Sunburn for 10.10.17 — Election Day in HD 44 & 58; Jack Latvala tees off; Andrew Gillum’s walkback; AHCA eyes $ cuts; Andrew Marcus’ new gig

Florida Capitol 2 (Large)

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

In Florida, it seems like every other Tuesday is an Election Day, as it is today in House Districts 44 and 58.

Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez are competing to replace former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, a Republican who resigned this spring to become a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal. Dominguez entered the race last month after Democratic candidate Paul Chandler withdrew amid questions about his eligibility for the seat.

Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure are seeking to replace former Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Plant City Republican who resigned this summer for health reasons. The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will move on to a Dec. 19 special general election in House District 58.

Special Election time: Republicans Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure face off Tuesday in HD 58; Republican Bobby Olszewski and Democrat Eddy Dominguez battle for HD 44.

The last-minute changes:

— Precinct 753 will vote at Bruton Memorial Library, 302 McClendon St., Plant City, according to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office. It is a change from the mailed notice recently sent to voters. Precinct 763 will vote at Faith Temple Assembly of God, 4240 N. Frontage Road. This move was made necessary this week by long lines of people signing up for Food for Florida benefits at Plant City Stadium in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The latest fundraising:

— Olszewski raised $21,201 between Sept. 8 and Thursday, according to a newly filed finance report. That brought his overall campaign total to $127,530, with that amount also including money raised for an August Republican primary. Dominguez raised $6,507 from Sept. 19 through Thursday.

— Fry and McClure have each raised more than $100,000, according to newly filed finance reports. Fry raised $44,025 between Sept. 8 and Thursday, bringing her overall total to $112,790, according to her new report. Contributions to Fry during the period included $3,000 from Realtors political-action committees. McClure, meanwhile, raised $28,280 during the period, bringing his total to $135,485. Contributions to McClure during the period included $3,000 from political committees linked to the health care firm HCA.

The latest polling:

— An automated phone poll on election eve of 358 registered voters in HD 58 gave McClure an 18-point lead, 54 to 36 percent.

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Bill to permanently expand Bright Futures passes first legislative hurdle” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News — … when the Senate Education Committee gave it the green light. SB 4, sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano would expand the amount of financial aid and scholarship money Florida students could receive under the program, which began in 1997 and is expected to serve nearly 100,000 students this year. Galvano’s proposal would secure full funding for the Academic Scholar award, the top tier of scholarships in the program. Receiving the top award for the scholarship requires students to have at least a 3.5 GPA as well as a score of 1290 on the SAT or a 29 on the ACT. At least 41,000 students qualified for the top scholarship tier this year. Funding would also be reinstated for the Bright Futures Medallion Scholar award, which awards 75 percent of tuition and fees for the fall and spring semesters.

Lawmakers look at limits for opioid prescriptions” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel — Patients would only get a week’s supply of opioids on their initial prescription for the drugs under a bill filed by state Sen. Aaron Bean … meant to limit the oversupply of opiates for temporary pain. It would allow for 30-day renewals of opioid prescriptions after the initial seven-day prescription. It includes a requirement that doctors consult the state’s prescription drug monitoring database before prescribing controlled substances. Doctors would also be required to complete a two-hour continuing education course on prescribing opioids for their biennial license renewal. No similar measure has been filed in the state House.

“Water bills already on the move in the Senate” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee OK’d the measure (SB 204) … The bill, by committee chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, would approve spending at least $75 million a year on springs projects and $50 million annually on projects related to the restoration of the St. Johns River — the longest entirely within Florida — and its tributaries, as well as the Keystone Heights Lake Region. Bradley said it’s “incredibly important” that the river remain healthy: “It really defines the character of so much of our state” … The committee also took up a bill (SB 174), filed by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala. It would set aside at least $50 million a year to help address issues such as beach erosion … The bill, supported by the affected coastal counties, cleared the committee without opposition.

Not one to hold back, Jack Latvala tees off on tourism. business and electric utilities.

