Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
Action in the courts now turns from elections and recounts to #MeToo matters.
A federal judge has scheduled a hearing in a case filed by the Florida Senate after a top legislative aide alleged she was the victim of sexual harassment and retaliation.
Rachel Perrin Rogers had filed a discrimination complaint back in January with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She’s an aide to Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican in line to become the next Senate President after Bill Galvano.
The Senate later filed a lawsuit, now assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle. It seeks a court order barring a federal administrative law judge from requiring the Senate’s participation in that EEOC case.
The Senate in part claims it’s protected by sovereign immunity, a legal doctrine that exempts governments from being sued civilly or prosecuted criminally.
Perrin Rogers was at the center of a sexual-harassment investigation late last year that led to the resignation of the influential Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who last chaired the chamber’s Appropriations Committee.
Perrin Rogers said Latvala harassed her, triggering the Senate to appoint what’s known as a “special master” to investigate the accusations.
The special master, former state appellate Judge Ronald Swanson, found probable cause to support Perrin Rogers’ allegations; Latvala steadfastly denied them. Perrin Rogers then filed the EEOC complaint against the Senate, saying she also faced retaliation from her suit.
The hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. in the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Tallahassee.
— RPR (@RPerrinRogers) November 28, 2018
“Senate’s quiet post-Latvala overhaul of complaint process draws criticism from advocates” via Matt Dixon and Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida -One year after sexual misconduct investigations took down former state Sen. Jack Latvala, the Florida Senate has rewritten its process for handling the sort of complaints that hastened the powerful senator’s resignation, including axing the requirement for an outside legal review. The new chamber rules apply to a rules complaint filed for any reason – not just sexual misconduct.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@Scaramucci:.@SecretaryAcosta is doing a great job and obviously @realDonaldTrump likes him so time to do a number on him. This is DC: how it works. There is fake news and “planted” news. The people are tired of this. Hang in there Alex!!
—@JKBJournalist: 1. I’m not in D.C. and have very few D.C. connections 2. “Planted”? Hmm. I don’t even know what that means 3. This was honest to god, shoe-leather reporting & digging through dense court documents for a year. No one contacted me to do this story. No one. It was totally my idea.
—@MarcoRubio: Very unfortunate that a simple short-term extension of flood insurance was held up today in the Senate. It is going to expire & leave many Floridians without flood insurance. I will do whatever it takes to get passage of this next week with retroactive language.
—@AndrewGillum: Thomas Farr made a career out of voter disenfranchisement and should be rightfully denied a lifetime seat on the Bench. Thank you to everyone who spoke up and spoke out. When we stand together we win.
—@Rob_Bradley: Senator Bean and I are sowing the seeds of freedom- to my friends in the House, peas join us in our fight. Lettuce deliver freedom to growers everywhere.
—@JimRosicaFL: Hey, why is @AndrewGillum still sending me political emails under the label of “paid for by” @FlaDems?
—@GBennettPost: Election Day still matters. In Palm Beach County’s tight state House 89 race, Republican Mike Caruso lost mail ballots by 1,774 & early voting by 2,102 — but won traditional election day by 3,908 for overall 32-vote win.
—@Fineout: So just to clear things up…The Florida Legislature has zero say over restoration of voting rights to ex-prisoners. The clemency process & loss of voting rights was enshrined in constitution & therefore was unchangeable by statute.
—@KyleKashuv: Hearing major news may be breaking in Parkland tomorrow. Couldn’t be more excited
—@LobbyTools: Are you hiring interns/fellows for the 2019 Session? Sign them up for “LobbyTools Boot Camp,” a 2-day crash-course on the basics of session, legislation, and a comprehensive training of the LobbyTools software. Dates in January & February.
—@MDixon55: But what we can really all agree on is @vs Possums is the 2018 fight we all needed.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Hanukkah begins — 2; Associated Industries of Florida ‘Building Florida’s Future’ Summit — 4; Partial government shutdown — 7; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 11; 116th Congress convenes — 34; College Football National Championship — 38; Florida’s gubernatorial inauguration — 39; Super Bowl LIII — 65; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 74; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 95; Tampa mayoral election — 95; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 98; Iowa Caucuses — 430; 2020 General Election — 704.
