Breaking overnight — It’s still unclear how they will do it but Reps. Bobby DuBose and Evan Jenne have agreed to co-lead Florida House Democrats after Kionne McGhee‘s term ends next November. Reportedly, DuBose will take charge of House Victory, the Democrats’ legislative campaign arm, while Jenne will oversee policy development and debate.
And in a minor upset (but still welcome news), St. Petersburg’s Ben Diamond has been elected to lead the Democrats in 2022-24.
House Democrats met after a long floor Session Wednesday night to elect their future leaders.
The latest episode of He Said She Said is now live and it features three special guests: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, top lobbyist and 2019 TallyMadness winner Tracy Mayernick and, most important, our daughter Ella Joyce, who makes her first in-studio appearance on the pod.
We interrupt your normal state politics and Session coverage but, well, we thought this was kind of a big deal:
Scott Powers reports that Florida is now drawing more from overseas than across state lines.
The state’s population growth has shifted over the past couple of years, and now the Sunshine State attracts more new residents from Puerto Rico and from foreign countries than it does from the other 49 states combined.
That’s according to new estimates released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2017 the number of people moving to Florida from Puerto Rico or foreign countries just about equaled the number of people arriving from other states.
In 2018 the combined number of Puerto Rican migrants and people moving from other countries swamped the number of people moving to Florida from other states, according to census data.
Overall, Florida grew by 322,523 people in 2018, topping 21 million in total population for the first time. The Census estimated the Sunshine State’s population at 21,299,325 in data released last week.
The changing makeup of new Floridians is driven in part (but not entirely) by well-reported phenomena: Economic and storm refugees from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, combined with political refugees from Venezuela and a handful of other countries.
Intrigued? Read the whole story here.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: The American people deserve to know who is in this Country. Yesterday, the Supreme Court took up the Census Citizenship question, a really big deal. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
Thank you @CoachP_CHS for your leadership proclaiming today as Venezuela Day, and to all who came from near and far, we stand with you. @valoupis @RepRodriguez118 @RepJuanFBarquin @CarlosGSmith @Annette_Taddeo @JoseJavierJJR pic.twitter.com/Ycbo7gWZQA
— Ana Maria Rodriguez (@RepAnaMaria) April 24, 2019
—@GovRonDeSantis: AOB abuse has contributed to mounting insurance costs for Floridians for far too long, and today, the Legislature took action. I thank them for their efforts in getting this done, and I look forward to signing this meaningful legislation into law.
—@Fineout: While Democrats ask in-depth questions on the sanctuary cities bill many legislators aren’t even on floor listening
—@JoePClements: My alt Visit Florida theory: The Senate agreed to the House cut position early in conference in order to keep the House from negotiating it down over the course of conf.
—@TroyKinsey: On the House floor, @NEWTFL has a shout out for Gov. @CharlieCrist, who in ‘07 implemented an automatic felon rights restoration process. “Governor Crist, Congressman Crist … attorney Crist … Mr. school secretary Crist … I want to thank you, sir, for what you did.”
—@MDixon55: So, in short, this session seems destined to end where all sessions end: the general counsel’s office
—@DJGroup: Ah, so Kevin’s going to rebrand: #VindiCatedSineDie.
—@LizzyOhreally: Journalism is just a long bet that I can call you enough times that eventually you relent and talk to me.
— DAYS UNTIL —
“Avengers: Endgame” opens — 1; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 2; 2019 Legislative Session ends (maybe) — 8; Mother’s Day — 17; Florida Chamber Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 30; Memorial Day — 32; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 44; U.S. Open begins — 49; Father’s Day — 52; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 57; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 62; Independence Day — 70; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 96; St. Petersburg primary election — 125; “Joker” opens — 162; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 186; Scott Maddox trial begins — 193; 2019 General Election — 194; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon begins — 196; Iowa Caucuses — 284; Florida’s presidential primary — 327; 2020 General Election — 558.
— SPENDING BILLIONS —
In the backdrop of everything that transpired Wednesday, select groups of lawmakers were workshopping how to spend $33.6 billion worth of allocations, the agreed-to amount of General Revenue lawmakers have to work with on a budget expected to total somewhere around $90 billion.
So yeah, fairly important stuff.
— The dogfight: Uncertainty is the only certainty for VISIT FLORIDA. As of last night, the spreadsheets still show $19 million for the beleaguered organization, with neither side suggesting any change.
— Sadowski update: The House is shaping up to spend more than originally anticipated on money for state-backed affordable housing programs. On areas outside the Panhandle, Sen. Travis Hutson said the two chambers are “in total agreement.”
— Amendment 4: Yep, the controversial implementation of the ballot initiative could come at a price. Justice budget conferees are split on how much to give the Florida Commission on Offender Review so that the entity can check whether new voters have completed their sentences.
— Bonus round: Christine Sexton, the health care reporter for The News Service of Florida, reported that the two chambers are still far apart on pricey aspects of the health budget, like hospital reimbursements.
“(Safety net) hospitals take huge hit in Senate budget, House version cuts funding to all” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — A $318 million Medicaid pool is a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s $28 billion Medicaid expenditures, but these “automatic rate enhancements” are at the heart of a dispute between the Senate and House on medical spending on the state’s most medically needy citizens. The House wants to preserve that pool, but cut its funding by 3 percent as part of a larger $111 million across the board Medicaid cut. The Senate wants to hold the line on Medicaid funding, but sweep that $318 million critical care pool into the base rate, so all 242 hospitals in Florida get a share — a move that cuts deep into the safety net hospitals.
— THE ADMINISTRATION —
“Ron DeSantis wants Scott Israel’s suspension hearings over soon. The Florida Senate pushes back.” via David Smiley and Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — “The Florida Senate needs to take up both Mary Beth Jackson and Sheriff Israel, we have time left. They need to go and vote on those,” DeSantis told reporters, also referring to a challenge brought by the suspended superintendent of Okaloosa County schools. “We’re hoping we’ll see that and if it doesn’t happen, then we may be bringing (senators) back into town for a little bit.” Senate President Bill Galvano said he doesn’t think DeSantis can call a special session to force hearings on the suspensions. “The role of suspending or removing or reinstating is unique to the Senate, and under the constitution, only the Senate has the ability to convene itself to fulfill executive actions,” he said.
