Connect with us

Emails & Opinions

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.8.19

Coffee’s brewing. Bacon’s cooking. But ‘Sunburn’ is already made and ready to go.

Spotted at a happy hour honoring the late Sen. Jim King … actually, this is the kind of event for which the guest list should remain private. But here is our story about the great words some of Sen. King’s best friends had to say about him.

Assignment editors — The Play It Forward Sport Foundation, United Women’s Sports, and AdventHealth Center Ice celebrate the grand opening of HERSTORY, a virtual sports museum that celebrates the accomplishments of female athletes, Saturday, 1 p.m., AdventHealth Center Ice, 3173 Cypress Ridge Boulevard, Wesley Chapel. Interested media should RSVP at

Call it coincidence: The same day that Senators passed their bill repealing a ban on smokable medical marijuana, the effort behind legalizing recreational pot in Florida got a small boost.

Regulate Florida, the group behind the adult use of marijuana, said its petition to put a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot now has 57,529 verified signatures.

It needs 76,632 for judicial and financial impact review, and a whopping 766,200 to make ballot position.

Michael Minardi, the group’s chairman, thanked his partners “Trulieve, Liberty Health Sciences, Surterra, and VidaCann, for helping us get this far.”

“You can go into any of their stores, pick up your medication and sign the petition, or turn in all the petitions you got signed by family and friends,” he said in an email last night. “If you are not a patient you can still go in and sign the petition and check out what our Florida dispensaries look like.”

He added: “There is so much going on in Florida regarding hemp and cannabis, and we need your help to ensure that patients get what they need, so all adults will be free to grow and use cannabis as they choose.”

The ballot summary reads: “Regulates marijuana (hereinafter ‘cannabis’) for limited use and growing by persons twenty-one years of age or older.

“State shall adopt regulations to issue, renew, suspend, and revoke licenses for cannabis cultivation, product manufacturing, testing and retail facilities. Local governments may regulate facilities’ time, place and manner and, if [the] state fails to timely act, may license facilities.

“Does not affect compassionate use of low-THC cannabis, nor immunize federal law violations.”


@AlexWhtcomb: Guys, @tim_cook changed his name to Tim  and it’s the most legendary “Tim Apple” subtweet of all time.

@ScottHech: For context on [Paul] Manafort’s 47 months in prison, my client yesterday was offered 36-72 months in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from a residential laundry room.

@Fineout: In a new plea for his legal defense fund, Florida’s Roger Stone blasts out email that says — “Please don’t be fooled by multiple online stories which claim falsely that I am so rich that I do not need your help. In fact, my life is in your hands.”

@SherrodBrown1: I will keep fighting for all workers across the country. And I will do everything I can to elect a Democratic President and a Democratic Senate in 2020. The best place for me to make that fight is in the United States Senate. Believe me, we will fight.

@ArekSarkissian: So we’ll just wait and see what @RonDeSantisFL does at @HealthyFla It’s all about the doctor-patient relationship, right?

@BSFarrington: And @FarmerForFLSen says these days medical marijuana is just like Tylenol. I might head to CVS once Session wraps up and test that theory.

@SenatorGainer: Humbled by the overwhelming support shown for the Panhandle today. We will make this happen. This storm will not defeat us. We will survive and show the world the resiliency of North Florida.

@MDixon55: No one is better at making sure to go through the chair every single time than Ken Lawson. It’s not close.

@UrsulaPerano: My favorite part of today’s session was Sen. @WiltonSimpson’s rainbow socks

@TheRickWilson: Try being a black kid with 1.00001 ounces of marijuana and not getting the mandatory minimum.

@JoeMobleyJax: As I’ve said before: don’t create a parody account if you’re not funny.


Players Championship begins — 6; St. Patrick’s Day — 9; Jacksonville municipal first election — 11; Florida Capitol Press Corps skits — 11; Major League Baseball opening day — 20; Scott Maddox corruption trial begins (maybe) — 20; Final season of ‘Veep’ begins — 23; Masters Tournament begins — 34; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 37; Easter — 44; Tampa mayoral runoff election — 46; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 56; Mother’s Day — 65; Memorial Day — 80; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates start — 91; 2019 General Election — 245; Iowa Caucuses — 332; 2020 General Election — 606.