— TOP STORY —
Agriculture Commissioner-elect Nikki Fried unveils full transition team — Fried’s transition team includes a Parkland father, representatives from law enforcement and even a former Republican candidate for the job.
“We have put together a team with experience on the wide-ranging issues the Department oversees,” said Transition Team Chairman Patrick Murphy, a former U.S. representative.
“In the coming weeks, the team will help determine the best path to build a strong Department that can deliver on Commissioner-Elect Fried’s priority issues.”
Fried already announced Murphy as chair and that U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and gun safety activist Fred Guttenberg serve as vice chairs for transition team under Murphy.
She fleshed out the team with law enforcement voices like Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, the newly elected Orange County Mayor, and lawmakers like former state Sen. Denise Grimsley, who ran this year for Agriculture Commissioner but lost in the Republican primary.
Fried, the lone Democrat elected to Florida’s Cabinet this year, won an extremely tight race against Republican Matt Caldwell. Now, she hopes a bipartisan transition team paves the way for a solid term in office.
“We have brought people together from all corners of our state and all walks of life to help build a Department that will respect the priority issues of the people and work hard to deliver results,” Fried said.
Eric Johnson, one of the top political consultants in the state and a member of INFLUENCE Magazine’s Influnce 100, will serve as executive director of Fried’s transition.
For more on this story, click here.
Meanwhile … “Lauren Book files bill to shift concealed carry oversight to FDLE” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Book filed a bill (SB 108) that would shift to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement future supervision of the state’s concealed firearms licensing program. The Plantation lawmaker said she filed the bill because the permitting program should not be subject to “political whim.” Currently, the licensing program is overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, helmed by Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. The agency came under public scrutiny earlier this year after the Tampa Bay Times reported an employee failed to conduct one of the national background checks for concealed-weapons licenses. The story prompted an internal review which resulted in the revocation of 291 previously issued licenses.
— TRANSITION —
“Ron DeSantis reveals his inaugural theme” via Florida Politics — For DeSantis, the future’s only getting “brighter.” The Governor-elect and his running mate, Lt. Gov.-elect Jeanette Nuñez, released the theme of their 2019 Inauguration: a “Bold Vision for a Brighter Future.” “This election was about the future of our state, how we can build on our success, and address the challenges that lie ahead,” DeSantis said in a statement. “As I prepare to take office as the 46th Governor of Florida, we are laying the groundwork to implement our vision to protect and strengthen our state and hit the ground running on Day One. I look forward to Floridians coming together during the inaugural events where I will share a ‘Bold Vision for a Brighter Future.’”
“Enterprise Florida awaits direction under DeSantis” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Joe York, the AT&T Florida president who serves as vice chairman of the board of the public-private agency, said during a meeting in Orlando that he hopes to hear in the next 30 to 45 days where Gov.-elect DeSantis “wants to take us.” “We need to hear from Gov.-elect DeSantis and his team about their thoughts, their priorities, and their goals for Enterprise Florida,” he said. York said a conference call may be required to update members on any directions from the DeSantis. Outgoing Gov. Rick Scott used enterprise Florida as one of the primary tools in attracting businesses and jobs to the state. Scott, who has been chairman of the Enterprise Florida board, also fended off an effort by then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran to eliminate funding for the agency in 2017. With many state department heads in attendance at the Enterprise Florida meeting, Secretary of State Ken Detzner noted that changes should be expected throughout state government. “For many of us, this is perhaps our last EFI meeting,” Detzner said, adding that people who will leave will continue to contribute “in very different ways, very positive work for the future of the state of Florida.”
