The race for the 2024-26 House Speakership may be over before it begins.
Florida Politics spoke with more than a dozen of the 27 first-term Republicans in the House, as well as several top consultants to these members, and found that there was a clear leader among them: Miami Rep. Daniel Perez.
According to his GOP colleagues, who would not speak on the record due to caucus rules, Perez has 13 members firmly in his corner and could already have up to 15 backers.
One caveat: Each of these members made it clear that their vote had not been solicited or had anything else occurred that might violate Republican caucus rules.
Candidates for House Speaker need the backing of a simple majority of their cohort to become the class leader.
Palm Harbor Rep. Chris Sprowls is set to succeed current House Speaker José Oliva after the 2020 elections, and Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner is slated to take over two years later.
Whoever wins House leader for the 2018 class will serve as House Speaker during the 2025 and 2026 legislative sessions, assuming Republicans maintain their majority.
Perez, an attorney, is what’s known as a “redshirt freshman” — he was elected to Miami-Dade’s House District 116 in a 2017 special election to replace former Rep. José Felix Diaz. The special election win allows him to serve longer than the rest of his class.
The extra legislative experience enjoyed by redshirts is typically an advantage in leadership races. Renner, for instance, was elected in a 2015 special and his top challenger in the 2016 class was Tampa Rep. Jamie Grant, who had already served a couple of terms in the House.
Perez’ redshirt advantage led many to put him atop the 2024 standings. His top rival was thought to be Dover Rep. Lawrence McClure, who also won a 2017 special election.
Not so, according to sources familiar with the race. In fact, McClure is said to be one of Perez’ most vocal backers. That’s not to say the 31-year-old lawmaker isn’t facing hurdles, however.
Many 2018 freshmen are taking a wait-and-see approach, including Deland Rep. Elizabeth Fetteroff, Lighthouse Point Rep. Chip LaMarca and Bradenton Rep. Will Robinson.
Happy birthday to Attorney General Ashley Moody.
Congratulations to the Florida entries honored as finalists for News Leaders Association 2019 Awards — The Awards honors the best in print, digital, photo and video content in 11 categories. The contest drew 526 entries, from which 49 finalists from news outlets of various sizes and platforms were named. Winners will be announced April 2 … Florida entries include Staff of The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Miami Herald and WLRN Public Radio for “The Invading Sea: Can South Florida be saved?” Also, Staff of the Miami Herald for “The Fall of the Florida International University Bridge.” And, Staff of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for “Public officials after Parkland: Hide, deny, spin.” The News Leaders Association comprises the American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors.
Also, congratulations to former Tampa Bay Times food critic Laura Reiley whose “Shell Game, a project with which she worked with Eve Edelheit, is a James Beard finalist” per Stephanie Hayes of the Tampa Bay Times — The Times project Shell Game was named a finalist in the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. Reiley and Edelheit
Consider listening to the next episode of ‘He Said, She Said’ — Michelle and I mark #NoCollusionDay with one of the most influential guests to date, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who talks apologies owed to Donald Trump, and vindication over those accusing the President of Russian collusion. Then, we tackle the somber and tough questions following the Parkland massacre, discussing both sides of Florida’s controversial Guardian program with Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Statewide Commission, and state Rep. Shevrin Jones, a former teacher in a Title 1 school. This week’s hot takes also include the story of Theranos — the health tech firm founded by Elizabeth Holmes — as well as Michelle’s 20-year high school reunion, and the madness of ‘March Madness.’
TallyMadness is on. Sixty-four lobbyists are fighting to advance and, unlike its NCAA tournament cousin, there are plenty of tight matchups in the round of 64.
The first time a 16-seed beat a 1-seed on the court was last year — UVA fans will never forget the 21-point beatdown University of Maryland-Baltimore County handed to them. Something similar could happen in TallyMadness: Alli Liby-Schoonover is currently leading Dean Cannon by a hair.
Also on upset watch: Jeff Hartley. The 2-seed out of Smith Bryan & Myers is trailing 15-seed Ashley Kalifeh of Capital City Consulting.
Keeping with the trend of the lobbying corps’ women catching the men off guard, Lewis Longman & Walker’s Lori Killinger is hanging on to a slight lead in her matchup against No. 4 Fred Karlinsky of Greenberg Traurig.
The most concrete upset, however, looks to be the bout between 4-seed Mike Corcoran of Corcoran and Johnston and 13-seed Marc Reichelderfer of Landmarc Strategies. Corcoran will need to a run for the ages to turn this match into a real competition.
Cinderella stories aside, there’s still plenty of action in the middle tier. One of the closest is the scrum between 6-seed Rhett O’Doski of McGuireWoods Consulting and 11-seed Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting. The underdog holds the lead, but O’Doski is a couple of good plays away from living to fight another day.
If you haven’t voted yet, that’s OK. A unique advantage of Florida Politics’ online competition is It’s half time in all 32 games at once. That means there’s still time to fill out your first-round bracket — voting is open until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!
—@frankthorp: @SenatorCollins to @MariannaNBCNews: ‘I’m very disappointed in and vehemently opposed to the administration seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act.'”
—@SenRickScott: After Hurricane Sandy @SenSchumer said “We’ve waited 91 long days. We can’t wait any longer.” Well, Floridians have waited for 5 months and the Democrats keep coming up with new ways to delay funding for Florida and Puerto Rico. I won’t accept that; families need this funding now!
—@MarcoRubio: Power outages will be the new norm in Venezuela as long as Maduro Regime is in place. The earlier blackout did permanent damage to already degraded transmission system. The only way to fix this is a massive repair of the entire system, something Maduro can’t do.
—@DrNealDunnFL2: .@SecAFOfficial is absolutely right. Congress must pass a disaster supplemental bill immediately. It’s jaw-dropping that our national security is now at risk.
—@BruceRitchie: FL Rep. @scottplakon on House floor describes diagnosis of his wife with Alzheimer’s disease as being a “nuclear bomb” that hit his family. And a “tsunami” of more is coming as baby boomers age.
