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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.24.19

Rise ‘n’ shine. Wake up to the best blurbs on politics and policy in Florida.

It is 6,544 miles from Tallahassee to Tel Aviv. But Gov. Ron DeSantis, members of the Florida Cabinet, and civic and political leaders believe their upcoming trip to conduct the state’s business in Israel will be more than worth the trip.

It’s not unusual for the state to affirm its close ties to Israel, but this is the first time the agenda will include a Cabinet meeting – and much more. It begins Sunday with a reception in Tel Aviv where members of the 90-person traveling party will meet with their Israeli hosts.

Over the following week, meetings are scheduled to further business and tourism relationships between Israel and Florida and more networking opportunities.

On Wednesday, DeSantis will deliver the keynote address at Israel-America Business Summit in the morning, followed by the Cabinet meeting that afternoon at the American Embassy in Jerusalem.

The meeting is scheduled to be streamed online to satisfy Florida’s sunshine law about open government. Details about the telecast are still worked out.

The Jerusalem Post reported another purpose of the trip is to connect academic institutions in Florida and Israel to study solutions for the state’s environmental issues, including red tide.

The trip has political implications as well. The Times of Israel noted that “the GOP woos Jewish voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.”

“During this trip, we will affirm Florida as the most pro-Israel state in the nation and strengthen the bond between Florida and Israel for decades to come,” DeSantis said in a written statement.

He had promised during the campaign to be “the most pro-Israel Governor” in the country, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat, had promised to visit Israel.

She is arriving ahead of the main traveling group to begin talks with Israeli officials about agricultural and dairy drone technology and companies that focus on medical marijuana. She plans to bring that information back to Florida farmers.

Here is the itinerary for what is being officially called the “Governor’s Business Development Mission to Israel”:

Saturday, May 25: Depart Florida for Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sunday, May 26: Arrive in Tel Aviv, Israel; meet and greet with Florida Delegation.

Monday, May 27: Morning — Business Meeting with Israeli Companies; meeting with Israeli Officials. Afternoon — Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremonies. Evening — Tourism Networking Reception hosted by VISIT FLORIDA and Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony.

Tuesday, May 28: Morning — Meeting and Award Ceremony with Israel Innovation Authority; business meetings with Israeli companies; Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremonies. Afternoon — Networking Lunch with Israeli Business Leaders; Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremonies; Roundtable Discussion on Issues Impacting Florida. Evening — Meeting with U.S. Ambassador; Reception Hosted by the U.S. Ambassador.

Wednesday, May 29 (Tel Aviv/Jerusalem): Morning — Keynote Address at the 2019 Israel-America Business Summit; Business Meetings with Israeli Companies. Afternoon — Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremonies; Ceremonial Meeting of the Florida Cabinet. Evening — Business Development Networking Reception.

Thursday, May 30 (Jerusalem): Morning — Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony; Roundtable Discussion on Issues Impacting Florida. Afternoon — Cultural Visit to the Old City of Jerusalem; meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Evening — Delegation Reception and Dinner.

Friday, May 31: Depart Jerusalem for Florida.

As DeSantis prepares to head to Israel, Rick Kriseman reflects on his own trip there” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Kriseman has some advice. “I wish him safe travels. It’s a long way to get there and adjusting to the seven hour difference is very challenging,” Kriseman said. “I would encourage him to also try and make sure he gives himself an opportunity to hear different opinions and different voices so he’s getting as many perspectives as possible.” Kriseman returned last week from his own trip to Israel with a national delegation of four other Mayors. That trip, organized by the American Jewish Community, was geared to further U.S.-Israel relations at the municipal level.

Nikki Fried begins Israel trade mission” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Though most of the Florida Delegation is still en route to Israel, Fried has a head start on her inaugural trade mission. Fried conferred with government officials, agricultural research groups, and agriculture-related businesses ahead of a formal tranche of meetings and events with her Cabinet colleagues starting Sunday. “I’m thrilled to be in Israel learning about innovations on agriculture and citrus, water efficiency, cannabis, and more. We’re going to bring home ideas and best practices from the Middle East’s only democracy and one of the world’s leading nations on technology and research.”


—@realDonaldTrump: Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!

@HeatherSccope: “His actions are villainous to the constitution of the United States,” @SpeakerPelosi told Democrats during a closed-door meeting this morning about Trump.

@DaveWeigel: Repeating myself a bit, but when the former VP is below 30% and the 2016 runner-up is below 20%, you see why many candidates can imagine themselves breaking out and beating them.