State’s emergency chief will resign in January — Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Wes Maul will leave his post as Gov.-elect DeSantis takes office in January. Maul informed colleagues at the state agency of his decision on Thursday. DeSantis will appoint the next Director. The movement was first reported by POLITICO Florida. “I will soon depart secure in the knowledge that traditional attitudes have shifted, effective leaders have risen, responsible processes have become entrenched, and that our state’s inevitable next disaster operation will be in the experienced, compassionate hands of the world’s best emergency management team,” wrote Maul. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Maul to the post in 2017 following former Director Bryan Koon’s resignation shortly after Hurricane Irma swept through the state.
— ROAD TO SESSION —
First in SUNBURN — Sen. Travis Hutson, a St. Augustine Republican pursuing the 2022-24 Senate Presidency along with Naples Republican Kathleen Passidomo, is ramping up his fundraising ahead of the Legislative Session. Nancy Texeira, a longtime advisor to now-Senate President Galvano, will be an additional asset advising on fundraising, helping augment the efforts of veteran consultant Brianna Jordan. Hutson’s been a rainmaker, bringing in over $2 million for Senate Majority, his allies, and his own efforts. The TED Approps chair can be (and has been) a springboard to the Presidency and Hutson intends to show his fundraising chops until the 2019 Legislative Session commences.
“Senate memorial planned for Dorothy Hukill” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Senate will hold a memorial service for the late Sen. Hukill on Dec. 11, when lawmakers return to the Capitol for committee meetings. Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who represented southern Volusia and northern Brevard counties, died Oct. 2. She was 72. Hukill was first elected to the state House in 2004. She served in the House until her election to the Senate in 2012.
Hurricane Michael, gaming policy key in tax cut debate — Hurricane recovery costs will put the pinch on the state budget this year and with a budget shortfall looming, lawmakers have little latitude for tax cuts. As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Travis Cummings says the state’s $35.7 billion in predicted tax revenues may not be enough to cover the costs from Hurricane Michael and the tax cut package lawmakers are eyeing. Gaming revenue could throw another wrench in the gears — approximately $335 million in payments from the Seminole Tribe to the state coffers aren’t included in the current revenue estimate due to a legal tiff between the tribe and the state. And making up that sum with another gaming revenue stream, such as online sports betting, just got harder thanks to voter approval of Amendment 3, which requires any future gambling expansion to go before Florida voters. Senate President Galvano says the proposed gaming bill for the 2019 Legislative Session would likely require a statewide referendum to go into effect.
“Action! Florida TaxWatch revives TV, film incentives debate” via Florida Politics — Florida will have to consider economic incentives if it wants television and film productions to shoot here, according to TaxWatch’s newest research report. That idea has found favor in the state Senate, but runs counter to new Republican House Speaker Jose Oliva‘s stance, who has called production incentives “tantamount to corporate welfare.” Even GOP Gov.-elect DeSantis isn’t fully sold on the idea … Florida, unlike every other state in the Southeast, does not offer an incentive program, the report notes. The tax credit incentive was eliminated in 2016, and the trend is moving productions to Georgia, which robustly supports the industry.
“Garden party: Rob Bradley renews fight for front-yard horticulture” via Florida Politics — State Sen. Bradley is renewing for the second straight year his quest to protect Floridians’ vegetable gardens — local ordinances notwithstanding. This year’s bill (SB 82) by the Fleming Island Republican would eliminate as “void and unenforceable” local jurisdiction over front yard gardens. The goal: Facilitating “the development of sustainable cultivation of vegetables and fruits at all levels of production, including for personal consumption” … When asked about potential concerns that a state law would abrogate local control, Bradley said: “Home rule is not a blank check to stomp on the fundamental rights of citizens.”
First on #FlaPol – “House appeals being shut out of medical marijuana case” via Florida Politics — The Florida House on Thursday appealed a circuit judge’s decision denying it from intervening in a medical marijuana lawsuit. House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum filed the notice of appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Charles Dodson filed the written version of his decision earlier in the day, after ruling from the bench last Monday. Dodson then said the Republican-controlled chamber should sue the federal government if lawmakers are unhappy that he struck down a 2017 cannabis-related statute as unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed by Tampa-based Florigrown, owned in part by prominent strip-club operator Joe Redner.
