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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.3.19

Good morning. ‘Sunburn’ has been waiting for you.

Capping the concentration of THC in whole-flower medical marijuana makes no sense. None whatsoever.

For starters, the amount of THC someone ingests when smoking it is far more dependent on how many hits (or do they call it “tokes” if it’s medical?) someone takes.

No matter what percentage cap is in place, a patient that takes three or four hits will put far more THC into their body than if they smoked the same cannabis but inhaled only once.

But still, lawmakers are considering a 10 percent cap on the amount of THC in smokable MMJ.

But perhaps more to the point, a patient can walk into any Florida’s dispensary — properly carded and with proper orders from an appropriately licensed medical marijuana doctor, of course — and purchase other products that are highly condensed.

We’re talking THC concentrations as high as 80 percent. If that’s entirely legal in Florida, why put limits on whole-flower?

That’s not to say I don’t get where some folks are coming from. When The Lancet has a study, people pay attention. Sure.

But that study is narrow. It references a small sample with a very narrow band of diseases that are suffered by a minute portion of medical marijuana patients.

It’s simply not apples to apples.

But, it seems the House just doesn’t like smokable weed and isn’t ready to give up the ghost. It’s time let it go, folks.

Ben Pollara, who served as the campaign manager of the 2016 ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana, noted the irony Tuesday, telling the New Service of Florida the proposal “basically acts as a tax on patients” by causing them to spend more money to “buy more marijuana to achieve the same effect as if the caps were not in place,”

“The other irony is it would result in patients having to smoke more marijuana to achieve the desired effect,” he said. “If there’s two things the Florida House hates, it’s higher taxes and smokable marijuana, and this has the functional impact of doing both.”

If the proponents of a cap on THC wanted to raise the cost of medical marijuana while forcing patients to smoke more, I guess a 10 percent cap is one way to do it.

Maybe you read that Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz wanted to be Florida Attorney General.

Well, that was so 10 minutes ago.

We sleuthed around and discovered he might have a better plan: Running for the U.S. Senate … from Alabama.

Wait, wait, don’t leave yet. Here’s why this scheme is not as crazy or harebrained as you may first imagine.

First of all, it is ri-donk-ulously easy to qualify for the office there.

You have to be at least 30 years old, a registered voter in the state and, oh, there’s a residency requirement of one day.

One. Day.

Honestly, this is a good way to jump in for Gaetz, who now represents the Panhandle (that’s almost Alabama, right?). That state has a runoff, and there will be a multicandidate primary.

President Donald Trump could well be very helpful in introducing him. The Prez isn’t crazy about his options there to date, as they all were not nearly as prone to backing him as much as Gaetz does.

The kicker: Gaetz tells us he “may have mentioned” the idea of running in ‘Bama to some people “in passing.”

Will a Gaetz Senate candidacy fly in the “The Heart of Dixie?” He’ll never know … until he tries. (Or, you know, polls.)

P.S. We can’t not mention this latest head-turner from Gaetz:

Please consider reading my blog post on who I think should be the future of the Florida Democratic Party — “Democrats should look to Stephanie Murphy to retake Florida in 2020 (and beyond)” — Despite some of the hits they’ve suffered, Florida Democrats do have a respectable bench of politicians to look toward for a road map to victory in 2020 and beyond. The one that best exemplifies how the Dems can claw back power in the state is sophomore U.S. Rep. Murphy. Murphy is exactly the sort of candidate that Florida Democrats need if they are going to win statewide. The best example of her approach — and the one that is perhaps most relevant to 2020 — is her stance on health care. At this point, it’s political canon that Democrats took back the U.S. House thanks to candidates placing a laser-focus on health care — specifically, Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.

>>>I also blog about how ‘help’ for craft brewers could hurt scholarship students. Read that post here.

The 2022 Senate presidency race between Travis Hutson and Kathleen Passidomo has been quiet as of late, but there’s evidence that’s about to change.

Hutson recently brought on Erin Isaac. The veteran communications consultant is a top lieutenant to Sen. Wilton Simpson, who’s set to take over as Senate President in 2020.

Isaac’s addition comes in the wake of a monster fundraising haul for Team Hutson thanks to all-star fundraiser Nancy Texeira. Texeira, of course, is the finance pointwoman for current Senate President Bill Galvano, who has been prolific in his fundraising efforts.

Then there’s Hutson’s advisers, Rich Johnston and Randy Neilson of Public Concepts. The pair’s past employers include Galvano and his immediate predecessor, former Sen. Joe Negron.

So, Hutson has a staffing tree that worked out well for the past, present and future Senate President. That doesn’t mean they’re all in his corner, but having a team with a winning pedigree certainly can’t hurt.

Florida House Victory re-launches website — A significant update to the Florida House Victory website provides a new information hub connecting users to Democratic state representatives. That includes links to official social media and websites, as well as a Special Elections page devoted to candidates who appear on the ballot before 2020. As next year’s general election nears, this portal will serve as a connection point for supporters across the state to connect with Democratic House candidates. The site also has a way for users to sign up for alerts on activities happening in Tallahassee during the Legislative Session, and a redesigned News page for those who prefer to bookmark that and continuously check for fresh posts.

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Today is one of the best days in the Capitol — Wednesday is Miami-Dade Day: “Paellafest is a tradition (that) illustrates the diverse culture of our county through its extravagant culinary art. The event feeds over 2,000 people including the Governor and legislators.” Also: “Archaeology Day is an opportunity for everyone to learn about Florida archaeology. Hands-on activities for children and adults, along with information on the various ways to get involved in the archaeological process, will be available.” Also: Florida Muslim Day in the Capitol, “open to all community members to advocate for policies that protect our values, our neighbors, and ourselves.” Also: “2019 Florida Dental Hygienists’ Capitol Day,” sponsored by the Florida Dental Hygienists Association.

Get ready for golf at The Capitol — The Golf Florida Alliance, represented by Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Biehl, hosts “Florida Golf Day at the Capitol.” It’s made up of top leaders from the PGA of America, PGA Tour, and LPGA, as well as the statewide golf associations, such as the Florida Club Managers Association, Florida Golf Superintendents Association, Florida Chapters of the PGA of America, the Florida State Golf Association, First Tee and others. A welcome reception with Gov. Ron DeSantis will be held 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Governor’s Club. Golf Day is on Thursday, with exhibits and a putting competition between House and Senate members. Sen. Aaron Bean, the putting champion from last year’s event, “has vowed to win the title again this year.”

