Connect with us

Emails & Opinions

Sunburn for February 2 — Iowa takeaways; What Rubio is thinking; Rick Scott antes up for Seminole Compact; Happy b-day Katie Webb

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray, and Jim Rosica.

IOWA TAKEAWAYS – DONALD TRUMP CAN’T MEET HYPE, HILLARY CLINTON UNDERWHELMS — Donald Trump failed to live up to his own hype and finished second to Ted Cruz, but it was a late surge from Marco Rubio that may wind up the as the biggest surprise of the Iowa caucuses.

Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders finished in what the Vermont senator termed a “virtual tie,” an outcome that may further embolden her critics even as her team claimed victory.

The 2016 presidential contest moves on to New Hampshire, where the nation’s first primary is now just seven days away. To get you started, here are some takeaways from Iowa’s leadoff caucuses:

A huge turnout, but not huge enough for Trump — Before Monday’s contest, the major question about Trump was whether his legion of fans would ultimately become an army of voters. Plenty did, as turnout in the Republican caucuses was up by nearly 60,000 people compared to 2012. The problem for the billionaire businessman was that he still didn’t have enough backers to push past the first-term Texas senator.

Trump was never well-positioned to win over rural Iowa’s evangelical voters. More than 4 in 10 Republicans arriving at caucus sites said the candidate quality that mattered most in their vote was that the candidate shares their values. Among those who said so, Cruz won the support of nearly 4 in 10, compared to less than 1 in 10 for Trump.

Trump will be quick to point out that Iowa backed two deeply flawed GOP candidates in 2008 and 2012, neither of whom went on to win the party’s nomination. Yet he missed an opportunity to deal Cruz a blow that would have made his path to the nomination far easier.

A close Democratic race — Clinton’s campaign team declared victory in the early morning hours as they headed to New Hampshire, pointing to her capture of at least 22 delegates to the party’s national convention to Sanders’ 21 — with one left to be decided. But the Iowa results appeared likely to benefit Sanders’ campaign far more than her own.

“We came in and we took on the entire political establishment and we fought them to a draw,” said Sanders adviser Tad Devine. “It’s a huge step forward for us. We’re very, very pleased with what happened.”

Even before the caucuses, Sanders said he was prepared to compete deep into the spring and fight until the summer convention. He raised $20 million in January and will be well-positioned to build a campaign organization in the lengthy list of states holding contests in March.

Still, Iowa has a largely white, liberal Democratic electorate, which will make it difficult for Sanders to argue that he’s a stronger candidate than Clinton to face off against the GOP in the general election.

To do so, he’ll need to win over the minority voters who play a major role in upcoming states on the primary calendar, including Nevada, South Carolina and several Southern states that hold contests in March.

Iowa trusted Cruz — By claiming victory in Iowa, Cruz ensures he’ll be a force in the Republican primary contest for weeks to come — if not longer.

He moves on to New Hampshire as the favorite of his party’s most conservative voters. Expect him to pick up support from likeminded candidates who underwhelmed on Monday, among them former neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who dropped out of the race.

Cruz won with an impressive ground game and beat back brutal attacks from Trump and others about his trustworthiness, the cornerstone of his campaign and his “TRUSTED” slogan.

And he’s got built-in advantages that will help him sustain his momentum as the race moves into the spring. Cruz began the year with more money than most of his competitors combined, and after New Hampshire, he’ll be able to spend it in more friendly territory as the GOP race moves into the South.

Rubio rising — He didn’t win the most votes, but Marco Rubio had a very good night in Iowa.

The first-term Florida senator claimed third place, finishing just behind Trump. More importantly, he absolutely dominated his competitors in the mainstream wing of the party, earning more votes than former Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich combined.

Rubio’s team also proved to be masters of the expectations game. By casting Trump and Cruz as the overwhelming front-runners in recent weeks, Rubio’s strong third place finish exceeded expectations and recent polls alike — which made it feel like a victory of sorts.

