friday, May 5, 2017, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Photo by Phil Sears

Tallahassee not the only town with ‘sine die’ traditions” via Florida Politics — In Idaho, capital reporters wear ugly ties near session’s end to “encourage legislators to finish their business quickly and go home” …  In the Magnolia State, Mississippi State University lobbyists put tomato seedlings “on the desks of legislators, staff members and sometimes statehouse reporters.” In Georgia, lawmakers toss ripped paper into the air above their desks, and in Alabama, legislators give a “shroud” award to the bill deemed least likely to pass.

Watch out: Daylight Saving Time may cause heart attack spike” via Laura Geggel of Live Science — As people set their clocks forward an hour for daylight saving time this Sunday (March 8), they may also want to take extra care of their heart. That’s because people tend to have more heart attacks on the Monday following spring’s daylight saving time … In fact, the number of heart attacks increased 24 percent on the Monday following a daylight saving time, compared with the daily average for the weeks surrounding the start of daylight saving time, according to a 2014 study in the journal Open Heart. With this in mind, people who are at risk of a heart attack — such as those who smoke, have a strong family history of heart attack or have high cholesterol or high blood pressure — shouldn’t delay a trip to the emergency room if they feel chest pain, said senior researcher Dr. Hitinder Gurm an interventional cardiologist and an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System. “If you start to get some chest pain and indigestion that doesn’t want to go away, please get it checked out,” Gurm said.

Happy birthday to the great Kristy Campbell, Melissa Akeson of The Rubin Group, David Bennett, former state House candidate J.B. Bensmihen, Vanessa Thompson, and Jamie Van Pelt. Celebrating this weekend are Sen. Doug Broxson and Arek Whatshisface with Tiger Beat on the Potomac.

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 3.8.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Ana Ceballos, Daniel McAuliffe, and Jim Rosica.

Because he “opens at the close,” we’ll let the AP’s Gary Fineout outline the budget deal reached by Florida lawmakers.

Republican legislators said Wednesday they thought they had reached an agreement on key elements behind closed doors, but the agreement comes too late for lawmakers to end their 60-day session as scheduled.

Senate President Joe Negron said that he expects legislators will be forced to vote on the budget this coming Sunday.

Top legislators said the stalemate over the last two days was due primarily over a disagreement on how much money should go to hospitals that treat Medicaid patients.

But the delay prompted speculation — including from some legislators — that the budget deal was not reached in order to ensure that legislators would vote for a contentious gun bill drawn up in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That bill narrowly passed the Senate on Saturday and was approved by a tight margin in the House on Wednesday.

The final budget is expected to increase spending on public schools by about $100 per student; set aside money for the state’s Florida Forever land conservation program; and increase spending on financial aid programs for college students. The budget does not include an across-the-board pay raise for state employees.


— @FManjoo: I spent 2 months getting the news mostly from print. It changed my life. I was better informed, less anxious, and I had tons of free time. I distilled the experience into three Michael Pollan-esque lessons: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid social.

— @LongLIveKCX: Secretary of education Betsy Devos spoke to me and only a hand full of students. She did not properly answer my only question. She did not sit down with any students and asked what we wanted. Douglas has 3,000 students. None of them were invited.

— @MahoneystheName: Theme of this somber debate: Nearly every member has something they don’t like about this bill. Rs nervous about gun restrictions, Ds about arming school staff. It’s a question of if they are willing to accept the package. But Rep. Bob Cortes summed it up: “We must do better.”

— @NewsBySmiley: The speeches the last two days from the Broward lawmakers intimately involved in responding to the Parkland shooting have been incredibly powerful

— @CordByrd: Today I upheld my oath to the Constitution by voting against SB 7026. What happened in Parkland was a failure of government. When government fails, the solution is not more government. The solution is not unconstitutional gun control measures.

— @RadioRicko: So in the midst of the school safety debate in the Florida House I get a text that one of my hives has swarmed. 45 minutes later the bees are captured and placed in a new hive. Back at work and lawmakers are still droning on. Yes. that’s a bee pun.

