It’s the giving season, and for those in the process it’ll be a long one — with all the lawmakers being tapped for exec positions by Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis there’s sure to be an extensive slate of special elections. That means the Adams Street crowd will need a few more checks to hand out during their next trip to the Governor’s Club.
Even so, the most monumental election in Florida’s modern history is in the books and new leaders have taken the gavel in the House and Senate, with DeSantis and a new Cabinet to follow in January.
We will no doubt have many gifts in store, including plenty of policy food fights that promise to be as entertaining as ever — the Legislature will consider everything from an Amendment 4 implementing bill to regulations for electric scooter companies this year.
While we await the start of the 2019 Legislative Session, let’s take a look at Christmas lights and lobbyists — or, those individuals and organizations whose work helps ensure the very things that define the holiday.
We’re using the classic carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” as our lens to combine the political with the Noel. The tune started “either as a children’s song or a Christmas carol in the late 18th or mid-19th century,” according to a story on Mental Floss.
The site digs up some interesting details, including how the lyrics changed over the years. For instance, what we now sing as four “calling birds” has previously been “canary birds,” “mockingbirds,” and “collie birds,” an old term for blackbirds.
“In Sinatra’s version, he replaces the traditional gifts of birds with things he’d like: ‘Five ivory combs, Four mission lights, Three golf clubs, Two silken scarfs, and a most lovely lavender tie.’”
All that goes to say: We don’t feel bad appropriating the song yet again. With that …
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: A Partridge in a Pear Tree.
The image of the partridge — the non-migratory Old-World bird akin to pheasants and quails – evokes hunting. And no organization is more active in promoting the interests of hunters in Tallahassee than the National Rifle Association and its Florida cousin, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, led by former NRA honcho Marion Hammer.
Hammer’s job might be getting a little harder. The “Ghost of Session’s Past” will cast numerous policies championed by the one-woman show in a less-than-favorable light, and she’ll likely find herself battling hard against the team at Smith Bryan & Myers — Matt Bryan, Daniel David, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley and Jim Naff — who’ve signed up to represent the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Two Turtle Doves.
Doves are symbolic of love and peace; turtles can be symbols of persistence, determination and endurance. Turtle doves? That’s a whole ‘nother story —they’re commonly used to symbolize fidelity, as turtle doves mate for life.
Most would agree that there’s group of Floridians more fidelitous than the men and women who put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. Florida is home to the fifth-highest population of active duty personnel and reserve members in the military’s five armed services and another 1.5 million veterans have settled down in the Sunshine State.
It’s likely that Zephyrhills Republican Rep. Danny Burgess, himself a veteran, will be heading up the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs next year, but that doesn’t mean servicemen and women won’t need representation in the Legislature.
Still, ensuring our vets get what they need from the Legislature will take some work from William Helmich of Helmich Consulting, the point man for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Marty Fiorentino and the team of lobbyists at the Fiorentino Group, who rep the Five Stars Veterans Center in the House and Senate.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Three French Hens.
Tally’s lobbying industry might not see poultry cos. as big-time clients, but the industry certainly has a friend in future Senate President Wilton Simpson, the Trilby Republican sometimes referred to as the “Chicken Man.”
If the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions don’t bear fruit for the Florida Poultry Federation — represented by Amanda Bowen and Nancy Stephens of Nancy D. Stephens & Associates — there’s nobody in the rotunda who’d bet against the pair having a happy holiday in 2021. If you find ‘em, plunk it down and give your mark double or nothing in 2022.
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Four Calling Birds.
Carrier pigeons may be quaint compared to the latest Galaxy or iPhone, but it wasn’t so long ago that areas of the state hit by hurricanes would kill for a trained bird to get a message out to friends and family.
Thanks to companies like Motorola, training so-called “winged rats” might finally be unnecessary. When Hurricane Michael decimated Northwest Florida in October, cell outages were just as widespread as power outages — many in the hardest hit areas had to park their car on a bridge and stand on its roof to contact the outside world in the first days after the storm.
But as the public cell system failed, first responders were still able to get their jobs done thanks to dedicated radio communications systems, all thanks to the telecom hardware giant’s revolutionary Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems offerings. They’ve already nailed the contract for SLERS, but that doesn’t mean more can’t be done to keep Floridians in contact with the outside world.