TWEET, TWEET

— @LarrySabato: Nothing I saw tonight has changed my mind: Abolish caucuses, make primaries universal. Oh, and Iowa has had more than enough turns as first.

— @MarcACaputo: This is a moment of deep pride for many Cuban-Americans: Cruz a surging #1 in Iowa, Rubio a surging #3 in the state.

— @OnBackground: (Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan): The #s that matter tonight: 8,7,7 Delegate allotment tonight for 3 top vote getters. Let the delegate race begin!

VICTORY! — Watch here Clinton’s caucus night speech – which she savvily started right in the middle of Cruz’s Iowa victory speech, forcing networks to cut away from him. She said she’s “breathing a sigh of relief” but, pointedly, stopped short of declaring victory. Watch here Bernie Sanders’ post-Iowa speech in which he repeats a familiar cry for revolution – stops short of declaring victory – and appears to offer an olive branch to Clinton, thanking her volunteers and staff.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Bright House Networks for Business, your trusted provider of industry leading communications and networking services for any size business – from startup to enterprise, and everything in between. We offer a full portfolio of products and services, including Business Phone and cloud-based Hosted Voice, Business Internet at speeds up to 350 Mbps to fiber-based Dedicated Internet Access, several tiers of high-quality HD Video programming, and an array of advanced cloud and managed IT services. Our solutions are customized to fit your business, your budget, and your industry. We own, manage and maintain our network, which means we are 100% accountable; and we’re locally based, which allows us to be immediately responsive to our customers. Find out why so many businesses in your area trust their communications needs to Bright House Networks. Learn more.***

HOW TED CRUZ BEAT DONALD TRUMP via Bob Costa and Phil Rucker of the Washington Post — We formed the philosophy that our campaign would be waged by neighbors telling their neighbors who to vote for, and we needed to set up every piece and shred of data to allow that to happen,’ said Jeff Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager. … That approach was paying off by the beginning of the year. Cruz had a clear lead in the polls. His list of endorsements was growing by the day. Crowds were swelling, even when he stopped by gas stations near midnight.

Rubio had a model in Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who has found support from both the right and the center of Iowa’s GOP going back to 2014, when she navigated a crowded primary … Rubio was guided by Ernst’s strategist, Todd Harris, who recognized that suburban Republicans could compete with the state’s conservative wing. ‘We went fishing where the fishes are,’ Harris said. ‘We knew exactly who the voters we wanted to talk to were. A lot of them were suburban. It’s no surprise [Rubio] was dubbed the ‘mayor of Ankeny.’ People made a lot of fun at that, but we knew what we were doing.’

To run his Iowa campaign, Cruz interviewed several seasoned consultants but settled on a former Baptist pastor named Bryan English who had deep ties to the evangelical networks led by Rep. Steve King and Bob Vander Plaats, head of the conservative group the Family Leader. English was an unusual hire, but the move underscored Cruz’s strategy. ‘Do you set up your operation with a bunch of khaki-slacks, blue-blazer clowns?’ Roe, Cruz’s campaign manager, asked. ‘Or do you set it up with an activist?

***Florida hospitals are on a mission. A mission to increase access to health care, improve the quality of care and reduce costs for patients. Find out more about the Florida Hospital Association’s “Mission to Care” and its new website that provides hospital prices and quality ratings in a consumer-friendly, searchable format.***

TWEET, TWEET: @SteveDeaceShow: Trump gets unprecedented free media for six months and the first time we take a vote he gets less than 25%. That’s why we have elections.

MIKE HUCKABEE SUSPENDS CAMPAGIN via The Hill — Huckabee on Monday night suspended his presidential campaign after a finishing near the back of the Republican pack in Iowa. … Huckabee failed to break out of a crowded GOP field and registered in the single digits in polls despite having won Iowa in 2008.

MARTIN O’MALLEY DROPS OUT via The Associated Press — O’Malley’s decision to drop out of the race came even before a winner had been declared but as early results showed O’Malley garnering negligible support in the first primary contest. … The former two-term governor and Baltimore mayor campaigned as a can-do chief executive who had pushed through key parts of the Democratic agenda in Maryland, including gun control, support for gay marriage and an increase in the minimum wage.