—@TheDaraKam: Senate budget chief @Rob_Bradley, speaking in favor of @oscarjb2 proposal to expand needle-exchange program. Bradley says he voted against Braynon’s Miami-Dade County pilot program when he first joined the Legislature: “I was wrong.”
—@Fineout: Worth noting for later: Fla. House appears to be lumping its voucher expansion bill in with other budget bills. Suggests they will put in as part of budget conference — meaning eventually it could not be amended & will be subject to only an up and down vote.
—@JKennedyReport: .@CarlosGSmith rips from pages of [Robert] Mueller report in evaluating Fla House budget proposal. Says he’s not voting against it, but “won’t fully exonerate it” because of host of funding failings …
—@DanTallahassee: .@kionnemcghee out of context: “I’m in line with Governor.” Context: Speaking to the difference between proposed money for Florida Forever.
—@MDixon55: Why amendment filing deadlines really don’t matter: Senate Appropriations just quickly voted to allow 11 of them on the budget. With two-thirds, people, you can take over the world.
—@LobbyTools: Both the House and Senate have canceled their Thursday, March 28 Floor Sessions.
— DAYS UNTIL —
Final season of ‘Veep’ begins — 3; Masters Tournament begins — 14; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 17; Easter — 24; Tampa mayoral runoff election — 26; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 36; Mother’s Day — 45; Memorial Day — 60; 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates start — 71; 2019 General Election — 225; Iowa Caucuses — 312; Florida’s presidential primary — 355; 2020 General Election — 586.
— TOP STORY —
“House, Senate panels OK budget plans $400M apart” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — The legislative budget plans easily cleared appropriations committees in both chambers, readying them for a floor vote. Ultimately, the House and Senate will convene a conference committee to work out a final budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget is the only bill lawmakers must pass during the 60-day Legislative Session. “This is obviously the first major step,” said Republican Rep. Travis Cummings, the House Appropriations Committee chairman. The House budget clocks in at $89.9 billion, with the Senate proposing about $90.3 billion. Counting the Governor, all three plans are significantly higher than the current Florida budget.
— THE ADMINISTRATION —
“Proposal offered to lease a plane for Ron DeSantis” via the News Service of Florida — Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley filed a proposal to spend nearly $1.86 million to lease an airplane for DeSantis. The proposal, which doesn’t identify an aircraft that would be leased, was one of more than 100 amendments filed for the Senate’s proposed $90.3 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. An $88.9 billion budget proposal released by the House includes $7.2 million for aircraft, with the money listed as a “special category” line item within funding for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
DeSantis talks small-business at NFIB Boots and Business event — The Governor gave a speech at the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) annual Boots and Business Dinner in Tallahassee. The largest small-business association in the United States, NFIB is a nonprofit that advocates for removing ‘undue government interference” on business owners. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and it was great to spend time with NFIB discussing ways we can achieve further economic success,” DeSantis said. “By keeping taxes low and looking for bold and appropriate deregulation, we can continue to create a business environment that will take Florida’s economy to new heights.”
First Lady Casey DeSantis honors DJJ Youth Ambassadors during Youth Success Day — The First Lady praised the 2019 Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Youth Ambassadors at the Governor’s Mansion in celebration of Youth Success Day. Joining the First Lady in honoring this year’s ambassadors were DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller, DJJ leadership, community partners and members of both the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation and Florida Juvenile Justice Association. Youth Ambassadors are young people in the state of Florida who have turned their lives around for the better after contact with the juvenile justice system or who have participated in prevention programs for children at risk of entering the system. These ambassadors serve as role models for other at-risk kids throughout the state.
Assignment editors — DeSantis will speak at the Florida Association of Counties Water Policy Committee, 10 a.m., Senate Chambers, Florida Historic Capitol Museum. Later, the Governor will speak at the Florida Board of Governors meeting, 2 p.m., Grand Ballroom, H. Manning Efferson Student Union Building, 1780 S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Tallahassee. DeSantis will then join First Lady Casey DeSantis to host a listening session on mental health, 3 p.m., Governors’ Mansion
“’Alligator Ron’ Bergeron OK for SFWMD board, says proposed Ethics Commission opinion” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — That’s despite the fact Bergeron signed a $25 million construction contract with the district more than a week after DeSantis nominated him to the district’s board. The proposed opinion said that contract and two earlier deals Bergeron made with the district “do not create a prohibited conflict of interest” because state law “expressly provides that its prohibitions do not apply to contracts entered into before appointment to public office.” Bergeron has not yet been officially appointed to the board, the opinion states. The opinion also gives Bergeron permission to sell or lease property to the district after he’s appointed — if the land is the only tract that can work for a specific project.
Scoop — Look for Paula Cobb, currently the Director of Environmental Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement at Duke Energy and previous to that a Deputy Secretary of the Florida DEP, to be named the new General Counsel for the South Florida Water Management District.
“Jared Moskowitz tells county officials storm relief funding is a top priority” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Moskowitz joined several of his state cohorts talking to members of the Florida Association of Counties. He began by recounting his own time in local government, serving on the Parkland City Commission. Moskowitz called the experience a “good lesson.” “It was also a realization when I got to the Legislature how few people, both in the House and in the Senate, came from local government,” Moskowitz said. “People come up to Tallahassee with these grandiose ideas. But never serving in local government, they think they know how it impacts us. But they don’t, they don’t have any clue. It’s something they just made up; it’s some interpretation, it’s some thought process. But it’s theory; that’s all it is.”
“Jamal Sowell defends Enterprise Florida in Florida Association of Counties speech” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sowell, head of Enterprise Florida, is defending the organization amid talks by the House to zero out funding for the public-private jobs-creating agency. “Enterprise Florida helps put every community on the state on equal footing with other states, and even nations, to make sure that your case is said and that your areas are known as the place to be to do business,” Sowell told a gathering of the Florida Association of Counties Wednesday in Tallahassee. “Without Enterprise Florida, your town would be left to compete with other states alone.” In its proposed 2019-20 budget, the House has floated eliminating Enterprise Florida altogether. Some Republicans there say the group isn’t a proper function of government.