Right to smoke medical pot approved in Florida Senate” via Samantha Gross of the Tampa Bay Times — Senate Bill 182 made it through its last stop during the day’s session, with just eight days to spare before a deadline set by DeSantis. The 40-member Senate vote was 34-4, with two legislators not voting. Sen. Darryl Rouson was not present for the vote. The House bill, a committee bill put forward by Health and Human Services, reported favorably out of Appropriations on Feb. 21. It has not yet been heard on the floor. Questions about the program’s fundamental elements were a recurring theme in floor debate, but the bill sponsor, Sen. Jeff Brandes, told Senators they need not worry. “Most people in this room haven’t studied medical cannabis since college,” he said.


What Ron DeSantis is reading — “Meet Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis” via Mike Vasilinda of the Capitol News Service — DeSantis is taking an active role in her husband’s administration, putting a major focus on helping hurricane victims in the Panhandle, but she is also the mother of two young children. Some have called DeSantis the Governor’s secret weapon. A former television journalist, she endured herself to voters with a humorous campaign commercial where she and her husband expressed their admiration for President Donald Trump. Now, as the First Lady, she is pushing her husband’s and her own agenda. “I really want to take this unique opportunity to put a spotlight on people who are far more deserving than myself,” said DeSantis.

To view the video, click on the image below:

Suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel files lawsuit to get his job back” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Stuart Kaplan, an attorney representing Israel, said DeSantis’ latest comments in his State of the State address motivated the lawsuit. DeSantis said any Senator who would vote to reinstate Israel would “thumb his nose” at the families who lost loved ones in the Parkland school shooting. The Florida Senate is responsible for upholding or reversing the governor’s suspension order. Kaplan blasted the governor and called his statement to Senators “reprehensible” and “deplorable.” “It was clearly a threat to the Senate,” Kaplan said. “He has tainted the ultimate decision makers. We don’t believe he can get a fair hearing.”

Power play: DeSantis challenged over suspensions” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis is caught up in two lawsuits that are challenging the new Republican governor’s power to go after elected officials. The end result could redefine the scope of executive authority in the nation’s third-largest state.

Under DeSantis, cases taken from Aramis Ayala staying with Brad King” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — DeSantis posted an executive order in which the new governor extended the reassignment of Markeith Lloyd’s case away from Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, where he is charged with murder, and given to Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit. Earlier, DeSantis had extended the reassignments of 11 other cases for which Rick Scott’s executive orders were set to expire. In a written statement, Ayala said she is fine with DeSantis continuing the policy Scott began in March 2017, when he began reassigning the prosecutions of more than two dozen potential death penalty cases from her jurisdiction even though the alleged murders took place in Orange and Osceola counties, within the 9th Circuit.

Attorney General takes action to stop impostor scam” via WINK — Ashley Moody’s Consumer Protection Division is taking action to stop, what they call, an impostor scam. “This impostor scam involved people posing as government agency representatives in an effort to trick business owners into purchasing public documents and services that are often available for much lower fees,” Moody said. The complaint filed says Steven and Joe Fata solicited payments by giving businesses the false impression that paying for their services was required by law.

— 2019 SESSION —

Senate not ready to overhaul university spending in wake of UCF scandal” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — Two Republican Senators don’t see a need to overhaul higher-education rules in the wake of the University of Central Florida financial scandal, exposing a rift between the Senate and the House. “I don’t think we have rampant abuses in the way our universities have been spending,” Senate Education Appropriations Chairwoman Kelli Stargel. Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley agreed with Stargel. He said he sees no reason to change course on what the Legislature has been doing in policy and funding for the higher-education system. “Certainly, higher ed in Florida did not become No. 1 in the nation by accident,” Bradley said. “I don’t see any reason why we should take the foot off the gas.”

Let’s not go overboard here: Kelli Stargel is not convinced the Florida University system needs an overhaul after the UCF scandal.

Hurricane Michael relief bill unveiled” via Patrick McCreless via the Panama City News-Herald — Sponsored by Sen. George Gainer, the main goal of the bill is to make sure local governments have recovery money while they wait for federal reimbursement, and to help with repairing and building more affordable housing for those most in need. The bill would allocate $300 million from nonrecurring revenues to provide public facility repair loans to eligible cities, counties and district school boards. The legislation calls for an appropriation of money to help support the affordable housing recovery efforts by local governments. The bill would also direct money to build additional rental housing to replace impacted affordable housing stock.