Jack Latvala tees off on business and tourism groups during Hurricane Irma hearing” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Latvala’s sometimes gruff personality was on display as he teed off on business and tourism officials who were giving an update on the state’s efforts following Hurricane Irma. The panel was assembled by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee as part of a weeklong look at the storm and its impact on the state. Among the officials he targeted was Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. During his presentation, Wilson said one of the biggest reasons power was knocked out by the storm was that trees tumbled into power lines. “One thing we need to look at is local policies on tree removal,” Wilson told the committee. “I don’t know whose responsibility it is, but it’s something we need to look into.” Afterward, Latvala asked him about those comments. Wilson again continued to stress he was not sure who was responsible for tree removal. “Let me help you with that,” Latvala said pointedly. “The responsibility is with the utility companies.” Latvala has been publicly feuding with utility companies for weeks. During the meeting, he also was critical of Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Cissy Proctor, for her department’s decision to set up a $25 million bridge loan program for the citrus industry hammered by the storm, but not other areas of the agriculture industry. “You could have just as easily set it up for watermelons, beans, corn, tomatoes or any other industry,” Latvala said.

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“Senate committee passes on search bill for now” via Florida Politics — Should Florida law enforcement be required to inform subjects of their right to refuse a search? A Senate panel says that’s a question for another day. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee Monday postponed a bill (SB 262), filed by Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, that seeks to prevent police from conducting searches without first informing subjects they have a right to decline. The bill’s language will need to be revised before the committee reconsiders it — Farmer intended to have the requirement apply strictly to consent searches, but the language doesn’t quite specify that enough. The measure says an officer would have to inform the subject of their right to refuse “unless the law enforcement officer is carrying out a valid search warrant or the search is based upon another legally sufficient justification.”

Today’s fundraiser lineup State Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Senate candidate Ed Hooper are hosting a joint fundraising event beginning 5 p.m. at the Florida Retail Federation, 227 S. Adams St. in Tallahassee. Diaz, a Hialeah Republican, is seeking re-election to House District 103; Hooper is seeking to replace term-limited Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater in SD 16. Also at 5 p.m., Republican Reps. Byron Donalds and Jayer Williamson hold a joint fundraiser at the Governors Club Capitol Room; Sen. Dana Young will also be at the Club’s Board Room. At 6 p.m., Republican Reps. Byron Donalds and Bob Rommel join HD 89 candidate Matt Spritz to raise funds at the Club’s Plantation Room. At 6:30 p.m., newly elected Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo will hold an event at the Club’s Capitol Room. Also at 6 p.m., Democratic Reps. Ramon AlexanderLoranne AusleyBen DiamondSean Shaw and David Silvers will be fundraising at the Ology Brewing Company, 118 East 6th Avenue in Tallahassee.

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Andrew Gillum campaign rethinks environmental claim” via Allison Graves of the Tampa Bay Times — In his bid for governor, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Gillum once took responsibility for reducing the city’s carbon footprint in a short period. “Under his leadership, Tallahassee reduced its carbon intensity by roughly 40 percent,” his campaign website said. This was an exaggeration. PolitiFact Florida did not find evidence that supported a carbon cut of that size under Gillum’s watch. But if you check the website now, you won’t find that claim … “You brought it to our attention, and we wanted to make sure it was accurate, so we made the change when you reached out,” said campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said. “We’re trying to get people the accurate information they need.”

— “In Tampa, Gillum speaks frankly about race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

“Gillum raises $78,000 in September via Florida PoliticsGillum for Governor raised $72,000, and the aligned-political committee “Forward Florida” raised $6,000, the campaign and committee announced Tuesday. Spokesman Geoff Burgan said Gillum, a Democrat running for governor, had “paused” fundraising emails and activity. That was so Gillum, also mayor of Tallahassee, “could focus on Tallahassee’s robust response to Hurricane Irma.” Despite that, “we are pleased that grassroots and small-dollar donors continue showing Mayor Gillum strong support throughout Florida,” Burgan said. “These regular people are the ones funding and powering our campaign, not wealthy corporate donors.”