— 2019 SESSION —
“Bill Galvano’s transportation priority surfaces in House” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — New legislation in the House reflects the chamber’s willingness to consider one of Senate President Galvano‘s top priorities. The House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday is slated to take up a committee bill modeled after the Senate plan (SB 7068). The plan took a while to pop up in the House, leading some to speculate whether House Speaker Oliva would take up one of his Senate counterpart’s initiatives. “I am pleased to see the issue moving in the House, and look forward to working with Speaker Oliva and the Florida House on important issues related to infrastructure as we move forward,” Galvano said in a prepared statement.
“Democrats want changes to House budget, criticizing trust fund sweeps” via Florida Politics — The $89.9 billion spending plan the House has readied for floor consideration isn’t making everyone happy. The House Appropriations Committee backed the chamber’s proposed budget, which totals well below the $91.3 billion spending plan DeSantis presented to lawmakers earlier this year and the $90.3 billion budget the Senate has pitched. Democrats and Republicans alike voted in favor of the conservative appropriations bill. But it did not pass with pure acquiescence.
“Hard-line anti-immigration groups worked to sway Joe Gruters’ sanctuary cities bill” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida —”A hard-line group that wants to ‘defeat immigration anarchy’ in Florida influenced the drafting of a Senate proposal that would ban so-called sanctuary cities, one of the legislative session’s most politically charged fights.”
“Debate brews about divvying school money” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The House is moving forward with a budget bill (HB 5101) that would revamp the District Cost Differential, which is part of a formula used to distribute money to school districts each year. Also this week, the Senate Education Committee gave initial approval to such a bill. The issue is politically volatile because tweaking the so-called DCD can mean more money will go to some districts, while other districts will get less. For lawmakers who will head home in May from Tallahassee and face school leaders and parents, that can create high political stakes. “If you tinker with it, somebody loses, somebody wins,” said Sen. Bill Montford.
“School officials pushing for funds to rebuild after Hurricane Michael” via Genevieve Smith of the Panama City News Journal — When state money will be coming to help stabilize Bay County schools after Hurricane Michael was the big question at Tuesday’s school board meeting, with officials saying it likely will take years to get all the money required for rebuilding. Earlier this week, Superintendent Bill Husfelt again visited Tallahassee to speak with officials working to garner assistance for the district for the upcoming year. During a meeting with FEMA officials that included mayors and representatives of storm-affected areas, Husfelt said he felt he was able to explain the necessity of receiving funds now rather than receiving a promise of future funds. “We talked with FEMA about reimbursement and getting it quicker,” said Husfelt. “I don’t think they understood until today that promising us they’re going to give us the money doesn’t help us because we have to have the money in the bank before we can give a contract out. … “Here’s the bottom line: Every Bay County municipality … is going to have more financial woes ahead of us if they don’t come up with a way for us to get the money,” he said. “And then we’re going to pass that on directly in higher taxes. So there’s got to be another way for the state to … help us. That’s the challenge.”
House cuts higher ed construction projects — The House higher education budget includes some major construction funding cuts. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the PECO budget would defund five construction projects that have already broken ground at state colleges and universities. Instead of receiving state dollars, the institutions would be permitted to use carry forward dollars to complete the work. The losers: a music building at UF, a research center at Florida Poly, an engineering building at UCF, a public safety facility at Florida Gateway College and a performing arts center at Pasco-Hernando State College. Rep. Randy Fine, chairman of the House higher education appropriations committee, said the “institutions have adequate funding in their carryforward balances that if the projects are important to them, they can fund them from those carryforward balances.”
“‘Community’ colleges no more? House backs name changes to two universities” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida House voted unanimously to rename Florida Keys Community College and North Florida Community College by dropping the “community” from each college’s name. The institutions would be called “The College of Florida Keys” and “North Florida College,” respectively. The bill (HB 525), approved by the House in a 112-0 vote, was filed by Rep. Holly Raschein, a Key Largo Republican. A companion bill (SB 720) was filed in the Senate by Sen. Anitere Flores. It’s been approved by the Education Committee.
Shot — “Mayors blast Legislature for bills they say are an assault on home rule” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Nearly three dozen Florida mayors stood at the doors of the Florida Senate Chamber to protest what they called an assault on home rule — the Legislature’s preemption of local regulations to the state. Hawthorne Mayor Matthew Surrency counted nearly 50 proposals this year that would give the state control of regulations governing a variety of issues. “We believe the state has a lane and local governments have a lane and when we respect those lanes we can be a great state,” said Surrency, who also serves as president of the Florida League of Mayors.
Chaser — “Five state pre-emption bills secure committee endorsements” via John Haughey of Florida Watchdog — Three House panels greenlighted proposals to prohibit local governments from imposing requirements on employers, from regulating how restaurants and other establishments distribute plastic straws — a “straw ban ban” — and to eliminate many state occupational licensing requirements and restrict local governments capacities to regulate them. Another Senate bill, SB 336, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, would require any referendum to adopt or amend a “local-option” sales-tax increase appear only on November general election ballots. It goes before the Rules Committee, the last stop before being presented for a chamber vote. And HB 3, sponsored by Rep. Michael Grant would also prohibit local governments from imposing their own occupational and professional licensing requirements beginning July 1.
“Legislature is trying to make Florida’s neediest jump more hurdles to get even modest government help” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Florida Phoenix — (L)awmakers are advancing proposals to make it even harder for Floridians to qualify for programs like Medicaid and a temporary cash-assistance program for the poor that only provides about $300 a month for a family of three. In hearing the proposals, one Democratic lawmaker asked: “How can a family with nothing be forced to meet these stringent requirements?” … One proposed measure in the Legislature would impose a first-ever requirement that adults who receive Medicaid coverage work. It could impact more than 500,000 residents on that program, according to legislative analysts. A federal judge this week blocked similar programs in Kentucky and Arkansas. … Another proposal would drastically increase the penalty for low-income Floridians who use a government program that provides temporary cash assistance that’s meant to help the needy through emergencies.