@NewsBySmiley: Worth pointing out that a number of publications, including the Times and @MiamiHerald, have published stories based off documents obtained by @wikileaks

@SenMannyDiazJr: So fortunate to be involved with the Veterans of 2506 Brigade, bringing home to the Hialeah Gardens Brigade Museum an original B-26 Plane used in the operation to Free Cuba, I salute these Heroes and their continued fight for freedom!

@Fineout: What’s unsaid – the new state budget does not take effect until July 1 – but Visit Fla. decided to just go ahead and push everyone out now. Guess that 6 weeks worth of funding will buy some ads somewhere in the NE

@DavisHouck: If Florida State University’s B. K. Roberts Law School building is not re-named the Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte building by this time next year, many will be deeply disappointed….and very surprised.” — Florida State University professor Davis Houck

@CordByrd: The SAT adversity score is a terrible idea that will lead to admissions fraud and abuse. The House Higher Education Committee is monitoring this closely.

@KarlEtters: Trial of two people accused of killing Dan Markel, set to start in less than two weeks, has been delayed

@JessePanuccioFL: What’d I miss?

@PollackHunter: I’m proud to announce I’ll be heading to Washington D.C for an internship with @SenRickScott! I couldn’t thank him enough for giving me this amazing opportunity. I promise to work hard and learn a lot so I can be an asset to saving the future of America.

@TallyTable: Sorry to say that The Deck Pizza Pub on College Ave in downtown Tally, will be closing after Saturday night. Owner Rob Bazemore said he’ll have deals on food and drinks all day May 23, 24, 25. His restaurant MetroDeli on Monroe will remain open.


Memorial Day — 3; Florida Democratic Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser — 14; U.S. Open begins — 19; Father’s Day — 23; Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Summit begins — 25; First Democratic presidential debates in Miami — 33; Independence Day — 41; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 67; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 92; St. Petersburg primary election — 95; USF open vs. Wisconsin Badgers football — 98; UCF Knights open vs. Florida A&M football — 99; FSU Seminoles open vs. Boise State football — 99; Labor Day — 101; “Joker” opens — 133; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 157; Scott Maddox trial begins — 164; 2019 General Election — 165; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 167; Iowa Caucuses — 255; New Hampshire Primaries — 263; Florida’s presidential primary — 298; 2020 General Election — 529.


A century later, unpaid prison labor continues to power Florida” via Ben Conarck of The Florida Times-Union — In a given year, some 3,500 unpaid prisoners make up Florida’s shadow economy. State road crews and “community work squads” incarcerated by the Department of Corrections subsidize local governments from the Panhandle to Miami-Dade: powering waste and public works departments, grooming cemeteries and school grounds, maintaining and constructing buildings, treating sewage and collecting trash. Earlier this year, nearly a century after the convict labor hearings of 1923, a different group of people testified, this time before the Alachua County Commission.


Behind Donald Trump’s reversal of an explosive plan to move migrants to Florida” via Anita Kumar and Matt Dixon of POLITICO — After Florida’s governor learned that the Trump administration was planning to relocate illegal border-crossers to his state, he picked up the phone and called his friend, Donald Trump. The president said he didn’t know about the plan — but he killed it anyway. It’s not something I would approve,” Trump told the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, according to a person familiar with the call. “It doesn’t make any sense.” White House and Department of Homeland Security officials quickly chalked it up to a misunderstanding. A flurry of media reports citing local officials warning that the Trump administration planned to dump migrant families into heavily Democratic areas of Florida were wrong, they insisted.

Ron DeSantis OKs bill on assignment of benefits (AOB) abuse” via Florida Politics — Gov. DeSantis has signed a bill that aims to curb abuse of what’s known in the insurance industry as assignment of benefits (AOB). AOB agreements allow policyholders to give up their insurance contract rights to third parties in exchange for quick repairs, and relief from the hassle of dealing with claims. Critics claim contractors abuse these agreements to inflate repair bills and launch frivolous litigation. Attorneys and contractors blame foot-dragging insurers for forcing lawsuits. In a statement, the Governor’s office said the bill would establish “important consumer protections for property insurance policies by setting forth requirements for the execution, validity and effect of such agreements.” It would also rework the formula dictating who is responsible for attorney fees in AOB lawsuits.