Gwen Graham vows to enact clean power plan” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — With President Trump‘s announcement he would be ending the federal clean-power plan initiated by his predecessor, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Graham vowed she would enact a “Florida clean power plan” to continue to seek carbon reductions and increase renewable energy. Graham says she’ll specifically stick to the goals former President Barack Obama had set with his federal order, to work toward a 32 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, compared with what Florida was producing in 2005. That would require significant decreases in coal-fired power. She said that would save the average consumer $85 a year in power bills. Arguing that an aggressive and comprehensive renewable energy policy would combat climate change, protect clean air, create jobs and lower energy prices, she added, “Florida can’t afford to wait for the federal government to act. As governor, I will implement a renewable energy standard, cut carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs.”

Gwen Graham installs solar panel during one of her recent campaign ‘Workdays.’

Hiring fundraiser, Phil Levine takes big step in deciding gubernatorial run” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Levine brought on veteran Democratic fundraiser Courtney Whitney ahead of what he intends to be an intensive month of fundraising for his All About Florida political committee. Levine, in a previous interview, told POLITICO that he intends to make an official decision in November on whether to join the crowded Democratic primary for governor in 2018. “Mayor Levine possesses a unique entrepreneurial background, with a robust network of international business leaders,” Whitney said in a written statement that foreshadows the likely themes Levine will stress as a candidate. “This won’t be a traditional fundraising operation, and I am thrilled to be a part of the team at All About Florida for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.”

“Ashley Moody breaks the $1M fundraising mark” via Florida Politics — Moody, a former Hillsborough circuit judge running as a Republican for Attorney General in 2018, reported on Monday she had raised more than $1 million in contributions. “We’re proud and excited to hit this important fundraising milestone, particularly in the first four months of our campaign,” she said in a statement. “It is a testament to our statewide network of grassroots supporters, community leaders, and well-respected law enforcement professionals who’ve enthusiastically embraced our message of strong, conservative leadership.” Moody said she’d collected over 950 contributions, “outpacing her Republican opponent by a margin of over 5 to 1 in both numbers of contributors and total contributions,” according to a release. Moody also enters October endorsed by over a dozen of Florida’s Republican sheriffs as well as state attorneys from throughout Florida.

September slog in House fundraising for northeast Florida” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The leader among state House hopefuls: Wyman Duggan with $10,650 for HD 15. HD 11 Republican Cord Byrd raised $400 in September, against $2,549 spent; Clay Yarborough continued his consistent fundraising in his HD 12 re-election … $7,500 he brought in last month pushed Yarborough up to $63,675 raised. In HD 16, $4,000 brought Jason Fischer over $55,000 cash on hand. In HD 17, Republican Cyndi Stevenson raised $3,603 and spent $1,052; all told, she has just over $44,000 on hand. HD 18 incumbent Republican Travis Cummings added $2,500 … roughly $52,000 on hand. HD 19 incumbent Republican Bobby Payne raised $2,500, pushing him over $28,000 on hand.

Kionne McGhee backs Emma Collum in three-way HD 93 primary” via Florida Politics — Minority Leader Designate McGee weighed in on the three-way Democratic Primary in House District 93 with an endorsement for Women’s March FL founder Collum. “She is the ideal candidate for Broward County and today’s political environment,” McGhee said in a news release “Floridians urgently need more women in leadership, especially with experience in both business and civic engagement. Emma is a staunch advocate for Democratic values, and I look forward to working alongside her to fight for the interests of working families in South Florida and across the state.” In addition to running the 20-chapter Women’s March group in Florida, the City University of New York law school alumna works as the in-house counsel for JL Audio, a family owned business based in Miramar.