“Chris Latvala plans to file child protection bill” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — State Rep. Latvala says he will file “Jordan’s Law,” a measure that would put protections in place for children to prevent them from becoming victims of abuse or neglect. The proposed law is named for Jordan Belliveau, the two-year-old Largo boy whose body was found in the woods behind the Largo Sports Complex after his mother, Charisse Stinson, struck him in the head and left him for dead. The boy’s death came just 24 hours after caseworkers warned Stinson her son would again be removed from her care.
“Fentrice Driskel files for re-election in HD 63” via Florida Politics — A few weeks after ousting Republican Shawn Harrison from Tampa’s House District 63, newly minted Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell took the first step toward another run in the perennial swing seat. … On Tuesday she joined more than 30 other incumbent members of the Florida House — including fellow freshman Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, Rep. Dianne Hart of Tampa and Rep. Jennifer Webb of Gulfport — in opening a campaign account to run for another term. … Driskell was one of eight Democrats to flip a Republican-held state House seat in the Nov. 6 general election. She defeated Harrison, who was in the second term of his second stint in the House, by 6 percentage points. … The win was the latest twist in the HD 63 saga. The seat has been a priority for both parties since the 2012 redistricting session. Before his election in 2014, Harrison also held HD 63’s antecessor for a term.
— OLIVACARE —
The new House Speaker is coming out of the gate with a health care message.
According to POLITICO Florida’s Alexandra Glorioso, Miami Lakes Republican Oliva has “already identified a few hospital industry foes as policy priorities: do away with certificate of need laws, expand ambulatory surgical centers and build on price transparency.”
That’s landed him a few early foes, reports Glorioso. And it’s set the stage for the lawmaking sessions that loom.
The gist: An ideologue by nature, Oliva doesn’t wiggle on health care. He wants more competition between hospitals. Programs like certificate of needs govern too much. He described the state-supported health industry as a series of “mini-empires.”
Dynamics: Across the fourth floor, Senate President Galvano may have a different idea. “If past is prologue, the Senate will be resistant to many of Oliva’s proposed measures to deregulate the industry,” writes Glorioso.
‘Unsustainable’: That’s what the hospital status quo is now, according to Oliva. “We firmly believe, as we have for years, that the only way to truly create an environment where health care is affordable is to allow real market forces that are not active right now to become so.”
— STATEWIDE —
Happening today — Gov. Scott and the state Cabinet will meet by phone and consider a series of issues, including two Florida Power & Light power-plant projects, noon, public access in Cabinet Meeting Room, The Capitol. Scott and the Cabinet act as a state “siting” board with authority to decide whether power-plant projects should move forward.
First in #FlaPol — “U.S. Sugar says congressional action ends failed land pursuit” via Florida Politics — Citing Florida statute put in place by a law passed two years ago, U.S. Sugar said the land acquisition option agreement between the company and the state can now be terminated. U.S. Sugar spokeswoman Judy Sanchez said that the law as written requires the state’s option agreement to be terminated. Sanchez’ statement came after the first of those outs — congressional approval on Oct. 10 of a post-authorization change report — got the green light. “With this condition met and the requirement of the law fulfilled, there’s no need for the South Florida Water Management District to hang on to the remnants of a failed scheme. These approximately 150,000 acres of U.S. Sugar’s actively productive farmland were never slated for any planned or approved restoration project,” she continued.
“SFWMD sugar land lease: Florida Wildlife Federation, Indian Riverkeeper file legal challenge” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The Florida Wildlife Federation and Indian Riverkeeper Marty Baum are challenging the lease of land to be used for a reservoir to cut Lake Okeechobee discharges. They are seeking a formal hearing before a state administrative judge on the South Florida Water Management District board’s decision Nov. 8 to lease about 16,000 acres at the reservoir site to New Hope Sugar Co., a subsidiary of Florida Crystals, pending construction of the project. The challenge claims the lease was made illegally without prior public notice and contrary to the state Legislature’s intent for the land. Florida law regulating water management districts requires publishing a “notice of intention to lease” in a newspaper for three consecutive weeks starting at least 30 days and no more than 90 days before the board executes the lease.
