It promises to be a very busy day at the Capitol. In addition to it being Seersucker Day, there’s all this and then some:
Taking a stand against pre-emption — A diverse group of Florida organizations will stand together in front of the House of Representatives Chamber doors Wednesday morning to “urge legislators to oppose policies that would remove local ability to pass laws stronger than the state’s own laws.”
The group includes the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Equality Florida, Florida Association of Counties, Florida Council of Churches, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Organize Florida and Surfrider Foundation
Speakers include Democratic state Rep. Nick Duran of Miami, Leon County Commissioner and President-Elect for the Florida Association of Counties Nick Maddox, Florida Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association Mark Landreth, Organize Florida and Florida Immigrant Coalition spokeswoman Ida Eskamani, and Matt Jordan, Florida Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
They will stand against the “state overreach” found in more than 35 bills this session — pre-emption policies that “block local governments from doing more to protect the well-being of their communities.”
“Pre-emption is when a higher form of government, such as a state legislature, limits a lower form of government, such as a county or city council, from acting on an issue,” the release said. “It is becoming an increasingly common state legislative tactic and extending to a greater number of issue areas. During the 2019 Legislative Session, according to the Florida League of Cities, more than 35 pre-emption bills are being considered that block local communities from responding to the needs of their citizens.”
That’s at 10 a.m., in Room 333 of The Capitol.
Michael’s Angels will rally in Tally — We wanted to share this “very personal” letter we received from Kristen McDonald of Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Tallahassee. Please read:
“For those of you who don’t know, I was born and raised in Panama City. My family still lives there, and my childhood home was destroyed when Hurricane Michael hit six months ago (amazingly the only room left intact was the one my dad was hunkered down in with our two dogs and cat!).
“Recovery efforts in the area have been slow thus far, and many of you have covered the numerous pleas for federal and state funding to assist with those efforts.
“On Wednesday, April 17, affected residents from my hometown and the surrounding areas are traveling to Tallahassee for a ‘Rally in Tally’ event in the Capitol Courtyard at 10 a.m. where they will urge lawmakers to support disaster relief for the Panhandle.
“The event has been organized by the group Michael’s Angels … I’ve been told several buses have been chartered and that hundreds of people are expected to attend. Local radio personality Dr. Shane Collins of 92.5 WPAP-FM will also be broadcasting live from the bus and throughout the day.
“I know you are all so busy with Session, but this is an important issue that needs continued attention. I hope you can join this group in the Capitol Courtyard at 10 a.m. to hear their compelling stories firsthand.”
Coalition for Silver Solutions continues fight for funding — Advocates for Florida’s senior population will be at the Capitol as the Coalition works to retain funding for nursing home and community care.
AARP, the Florida Health Care Association, and LeadingAge Florida recently formed the coalition to help develop strategies to meet the short- and long-term health care needs of Florida’s aging population. Their immediate concerns are retaining a $138 million boost in nursing home Medicaid funding provided by the Legislature in 2018 that is in jeopardy this year, along with the need to fund home and community-based services to reduce the current waitlist.
“Members of the three organizations will work the halls of the Capitol to remind lawmakers that quality care for elders is directly connected to adequate funding,” a news release said.
Also on the Capitol events calendar — Project Citizen, a program of The Florida Law Related Education Association that addresses public policy concerns, will display student projects in the Rotunda. Also:
— Anglers for Lake O will be in Waller Park (next to the dolphins’ fountain) starting at 10 a.m. to promote “public awareness of water projects that will #SlowTheFlow of water coming into Lake Okeechobee.”
— It’s Rural Counties Day. Starting at 10 a.m., Baker, Bradford, Putnam, Union counties and the City of Keystone Heights will “create a forum for citizens, elected officials, and business professionals to work together to highlight our business-friendly environment, and represent rural counties’ specific legislative needs.”
— The Oviedo-Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce meets at 1:30 p.m. on the 22nd floor “to meet with Legislators and discuss the Legislative Session.”
— The Florida Technology Council, the statewide tech association, hosts its annual event on the 22nd floor at 2 p.m.
Please consider stopping by — I have been invited to be the featured speaker at the next meeting of Capital Tiger Bay Club. That’s next Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee.
The main topic of this special program will be “A Florida nightmare: Voters without a voice,” a recent op-ed where I focused on HJR 57, a proposal that would dramatically change the way Floridians can amend our state Constitution.
While HJR 57 may not get much play with the general populace, HRJ 57 has solicited some strong feelings among those in The Process. I will give my take, and discuss some of the leading players — both politicians and media — on the issue.
An RSVP is required no later than this Friday, April 19. For info on attending, contact Debby Kent at [email protected] or call (850) 320-2019.
Welcome to the world — Eleanor “Ellie” June Karp, daughter of Dorian and Joshua Karp, she’s the Senior Advocacy and Policy Manager at Jewish Women International, and he’s a prominent Democrat communications strategist. Josh messages, “Ellie arrived late Monday night at 5 lbs., 12 oz., and 18 inches. Momma and baby are all healthy and happy. We’re sure that little Ellie is already deciding how to cast her first vote in the crucial 2038 midterm elections.”
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@JenniferJJacobs: Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow says @THEHermanCain has Trump’s support. Cain is going through the vetting process, and it is up to Cain if he wants to continue in the process, Kudlow tells gaggle at WH. per @spettypi
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) April 16, 2019
Cersei Lannister wants those elephants and I do too. On Save the Elephant Day, I urge Congress to crack down on illegal poaching that has led to the slaughter of thousands of these majestic creatures. pic.twitter.com/4geiKRTUpm
— Rep. Vern Buchanan (@VernBuchanan) April 16, 2019
—@NikkiFriedFL: [email protected] decimated DOH & DEP’s ability to tackle the toxic algae crisis — his negligence risked people’s health and our environment and economy. I’m making my Office of Agricultural Water Policy available to @ to help clean up the mess left by his predecessor.
—@CynthiaBarnett: Connie Bersok, retired # DEP employee, says the agency was so insistent scientists not speak with journalists, or face being fired, that she used to try and avoid @ in Tallahassee grocery store aisles.
—@MDixon55: Welcome everyone to “putting standalone bills in the tax package” season.
— Leslie Palmer (@LPalmer850) April 16, 2019
—@BenDiamondFL: Today was our last House Judiciary Committee mtg. Though we heard many divisive issues, I’m proud we found ways to work together across party lines. As Democratic Ranking Member, I was honored to work w/ Chair @. TY for your leadership & TY to staff for your hard work.
—@MearKat00: Today has been such a long week.
—@MikeGriffinFL: It felt so good voting early today for @JaneforTampa. Our city’s progress is just getting started!
—@SMTravis: A day after the big Pulitzer announcement, I’m celebrating in the way I do best: attending an all-day Broward School Board meeting.
—@MarcACaputo: My daughter is a junior in high school, and the volume of telemarketing from the predatory loan/college industrial complex is staggering
— DAYS UNTIL —
Easter — 4; Frank Artiles is eligible to register to lobby the Legislature — 5; Tampa mayoral runoff election — 6; “Avengers: Endgame” opens — 9; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 10; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 16; Mother’s Day — 25; Florida Chamber Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 36; Memorial Day — 40; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 52; U.S. Open begins — 57; Father’s Day — 60; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 62; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 70; Independence Day — 78; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 104; St. Petersburg primary election — 133; “Joker” opens — 170; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 194; Scott Maddox trial begins — 201; 2019 General Election — 202; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon begins — 204; Iowa Caucuses — 292; Florida’s presidential primary — 335; 2020 General Election — 566.