“DeSantis likes House plan on texting while driving” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis told reporters that, while he didn’t know all the details of the House and Senate proposals, he supports efforts to make texting while driving a “primary” traffic offense. “This stuff has got to be enforceable,” DeSantis said. “If it’s a primary offense, then people are going to get pulled over. So, you’ve got to make sure that is going to happen. The more you go beyond texting, I just have concerns about the administrability of it.” DeSantis’ comment came a day after the House voted 104-9 to pass the bill (HB 107) to make texting while driving a primary offense.
Assignment editors — Clean water activists with Food & Water Watch, ReThink Energy Florida and Floridians Against Fracking Coalition will drop an art installation and hold a rally calling out DeSantis for inaction on a statewide fracking ban, 9 a.m. Eastern time; rally begins at 1:30 p.m., Capitol Courtyard.
“AHCA secretary tours medical centers in Bay County” via Angelica Bruton of MyPanhandle.com — Mary Mayhew was appointed by DeSantis earlier this year to oversee the regulatory structures of hospitals, nursing homes, and other assisted living providers. Mayhew says that the state recognizes the devastation in the bay county area and she is here to hear from the medical officials about their challenges and how to move forward. “These visits are a great opportunity to certainly hear about the challenges that this region has faced after Hurricane Michael to understand where they want to be and making sure that these communities have access to community health care services,” Mayhew said. Mayhew visited Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and Bay Medical Center.
“Department of Corrections lawyer resigns after ‘unacceptable’ Facebook posts” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Eric Giunta, a Florida Department of Corrections lawyer placed under disciplinary review, has resigned. “Black people need to stop raping, murdering, stealing, and vandalizing, and quit having children out of wedlock. That’s how literally every other once-despised ethnic group broke the cycle and entered into the middle-class mainstream,” Giunta wrote in reaction to a video about systemic racism posted by a theology professor. Holly Taylor Coolman, a professor at Providence College, a Catholic college in Rhode Island, wrote she didn’t even know how to respond: “I’ll just say briefly that I don’t think your comment reflects an understanding of the important differences between the history of the black community and of ‘every other once-despised ethnic group.’”
Assignment editors — DeSantis will make an announcement, 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, 3rd District Court of Appeal, Alan R. Schwartz Atrium, 2001 SW 117th Ave., Miami.
— SESSION —
“House OKs sanctuary city ban” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Republicans in the Florida House passed the sanctuary city legislation through their chamber by a vote of 69 to 47 after strong opposition from Democrats and hours of emotional debate that touched on everything from biblical notions of compassion to the views of the Founding Fathers and the family immigration stories of many lawmakers. The bill — which is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate later this week — forces state and local government agencies to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency fully. It is primarily aimed at requiring law enforcement to honor detainer requests from ICE and hold illegal immigrants who are arrested for other crimes.
“Should a Governor be able to remove local officials backing ‘sanctuary’ policies?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sen. Joe Gruters expects to present his immigration bill (SB 168) to the Senate. In advance of that, Gruters filed an amendment adding the following language: “Any executive or administrative state, county, or municipal official who violates his or her duties under this chapter may be subject to action by the Governor.” “I want to give a little more teeth to the Governor,” the Sarasota Republican said. The bill remains less punitive than a version passed by the House. That companion legislation (HB 527) includes fines for officials who implement ‘sanctuary’ policies. Notably, the House has passed similar legislation the past several years. But Gruters’ bill has come as close as any to the Senate floor.
“After six years of stalemate, property insurance reform heads to Governor” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The bill passed the Senate 25-14 and now heads to DeSantis, who said he plans to sign it. Only time will tell if the changes, slated to take effect July 1, will roll back rate hikes that insurers have blamed on abuses by contractors and plaintiffs’ attorneys. But Sen. Gary Farmer, who voted against the bill, said it does not ensure that policyholders will be treated fairly by insurers. He also said supporters failed to prove whether the rise in lawsuits resulted from abuses by contractors or poor claims handling by insurers. Sen. Keith Perry said the bill would fix a “predatory practice” allowing a few attorneys to make millions of dollars “off the backs of ratepayers.”
”Senate advances plan to build three major toll roads, despite warnings” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — With no debate, the roads legislation (SB 7068) cleared the Senate on a 37-1 vote, which came despite heightened criticism this week from environmentalists who warn that the three proposed toll road projects will pollute waterways and damage wildlife habitat. Senate sponsor Tom Lee doesn’t see it that way. “It certainly is a bold endeavor, to try to prepare Florida for the next 25 to 50 years here,” Lee told the Senate. But he acknowledged, “There are legitimate concerns about economic, human and community impacts that go along with alignments,” adding that everyone is “having a seat at the table.” On Monday, the Sierra Club of Florida timed a declaration of “war” on the legislation to Earth Day celebrations.
“House unanimously passes bill helping firefighters battle cancer” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — After the legislation faced an uncertain future as recently as a week ago, the Florida House has passed a bill beefing up insurance coverage for firefighters battling cancer. House members voted in favor of the measure 116-0 Wednesday afternoon. The measure (SB 426) is what’s called a “presumptive cancer law.” While workers’ compensation typically covers one-the-job related ailments, it’s much more difficult to prove the direct link to cancer. For firefighters, those cancers often stem from repeated exposure over years and decades to cancer-causing agents, rather than a single, identifiable instance. The measure says that should a firefighter in good health get one of 21 identified types of cancer; it is presumed the cancer stemmed from his or her work as a firefighter.