Orlando mayor endorses Robert Stuart” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — Buddy Dyer has endorsed District 3 Commissioner Stuart, asking voters to continue the strong leadership to ensure the city’s future remains bright. The plea was made as voters received their absentee ballots in the mail. “Robert has been an effective advocate and champion for safe neighborhoods, fiscally responsible budgeting, for finding solutions to Orlando’s homelessness challenge, and for increasing and renewing our parks and green spaces,” Dyer said. “As a supporter of Orlando’s Main Street programs, Robert has helped us renew and revitalize neighborhood commercial districts and create thousands of new jobs.” Dyer also talked about Stuart’s lifetime of service to Orlando in the letter. “Even before he was elected to the city council, Robert has been serving people and building community,” Dyer said. “For 46 years, he has been a volunteer coach and umpire for Little League Baseball.” Stuart has worked closely with Dyer during the past 12 years.


Gov. Rick Scott toured the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee on Monday. Earlier this year, President Trump committed to providing federal support to fix the federally-operated dike and Scott worked with lawmakers to set aside $50 million to speed up needed repairs.

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will visit Broward County to help serve lunch to elementary school students for National School Lunch Week. Event begins 10:30 a.m. at Discovery Elementary School, 8800 NW. 54th Court in Sunrise.

AHCA eyes hospitals for budget cuts” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott‘s administration continues to target hospitals for potential Medicaid spending reductions in the coming year. The Agency for Health Care Administration’s top four proposed budget cuts for the Legislature to consider during the 2018 session would reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals by nearly $1 billion. Those reductions would be on top of nearly $500 million in recurring cuts made to hospitals during the 2017 session. “It would be devastating, for goodness sakes,” said Jan Gorrie, a hospital lobbyist and managing partner of the Tampa office of Ballard Partners. “I’m surprised to see the magnitude of the cut. It’s mind-blowing. It’s like, whoa.” In addition to a list of proposed reductions for the Legislature to consider, AHCA also submitted its proposed budget requests for the upcoming year. It includes a request for an additional $66 million to cover a deficit in the Children’s Medical Services managed-care plan for the current year. The gap is a result of lower enrollment in the Medicaid specialty plan than anticipated.

“Mega Millions email is a scam, Florida Lottery says” via Florida Politics — If you got an email saying you won $1 million in Mega Millions, it’s a scam, the Florida Lottery said Monday. Scammers are behind the email, seeking “to obtain personal and financial information,” the Lottery said in a news release. “Do not respond to these emails. If you have not purchased a ticket, you cannot win a prize,” it said. “Individuals are asked to provide general information about themselves in order to participate.” But Lottery players “will never be required to transfer funds to secure their winnings for … any Florida Lottery game,” it said.


White House lets Jones Act waiver expire for Puerto Rico” via Melanie Zanona of The Hill — The White House has let a 10-day shipping waiver expire for Puerto Rico, meaning foreign ships can no longer bring aid to the hurricane-ravaged island from U.S. ports. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the Jones Act waiver, which expired Sunday, will not be extended. U.S. lawmakers and Puerto Rican officials had been pushing the administration for an exemption from the Jones Act, a century-old law that only allows American-built and -operated vessels to make cargo shipments between U.S. ports … the White House did not initially lift the shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico, sparking widespread public outcry and fueling accusations that Trump is treating the U.S. territory differently than the states hit by hurricanes … officials have warned that the biggest challenge for relief efforts is getting supplies distributed around Puerto Rico once they arrive, while the U.S. shipping industry maintains that there are adequate domestic companies available to assist with Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts.

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If Puerto Rico were a state, its health care system would recover faster from Maria” via Anna Maria Barry-Jester of — The problem for Puerto Rico is not only that it’s in debt, but also that it is responsible for paying a much larger share of Medicaid costs than it would if it were a state. Across the U.S. — in both the territories and the states — the federal government reimburses a share of the cost of the program. In poorer states, the federal government pays more — Mississippi, the poorest state, is reimbursed for 75.7 percent of the cost of providing care, while 14 states are reimbursed for 50 percent, the lowest level allowed. But in the territories, the amount is set at 55 percent. If Puerto Rico were reimbursed using the same poverty formula as the states, the federal government would cover 82 percent of the cost, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, a nonpartisan agency that provides policy recommendations to Congress. There’s also a limit on how much the federal government spends each year in the territories. Their reimbursement comes from a block grant and, at less than $400 million, the amount is far below 55 percent of the current annual cost of running the program.