For your radarSteve Bousquet is joining the editorial board of the Sun Sentinel, editor Rosemary Goudreau O’Hara announced late Tuesday. “Steve is a perfect fit for the editorial board not only because of his Tallahassee experience, but because of the years he spent covering government and local politics in Broward for the Miami Herald.

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ScoopageHerschel Vinyard joining JEAVinyard, a former Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, was most recently with the Foley & Lardner law and lobbying firm in Tallahassee. He is becoming the chief administrative officer of JEA, Jacksonville’s municipal utility. It’s a sort of homecoming for Vinyard, who is a former Jacksonville shipbuilding executive. Vinyard was an environmental lawyer at Foley & Lardner. He served for four years as DEP Secretary.

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The first round of TallyMadness brought many surprises, and with two days of voting in the books Round 2 is shaping up to be just as thrilling.

The leader in a third of the second-round matchups is hanging on by less than two-dozen votes, and all the other games are still very much up for grabs.

Round 2 of TallyMadness brings just as much excitement as the first.

The biggest nail-biter of them once again features Marc Reichfelder of Landmarc Strategies. The 13-seed lobbyist edged out Mike Corcoran of Corcoran & Johnston in the first round, and now he’s giving No. 5 Slater Bayliss of The Advocacy Group a run for his money. Bayliss performed well against his first-round foe, too, so expect this one to be close to the end.

The other tight games: 1-seed Nick Iarossi Capital City Consulting vs. 9-seed Steve Shiver of TAG and 3-seed Mark Delegal of Holland & Knight vs. 11-seed Tim Meenan of Meenan PA. In both games, the leader’s advantage sub-5 percent.

The Delegal vs. Meenan matchup is also in contention for the best storyline thus far. Both have client rosters filled with insurance industry clients, so in addition to a Sweet 16 berth, bragging rights are on the line.

The most popular matchup going by the vote tally is No. 7 Gus Corbella of Greenberg Traurig vs. Stephanie Smith. Both lobbyists racked up some serious numbers in the first round, and the two fan favorites show no sign of slowing down.

Round 2 of TallyMadness, sponsored by Table 23, ends Thursday at midnight.

Newest cigar bar in the capital announces grand opening — Cigars of Tally Bar & Lounge will hold a grand opening Thursday, 6-10 p.m., at 926 N. Monroe St. The location is “home to Tallahassee’s largest humidor, private conference rooms, and an outdoor covered patio with beer and wine available,” a news release says. The store also will debut its “Diamond Crown” status, bestowed by Florida’s own J.C. Newman Cigar Co., meaning they will offer exclusive brands from the cigar maker, including the “Black Diamond.” The bar is an offshoot of Cigars of Tally, the Market Street outpost owned by Saed and Lila Jaber; Lila also is Regional Managing Shareholder for the Gunster law and lobbying firm and was a Public Service Commissioner.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS — 

@Jordanfabian: @PressSec on House Democrats move to subpoena full [Robert] Mueller report: ‘I think it just shows again what sore losers the Democrats really are.

@JordanPhelpsTrump on Joe Biden tonight: “It looks like the only non-sort of heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists, they got to him, our former vice president. I was going to call him … I was going to say welcome to the world Joe. You having a good time?”

@ChrisHartline: It’s a shame @chefJoseAndres food is so good because his tweets are so dumb (and false). Rick Scott is the reason the $600 million in nutrition assistance funding is in the bipartisan bill that [Chuck] Schumer blocked.

@USAmbOAS: Pleased to assume the Chair of the @OAS_Official Permanent Council during such a critical time for the preservation of democracy in the region. Looking forward to a productive three months working with partners at the #OAS to achieve our shared priorities. #USOASPCChair

@MacStipanovich: It’s remarkable how telecommunications giants can keep track of what to bill millions of customers here, there, and everywhere in Florida who are on dozens of different service plans, but are dumbfounded by calculating their taxes in different jurisdictions. Color me doubtful

@Fineout: Overheard in Tallahassee … “Say hello to the bad guy,” says well-known South Florida lobbyist David Custin while testifying on a towing bill

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@JChristianMinor: Girl at the gym: “I think it’s cute you have your grandfather on your socks” Went along with it. Told her is the best grandfather anyone could ask for, and I wear the socks so everyone knows it #

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@CallTallahassee: So I’m thinking if a network evening newscast is going to show video I saw this morning on Twitter then why should I watch its newscast?

— DAYS UNTIL —

Masters Tournament begins — 8; Final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ begins — 11; Deadline for federal candidates to report what they raised during Q1 — 12; Easter — 18; Frank Artiles is eligible to register to lobby the Legislature — 19; Tampa mayoral runoff election — 20; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 30; Mother’s Day — 39; Memorial Day — 54; First Democratic debates in Miami — 84; Scott Maddox trial begins — 215; 2019 General Election — 216; Iowa Caucuses — 306; Florida’s presidential primary — 349; 2020 General Election — 580.

— TOP STORY —

State’s new Surgeon General faced harassment allegations” via Christine Jordan Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Scott Rivkees has been the subject of a University of Florida sexual harassment investigation, was found by a university auditor to have not properly filed financial-disclosure information and has sued a one-time colleague for libel and slander. DeSantis announced he had selected Rivkees for the dual role of Surgeon General and secretary of the Florida Department of Health. A report shows that Rivkees was investigated for sexual harassment by the University of Florida. The probe found that Rivkees made sexually suggestive comments shortly after arriving at the school in 2012. Rivkees’ attorney, Robert Bauer, told The News Service of Florida that Rivkees has acknowledged making inappropriate comments and has “moved on.” Rivkees was alleged to have repeatedly told people, “If we can’t agree on this, we’ll have to get naked in a hot tub and work it out.” Rivkees acknowledged making the comment “and may have said it more than once,” telling investigators that the pediatric intensive care unit was in “disarray” and that the comment was meant as a joke, the report said.

Florida’s new Surgeon General Scott Rivkees might be coming with a little bit more baggage than first expected.

— THE ADMINISTRATION —

As Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó faces threat of arrest, Ron DeSantis says it would be ‘big, big mistake’” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez and Fabiana Rosales, wife of Venezuela’s interim President Guaidó, met in the Governor’s Mansion to hold a news conference — only to be delayed by an emerging safety “situation” in Venezuela. The 20-minute delay only underscored the ever-changing nature of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, a country where Rosales said death and hunger had become the norm. She did not expand on what the “situation” entailed, but the Governor’s office confirmed it was related to Guaidó’s safety. “In Venezuela today there isn’t electricity, there isn’t food, there isn’t medicine. And our children are dying every second,” she said in Spanish.