Today the FL Legislature stepped up for our firefighters – unanimously passing legislation that provides cancer coverage benefits for these heroic men & women. This is a monumental victory for firefighters in their battle against cancer. #flapol pic.twitter.com/CJzCXXZw0L
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) April 24, 2019
“House unanimously OKs hygiene products for women inmates” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The House unanimously passed a measure on Wednesday to ensure women inmates are provided with necessary hygiene products. The “Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act” (HB 49) was approved 116-0. Democratic Reps. Shevrin Jones of West Park and Amy Mercado of Orlando sponsored the bill. The measure would mandate the provision of feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes and toilet paper at no cost to inmates. A Senate version of the bill (SB 332), sponsored by Sen. Jason Pizzo, is ready for the Senate floor.
“Substance abuse peer mentoring bill clears the House” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The bill (HB 369) would allow nonviolent drug offenders to qualify to provide peer support services by certifying with the state. “Many addicts and alcoholics —
“House backs break for hospice doctors” via the News Service of Florida — With little comment, the Florida House unanimously passed a bill that would exempt hospice doctors from being required to check a state database before prescribing controlled substances to patients. In response to the state’s opioid crisis, the Legislature last year passed a law that requires physicians to check a database before prescribing controlled substances. Also, it placed prescribing limits on opioids and required physicians who prescribe the substances to enter certain information into the database.
“Lawmakers propose ways to fix state elections” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Legislation that would give election supervisors more time to count mail ballots and voters more time to fix problematic signatures began moving again in the Florida Senate, passing out of committee after more than a month of inertia. With Session nearing a close, election officials who helped craft the bill are hopeful that it’s on its way to becoming law. Outside of actions influenced by lawsuits, any changes to Florida’s elections are likely to be limited primarily to those tailored to prevent the 2018 recount drama from reoccurring in the 2020 presidential election. “There’s a lot of different things the bill does that I think will improve access,” Paul Lux, president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections.
“Financial literacy graduation requirement fades away in legislative session” via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — (F)or the sixth consecutive year, the Legislature appears unwilling to add a financial literacy course to the list of high school graduation requirements — despite several lawmakers saying they wanted to do so in memory of the late Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who pushed for the concept throughout her tenure. Sen. Travis Hutson quietly amended his workforce education bill (SB 770) last week to include a mandate that high schools offer financial literacy as a half-credit elective, instead of a graduation requirement. He did so after his bill singularly focused on having all students take the course (SB 114) languished in the Rules Committee and its House companion (HB 73) failed to be heard in the House PreK-12 Appropriations Committee before it closed for the 2019 session.
“Texting while driving bills stall over disagreement in Legislature” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — This year’s proposed House bill is essentially a repeat of last year’s. The bill would allow police to pull motorists over for typing on a phone, with limited exceptions. It passed the House with a 104-9 vote. The Senate, however, has a much broader bill. The driver would not just have to be texting, but holding the phone and using it in almost any way. Drivers would, however, be allowed to use the phone through a car’s hands-free system. And the Senate bill wouldn’t just limit it to phones, but any kind of wireless device, including tablets, laptops and game systems.
“House passes autonomous vehicles legislation” via Florida Politics — HB 311 rolled to passage in the House with a unanimous vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jason Fischer, includes several provisions to get autonomous vehicles, or AVs, on Florida roadways — even if there isn’t a person in a passenger seat. It defines many terms, including “automated driving systems” and “fully autonomous vehicles.” The former describing the hardware and software backbone of AVs and the latter being any vehicle equipped with such a system that is able to function without anybody on board. If an AV is involved in a crash, they would be exempt from certain laws so long as the car or a person contacts a law enforcement agency.
— MORE SESSION —
Shot — Business voices slam immigration bill — A group of prominent Florida business owners joined the chorus of opposition for a so-called “Sanctuary Cities” ban. The letter (available here) was released by FWD.us and signed by 44 business and community leaders and says Florida needs immigrants in its workforce, but Senate legislation (SB 168) threatens the state’s economic vibrancy. “For too long, our country’s broken immigration system has locked people out of the American dream — and our economy,” the letter reads. Signatories include representatives from a range of industries. That includes real estate (The Crew at Green Street), manufacturing (Best Rest USA), political consulting (Seaborn Strategic) and more.
Chaser — “Nobody talked to us, multiple signatories on FWD.us immigration letter now say” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Maybe there’s not as much business opposition to a so-called “sanctuary cities” ban as a letter from FWD.us suggests. At least five individuals listed as signatories to a letter slamming the legislation say they were never approached for their views. Four of those say they are opposed to cities claiming sanctuary status. The fifth had no opinion. And sources say more may come forward and say the same. “Nobody contacted me,” said Gary Berrios of My Faith Governs. “I was definitely taken by surprise. And my view is totally the opposite.” His name appears among 44 business, religious and community letters arguing against the passage of legislation as it faced an immediate vote.
C’mon, Joe — “After complaints about hate-group ties, Florida GOP chair held event with more extremists” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New Times — On March 27, emails emerged between state Sen. Gruters, the chair of Florida’s Republican Party, and Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN), an offshoot of a national anti-immigrant hate organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which was originally founded by a donor who supported Nazi-style eugenics. Apparently, Gruters responded by hanging out with even more hate groups. On April 17, Gruters held a news conference to support SB 168, the anti-“sanctuary city” bill he’s pushing that would force local towns to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigrants’ rights groups say the bill will rip apart families just to appease some racist Republican voters.
“New toll roads could be a boon to billionaires. To Floridians? Who knows.” via Lawrence Mower and Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s richest man is Thomas Peterffy, a supporter of Donald Trump who served on DeSantis’ campaign finance team. Worth an estimated $18.5 billion, he also happens to own most of Taylor County, which is prime real estate for a proposed toll road that is a priority of Florida Senate President Galvano. Galvano has said he doesn’t know Peterffy, and the Palm Beach billionaire said he had not heard about the project until he saw a March story in the Florida Phoenix about the coincidence. Road builders, home builders, engineers and other interests are poised to reap billions by what would be Florida’s most significant expansion of toll roads in half a century.
“Clay County lawmakers pack clout on state dollars” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Rob Bradley and Travis Cummings sat side by side at the opening meeting of the state Legislature’s budget conference committee that will hash out the final work on the 2019-20 budget for Florida’s 21.3 million residents. Sen. Bradley will serve as chairman of the conference committee. Cummings, who serves in the House, will be the vice chairman, giving Clay County the rare distinction of being the home base for both lawmakers in those key posts. “It’s extremely unique, and I don’t know if it’s ever been done before where budget chiefs from both houses come from the same county,” said Sen. Aaron Bean.