— @Fineout: While Fla. Leg wraps up work on a budget & passes a comprehensive gun bill – the promise to pass a bill dealing with sexual harassment has faltered. State Rep @voteforjennifer Sullivan called it “unconscionable” the Senate won’t take up the bill after everything that happened

— @PaulFlemming: For those calculating 72 hours of cooling off for considering Florida’s budget, let’s hope the lost hour early Sunday is not an issue.

— @SShawFL: The process is broken if it’s driving good people like my friend Rep. Lee away…😢

— @MaryEllenKlas: Senate gushes with inside jokes, fond memories and work ethic helping the elderly, frail and the Hialeah district of @SenReneGarcia

— @JoseFelixDiaz: Tremendously classy farewell speech by Speaker Pro Tempore @RepJNunez – one of the classiest and hardest working legislators in the process. The Florida House will miss her leadership and her steady spirit


Sine Die (maybe) — 3; St. Patrick’s Day – 9; March For Our Lives/#NeverAgain gun violence protest – 16; Major League Baseball Opening Day — 21; Easter – 24; NFL Draft begins – 49; Close of candidate qualifying for federal office – 56; Solo: A Star Wars Story premier — 76; Close of candidate qualifying for statewide office — 106; Primary Election Day — 173; College Football opening weekend – 177; General Election Day — 243; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 341.

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


Florida House passes gun reform, school safety bill after lengthy debate” via Arek Sarkissian and Marc Caputo a POLITICO Florida – The Republican-led Florida House passed a school safety package that includes an unprecedented tightening of gun control regulations … The close vote placed reluctant GOP legislators in a vice between browbeating chamber leadership and the powerful National Rifle Association. The 67-50 vote was also tough for House Democrats, who earlier in the day decided to take a caucus position against the bill because it would allow for armed educational personnel in schools. The provision played a key role in the legislation’s near defeat when the Florida Senate barely passed the bill. Called “The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act,” the bill now goes to Gov. Scott for his signature. Legislators say Scott is expected to sign it into law. The gun control measures in the bill, though relatively small compared to the assault weapons ban unsuccessfully sought by Democrats, mark an unprecedented shift in the Florida Capitol, which has been a bastion of gun-rights legislation for decades.

Rick Scott refuses to be pinned down on school safety legislation” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – As the House debated the post-Parkland bill Wednesday, Gov. Scott refused to commit to signing it. “As you know, the bill is still being debated. When the bill makes it to my desk, I’m going to do what they don’t seem to be doing in Washington. I’m going to review the bill line by line,” Scott told reporters following a Cabinet meeting. “The group that I’m going to be talking to — the group that I care about the most because it has impacted them so much — is the families,” he said. Would he sign the bill (SB 7026) as it now exists? “They’re still debating it. I’m going to take my time and read the bill,” said Scott, a Naples Republican.

Dad of slain MSD student: ‘I’m a father, and I’m on a mission’ ” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida – Andrew Pollack’s 18-year-old daughter, Meadow, was among the 14 students shot dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Pollack, who watched from the gallery as the Florida House voted 67-50 to approve the school-safety measure sparked by the nation’s second-worst school shooting, that also left three faculty members dead, Wednesday evening. He praised the House, Senate and Gov.  Scott, and called the measure an important first step to ensure the safety and security of school children.

Pro-gun bills look doomed in Senate” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Without hesitation, the 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 President 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. The legislation would only slightly expand gun rights, allowing for electronic payments of criminal history checks for potential firearms buyers.