DeSantis signs ban on child-like sex dolls” via the Associated Press — Possessing, selling or displaying a child-like sex doll will be illegal in Florida under a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis signed the measure Wednesday after it passed the Legislature unanimously earlier this month. The law takes effect Oct. 1. A legislative analysis of the bill said that child-like sex dolls imported from China, Japan and Hong Kong are becoming increasingly prevalent in the U.S. They are part of what has become a $15 billion sex toy industry, according to the analysis. The new law makes it a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida to possess, give away, advertise, sell or display the dolls. A second offense would be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Richard Corcoran gives his department an A for its legislative successes” via Jeff Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — “We pretty much got 93 percent of the legislative agenda,” Corcoran told the State Board of Education during its meeting Wednesday in Tampa. He included among those successes bills — now laws — creating new school vouchers and increasing school safety and security measures. Chief of staff Alex Kelly reviewed “all the victories” for the board, and then turned to the remaining few.

VISIT FLORIDA slashes staff” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — It cut one-third of its staff Thursday, slashing its payroll after the state Legislature cut funding for the tourism agency by 34 percent. With a Leon County Sheriff’s Office patrol car parked outside its Tallahassee headquarters on Thursday afternoon, Visit Florida fired 44 of the agency’s 135 workers. The move cut $3.65 million from an overall payroll of $12.1 million. “The decision to downsize staff proportionate to the budget reduction was extremely difficult, but with less funding, there is simply no way Visit Florida could maintain the level of staffing we once had,” Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young said in a press release. The names of individuals who received pink slips were not announced.


Recordings of mass shootings are no longer public record in Florida” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Gov. DeSantis signed a bill Thursday that blocks the release of government-held recordings of deaths in mass violence incidents. … SB 186 applies to government photo, audio and video recordings that show the deaths of three or more people, not including the perpetrator, in an incident of mass violence, and blocks such records from being released under the state’s public records laws. The bill had drawn outcry from open-government advocates who said such records are needed to hold agencies and officials accountable. Supporters of the new law said it will help curb graphic videos or photos that could lead to similar future crimes … the new law does not apply to private recordings of such violent incidents that have spread on social media after an attack.

Mike Hill says he will propose abortion ban modeled after Alabama’s new law” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Hill told a group in Pensacola on Thursday that God told him to sponsor a bill next year to ban nearly all abortions, much like the bill that passed in Alabama earlier this month.Hill said that he was at an anti-abortion rally a few weeks ago in Pensacola and while the keynote speaker was delivering a speech, God spoke to him. “As plain as day, God spoke to me,” Hill said. “He said that wasn’t my bill, talking about the heartbeat detection bill that I filed. He said that wasn’t my bill. I knew immediately what he was talking about. He said, you remove those exceptions and you file it again. And I said yes Lord, I will. It’s coming back. It’s coming back. We are going to file that bill without any exceptions just like what we saw passed in Alabama.”


‘A moral imperative’: Florida Chamber Foundation kicks off 2nd day of prosperity summit” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “I thank you for tackling this issue. It’s not an easy one. It’s not a small one.” Those comments from Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee David Odahowski led off day two of the Foundation’s summit aimed at reducing generational poverty among Floridians. The Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity began Wednesday at the Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach. On day one, attendees heard remarks on the meeting’s overall goals, as well as efforts to help those in poverty such as feeding the needy and giving shelter to the homeless. 

Paul Renner on GOP plans to address poverty” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Renner was introduced by Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson, who noted the important role Renner could play in pushing forward the policies advanced by the Chamber over the two-day summit. “We had a former Speaker, Will Weatherford, who four years ago helped me launch this,” Wilson said of the summit. “And to have a future Speaker want to be interested in what can we do statewide, what kind of policies can we change so that we can actually impact neighborhoods and zip codes, is really a breath of fresh air.”

Ken Lawson highlights DEO efforts on poverty” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Lawson’s agency helps connect businesses and prospective employees and also provides assistance to areas recovering from environmental disasters. Early in Lawson’s talk he laid out how the numbers paint a mixed picture in terms of Floridians’ overall economic health. “Unemployment is 3.4 percent. [That’s] below the national average, right? Labor force, job growth, is at 2.7 percent. [That’s] above the national average,” Lawson noted. “But here in our state, as you probably know, for poverty in three categories, Florida unfortunately is above the national average: for adults, children under 18 and children under 5. That is not a good statistic and shows there is suffering and pain right here.”