— TOP STORY —
“Under pressure: Speaker Jose Oliva reverses course and agrees to hear firefighter cancer bill” via Jeffrey Schweers of Tallahassee Democrat — Under political pressure, Speaker Oliva reversed himself and promised that a bill expanding insurance coverage and providing death benefits to firefighters would get a hearing this session. “The debate this year, as in past years, was never against firefighters nor was it political,” Oliva said in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, the same day firefighters were collecting petitions to get the bill heard. The Democrat reported on its front page that supporters of the bill believed Oliva blocked it over a political grudge. Oliva told the Democrat that was not the case and suggested a compromise was possible if some adjustments were made to the bill.
Thank you, Speaker, for your compassion for our firefighters. Look forward to working w/ you, like we did last year on PTSD benefits, to get our heroes the cancer benefits they need & deserve. We do this for the 70% of line of duty FF deaths & those currently battling cancer. https://t.co/F9L5XUSgdV
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) April 16, 2019
— THE ADMINISTRATION —
Assignment editors — Gov. Ron DeSantis will deliver remarks at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital with First Lady Casey DeSantis, 10 a.m. Eastern time, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Daniella’s Atrium, 1005 Joe DiMaggio Drive, Hollywood.
Assignment editors — DeSantis will deliver remarks at the 58th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion luncheon, noon Eastern time, The Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables, Country Club Ballroom, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.
“Ron DeSantis visits the Keys to renew commitment to Hurricane Irma recovery” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — “We want to make sure you’re back and stronger than ever,” DeSantis said during a news conference at the Coast Guard Station Marathon after holding a half-hour-long roundtable
“DeSantis stops at UF, talks water protection” via Daniel Smithson of the Star Banner — DeSantis and state officials spoke at the University of Florida Tuesday morning about the state’s efforts to protect Florida’s waterways. DeSantis, flanked by Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, Chief Scientific Officer-designate Tom Frazer, UF president Kent Fuchs and environmental officials, spoke at UF’s Steinmetz Hall Courtyard atrium about his recommended $625 million environmental budget for Everglades restoration efforts and protection of the state’s water resources.
“DeSantis: Restore accountability to Florida Virtual School” via Beth Kassab and Lesley Postal of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis supports a call from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran for the Legislature to commission a new audit of the public online school that received more than $180 million in taxpayer money last year, said his spokeswoman Helen Ferre. DeSantis also plans to appoint new members to the school’s seven-member board, which has three empty seats and two others filled by people who said they would leave once replacements are named. “He is reviewing all options to address the situation at Florida Virtual School with the intent to restore transparency and accountability to the organization,” Ferre said. DeSantis did not say how quickly he would move on appointing new board members.
“Supreme Court rules against Jackson” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — “Siding with Gov. DeSantis, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that the governor acted within his authority when he suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Mary Beth Jackson.
“DeSantis and the Cabinet are going to Jerusalem next month on taxpayers’ dime, but no details forthcoming” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — How will they get there? Where will they stay? Who’ll be included among the legislators and business people tagging along? What will it cost taxpayers? The Governor’s office isn’t saying. His aides haven’t responded to multiple requests for those details and others. Neither have aides for Cabinet members Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, or Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. A spokeswoman at Enterprise Florida, which is planning the logistics, gave this reply to our list of questions regarding the trip last week: “Yes, EFI has coordinated missions with previous Florida Governors. Additional details are not available at this time.”
“Report: 8 nurseries shortlisted for new medical marijuana licenses” — A total of eight new nurseries may be permitted to grow and sell medical marijuana under a new agreement being worked out by state officials. That’s according to a report from POLITICO Florida’s Arek Sarkissian. Sarkissian cites “a person close to the talks,” detailing the eight companies now on a short list drafted by Gov. DeSantis. Those companies are Bill’s Nursery, DeLeon’s Bromeliads, Dewar Nurseries, Hart’s Plant Nursery, Perkins Nursery, Redland Nursery, Spring Oaks Greenhouse and Tree King Tree Farm. Since the inception of the state’s medical marijuana program in 2014, growers have complained about the limited number of licenses available. Some of those concerns have developed into lawsuits.
“Nikki Fried: Symbolic solutions to fictional problems” via Florida Politics — I’ve also learned that over 54 percent of Florida’s immigrants work in farming, fishing or forestry. They make up more than 45 percent of the workforce in those industries. And targeting immigrants would create lasting damage to businesses and industries throughout our state’s economy. As a human being, it’s my obligation to recognize injustice whenever I see it. SB 168 — the bill outlawing so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ — is rapidly moving through the Legislature. It’s dangerous for immigrant communities working to build better lives for their families. The bill also faces this small dilemma: there are no ‘sanctuary cities’ in Florida — and President Donald Trump’s own Justice Department has agreed.
— SESSION —
“Lawmakers look for a ‘first step’ as differences hold on criminal justice reform” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Add criminal justice reform to the long list of negotiable issues lawmakers are working through during the final weeks of Session. The House and Senate on Tuesday moved bills that would affect offenders and the incarcerated. But key differences remain in the legislation as lawmakers approach the May 3 end of the 60-day lawmaking process. “I think it’s important that we make a first step,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, sponsor of the aptly named Florida First Step Act, or SB 642.
“House, Senate move forward with tax plans” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — A $102.4 million tax-relief package is ready to go to the House floor, despite Democratic objections about part of the plan that would spread local voter-approved tax dollars to charter schools. Meanwhile, a business-backed tax overhaul had an easier time advancing in the Senate, with the proposal including a move to collect sales taxes on purchases Floridians make from many out-of-state online retailers. In a party-line, 18-9 vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved the House package (HB 7123), which includes sales-tax “holidays” for storm preparation and back-to-school shopping and a reduction in a commercial lease tax. The bill has cleared its committees and can be taken up on the House floor.
“Senate bill to make internet marketplaces all pay sales taxes passes panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A Senate bill that would require all significant internet dealers and marketplaces to collect and remit sales taxes to Florida regardless of whether they have physical presences in the Sunshine State won approval Tuesday from the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. Senate Bill 1112 from Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters of Sarasota would put the responsibility for sales taxes on any internet dealers and marketplaces that have at least 200 annual product sales or $100,000 in annual business in Florida.
“Lawmakers moving aid bills for Hurricane Michael” via Curt Anderson of The Associated Press — A Senate Appropriations panel approved a pair of bills to assist with housing, debris removal, infrastructure repairs, and other needs. One measure would create a $300 million loan program out of the “rainy day” reserve fund if lawmakers ultimately decide to approve the money in final budget negotiations. Democratic Sen. Bill Montford, who represents many of the most affected counties, said northwest Florida is still suffering months after Category 4 Hurricane Michael swept ashore in October. Congress has been unable to agree on a roughly $13 billion aid package for multiple U.S. disasters including Michael — meaning state legislators must step in, Montford said.