Health insurance proposals linked” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — The Senate agreed to tee up for passage a bill that, as initially filed, called for creating protections for hundreds of thousands of Floridians who have pre-existing conditions and could be shut out of the insurance market if the federal health care law commonly referred to as “Obamacare” is repealed. Before preparing the bill (SB 322) for a vote, the Senate added an amendment that rolled into it two other health-insurance proposals (SB 418 and SB 1422). In the legislative world, linking various bills in a single measure is known as a train. Senators could vote on the package as early as Thursday.
“Florida College system head hopes for fair funding from lawmakers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As lawmakers take up important legislation governing the Florida College System, Palm Beach State College President Ava Parker hopes for a fair shake. “I do have concerns amount of money they are expecting institutions to have on hand in order to fund our projects,” Parker said. With so much controversy this session about the University of Central Florida’s past funding practices, reforms in Public Education Capital Outlay dollars could mean more restrictions for all higher education. Parker, chair of the Florida College System Council of Presidents, sees much to like in Senate legislation (SB 190). But she feels the House has put a lot of pressure on colleges to supplement projects with private fundraising.
“Citing immediate Parkland response, lawmakers ask why Pulse memorial still lacks dollars” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — One line in the budget caught the eye of Orlando lawmakers, who noted that funding for a permanent memorial in honor of the 49 victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando had evaporated. The memorial initially got $245,000 in the Senate budget, but on Wednesday’s conference committee the number was down to $0. Last year when the Legislature passed a package to address school safety in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the package included $1 million for a permanent memorial to the 17 victims at the high school in northwestern Broward County.
But … “Linda Stewart, Carlos Smith both confident Pulse memorial will get money” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Faced Wednesday morning with zeros on the line item for state money to support a Pulse Memorial and Museum in Orlando, Stewart and Guillermo Smith both expressed confidence later that the funds will resurface. On Tuesday it looked as if state money for the memorial, sought and denied last year, may have been denied again, as $245,000 initially included in the Senate budget was zeroed out, and the House budget showed none. Stewart said she has been working the issue and received assurances from Senate leadership, including Budget Conference ChairHutson, that Pulse memorial money will likely reappear tonight as Senate and House negotiators meet.
“For low-income people caught in a debt cycle, legislation proposes new 36-percent interest rate” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — Legislation (SB 874/HB 469) advancing in the last weeks of the Legislative Session would create a new statewide consumer-loan program that could charge interest rates as high as 36 percent. “A 36 percent interest rate is very high,” said Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, a St. Johns County Republican accountant who opposes the bill. “Those are interest rates that can get people in a lot of trouble.” Florida’s standard interest rate cap is 18 percent, but rates as high as 30 percent are allowed for some consumer loans. The proposed “Access to Responsible Credit Pilot Program” legislation would increase the highest interest rate allowed in Florida by 6 percent, to 36 percent.
“Studies warn against CON repeal” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Lawmakers are considering a repeal of the state’s certificate of need (CON) laws, which regulate how many hospitals can be built and when, where and how they can operate. The repeal is a priority of House Speaker José Oliva. Proponents say the change would spur more competition in the health care system, increasing quality and lowering prices. Opponents, including the Florida Health Care Association, said an influx of new facilities could lead to scores of unfilled hospital beds and a significant strain on the state’s Medicaid budget. But numerous scientific studies say that only scratches the surface — a CON repeal could also lead to less qualified physicians performing complex medical procedures.
— LEGISLATIVE SCHEDULE —
Assignment editors — First Lady Casey DeSantis will host the 2019 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day at the Florida Capitol; 9:45 a.m. Cabinet Meeting Room.
Cookies and Fried — In honor of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is hosting “Cookies with the Commish.” Fried will share cookies with kids and their families from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at her office on Plaza Level. We’re also hearing Smokey Bear will make a cameo appearance.
Assignment editors — Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis will hold a news conference for an announcement on Hurricane Michael recovery funding. Also expected to attend are Attorney General Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner Fried, Sens. George Gainer and Bill Montford, Reps. Loranne Ausley, Brad Drake, and Jay Trumbull, and “families from the Panhandle.” That at 2 p.m., in front of the CFO’s office, Plaza level.
Today’s legislative hearings:
The Senate is scheduled to hold a floor Session at 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.
The House is scheduled to hold a floor Session at 10:30 a.m., House Chamber.
The Senate Special Order Calendar Group will set a special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. That’s 15 minutes after the floor Session.
— GOVERNORS CLUB MENU —
Lentil soup with potatoes and chorizo; mixed garden salad with dressings; arugula and orzo salad; black and white bean salad (ensalada de frijoles negros
— STATEWIDE —
“Andrew Gillum fined in ethics case” via The Associated Press — Gillum agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to settle an ethics complaint that he violated civil law by accepting a gift from a lobbyist, and the state Ethics Commission agreed to drop four additional counts of violations. The settlement, announced in Tallahassee just as Gillum was to go before an administrative hearing, ends a lengthy ethics investigation that factored heavily in the Democratic candidate’s unsuccessful campaign for governor last year. Republican then-candidate DeSantis
“In four states, parking officers can no longer mark your tires. Florida isn’t one of them.” via Caitlin Johnson of the Tampa Bay Times — A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled unanimously that the practice of “chalking” constitutes an unreasonable search, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The ruling, however, applies only to that circuit, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Florida is part of the 11th Circuit, so a separate case would need to be heard before any changes were enacted here. The cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater all use chalk to monitor parking, though to varying degrees. As of this week, though, Tampa has stopped all manual chalking and, until further notice, will use only the electronic method, city spokeswoman Ashley Bauman said.
