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

Aerial photo Florida State Capitol Building

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 That means it could come back at a later date, or eventually withdrawn.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.

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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 [email protected] 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.

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.

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