No food, medicine or electricity: Ron and Casey DeSantis meet at the Governor’s Mansion with Fabiano Rosales, wife of Venezuela interim president Juan Guaidó, who talked emotionally about the dire circumstances in her country. Image via Twitter.

DeSantis names Air Force Maj. Gen. James Eifert as new leader of troubled Florida National Guard” via Emily Mahoney and Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times — In a conference room in his office at The Capitol, DeSantis told reporters Eifert is the right choice to deal with the investigation. “I don’t have any basis to know how that investigation will shake out,” said DeSantis, a former attorney with the Navy Judge Advocate General. “But I can tell you that if there are merits to the allegations, this is a guy that’s going to clean it up. This is not something that would be acceptable under his leadership.” Eifert said ongoing investigations would be a “significant priority” once he assumes command. “I have very little familiarity at this point,” he said.

Florida might break with Trump over Obamacare lawsuit” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Florida Phoenix — No decision has been reached yet, but Attorney General Ashley Moody said Tuesday that she is studying a legal brief filed by Republican attorneys general from Ohio and Montana that asks a federal appellate court to overturn a  court decision that says the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Gov. DeSantis says he doubts that Florida’s current challenge against the Affordable Care Act will be successful, but he’s leaving the decision to Moody about whether the legal fight is worth continuing.

DeSantis, Cabinet sign off on land deals” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis and the state Cabinet approved paying more than $15 million to buy and preserve nearly 5,700 acres of land in South Florida and near the Georgia border in separate deals. The bigger of the two Florida Forever program purchases calls for spending $14.775 million to buy 5,534 acres within an area of Hendry County known as the Devil’s Garden. The land owned by Alico, Inc., is part of an overall 82,995 acres targeted for the Florida Forever program in Hendry and Collier counties. With the approval, 65,774 acres remain to be purchased, according to Cabinet agenda information.

Governor and Cabinet honor Florida’s fallen firefighters — Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis were joined by Gov. DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Ashley Fried in honoring Florida’s 197 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty during a ‘Ringing of the Bell’ ceremony. In 2017 and 2018, Florida lost four firefighters: Jeffrey Atkinson from the Tallahassee Fire Department, Steven R. Terry from the Hernando County Fire Rescue, Michael G. Camelo Jr. from the Cape Coral Fire Department, and Daryel Richards from Hollywood Fire Rescue. “Today’s ceremony is a humbling reminder of the real sacrifices made every day by Florida’s brave firefighters and first responders,” Patronis said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried honored Florida’s 197 fallen fighter firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty with a ‘Ringing of the Bell’ ceremony.

Child Abuse Prevention Month recognized in April DeSantis declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, appointing First Lady Casey DeSantis as chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. “Protecting our children from harm and making sure that every child in Florida has the opportunity to succeed and pursue the American dream is a top priority of this administration,” Mrs. DeSantis said. It’s all part of Pinwheels for Prevention, which “emphasizes healthy child development, reinforcing positive parenting practices and taking action on behalf of the children and families in our communities.” Blue and silver pinwheels “represent the safe, happy and healthy childhoods we want for all children.” The campaign is sponsored by the Florida Department of Children and Families in partnership with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, Prevent Child Abuse Florida and partners throughout the state.

Only two apply to be state’s next chief administrative law judge” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The next head of the body that acts as a legal check on agencies under the control of DeSantis could be someone who now works for him. The Governor and Cabinet, acting as the State Administration Commission,  decided to close the application period even though only two people expressed interest in becoming chief judge and director of the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). They are John McIver, currently a deputy general counsel to DeSantis, and Kristin Bigham, an assistant deputy general counsel for the Department of Environmental Protection, which ultimately answers to DeSantis.

Assignment editors — DeSantis will visit the Allanton Road Wildfire base of operations, 12:45 p.m. Central time, Sandy Creek Airpark, 1732 Highway 2297, Panama City. Later, the Governor will join the First Lady, and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein to speak at the 2019 Captains for Clean Water Skiff Challenge, 3 p.m. Central time, Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. 1540 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach. Then, DeSantis will speak at a Golf Day reception, 5:15 p.m. Eastern time, The Governors Club, Plantation Room, 202 S. Adams Street, Tallahassee.

— SESSION —

House pitches tax holiday, lease tax cut” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — The $102.4 million package, which will get its first hearing next week, also includes a three-day back-to-school sales tax “holiday” on clothes, school supplies and computers and a seven-day tax “holiday’ on hurricane supplies. Business groups have long lobbied to reduce the sales tax on commercial leases, which is currently 5.7 percent. The tax was reduced from 5.8 percent last year. Under the new proposal, the House would reduce the rate further from 5.7 percent to 5.35 percent. That would produce a savings of $47.9 million in 2020 when it would only be in place half of the fiscal year. The savings would grow to an estimated $99.9 million a year.

Senate professional deregulation bill approved by committee” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — SB 1640, from Republican state Sen. Ben Albritton, cleared the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee on a split vote after offering an amendment that: Keeps full requirements currently on the books for barbers; Keeps licensing requirements for any talent agents who work with children; Keeps a couple of positions on the Florida Building Commission that the unamended bill had clipped. The aim is to strip away licensing requirements in some cases and reduce required training hours in others.

Sen. Ben Albritton’s professional deregulation bill advanced through another Senate committee on a split vote after a number of promised amendments.

No questions asked: PSC members get backing” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On Tuesday, a Senate panel approved without objection the renomination of two members of the Public Service Commission, Julie Brown and Gary Clark. The hearings were pro forma as no questions were asked of either nominee. Gov. Scott in 2018 reappointed the two to serve another four-year term each. Brown first joined the panel in 2011; Clark was tapped by Scott last year. The body regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities.

What Michelle Todd is reading — Dignity for incarcerated women and girls bill gets nod — HB 49, driven by Democratic state Reps. Amy Mercado of Orlando and Shevrin Jones of West Park, aims at making sure incarcerated women and girls get feminine hygiene products and other basic health care items, which Mercado contended are sometimes withheld as punishments. It flew through its second committee Tuesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice with broad support, and debate State’s new Surgeon General faced harassment allegations about only whether the bill should be expanded to protect incarcerated men as well.