Bible study bill wins approval in first House stop” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — A bill that would require Florida public high schools to offer an elective course on the Old Testament and New Testament began moving through the Florida House, but not without significant concerns raised about its possible unconstitutionality. Several members of the House PreK-12 Quality subcommittee questioned whether such a proposal could withstand judicial scrutiny, given the religious nature of the subject matter. They also took issue with the notion that HB 195 would be able to live up to its section title, “An objective study of religion,” as it focuses on just one religion. “I don’t know how you can have religious neutrality if your course is focused on just one holy book,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani.

House takes steps to eliminate controversial teacher test” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Since its requirement about four years ago, the Florida Department of Education’s General Knowledge Exam for teachers has been a job killer. Educators have complained that it tested them on topics they never used, and if they didn’t pass, they couldn’t keep working. Department leaders insisted, though, that the assessment ensured that teachers had the basics needed to instruct students. Nearly 1,000 Florida teachers lost their positions over the summer after failing. Now the Florida House is moving to get rid of the test, with leaders suggesting it stands in the way of keeping otherwise strong teachers in their classrooms where students need them. Subject area tests would not be affected.

House seeks to eliminate ‘certificate of need’” via the News Service of Florida — Members of the House Health Market Reform Subcommittee voted unanimously to pass a bill (HB 21), sponsored by Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen that would eliminate the certificate-of-need review program effective July 1. Florida is one of 35 states that have laws designed to require health care providers to justify the need for certain types of new facilities and services. Some Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker José Oliva, have argued that such regulations unnecessarily drive up health care costs by artificially restricting the market. They also maintain the state should take more of a “free market” approach to health care.

No need: Heather Fitzenhagen is the lead sponsor on a House bill that would eliminate the state’s certificate-of-need program, where healthcare providers must justify the need for new facilities in certain areas of the state.

Florida could outlaw all forms of distracted driving” via the Associated Press — Florida could outlaw drivers from putting on makeup, using smartphones, reading or other activities that distract them on the road. The Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee unanimously approved a distracted driving bill Wednesday after hearing stories from people who have lost relatives in car crashes.

Scooter bill coasts through first committee” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A bill that would regulate e-scooters in the same fashion as bicycles cleared the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Wednesday with a unanimous vote. Current law prohibits motorized vehicles that can’t hit 30 mph from being on the road, so riders can only use them on sidewalks, which is a dangerous proposition in many Florida metros. HB 453 would bump that speed requirement down to 20 mph. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jackie Toledo, has broad support from the business community, but local guvs say they want more control over the devices than the bill affords them. The only prong of that argument that got any traction dealt with safety — if there’s no plan to clear scooters off the roads in a hurricane, they could turn into weighty projectiles.

Police drones clear for House floor” via Florida Politics — A bill designed to allow law enforcement to use remotely piloted aircraft in investigations … is ready for the House floor, though the Senate companion still has two committee stops. HB 75 allows law enforcement to use drones to survey traffic accidents, to collect evidence at a crime scene, and to assist in crowd control. “Crowd control” was the sticking point for the panel in debate … ACLU Legislative director Kara Gross expressed “grave concerns” regarding “unfettered discretion” for crowd control overreach and warrantless “discretionary mass surveillance.”


Pro leagues prepped for sports betting defeat — Professional sports leagues say there’s enough wiggle room in the anti-gambling expansion amendment to allow for sports betting, but they are preparing to take an L on getting a bill passed in the 2019 Legislative Session, reports Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida. “We’re willing to take as long as it takes to work with the states and have a best-in-class legislation,” said PGA Tour VP Andy Levinson. More than 70 percent of voters approved an amendment requiring any casino gaming expansion to go before voters, and the chairman of the committee behind that effort says sports betting fits that description. Senate President Bill Galvano disagrees. Additionally, sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach said only three of the 474 Indian casinos in the U.S. governed by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act offer sports betting.