“Plan could help hurricane-hampered colleges” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — School officials say Gulf Coast State College in Panama City lost 841 students during the spring 2019 semester. That’s a 15 percent drop in enrollment, compared to the same time last year. That led Sen. George Gainer to propose a bill that would allow hurricane-impacted state colleges to waive out-of-state tuition fees when they see enrollment drop by more than 10 percent as a result of storms. The proposal (SB 1164) passed unanimously and needs to clear the Senate Appropriations Committee before it can go to the Senate floor. The House version (HB 593), sponsored by Rep. Jay Trumbull, has been approved by committees and is ready to be heard by the full House.
“School referendum funding bill heads to House floor with some changes” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Under this bill, House Bill 7123, districts whose voters approved a higher property tax rate for school funding would need to share that money with charter schools starting in the next budget year. Charter schools are paid for with public funds and run by private entities. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bryan Avila, added an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee which would require charter schools that receive a slice of these funds to use them for the intended purpose of the referendums. The amendment also removed the financial penalty for school districts should they fail to share the funds with districts properly.
First on #FlaPol — “Chris Sprowls amends higher ed package to safeguard USF St. Pete, Sarasota-Manatee” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sprowls filed an amendment to the bill (HB 839) that would ensure the St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses were designated “branch campuses.” That change blocks USF from instead creating regional campuses some faculty and administration worried would diminish the smaller schools’ autonomy. The USF consolidation task force recommended protecting campuses as branches. The amendment would also protect the entire USF system’s funding by blocking the Florida Board of Governors from using consolidated data at the three campuses “for purposes of determining eligibility for funding.”
“‘Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act’ clears final House panel” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A bill to ensure women inmates receive necessary hygiene products cleared its final House panel Tuesday, as the House Judiciary Committee signed off on the bill. The legislation (HB 49), also known as the “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act,” was sponsored by Democratic Reps. Shevrin Jones of West Park and Amy Mercado of Orlando. The measure would mandate those feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, and toilet paper are at no cost. Valencia Gunder, campaign manager for Dignity Florida, released a statement following the bill’s passage. Gunder has spoken out in favor of the legislation in the past. “The state of Florida is working toward real reform, real change and real transformation,” Gunder said.
“Contraceptives pilot program gets Senate OK” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate health care panel approved a bill that would lead to establishing a pilot program that would allow women in three Florida counties to access long-acting reversible contraceptives such as intrauterine devices. Before approving the bill (SB 410), the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee removed $100,000 that would have gone to the state Department of Health for the program. It made the program subject to a legislative appropriation. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Lori Berman, would require the health department to contract with family planning providers in Duval, Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties to make long-acting contraceptives available to women seeking family planning services.
“Lawmakers carry out death benefits measure” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate panel approved a proposal that would set death benefits that would be paid if law-enforcement officers, firefighters, other first responders and military members are killed while on duty. The proposal (SB 7098), sponsored by Sen. Ed Hooper would carry out a constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 7, passed in November. The bill, in part, addresses law-enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and Florida National Guard members. They would be entitled to $75,000 in death benefits if they accidentally die in the course of their duties and $225,000 if they are intentionally or illegally killed, such as if a law-enforcement officer is ambushed, Hooper said.
“Bill cracking down on cosmetic surgery clinics ready for House floor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A bill aimed at cutting down on the danger of rogue plastic surgery centers cleared its final House committee Tuesday after it was OK’d by the Health and Human Services Committee. Rep. Anthony Rodriguez filed the legislation (HB 933). The measure requires clinics to register with the Department of Health (DOH). The legislation then allows for DOH to bar doctors from opening a new clinic for up to five years if their previous clinic is shut down for violations. A strike-all amendment detailed by Rodriguez Tuesday “requires offices where physicians perform certain surgeries to designate a physician who is responsible for ensuring the office complies with safety requirements.”
“More civil lawsuits could be headed to county courts” via Florida Politics — On Tuesday, the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee moved a bill that would shunt more civil lawsuits to county courts. The bill (SB 328) will move to the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday. At present, there is a $15,000 limit on damages in civil suits, also called “small claims,” filed on the county level. This bill, as amended in committee, would raise that to $30,000 on Jan. 1, 2020, and to $50,000 by Jan. 1, 2022. The current cap hasn’t been changed since 1992.
— MORE SESSION —
“Senator wants Attorney General Moody’s opinion on Amendment 4” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — In a letter sent last week, Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo asked Moody to answer the question at the heart of the debate: Do felons have to pay off all fines, fees and restitution before being allowed to vote? “This matter is objectively of great public importance, and your opinion would go a long way to lend definition and certainty to critical questions driving conversations statewide,” Pizzo wrote. “There are vast emotional, liberty and financial risks at stake in this matter, and should you accept this request, you would do so with the appreciation of most Floridians, including myself.” Moody’s office has not yet responded.
“School safety bill would arm teachers. But what else does it do?” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The heated debate over arming teachers is overshadowing other parts of the bill. The proposal (SB 7030) includes changes that are getting broader support. Each school board and charter school governing board would be required to adopt an active assailant plan by Oct. 1 and conduct annual training. A standardized threat assessment process, used to evaluate the risk posed by a student, must be developed by Aug. 1 for use by public schools. Student records would be required to be transferred within one school day for students transferring to another school in the district. The Department of Education could withhold salaries for school board members and superintendents if they don’t comply with state reporting requirements.
“Florida closer to ban on ‘sanctuary cities’ as Trump talks of sending migrants to them” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Trump’s stance on sanctuary cities has also become a key issue for Republicans in Florida, as twin proposals to ban the jurisdictions in Florida make their way to the chamber floors. The bills — SB 168 and HB 527 — are being heard in committee for the last time this week, and have garnered support from Republican members, leadership and DeSantis. Amid comments from the president this week, the message has ramped up ahead of a vote. At The Capitol, Floridians for Immigration Enforcement is hosting “angel families” whose family members were killed by immigrants. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Legislature and immigrants rights groups continue to speak out.
First on #FlaPol — “Hedge your bets: Legal opinion threatens to sink gambling bill” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — The lead backer of last year’s successful “voter control of gambling” constitutional amendment has told top lawmakers they can’t put forth a gambling bill with new games this year — because they first must get voter approval. In a letter, John Sowinski — president of Voters in Charge, the political committee behind the amendment — shared a legal opinion from lawyer Paul Hawkes, a former lawmaker and appellate judge and now a lobbyist for the greyhound industry. Hawkes said that under Amendment 3, lawmakers could not authorize sports betting or designated player games … or allow slot machines permit-holders to move their slots to another location. Instead, a majority of voters has to say ‘yes.’
Democrats chide Ralph Massullo for racial comments — When the House voted on a bill to block insurers from using DNA info for actuarial decisions, GOP Rep. Ralph Massullo said it would prevent discrimination against African Americans and Jews, who “have a long list of predisposed genetic diseases.” Senate Democrats interpreted those comments as racist, reports Alexandra Glorioso of POLITICO Florida. “Your assertion that the use of DNA evidence, when it is part of an insurance applicant’s medical record, would lead to an increase in racial and religious discrimination is not only already against the law, it is incorrect,” Sens. Kevin Rader and Darryl Rouson wrote in a Tuesday letter to Massullo. Rader has not yet had an opportunity to vote on the bill’s Senate companion, though Rouson twice voted in favor of the bill during committee hearings.