— MORE FROM AROUND THE STATE —
“Patterns emerge in the way hepatitis A is spreading in Florida” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In its search for the source, the state epidemiologist with Florida’s Department of Health has found hepatitis A is concentrated in the homeless and drug using community, but has spread to other populations in Florida by those who have had contact with the homeless, or by people who have traveled to Florida from places where hepatitis A is rampant. In the last 15 months, Florida has seen an outbreak of more than 1,400 people with hepatitis A, with cases in every county. At this time, the bulk of the cases — about 400 of them — are in Pinellas and Pasco counties.
“More than 900 people vaccinated for hepatitis A by Health Department in one week” via Sara Marino of TCPalm — Preventive measures and general information about the virus outbreak highlighted a gathering at First United Methodist Church. About 45 people attended, with the majority of people officials from organizations including the Martin County school board, Children’s Services Council of Martin County, Martin County Department of Health, the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Martin County. Renay Rouse, spokeswoman for Florida Department of Health’s Martin County office, urged people to get vaccinated if they haven’t been in the past, and to always wash their hands thoroughly. As of Wednesday, the number of cases of hepatitis A in the county remained at 19, with three confirmed deaths resulting from complications of hepatitis A, Rouse said.
“Slimy green algae returns bringing back bad memories” via Michael Mora of WINK — A layer of algae coating is on the top of the Caloosahatchee in Sweet Water Landing Marina. Stinky fumes are permeating in the air from the green gunk. The owner of the Sweet Water Landing Marina said the algae started showing up around five days ago. The reappearance brings back nightmares from when algae invaded canals last summer all over Florida. Although the parking lot was full of cars Tuesday at the Boat House Tiki Bar and Grill across the street from the marina, patrons were aware of the unwanted visitor. “‘Smelling this and seeing this in the water,” said Melissa England, a patron and Fort Myers resident, “people are not going to want to come here.”
“Southwest Florida under a ‘code brown’ following rash of fecal bacteria reported in local waterways” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Several sites in the Fort Myers area experienced beach closures and health warnings due to an outbreak of fecal bacteria. Over the Easter holiday weekend, a dead manatee washed ashore near the beach at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, which was closed previously due high levels bacteria. Additionally, Estero River “showed 1,850 colony-forming units, or CPU/100 milliliters of Enterococci, a bacteria found in the gut of warm-blooded animals and humans.” The Florida DOH standard for beaches is 70 CPU/100 milliliters. The News-Press also reported elevated levels of fecal bacteria in Powell Creek in North Fort Myers, Billy’s Creek in Fort Myers and the Orange River at Manatee Park, according to readings from the Calusa Waterkeeper.
“No back-pumping into Lake O this year” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Data from the South Florida Water Management District shows none of the water that’s flowed into Lake Okeechobee this year was pumped from the Everglades Agricultural Area. Through Monday, 99 percent of water entering the lake came in via surface inflows from the Kissimmee River Caloosahatchee, Kissimmee and St. Lucie rivers, which contributed 8.2 inches to the lakes water level. Another 1 percent arrived from waterways south of the lake, adding 0.1 inches to the lake. The breakdown was confirmed at the most recent meeting of the SFWMD board.
— GREEN RUSH —
A cash-only system is holding back Florida’s booming medical-marijuana industry.
But efforts underway at the state and federal levels could help the industry modernize its finances, reports Greg Angel for Bay News 9.
— Risk factor: The federal government still considers marijuana an illicit drug. “So most banks and credit unions fear they could lose federal insurance protections carried on individual accounts if they accept ‘illegal’ drug money.”
— Recall: More are affected than just medical marijuana companies. Agriculture Commissioner Fried, who accepted donations from pot businesses, had her campaign accounts shut down. So too did Jeff Sharkey of the Medical Marijuana Business Association.
— Change?: Chief Financial Officer Patronis has requested the federal government create a “safe harbor” for banks. Orlando-area U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is pushing a bill that would do the same.
— THE TRAIL —
First in Sunburn — “Personnel note: Lisa Peth takes over ‘muni’ duties at Florida Democratic Party” — In an effort to beef up the party’s local operations, the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) has named Peth to serve as the group’s first-ever Municipal Victory Program Director. Peth has worked for the FDP since November 2017, where she served as the Northeast Florida Community Engagement Director. “To flip Florida blue in 2020, Democrats have to focus on winning down-ballot races and electing local leaders who will fight for public schools and good-paying jobs,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo. “No one is more qualified than Lisa to do the important work of organizing voters, mobilizing voters, and delivering victory for Democrats.”
First in Sunburn — “Associated Industries endorses Jason Shoaf for HD 7 special election” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Associated Industries of Florida Political Action Committee (AIFPAC) announced Thursday that it’s picked its candidate for the impending special election in House District 7: Jason Shoaf. AIFPAC’s endorsement is a re-up of their nod during the four-way special Republican primary for the seat, which covers all or parts of Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Lafayette, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and Leon counties. “Jason is the best candidate to propel the community forward,” said AIF Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs Brewster Bevis. “The AIFPAC was proud to support Jason during the primary and is proud to also support him as Northwest Florida voters head to the polls on June 18.” Shoaf faces Democratic nominee Ryan Terrell in the June 18 special general election.
— LOCAL —
“Parkland shooter entitled to hefty inheritance; public defender asks to withdraw from his case” via Tonya Alanez and Megan O’Matz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The teen is entitled to half of a nearly $865,000 life insurance policy as of April 23, the court filing shows. Gordon Weekes, assistant public defender, said: “We have to withdraw.” The move will throw the criminal case off track. The judge had hoped to begin trial in January. Weekes said the public defender’s office just got new information that Nikolas Cruz and his brother are to share in the life insurance policy, presumably for their mother, who died unexpectedly of flu-like illness in November 2017. The court will have to determine who his new counsel will be, Weekes said.
“Panama City to FEMA: Give us empty trailers to house Hurricane Michael victims” via Katie Landeck of the Panama City News-Herald — Rather than let FEMA trailers sit empty at the Bay County Fairgrounds group site and the staging area in Marianna, the city of Panama City is asking to be given the opportunity to put people in them. City Manager Mark McQueen said the city is negotiating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to try to acquire the surplus trailers. As of last week, there were more than 50 empty trailers at the fairground’s campsite, according to FEMA reports, in addition to the ones that were staged in Marianna and never rolled out for use. “Those have gone unclaimed because FEMA has been unable to make contact with those survivors,” McQueen said at the recent City Commission meeting.
