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

Florida Capitol 3 (Large)

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

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

Oh happy day!

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

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

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

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

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

Now, on to politics…

— CRC’ING —

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

It started with a proposal (P3) to repeal an outdated constitutional section known as the “Alien Land Law,” which “bars certain nationalities of immigrants from acquiring land.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— DAYS UNTIL —

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

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— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the image to watch the ad:

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

Happening Friday:

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

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

— STATEWIDE —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— WOMEN DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED BY PRISON STRIP SEARCHES —

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

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

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

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

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

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

— OPINIONS —

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

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

— MOVEMENTS —

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

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

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

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

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: 2C Media

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

Craig Gerhart: Avanir Pharmaceuticals

Foyt Ralston, Capitol Advocates: Global Shield

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

— ALOE —

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

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

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.



#FlaPol

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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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




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