Agents from the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico with personnel from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist with hurricane recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria.

Irma insurance claims near $4.6 billion” via the News Service of Florida — 703,671 claims, totaling $4,571,183,588 in insured losses, had been filed … Of the claims filed, payments had been made on 103,994, while 69,432 had been closed without any compensation for policyholders. The Office of Insurance Regulation website does not break down the numbers by the insurer. Claims had been filed in all 67 counties, with Miami-Dade County having the largest number, 87,334. There had been 57,670 claims filed in Orange County and 52,821 in Lee County.

They were married 61 years. They died weeks apart after their nursing home overheated” via David Neal of the Miami Herald — Cecilia Franco, 90, died at 3:45 a.m. Monday, becoming the 13th Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills resident to die from ailments suffered when the nursing home turned into a hotbox following Hurricane Irma. Franco lived only 26 days after her husband of 61 years, Miguel Antonio Franco, was among the eight Sept. 13 deaths at the overheated Hollywood Hills facility across a parking lot from Hollywood Memorial Regional Hospital. Cecilia Franco, one of the residents evacuated hours after residents began dying, was described by family lawyers as being in serious condition. She died at St. Catherine’s Rehab Hospital in Hialeah. “The Franco and Navarro families are now mourning the passing of their mother and grandmother Cecilia Franco, this on the heels of losing her husband of 62 years, their father and grandfather Miguel Franco, both of whom perished in a horrific avoidable tragedy which should never have occurred,” read a statement from Albert Levin, attorney for daughter Margarita Navarro. “Their pain cuts deeply having lost not one but two loved ones.” Navarro filed a wrongful death and negligence suit against Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills Sept. 22.

Irma assistance deadline extended” via the News Service of Florida — Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, said a deadline for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program had been extended to Oct. 31. The original deadline had been Oct. 16. The assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning Sept. 10, when Hurricane Irma first made landfall in Florida, until March 17, 2018, so long as the unemployment continues to be a result of the storm. More than 27,000 claims have been filed; Proctor told members of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. The program offers assistance to employees or self-employed people who are temporarily or permanently out of work because of the hurricane. The money is supposed to cover the costs of food, clothing, shelter and other assistance.

Audit warned Florida’s hurricane response system was ‘ill-prepared’ for disaster” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Long before Florida entered the deadliest hurricane season in a decade, auditors at the state’s Division of Emergency Management sent out a warning: the state was ill-prepared for a major disaster. A 23-page annual audit completed in December 2016 by the agency’s inspector general detailed a lengthy list of deficiencies needed to prepare and respond to a hurricane. Among them: Food and water supplies at the distribution center in Orlando were inadequate; contracts with companies that would supply cots to shelters had expired; the agreements many trucking companies had signed with the state’s emergency management agency to distribute supplies had lapsed; the agency was using “a spreadsheet created in the 1980s to help predict the amount of supplies and equipment that may be needed after a storm makes landfall,” as the state’s giant storage facility remained half empty. What’s worse, auditors warned, the state’s emergency managers didn’t know what they didn’t know. The report concluded: “The division’s ability to respond to disasters may be impaired.”


Eldercare watchdog referring fewer complaints for investigation” via Dan Sweeney of the Sun-Sentinel

— The state office charged with inspecting and investigating complaints against nursing homes has become less of a watchdog under Gov. Scott.

— Once well regarded as a patient advocate, the office of Elder Care Ombudsman has referred an average of 3 percent of complaints to investigative agencies annually since Scott came into office in 2011, a Sun Sentinel records review shows. Under the previous administrations, between 6 percent and 10 percent of complaints were referred each year going back to 2001.