Parkland school shooting influenced Larry Lee to announce he will not seek re-election” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – Lee expressed his frustration with a partisan and ineffective Legislature. “Were it not for the outcry and protest of those students that saw their classmates die, we would not be addressing this school public safety issue,” Lee said. “Those students have done more in two weeks than the Legislature has done in six years.” Lee announced his retirement during a House Democratic Caucus meeting, where lawmakers debated voting against a wide-ranging school safety bill drafted after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting. Lee opposes the bill for several reasons, including that it includes a provision for school staff members to carry firearms. Legislators often fail to work with each other, leaving issues unresolved or solved by recommendations primarily from the Republican majority, Lee said.

Worth reading in its entirety – “’Toxic’ gun fight opens emotional and political wounds in Legislature” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Another click worthy of your time – “The Florida Legislature is considering arming certain school employees to protect against school shooters. But at least 19 times, such employees have shown dangerous behavior themselves.


Nikolas Cruz indicted on 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder” via Paula McMahon and Tonya Alanez of the Sun-Sentinel – Nikolas Cruz now formally faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, prosecutors announced Wednesday afternoon. After nearly two days of testimony, ranging from the Uber driver who drove Cruz to the school Feb. 14 and the medical examiner who did autopsies of the bodies of the 17 who died, a Broward County grand jury on Wednesday afternoon voted to indict the 19-year-old. … He could face the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet announced their intentions. Until Wednesday’s indictment was announced, authorities had said Cruz killed 17 and injured 16. But the indictment charges that he tried to kill a 17th person.

Named for the first time: All 17 who survived Cruz’s bullets” via David Fleshler and Phillip Valys of the Sun-Sentinel – The killer fired his AR-15 at them on that terrible afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and they survived. … A complete list of the wounded from the Parkland school shooting was released for the first time Wednesday … Although authorities have previously said the number of wounded stood at 16, the indictment lists 17 victims of attempted murder and said all had been shot. … The wounded: Ashley Baez, Anthony Borges, Isabel Chequer, Justin Colton, Alexander Dworet, Samantha Fuentes, Samantha Grady, Marian Kabachenko, Kyle Laman, Stacey Lynn Lippel, Kheshava Managapuram, Samantha Mayor, Daniela Menescal, William Olson, Genesis Valentin, Benjamin Wikander and Madeleine Wilford

Rubio, Nelson push for more gun violence protection orders” via the Associated Press – Rubio says he hopes more states enact gun violence protection orders that might prevent shootings like the high school massacre that killed 17 people. Rubio said Wednesday he planned to file legislation that would give incentives to states enacting those protection orders. The incentives would come in the form of grants from the Department of Justice over the next five years. … Bill Nelson joined Rubio for the announcement in Washington, D.C. Nelson said he backed the proposal, but he also ultimately wants universal background checks and more restrictions on assault weapons.

BSO defends captain who took charge of Parkland shooting scene” via Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald – On a website called BSO Fact Check, the agency wrote that Capt. Jan Jordan handled the situation in accordance with training. “The shooting had stopped,” the website states. “A perimeter is a secondary task that would be appropriate to apprehend the suspect, stop him from entering the neighboring middle school and prevent non-first responders (responding parents) from coming on the school property while it was on lockdown.” Four BSO deputies did not immediately enter the building where Cruz gunned down 17 students and staff. Coral Springs police officers were the first to go in, but Cruz had already fled. A partial dispatch log showed that Jordan, BSO’s Parkland district commander, gave the order to form a perimeter while some deputies thought the shooting was still going on. “Everyone should have gone in,” said a law enforcement source familiar with the agency’s response. “Every single person believed the shooter was in the building.”

Two Miramar SWAT officers suspended for heading to Parkland massacre” by Linda Trischitta of the Sun-Sentinel – When a gunman started shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, two Miramar SWAT team members did what comes naturally: They went to help. Now they’ve been suspended for it. The officers did not have permission to respond to the shooting at Parkland on Feb. 14, when 17 people were killed. And that created an officer safety issue and left them unaccountable for their actions, according to their police department. … The SWAT officers who responded were Detective Jeffrey Gilbert and Detective Carl Schlosser. One of them told supervisors he was in the Coral Springs area when the gunfire happened; it’s not known where the other drove from, police spokeswoman Tania Rues said. … A third SWAT member, Officer Kevin Gonzalez, was accused of being linked to several social media posts that put the city and police in a negative light, and was suspended … All three were notified Fed. 22 of their indefinite removal from what their department called a “privileged program” and were ordered to surrender their SWAT-issued rifles, but they remain on active duty for their other assignments, Rues said.