“Amendment could align House, Senate AOB bills” via Florida Politics — Sen. Doug Broxson filed an amendment to his assignment of benefits reform bill that could bring it in line with the package passed by the House last week. In its current form, SB 122 focuses on one-way attorney fees. Broxson’s strike-all amendment, however, would make the bill nearly identical to HB 7065, which passed the House with a 96-20 vote Thursday. The House bill would make changes to attorney fees based on the difference between the judgment sought by AOB contractors and what the court awards. It would also give homeowners would the ability to back out of AOB agreements and require Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort, to pass on any savings from the reform to homeowners.
“Jewish constituent targeted by Randy Fine’s ‘Judenrat’ comment calls for apology” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Fine, who is Jewish, twice called Paul Halpern a “Judenrat” in comments under an April 4 post on Facebook because Halpern defended an event to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian situation. The term has been used to refer to Jews who collaborated with Nazis in concentration camps. “That’s the worst thing anyone can say to me,” Halpern, a resident of Palm Bay and one of Fine’s constituents, said in an interview. “I’m someone who’s been a victim of anti-Semitism much of my life, and there’s no worse name you can call a Jewish person that ‘Judenrat.’ It tells me about the character of the person who said it, especially since he doesn’t know me.”
“Nutrition bill stokes internecine battle among chiropractors” via Florida Politics — There is a range of bills filed for the 2019 Legislative Session that would change the rules regulating chiropractic medicine, but trade groups representing Florida chiropractors in Tallahassee don’t have unified legislative goals. One bill caught in the crossfire is SB 1078, which would allow chiropractors to give vitamin and enzyme shots to their customers so long as they complete some coursework and get certified. SB 1078 is heavily supported by the Florida Chiropractic Physician Association, which says the change would give Floridians access to cost-efficient health care and better alternatives to medical palliative care. The Florida Chiropractic Association is opposed.
“Kids to lawmakers: Do something — now — about climate change, please” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Juhi Kore was one of several dozen young people who visited the Capitol this week to speak to lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle about their concerns about climate change, and what Florida’s elected leaders might do about it in Florida. It was part of a nationwide “Youth Lobby Day” organized by the environmental group Our Climate, a youth-led organization created to energize younger people about climate change. The reality is that when it comes to the Florida Legislature this session, there’s not much going on to deter the effects of climate change.
— LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE —
Assignment editors — Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson joins members of the Senate Democratic Caucus and Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto to discuss legislation against sanctuary cities, and the “dangerous implications for Florida’s residents and immigrant community,” 1:30 p.m., Room 200, Senate Office Building.
Today’s legislative committee hearings:
House Ways and Means Committee meets, 8 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor session and could approve a bill that would lead to the tourism-marketing agency VISIT FLORIDA operating for at least the next eight years, 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The House will take up numerous issues during a floor session, including a proposal to require parental consent before minors could have abortions, 11:30 a.m., House Chamber.
The Senate Rules Committee will take up numerous bills, including a proposal that would make changes in the controversial insurance practice known as assignment of benefits. Also, the committee is expected to consider a plan that would seek to prevent so-called sanctuary cities in Florida, 2 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
— GOV. CLUB BUFFET MENU —
Black bean soup; mixed garden salad with dressing; Cuban avocado salad; papaya, mango and watermelon salad; deli board, lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses and breads; picadillo; Fricase’ de Pollo (Cuban chicken fricassee); Masas de Puerco (Cuban fried pork chunks); yucca with mojo; island zucchini; cilantro lime rice; dulce de leche cake for dessert.
— GREEN SLIME —
Lawmakers will be greeted at their offices on Wednesday with small containers of green slime, courtesy of the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations (FADMO).
The gag seeks to show lawmakers how Florida could be framed to potential visitors in the absence of tourism-marketing efforts.
VISIT FLORIDA funding is far from guaranteed this Session, but FADMO director Robert Skrob thinks defunding the public-private agency is shortsighted. “When potential visitors see images and negative headlines about Florida, whether it’s about green slime covered waterways, fish kills from red algae or damage from hurricanes, it drives traffic away from Florida’s world-class destinations and toward other states that are actively funding their tourism advertising and marketing programs,” Skrob said.
—Powerful inscription: Each container is filled with “really just a gooey, green/glow in the dark putty.” The top reads, “This is what potential visitors thought Florida’s waters were covered in. VISIT FLORIDA changed that.”
—Background: The slime is a reference to the blue-green algae that plagued Florida’s Treasure Coast. As one might imagine, it only took a few New York Times articles before concerns began growing over whether visitors would write the Sunshine State off as a destination.
—Maybe skip the Senate?: We’re hearing all legislators will receive the slime. But the Senate’s shaping up to keep the agency alive. In fact, the chamber will on Wednesday consider a bill that would repeal VISIT FLORIDA’s October sunset date.
— WALK-IN WEDNESDAY —
The Florida Education Association has organized a statewide ‘walk-in’ Wednesday morning.
Teachers, staff, parents and more will partake in walk-ins before the school day. About 400 schools are expected to participate.
Fedrick Ingram, FEA president, encouraged stakeholders to “speak now, before time runs out this Session to do the right thing for Florida’s kids.”
Cause: Traditional K-12 interests want more. Funding for students ranks among the bottom 10 states, FEA said. Teacher salaries, meanwhile, rank 46th.
Remedy: FEA is asking for a $743 bump in per-pupil funding.
More details: “Groups will gather 30 to 45 minutes before the start of the workday at schools,” FEA said. “They may picket, pray or share coffee and doughnuts, then employees will walk into school together.”
— STATEWIDE —
“The sunshine economy: State spending grows at slower rate” via Tom Hutson of WJCT — The state’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, and more than 25,000 jobs were added that month. Still, the state forecast for money coming in from sales taxes is down a little bit from forecasting just a few months ago. While still growing, the incoming tax dollars are expected to grow slower in the years ahead. General revenues, which grew by five and a half percent per year over the past two years, are slowing to less than two percent this year and averaging three and a half percent a year over the following four years, according to state estimates. The slowdown in tax revenue is leading lawmakers to slow the growth of the overall budget.
“Hoping to spur post-Michael investment, a push to expand ‘opportunity zones’” via Katie Landeck of the Panama City News-Herald — Opportunity zones allow investors to take their capital gains and put it into an “opportunity fund.” The money in that fund can then be invested into designated opportunity zones, they can defer the capital gains taxes on the money for up to 10 years and reduce the payment of those taxes by continuing to stay invested in the community. The tax savings can be huge. The idea has a lot of people thinking, including city leaders, that with the amount of damage Hurricane Michael brought to the area and the need for private investment to recover, it would be beneficial to have the whole county east of the Hathaway Bridge turned into an opportunity zone.
