Independence Day is brought to you by these lobbyists and political associations

fireworks over florida

Whether it’s on a boat or at the beach, setting off fireworks or firing up the grill, Floridians are expected to kick off Fourth of July weekend in style.

An estimated 2.3 million Floridians are expected to travel during the holiday weekend, part of a historic holiday travel weekend travel pattern, according to AAA – The Auto Club Group. The company forecasts an estimated 44.2 million Americans will travel between Friday and Tuesday, July 4.

The group expects 2 million Floridians will drive to their location. And while they can’t project where they’ll end up, there’s a good chance there will be an old fashioned cook-out at the end of their journey.

The National Retail Federation estimated about 65 percent of Americans attended a cookout, barbecue or picnic in 2016. Last year, Americans were expected to spend $71.34 per household on average on food for barbecues.

Heading to a barbecue this weekend? It’s always polite to bring the host or hostess a little something to say thanks, and a new makes it more enticing to bring a bottle of Florida-made vodka, rum or even whiskey.

Gov. Rick Scott in June signed into a law a bill (HB 141) that, among other things allows craft distilleries to sell up to six individual containers of each branded product at their gift shop each year.

Need a suggestion the best booze to bring to a BBQ? We bet the Florida Distillers Guild’s crack government affairs team of Christopher Dawson, David Griffin, John Harris, Richard Reeves, Joseph Salzverg, Robert Stuart, and Jason Unger with GrayRobinson, and Steve Schale with Schale Communications might be able to give you a tip about their favorite tipple.

If you — or your host and hostess — prefer beer, have no fear! The Sunshine State has a growing number of craft breweries, and is becoming a hot spot for some when it comes to brew-cations.

The Florida Brewers Guild, represented by legislative lobbyists Joshua Aubuchon and Mark Delegal with Holland & Knight, have continued to push for changes to make Florida a place that’s welcoming to craft brewers. Looking for a good brewery in the Tampa Bay region? There’s plenty in the area, just ask the Tampa Bay Brewer’s Guild’s legislative lobby team of Rhett O’Doski and Sean Stafford with Advantage Consulting Team.

No backyard cook out would be complete without some hot dogs, burgers and vegetables tossed on the grill.

Since 1934, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association has been devoted to promoting and protecting the ability of cattlemen to produce and market their products. The state’s cattle industry is one the 15 largest in the country, so it’s no surprise they’ve invested in top lobbyists — Samual Ard and Josie Taylor Tomkow with Ard Shirley & Rudolph — to protect their interests in the Florida Legislature.

Need something to accompany those burgers and all-beef hot dogs? Add some of Florida’s fresh produce to the menu. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, avocados, mangoes and mushrooms are just a few of the fruits and vegetables in season in July.

The state’s agriculture industry is one of the largest in the country, and in 2013, it ranked 18th in the nation for the number of farms.

The South Florida Agriculture Association, represented by Jack Cory, Keyna Cory, and Erin Daly Ballas, might be able to point you in the right direction into where to find the freshest produce this time of year. If they can’t help, then give the Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association – Florida Chapter’s government affairs team of Yolanda Cash Jackson, and Karen Skyers with Becker & Poliakoff, or in-house lobbyist Howard Gunn, a buzz.

In Florida, a long weekend is often just an excuse for time out on the water. The National Marine Manufacturers Association expected sales in power boats increased between 6- and 7 percent in 2016. According to the report, Florida in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2015 with $2.6 billion in sales. That was up 11.4 percent from 2014.

The Boat Owners Association of United States once again tapped Bonnie Basham with Capital Ideas to advance its priorities in front of the Legislature; while Rybovich Boat Company hired government affairs gurus Brian Ballard and Justin Sayfie with Ballard Partners, and Richard Pinsky with Akerman to represent them during the 2017 Legislative Session.

If you’re more at home in the backcountry, maybe the Florida Airboat Association’s legislative lobbyist M. Lane Stephens with SGC Governmental Affairs can offer up some ideas for where to bring the airboat out this weekend.

Whatever you do this weekend, make sure you stay safe. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has launched Operation Dry Water, which aims to educate the public about the dangers of boating under the influence.

No Fourth of July celebration would be complete with a patriotic display; and we’re not talking about the U.S. Navy Blue Angels — although the Blue Angels are scheduled to participate in the popular Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 8.

No we’re talking about fireworks.

Cities and counties across the state offer free fireworks displays to celebrate Independence Day. Some will be beach side; others will be held at parks or town centers. And some fireworks will be shot off from your neighbor’s backyard.

Lawmakers have tried to legalize some types fireworks for recreational use, but haven’t made much headway. That hasn’t stopped fireworks distributors from reaching out to state lawmakers about change.

Shelton Fireworks, which has locations in Indiana, Missouri and Alabama, enlisted Richard Coates with Tidewater Consulting to advance its efforts in Florida.

And lest we forget the real reason for the holiday — to celebrate freedom and independence — let’s tip our hate to some of the organizations that work to protect Floridians’ freedoms.

In 2015, the state passed the All American Flag Act, which required all new flags flown by cities, counties and the state to purchase state and American flags made in the United States. The move was likely backed by the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, which represents the leading flag manufactures in the United States.

The Flag Manufactures Association of America established a “Made in the U.S.A” certification program and continues to push for legislation that encourages people and governments to purchase flags made in the U.S.A.

Defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are doing their part to keep Floridians safe, and investing heavily in the state.

Lockheed Martin has once again enlisted J. Michael Huey, Jessica Love, and Todd Steibly with GrayRobinson, and D. Ty Jackson with TSE Consulting to fight for its interests in the capital city; while Northrop Grumman has hired Jerry Sansom with JHS Consultants to work with its in-house lobbyist Rick Kendust.

When it comes to the freedom of the press, the Florida Press Association looks to Kimberly Case with Holland & Knight and Steven Uhlfelder with Uhlfelder & Associates to work with President Dean Ridings and Samuel Morley, the organization’s general counsel, when it needs help fighting for its rights. Gannet Media Group, the newspaper giant with at least a half dozen major newspapers in Florida, hired über lobbyist Ron Book and Kelly Mallette with Ronald L. Book PA to represent its interests in Tallahassee.

And don’t forget to thank Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation and William Bunkley with the Florida Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission for their continued work to fight for the freedom of speech, press and religion.

Peter Schorsch

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.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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