What Michelle Todd will be talking about on the next edition of ‘He Said, She Said’ — Unemployment benefits for domestic abuse victims advances in House” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It can be hard to hide from an assailant who knows your place of employment. But new legislation advancing in the House could provide respite for domestic abuse victims. The House Transportation and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee unanimously advanced a bill (HB 563) allowing victims to receive unemployment benefits should they have to quit their jobs to evade abusers. “Many victims of domestic violence stay in terrible situations because they perceive them as insurmountable, whether it’s shelter or financial security” said state Rep. Dotie Joseph, the bill’s sponsor. “In some instances, they are able to escape to a safe place — a new residence, a relative’s home or even a shelter. A lot of times, unfortunately, a perpetrator still knows where they work.”

Legislation seeks to help schools hit by Hurricane Michael” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — The Senate Education Committee forwarded two bills on Tuesday aimed at helping schools offset decreases in enrollment and funding that’s tied to it. One measure (SB 520) sponsored by Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Bill Montford would “hold harmless” school districts that were affected by the near-Category 5 storm, which made landfall in Mexico Beach Oct. 10. The bill provides for a “special one-time appropriation” for K-12 school districts that suffered decreases in enrollment between October and February. The appropriation would offset any loss of revenue due to a decline in the number of full-time students. The committee advanced another bill (SB 1164) by state Sen. George Gainer that would help Florida colleges impacted by Hurricane Michael recruit out-of-state students.

Janet Cruz: Filter lead from water in older schools” via Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press — State Sen. Cruz of Tampa is pushing for the bill after tests found lead in the drinking water in schools around her district. Other districts also have found lead dissolved in drinking water through old lead pipes or lead used to solder copper pipes. “We have safeguards in place to protect children from lead paint, we protect ourselves with filters on our own refrigerators’ drinking water dispensers, yet we’ve done nothing to keep them from drinking water out of tainted water fountains in our schools on a daily basis,” Cruz said. Several teachers and environmentalists were at the meeting to support the measure.

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Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant get warrant protection in bill approved by House panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Before Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant could tell them anything, police are going to need a warrant, under a bill that zipped through the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice Tuesday. HB 1460, sponsored by Republican state Rep. Jackie Toledo of Tampa, aims to bring Florida law up to 21st century technological standards and fairly recent federal and state court rulings for a variety of technologies now available for law enforcement to use for wiretapping and tracking. Those include the digital personal assistants from Apple, Amazon, and Google as well as smart TVs, which can tell residents what’s going on somewhere; and, through hacking or later playback, they possibly can tell police what’s going on in the house.

Hemp farming in Florida closer to reality in Legislature” via The Associated Press — Hemp farming in Florida moved one step closer to reality Tuesday when a bill authorizing it cleared a House committee, and the legislation is moving forward in the Senate as well. The bill backed unanimously by a House Appropriations panel would create a state program to administer and oversee the growing of hemp for industrial uses, a potentially multibillion-dollar business. The relative of the marijuana plant has been used for thousands of years to make everything from ropes to building materials to animal feed. But Congress only recently voted to remove hemp from the U.S. list of controlled substances and gave the green light to states to develop hemp-growing industries, subject to certain conditions.

Citizens Insurance rate hike cap for Monroe County nears debate on Senate floor” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Senate legislation to cap premium growth at 5 percent for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. customers in Monroe County passed its final committee test Tuesday. That’s below the 10 percent limit on Citizens rate growth that prevails elsewhere to the state. The price break would last for two years, beginning Jan. 1, while the Office of Insurance Regulation studies whether state actuaries are accurately accounting for the risk. Policyholders would save nearly $3 million during that time.

Alligator Alley fire station funding passed significant marker” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Legislation (HB 6011) promising Department of Transportation reimbursement for the station won unanimous support from the House Transportation and Tourism Subcommittee. The mile-marker 63 station on Interstate-75 serve cars traveling across the state of Florida from Collier to Broward County. But since the Department of Transportation opened the facility in 2014, there has been debate over who pays to keep it operational. The station is manned by Collier County emergency officials, but just 12 percent of accidents on the road involve Collier County drivers.

— MORE SESSION —

Radio ads urge José Oliva, Manny Diaz to vote against ‘sanctuary cities’ bill — A new radio ad in South Florida is blasting bills that would ban so-called “sanctuary cities,” and it is directly appealing to House Speaker Jose Oliva and state Sen. Manny Diaz to stop them. The Spanish-language ad says SB 168 and HB 527 would ‘turn local police into immigration agents’ and ‘that Cubans and Venezuelans will be seriously affected.’ The ad, paid for by the Florida Immigrant Coalition, says if Diaz and Jose Oliva ‘are with us,’ the measure won’t pass. The sanctuary cities ban is a priority for Republican lawmakers in the 2019 Legislative Session. The bills would require local and state police to detain people for federal immigration authorities.

To hear the ad, click on the image below:

Joe Gruters holding town hall on immigration and red tide” via Zac Anderson of the Herald-Tribune —Gruters has been in the thick of one of the most controversial issues of the 2019 Legislative Session, a push to outlaw so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies that limit immigration enforcement. So a town hall that the Sarasota GOP lawmaker is hosting in Venice Saturday has the potential to get interesting.

Stealing a phone in Florida can be a life-changing felony. Big retail companies want to keep it that way.” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — In Florida, theft charges become a felony if the value of what’s stolen is at least $300. That’s the second-lowest amount in the nation and hasn’t changed since 1986. While other states have raised their “felony thresholds” to keep up with inflation or to try to dole out fewer felonies for theft. This year, lawmakers from both parties are behind bills that would substantially raise Florida’s felony threshold. Two bills in the House and Senate propose different amounts for the threshold: $1,000 and $750, respectively. The Florida Retail Federation says on its website that it opposes raising the felony threshold. The federation has said it is willing to work with a $750 threshold but is opposed to anything higher.

Proposal to probe elder deaths receiving little pushback in Legislature” via Ryan Mills of the Naples Daily News — Proposals to create teams to review deaths of the elderly when abuse or neglect is suspected and to prevent future deaths are moving forward with little pushback in the Florida Legislature. Elder advocates say establishing elder death review teams in Florida could help cut down on the number of cases of nursing home neglect and mistreatment like those identified in a recent USA TODAY NETWORK — FLORIDA investigation.