“All Children’s deaths led to a bill adding oversight. The House just gutted it.” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — The Health Market Reform Subcommittee scrapped a provision to let physician experts make unannounced visits to struggling programs and recommend corrective action. And it added language to shut down the Pediatric Cardiology Technical Advisory Panel, a group of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons that has been developing standards for evaluating programs across Florida. Rep. Mike Beltran, who sponsored both the original bill and the amendment, said he was committed to making sure “all the hospitals in Florida have all the quality controls that they need” in light of the recent issues at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach and All Children’s in St. Petersburg. But Beltran said state regulators should conduct visits to troubled programs.
“House mourns suicides by survivors of gun violence” via Florida Politics — The Florida House observed a moment of silence in memory of two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors who committed suicide within a single week. Sydney Aiello, 19, an MSD High School graduate, took her own life after suffering survivors’ guilt and post-traumatic stress disorder. And Calvin Desir, 16, died Saturday — also from suicide. The chamber also observed the death of Jeremy Richman, 49, who lost his daughter, Avielle, 6, in the 2012 Sandy Hook killings. Broward Democrat Bobby DuBose’s voice broke with emotion as he described the three lives indirectly claimed by gun violence.
“Ethics reform bill sails through House committee” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A bill that would tighten several ethics requirements for state employees and office holders including banning officeholders from holding jobs in nonprofits won easy unanimous approval Wednesday morning in the House Subcommittee on Oversight, Transparency and Public Management. HB 1 covers eight areas of reform, including requiring state employees and office holders to report if they are soliciting new jobs with lobbyists or companies they oversee; prohibiting them from soliciting or acting on investment advice from lobbyists; prohibits public office holders from holding contractual jobs with nonprofits that do business with the government; and prohibiting office holders from using public service announcements to promote themselves during election campaign seasons.
“Public records exemption approved for ‘mass violence’” via the News Service of Florida — Senators voted 40-0 to approve the bill (SB 186), sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee. The bill defines a “mass violence” event as involving the deaths of three or more people, not including perpetrators. It would create a public-records exemption for photos, video and audio recordings in such situations. “There are a lot of people who are appalled at the attempts by a lot of people to get access to this information to use it for commercial purposes or nefarious purposes, and the impact it has on victims,” Lee said.
“Florida may allow legal papers to be notarized online” via Meryl Kornfield of Fresh Take Florida — The bill, HB 409, would make signing official documents, such as a will or power of attorney, quicker and more convenient in the state. Critics have expressed concerns that greater convenience could lead to more fraud, especially among the elderly. The bill, proposed by Rep. Daniel Perez, moved Tuesday through the House transportation and tourism appropriations subcommittee and will be considered next in the Judiciary Committee, the final step before a House vote. A Senate version hasn’t made as much progress.
“Workers’ comp changes might get scuttled” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — A House panel unanimously approved a proposal (HB 1399) that could result in a 5 percent reduction in the workers’ compensation insurance rates paid by employers. Much of the savings would be derived by changing how insurance companies reimburse health providers. The bill, if it became law, would tie payments to rates established for Medicare, a proposal opposed by some health providers. But business lobbyists say the legislation is missing one key feature they desperately crave: caps on the fees charged by attorneys representing injured workers. Caps are part of a Senate workers’ compensation bill. But there wasn’t enough support in a Senate committee to pass the bill.
“Florida could expand size, scope of Alzheimer’s committee” via The Associated Press — The Florida Alzheimer’s disease Advisory Committee could be expanded in size and scope under a bill unanimously approved by the state House. The House passed the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Scott Plakon, who lost his wife to Alzheimer’s disease last year. The bill would expand the committee from 10 members to 15, and it would have to include a sitting House and Senate member. The committee now makes recommendations to the Department of Elder Affairs. If the bill becomes law, the committee would have to also submit an annual report to the governor, Senate president, and House Speaker and make recommendations on Alzheimer’s policy.
“House panel advances financial literacy bill, with changes” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The bill was named after the late Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who tried a half-dozen times to pass such a requirement only to see it stymied in the House. “She understood the need for financial literacy,” said Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff who sponsored HB 73. “It’s an important life skill and I truly believe we need to make this available to our students.” Fetterhoff initially submitted the identical bill as Sen. Travis Hutson, whose SB 114 won unanimous backing in its first Senate stop. But to get the bill to move in the House, Fetterhoff agreed to amendments. The House bill, for instance, offers students a way to test out of the requirement, something that does not appear in the Senate language.
Free the wine — The House, without debate, passed a bill (HB 6037) to repeal a provision in state law and allow wine to be sold in Florida in containers holding more than 1 gallon. The House OK’d the measure, carried by Miami Republican Daniel Perez, on a 108-3 vote. State law now allows no more than a gallon. A typical wine bottle is 750 milliliters, roughly a fifth of a gallon. The repeal language is also in an omnibus booze bill (SB 220) by St. Petersburg Republican Brandes in the Senate, but that bill has not moved since last month.
— MORE SESSION —
“Jamie Grant finds himself in national voting rights spotlight” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In December, state Rep. Grant, chairman of a key House committee on felon voting rights restoration, vowed he wouldn’t be part of any attempt to obstruct or delay the constitutional amendment restoring those rights. Now he’s in a harsh national spotlight over the issue and being accused of seeking to continue Jim Crow-era suppression of black voters, in which the felon voting ban historically originated. National news organizations have covered the subject and Grant said he’s being castigated on the internet. “They’re calling me ‘Jim Crow Jamie,’” he said ruefully. His bill would require those individuals to pay all their restitution, fines and court and investigative fees as well as finishing their sentences and probation before having voting rights restored.
“David Rivera does it again: José Oliva won’t fine scandal-ridden Republican” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Rivera will avoid a hefty financial penalty related to a state ethics investigation. House Speaker Oliva won’t take action against the Miami Republican, whose activities as a former state legislator and congressman have sparked investigations stretching back nearly a decade. Florida’s ethics commission had recommended to fine Rivera roughly $58,000 for failing to properly report his income and double-billing taxpayers for travel expenses while he served as a legislator. Rivera challenged the findings. An appeals court in 2016 rebuffed the legal challenge but said the Speaker would ultimately determine whether to impose the fines. Oliva said he saw no reason to pursue the case any further.