THE DAY AFTER: WHAT TO WATCH FOR IN NH AND BEYOND — The political suspense isn’t over now that the Iowa caucuses are history. There will be plenty of intrigue to track on the day after, too. What to watch Tuesday:

Umm, who won?: The Democratic caucus results were so tight that Clinton and Sanders both went to bed unsure who’d won. Will party bigwigs declare a winner Tuesday or simply leave it as a draw?

Claiming victory: There’s more than one way to define victory. Multiple candidates will try to claim a win simply by exceeding low expectations. Rubio is fashioning his third-place showing as an “important step to winning the nomination.” Paul is trumpeting a “strong top-five finish.”

Spin cycle – Why Iowa doesn’t matter: Poor performers in the caucuses will look for ways to play down the importance of Iowa. Ben Carson, for one, complained in his evening speech that he’d been the target of caucus-night dirty tricks.

Spin cycle – Why Iowa does matter: Winners and those who exceeded expectations will be happy to play up the significance of the Iowa results. Just how far do they stretch that victory lap?

Where next? It’s not just where the candidates point their planes, but where they ship all those Iowa staffers who will be packing their bags Tuesday. With New Hampshire just a week away, the state already is flooded with campaign staff and advertising dollars. While most candidates were planting themselves in New Hampshire, Cruz has stops Tuesday in both New Hampshire and South Carolina; he thinks his conservative message may resonate in the latter state.

Ads, ads, ads: For Iowans, it’s now safe to turn on the TV; viewers in New Hampshire, beware. From Tuesday forward, presidential candidates and the outside groups helping them are set to spend $11 million on TV and radio ads in the state, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG. By New Hampshire primary night, spending in the state will have topped $116 million. If the month of January is a guide, look for Trump with a side of Trump. Political ads already are popping up in states with later primaries and caucuses: Nevada has $1.7 million in ads scheduled.

Money chase: Beware of inbox overload. Wins and losses have one thing in common: They’re both fundraising opportunities. Expect many breathless emails from the candidates that convert their Iowa performances — fantastic or dismal — into pleas for campaign cash. Iowa winner Cruz had an email out before midnight warning that “I must raise over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in the next 24 hours or I risk wasting our Iowa victory.”

Endorsement chase: As candidates exit the race, where do they point their supporters? Trump plans to campaign in Arkansas on Wednesday. Could he be hoping to pick up an endorsement from Huckabee?

GOP BRACES FOR A POST-IOWA COLLISION via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – The bruised and battered Republican Party establishment is bracing for a collision — with the candidates running under its banner. With the GOP political class growing increasingly worried that insurgents Trump and Cruz are becoming hard to stop, some in the party say the time is near for three lagging establishment hopefuls —BushChristie and Kasich — to reassess their candidacies and help the party unite around one contender. The most widely talked-about scenario is that the establishment lane will narrow to Rubio, who polls show has the most support among the mainstream candidates … Yet … He the struggling trio of establishment candidates insist they have little interest in dropping out any time soon — and, to the contrary, are mapping out long primary campaigns that will take them far beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.

WHAT IS MARCO RUBIO THINKING? via Robert Draper of the New York Times – First, Rubio’s strategists believe that the conventional wisdom about this being a two-man race is wrong. That’s because those two men, Trump and Cruz, remain unacceptable candidates to the G.O.P.’s establishment donor class. Rubio’s people believe that even if the two anti-establishment candidates win the first four contests (in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada), neither of them will be able to coax the party’s benefactors into coalescing around them as Bob DoleGeorge W. BushJohn McCain and Mitt Romney were able to do after their early victories. Because of this, the Rubio campaign argues that as long as their candidate can dominate the establishment field in the early primaries, Republican donors will soon pressure the others occupying that space — chiefly Bush … Christie … and Kasich — to leave the race. Until that happens, Rubio’s advisers assert, Rubio can stay even with Trump and Cruz in the overall delegate count simply by winning Florida and Ohio on March 15 while placing third in the 33 other contests up to that point. Once the party does anoint Rubio as the last, best hope to defeat Trump and Cruz, money will pour in and delegate-rich states like New York, Pennsylvania and California will follow.