Retailers pushback against proposed change to theft laws” via the News Service of Florida — Rep. Byron Donalds is proposing legislation (HB 589) that would increase the threshold amount for third-degree felony retail theft from $300 to $1,000 or more. The bill would also change state law to no longer make it a third-degree felony to steal fire extinguishers, stop signs or property from construction sites. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee approved the proposal. But the Florida Retail Federation was against the proposal because it would loosen penalties for retail theft. A similar proposal in the Senate would raise the threshold to $1,500. If the legislation is approved, the state’s Criminal Justice Impact Conference has determined that it would have a “significant” impact on reducing the state’s prison population.

Pushback: Byron Donalds wants to raise the threshold for 3rd-degree felony retail theft, something that is not pleasing the retail industry.

House bill aimed at strengthening civics education” via The Associated Press — The measure by Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis focuses on a civics course Florida middle schoolers must take to advance to high school. A House Education panel approved it on a unanimous vote. Under the bill, the curriculum for the civics course would be closely reviewed for effectiveness by the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, a partnership between the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida. The idea is to stress such things as the roles of various levels of government, how the three branches of government work and the meaning of documents such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Ben Diamond bill seeks climate change research, resiliency program” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Diamond filed House Bill 1369 aiming to establish a comprehensive research program and resiliency plan for the state, assessing and preparing for climate change effects on Florida’s environment, agricultural production, energy, transportation infrastructure, public health, disaster preparedness, economic growth and other factors. HB 1369 calls for the creation of an Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. The bill also calls for updated plans to be delivered to the Governor and Florida Legislature once every four years. “As a peninsula with thousands of miles of coastline, Florida is uniquely exposed to the risks of climate change,” Diamond stated in a news release announcing the bill.

Democrats file legislation to expand rights of renters” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A pair of companion bills have been filed … with the goal of granting more rights to renters throughout the state. “Our landlord-tenant laws have been out of balance for a long time, tipping the balance in favor of landlords,” said Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Miami-Dade Democrat who filed the Senate version of the bill (SB 1794). “Especially at a time when affordable housing is at a crisis point in our state, we need to make sure tenants are protected as they spend more and more simply to keep a roof over their head.” Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Winter Park Democrat, introduced the House version of the bill (HB 1283).


Florida officials used Hardest Hit mortgage relief for luxury hotel stays” via Susan Taylor Martin of the Tampa Bay Times — Between 2011 and 2016, officials of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. charged the Hardest Hit Fund all or part of the cost of attending conferences in San Diego, Orlando, Miami, Boston and Nashville, Tenn., even though less than two hours out of four days of meetings in each instance appeared to be related to the Hardest Hit mortgage relief program. In other instances, housing officials used Hardest Hit money to pay for routine agency meetings at four-star hotels including the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club and the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, according to a report released by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Amendment 4 backer David Ayala, husband of state attorney, voted twice in Florida despite felonies” via Stephen Lemongello and Adelaide Chen of the Orlando Sentinel — David Ayala, one of the champions of the Amendment 4 campaign to restore voting rights in Florida to ex-felons like himself, had already been registered since 2012 and voted in two elections, according to state records. That’s despite former felons being barred by law from voting until Amendment 4 went into effect this year. Ayala, 45, said he didn’t realize at the time he couldn’t vote. “In 2012 I mistakenly registered to vote and voted in 2012 and 2014,” Ayala said in an email. “It was my understanding that Full Faith and Credit would allow me to register and vote since my voting rights were restored where I was convicted outside of Florida.”

Say what? David Ayala, one of the main backers of Amendment 4, which restores the right to vote to one-time felons like him, was ‘mistakenly’ able to vote twice since 2012.

Renewed effort to ratify Equal Rights Amendment in Florida” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Twenty-two state legislatures quickly ratified it, but then opposition from conservatives opposed to the women’s movement virtually halted ratifications. Three-quarters of the states are required, or 38, and Illinois became the 37th last May. This week, Tampa’s Athena Society heard a presentation by Illinois Rep. Steve Andersson, a Republican who led the effort to pass it there. “I believe in equality for women, and we don’t have it right now,” he said in an interview.