“Video of empty FEMA trailers at site raise questions” via Collin Breaux of the Panama City News-Herald — In a live Facebook video, Tallahassee resident Lauren Mullinax took a video of trailers that appeared to be vacant. The video — in which trailer doors don’t open when Mullinax knocks and don’t show signs of anyone living there — had over 700 shares and 18,000 views by Monday afternoon. “We have pulled up here to donate a bunch of stuff, and I just want to explain something to y’all, that some of these places are unoccupied,” Mullinax said in the video while walking around the site. When asked about the trailer via email, a FEMA representative skirted the question, not answering if there are empty trailers or not. Instead, they offered a statement on the agency’s housing response as a whole.
To view the video, click on the image below:
— MORE FROM AROUND THE STATE —
“Florida GOP had more than $1m in check card expenses last quarter” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Republican Party of Florida racked up $1 million in American Express charges in the first three months of the year, a spike in spending that could be a record for the period and coincides with Gov. DeSantis’ time in office. Recently named party Chairman Joe Gruters, a Sarasota state senator, said the spending is tied mostly to venue rentals and equipment related to quarterly meetings and the governor’s inauguration.
Assignment editors — Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell and Gulf Power President Marlene Santos will speak on the first day of the two-day Gulf Power Economic Symposium, 8:30 a.m., Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. W, Miramar Beach.
Jacksonville contractor arrested for alleged $40K insurance fraud scheme — Patronis announced the arrest of Wyatt Green on Tuesday. Green owns Storm Restoration Specialists LLC. The complaint says consumers assigned insurance benefits to Green, who then allegedly forged their signatures on construction documents. Green later received insurance money for the work, though the work was often never completed. “This case is another example of a bad contractor scamming Floridians and pocketing the money without actually making repairs,” Patronis said. “My detectives work hard every day to find these criminals and stop them from preying on homeowners.”
“AAA: Florida gas prices reach 2019 high” via Jim Abbott of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Gas prices in Florida reached a 2019 high of $2.80 this past week, a 9-cent jump over the previous week. Although the average price of a gallon of gasoline declined by one penny over the weekend, motorists statewide were still paying 8 cents more than a week ago, nearly 20 cents more than last month and 15 cents more than this time last year, AAA reported. In Daytona Beach, the cost of a gallon of regular gas on Monday ranged from $2.71 to $2.81, according to the online price-tracking site gasbuddy.com. In Flagler County, the cost ranged from $2.73 to $2.79 in Palm Coast, on the same website.
— THE TRAIL —
“Marco Rubio raised $400K in Q1, while Rick Scott raised much less” via Florida Politics — Sen. Rubio doesn’t face the voters again until 2022, yet he is fundraising for whatever challenge awaits. In the first quarter of 2019, Rubio raised $242,000 to his official committee, with another $157,500 coursing to the Rubio Victory Committee PAC. Rubio ended Q1 with $810,833 in his official committee … Sen. Scott raised just $29,699 during the quarter. However, he has $1.3 million on hand.
“PAC money rolling in early for Stephanie Murphy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Murphy’s campaign finance filings donations from various labor, hospital, health insurance committees, finance, retail, and other interests, and a sprinkling of groups with clear interests in the Central Florida tourism economy. Murphy won re-election by positioning herself as a business-friendly moderate Democrat, and she earned backing from various Chamber of Commerce groups. She has since solidified that position with critical roles in several Congressional caucuses. Her profile has been rising nationally as a leader of the Democrats’ moderate wing, as well as one of the young members of Congress.
“Charlie Crist adds $358K+ during first quarter for his re-election” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Crist’s campaign committee raised more than $3 million for his 2018 election against Republican George Buck. Buck has already announced his 2020 rematch. He raised less than $40,000 in the 2018 election and has raised just $6,900 for his 2020 bid. Crist’s top donor so far is ActBlue. The organization dedicated to electing Democrats has donated more than $14,000 to Crist’s campaign so far. Crist also took in $10,000 each from the defense contractor Harris Corporation’s PAC and from L3 Technologies.
“Nat’l Democrats pounce on continued oddities in Ross Spano’s fundraising” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democrats slammed U.S. Rep. Spano for reporting significant loans from personal funds in the first quarter of 2018. “Spano is still reporting nearly $180,000 in loans from ‘personal funds,’” reads a DCCC news release, “despite his own admission he borrowed the funds from campaign donors in violation of campaign finance law.” Of course, the reports do not conflict with Spano’s own story, that he repaid personal loans before the end of 2018. That won’t be documented in federal records until he files personal disclosures, which are due in May. Still, Spano’s initial quarter campaign disclosures include enough peculiarities to leave election observers scratching their heads and critics sharpening their knives. Those include the odd report that in the first three months of 2018, Spano received $1 in non-itemized contributions to his campaign.
“Francis Rooney returns $1,000 from alleged political scammer Russell Taub” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Naples Republican in February returned $1,000 to Taub days after the Rhode Island donor was indicted for a suspected campaign scam. The U.S. Justice Department brought wire fraud and election law violation charges against Taub in late February, according to the Providence Journal. Prosecutors say Taub siphoned $1 million in donations to his Keeping America In Republican Control PAC for personal use. Taub ran in 2016 against Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline and lost.
“2nd poll shows Jane Castor with lead but David Straz performing well with black and young voters” via the Tampa Bay Times — Of those polled, 41 percent had already turned in a ballot while 59 percent had not yet voted. Straz also is winning the African-American vote by a 55-32 percentage point margin and splits the Latino vote with Castor with each candidate drawing support from 42 percent of that group. Castor is winning handily among white voters, older voters and among both Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The two candidates split 48.6 percent of votes aged 18 to 29. The telephone poll conducted by St. Pete Polls surveyed 552 registered voters. The margin of error was 4.2 percent. Earlier today, another poll from the University of North Florida showed Castor with a much larger lead.
“Straz continues onslaught of negative attacks against Castor based on a debunked claim” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Straz released another ad clinging to his claim that Castor manipulated crime stats when she was Chief of Police to make it look like crime rates were lower than they actually were. Straz’s claims have been debunked in a 2007 state audit and by a local criminology expert. But voters won’t know that from watching the 30-second television spot. “Jane Castor is not an honest person. She is a liar. She is not trustworthy,” the ad begins. It features retired Tampa Police Captain Jack Diaz and shows clips from a longer six-minute video the Straz campaign posted last week describing Castor as a “terrible chief” who “did not have any respect as a true leader.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
— LOCAL —
Incredible read — “Parkland students bask in Pulitzer mention: ‘They took us seriously’” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — The staff of The Eagle Eye student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School submitted an entry to the most prestigious of journalism prizes for coverage of the mass shooting at their school, including a special memorial issue devoted entirely to 17 detailed obituaries honoring the classmates, teachers, and coaches they lost. When Dana Canedy, the Pulitzer awards’ administrator, began to announce the winners, The Eagle Eye was the first she named. “I want to break with tradition and offer my sincere admiration for an entry that did not win, but that should give us all hope for the future of journalism in this great democracy,” Canedy said.
“Broward schools grapple with dwindling enrollment“via Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel —About 1,800 fewer students attend Broward’s district-run schools this year, and School Board members are looking for ways to deal with that. Parents cite a lack of individual instruction, safety and bullying concerns, mediocre school grades and poor discipline for pulling their kids out of traditional public schools, according to surveys conducted by the district.