Lawmakers want to give a break to private schools and students when it comes to ‘dual enrollment’ classes.” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Under proposed legislation, students in private schools — as well as home school students — would be able take full advantage of the dual enrollment classes at taxpayer expense. They would get books and other instructional materials for free. That wasn’t the case in the past. Public school students already get free books and materials. Currently, local school districts are required to pay for the dual enrollment classes, using the pot of money that the state disburses to public schools. Under the legislation, private schools would not have to cover the cost of tuition and fees for their students in dual enrollment classes — taxpayers would cover that.

Bible study bill: Doomed this year, but expect resurrection” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The measure (HB 195), sponsored by Jacksonville Democratic state Rep. Kim Daniels, would require high schools — rather than just permit, as is the case now — to offer an “objective study of religion.” Included in that “objective study” are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. But it doesn’t appear to be on track for the current Session. The bill has cleared one committee. But it stalled in the House PreK-12 Appropriations Committee, which reportedly met for its last scheduled time this week. And no one is carrying a Senate companion.

’Science is helping us drive these decisions’ on clean waterways bill, sponsor Debbie Mayfield says” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Mayfield is willing to work with her Senate colleagues on her signature Clean Waterways Act to make it a balanced piece of legislation for all sides after several members criticized an amendment that seemed to favor developers. “We’re just trying to get something right and let science drive those decisions,” the Melbourne Republican told members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee, which voted unanimously for the bill once she promised to work with them. The bill, SB 1758, establishes the Clean Waterways Act and requires the state Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Health to develop a legislative report on the impacts of transferring septic systems to sewer systems, or connections within a Basin Management Action plan.

A bill would make it even harder to sue towing companies for illegally taking your car” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — A bill from state Sen. Joe Gruters deletes the entire section of Florida law that allows victims to sue tow-truck companies for abducting their cars. “This section of the bill also removes the current language regarding liability for damages caused by improper removal, transportation, or storage of a vehicle or vessel, and for court costs,” the staff report reads. … The proposed law adds extra protections for companies that place “boots” on illegally parked cars. Under the new bill, drivers could not sue if they attempt to tamper with or drive away with a boot on their cars.

42 Hours for 42 Million: Sen. Lauren Book brings child sex abuse awareness to The Capitol” via Tori Schneider of the Tallahassee Democrat — This year is a little different. Instead of walking 1,500 miles from Key West to Tallahassee, Book brought a treadmill to The Capitol and put in her paces in the Rotunda. She and her nonprofit Lauren’s Kids organized an event called “42 Hours for the 42 Million” in honor of the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America. Book has recruited her fellow legislators, other survivors, and community members to take 15-minute shifts on the treadmill around the clock from noon Tuesday for 42 hours. Taking the first shift at noon, Book cited the Legislature’s dress code as her reason for walking in the platform knee-high heeled boots she wore to work.

Lauren Book takes to the treadmill —  wearing appropriate Legislature work attire — for the launch of ‘42 Hours for 42 Million,’ a campaign honoring the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Assignment editors — Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus will hold a news conference to oppose the Voting Rights Restoration Senate Bill 7086 and House Bill 7089, noon, House Media Room 333, The Capitol.

Assignment editors — Pace Center for Girls is hosting its annual “Pace Day at the Capitol” to “raise awareness and advocate for girls’ opportunities statewide,” that includes a news conference with remarks from Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller and Pace CEO Mary Marx, 12:30 p.m., 22nd floor.

Today’s legislative committee meetings:

House Education Committee meets, 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

House Health & Human Services Committee meets, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

House Judiciary Committee meets, 9 a.m., 404 House Office Building.

The Senate will hold a floor Session and take up a proposed $90.3 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.

The House will also hold a floor Session and consider an $89.9 billion budget proposal for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 1:30 p.m., House Chamber.

Senate Military and Veterans Affairs and Space Committee meets, 4 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.

Senate Rules Committee meets, 4 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.

— GOV. CLUB BUFFET MENU —

Potato and leek soup; mixed garden salad with dressings; cucumber, tomato and feta salad; Mardi Gras coleslaw; deli board, tomato, lettuce, cheeses and breads; turkey potpie; old-fashioned meatloaf with red wine mushroom sauce; fried catfish and hushpuppies; cheese grits; broccoli polonaise; candy carrots; warm monkey bread with caramel sauce for dessert.

— STATEWIDE —

Recession fears loom” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Recessionary indicators loom, such as flirtation with an inverted yield curve and increased federal deficit spending. Floridians are taking notice, per a new survey. “[E]xpectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 1.9 points from 99.5 to 97.6 … expectations over the next five years, down 6.1 points from 100.4 to 94.3.” Those making $50,000 or more per year are more subject to pessimism about what’s ahead.

Judge denies motion to dismiss in Florida opioid litigation” via Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News —Attorney General Moody marked another victory in the legal battle to hold the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers, distributors, and sellers responsible for their role in the national opioid crisis. Following a hearing in Pasco County, Circuit Judge Declan Mansfield denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the state’s litigation. Said Moody, “Today’s ruling by Judge Mansfield marks another victory in our fight to end the national opioid crisis claiming 17 lives a day in Florida. Our litigation seeks to hold responsible the major corporations that profited off the pain and suffering of Floridians and to ensure it never happens again.”

Florida GOP donor indicted on federal bribery charge” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — A federal grand jury indicted Greg Lindberg, a North Carolina businessman and major 2018 Florida Republican donor, on allegations he tried to bribe North Carolina’s top insurance official. The 23-page indictment focuses on Lindberg’s campaign contributions in North Carolina, where his companies are based. Federal investigators allege he tried to bribe North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey and tried to remove a state insurance official overseeing his companies. No Florida officials are identified in the filing.

Major Florida Republican donor Greg Lindberg has been indicted on federal charges, charged with bribing the North Carolina Insurance Commissioner.

Teamsters top boss tries to quell rebellion by Mickey, Goofy” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President James Hoffa ordered a hearing in Florida last weekend to determine whether leaders should be removed from the local Teamsters union that represents costumed character-performers, truck drivers and other workers at Walt Disney World. Accusing the local leadership of “horrible misrepresentation,” hundreds of costumed character-performers have threatened to leave the union, prompting Hoffa to call the daylong hearing. A panel of Teamsters officials who heard the testimony now have up to two months to decide whether to recommend removing Local 385′s leadership. Hoffa makes the final decision. Hoffa said he had received “credible allegations” that Local 385′s leaders have failed to act in the interest of union members.