“New tax break for hurricane preparedness proposed” via Jason Garcia of Florida Trend — Under the proposal, lawmakers would add “impact-resistant” windows and doors to an annual sales-tax holiday for hurricane-preparedness supplies such as batteries, tarps and generators. The idea comes from PGT Industries Inc., which controls about 65 percent of the impact-resistant window and door market in Florida. Representatives for PGT pitched the idea to state Sen. Joe Gruters, whose district includes the company’s headquarters and its main plant. Gruters agreed to sponsor the measure, which is included in two bills so far (SB 1112 and SB 1412). “I hope we can continue to get additional business to help this company thrive,” says Gruters.
“Proviso signals legislative support for Motorola SLERS contract” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Language included in the proposed budget bills in the House and Senate show lawmakers are on board with the contract awarded to Motorola to take over the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System. Motorola and the Department of Management Services signed the contract eons ago, but the implementation hit several speed bumps thanks to protests of the prior SLERS contract holder, Harris Corp. An administrative law judge dismissed this protest in October. With language included in both chamber’s proviso authorizing the DMS to sign the contract with Motorola for the statewide public safety communications system, Motorola continues to be the inevitable winner of the bid.
Florida State Parks Foundation urges lawmakers to fund state parks system fully — The Foundation asked legislators to fully fund DeSantis’ 2019-20 budget request for Florida’s state parks at a news conference in The Capitol. Foundation CEO Julia Gill Woodward said it was “imperative that the Park Service receive adequate funding … When you compare the $54 million that has been requested with the (parks’) $2.4 billion in economic impact, it is hard to think of any … better return on the investment.” DeSantis’ budget request includes $54 million for fixed capital and land management and $100 million for Florida Forever. Currently, both the Senate and House have indicated that their Park Service allocations will fall short of the requested amount.
Hundreds of city officials visit Capitol to advocate for home rule — This week, more than 200 municipal officials traveled to Tallahassee for the Florida League of Cities’ annual Legislative Action Days. As they descended on The Capitol, the group’s mission was to protect the right to local self-government. From CRAs to short term rentals to e-scooters — League members feel local issues require local solutions. Municipal officials met face-to-face with legislators and testified in multiple committees to share examples of local impacts of proposed legislation. “There are a lot of new faces at The Capitol this year which gives us the opportunity to provide education on the importance of local self-government,” said FLC President Leo Longworth. “We live local, so we should decide local.”
“Coalition for Silver Solutions forms to help Florida seniors” via Florida Politics — The Florida Health Care Association, AARP and LeadingAge Florida have formed the new Coalition for Silver Solutions, “committed to developing short- and long-term strategies to meet the health care needs of Florida’s aging population,” the groups said in a joint statement. The new group was announced Wednesday at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda. “Seniors will constitute the majority of Florida’s predicted population growth between now and 2030, and this boom means Florida will encounter elder issues in a way the state has never seen before,” they said in the statement.
Today’s legislative committee hearings:
House Health & Human Services Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill to allow importing of less expensive drugs from Canada, 8 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
House Judiciary Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill to define “anti-Semitism” and prohibits discrimination in public schools based on religion, 8 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
House Education Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill to place term limits on county school board members, 8:30 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
House Commerce Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill on the licensure of unarmed security guards, 10:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill to undo a state law allowing elected officials to create what is known as “blind trusts,” 10:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building.
House State Affairs Committee meets. The agenda includes a bill to regulate autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars, 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
Governors Club Thursday buffet lunch menu — KD steak soup; mixed garden salad and dressing; hearts of palm and tomato salad; potato salad; deli board, cheeses, lettuce, tomato and breads; chicken chasseur; marinated teres major with strawberry-tomato salsa; chargrilled salmon; Southern succotash; green beans, bacon and onions; cherry cheesecake for dessert.
— STATEWIDE —
“Ashley Moody talks trafficking, opioids at Florida Association of Counties event” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Moody outlined several-high-profile plans The Attorney General discussed several topics, including her goals to combat the opioid epidemic as well as cutting down on human trafficking within the state. But Moody recounted her time as a judge, discussing her aim to impact the local areas where she served. She referenced a task force that’s been set up within her office to serve as a resource for local communities to have access to best practices when it comes to dealing with opioid addiction. Moody also addressed efforts to reduce levels of human trafficking in the state. The Legislature is moving multiple bills to deal with the issue as well.
Moody seeks Court’s clearance on utility amendment — The Attorney General asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether a financial impact statement written by state experts fairly described the proposed constitutional change to the state’s energy market. The gist was that the amendment would have unknowable effects on what Floridians pay for electricity, or what the new market would mean for the taxes and fees that state and local government collect on electricity generation and sales. A team of state economists prepared a ballot summary, a longer description that will be available at polling sites, and a long-form survey of the amendment’s effects. The amendment would appear on the 2020 ballot.
Jimmy Patronis: Telecom industry must work on ending ‘spoofing calls’ — The state’s Chief Financial Officer “praised telephone providers for stepping up to help end robocalls by authenticating calls and displaying the caller’s verified number,” he said in a news release. Patronis also is “challenging all wireless carriers to waive scam ID fees for seniors.” Cellphone spoofing calls, he said, “aren’t just a nuisance, they can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Last year Americans received 26.3 billion robocalls and reports even suggest that this year nearly half of U.S. cellphone calls will be scams. The news that telecom companies are working together is a giant step toward helping end cellphone spoofing scams.”
Assignment editors — Patronis will join Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams for an announcement on fraud-fighting efforts, 10 a.m. Eastern time, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Headquarters, 501 E Bay Street, Jacksonville.
“Florida spent $69M on mental health after Parkland but didn’t mention suicide prevention” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — As Parkland continues to be rocked by a pair of recent suicides tied to the trauma of last year’s shooting, a review shows that though school districts outlined spending those mental health dollars to hire hundreds of counselors, therapists and other mental health personnel, only a handful of plans explicitly flagged suicide prevention programs as a central focus. Seventeen of the 67 counties’ plans didn’t mention suicide or suicide prevention at all. That has raised questions about how well-resourced schools are to address existing mental health issues and, in Parkland’s case, combat the widespread trauma that still lingers after last year’s tragedy.