Palm Beach workers talk county’s plan to tackle poverty” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — James Green, the Director of the Palm Beach County Community Services Department, began the panel noting the complexity of tackling all the different factors contributing to a person being in poverty. “The question becomes, ‘How do we begin to work together, within those systems and across sectors, to make sure there’s an integrated approach to reaching the families that we’re trying to serve?’ ” Green cited data showing the homeless population costs the county between $35,000 and $40,000 each year, due to emergency room visits, criminal justice violations and other costs. He argued that spending money to house those who are homeless will actually end up saving the county money.


Ashley Moody joins with other attorneys general to urge Congress to stop protecting illegal activity on the net” via John Lucas of The Capitolist — Moody joined with 46 other attorneys general from across the country on Thursday to urge Congress to give state and local authorities greater ability to prevent online black market drug sales and other illegal activity via the internet. The attorneys general are calling upon Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act that was designed to promote free expression online, especially on message boards and social media. “This part of the Communications Decency Act may have been necessary when the internet was in it its infancy, but now it is being exploited to promote illegal activity, including the sale of deadly opioids that is feeding our national opioid epidemic,” Moody said in a written statement.

Clemency cash could ease backlog” via Ana Ceballos of The News Service of Florida — A Florida commission that helps investigate clemency cases is anticipating an influx of cash that could significantly boost its staffing levels, a “crucial” component to speed up the state’s mercy process. Florida lawmakers have agreed to give $750,000 to the Florida Commission on Offender Review to help alleviate a backlog of nearly 24,000 clemency cases wait-listed for review by the Board of Executive Clemency. “The additional funds and staff will be crucial in helping the commission process more cases,” Kelly Corder, a commission spokeswoman, said. “It would be more than hundreds, but I can’t specify further than that.”

Millions of Floridians now living without health insurance” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — If you are enjoying the Florida sunshine, swimming in the ocean and braving the non-pedestrian friendly streets, but living without health insurance, you are not alone. In 2018, more than 2.8 million people in Florida — or nearly 14 percent of the population — did not have health insurance of any type, according to The National Health Interview Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida’s uninsured includes about 20 percent of the working population (ages 18 to 65) and about 8 percent of children under 18 years old — percentages that held steady from 2017. Floridian’s uninsured rate contributed to the 30.4 million Americans who did not have health insurance in 2018.

Supreme Court reverses course on expert witnesses” via News Service of Florida — In a move that left little doubt about the new direction of the Florida Supreme Court, justices on Thursday reversed a controversial 2017 decision about the testimony of expert witnesses in lawsuits. The 5-2 ruling was rooted, at least in part, in a 2013 law approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature and then-Gov. Rick Scott. Supporters of the 2013 law argued that the state needed to prevent testimony that is “junk science.” Lawmakers decided to move to what is known in the legal world as the “Daubert” standard, which is more-restrictive than the state’s longstanding expert-witness standard, known as the “Frye” standard. In 2017, however, the Supreme Court blocked the move. The majority on Thursday said it had decided to “recede” from the earlier decision.

Mike Huckabee’s epic fight to keep beachgoers off his patch of Florida sand” via Stephanie Mencimer of Mother Jones — Huckabee … lobbied local officials to cleanse it of the riffraff. Now, along with his rich neighbors, he’s taken the matter to court. In doing so, he and the other wealthy beachfront property owners have set off an epic legal battle, one that has Florida cops booting unsuspecting tourists off the beaches just as summer vacation season sets in. … With the help of a high-powered lobbyist, beachfront property owners persuaded Rep. Katie EdwardsWalpole to cosponsor a measure that gutted the ability of local governments to pass ordinances granting public access to privately owned beaches. 


Senate passes $19 billion disaster relief bill that excludes Trump’s border funding” via Rebecca Shabad and Frank Thorp V of NBC News — The Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan deal that would provide more than $19 billion in disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires, following months of negotiation. Senators backed the measure, 85-8, just a few hours after the agreement was reached. The House will have to vote on the bill before it’s sent to Trump’s desk. House lawmakers have already left for their recess, but the chamber could still pass it quickly through unanimous consent. “I totally support it,” Trump said of the legislation at a White House event on Thursday.

Clockwork in progress: Marco Rubio continues push to keep daylight saving time” via Christopher Heath of WFTV — But, hope springs eternal and Florida Senator Marco Rubio is an eternal optimist. “We proposed this first two years ago, so I guess we’re ahead of our time, no pun intended, but we’ve picked up co-sponsors,” says Rubio. “But it’s not the most pressing issue facing the country.”