“Mayor-elect Jane Castor wants to keep Brian Dugan as her chief of police” via Tony Marrero and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Castor, a former police chief who supervised Dugan as he rose through the ranks at the department, said she’d like Dugan to remain as police chief beyond October, when he must retire as a participant in the state’s deferred retirement program. “I know Brian Dugan very well and I would be more than happy to keep him on contract as chief of police,” she said. “I think he’s doing a great job.” Now that’s she elected, they can talk in more detail and try to come to an agreement.
“Jane Castor thinks the Tampa Bay rays belong in Tampa” via Charlie Frago and Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Castor said the population distribution in Tampa Bay “puts the stadium, in my view, in Tampa.” “So I will do what I can to have the Rays move to Tampa. I believe the Rays are amenable to that, they want to stay in the area,” Castor said. “I think we have several locations in Tampa that will be viable.” She indicated that she’s considering asking St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to allow Tampa or Hillsborough County to have another swing at the Rays. “That’s a conversation that I think is worthwhile,” she said, although with the repeated caveat that she wants to find a regional solution that would keep the team in Tampa Bay.
—“Jane Castor’s first thing ‘is about 100 things’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics
“’Intoxicated with power.’ Pasco sheriff, agency leaders accused of retaliation, suit says” via Justin Trombly and Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — The April 16 lawsuit says Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and agency leaders are “intoxicated with power and will physically abuse, intimidate, incarcerate, extort, and defame in order to ensure their absolute control.” “One of the plaintiffs, Christopher Squitieri, has previously filed other legal actions that have been successfully defended and dismissed,” spokesperson Amanda Hunter said in an email. “We look forward to addressing these allegations in the proper forum and will have no further statements until the court case has been completed.” The lawsuit makes a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (often called RICO) and contains accusations by five anonymous people alleging abuse of power within the Sheriff’s Office.
“With bonds sold, Virgin Trains set to break ground in May for Orlando line” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The company, which runs private passenger trains linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, closed its bond sale to raise $1.75 billion to help pay for construction of the 170-mile line, which will double-track and upgrade the existing railroad from West Palm Beach to Cocoa, and build all new tracks from there to the Orlando International Airport. Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline, and before that as All Aboard Florida, has given limited notifications to proceed to its construction contractors to begin work in May, and intends to issue the full notifications to proceed soon.
What John Lux is reading — “’Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ will film in Miami Beach. We don’t think this will close MacArthur Causeway” via Lesley Abravanel of the Miami Herald — It’s sunny, Rat Packy, fabulous ’50s-era marvelous Miami Beach. And the best news yet is that the showrunners aren’t dressing up the Buckhead area of Atlanta to resemble the shores of South Beach. The actual cast and crew of the Amazon Prime comedy will be down here for a week in June to do some filming for the series’ third season. The news was broken by actor Tony Shalhoub, who said “I think I’ve heard that we’re going to Miami in June. That’s all I know … It’s about [Midge’s] tour, but that’s all I got.” The award-winning show, about a sassy, brassy Borscht Belt housewife, will be filming here June 17-30.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Donald Trump’s feud with Puerto Rico looms over congressional standoff on disaster aid” via Ledyard King of USA TODAY — Trump is angry at Puerto Rico, accusing its officials of poor leadership, wasteful spending and not appreciating his administration’s efforts to help. Democrats who control the House are mad at Trump for being mad at Puerto Rico. And Republicans who control the Senate are mad at Democrats for being mad at Trump for being mad at Puerto Rico. All of this has led to a stalemate in Congress that’s bottled up billions in disaster aid meant to assist millions of Americans including Puerto Rican families still recovering from Hurricane Maria, California residents rebuilding from wildfires and Midwestern communities soaked by recent floods.
“Marco Rubio suggests Democrats shouldn’t try to impeach Trump because it’d make Vladimir Putin ‘very happy’” via Daniel Moritz-Rabson of Newsweek — “Putin would be very happy if Dems try to impeach. That would be far more divisive than his interference in 2016. The next election is only 18 months away. We should spend our time in DC solving problems not creating new ones,” Rubio tweeted. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was the first Democratic presidential candidate to call for impeachment proceedings after last week’s release of the report of special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Val Demings pushes Democrats to begin impeachment hearings on Trump, report says” via Stephen Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — “We are struggling to justify why we aren’t beginning impeachment proceedings,” Demings, a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a conference call with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders, according to POLITICO. “As a 27-year law enforcement officer, and while I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I believe we have enough evidence now,” said Demings, a former Orlando police chief.
“Citing Florida, Democrats asking Republicans to not use hacked documents” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos wrote her counterpart NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer pledging that her organization, which helps the campaigns of Democrats running for Congress, would not use any hacked materials, in the wake of the details of the report released last week by Special Counsel Mueller that reported that Russia had engineered the theft and publication of Democratic documents during the 2016 campaign. Bustos, a Democratic congresswoman from Illinois, asked for but has not yet received, a like promise in return from Emmer, a Republican congressman from Minnesota.
Assignment editors — The Florida immigrant coalition (FWD.us) will host a roundtable on immigration reform to outline the state of play around Dreamer- and TPS-focused legislation in Florida and nationally, 11 a.m. Eastern time, CIC Miami — Everglades Room, 1951 NW 7th Ave, Suite 600, Miami. Facebook Live video stream available Florida Immigrant Coalition Facebook page.
“Roger Stone to visit Southwest Florida, attend legal fundraiser” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Stone asked a judge if he could travel to Sarasota and Naples next month. He will attend a fundraiser for his legal defense fund for at least one of those trips, local Republican officials confirmed. U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson granted permission for Stone to make both trips. Stone awaits trial on charges stemming from Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. But Jackson gave strict directions to Stone to let federal court officials in Washington, D.C. and Florida know his whereabouts during the trips. “Defendant may not travel to any locations aside from those set out above,” Jackson’s order reads. “Defendant must contact Pretrial Services within the first business day by telephone upon his return from each trip.”