“David Beckham partner has a friend in Miami-Dade’s mayor and a lobbyist in the mayor’s son” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — While his son works as a city lobbyist for the Miami Freedom Park project, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez played golf with one of the venture’s partners, offered to fly to Japan to meet with another and volunteered to pitch a third on establishing a Miami headquarters. “Let’s have a meeting with Mike Finney from the Beacon Council,” Gimenez wrote to Beckham’s lead local partner, Jorge Mas, in a March 7 text message. “When are you available? You’ll really like Mike.” Gimenez and Mas are both trying to get SoftBank’s Latin America fund to open headquarters in Miami, and the texts show new details about the Mayor’s role.
“Will diners, tourists close their wallets until source of Hep A outbreak is identified?” via Gil Smart of TCPalm — Hepatitis A is rarely fatal, and since Jan. 1, 2018, only eight people in Florida have died from the malady. Three of them lived here, in Palm City. Meantime, some nervous diners say they’re staying home. Carol Goodcuff of Stuart emailed me last week to say that, “my family will not be frequenting any restaurants in the area until we know the sources of these outbreaks. And we’re not alone.” One also wonders if news of the outbreak, now being reported nationwide, could become yet another reason for tourists to avoid Martin County (as if our periodic blue-green algae outbreaks weren’t enough). This is how the hepatitis A outbreak could take a toll on our local economy.
“Northwood Centre auction hits $3.5 million as bidding enters final day” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The bidders involved in the auction for Northwood Centre are confidential, but by Wednesday afternoon it should be known whether it is city-owned property. The city jumped into the auction to purchase the ailing commercial building after a last-minute proposal by Mayor John Dailey. The 30-acre property, which has faced environmental problems from mold and bat guano, was sold for $100 last month to a Miami Beach company. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, the price had risen to $3.5 million with bid increments of $500,000 required. Bidding closes at 12:18 p.m. When Dailey pitched the idea, he listed off several possible uses for the property that included affordable housing, workforce development, and a possible performing arts center.
“Escambia County interim Administrator Amy Lovoy resigns amid controversies” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Lovoy is the third county official to resign in connection to Escambia County’s Public Safety Department and accusations of falsifying training certificates. In her resignation letter, Lovoy blamed the allegations as a reason for leaving. “I find it difficult to continue performing my duties in a place where allegations of any variety can be made and reputations ruined before an individual is allowed to answer for the charges against them,” Lovoy wrote. “Behind all the immediate distractions, I know the county is a better place than that.”
“Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wins national sheriffs’ award” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — Gualtieri has been named sheriff of the year by the National Sheriffs’ Association. The Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year award is given to an active sheriff “who has made outstanding contributions to law enforcement and the criminal justice profession, demonstrates exceptional service to his or her community and has contributed to the betterment” of the association, which represents 3,000 elected sheriffs. “He’s one of the smartest, most dedicated, honest people I’ve worked with in my life,” said the association’s executive director, Jonathan Thompson, after the announcement.
— EXIT INTERVIEW —
It’s no secret Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is leaving office.
But we still like to follow the in-depth interviews he’s giving on his way out the door. The latest of which is with Pete Saunders of Forbes Magazine.
“Being mayor is the best job in America. I think any big city Mayor can tell you, if you want a job that you can ‘do” and not just ‘be,’ be a big city mayor,” Buckhorn said.
—Evolving metropolis: It’s not your grandfather’s Tampa. “Tourism will always play a role in Tampa’s economy,” Buckhorn said. “But Tampa is a young and vibrant city, less reliant on tourism than it used to be. We’ve been focused on changing our economic DNA, and we had to coming out of the recession.”
—Highs?: The Democratic Mayor pointed to hosting the RNC in 2012, along with Super Bowls and College Football championships. “I’m just a small part in the success of this,” he added.
—Coming up: Expect a change in focus with the next administration. Buckhorn said he expects job-training efforts, housing, and general prosperity to get more attention as “the next chapter of Tampa” is written.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Trump to increase pressure on Cuba by lifting lawsuit limits” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — The decision could open the floodgates to thousands of lawsuits against foreign companies and individuals accused of “trafficking” in seized property. By doing so, Trump hopes to raise the pressure on Cuba, but risks another rupture with American allies in Europe and Canada that scrambled to head off the change in recent days. In his decision to lift the limits, Trump brushed aside protests by European leaders who brought their objections to Washington in past weeks. The European Union threatened last week to sue the United States at the World Trade Organization if it proceeded, and suggested that counterclaims could be filed in European courts against American firms that took advantage of the new policy.
“Feud erupts between Scott and Chuck Schumer over Puerto Rico” via Marianne Levine of POLITICO — Scott campaigned on standing up for Puerto Rico. But with Trump warning Senators not to provide more aid to the island, the Florida Republican is caught between his party and his promises. And Democrats are eager to exploit that tension — blasting Scott for sticking with the president on a critical disaster relief bill and throwing the freshman senator into the middle of a broader fight over stalled assistance for millions of Americans devastated by wildfires, flooding and hurricanes.
“Scott leads call to pay Coast Guard in future shutdown” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott is leading a bipartisan effort to get a rider into the next appropriations bill that would require that U.S. Coast Guard personnel continue to receive paychecks in the event of a future government shutdown. Scott led a letter signed by eight other Senators, four Republicans and four Democrats, urging Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to include such a provision in the 2020 Appropriations Bill now heading for their committee.
What Matt Gaetz is reading — “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quits Facebook, calls social media a ‘public health risk’” via Hamza Shaban of The Washington Post — In an interview with the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” the New York Democrat said she stopped using her Facebook account and was scaling back on all social media, which she described as a “public health risk” because it can lead to “increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.” Ocasio-Cortez said her departure from Facebook was a “big deal” because the platform had been crucial to her campaign. She still has accounts on the site, she said, and according to the company’s ad library, her official Facebook account has dozens of active advertisements sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress.
What everyone at Ballard Partners is reading — “Lobbying in Trump’s Washington” via The Economist — Last year, businesses spent more than $3.4B advancing their interests, 8.5 percent more than before the self-styled “CEO president” took office. Yet these sums may reflect not how easy life is for corporate America in Trump’s Washington, but how difficult. The Chamber of Commerce has successfully championed massive corporate-tax cuts but failed to dissuade the President from imposing tariffs and curbing immigration. Big Pharma, which had managed to raise drug prices regardless of which party controlled the White House, is being pressed by Trump to lower them. Big Tech is among the ten most significant spenders on lobbying — Alphabet, Facebook and Amazon — but few friends in Washington, not least because Silicon Valley has been critical of the president, often vocally so.
“Campaign finance lawsuit against David Rivera moves on” via the Miami Herald — A lawsuit dismissed against Rivera back in September is moving forward after a ruling by District Court Judge Marcia Cooke. The Federal Election Commission accused Rivera of shifting $55,000 to back a challenge to Joe Garcia, who would go on to oust Rivera from his congressional seat in 2012. Cooke had originally dismissed the suit, causing Rivera to claim vindication. But Cooke reopened the case in January and sided with the FEC Tuesday to allow the suit to continue. Rivera has denied wrongdoing. The FEC says it can prove Rivera was behind the arrangement.