Betsy DeVos visited Parkland. It didn’t go over well with students” via Melissa Chan of Time magazine – For about an hour, at least three student journalists from the school’s newspaper, TV production and yearbook staff followed DeVos around campus, where they say she pet comfort dogs, shook hands with the school’s faculty and offered “generic” answers to their specific questions about how concrete changes can be made. “It was a publicity stunt, really. There was no point to it,” said Alyson Sheehy, an 18-year-old yearbook editor who was part of the small student press pool. “I kind of expected that to happen, but it’s still frustrating that she made the trip out here and made it a big deal but didn’t do anything.” Sheehy said DeVos “didn’t meet specifically with anyone” during her high-profile visit on the students’ first full day back at school. “She was kind of just walking around the school and not talking to anybody,” the high school senior said. “We just kind of followed her around.” When the student journalists asked DeVos questions about her goals and how she plans to stop school shootings, they said DeVos demurred. “She kind of gave us simple answers and didn’t really answer the questions we asked,” Sheehy said.

DeVos says school districts could arm teachers trained to high standards” via Kimberly Hefling of POLITICO Florida –  DeVos said school districts could opt to arm teachers by following the example of programs in Texas and Polk County that stress extensive training and safety. “I think that’s a model that can be adopted and should be an option for schools, for states, for communities,” DeVos said. “But it’s certainly not one that needs to be required or mandated for every community.” … She said she would be putting out more specific recommendations on school safety in the future. The Education Department already has sent $1 million — which officials called an “initial” grant — to help Broward County Public Schools’ recovery efforts.


Turning into a social media influencer overnight isn’t easy.

But some survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting who have since become activists have managed — something highlighted by a recent story in the New York Times.

The Times writes, “With their consistent tweeting of stories, memes, jokes and video clips, the students have managed to keep the tragedy that their school experienced — and their plan to stop such shootings from happening elsewhere — in the news for weeks, long after past mass shootings have faded from the headlines.”

Polished techniques: Twitter’s ‘quote’ retweeting feature has allowed the Parkland activists to interact with opposing views, adding their own bit of commentary. “The Parkland students’ use of quote tweets is one of their most effective tools.”

An example: Sarah Chadwick, a junior at MSD, tweeted, “We should change the name of AR-15s to “Marco Rubio” because they’re so easy to buy.” She was then criticized by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, who called Chadwick a sophomore, to which she responded — via a quote tweet — that she was a junior, effectively winning the argument.

But it’s not easy: Several students interviewed by the Times said they no longer feel comfortable tweeting about light material such as pop culture anymore. “The social media activism has come with a cost for the high schoolers, who before the shooting just used these platforms to keep up with friends, make jokes and pass the time.”


Joe Negron will not run for office in 2018, may resign before term ends” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm – Negron will not run for higher office in 2018 and may even resign before his term ends in November 2020 … he will not announce his plans until the end of the legislative session … Negron said he wants to settle back into his normal routine before making a final decision. “I enjoy serving in the Senate. I enjoy the work I’m able to do for the community. I’ll make that decision in a few weeks,” Negron said. Negron never committed to serving the full four-year term. His term was supposed to end in 2018, but redistricting required him to run again in 2016, giving him an unplanned extra two years in the Senate. “Term limits are there for a reason,” Negron said. If Negron resigns early, a special election would be held to replace him for the remainder of his term.