Jane Castor ads highlight Tampa progress, Bob Buckhorn support” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — One ad features Castor touting Tampa’s progress. The other features incumbent Mayor Buckhorn encouraging voters to choose Castor as his successor to continue progress in the city he loves. “The energy and excitement that binds Tampa together is electric,” the ad featuring Castor begins. “We’re making all kinds of progress, but we need to make sure that everyone feels it.” The ad is set in various scenes throughout the city including a bird’s-eye view of the downtown riverfront, the West river bank and Ybor City. “We live in a vibrant and safe city that’s on the verge of something really special, and now is no time to slow it down,” Buckhorn says.

To view Castor’s ad, click on the image below:

To view the Buckhorn ad, click on the image below:

Dick Greco Jr. backs Castor in runoff; here’s why that’s bad news for David Straz” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — It might not seem like a considerable nod for Castor. Greco received just 4,156 votes — less than 9 percent of the overall vote. But even just that one endorsement from a previous opponent could put Castor into winning territory when she faces Straz in the April 23 runoff. Castor nabbed an impressive 48 percent of the vote. That amounts to 23,318 votes out of a total 48,594. Though it’s unlikely, if all the same voters showed up for the runoff, Castor would need 980 more votes to win.

Castor asks Straz to run a clean Tampa mayor campaign and join TV debates” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Castor sent Straz a letter asking him to go positive and join her in three televised debates as the race to become Tampa’s next mayor enters its stretch run. In it, the former police chief turned mayoral candidate requested that the retired banker avoid the dirt in the weeks before the April 23 runoff vote. Castor wrote she thought Straz agreed to run a “clean campaign.” After Straz told reporters he would go negative as long as his attacks were “honest and truthful,” Castor wrote that she wanted “to urge you to reconsider these divisive tactics.”

Winter Park incumbent tries to hold off pair of challengers” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — Pete Weldon is campaigning in Tuesday’s election to keep Seat 4 against challengers Todd Weaver, an aerospace and mechanical engineer and Barbara Chandler, manager of Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Commissioner Carolyn Cooper was unopposed and will remain in Seat 3 for her fourth term to serve the city in Orange County of about 30,000 residents.

Fighting a two-front war: Winter Park incumbent Commissioner Pete Weldon faces not one, but two challengers.

Bill Moss, Ray Christman boast massive fundraising leads in Naples Council race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Naples residents will vote in a rare special election April 2, following the resignation of Nancy Penniman over family health issues. Four candidates — Christman, Moss, Ted Blankenship and George Dondanville — qualified to run. To date, more than $65,000 has been raised collectively by the candidates, with $60,000 coming from the two fundraising leaders. So far, it’s Moss, a former Naples City Manager, who has raised the most. Through the end of February, Moss raised $35,225. He put $1,000 of his own money to get the race started. But Christman, former executive director of the Ethics Naples political committee, also brings fundraising power to the race. Through the end of February, he’s raised $24,785.

Florida Chamber endorses Randy Maggard in HD 38 special” via Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce endorsed Dade City Republican Maggard in the House District 38 special election Thursday. “As a successful business owner, Randy Maggard knows and understands the need for free enterprise. He is committed to ensuring that Florida remains the best place to live, work, learn and have a business,” said Marian Johnson, the Chamber’s SVP of political strategy. Maggard said he was “honored” to earn the Florida Chamber’s support in the race to replace former Rep. Danny Burgess in the Pasco County-based district. Maggard faces David “Mac” McCallister in the Republican primary on April 9. The winner will be the prohibitive front-runner in the June 18 general election against Democrat Kelly Smith.


Palm Beach Gardens cop who killed Corey Jones convicted of manslaughter” via Jerry Iannelli of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times — Nouma Raja who killed local drummer Jones in October 2015 as Jones was waiting for his car to be towed off the highway — guilty of manslaughter and attempted first-degree murder. Raja is the first Florida cop convicted of an on-duty killing since 1989. Raja never denied killing Jones. The officer instead tried to argue the killing was lawful. But the jury was not convinced. The night Raja killed Jones, the drummer’s car, a silver Hyundai Santa Fe, had broken down on I-95 near the PGA Boulevard exit. Jones was sitting waiting for a tow. The 31-year-old was seemingly minding his own business when Raja showed up in an unmarked car and wearing plain clothes. The officer instigated the encounter.