“43 and counting: deconstructing the Florida death toll after Hurricane Michael” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — At least nine people across North Florida appeared to have died directly in the hurricane, from fallen trees or collapsed buildings. Several were listed as having been swept away during the storm or found in rubble afterward. Many others appeared to have died for reasons indirectly related to the hurricane. Some involved accidents during cleanup after the storm. At least 17 deaths involved illness or the inability of emergency medical workers to respond as Michael came ashore. Dr. Stephen J. Nelson, a Winter Haven forensic pathologist and chairman of the Florida Medical Examiners Commission, said it’s possible the death toll could grow as recovery efforts continue in North Florida: “I would anticipate that over time, as this area is quite devastated and they do more and more recovery … that there will be more deaths that are found.”
“Plan would transfer Dozier School land to county” via the News Service of Florida — A 2017 state law addressed the handling of remains found at Dozier and required establishing memorials to the victims. That law also required the state to turn over about 360 acres, containing the site’s North Campus, South Campus and Boot Hill Cemetery, to Jackson County. The law required memorializing the cemetery and what was known as the “White House” on the campus. Scott and the Cabinet on Tuesday will consider transferring the 360 acres to Jackson County. Also, the county is asking the state to transfer at no cost another 919 acres, according to the Cabinet agenda item.
“Safety first: Lawsuit challenges Duval County school guard scheme” via Florida Politics — In an effort to comply with SB 7026, the school safety bill passed after this year’s Parkland massacre, Duval County decided to use $12.50 an hour “school safety assistants” rather than police to save money. A group of plaintiffs including the League of Women Voters filed legal challenge Thursday, arguing the plan is illegal and discriminatory. The plan puts, per the LWV, “thousands of students at risk — especially students of color and students with disabilities — but also violates Florida law that prohibits carrying guns in schools.” While cops can carry guns, the suit notes that SSAs are not the police.
“Rick Singh spent taxpayer money on personal travel, had strippers in office, lawsuit says” via Gal Tziperman Lotan of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Property Appraiser Singh spent taxpayer money on personal trips, falsified documents, used a racist slur, and asked employees to cover up having strippers in the office, two former employees claim. Aisha Hassan, the agency’s former finance director, and Laverne McGee, its former director of communications, filed the lawsuit this month in federal court in Orlando. In the suit, Hassan and McGee also claimed sexual harassment: Singh told McGee to flirt with male vendors and called her “hired help,” according to the civil complaint. “For example, McGee was presented by Singh to his male friends as if she was part of Singh’s harem along with other females,” attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote in the lawsuit. “Singh instructed McGee to ‘cover’ for him and lie to his wife when he brought women, including strippers, to the OCPA’s office after hours.”
“Brightline Tampa-Orlando proposal discusses Disney, SunRail stops” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Twice before proposals have run for years to create high-speed train railroad service between Orlando and Tampa, and both the planning went off the rails before the first shovel was turned on an actual project. This time Brightline, private operator of South Florida’s passenger train service, is trying its hand; and immediately Brightline is addressing two potential moneymakers that the previous proposals never fully resolved: connections to Walt Disney World, via a nearby station, and to downtown Orlando, via a cross-platform stop at the existing SunRail commuter train station.
“Carlos Curbelo leaves open 2020 run for Miami-Dade Mayor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Outgoing GOP U.S. Rep. Curbelo says he may run for Mayor of Miami-Dade County in 2020 after his ousting from Florida’s 26th Congressional District earlier this month. “I have a passion for public service and I’m not discarding any possibility right now,” Curbelo said, according to a report from the Miami Herald. “I have always thought about the idea of serving another two years here and then serving as county mayor. This work is certainly not easy on the family.” Current Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is barred from running again due to term limits. That would leave the 2020 race wide open, and could be a prime opportunity for a former congressman. According to the Herald, Curbelo did say he hasn’t yet made a firm decision on whether to run.