House winning Medicaid pay debate not so good for HCA, Tenet hospitals” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida – Helping end a budget impasse, lawmakers have agreed to keep a current Medicaid payment formula for hospitals and to increase funding for nursing homes by $40 million … The agreement allowed the chambers to close out a roughly $87 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1. … The House and Senate had taken different positions for weeks on hospital funding. The House proposal was essentially a continuation of the Medicaid payment formula from the current year’s budget. The Senate, meanwhile, had proposed redistributing $318 million in Medicaid “automatic rate enhancements” currently paid to 28 hospitals with large Medicaid caseloads and use it to increase the rates paid for all hospitals. … The impasse on health-care funding played a key role in causing legislative leaders to miss a Tuesday deadline for finishing the budget.

Corcoran calls out Senate for endangering sexual harassment bill” via Alexandra Glorioso and Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – “How does a chamber that was caught up in that much scandal not take up sexual harassment?” Corcoran told POLITICO, referring to two state senators who resigned in disgrace after being accused of improprieties. … Negron said on Wednesday he was “content” with how his chamber has handled sexual harassment and said he is not concerned that the legislation that would more broadly address sexual harassment across the government didn’t make it out of committee for a full vote of the Florida Senate. “What the Senate has done through our rules is make it abundantly clear that sexual harassment is against our rules and will not be tolerated,” Negron told reporters. … Negron wouldn’t say whether he would take up the House sexual harassment legislation and didn’t take ownership for negotiating a compromise on the legislation.

Scott says he’ll sign first responders’ benefits bill” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Gov. Scott said he will sign a measure to expand workers’ compensation benefits to first responders who suffer job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. Scott made the announcement early Wednesday at a “Ringing of the Bell” ceremony for Florida’s fallen firefighters at The Capitol. The legislation (SB 376) is a priority of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, also the state’s Fire Marshal. Patronis and Scott, both Republicans, are political allies. “Gov. Scott’s announcement today shows his continued leadership and commitment to this community,” Patronis said in a statement.

Bid to increase spending on opioid epidemic fails in Florida Senate” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Sen. Darryl Rouson withdrew his proposal to add $25 million toward the effort after Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto said the cash just wasn’t there in this year’s budget. “I didn’t give up easily,” Benacquisto said, but she said the Legislature’s $400 million response to the mass shooting in Parkland has tightened the state’s proposed $87 billion budget. The legislation (CS/HB 21) is set for a vote … It then would return to the House for final approval. More than half of the state’s spending package comes from the federal government. The legislation would limit initial opioid prescriptions to three days, with some allowances for a seven-day supply for acute pain. The package largely mirrors what Gov. Scott proposed last fall after he signed an executive order in May calling opioid abuse a public health emergency.

Senate passes gambling bill, requests conference” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – 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.” … 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.

Florida teacher leaders predict depleting ranks in wake of HB 7055” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Speaker Corcoran celebrated the passage of his sweeping K-12 policy bill, the 207-page HB 7055, with a statement cheering a “great day for education in Florida.” “Each and every child deserves to feel safe at school. No child should ever have to fear for their safety as soon as they step into the classroom,” Corcoran stated, referring to the measure’s new tax-credit scholarship for students who feel bullied in their public schools. Teacher leaders didn’t share in the enthusiasm, though. In social media and interviews, they blasted the latest legislation as even worse than the 2017 bill (HB 7069) that remains the subject of legal challenges by several school districts. They pointed to a provision that could lead to decertification of their unions as one of many items that might cause their profession to dwindle in Florida. “A teacher shortage is looming, big time, and it’s not because of this one issue,” said Mike Gandolfo, Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president. “It’s been coming for years.”

State could require elected officials to resign before running for federal office” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — A bill that would require public office holders to resign before running for federal office could soon become law. The House passed the legislation (SB 186) late Wednesday night, sending it to Gov. Scott‘s desk for approval. The bill would require elected officials to resign from their offices 10 days ahead of the start of a federal campaign. The resign-to-run requirement only applies to officials seeking a federal term that would overlap with their current term. Florida law already provides the same requirement for officeholders seeking other elected local or state seats. The measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, passed the Senate in January with the approval of just four Democrats. Similarly, most House Democrats voted against the bill on Wednesday.