Instigator: Fired Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouma Raja is guilty of slaying black motorist Corey Jones, the first time a cop was found guilty of an on-duty killing in 30 years.

Commissioner Jeff Bergosh raises questions about improper spending at Visit Pensacola” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Bergosh asked the Escambia County Commission to postpone a routine budget amendment for the tourist promotion organization until he can investigate allegations he received about Visit Pensacola’s spending. “I’ve heard some disturbing allegations verbally about some expenditures that were made from these entities, and I want to have the opportunity to look into those before I vote to allocate more money,” Bergosh said. “Again, at this point, it’s just allegations, but they rose to the level that I’m going to want to look into them very thoroughly before I allocate an additional $2 million.”


Marco Rubio and Venezuela: What a Twitter campaign to oust Nicholás Maduro says about modern diplomacy” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — To some, Rubio’s Twitter campaign has helped keep American attention on a humanitarian emergency in an often overlooked part of the world. Others have accused him of stoking civil conflict there. It’s a debate that couldn’t have existed in a pre-social media world, but the emergence of Twitter has allowed a single U.S. politician to campaign directly for foreign policy action on a worldwide pulpit. “I can’t think of an example of a sitting Senator effectively bypassing the White House on a key foreign policy issue and drumming up support via social media. It is the first time it’s happened on this scale,” said Chris Meserole, an expert on foreign policy and emerging technology at the Brookings Institution.

Twitter diplomacy: Marco Rubio’s tweetstorm against the Maduro regime in Venezuela demonstrates a new form of diplomacy that bypasses traditional channels. Image via AP.

Detained U.S. journalists back in Miami after release from Venezuelan custody” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald —A U.S. freelance journalist detained for several hours by the Venezuelan government arrived at Miami International Airport on Thursday following calls for his release by Florida lawmakers, press-rights groups and the leader of Venezuela’s opposition movement. Cody Weddle, a 28-year-old native of Virginia, said the public outcry following his detention was critical to his release, as he felt his captors were feeling the pressure.

Rick Scott, Rubio urge feds to keep Florida out of offshore drilling plans” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott and Rubio sent a letter to new Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt reiterating the position they pressed on Trump‘s administration to keep Florida’s Gulf Coast out of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Plan being developed. But the previous federal assurances Florida had were expressed through now former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who famously made the assurances to Scott in a brief Tallahassee visit, only to have other federal officials declare weeks later that Florida was still on the table. Bernhardt is a former oil lobbyist. He succeeded Zinke at the start of the year. The letter includes a reminder of Dinky’s promise to include Florida’s Gulf waters in a moratorium.

Ted Deutch: ‘Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism?’” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post — Deutch urged his colleagues to focus their condemnation on anti-Semitism, but Democratic leaders instead favored a broader resolution that also condemned “anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities.” Deutch, who is Jewish and represents a large Jewish constituency in his Palm Beach-Broward congressional district, took to the House floor in the wake of remarks by freshman U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar describing support for Israel as “allegiance to a foreign country.” After the “allegiance” controversy, House leaders brought forward a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. They did so over the objections of some Democrats who argued that the resolution should also have aimed at other forms of hatred.

F-22s temporarily return home to Tyndall for maintenance” via the Panama City News-Herald — Members of the 43rd Fighter Squadron and their F-22 Raptors will periodically be returning to the base from Eglin Air Force Base, where they currently are stationed. While the jets are now flying out of Eglin, the specialized equipment used to maintain and repair them is still at Tyndall, so they’ll need to come back for routine visits. Seventeen of the 55 F-22s previously stationed at Tyndall were left behind during Hurricane Michael and were damaged, though all have since been removed for repairs.


David Santiago: My Florida Network of Care for Behavioral Health — a lifeline in times of need” via Florida Politics — If you have ever cared for a loved one facing a behavioral health concern, you have probably seen firsthand how challenging it can be to know what to do, where to begin, where to go next. We are working to change that, which is why I fought for funding to establish the My Florida Network of Care for Behavioral Health community website. The site was recently introduced to behavioral health providers across the state and is now available to the general public. The Network of Care program puts vital information about local services and crisis intervention programs at a person’s fingertips. The result is that a person or family can much more easily get the right help at the right time.