— The quality of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities had come to the forefront after 12 residents at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died when Hurricane Irma knocked out the air conditioning. No complaints to the ombudsman’s office about nursing homes in Broward County have been referred for investigation in the past two years.

— But Brian Lee, who was ombudsman from 2003 to 2011 under governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist and is now executive director of an elder advocacy organization, doubts that the drop in complaints is due to an overall improvement in the nursing home industry.

***In the face of Hurricane Irma, Florida Health Care Association’s members successfully cared for more than 68,000 residents. Learn more about how FHCA member nursing centers’ emergency plans protect Florida’s most vulnerable citizens before, during, and after disaster situations.***


Florida lawmakers seek $27 billion for hurricane recovery” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — The request covers the gamut, from money for citrus and livestock losses to funds for the Herbert Hoover Dike to the need for schools that could see migration from the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The lawmakers, led by Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, laid out the request in a letter to the top Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and House appropriations committees. Congress has already approved $15 billion to respond to Hurricane Harvey and Irma. The White House last week requested an additional $29 billion, including $16 billion in debt forgiveness for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Marco Rubio went to Arizona to raise money for Jeff Flake” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times — Tickets for the lunch were $100 and VIP went for $500. Rubio and Flake were part of the Gang of 8 that produced the 2013 immigration bill, and they serve together on the Foreign Relations Committee. Flake, unlike Rubio, has been a proponent for the diplomatic thaw with Cuba. Flake has drawn the wrath of conservatives who see him as too moderate, and he’s also battled with President Trump. But Democrats think they can be competitive should Flake emerge from the primary with Rubio’s help.

Marco Rubio headed to Arizona to help raise money for Sen. Jeff Flake.

National Democrats launch Spanish-language campaign targeting Florida congressional Republicans via a news release from the DCCC — Claiming access to affordable health care is at risk as long as Republicans control Congress, the DCCC launched a bilingual ad campaign — the first of this election cycle — warning Spanish-speaking voters that Medicare is on the chopping block under the GOP. The 15-second ad will appear on Google and Facebook targeting the Florida congressional districts of U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (CD 25), Carlos Curbelo (CD 27) and the open seat formerly held by Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (CD 27).

Click on the image below to watch the ads.


Steve Schale: Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico and Florida politics” via Florida Politics — Like so many things, the answer to the Maria question lies in history. First, it is important to keep in mind just how much has changed in the last 15 years for Puerto Ricans. In 2000, the community was emerging, as was the community’s social and political infrastructure. Today is quite different. Puerto Ricans who come to Orlando now will find a ready-made community, with a social structure solidly in place, a growing job market, and in many cases, friends and family already here. In other words, while moving is never easy, migrating to Orlando following Maria will be a far easier adjustment than it was 15 or 20 years ago. And far more than a Hispanic immigrant, the Puerto Rican impact on the politics is acute. As long as a Puerto Rican migrates and takes up residence in Florida more than 30 days before a given election, they can vote. So while a significant migration from Maria will absolutely impact Central Florida politics, and those impacts will help Democrats statewide — it won’t “tip” the state any more than any other population shift that could occur, because well, Florida is gonna Florida.

An influx of refugees from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria could tip the political scales, but as Steve Schale says: “Florida’s gonna Florida.”

John Simmons: Florida’s nursing centers — setting the record straight on quality care” via Florida Politics — I always thought journalists were trained to avoid reaching a broad conclusion from just one specific example, no matter how shocking it may be. Yet in his guest commentary in the Tallahassee Democrat, opinion columnist Carl Hiaasen unfairly slammed Florida’s entire long-term care profession based on the shameful and inexcusable actions of a single nursing home. In Hiaasen’s view, the tragic deaths of 12 residents at a Hollywood Hills nursing home were the inevitable result of years of neglect, and worse, by a powerful industry that imposed its will on the Florida Legislature. While I certainly agree that the deaths at this facility are intolerable and need to be properly investigated, the assertion that this somehow represents the entire long-term care profession couldn’t be further from the truth. It also does a great injustice to the thousands of highly skilled professionals who dedicate themselves to caring for some of our state’s most fragile residents. I wish to be very clear about this: Nothing is a higher priority for our centers than the well-being of those entrusted to our care.