Forestry officals: Burn ban premature after Allanton Road wildfire” via Patrick McCreless of the Panama City News-Herald — Representatives from the Florida Forest Service told Bay County Commissioners they were reluctant to recommend the county issue a burn ban, given that rain is in the forecast later this week. Placing a burn ban during a time when it’s unnecessary might convince some residents to ignore bans when they’re really needed, the forest service officials said. The members of the forest service attended the Bay County Commission’s regular meeting to give an update on the wildfire in the Sandy Creek area of Callaway. The commission took no action on an imposing a burn ban.

Regulators sign off on Duke solar projects” via the News Service of Florida — Duke sought approval from the state Public Service Commission to collect about $29.2 million a year for the 74.9-megawatt facilities in the North Florida counties. The commission signed off on the plan, which the utility and regulators say will save money for customers in the long term because Duke will not have to generate as much power with natural gas. “DEF’s (Duke’s) solar projects are forward-thinking, cost-effective, and benefit customers, while producing emissions-free energy,” commission Chairman Art Graham said in a prepared statement.

Virgin Trains raises $1.75 billion in market chasing yield” via Danielle Moran of Bloomberg — The debt sale through the Florida Development Finance Corp. was priced a day ahead of schedule, indicating strong demand for the unrated bonds as money managers chase after higher-yielding securities. The biggest share of the offering — $1 billion of debt that matures in 2049 but is subject to a mandatory buyback a decade from now — was sold for a yield of 6.5 percent, nearly four percentage points more than those on top-rated 30-year securities.

— LOCAL —

Voter turnout for the Tampa runoff is pacing well ahead of last month’s municipal race” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Voter turnout for the April 23 runoff in Tampa municipal races is tracking 4 percent higher than the March 5 election. According to the most recent vote-by-mail ballot rate of return, voter turnout in the March 5 municipal election was just 21 percent — one point lower than the 2011 election. As of Monday, nearly 16,000 voters had already returned a ballot. That’s almost 28 percent of all who requested one and puts overall voter turnout so far at 7 percent. For the most part, all of the races on the ballot in the upcoming election have a clear front-runner.

Pinecrest Councilwoman files to run for Anitere Flores’ Senate seat” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Anna Hochkammer filed papers to run for SD 39. The 45-year-old Democrat cited the “state of public education” in a statement explaining her candidacy. “I know the only place I can make a real difference in the lives of children and families in Florida is in Tallahassee,” she said. “I am excited about the journey ahead to represent the wonderfully diverse and vibrant communities that make up District 39.” Hochkammer moved to Ecuador in 1994 after graduating from Northwestern University. She says she had lived in South Florida since 2009, when she, her husband and their three daughters fled Ecuador for the United States following the rise of leftist President Rafael Correa.

Pinecrest Councilwoman Anna Hochkammer cited the ‘state of public education’ as her reason to run for SD 39.

Kayser Enneking complaint dismissed, linked to Republican operatives” via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun — Records tied to a recently dismissed Florida Elections Commission complaint against former state Senate candidate Kayser Enneking confirm that a local consulting firm, used by Republicans, worked with an independent party challenger to defeat her. The complaint was filed a week before the November 2018 election against Enneking by independent candidate Charles Goston. The complaint was based on emails obtained by Republican operatives working to re-elect Sen. Keith Perry.”

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava joins 2020 Miami-Dade mayor’s race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Levine Cava has confirmed that she’ll be seeking a promotion in 2020: She announced a bid for Miami-Dade County Mayor on Tuesday morning. “We have delivered real results in County Hall and District 8,” Levine Cava told supporters outside the Miami-Dade County Elections Department in Doral. “But our work is not done. We need to finish the job.” Levine Cava had been rumored to run for the Mayor’s gig in 2020. She’s served as a liberal voice on the Commission since she was elected in 2014, and secured a second term representing District 8 in the last election cycle.

Ray Christman wins Naples Council special election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former Ethics Naples executive director Ray Christmas won a seat on the Naples City Council in a rare special election. Christman defeated former Naples City Manager Bill Moss by a healthy margin. According to unofficial final results, Christman won 2,241 votes to Moss’ 1497. Ted Blankenship received 439 votes, and George Dondanville took 234. Naples has no runoff, but Christman won more than 50 percent of the vote in a four-person field. Christman has been a significant force in Naples politics for the past couple of years as the face of Ethics Naples. The nonprofit was established to promote a better ethics policy in the city.

Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola files to run for re-election” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald — Miami Beach City Commissioner Arriola joins Mayor Dan Gelber and former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez in seeking another term. Former state Rep. David Richardson has also thrown his name into the race for the fourth commission seat on the November ballot after incumbent John Elizabeth Alemán decided not to run again. Arriola, who was first elected in November 2015, is the founder and CEO of Inktel Holdings Corp., a call center outsourcing company. He has also served as chairman of the board of the Adrienne Arsht Center and was previously appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities by President Barack Obama.

Miami Beach City Commissioner Ricky Arriola has filed for re-election.

See a gun, report the gun (or else)” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — In boosting campus security efforts, Pasco County schools have emphasized to students the phrase “see something, say something.” The issue revolves around students who know a schoolmate has a weapon on school property or at school activities. There have been instances, student services director Melissa Musselwhite told the School Board, where several children have had such information, but no one reported it, leaving a potentially dangerous situation unaddressed. “We have struggled with that,” Musselwhite told the board. As a result, the administration has proposed changes to the code of conduct, making it a disciplinary offense if students do not tell staff members about a known weapon. They could be subject to penalties up to suspension.

Citizens group wants more Ethics Board oversight of city lobbyists” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Citizens for Ethics Reform wants the Independent Ethics Board to expand its jurisdiction to lobbyists and vendors as part of a proposed overhaul of the city’s ethics code. The citizens’ group, which backed a 2014 ballot initiative that created the Ethics Board, also asked that the code allow city employees and others to file anonymous complaints. Under the current code and a revised version under consideration by the board, penalties for ethics violations can be issued when based on sworn complaints only. The suggestions came during an Ethics Board workshop designed to get input on major proposed changes to the ethics code.