Environmentalists, Seminole leaders blast House bill to strip rural protections” via Martin Comas of the Orlando Sentinel – Central Florida politicians are joining environmentalists and residents in opposing a fast-changing bill working its way through the Legislature that would do away with rural protections on land within 3 miles of a state university, including University of Central Florida. That means most land in Seminole County east of the environmentally-sensitive Econlockhatchee River — which has been mostly protected from high-density development after a countywide referendum — would be open to thousands of new rooftops, according to the latest amendments tacked onto the bill … “It’s going to affect the Econ,” said Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, who opposes the move. “It’s going to affect traffic. It’s going to affect quality of life. … It would have a devastating effect on our rural boundary.” Constantine said former state Rep. Chris Dorworth, now a real-estate investor from Lake Mary, told him he has a contract to purchase nearly 700 acres of farmland in Seminole’s rural protection area and bordered by the Econ River, County Road 419, the Orange County line and Riverwoods Trail. He said he suspects Dorworth is pushing for the bill’s amendments.

Senate backs privacy protections for Amazon Echo, Google Home” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Senate unanimously supported a bill on Wednesday that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before collecting information stored on devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The bill (SB 1256) explicitly prohibits the collection of location and communications data stored on electronic communication devices, including cellphones. Bill sponsor Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, told members on the floor that the bill is an expansion of “Fourth Amendment protections” for devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home. The bill exempts the warrant requirement for data that is obtained for business purposes and is not “personally identifiable.” A similar House version (HB 1249) has not been scheduled for a floor hearing.

Governors Club Thursday lunch buffet menu – Mixed green salad with assorted dressings; red potato salad; macaroni salad; cream of mushroom soup; rosemary pork chops; chicken piccata; majestic rice pilaf; grilled asparagus; glazed carrots; “Karl Rasmussen s’mores” for dessert.


Liberal megadonor Tom Steyer targets Scott, Mast, other Florida races” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Liberal campaign megadonor Tom Steyer is targeting … Rick Scott,  freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast … and other key races around the state as part of a $3.5 million effort to mobilize young voters. Steyer’s NextGen America announced the Florida midterm push Wednesday, pledging to “hire over 100 organizers to engage young Floridians on at least 40 campuses.” NextGen says it already has 53 paid staff in the state. Steyer was the top individual donor in the U.S. in 2016, pouring more than $91 million to Democratic candidates and liberal causes … Republican moneyman Sheldon Adelson was second with $82.6 million in contributions. … NextGen Climate Action Committee spent more than $20 million in Florida in 2014, when Scott won re-election over Democrat Charlie Crist.

Bill Nelson staffs up for re-electionNelson brought on several senior campaign staff to lead his 2018 re-election campaign, including campaign manager Marley Wilkes, experienced in Florida politics with a strong record of successful campaigns, as well as deputy campaign manager Greg Goddard and Shahra Anderson as Political Director. Wilkes joins the Nelson campaign from Ruth’s List, where she served as executive director. Goddard has been serving as Nelson’s finance director since early 2017. In 2016, Goddard was the Florida finance director for Hillary for America, as well as Florida finance director for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial race and as North Florida finance director for Nelson’s re-election in 2012. Anderson served in Nelson’s Senate office for 14 years; she began her career as a constituent advocate for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Anderson also played a key role in Nelson’s 2012 re-election.

Ron DeSantis says he raised $2 million in February for gubernatorial campaign” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – DeSantis announced his official campaign raised $471,000 and his Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee raised $1,616,000 during the month, giving him a 50-day tally of more than $5.4 million in the two funds. That includes $2.4 million transferred to the political committee from another political committee, Fund for Florida’s Future. DeSantis’ campaign now has a combined $5.2 million cash on hand. In January the campaign had raised more than $131,000, while the political committee had raised $3.2 million.