Helping in-house talent Matthew Dailida handle the semi-conductor innovator’s needs in the Florida Legislature are the teams at Southern Strategy Group and Smith Bryan & Myers.
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Five Golden Rings.
The familiar image of five glowing gold rings puts us in mind of the gold standards of Adams Street – the firms by which all other firms are measured. The firms that made more than a million in lobbying revenues last quarter are a pretty solid compass to go by: Ballard Partners, Capital City Consulting, Ronald L. Book PA, and the aforementioned Southern Strategy Group. Also on the list were Greenberg Traurig and GrayRobinson, with Corcoran & Johnston coming in close behind with just shy of the $1 million mark in total compensation.
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Six Geese a Laying.
Everyone is looking for a “golden goose” — it’s the gift that keeps on giving year-round, and we’re not talking about the “Jelly of the Month Club.” What’s a real-life golden goose look like? Airbnb. The premiere vacation rental company has been filling up the pockets of Floridians and the coffers of state and local governments.
Despite the beaucoup bucks heading every which way, a statewide regulatory framework to prevent things like the current beef with Palm Beach County has been elusive. But that doesn’t mean they’re done trying.
Helping the home sharing company in the legislature is are the teams at Floridian Partners, Leath Consulting and Southern Strategy Group. The biz also has its in-house team of Viviana Jordan, Leonard Joseph and Tom Martinelli on the case.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Seven Swans a Swimming.
There’s not a lot of swimming going on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, but change is on the horizon. No, the state isn’t buying U.S. Sugar’s land, but prep work has already started on a southern storage reservoir. Congress authorized the EAA Storage Reservoir in October with the passage of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. Less than a month later, SFWMD crews started clearing 560 acres of the project site to stage construction materials. That’s a clear step toward clean waterways.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Eight Maids a Milking.
While Florida —like the North Pole, we think — is a “Right to Work” state, that doesn’t mean organized labor doesn’t possess a substantial amount of political muscle, especially in populous South Florida.
The Florida Education Association is one of the largest unions in the state, and they’ll have plenty to say when session rolls around, especially since their least favorite former lawmaker was recently confirmed as Florida’s Education Commissioner.
FEA’s Tallahassee crew includes the in-house team of Ronald Bilbao, Catherine Schipman Boehme, Tina Dunbar, Luke Flynt, Fedrick Ingram, Stephanie Kunkel, Joanne McCall, Eric Riley, Lynda Russell, Kevin Watson and Jeff Wright. They’ve also got Albert Balido and Edgar Fernandez of Anfield Consulting and Ronald Meyer of Florida Legislative Associates on tap for any heavy lifting.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Nine Ladies Dancing.
Florida’s political ladies, so to speak, had plenty to dance about a couple years ago: 2015 was nothing less than a banner year for the League of Women Voters, the good-government advocacy group formed by suffragettes including the great Eleanor Roosevelt. It managed to overturn seven Congressional districts and a great deal of the state Senate map through its efforts in court.
That landmark court decision bore some fruit — Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo earned a full term in November, and Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz knocked Republican Dana Young out of Senate District 18. Still, every other candidate put forward in a winnable districts for Democrats took home an ‘L’ on Election Day.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Ten Lords a Leaping.
The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops leans on executive director Michael B. Sheedy and the team of Ingrid Delgado, James Herzog and Marco Paredes. The group has firmly staked out the pro-life front. And that doesn’t just mean opposing abortion. The conference is also staunchly opposed to the death penalty, something exiting Gov. Rick Scott had no qualms about — he even championed efforts to speed up the process. But with a new governor coming into office, there’s a chance their to the executive branch might get a little more attention.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 11 Pipers Piping.
Nikki Fried is soon to be sworn in as the state’s next Agriculture Commissioner. Add Senate President Bill Galvano’s recent statement that he’s open to removing the cap on MMJ growing licenses and there’s plenty of people in the medical marijuana business that couldn’t be happier heading into the new year.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: 12 Drummers Drumming.
Gus Corbella, senior director of the Government Law & Policy Practice of the Tallahassee office of Greenberg Traurig, also has been an associate member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which puts on the GRAMMY awards every year, since 2008.