TWEET, TWEET: @sahilkapur: RUBIO just now: “So this is the moment they said would never happen.” OBAMA ’08 Iowa speech opener: “They said this day would never come.”

RUBIO’S SURGE IS A TRIUMPH FOR TRUMPISM via Peter Binart of the Atlantic — Rubio remains the ‘moderate’ in the GOP race, just as Kerry was among the Democrats in 2004. But Trump has redefined what ‘moderate’ means. … Trump may have lost in Iowa but Trumpism won. The fact that the moderate in the GOP race is now peddling a version of The Donald’s message testifies to how profound his effect has been.

RUBIO TO SCORE BIG ENDORSEMENT FROM TIM SCOTT via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO – Rubio is expected to secure the widely coveted endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott … the only black Republican is the U.S. Senate …  Rubio’s second major congressional endorsement in the state; the Florida senator has also secured … Trey Gowdy.

PRO RUBIO SUPER PAC PLAYING UP RUBIO ELECTABILITY via Mike Allen of POLITICO — Conservative Solutions Project, is releasing a new ad this morning titled “Both Right” that plays up his electability. “Ted Cruz says Donald Trump has boatloads of liberal positions. Donald Trump says Ted Cruz can’t beat the Democrats. Well – they’re both right! … If you’re not with Marco, you’re electing the Democrats.”

JEB BUSH SPENT $2,800 PER VOTE IN IOWA via The Huffington Post – According to ad-buy data collected by Morning Consult, Bush and his super PAC, Right to Rise, spent about $14.1 million on ads in Iowa. … That’s about 18 times as much money as … Cruz spent for each vote he received. It’s also 34 times as much as … Trump spent, and 10 times the amount spent by Rubio.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: With the Iowa caucuses over, Bush travels to New Hampshire, to attend a town hall meeting at the Franklin Pierce University Spagnuolo Hall, 40 University Drive in Rindge. Event begins at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. At 1 p.m., the former governor will hold a business tour and employee town hall at C & S Wholesalers, 10 Optical Ave. In Keene. Later, Bush will visit New England College Simon Center, 90 Bridge St. in Henniker for a 4 p.m. town hall meeting. He will finish the day with another town hall beginning 7 p.m. at the Hanover Inn Grand Ballroom, 2 East Wheelock St. in Hanover.

— Former mayor, executive councilor Ray Wieczorek backs Jeb Bush for president” via John DiStaso of WMUR

— “South Carolina agriculture chief endorsing Jeb Bush” via Andrew Shain of The State (S.C.)

BEN CARSON’S AMAZING EXCUSE FOR TAKING A BREAK FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: HE NEEDS ‘FRESH CLOTHES’ via Callum Borchers of the Washington Post – Political reporters and strategists have no idea what to make of Carson‘s decision. The most obvious theory is that he is preparing to drop out, but his campaign insists that is not the case … no fewer than three Carson aides … cited the need for them in announcing why Carson was departing the campaign trail. This wasn’t just an offhand excuse from Carson himself; it was the company line. Thus, we’re all left baffled … it’s hardly surprising that a 64-year old — well, anyone, really — would be tired after months of a grueling campaign, but a presidential candidate isn’t supposed to let on, right? I can hear Donald Trump’s voice … “low energy.”

RAND PAUL WON’T QUIT, HEAD TO NH via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — After a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses, Paul has decided to go on to New Hampshire rather than suspend his campaign, according to two aides familiar with his thinking … the Kentucky senator is hoping that his libertarian style is a better fit in New Hampshire, a state known for its independent style.