USF presidential search should be in the sunshine” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — USF isn’t the first university in Florida to hide behind hired recruiters to keep presidential searches out of the sunshine. But the practice clearly violates Florida’s public records laws (which is why the Legislature regularly tries to change the law with regard to presidential searches). USF is sending a terrible message about openness and accountability to the next leader of this growing institution, and it is leaving the public clueless about the quality of the pool of applicants and the extensiveness of the search. USF’s insistence on secrecy undermines the integrity of its search for a new president. Is the fix already in for a favored candidate?

Noah Pransky: No, WrestleMania isn’t going to bring $150-$175 million to Tampa” via Florida Politics — Don’t be fooled. “Impact” is not revenue. These reports seldom take into account basic economic principals, such as leakage and displacement. Leakage is money spent locally, like at a chain hotel or restaurant, that gets shipped out to another region, like where the company is headquartered. Displacement is when event money displaces money that would have been spent in the community anyway, even without the event. WWE and other pro teams employ a brilliant strategy: spoon-feed reporters and editors gift-wrapped statistics; watch them regurgitate said statistics without ever fact-checking, challenging or providing context; then, use those publications to legitimize your deceptive statistics. That junk then gets quoted, repeated and retweeted across social media, further legitimizing their giant deception.


In the billion-dollar education industry, lobbyists abound: ‘Everybody is trying to get a piece of that pie.’” via Diane Rado of the Florida Phoenix — (T)here’s a plethora of non-traditional charter schools, private schools, for-profit firms that do education work and “scholarship” or voucher programs that allow students to attend private schools with public money.  Those entities, many of which didn’t even exist decades ago, have hired one or more of their own lobbyists. … The Phoenix reviewed lobbyists involved specifically in education issues related to both public and private schools. In the public education arena, the Florida Education Association has 12 registered lobbyists, records show. Miami-Dade County Public Schools has 10 registered lobbyists.  Seminole County’s school district has 8, Duval and Palm Beach have 7, and Pinellas has 6. Other public school districts have fewer lobbyists, and small and rural districts have joined together to share a lobbyist. The North East Florida Educational Consortium is an example, with two lobbyists listed to work on behalf of those small, rural districts.

New lobbying registrations:

Fred Baggett, Hayden Dempsey, Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Florida State Parks Foundation, Florida Hospital Association

Bonnie Basham, Capital Ideas: Boat Owners Association of the United States

Brian Bautista, Kevin Cabrera, Edgar Castro, Rachel Cone, Mary DeLoach, Nelson Diaz, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Acreage Holdings, Avant-Garde Holdings Americas, Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, Lumina Analytics, Pharma-Natural, Polaris, VERRA MOBILITY

Adam Blalock, Hopping Green & Sams: National Marine Manufacturers Association

French Brown, Dean Mead: Moffitt Cancer Center

Matt Bryan, Jeff Hartley, Smith Bryan & Myers: Marine Industries Association of South Florida

Rhett O’Doski, Sara Clements, Ryder Rudd, Sean Stafford, McGuireWoods Consulting: Waymo

Candice Ericks, Ericks Consultants: Broward County Council of Professional Firefighters

Katie Flury, Kirk Pepper, GrayRobinson: Uber Technologies and Affiliates

Nicola Powell, Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: HVJT Consulting on behalf of Dell Technologies, Informatica Corporation, Intact Partners

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Evan Power, Cameron Yarbrough, Ramba Consulting Group: American Medical Response, Mission Lago East

Scott Ross, Chris Schoonover, Capital City Consulting: The School District of Palm Beach County, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority

Monica Russell: CareerSource Florida

Ryan Smith, McNicholas & Associates: Energy Fairness, Florida Family Law Reform Political Action Committee

Alan Suskey, RJ Myers, Suskey Consulting: American Freedom Distillery, City of St. Pete Beach

Heather Turnbull, Matthew Sacco, Rubin, Turnbull & Associates: AFSCME Florida, Cannalysis

Jane Rayburn wins ‘40 Under 40’ Award — The American Association of Political Consultants named Jane Rayburn of EMC Research as one of the 40 best and brightest campaign professionals under 40 years old. AAPC selected 18 Republicans, 18 Democrats, and 4 nonpartisan professionals nationwide for its exclusive “40 Under 40” list. “Jane’s broad experience on a range of issues and in a variety of states gives her a unique perspective in helping clients make their tough decisions,” said EMC Research CEO Ruth Bernstein. “She has guided first-time candidates as they face the daunting process of running for office, helped pass major initiatives like Florida’s rights restoration Amendment 4, and dedicates her free time to training and mentoring those entering the political arena.” Rayburn will be recognized alongside the other winners at the 2019 Annual Pollie Awards & Conference on April 2, 2019, in Napa Valley, California.