“Florida ranks high for taxpayer return on investment” via Ashley Portero of the South Florida Business Journal — Florida taxpayers get what they pay for, according to a new analysis from WalletHub. Florida has the third-best taxpayer return on investment in the United States. The personal finance website contrasted state and local tax collections for all 50 states with the quality of services residents receive. The services measured fall within five categories: education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution. To calculate return on investment, WalletHub compared each state’s overall government services score to its total taxes paid per capita. While Florida ranked high on return on investment, it came in at No. 33 for overall government services.
“Citizens: Hurricanes, water losses, AOB prompt reinsurance changes” via Florida Politics — Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will seek approximately $200 million in traditional reinsurance coverage for the 2019 hurricane season. That’s “to protect surplus exposed to storm risk in areas located away from the coast. This follows mounting losses from hurricanes, non-weather water-loss claims, litigation and assignment of benefits abuse,” the company said in a statement. For the first time since 2005, Citizens will purchase traditional reinsurance for its Personal Lines Account (PLA), comprised of 301,000 residential policies, most of which are not located along the coast. The reinsurance coverage will reduce Citizens’ exposure to 52 percent from 62 percent in the event of a major storm.
“Major Florida Medicaid providers merge in $17.3 billion deal” via Christine Sexton and Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Centene Corp. will acquire Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans Inc. in a $17.3 billion deal combining two of the biggest players in Florida’s Medicaid managed-care system, the companies said. Centene does business in Florida as Sunshine Health, while WellCare’s Florida Medicaid business is Staywell Health Plan. The companies provide coverage in similar markets in the state. The deal, in part, would give Centene access to WellCare’s business in parts of the country such as Hawaii, Kentucky and New Jersey.
“Florida Board of Bar Examiners settles suit alleging discrimination over mental health” via Daily Business Review — Disability Independence Group founder Matthew W. Dietz negotiated a confidential settlement with the Florida Bar Board of Examiners over claims its admissions process was unfair to applicants with a history of mental health or substance abuse problems. Dietz’s client — law student and U.S. Army veteran Capt. Julius Hobbs — sued the Board and its executive director Michele A. Gavagni under the American with Disabilities Act. In the September 2017 complaint, Hobbs accused the defendants of insisting he undergo extra checks by the bar’s psychiatry expert, even though his doctor had declared him fit to practice law.
Actual news release — “Veterans Florida featured on Military Makeover with Montel Williams.”
“Pythons and toads and monkeys, oh my! Here are Florida’s most pesky invasive species.” via Allison Graves of the Tampa Bay Times — Burmese python — Perhaps the most well-known invasive species in Florida. It’s known for annihilating populations of raccoons, foxes, opossums, and other small mammals in the Everglades. Cane toads — If a pet eats or bites a cane toad, it can die in as little as 15 minutes. Lionfish — With no known predators, the lionfish has become a king of the ocean. Lionfish are highly reproductive and lay large clusters of eggs at a time. Greene iguana — The large reptile is notorious for damaging infrastructure such as seawalls and sidewalks by digging. Rhesus macaque monkeys — The rhesus macaque monkey can carry severe diseases including herpes B. Also, don’t feed these guys. The monkeys are said to be aggressive when fed.
— LOCAL —
“NRA official sought Sandy Hook hoaxer to question Parkland shooting, emails show” via Sebastian Murdock of HuffPo — “An official with the National Rifle Association corresponded with a prominent Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist to call into question the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, emails obtained by HuffPost show. NRA officer Mark Richardson emailed Wolfgang Halbig, a noted harasser of parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims, to float a conspiracy theory about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed last year. “Just like [Sandy Hook], there is so much more to this story,’Richardson said in an email dated Feb. 15, 2018 ― just one day after the Florida shooting. … In an emailed statement to HuffPost, he confirmed he had been in contact with Halbig and said he was asking a ‘legitimate question.”
Scoop — “Carlos Gimenez proposes merging Miami-Dade toll road operations” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gimenez laid out proposals to merge the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority and ownership and operation of the Homestead Extension of the Florida Turnpike in a letter he sent late last week to state Sen. Manny Diaz and state Rep. Bryan Avila, both of Miami. The letter mentions conversations they’ve been having and appears to be a plan to long-standing political squabbles about how toll roads in the county are planned, financed, and operated, and how tolls are set — squabbles that also helped inspire legislation those two lawmakers are pushing this year. Gimenez’s March 22 letter proposes the state creation of a new agency called the Transportation Authority of Miami-Dade. The new agency would be governed by local elected officials.
“Gravis-gate: FDLE still looking at fake Jacksonville poll” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — In the final weeks of the race, Anna Brosche supporters pushed a poll that showed a possibility that Mayor Lenny Curry may not win the election outright in March. Curry led challenger Brosche 50-25 percent, with other candidates splitting the balance. But there was a major problem with the survey: the purported pollster, Gravis Marketing, didn’t conduct it. Her last meaningful news coverage of the cycle: a stern letter to Attorney General Ashley Moody. “With as much national attention as has been dedicated to exposing those responsible for spreading false propaganda to shape the outcome of elections, it is truly concerning and disheartening to learn that the same tactics are being deployed on a local level in Jacksonville,” Brosche said.
“‘We are in a crisis’: Low pay spurs exodus among Miami prosecutors, public defenders” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — “Gabriela Plasencia thought she would be a career prosecutor. Raised in West Kendall, she joined the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office straight out of law school in 2015. She worked her way up the ranks, handling misdemeanor domestic crimes, juvenile delinquency cases, and then felonies. One of her proudest moments: helping convict a man accused of murder.”