JOHN KASICH CAMPAIGN DISAVOWS AD BY PRO-KASICH SUPER PAC via Daniel Strauss of POLITICO – A new ad from the pro-John Kasich New Day for America super PAC targets Marco Rubio over his 2013 vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The 30-second spot, part of a $1 million buy and set to begin airing in New Hampshire on Tuesday, plays a clip of the state’s popular Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte making her case for reauthorization of the bill, then pivots to Rubio’s opposition. “If you are a victim of violence then you should first of all get all the support you need and deserve —you and your family. And also the defendant of these crimes need to be held accountable. We need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act because this continues to be a critical need in our country,” Ayotte says in the ad … Text in the ad then reads, ‘Seventy-eight senators, including every female, supported the Violence Against Women Act. Who voted against it? Marco Rubio.

HOW HILLARY CLINTON IS PLOTTING TO GO AFTER TRUMP via Glenn Thrush of POLITICO –[T]he man tasked with leading off an eventual anti-Trump offensive is David Brock … The emerging approach to defining Trump is an updated iteration of the “Bain Strategy” – the Obama 2012 campaign’s devastating attacks on Mitt … This time, Democrats would highlight the impact of Trump’s four business bankruptcies – and his opposition to wage hikes at his casinos and residential properties – on the families of his workers.

***A special message from Florida’s horsemen: While legislators debate using hard-earned taxpayer dollars for corporate relocation incentives, Florida employers who’ve been hard at work for decades could lose everything, thanks to “decoupling”— a Big Casino cash grab and gambling expansion plan tucked inside the Seminole Compact. It seems senseless to kill established Florida businesses, while spending public money in hopes new business may materialize. But Florida could do just that when “decoupling” leaves horse racing investors with NO WAY to do business and NO CHANCE to recoup financial return.  Gambling policy should be about growing Florida’s economy. Not padding the pockets of Big Casinos. Florida’s horsemen oppose decoupling in ANY form. NoDecoupling.com.***

PRO-PATRICK MURPHY SUPER PAC RAISES $500K TO END 2015, INCLUDING $200 K FROM MURPHY’S FATHER via Kristen Clark of the Miami Herald – The fundraising haul for “Floridians for a Strong Middle Class” was revealed … Through June, the committee had just $25,000 in donations, so its collections in the latter six months of the year reveal a stark increase in activity. The super PAC’s warchest is separate from the $4.3 million Murphy has in the bank for his personal campaign committee. Murphy’s father, construction executive Thomas Murphy, gave $200,000 to “Floridians for a Strong Middle Class” just before year’s end … Other large donations detailed in the disclosure report include $100,000 from a “Michael Smith” of Boulder, Co. (his employer information wasn’t listed), $50,000 from the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama and $50,000 from “230 East 63rd-6 Trust LLC.”

SUSANNAH RANDOLPH CLAIMS CAMPAIGN MONEY LEAD IN CD 9 via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Randolph is claiming the campaign money lead … saying she raised $125,000 in the third quarter and started 2016 with $225,000 in the bank … three Democrats have broken the $100,000 plateau … Meanwhile, Republicans have barely moved … One reported raising just over $6,000 on the year, and the other’s report had not been posted, but he previously had raised just over $2,000 in his first nine months. In the third quarter of 2015 the campaign money leader in the CD 9 race was state Sen. Darren Soto. His final 2015 campaign finance reports were not yet publicly posted Sunday evening. But his third-quarter report, running through the end of September, showed he had raised $184,000 by then and had $146,000 left at that time.

DARREN SOTO RAISES $156K IN CD 9, TOPPING SUSANNAH RANDOLPH BY $30K via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Soto claimed a campaign cash victory Monday after reporting his team had raised $156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, $30,000 more than Randolph …  So as Randolph claimed victory Sunday evening for having the most money still banked at the end of the year, the Soto campaign disputed that. His supporters contend some of Randolph’s $225,000 campaign money is earmarked for the general election and unavailable for the Democratic primary. Soto’s campaign claims that the $213,000 it has on hand is more than any other candidate in the primary election.