Andrew Gillum, Chris King criticize Gwen Graham over guns” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat – Graham and the other top Democratic candidates for governor all support a ban on assault weapons, an issue that has taken center stage in the primary since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people. But Mayor Gillum, during an appearance on MSNBC, accused her of campaigning on the Second Amendment when she ran for Congress. Orlando businessman King, during a news conference in Tallahassee, said she never supported the ban during her time in Congress. Graham responded, saying in an email that the “attacks are predictable but sad.” She alluded to her victory in 2014, which came after the NRA spent several hundred thousand dollars in an effort to defeat her.

Philip Levine raises $450K in February, adds his own $800K check” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … bringing his total funds raised to more than $10 million … Levine contended that he now leads his nearest competitor in the Democratic primary race by nearly a two to one ratio in the money race. That includes $4.65 million of his own money, either donated to his independent political committee All About Florida or loaned to his official campaign. His grand total of more than $10 million “continues to dominate the rest of the Democratic primary field,” read a statement released by his senior adviser, Christian Ulvert.

David Richardson goes after Donna Shalala in CD 27 Democrats’ field” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “I say, come on in Donna,” Richardson declares in a one-minute video, welcoming the Clinton-era health and human services secretary into a Miami-area race that already has more than a dozen Democrats and Republicans seeking to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. In the video, Richardson charges Shalala, who also served as the president of the University of Miami for 15 years, with inaction in the debate over single-payer health care during the administration of President Bill Clinton, and for taking a seat on the board of directors for UnitedHealth Group from 2001-2011. “Donna had an opportunity many years ago to be a champion for Medicare For All, but she chose not to do so. When she left government service, she went through the revolving door that we often hear about and landed in one of the biggest health insurance companies in the country.”

Click on the image below to watch the video:

Joseph Hogan becomes third Republican in HD 15 race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The race to succeed outgoing Rep. Jay Fant, an Attorney General hopeful, in Jacksonville’s House District 15 got more crowded on the Republican side Wednesday. Joseph Hogan, the son of Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan, entered the GOP scrum. Hogan will face attorney Wyman Duggan and yacht broker Mark Zeigler in the primary.

Anna Eskamani reports her HD 47 funds have topped $200K” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics –   Eskamani, seeking to succeed Republican state Rep. Mike Miller, has raised $184,400 in her official campaign fund. Her camp said that People Power for Florida, her independent political committee, has drawn $24,250. Her campaign raised $15,816 in February, the eight-consecutive month it reached five figures in donations and finished February with about $139,000 in the bank. Through January the committee had brought in only about $3,200 and had spent about half of that.

Lawsuit seeks to remove Jamie Grant from 2018 ballot” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Grant’s Republican challenger in the House District 64 primary has filed a lawsuit demanding Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner remove Grant as a candidate, saying he has violated the state’s term limits. “I believe that Rep. Grant, who was first elected to the Florida House in November 2010, is ineligible to run for re-election in the Florida House in 2018 due to his having served for eight consecutive years,” Terry Power said in a news release. Grant was first elected in 2010 and has been re-elected three times to two-year terms. But he did not serve those four terms consecutively.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry quietly launches re-election campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Except for a brief period of time when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry was discussed as a possible Chief Financial Officer appointment, there has been little doubt that he would run for re-election. The first inkling of that effort’s branding emerged Wednesday morning, via a new cover photo on his campaign Facebook page. The second, more definitive nugget: Curry filing for re-election Wednesday morning. The third indication: a new political committee, Jacksonville On the Rise, that will launch a six-figure tv and digital ad campaign today. … there have been whispers that Curry may be vulnerable as a candidate. … However, Curry will marshal massive resources, support from throughout the community, and a record of meaningful reforms into his re-election bid. Additionally, he can count on the unstinting support of the Florida Times-Union editorial page … which wasn’t necessarily the case until the very end of 2015 bid.