“Brightline’s ridership ahead of analyst forecast; $600M bonds to be refinanced next month” via The Next Miami — The company notified investors that it intended to exercise an option pay off bonds nearly 29 years early. They will be redeemed on April 18, 2019, subject to Brightline obtaining the necessary financing. The $600 million in bonds were issued in late 2017, with a maturity date of 2047. Ridership has been stronger than analysts had forecast, and could soon surpass even Brightline’s expectations. According to an analysis released by credit ratings agency Fitch in December, ridership is already ahead of analyst projections, when taking into account station opening delays.
“Spring training spurs $80 million for the Southwest Florida economy” via Janae Muchmore and Michael Mora of WINK — It is a grand slam for local economies. In addition to the Twins, the Red Sox and the Rays make their spring training homes in Southwest Florida. Close to 300,000 people poured money into our local economy. It brought more than $80 million in profits to the teams, local restaurants, hotels and shops. “Why go to Arizona when you can go to Florida and watch the Twins?” Jan Strandlie said.
“VISIT FLORIDA funding vital in red tide counties” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “All of Southwest Florida is really very dependent on the many services they provide,” said Jack Wert, executive director for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau. In the wake of a season of hotel cancellations and docked fishing expeditions, the need for state promotion seems as acute as ever in Southwest Florida, officials said. Last year, VISIT FLORIDA awarded $500,000 worth of grants to all counties impacted by red tide. The agency also spent another $120,000 on a regional effort with Google Maps that helped the coastal region from Manatee south through Collier counties. Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, said the efforts helped combat the worst red tide event in local memory.
“Judge denies Scott Maddox’s motion to dismiss corruption charges” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — In a motion filed last month, Maddox’s lawyer, Stephen Dobson III, asked Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to dismiss more than half the counts against him because of a lack of evidence and other problems with the indictment. Among other things, Dobson argued that the honest services fraud statute he was charged under was found void for vagueness by the U.S. Supreme Court. But Walker, in his ruling, wrote that the Supreme Court found that honest services fraud is not void in cases involving a defendant who deprived citizens of the right to honest services through bribery or kickbacks. “The honest services fraud counts of the indictment allege that the defendant did just that — through bribery,” Walker wrote.
Judicial nominating panel will meet in Tallahassee — The 2nd Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will meet to discuss “procedures and a schedule for accepting and reviewing judicial applications for the Leon County Court vacancy.” That vacancy occurred from the elevation of Leon County Judge Stephen Everett to the circuit court, replacing retiring judge Karen Gievers. That’s at 3:30 p.m., offices of Ausley McMullen, 123 S. Calhoun Street, Tallahassee.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Dip into Social Security savings to pay for parental leave? That’s Marco Rubio’s plan.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Rubio introduced a bill that would allow new parents up to three months of paid parental leave. But unlike other proposals that would pay for this through taxes or by requiring businesses to offer it as a benefit, Rubio wants people to pay for their time off through their Social Security savings. To offset the cost, parents could either take less money in retirement, or work for three to six months longer before retiring. Existing law mandates companies allow up to three months of time off to care for a new child. Some employers might pay people during that time off, but most don’t. “Right now, they have no options,” Rubio said.
“Rick Scott seeking U.S. Senate add-ons for Everglades, hurricanes, pre-existing conditions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott is proposing five budget amendments that would address the issues he campaigned on or has taken up since settling into the U.S. Senate: Everglades restoration, disaster relief funding, coverage of pre-existing conditions, support for the U.S. Coast Guard, and money for military base reconstruction and renovation, particularly for military family housing. The amendments are in addition to proposals for what he had dubbed his “Fighting for Florida Budget Agenda,” which included a call for $140 million for Florida’s ports. That agenda also had included asks for Everglades, disaster relief, and military base money. Scott is a member of the Senate Budget Committee, which meets to consider the fiscal year 2020 budget resolution.
“Federal water project grants could increase under Reps. Brian Mast, Angie Craig bill” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The bill, H.R. 1331, reauthorizes and increases funding for an Environmental Protection Agency grant program under the Clean Water Act that focuses on pollution from runoff. The program funds local projects through matching grants. The bill would increase funding for the program to $200 million between 2020 to 2024 from its current funding level of $70 million over four years. Some local projects recently funded through the grants include water storage projects at McCarty Ranch in St. Lucie County and Willoughby Creek in Stuart.
“Disaster aid bill hits snag after Trump tells GOP Puerto Rico gets too much storm assistance” via Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett of POLITICO — The Senate voted 90-10 to advance multibillion-dollar legislation aimed at providing relief to areas that have been hit hard by hurricanes, wildfires and flooding. But final passage is now uncertain, with Senate Democrats calling for changes to the bill after Trump reportedly told Republicans at a Senate lunch that Puerto Rico, which was struck by two hurricanes in 2017, was getting too much money in the disaster aid bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer privately warned Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby that his caucus could turn on the measure if Puerto Rico were not granted more aid.
“Air Force: Tyndall repairs will halt May 1 without disaster funding from Congress” via Katie Landeck of the Panama City News-Herald — One of the largest pieces of the supplemental funding is the money to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base and recover Offutt Air Force Base after catastrophic flooding, representing $1.2 billion for the fiscal year 2019 and another $3.7 billion in the fiscal year 2020. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the Air Force would have to make significant cuts if it doesn’t see that money soon. “Without supplemental funding now, the Air Force must cut critical facility and readiness requirements, driving Air Force-wide operational risks and negatively impacting the recovery of Tyndall and Offutt,” Wilson said. Offutt is a base in Nebraska, a third of which is currently flooded, that the Air Force has also promised to build better than before.
Assignment editors — U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Donna Shalala, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will call on Trump to reverse his budget cuts to Everglades protection and environmental protection, 3:45 p.m. To RSVP and receive the call-in, click here.
— OPINIONS & ANALYSIS —
“Florida GOP’s add-ons threaten Amendment 4” via the Palm Beach Post editorial board — The language is so plain that the measure should be “self-implementing.” No more should be required of ex-felons than that they register to vote as any other citizen, on pain of penalties if they submit an untruthful application. But DeSantis insisted that the Legislature pass a law setting out the terms under which requirements are met. And now we are witnessing a breathtaking GOP counterattack against this potentially huge expansion of the voting rolls. On March 19, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee summoned ugly echoes of Jim Crow-era poll taxes by approving, along party lines, a bill that would require felons to pay any outstanding fines and fees before regaining the right to vote. This is no minor detail.