DCCC CHAIRMAN BEN RAY LUJAN CAMPAIGNS FOR VAL DEMINGS FOR CD 10, ANGERING DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGERS via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Lujan met with Orlando Hispanic leaders on behalf of Demings … angering her Democratic rivals, who said the party was out of bounds picking in a contested primary. Lujan and Demings met with 18 Orlando-area Hispanic leaders Monday morning to seek support for the former Orlando police chief … Even with three other significant Democrats running and a fourth who might join them. “To have the party come to your district to campaign for one of four Democrats who are in the race, I think is unfair,” [CD 10 candidate GeraldineThompsonsaid. “And it’s an attempt to force onto the Central Florida community the candidate D.C. wants, rather than the candidate that people know and have worked with for over a decade.”

***Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Come visit The Edison for lunch and try one of our quick and delicious lunches, like our Bibb wedge salad with brown sugar bacon. We even offer free valet service to ensure you have ample time to clean your plate. See our full lunch menu here: www.EdisonTally.com/cuisine***

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

RICK SCOTT AND SEMINOLE TRIBE BEGIN PR EFFORT FOR NEW BLACKJACK DEAL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Scott met with Tribal Chairman Jim Billie, other tribal leaders and gambling operations executives in South Florida in a meeting that was live-streamed on the Internet. They’re all trying to convince skeptical lawmakers to approve a new Seminole Compact that’s worth $3 billion over seven years in revenue share to the state, but also contains key provisions that critics say expand gambling in Florida, such as allowing the tribe to offer craps and roulette. The tribe has spent $500 million on its facilities since 2010 … “What we do know is, this relationship has worked,” Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen said to Scott.

COLUMN OF THE DAY — NEW GAMING LEGISLATION LIKELY ONLY DAYS AWAY via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News – A new comprehensive gaming bill pushed by a consortium of gaming industry operatives is apparently close to being filed in the Florida Legislature. Rob Bradley … chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, is fully on board. Lobbyists close to the issue say Bradley is anxious to get the contentious Seminole Compact out of committee and a doable gaming package onto the Senate Floor. The compact has become a food fight. Besides the Seminoles, squirrelly stakeholders include the racetrack casinos (racinos), the horse racing industry, North Florida racetracks and those who oppose gambling altogether. Will the Seminole Tribe of Florida go for a revised package? Wait ’til Week 6, lobbyists tell me. When Week 6 comes around, so will the Tribe.

SENATE CMTE CONFIRMS SWIFTLY JULIE JONES AS DOC SEC’Y via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald —  After admitting they were rushing the issue, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously confirmed Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones to the position she was appointed to last year by Gov. Scott. … Jones waited two hours in the audience before being confirmed by the committee that is in charge of overseeing her department. … Because legislators failed to confirm her appointment last year, if Jones is not confirmed this session, she will not be allowed to continue her job.

MEANWHILE … CORRECTIONS AGREES TO NEW CONTRACT WITH PRISON HEALTHCARE COMPANY via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – A company that provides prison healthcare services in five other states, announced Monday that it has signed a contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to fill in the gap in coverage after Corizon Healthcare terminated its agreement with the state last fall.

Centurion of Florida, LLC, a joint venture between Centene Corporation and MHM Services, Inc., announced it has signed a formal agreement to begin in April to replace Corizon Healthcare as the medical provider in Florida’s prisons beginning in the second quarter. … The company’s lead lobbyist is former House Speaker Dean Cannon, and its parent company, Centene Health, is a primary provider of managed medicaid services in Florida — doing business as Sunshine Health — and one of the largest contributors to legislative political committees in the state. Centene gave $298,000 to legislative campaigns and political committees in 2015 alone.