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 attorney Justin Diaz; Jim Waurishuk, chair of the Hillsborough County GOP Executive Committee; attorney Tara Newsom, a professor at St. Petersburg College; and columnist and former state Sen. Paula Dockery.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A look at DeSantis’ State of the State address and the agendas of several legislators after the first week of the 2019 Legislative Session. Joining Walker-Torres are state Reps. Josie Tomkow, Mike Beltran, Joy Goff-Marcil and Jennifer Webb.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will a have an update on the two candidates for Tampa Mayor; a discussion of DeSantis’ State of the State address; Florida state Rep. Mike Beltran will discuss which issues he plans to tackle in the new Legislative Session.

Politics on Your Side with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Donovan will speak with former Tampa mayoral candidate Topher Morrison, as well as a roundtable on the Tampa election results with Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times and Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon will speak pollster Steve Vancore and Scott Dudley of the Florida League of Cities.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Attorney General Moody, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and Rick Mullaney, director of the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute.

— ALOE —

Disney’s new Star Wars land will open in Orlando on August 29” via Colin Wolf of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay — Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger announced the opening dates for the Star Wars-themed lands at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. During the annual meeting of shareholders in St Louis, Iger stated that the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands would open earlier than expected in Disneyland on May 31, 2019, and at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World August 29. Both parks will open in two phases, with the first phase debuting the Millennium Falcon ride, and the second phase (which will happen sometime later in the year), featuring the attraction centered on the First Order and the Resistance.

Save the date: Disney has announced an August 29 opening of the first phase of its highly anticipated Star Wars land in Florida — earlier than first suggested.

MLB All-Star ‘Election Day’ planned” via Jeff Passan of ESPN — As part of sweeping changes to the collective bargaining agreement, which is increasingly likely to be ratified by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the sides are planning to overhaul All-Star voting and create an Election Day for fans to pick the starters, sources familiar with the plan told ESPN. The parties also are discussing increasing prize money for Home Run Derby participants in hopes of convincing the game’s biggest stars to participate, according to sources.

The latest Lent challenge for churches: Give up plastic” via Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post — Dozens of Pennsylvania churches near Pittsburgh that belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are encouraging their churchgoers to forgo commonly discarded single-use plastics. Each week, parishioners will be encouraged to give up a different item: shopping bags, drinking straws, water bottles, Styrofoam and food wrappers. The Rev. Sarah Rossing, pastor of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Youngstown, Pennsylvania, said the idea originally came from a similar challenge that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh issued this year to reduce dependence on single-use plastics such as grocery bags and Styrofoam plates. “It’s a way to think about it as more than just a personal thing, like chocolate or alcohol that’s enjoyable,” Rossing said.

What Michelle Todd is reading — “Another Hallmark movie is coming to Tampa Bay, and possibly eight more.” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Just weeks after a Hallmark movie wrapped a production filmed primarily in St. Petersburg, Elayne Schmidt, who produced that one, told the Tampa Bay Times she would helm a second on both sides of the bridge toward the end of the month. “The last one went so well they wanted to come back,” Schmidt said of the Hallmark Channel. What’s more — Hallmark is considering filming another six to eight in the Tampa Bay area over the next year. “There is a good chance,” Schmidt said.


Happy birthday to state Rep. Michael Bileca. Early best wishes to top lobbyist Melissa Akeson, J.B. Bensmihen, Kristy Campbell, Vanessa Thompson, and Jamie Van Pelt. Happy 50th birthday this weekend to our friend, Shawn Foster. Oh, and then there’s this …

Tweet, tweet:

Today’s Sunburn was written by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Written By

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.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.