Lisa Edgar case could be headed to trial via Florida Politics — A pretrial conference has been set for next Wednesday on charges against Edgar, a former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, who was arrested in Tallahassee after an alleged drunk-driving hit and run. The hearing will be before Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith, court records show. In June, local prosecutors filed an information, or formal criminal charges, against Edgar for the April 15 incident. Edgar, 53, 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, court records show. She waived arraignment and pleaded “not guilty” in April.

Personnel note: Andrew Marcus, former insurance regulator, joins Holland & Knight government advocacy team” via Florida Politics — Marcus, a former senior attorney and deputy director of Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR), has joined it’s Tallahassee office as a member of the firm’s government advocacy team. “We are thrilled to have Andrew, a talented lawyer who is highly regarded at the OIR, join our team,” said Mark Delegal, co-chair of the firm’s government advocacy team in Florida. “Our clients will be well served by Andrew’s experience and insight as they navigate Florida’s insurance regulatory process.” Marcus was deputy director of Life and Health Product Review and assistant general counsel at the Florida OIR from 2013 to 2016, during the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Veteran Florida journalist, AP courts stringer dies at 88” via The Associated Press — Mort Lucoff, a longtime Florida journalist and Miami courts stringer for The Associated Press, has died. Joel Lucoff said his father died in his sleep Sunday. He had recently suffered from pneumonia and other ailments. A New York native, Lucoff grew up in Miami and earned journalism and history degrees from the University of Missouri and University of Florida. He worked for newspapers in Hartford, Connecticut and Buffalo, New York, where his son said Lucoff interviewed both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Lucoff covered local government for the Miami News from 1963-1988 and had a column, “Ins and Outs.” After that, he worked for the Miami-Dade County court clerk until 2000, when he began stringing for the AP until recently.

— ALOE —

Florida State finds itself playing for pride, not titles” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — With Florida State off to its worst start in 41 years, coach Jimbo Fisher is left doing something he could hardly fathom two months ago. The coach is fielding questions about what is left to play for the rest of the season. Florida State fell out of the rankings following its loss to North Carolina State on Sept. 16. This week’s poll is the first time since 2011 that Fisher’s program did not receive a vote. “No matter what your record is, you play,” Fisher said. “We’ve got everything to play for. What if you’re a junior-eligible draft guy or senior-eligible draft guy? What’s the NFL looking at?” Fisher is also dealing with increased scrutiny as the Seminoles are headed for their second straight disappointing season. Instead of contending for a conference title and a spot in the College Football Playoff, the Seminoles find themselves barely above .500 in their last 15 ACC games (8-7). They have also dropped their first two home games for the first time since 1974 and are 3-4 at Doak Campbell Stadium since having a 22-game home winning streak snapped.

Nobel Prizes are great, but college football is why American universities dominate the globe” via David Labaree of Quartz —Consider, for the moment, that football may help explain how the American system of higher education has become so successful. According to rankings computed by Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, American institutions account for 32 of the top 50 and 16 of the top 20 universities in the world. Also, between 2000 and 2014, 49 percent of all Nobel recipients were scholars at US universities … In order to support a large number of high-powered professors, US universities need to attract a huge number of tuition-paying students, and they need to turn those students into loyal lifelong donors. In order to draw state appropriations, they also need to extend their reach beyond their own alumni by attracting the political support of citizens in the immediate community and in the state at large. And they need to do so within an extremely competitive higher education market consisting of nearly 5,000 degree-granting institutions. Thus, one advantage that football brings to the American university is financial. It’s not that intercollegiate sports turn a large profit; in fact, the large majority lose money. Instead, it’s that they help mobilize a stream of public and private funding.

Happy birthday to Dave Mica and Jared Ross.

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.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704