BILL TO HELP DEO FIGHT UNEMPLOYMENT FRAUD PASSES HOUSE COMMITTEE via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – A bill giving the Department of Opportunity more tools in the fight against unemployment benefits fraud unanimously passed the House Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee … A strike-all amendment removed several controversial provisions of the bill, including language that would have authorized DEO to hire law enforcement officers and garnish wages of those engaging in fraud. Other parts of the bill remain … such as increasing the length of time a fraudster is banned from using unemployment benefits if identity theft is discovered. A first offense would earn the individual a five-year ban from the system,2 increasing to 10 years for subsequent violations. If passed, the DEO would be able to form an agreement with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for access to the agency’s photo identification base to verify identities and avert fraud.

LEGISLATURE ASKED TO CONSIDER MONEY FOR SPORTS TEAMS via Joe Reedy of the Associated Press – The state’s economic development agency on Monday forwarded three sports applications to state lawmakers to review. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity did not rank the applications but suggested that all three might be worthy of funding. A group trying to get state money for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers initially turned in an application, but state officials said the application was not complete. DEO officials evaluated the rankings but suggested that the projects may generate more return on investment than their formula shows.

Some Republican legislators tried during the 2015 session to set aside $255 million for professional sports teams. But top House Republicans opposed the effort and are expected to do the same this year.

ICYMI — CARE CUT BACK AT COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENTS UNDER JOHN ARMSTRONG via Christine Sexton of POLITICO Florida – The number of patients served at county health departments has plummeted in the five years since Scott took office, the state’s top health official revealed in a letter to a top senator last week, in a bid to keep his job as Florida’s surgeon general amid rising legislative opposition. Surgeon General Armstrong included the data in his reply to a recent letter in which Sen. Don Gaetz … had pressed for details on the agency’s budget request to eliminate 718 positions, asking if any of the positions were clinical and inquiring about rising HIV rates. The data shows, on average, a 17 percent drop in the number of clients served at the county health departments statewide since Scott was elected, and a 20 percent drop in the number of visits statewide to county health departments.

HAPPENING TODAY — The Public Service Commission meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way in Tallahassee. The commission is set to take up several issues, including a request to approve a joint termination settlement by Tampa Electric and  Mosaic Fertlizer, LLC.

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

SENATE SESSION

Among the bills set for a vote in the Senate may include SB 590, from Venice Republican Sen. Nancy Detert, to allow judges discretion in adoption cases to put the best interest of the child above the wishes of biological parent. Senators could also hear SB 716, sponsored by Hollywood Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel, to establish a Holocaust memorial in the Capitol complex. Session begins 10 a.m. in the Senate chamber.

ABORTION BILL DEBATED IN HOUSE 

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee takes up a broad proposal (HB 1411) from Lakeland Republican Rep. Colleen Burton, which could increase restrictions on abortion clinics, and further prohibit the sale of fetal tissue. Meeting starts 10:30 a.m. in Room 212 of the Knott Building.

CLAIM BILL DISCUSSED IN DEATH OF FSU FOOTBALL PLAYER

A news conference with Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner of Tampa, Jacksonville Rep. Mia Jones and former football players for the Florida State University and NFL will urge lawmakers to pass (HB 3513 and SB 16) compensating the family of Devaughn Darling, an FSU player who collapsed and died during a training session in 2001. Event begins 10:30 a.m. in Room 333 of the Capitol.

CURRENT, FORMER SENATORS REUNITE

A reunion of former and current Senate members will be held at 11 a.m. in the Senate Chambers.

SENATE TAKES UP CHARTER SCHOOL BILL 

Among the several bills facing the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee include a proposal for a constitutional amendment (SJR 976), from Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, seeking to establish a statewide system of approving charter schools. If a charter school application is denied by a school district, backers of charters can appeal the ruling to the state. Meeting starts 1:30 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

SENATE SEEKS LOTTERY LIMITS

Under consideration by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee is (SB 790), filed by Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee, which seeks to limit sales of scratch-off lottery games. If passed, the Florida Lottery would be limited to offering no more than 20 scratch-off games at a time, with a maximum ticket price of $5. Meeting begins 1:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