“Clearwater is latest Tampa Bay government to sue opioid industry” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Clearwater is the latest Tampa Bay municipality to sue some of the country’s largest drug companies, alleging manufacturers lied about the risks of addiction to opioids through deceptive marketing while distributors flooded pharmacies and communities with the pills. “The opioids that flooded into and were dispensed throughout Clearwater as a result of defendants’ wrongful conduct have devastated the city and its residents,” attorneys for Clearwater wrote in the lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court. The companies funneled so many opioids into the city “that they could only have been delivering opioids for diversion and illicit use.” Clearwater joins more than 1,000 city and counties across the country that have sued the opioid industry, including the city of Tampa and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
“Florida’s surgeon general announces health advisory on hepatitis A” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — The advisory, announced by State Surgeon General and State Health Officer Dr. Celeste Philip, mentions Tampa Bay and Orlando areas as hot spots for the virus. It also stresses the importance of vaccination against hepatitis A, which spreads person-to-person through feces contaminated with the virus. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties have seen a handful of high-profile cases recently. Two workers at a pair of restaurants in the region were found to have the virus, prompting one restaurant to close permanently and causing the other to be placed under investigation. The cases are part of the largest outbreak since the hepatitis A vaccine was developed nearly 20 years ago. Since January, there have been 385 cases of hepatitis A reported in Florida, according to the health department. That’s more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases.
Save the date — The Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida will hold its 2019 Florida Medical Marijuana Policy Conference on Thursday, Jan. 24 at Florida State University’s Turnbull Conference Center in Tallahassee. To register or for more information, click here, call (850) 385-3595 or email MMBAFL@tmcshows.com.
“New rules proposed for shark fishing” via the News Service of Florida — People who fish from shore for sharks would be barred from putting chum in the water to attract the fish, under a staff recommendation that will go before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during a meeting Dec. 12 in St. Augustine. The proposal, which comes after a series of meetings this summer across the state, is part of several recommendations aimed at updating state rules about shark fishing. Other recommendations include requiring people who fish from shore for sharks to get annual permits at no cost. In April, the commission was advised that shore-based shark fishing — from beaches, piers and bridges — is increasing in places that conflict with where people swim and surf. Anglers have expressed concerns that imposing further restrictions could eliminate the activity.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump labor secretary out of running for Attorney General after Miami Herald report” via Anita Kumar of McClatchy DC — Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is out of the running to be Donald Trump’s attorney general following a Miami Herald report that he oversaw a sweetheart deal for a wealthy financier accused of raping teenage girls and running a sex-trafficking ring, according to two people close to the president. The investigation was “not helpful” to Acosta, who was a federal prosecutor in Florida before coming to Washington, the two advisers said. Acosta, though, was never under serious consideration to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump fired earlier this month. ‘It was never going to be him,” one said. The investigation, which reported that Acosta, then U.S. attorney cut a secret deal to allow billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to serve only 13 months in a county jail, is “clearly something” that is being widely circulated among Trump aides … The agreement “essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe” and granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators.” according to the story.
“Marco Rubio: Congress needs to pass bill to help Panhandle after Hurricane Michael soon” via Kevin Derby of Florida Daily —“We need a disaster supplemental before the end of the year to help our communities in Northwest Florida that have been deeply impacted,” Rubio said. “We’re working on that with the state now to make sure we have the right programs and the right money. It’s one of our top priorities here to end the year, and hopefully, we’ll get something done before the end of the calendar year.” Also earlier this month, Rubio paired up with a host of Senators, including outgoing U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Sens. Richard Burr, Lindsey Graham and Kamala Harris, to unveil the “Hurricanes Florence and Michael and California Wildfire Tax Relief Act” which “would allow taxpayers to use earned income from the preceding year when claiming Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit” and “allow more taxpayers to claim a deduction for personal casualty losses by removing requirement to itemize, encourage employers in hard-hit areas to retain employees, and expand Opportunity Zones to hardest-hit areas.”