“Joe Henderson: Arming schoolteachers is terrible idea but will lawmakers listen?” via Florida Politics — “If you’re somebody who’s working at a school and you’re somebody who’s trained and who has the ability to do it then you shouldn’t be precluded from carrying a firearm that could potentially deter people,” DeSantis said recently. IF you’re at the school, and IF you are trained, you could POTENTIALLY deter a shooter with bad intent. Or, you could turn a tense situation worse and kill or maim innocent victims. That is the more likely scenario. Republicans say they would leave it up to school districts to decide if they want to allow teachers to carry guns. It’s still a horrible idea. They’re listening to their own echo chamber that keeps repeating arming schoolteachers is the answer.
“Tanya Quickel: Local leaders should be trained, prepared for demands of public service” via Florida Politics — While Florida law is very clear that every public official is responsible for following strict rules of accountability, there is actually no requirement that the leaders of special districts undergo any training for public service. It’s a little like being given the lead part in a play and you don’t get to read it until the spotlight is shining on you. That’s why I am now a passionate advocate for education and training for all elected officials and managers at special districts in Florida. The Florida Association of Special Districts (FASD) has been fulfilling these vital education and training needs and ensuring a high level of professionalism among the leaders of our special districts.
“Michael Halmon: Deregulation bill would put Florida dead last in cosmetology safety standards” via Florida Politics — Deregulation bills — SB 1640 and HB 27 — are being promoted as making it easier for people to enter the workforce. However, these bills put the public at risk of illness and injury from undertrained practitioners by giving Florida the lowest training standards in the nation. This legislation would reduce the number of hours needed to work as a barber to 600, less than half the national average. Students would have to learn fully about safety and sanitation, including preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and fungal diseases and recognizing potential skin and scalp conditions — all while also studying the fundamentals of hair cutting and styling, performing delicate chemical procedures, and following applicable laws and rules
— MOVEMENTS —
James Taylor named “Top 25 Doer” — Government Technology magazine put out its “2019 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” Tuesday and Florida Technology Council CEO Taylor made the grade. The magazine said its selections include the top “innovators, collaborators and transformers driven to improve state and local government through technology.” … “This year’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers represent a cohort of leaders whose commitment to improving government is truly impressive,” said magazine editor Noelle Knell. “We’re proud to honor their accomplishments and look forward to what they do next.” Taylor was recognized alongside two dozen national government tech leaders, including presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Keaton Alexander, Silver Palm Consulting: The Schools of McKeel Academy
Albert Balido, Anfield Consulting: Colson Hicks Eidson
Ron Book, Rana Brown, Kelly Mallette, Ronald L. Book PA: Lauren’s Kids
Amanda Bowen, Nancy D. Stephens & Associates: Florida Building Material Association
Carlos Cruz, Cesar Fernandez, Jonathan Kilman, Paul Lowell, Brad Nail, Jon Yapo, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Florida Association for Office-Based Surgery, Enterprise Holdings
Justin Grubich: The Pew Charitable Trusts
Lindsay Killen: Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Andrew Palmer, Metz Husband & Daughton: Pearson
Orlando Pryor, Strategos Public Affairs: EPIC Behavioral Healthcare
Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Ernst & Young
Samuel Verghese, Don Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: SecureWorks
— ALOE —
“Opening date revealed for NBA Experience at Disney Springs” via Patrick Clarke of Travel Pulse — The highly anticipated NBA Experience at Disney Springs at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort will officially open August 12. Developed in collaboration with the NBA, the all-new attraction will feature more than a dozen experiences spread out across 44,000 square feet and two floors. One ticket to NBA Experience grants guests access to every activity in any order they choose. Highlights will include a slam dunk challenge, shooting skills competition, trivia and even 180-degree cinematic presentations showcasing the in-arena experience just moments before tipoff.
“Phil Cofer on the minds of Florida State teammates at Sweet 16” via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press — The Seminoles are in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, but the senior forward is in Georgia preparing for his father’s funeral on Saturday. Mike Cofer died on March 21 following a long illness. Florida State (29-7) will face top-seeded Gonzaga in the West regional semifinal, with the winner facing either Michigan or Texas Tech on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four. Fellow senior Terance Mann said he has talked to Cofer over the past couple days and said he is doing better.
“Rays considering blue lights to tint roof in domed stadium” via The Associated Press — The Tampa Bay Rays are exploring the possibility of using blue lights to tint the roof of Tropicana Field in hopes of giving the domed stadium a different look as well as making it easier for players to track fly balls. The lights are part of a new LED lighting system installed throughout the team’s home park. Plans to use them this year are pending approval by Major League Baseball, which is not expected to decide before the Rays open the season against the Houston Astros.
“Hidden Scroll the favorite for Florida Derby” via The Associated Press — Hidden Scroll has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Hidden Scroll landed the inside post in an 11-horse field for the $1 million race, one of the major preps leading up to the Kentucky Derby. It’ll only be the third career start for Hidden Scroll, who is trained by Bill Mott and will be ridden Saturday by Javier Castellano. Hidden Scroll likely needs a big showing to make the Kentucky Derby. He has only five points right now in the chase for one of the 20 spots at Churchill Downs, though could guarantee himself enough points with a top-two finish Saturday.
— NOWRUZ —
It’s been a few months since New Year’s Day, but to a large chunk of the world, 2019 is just beginning. The Persian New Year begins with the advent of spring and the celebration of the holiday has some familiar trappings such as spring cleaning and egg painting. State Rep. Anna Eskamani, the first Iranian-American elected official in Florida, is bringing Nowruz — Farsi for “new day” — to Tallahassee. Slated for the event are Persian food, music and dancing. Festivities get underway Thursday at 11 a.m. on the 22nd floor of the Florida Capitol.
Capitol welcome signs are ready for Thursday!
Who is ready to party like a Persian?!
— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) March 26, 2019
Today’s Sunburn was written by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.