Suspect detained in threats to commit shooting at FAMU” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A South Florida man, who is a former Florida A&M University student, was detained and identified as a person of interest in threats to commit a shooting. The man’s name has not been released but FAMU officials said in an early-morning alert that classes would continue as scheduled on Tuesday. Tallahassee Police also received complaints but said in a news release there was never any mention of a specific school or location into the social media posts. The man is being held in protective custody by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. The man’s social media presence drew attention from people in the university community. Several tagged his Instagram posts to FAMU Police accounts and TPD. The man hadn’t had been in or had any ties to Tallahassee in over a year.

— D.C. MATTERS —

White House spokesman twice calls Puerto Rico ‘that country’ in TV interview” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — Hogan Gidley twice referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” during an appearance in which he defended a series of tweets by Trump lashing out at leaders of the U.S. territory. In two bursts of tweets, Trump complained about the amount of federal relief money going to the island and called its politicians “incompetent or corrupt.” He also claimed that Puerto Rico “got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane,” a figure that actually reflects a high-end, long-term estimate for recovery costs. As he pressed to defend Trump’s contentions, Gidley sought to make the case that the leaders of the territory, whose residents are U.S. citizens, have mishandled the aid they’ve received thus far.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley called Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, ‘that country’ not once, but twice during an interview.

Chinese woman carrying ‘malware’ arrested at Mar-a-Lago heading to a Cindy Yang event” via Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas and Caitlin Ostroff of the Miami Herald — The woman, Yujing Zhang, has been charged with two federal crimes: making false statements to a federal officer and entering a restricted property. She was carrying four cellphones, one laptop, one external hard-drive and a thumb drive. In a charging document, a Secret Service agent said a preliminary forensic examination of the thumb drive showed it contained “malicious malware.” Zhang said she had traveled from Shanghai to attend a “United Nations Friendship Event” between China and the United States. She said she planned to speak with a member of the president’s family about U.S.-Chinese economic relations. There was no United Nations Friendship Event on March 30 at the president’s Palm Beach resort.

Palm Beach County taxpayers reimbursed $5.6 million for Trump security” via Lois Solomon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Federal Emergency Management Agency released the money to cover overtime costs related to protection of Trump from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018. He visited Mar-a-Lago 10 times during that fiscal year, including major holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. There was also an April summit at the estate with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Palm Beach County Commission accepted the money with little comment. Commissioner Melissa McKinlay praised county staff for pursuing the reimbursement.

In health care fight, Donald Trump puts national spotlight on Rick Scott — and his Medicare fraud scandal” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — … Scott resigned in 1997 as CEO of Columbia/HCA, one of the country’s largest hospital networks, amid a federal investigation. Later, the company he helped found was fined $1.7 billion by the Department of Justice for defrauding Medicare and other government health care programs. At the time, it was the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history. While the investigation’s findings covered Scott’s time at the company, he was never charged with any wrongdoing. Floridians are well-versed in the case. It came up often during Scott’s two bids for governor and in last year’s U.S. Senate race. After Trump’s comments last week, a controversy once contained to Florida spread from coast to coast. … For the past nine years, these attacks slid off Scott as if he were Teflon. In the elections of 2010, 2014 and in 2018, he thwarted millions of dollars in ads about the fraud case with a hyper-disciplined message backed by his own personal wealth. He spent about $150 million of his fortune during his three races, emerging victorious — by the thinnest of margins — in each. Scott has shrugged off the fraud allegations as tied to actions of people underneath him. In his role as Trump’s health care savior, he’s leaning into his experience at Columbia/HCA.

Andrew Cuomo bashes Scott over Florida senator’s criticism of New Yorkvia Kevin Tampone of  Syracuse.com — This could get ugly. … Cuomo is hitting back at … Scott  with a new op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that bashes Scott for criticism of New York. Scott attacked the state’s fiscal policies with his own op-ed in the Journal last month.

Florida’s congressional delegation makes budgeting push for Everglades money” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Alcee Hastings and Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Francis Rooney are leading a united, bipartisan Florida push in the U.S. House of Representatives for $200 million for Everglades restoration funding. They have sent a letter also signed by 16 other Florida House members to the chair and ranking member of the key House committee now considering federal water infrastructure spending: the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. The letter makes their case that the Everglades and related water projects need the full $200 million Florida leaders have been requesting. The letter, signed Monday, comes just three days after Trump visited Lake Okeechobee, joined by both Republicans and Democrats, and vowed support for the Everglades.

How will Matt Gaetz’ Green Real Deal feel?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — How will a rising Freedom Caucus star respond to a progressive left icon’s derided environmental plan? Expect an answer when Gaetz unveils his “Green Real Deal” Wednesday. The legislation serves as direct response to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat whose “Green New Deal” earned attention in February. But don’t expect it to be a complete repudiation of an environmental agenda. Rather, Gaetz’s team says his conservative response will “specifically highlight realistic and viable options to combat the effects of climate change.” The Florida Republican has been a close ally of Trump, so it’s possible Gaetz’s plan will mark a shift in GOP talking points on the issue.

— “It’s time for a Green Real Deal” via Matt Gaetz for Real Clear Politics

— 2020 —

Bernie Sanders raises $18 million in first quarter of presidential campaign” via Holly Otterbein of POLITICO — Aides said the Vermont senator’s average donation was $20. Sanders‘ campaign said he received a little under 900,000 individual donations, after setting a goal of 1 million in the first quarter of the year. The campaign has $28 million cash on hand after beginning with $14 million in the bank from Sanders’ other federal campaign accounts, it said — another big advantage over Sanders’ rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

$18 million man: Bernie Sanders takes in just under 900,000 individual donations, and now has $28 million cash on hand. Image via the Los Angeles Times.

Wayne Messam announces campaign stops in South Carolina, Nevada, California” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Messam, a 2020 presidential candidate, announced several campaign stops in the coming weeks as he attempts to separate himself from a crowded Democratic field. On Tuesday, Messam revealed he’ll be appearing in South Carolina April 8-9. Following that is a stop in Nevada on April 10. He’ll close out his cross-country trip in California April 11-12. As was the case in 2016, Nevada and South Carolina appear early on in the Democratic primary calendar. Following those contests is California’s primary on March 3, also known as “Super Tuesday.” That’s a huge change from last time around, where the Democrat-rich state held its primary toward the end of the process.