— 2020 —
“Joe Biden’s expected 2020 bid is likely to rely on big donors” via Julie Bykowicz and Ken Thomas of The Wall Street Journal — There is little evidence that Biden, 76, has worked to foster a base of small donors in the two years since he left office. He has expressed concern to Democratic fundraisers that he won’t be able to make a splash with early online donations the way Mr. Sanders and other candidates have. The political action committee that Biden started in May 2017 to help Democrats spent more than $550,000 in digital consultants, but that investment barely paid off, Federal Election Commission records show. The group, American Possibilities PAC, received $923,000 from donors giving $200 or less, out of the $2.6 million it raised.
“McCain family to support Biden in 2020 race in bid to defeat Trump” via Joseph Simonson and Naomi Lim of the Washington Examiner — In an extraordinary snub to Trump, who derided John McCain‘s Vietnam War service and mocked him even after his death last August at age 81, the McCain family is preparing to break with the Republican Party. McCain represented the party in Congress for 35 years and was chosen as its presidential nominee in 2008, losing to Barack Obama. Sources close to both Biden’s presidential campaign and the McCains said that at some point during the White House race, McCain’s widow Cindy, 64, and daughter Meghan, 34, a host on “The View,” will offer their public support in the hope of removing Trump from office in 2020.
Florida Dems divided over Biden, as reported by Marc Caputo of POLITICO — “In the key swing state of Florida, it’s a similar story. Steve Schale, who helped lead Obama to two victories there as state director in 2008 and senior adviser in 2012, is serving as a senior advisor to Biden’s campaign. But California Sen. Kamala Harris scored the support of Obama’s top fundraiser in the state, Kirk Wagar, who was appointed ambassador to Singapore by Obama. Obama campaign’s deputy Florida director in 2008 and state director in 2012, Ashley Walker, is staying neutral.”
“Cory Booker pledges to select a woman as his running mate” via Seth McLaughlin of the Washington Times — “I will have a woman running mate,” Booker of New Jersey said at a She the People presidential forum in Houston. “To me, it is really clear that we do that.” The She the People event is giving more than a half-dozen presidential contenders the chance to introduce themselves to women-of-color activists and address issues of importance to them.
“Booker to raise money in Miami Beach Sunday evening” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Booker is bringing his presidential campaign to Miami Beach, where he’ll attend a Sunday evening fundraiser at a Venetian Islands home. Booker, one of several U.S. senators seeking the Democratic nomination for president, is scheduled to visit the Rivo Alto Island home of Ed Nicoll and Helen Kent-Nicoll in the early evening. An invitation for the event shows that tickets range from $500 a person to $5,600.
— OPINIONS —
“Permanently ban offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico” via the USA TODAY Network editorial board — Reports have circulated since last year of Trump administration plans to auction leases off Florida’s coast for exploratory drilling — especially in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Knowing their constituents overwhelmingly reject drilling off Florida beaches, state politicians have said it would never happen. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott infamously held an election-year news conference with Trump’s scandal-prone former Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, to announce Florida would be exempt from any plans to expand drilling. Politico later reported Trump did not approve the announcement. In the face of all this, you don’t have to be an industry analyst to see what’s coming. Shallow assurances from DeSantis about Trump’s Florida loyalties sound naive at best.
“Vindication for Gillum? Not really” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — Vindicated people don’t pay $5,000 fines. And if Gillum, as mayor, didn’t “knowingly” accept expensive favors from people seeking favors from his city, it’s because he didn’t try to know. And certainly, nothing says “trust me” like delaying a public hearing for a couple hours while lawyers confer privately with the Ethics Commission staff. The negotiated settlement no more vindicates Gillum than the Mueller Report absolves President Trump of ethical culpability for his official actions or personal conduct. To keep their actions just barely this side of the law, remaining technically not prosecutable, is not a standard to which we expect our leaders to aspire.
“Don’t trade hospitals for toll roads, gambling” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Deregulating health care is the top priority for House Speaker Oliva. Senate President Galvano wants to extend the Suncoast Parkway to the Georgia line and build another toll road from Polk County to Collier County, a concept that has been rejected for years. Galvano also wants to legalize sports betting and negotiate a new gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The House traditionally has opposed any expansion of gambling. Now suddenly the Senate is amenable to deregulating hospitals, the House is reviewing the toll roads sought by Galvano — and DeSantis says he and Oliva have been given an outline of a new gaming agreement negotiated by the Senate and the Seminoles that would legalize sports betting.
“Michelle Flowers: Florida must address health care costs; drug importation is not the solution” via Florida Politics — The supply or distribution chain allows numerous opportunities for drugs to become mishandled or adulterated, whether in the United States or abroad. If we rush to resolve our long-standing issues of the rising out-of-pocket costs by importing drugs both from Canada and abroad, we are placing all Floridians at risk. There are a number of other proposals being discussed, such as ensuring the billions of dollars in rebates are seen in direct out-of-pocket costs by the patient at the pharmacy counter. This is an issue that requires careful scrutiny and collaborative efforts from manufacturers through to the end user — the patient.
“Brewster Bevis: Matrix acidizing is not ‘fracking’” via Florida Politics — What is occurring in Florida is a conventional practice that the industry has used for years known as matrix acidizing. The discussion this Session on fracking at committee hearing after committee hearing was hijacked by a group that intentionally spread misinformation with the intent to cause panic about this conventional practice. Frankly, this rhetoric is dangerous, because if Florida lawmakers are led to believe that this oil development practice is as harmful as critics claim and they decided to ban it along with fracking, it would put an entire industry — an industry that’s practiced safely and been a part of Florida’s economy for 70-plus years — out of business in the state.