HOUSE COMMITTEE LOOKS AT BILL TO REQUIRE SCHOOL RECESS

The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee takes up a bill (HB 833), from Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando and Rep. Bob Cortes, an Altamonte Springs Republican, which would require elementary schools to provide a weekly 100 minutes of recess. Meeting starts 1:30 p.m. in Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

HOUSE CONSIDERS GUN BILLS IN FLOOR SESSION

during its floor session the House will consider two controversial gun bills. HB 163, from Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, allows individuals with concealed-weapons permits to openly carry firearms. HB 4001, from Sarasota Republican Rep. Greg Steube and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, a Tallahassee Democrat would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses. Session starts 4 p.m. in the House Chambers.

SENATORS TAKES UP PROPOSAL TO EXPAND CABINET

Two proposals in the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee would have constitutional amendments expand the number of elected Cabinet members. One amendment (SJR 942) by Hialeah Republican Sen. Rene Garcia would establish the elected Cabinet-level position of education commissioner. Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Aaron Bean proposed a similar amendment (SJR 1424) for an elected Cabinet-level secretary of state. Meeting starts 4 p.m. in Room 412 of the Knott Building.

IT’S FSU DAY AT THE CAPITOL  Florida State University President John Thrasher will give a speech to mark the “FSU Day at the Capitol” at 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol plaza.

***Capital City Consulting, LLC is a full-service government and public affairs firm located in Tallahassee, Florida. At Capital City Consulting, our team of professionals specialize in developing unique government relations and public affairs strategies and delivering unrivaled results for our clients before the Florida Legislature and Executive Branch Agencies. Capital City Consulting has the experience, contacts and winning strategies to help our clients stand out in the capital city. Learn more at www.capcityconsult.com.***

PERSONNEL NOTES: KELLY SCHMIDT TO FUNDRAISE FOR SENATE MAJORITY, NICOLE HAGERTY TO AID BILL GALVANO via Florida Politics –As rumors about which legislative candidate is running where continue to swirl, the team behind the Senate candidates is taking shape. President-Designate Joe Negron, now firmly in control of Senate Majority, the political arm of the Republican caucus, and Majority Leader Bill Galvano today made a joint announcement regarding some staffing changes. Some familiar faces are changing roles. Nicole Hagerty, Deputy Finance Director for Senate Campaigns will leave her position to join Nancy Texeira in fundraising for Innovate Florida, the political committee chaired by Galvano. In Hagerty’s place, Kelly Schmidt has been promoted and will now serve as Deputy Finance Director for Senate Majority, and Ashley Ross will continue to lead Senate Majority fundraising for Negron.

PERSONNEL NOTE: MARK LANDRETH, SHANE STRUM MAKE MOVES via Florida Politics – Landreth, who just came off a four-year tour as executive director of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, now is top government-relations man for the American Heart Association in Florida. He started Dec. 14. His main goal is passage of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HB 153/SB 760), which would “provide financing to construct, rehabilitate, or expand independent grocery stores and supermarkets in low-income and moderate-income communities.” Strum has joined South Florida’s Memorial Healthcare System as a senior vice president … He was vice chancellor of Business Development for Keiser University after he was transition adviser to Scott … also was chief of staff to former Gov. Crist.

GOVERNORS CLUB’S TUESDAY LUNCH BUFFET MENU: With the start of another workweek, comes another round of extravagances from the Governors Club. Tuesday’s menu includes Beef & Barley Soup; GC Club Sandwich Board with Chips; Mix Green Salad with Toppings; Cole Slaw & Potato Salad; Southern Fried Chicken; Barbeque Beef Brisket; Blackened Mahi Mahi; Midwest Vegetable Mix; Baked Beans & Cheddar Cheese Mashed Potatoes, and finishing with Apple Crisp & Mini Desserts.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of the classiest operators in The Process, Katie Webb.

… BUT DON’T FORGET WHOSE BIG DAY IT REALLY IS:

Ron Ploucha, Punxsutawney Phil...Groundhog Club handler Ron Ploucha, center, holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 129th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.