—“Too many Democrats are running in 2020, according to science” via Lilly Kofler of POLITICO

— OPINIONS —

John Thrasher: The importance of investing in Florida’s nationally acclaimed University System” via Florida Politics — With the state’s steady financial investment (including targeted additional funding for the top performing universities) have come measurable results. Florida State University has contributed to the system’s achievements by catapulting 17 places (from 43 to 26) in national rankings of public universities in the past three years — the most aggressive climb for schools in the Top 50. We have moved up by carefully and strategically investing in student success and are now a nationally recognized leader. To be clear, the achievements of the State University System are only possible because of Florida’s strong financial commitment. All Floridians should be as proud as Gov. DeSantis that our University System is No. 1 in the nation.

Don’t lower the bar to become a teacher in Florida” via Kate Walsh for the Tallahassee Democrat — While Senate Bill 1576 and House Bill 7061 both contain some thoughtful improvements, they would also dramatically lower the most basic expectations the state has for its teachers. Florida requires any teacher candidate to pass a straightforward test of general knowledge. It’s content Florida has required aspiring teachers to know for more than a decade — little more than that they can read, write and know enough math to teach our students. This is a test anyone who has finished high school, much less college, should be able to pass. But unfortunately, many of our nation’s teacher preparation programs don’t pay enough attention to imparting these basic skills, graduating a fair number who never master them. High standards matter.

Joe Henderson: High school Bible class bill looks dead for now, as it should” via Florida Politics — The bill to require Florida high schools to offer a class on the Christian Bible looks dead for this year. That is good news because it will save the state the cost of defending an indefensible law against inevitable lawsuits. Take your blessings where you can get them. I say this both as a Christian and member of the United Methodist Church for the last 40 years. I have spent lots of time in Bible studies and assorted classes. I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be. I offer that disclaimer so that anyone reading this doesn’t believe I’m some anti-religion zealot. But when the state gets involved in any holy mandate that uses public money in a public setting to advance any single religion or study, that’s just wrong. That’s why HB-195, offered up by Democratic state Rep. Kim Daniels of Jacksonville, was doomed the moment she filed the bill.

Florida’s community redevelopment agencies under attack again” via Michael Simon for the Palm Beach Post — CRAs are under attack in this year’s Legislative Session due to lingering misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding them. As executive director of the Boynton Beach CRA, I see the positive impacts of our CRA firsthand. The facts are that CRAs are guided by Florida Statute 163 Part III and created by local governments to focus much-needed attention into blighted areas of a community — areas that have inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways, inadequate parking or a shortage of affordable housing. By supporting redevelopment projects, CRAs are transforming Florida’s communities for the better. SB 1054 and HB 9, would enact limitations that will negatively impact the important redevelopment work performed and programs administered by these agencies.

— MOVEMENTS —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Josh Aubuchon, Holland & Knight: Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority

Taylor Biehl, Jeffrey Sharkey, Capitol Alliance Group: One Ocean One Health Research and Conservation Institute, One Ocean One Health Research and Conservation Institute

Greg Black, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: HIE Networks

Ellyn Bogdanoff, Mike Grissom, Nicholas Matthews, Becker & Poliakoff: Florida Professional Law Group

Carol Bracy, Brad Burleson, Chris Dorworth, Mathew Forrest, Monica Rodriguez, Ballard Partners: Basketball Properties, Conduent and its Affiliates, Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, GCOM Software, Secure Democracy, Pure Storage

Chip Case, Capitol Advocates: South Pinellas Regional Advancement Council, Therap Services

Herbert Gibson, North Swell Media: American Water Security Project

Eduardo Gonzalez, Sun City Strategies: NW Group, Shands Teaching Hospitals and Clinics d/b/a Shands

Robert Holroyd, Tripp Scott: NUCO CITRUS

Jonathan Kilman, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Village of Palmetto Bay

Esther Nuhfer, Communication Solutions: Neuroscience Centers of Florida Foundation

Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: Ameresco

Manny Reyes, Pereira Reyes Consulting: Alex Bail Bonds

Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: Zocdoc

Shannee Tracey: Christian Care Ministry

Personnel note: Nikki Kimbleton to serve as Lenny Curry spokesperson” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — A familiar face for Jacksonville television viewers, Kimbleton is about to assume a new role: head of public affairs for Mayor Curry. “Nikki’s positive attitude and history of listening and addressing people’s needs in the community complements my own vision for One City/One Jacksonville,” Curry said. Kimbleton said that “joining Mayor Curry’s staff when so many exciting things are happening within the city is a dream come true. Under Mayor Curry’s leadership, I truly believe Jacksonville’s brightest days are in front of us. I look forward to the journey ahead.” Almost to the day Kimbleton left the airwaves on WJXT-4, she established herself as a Curry backer, giving to his political committee.

Personnel note: Steve Contorno named Tampa Bay Times politics editorContorno announced the move via Twitter. He replaces Adam Smith, who left for a job in PR. “I am thrilled to be taking on this role for a newsroom I love & in a community I deeply care about,” he tweeted. “Our @TB_Times/@MiamiHerald politics team is incredible … They are in this job for the right reasons: to shed light on the truth and to look out for you. I am excited for what we’re going to accomplish covering Tally and 2020.” Contorno also said the newspaper “will be hiring a new National Political Correspondent (the job I just had).”

Tweet, tweet:

— ALOE —

’Game of Thrones’ return turns HBO-Dish conflict into nail-biter” via Gerry Smith and Scott Moritz of Bloomberg — For the past five months, Dish subscribers have been unable to get HBO because of a contract dispute between the companies. Now, as HBO’s most popular show returns for a highly anticipated final season, customers are getting nervous. Both sides are feeling the pain. HBO lost about 3 million customers, while Dish is suffering some of the steepest subscriber losses in the pay-TV industry. The satellite company has warned that more could leave if there’s no deal by the “Game of Thrones” premiere April 14. Chairman Charlie Ergen even suggested customers would find workarounds that don’t benefit either company.

The return of Game of Thrones is escalating the battle of wits between HBO and Dish TV.

Walt Disney World offers special passholder events” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The late-night access for passholders only to the Magic Kingdom is 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., April 28. Visitors can ride 25 attractions and meet characters around the park. People can also choose to go to the Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park instead either May 18 or June 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. “Registration is available on a first-come, first served basis,” Disney said in an email. It’s only for passholders who are Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus or Premier and up to three of their friends who also have those passes, the email also said.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Alex Heckler of LSN Partners, Robert Mons, a special assistant to Gov. DeSantis, and our ol’ friend Billy Schmidt.

_

Sunburn is written and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Danny McAuliffe, Drew Wilson, and the staff of Florida Politics.

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.

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