“A ‘Chris Smith Bridge’ on Broward Boulevard? Not so fast” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The annual road-naming bill meandering its way through Tallahassee this session, SB 100, has a provision to name a bridge in Fort Lauderdale in honor of former Sen. Smith. While well-intentioned, it’s a bad idea, sets a bad precedent and should not happen. He was elected Democratic leader of both the House and Senate. Smith wasn’t always so popular with Broward voters, though. After term limits ended his legislative career in 2016, he lost a 2016 primary race for Broward County Commission to Dale Holness. Soon, Smith was in demand as a lobbyist — where else? — in Tallahassee. His clients include AT&T, Florida Power & Light, U.S. Sugar Corp. and PhRMA, a trade group for the pharmaceutical industry.
“How Jane Castor can build on big win in Tampa Mayor’s race” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — During the campaign, Castor sketched out a credible plan for spending Tampa’s share of Hillsborough’s new transportation tax. Her support for expanding the streetcar and for a mass transit connection between south Tampa, downtown, east Tampa and the University of South Florida would be transformative for families and businesses alike. While building on Bob Buckhorn’s legacy, Castor would work to make new development more sustainable. Castor will also need to build a strong working relationship with city council and with other area agencies, especially on issues involving transportation, trade, tourism, job development and natural resources. Tampa voters made the best choice, and now it’s Castor’s turn to repay that confidence by meeting the high expectations.
“Public deserves less secrecy and more information about SpaceX capsule ‘anomaly’” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — In a tweet, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote that SpaceX had notified NASA of an “anomaly” during a test of the engines designed to lift the crew capsule away from the rocket in case of an emergency. “Anomaly” is a vague industry buzzword that tells the public zilch about what happened to a program that the federal government is spending billions on to get astronauts back into space. There’s been no news conference. No opportunity to ask questions of company executives. No detailed news releases. No photos or video of the damage. The public is in the dark. Americans should not feel good about this trend of news blackouts or — only slightly better — dispensing news through tweets or vague statements.
— MOVEMENTS —
“Frank Artiles gets first lobbying client” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — According to registration disclosures, the Miami Republican is representing Rogar Management & Consulting of Florida in the Legislature. Rogar is a Miami-based contracting company and member of the Florida Transportation Builders Association (FTBA). Artiles, a contractor by trade, is lobbying under his longtime firm Atlas Consultants. Artiles is known to be close with House Speaker Oliva, also a Miami Republican. Artiles served in the House from 2010 through 2016, when he was elected to the Senate District 40. He only held the seat for about six months before he resigned after making a string of racially charged comments.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Jason Allison, Foley & Lardner: Ensono
Taylor Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: The Special Committee for Healthcare Reform
John Booker: Volusia County Government
Matt Brockelman, Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Florida Barber Academy, VyStar Credit Union
Dean Cannon, Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: PDCS
Nataly Chalco Lopez: United We Dream Network
Alexia Dawes: Northrop Grumman Corporation
Keith Dean: Florida Deputy Sheriffs Association
Cody Farrill: Department of Management Services
Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting: Israeli-American Coalition for Action
Alberto Lorenzo, Quantum Results: MGM Case Management Services
Kevin O’Flaherty: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
— SUNSHINE SPORTS —
First, a bit of good news out of Tampa.
— Fox Sports Sun tweeted that ratings for Tampa Bay Rays telecasts are up 9 percent from last year.
— Sunday’s game against Boston was the most livestreamed Rays game ever on FOX Sports GO and most watched-sports program of the day in the Tampa Bay market.
Here comes the bad news.
— The Rays were dealt a double whammy Wednesday.
— They lost 10-2 to Kansas City and lost valuable infielder Joey Wendel to a broken wrist.
Moving onto hoops, it seems TV ratings for NBA playoffs this year are way off.
— More people watched a replay of the final round of The Masters than a playoff game between the Blazers and Thunder.
They’ll be back, but the Orlando Magic’s season is over.
— The team’s playoff run ended Tuesday with a loss to Toronto but the team says this year is just the beginning of something good.
Hope you’re ready for Mel Kiper
— The NFL Draft starts tonight at 8 in Nashville. It will be shown on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and the NFL Network. It runs through Saturday.
— ALOE —
“Google wins first FAA approval for regular drone delivery” via Mike Allen of Axios — Wing Aviation — a unit of Google’s parent, Alphabet — received the first U.S. authorization to operate a fleet of drones for consumer-goods deliveries. The FAA approval covers daylight hours in a rural area around Blacksburg, Va. — home of Virginia Tech, a partner in the project. Wing now will “survey residents and local businesses about the types of food, medicines and other goods that might be carried.” The decision is a “coup for Wing in a budding, fiercely competitive industry. Amazon … and other companies are vying for similar approvals.”
“Movie critics are going nuts for ‘Avengers: Endgame’” via David Mack of BuzzFeed News — The film currently holds an astonishing 97% rating on the review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes. “Avengers: Endgame does whatever it takes to deliver a satisfying finale to Marvel’s epic Infinity Saga.” One of the most rousing reviews came from the Guardian, which gave the film a five-star rating. “I have to admit,” wrote critic Peter Bradshaw, “in all its surreal grandiosity, in all its delirious absurdity, there is a huge sugar rush of excitement to this mighty finale, finally interchanging with euphoric emotion and allowing us to say poignant farewells.” Endgame promises to deliver plenty of fan service with a running time of a whopping three hours — by far the longest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“’Avengers: Endgame’ blasts into China with $107M+ record opening day” via Nancy Tartaglione of Deadline.com — “Avengers: Endgame” has a stranglehold on China as it continues to surge in early rollout there. After heating up a new midnight milestone worth RMB 189M ($28.2M) on Tuesday, today’s tallies just keep climbing. As of this evening locally, Wednesday estimates are coming in at RMB 530M ($79M) for an opening day of RMB 719M ($107.2M), including midnights. The debut eclipses previous champ Monster Hunt 2 (RMB 547M), which did not have midnights but bowed during Chinese New Year 2018, as well as The Fate of the Furious‘ RMB 480M and Avengers: Infinity War’s RMB 447M (each of the latter two have midnights included).
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to political consultant Tom Alte, Kristin Lamb, Greg Langowski, Brian Lowack, former state Rep. David Richardson, and Megan Roach.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.