“Now a top federal education official, Frank Brogan finds skepticism among Florida school board leaders” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Former Lt. Gov. Brogan, now a top official in the federal Department of Education, brought a cheery message about the state of public schooling to Florida’s school board members and superintendents. But his enthusiasm fell flat with many in the audience, who suggested his rosy view didn’t jibe with the system they know. During a question and answer session, several board members asked pointedly how traditional public education — something Brogan long championed in Florida — could survive the chipping away of resources for vouchers and charter schools, with state and federal leaders who seem to prefer private options. Brogan held firm throughout, stressing the importance of local school officials working with lawmakers and others to find and implement changes that will improve education beyond the status quo.
— Alex Daugherty (@alextdaugherty) November 29, 2018
— KID COVERAGE CRISIS —
“In one year, the number of Florida kids with no health insurance went up by 37,000. Why?” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — According to a new report, it continues to be a struggle. The report, by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, found that Florida, after years of marked declines in the number of children without health insurance, is suddenly seeing a rise. It’s part of a national trend, with the number of uninsured children in the U.S. increased last year for the first time in a decade. But Florida is one of the outliers, one of nine states that showed the largest upticks of children in that category. Among the other reasons for the increase, experts say, is the refusal by some states, including Florida, to expand Medicaid coverage to parents and other low-income adults. In Florida, the number of uninsured children increased from 288,000 in 2016 to 325,000 last year, a rise of 13 percent. Still, that’s better than it was at the start of the Great Recession, when 734,000 Florida children had no health insurance. “From 2008 to 2016, the state did a lot of work to dramatically reduce the uninsured rate. At the time, it dropped by almost 11 percentage points. So it’s disturbing to see this on the rise,” said Anne Swerlick, an attorney and analyst with the Florida Policy Institute in Tallahassee. “We’d already heard that, generally, there was an uptick in the uninsured rate for adults as well in Florida. That certainly impacts children. If parents have coverage, their children are more likely to have coverage.”
— OPINIONS —
“Revision Commission should have to obey the one-topic rule” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — What Sens. Rob Bradley and Javier Jose Rodriguez want to do is to stop the Constitution Revision Commission from producing hydra-headed monstrosities the next time it meets. And that won’t be until 2038. The pending proposals are a reaction to this month’s general election, specifically the passage of some constitutional amendments crafted by the CRC. Bradley and Rodriguez would apply the single-subject rule to amendments conceived by future CRCs, just like the requirement imposed on petition-initiative proposals. Some amendments — approved by the Legislature and or petition signature campaigns conducted among voters — dealt with single subjects. But much of the CRC’s work mashed together multiple ideas, a technique known as “bundling” that makes voters take the good with the bad. The CRC decided to combine many unrelated ideas to avoid “voter fatigue” at the polls, not wanting too many amendments at the end of a long ballot. “This fundamental change, which also affected communities other than Clay, was bundled with popular language about veterans affairs and counterterrorism in order to improve the odds of passage,” Bradley told the online news platform Florida Politics.
“Claims of strippers, bogus trips. Time to investigate Rick Singh’s tax office” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Certainly the claims that Singh had strippers in his public office — casually mentioned in a single sentence on the 19th page of the 40-page whistleblower complaint — will get much of the attention. Really, though, the most damning in terms of public trust and finances are the litany of accusations that say Singh misused public money. So let’s just cut to the chase. This demands an investigation. Not a casual inquiry. Not some sort of third-party audit. An official, criminal probe with a thorough forensic audit. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement seems appropriate.