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Rick Scott, Cabinet approve conserving former mission site” via the News Service of Florida – Scott and the Cabinet agreed to spend $660,060 to conserve 772 acres of ranchland in Madison County that four centuries ago included a Spanish mission. The deal, which involves purchasing a “conservation easement,” would allow the Koblegard family to continue operating a cow and calf ranch on land it has owned for more than 80 years. The property is considered historically significant because it was once the site of San Pedro y San Pablo de Protohiriba on Lake Sampala, one of five missions established by the Spanish in the 1600s. Now, the property sits between two Florida Forever projects – Hixtown Swamp and San Pedro Bay – and includes Sampala Lake, a 115-acre spring fed lake.

Land swap: Shift in wetlands permitting proposed, worrying activists” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviews applications now for so-called “dredge and fill” permits to disturb wetlands, working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But Florida’s House has approved a bill (H.B. 7043) allowing the state agency to take over that job, and a bill in the Senate (S.B. 1402) is on the chamber’s calendar … The permitting change has been pitched as a step to increase efficiency, with the state’s environmental department reporting that 80 percent to 85 percent of the projects seeking federal permits also get a different type of state permit. With that much overlap, taking over the federal program means that “from a government resources perspective, we’re saving 85 percent,” Rep. Ben Albritton told a House committee last month. “That is good government.” But critics argue the state would give up valuable background by handling reviews solo. “The way they will be looked at and by whom they will be looked at is still in question,” Sierra Club lobbyist David Cullen told Albritton and other members of a committee minutes before a vote approving the measure.

Broward’s jail health care provider charged with doctoring patient records about death” via Dan Christiansen of – Armor Correctional Health Services, the Miami-based company that provides jail health care services for Broward, Palm Beach and 18 other Florida counties, has been criminally charged by the state of Wisconsin with seven counts of intentionally falsifying inmate health care records. The criminal complaint alleges that Armor, through its employees, doctored patient records concerning four inmates, including one who died of dehydration while in custody in the Milwaukee County Jail. Terrill Thomas, 38, “was locked in his cell without water from April 17, 2016, until he died of dehydration on the night of April 23-24, 2016,” the complaint says. “He literally died of thirst,” says a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by his estate against Armor, Milwaukee County, conservative ex-Sheriff David Clarke and others. Clarke, who was sheriff when Thomas died, gained international notoriety last month when he suggested on Twitter that Democrats and liberal billionaire George Soros manipulated Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding gun control.

Man who shot self at White House was on UF Child Protection team” via Jason Dearen and Jay Reeves of The Associated Press – An open, empty handgun case sat on the unmade bed of Cameron Ross Burgess in the Gainesville apartment he shared with two others on a tree-lined street just a few blocks from the University of Florida campus, where he worked helping abused children. There were nine rounds still inside the gun case. Police say Burgess fired multiple shots outside the White House Saturday before turning the gun on himself in front of dozens of onlookers. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trumpwere in Florida at the time. Burgess worked as a clinical case manager at the University of Florida’s Child Protection Team, a unit that responds to child abuse over a wide area of central Florida.

— ALOE —

Coke is launching its first alcoholic beverage” via Michael Sykes of Axios – Coca-Cola Co.’s Japan branch will be launching is first alcoholic product in the company’s history … The canned drink is a “highly Japan-specific approach given the complexity and richness,” said spokesperson Yohko Okabe to CNN. Coke’s CEO, James Quincey, told CNN that the company needed to develop more product to generate future growth as consumers lose interest in soft drinks. So far, they’ve also launched teas, coffees and even laxative versions of Coke in Japan.

Welcome to the world – Sloane Marie Brown, daughter of Christi and Ryan Brown, communications director to Sen. Bill Nelson.

Sloane Marie Brown, born at 2:25 a.m. on March 7, 2018

Happy birthday to Rep. Mike Bileca and to our friend, Ryan Smith. May the Force be with you, Ryan.

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