— 2020 —
“Trump’s 2020 plan: Target seniors on Facebook” via Sara Fischer of Axios — The Trump campaign is spending 44 percent of its Facebook ad budget to target users who are over 65 years old, as opposed to Democratic candidates who are only spending 27 percent of their budget on that demographic, according to data from Billy Pulpit Interactive. In the wake of huge 2018 Democratic gains among young voters, older voters will be even more critical to Trump’s strategy in 2020. The Facebook algorithm will usually optimize ads toward younger voters who are easier to reach, which reinforces the Trump campaign’s commitment to consolidate its base with older voters.
“Who might make the Democratic debate stage?” via Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight.com —
“Democrats who really like more than one presidential candidate have found a temporary solution: Give them all money” via Tarini Parti and Jeremy Singer-Vine of BuzzFeed News — About 1,600 donors have given more than $200 to multiple Democratic presidential candidates this year, with the most significant overlap existing among donors who gave to both Kamala Harris and at least one other campaign. In all, more than 700 donors gave to Harris’s campaign and at least one other. Approximately 170 donors gave more than $200 to both Harris’s and Pete Buttigieg’s campaigns, and roughly 166 gave to both Cory Booker’s and Harris’s campaigns. There was also significant overlap between donors who gave to both Beto O’Rourke and Buttigieg and those who gave to both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
“Kamala Harris winning Florida’s 2020 money race among Dems” via the Miami Herald — Harris raised at least $325,000 from donors in Florida for her 2020 presidential campaign in the first three months of the year. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar came in second in Florida, collecting more than $125,000 from Floridians in the first quarter, according to an analysis of newly filed fundraising reports. “A common thread is that Harris and Klobuchar hired strong Florida fundraising staff,” said Ben Pollara, a Florida-based Democratic strategist. “No one else has.” Harris’ hires include Stefanie Sass, a former deputy finance director for Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Joe Garcia. Klobuchar hired veteran Florida finance director Greg Goddard, who also worked for Nelson’s unsuccessful Senate campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and Crist’s 2014 campaign.
“Amy Klobuchar foreshadows Florida message in Tallahassee” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Klobuchar — who debuted her candidacy outdoors during a snowstorm — came to the Sunshine State to talk and will leave with a rough understanding of what the voters want down south. After meeting with health leaders in Miami and House Democrats in Tallahassee, the Senator from Minnesota said she had a working understanding of what’s top-of-mind for Floridians, from hurricanes and health care to climate change and tourism.
“Wayne Messam presidential campaign staffs up with women and alumni from Andrew Gillum and Barack Obama” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Messam’s chief strategist and his senior finance adviser were both involved with Gillum, the unsuccessful 2018 nominee for Governor. Three of the senior staffers had ties to Obama’s administration or campaigns. Here are the key staffers: Philip Thompson, chief strategist; Brice Barnes, senior finance adviser; Charly Norton, senior communications adviser; Brett di Resta, senior policy adviser; Joel Rubin, foreign policy adviser; Betsy Mullins, domestic policy adviser; Elizabeth Lewis, traveling press lead; Angelica Urquijo, western states adviser.
“Why Miami, the Obamacare capital of the U.S., is a health care trap for 2020 Democrats” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The Democratic Party has been grappling internally for years with how to address health care, leaving the issue unresolved as it heads into the meat of the 2020 cycle. Sanders, whose previous proposals were once deemed too radical to gain traction, is now gaining support for a revamped plan to replace employer-sponsored and individual private coverage with a system that would eradicate premiums and largely eliminate copays but require increased taxes. How the tug-of-war will be received in South Florida — a conundrum of a community that is simultaneously reliant on the government’s health care exchange and wary of government overreach — remains less certain than the likelihood that the region’s 1.2 million Democratic voters will influence the Democratic primary.
“To help win the south, Congressional Democrats turn to Crist” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — While 2020 presidential candidates navigate the progressive base and the moderate middle, it’s clear House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes her caucus needs to run as they did last November. Here’s one example: Crist was named regional vice chair for the south of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s House campaign apparatus. Crist has certainly served as a moderate in Congress. Within his caucus, his voting record is certainly with his party but skews toward the middle, according to GovTrack.com’s ideology chart.
— OPINIONS —
“O Canada! Oh price controls! DeSantis wants Florida to import cheap RX drugs” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Apparently, we’ve just given up on fixing American health care. We want Canada to do it for us. Our new spirit is surrender — and it’s finding amazing levels of bipartisan support. Some of America’s most liberal politicians, including Sanders and Warren, have touted Canadian drugs for years. And now DeSantis’ own “O Canada” proposal has broad backing as well. When the House approved HB 19 on a 93-22 vote, conservatives like Scott Plakon and Fine locked arms with liberals like Anna
“To fix Florida Virtual School, DeSantis needs to learn from Scott’s mistakes” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — A monthslong Orlando Sentinel investigation exposed the cronyism that oozed through the school’s leadership during Scott’s tenure, jeopardizing the reputation and success of a public institution that became a model for other online schools around the nation. Too often, Scott appointed people to the board of trustees who already were, or later became, too cozy with the school’s former general counsel and chief administrative officer, Frank Kruppenbacher, one of Scott’s early and eager political supporters. It seems hard to imagine that Scott couldn’t have found smart, competent people who understand the nature of a boss/employee relationship, who could supervise Kruppenbacher and evaluate his performance more objectively.
“Meet Florida’s Mean Gang” via Julie Hauserman of the Florida Phoenix — If there’s one notable hallmark of this legislative session (and this political era of national Republican leadership), it is a combination of elite toxic entitlement and sheer meanness. … Every day as the legislative session winds on, lawmakers take their seats for afternoon committee meetings (post-lunch with their campaign cash rainmakers at the Governor’s Club, where the prying press and public are forbidden), and they often strike a cynical and weary tone at how the public they are elected to serve just doesn’t seem to “get it.”
“Jeff Johnson, Emmett Reed and Steve Bahmer: Lawmakers need smart solutions for Florida’s growing elder population” via Florida Politics — Florida needs innovative, short- and long-term solutions to the needs of older Floridians. The Coalition for Silver Solutions, newly formed by AARP, the Florida Health Care Association, and LeadingAge Florida, is focused on offering policymakers a blueprint for the future of long-term in Florida. We believe a broad spectrum of innovative, high-quality care for older Floridians at every life stage makes the most efficient use of public resources. This begins by advocating for sufficient funding for home- and community-based care and for those who require it, care in long-term residential facilities. Getting older is inevitable but getting older without proper support is preventable.
“Hospital bills are bad medicine” via the Ocala Star-Banner editorial board — The Legislature is entertaining measures that could have a profound and adverse impact on health care in much of Florida. At issue are bills that would end the state’s certificate-of-need, or CON, process for hospitals. The process requires providers to make the case that a community is underserved and needs additional facilities. Admittedly, reform appears appealing because of the free-market argument that competition makes providers more agile and customer-centered and improves costs and services for consumers. Yet, the health care industry sometimes doesn’t function under the market rules that govern the rest of commerce, which is why we urge lawmakers to reconsider deregulation.