— MOVEMENTS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Jose Bermudez, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Nicholas Matthews, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Association of Condominiums to Support Self Determination, Seawall Coalition
James Chan: SiX Action
Sara Clements, McGuireWoods Consulting: ActivEd, Council For the Accreditation of Educator Preparation
Nelson Diaz, Rachel Cone, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: CSX Transportation, Skip
Casey Grigsby: Florida Ports Council
Abbie Hodgson: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Jessica Love, GrayRobinson: Charlotte County, Hendry County Board of County Commissioners
Alan Suskey, RJ Myers, Suskey Consulting: City of Treasure Island, Florida Public Defender Association, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority
Scoop — “Award-winning watchdog reporter Noah Pransky to leave WTSP” via Janelle Irwin Taylor via Florida Politics — Veteran 10News reporter Pransky is leaving his post at the Tampa Bay-area news station after the end of this year, he told Florida Politics. For a decade, Pransky has been doing political reporting and investigative work for the station. Pransky said he hasn’t decided where his professional career will go next, but he has several prospects. He said he would likely be leaving the Tampa Bay market. “I plan on continuing to cover investigative and political stories,” Pransky said. “There’s so much on the national level that needs attention, but I also plan on staying close to the Florida political scene.”
— WEEKEND TV —
Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region
Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable with Hillsborough County GOP Executive Committee Chair Jim Waurishuk; Amy Hollyfield, Managing Editor for Metro, Politics, and Business for the Tampa Bay Times; La Gaceta Editor/Publisher Patrick Manteiga and independent journalist Joe Henderson.
In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: This week’s In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres will discuss the celebration of abilities and what is being done to provide physically challenged members of Central Florida with resources. Joining Walker-Torres are Sherry Wheelock, President and CEO, Special Olympics Florida and Bobby Olszewski, Florida Partnership Consultant, Special Olympics Florida.
Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Newly elected state Rep. Jennifer Webb will discuss what she hopes to bring to Tallahassee for the Legislative Session; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made about the migrant caravan moving through Mexico toward the U.S.
The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon will speak with News Service of Florida political reporter Dara Kam and Dr. Ed Moore.
This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman; Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville; and CEO Janice Ancrum and HR Director Don Harley of the Nassau Council on Aging.
This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will focus on the election of Agriculture Commissioner Fried. Plus, the powerhouse roundtable takes on the news of the week.
— ALOE —
“Self-driving taxis are here. This is what it’s like to ride in one.” via Geoffrey Fowler and Jhaan Elker of The Washington Post — Waymo, which grew out of Google’s self-driving project, is believed to be the most advanced autonomous car company. Here in Phoenix, it’s been testing a 24-7 robo-taxi service with over 400 volunteer writers. Waymo says that program will open to the public by the end of the year. But big questions linger: What’s it like to ride in one? Are they safe? And how long until self-driving cars creep into your neighborhood? The car has cameras mounted on top, along with a radar and laser-based lidar mapping systems along the sides. Before you climb in, forget about storing stuff in the trunk: It’s filled with computers … I just had to look: Yes, the wheel moves itself. So what kind of driver is Waymo? In a word: timid.
“We’re all feeling good about UCF football success” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — This team’s accomplishments and heroics have brought pride, honor and fun to all of Central Florida, along with national recognition. The latest ranking has the team at No. 8 in the nation. But UCF’s success is about more than just records, rankings and crowds. It’s about the courage of Shaquem Griffin, the linebacker with a dazzling smile and equally dazzling speed whose left hand was amputated when he was 4. It’s about the tenacity and leadership of McKenzie Milton, an undersized quarterback who out-hustled and outfoxed his opponents before getting hurt. It’s about his teammates and the community heaping love and support on Milton as he begins a long and difficult recovery. It’s about the grace of Scott Frost’s departure to Nebraska after just two seasons at UCF. It’s about UCF athletic director Danny White’s audacity. It’s about a football program that places value on making sure players get their education since few of them are likely to play professionally. That’s a lot to feel good about.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today is the great Mark Kaplan, now the VP for government and community relations at the University of Florida. Also celebrating today are Eddie Borrego, Phil Compton of the Sierra Club, and former Rep. Keith Fitzgerald.
Also, we owe a birthday shout-out to America’s Best Supervisor of Elections, Mike Ertel.