“Protecting the quality of health care services in Florida” via Dr. Michael Wiles for News-Press.com — Why would Florida want to decrease the standards for chiropractic education, something that could lead to endangering the health of Floridians? That is a question chiropractic physicians and, particularly chiropractic educators are asking themselves after the introduction of HB873 that would eliminate the requirement of chiropractic educational programs to meet the national standards achieved by all other chiropractic programs in the country. Ostensibly, the new proposal is to eliminate what the bill’s sponsor (Rep. David Santiago) considers a monopoly on the accreditation process. To chiropractic educators, this sounds irresponsible. Only the CCE has prescriptive standards for chiropractic education and other accrediting bodies, such as regional accreditors, which prescribe general requirements related to operations and governance.
“Brad Swanson: Want gigabit service in your neighborhood?” via Florida Politics — Our businesses use technology every day to keep Florida’s economy competitive with other states and the world. Without the deployment of the best technology offered, Florida will fall behind. The cable industry has always been at the forefront of deployment. Local governments have created additional burdensome permitting processes often lasting over 6 months compared to weeks. These permitting delays have created barriers and made it difficult for companies to deliver connectivity to nearly every legislator’s constituents across Florida. Florida’s internet and television customers are the ones suffering and they are being left behind. This lag in deployment not only hurts the consumer, but the municipality, and our state.
“Lawmakers must agree that a rental is a rental is a rental” via Brewster Bevis for the Palm Beach Post — At Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), we’re proud to help spark innovative business practices that grow jobs and our economy. But we must ensure basic business principles are applied evenly. This session, AIF joins “Driving Florida Forward” to advocate for fairness among industries facilitating car rental transactions — by rental car and P2P car-sharing companies. Legislative changes are needed to bring uniformity to operators in this space regardless of the business model. First, what is P2P car-sharing? P2P companies create a platform where an individual can place a vehicle to rent. P2P companies aren’t collecting a rental car surcharge from the renter of the vehicle. By updating Florida law, we can ensure regulatory and tax fairness within all these industries.
— MOVEMENTS —
“After winning award for Broward surtax ad, PR firm plans to expand Florida presence” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — After scooping up a 2019 Pollie Award for its work on Broward County-based ad campaign, Metropolitan Public Strategies has plans to expand its presence here in Florida. The firm, which was founded in New York in 2013 by Neal Kwatra, won the Pollie for its work on an ad supporting a penny tax in Broward County to help upgrade the county’s transportation infrastructure. “We see Florida as a crucial next step for our business, which is why we opened an office in Broward County in 2017,” Kwatra said. “We only expect to be more of a presence in coming years.”
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Brady Benford, Ballard Partners: Florida SouthWestern State College Foundation, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment
Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Thomas Griffin, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: WOT
Kevin Cabrera, Southern Strategy Group: Mark Anthony Brands
Christopher Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: K.M.C. Citrus Enterprises
Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Elizabeth Dudek, Greenberg Traurig: Adelanto HealthCare Ventures, Coral Way Storage Investments
Jonathan Kilman, Paul Lowell, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: NeuroInternational, Polaris Pharmacy Services
Akerman law firm moving to Ballard Building — The Tallahassee branch of the law firm will move into the entire third floor and part of the fourth floor, taking up 15,000 square feet, according to a news release from NAI TALCOR, a real estate brokerage firm. “201 E. Park Avenue is the premier ‘class A’ building in downtown,” said Ed Murray, Principal and Managing Broker of NAI TALCOR. “We are excited that Akerman has decided to join the tenants (there). We can’t wait to see their name on the side of the building.” Akerman now has offices at downtown Tallahassee’s Highpoint Center on College Avenue. The Ballard Building is on the corner of Monroe Street and Park Avenue.
— SUNSHINE SPORTS —
America’s pastime is financially robust. According to Forbes, all 30 franchises are worth at least $1 billion. A decade ago, only the Mets and Yankees had met that threshold.
But Florida’s two MLB teams rank the lowest among franchise values. Both the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays are worth about $1 billion.
—Looking back: Tailing off the 2008 season — the Rays’ best yet — the team value sat at about $379 million. The Rays have fielded postseason teams three times since.
—Meanwhile: An ownership shakeup at the Miami Marlins was followed by one of the program’s worst seasons ever. But it’s easy to dismiss that as a learning-curve issue for Derek Jeter, the new CEO of the team.
—Keep in mind: The Marlins and Rays also are among two of the newest teams in the League. The programs don’t have legacy privilege.
Enjoy the ride Orlando — The last time the Orlando Magic made the NBA playoffs was the 2011-12 season. Since then, Obama completed his second term as President. Scott was in his first term as Florida’s Governor. Nelson was still in the U.S. Senate. Trump was host of a TV show.
Blake Snell, ace of the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff and reigning American League Cy Young winner, broke a toe and was placed on the 10-day injured list.
— He had just gotten out of the shower when, Tampa Bay Times baseball writer Marc Topkin tweeted, “He decided then to move a decorative stand in the bathroom that he didn’t realize was in 2 parts, and as he lifted it the bottom piece, made of granite, fell on his right foot.”
— ALOE —
“German students have algorithm for Game of Thrones deaths” via The Associated Press — Computer science students at the Technical University of Munich have developed an application that scours the internet for data on the popular Game of Thrones series, and uses an algorithm to predict which characters are most likely to survive to the end of its final season. Project supervisor Guy Yachdav said Friday survival rates are predicted using longevity analysis similar to scientific studies used to examine the effects of medical treatments. He says although the analysis “relies on data taken from the world of fantasy, the exact same artificial intelligence techniques are used in the real world.” The results? Daenerys Targaryen has the highest chance of survival, at 99 percent, and Bronn is the most likely to die next.
“Disney gondolas, moving 11 mph, will give bird’s eye views nearly 60 feet over Walt Disney World Resort” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Soon the Disney Skyliner system of 300 gondolas, opening to the public later this fall, will carry enough Disney-goers to roughly match the capacity of its monorail trains, company officials said. “Our vision is, this is the most magical flight on Earth,” said Dean Huspen, a principal architect with Walt Disney Imagineering. Disney leaders gave a construction update on the gondolas, which are in testing. All but one was covered in plastic, protecting them like a new car. They will gradually be unveiled starting around May to show off the eight bright colors and 22 Disney characters themes.
— Gabrielle Russon (@GabrielleRusson) April 16, 2019
What John Lux is reading — “Here’s how much money Hallmark movies are bringing to Tampa Bay” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Love in the Sun, the second Hallmark movie to be made in the Tampa Bay area in recent months, expects to spend as much as $1 million in Hillsborough County during eight days of filming. On wages, it will spend an estimated $732,008 on employing 253 county residents — $677,508 on 46 crew members, $25,000 on 200 extras, $4,500 on two stand-ins, $20,000 on two members of the supporting cast and $5,000 on three “day players,” actors who work less than three total day and have speaking lines. Those numbers are according to the production’s application for Hillsborough’s film incentive that provides 10 percent back on what it spends in the county.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
We hope it’s a great birthday for Rep. Ray Rodrigues, as well as former congressional candidate Jessica Ehrlich, Shannon Shepp, the executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, Bill Dolan, and our friend, Pinellas’ Tyler Payne.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.