Matt Gaetz outlines ‘Trump Doctrine’ to veterans in Washington” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, took on the task of explaining it at the “Uniting for a Better Foreign Policy Luncheon” in Washington on Wednesday. Gaetz praised Trump for building up the military but also for not spreading it so thin: “A well-funded force doesn’t necessarily need to be so well-worn,” he said. Gaetz noted Florida’s 1st Congressional District houses Eglin Air Force Base, the largest in the world. Pensacola also serves as home to the Blue Angels.

Darren Soto, Mario Diaz-Balart bill granting TPS for Venezuelans advances” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Legislation granting “Temporary Protection Status” to Venezuelan refugees passed in the House Judiciary Committee. It now heads to the House floor. U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Darren Soto, the Florida representatives behind the bill (HR 549), heralded the move. “This critically important bill would provide Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan nationals who currently reside in the United States after fleeing the oppressive, socialist [Nicolas] Maduro dictatorship,” said Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican. Soto, an Orlando Democrat, urged swift passage by Congress and the President. “In Florida alone, there are hundreds of thousands of political-asylum seekers who face persecution and even death upon return to their country.”

Stephanie Murphy, Michael Waltz to introduce bill to inform public of hacking” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The Achieving Lasting Electoral Reforms on Transparency and Security Act, or ALERTS Act, comes in response to Murphy, Waltz and the Florida congressional delegation’s criticism of the FBI following a classified briefing last week. Afterward, the Congress members had demanded the FBI release the names of two counties it says were successfully breached by Russian hackers in 2016. The FBI, which also made DeSantis sign a non-disclosure agreement not to reveal the counties, said protocol considered the counties as victims and would need their approval to name them.

TSA predicts record-breaking summer travel as employees head to the border” via Stephanie Beasley of POLITICO — The Transportation Security Administration is bracing for its busiest summer ever, even as airports worry that screening lines could balloon when the Department of Homeland Security siphons employees away from TSA and Customs and Border Protection to bolster its presence at the U.S.-Mexico border. TSA acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell told POLITICO that the agency is working to staff up in anticipation of the “busiest summer season we have ever had as an agency,” with a more than 4 percent increase in travel volumes estimated compared with last summer. 

— 2020 —

Democrats like the idea of a gay president. But they are quietly worried about Mayor Pete” via Molly Hensley-Clancy of BuzzFeed — But there is evidence that anti-gay bias is still likely to be a strong force in the 2020 election — in the primary, particularly as it winds through the American South, and in the general election, if Buttigieg becomes the Democratic nominee. Nearly 30% of Democratic voters believe it is “always wrong” for “same-sex adults to have sexual relations,” a 2018 poll found. In a poll just last month, 86% of Democrats and left-leaning independents said they are “open” to electing a gay male president — but a majority said they didn’t think the country was ready.


St. Petersburg City Council races getting crowded” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Eleven people are now vying for seats on the City Council. ErithaAkileCainion, 22, joins Chico Cromartie, 47, in challenging incumbent Lisa WheelerBowman for the District 7 seat, which encompasses most of the area south and west of Tropicana Field and borders Gulfport. Cainion, who is affiliated with the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, previously ran for the District 6 seat in 2017.


Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority adds to SunPass dysfunction” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — According to the report, THEA is sending warnings to drivers who have not yet paid down their accounts from driving on the Selmon Expressway after receiving two previous notices from the state’s contractor, Conduent. Since FDOT, THEA, and the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority merged billing systems last June, initial SunPass bills now all come through FDOT and Conduent.  But the 2018 meltdown meant many bills were backlogged by more than half a year, and customers’ service issues often go months without resolve.  

Alcohol, drugs, stripper poles: House party for Boca-area students thwarted” via Lauren Fisher of the Palm Beach Post — The party was over before it even started for a group of high-school students who planned to throw an alcohol- and drug-fueled bash at a Palm City Airbnb. Deputies found the three-story rental home, on Southwest Grass Trail near Florida’s Turnpike, stocked with alcohol “comparable to any bar here in Martin County,” Martin County Lt. Ryan Grimsdale said. The students had also filled a bowl with pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes and even set up stripper poles for a “bikini contest.” At least 300 students were expected at the party, which was rented by a student through Airbnb. 

FSU announces memorial service for Sandy D’Alemberte” via Florida Politics — Florida State University President Emeritus Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte will be remembered by family and friends with visitation and a memorial service at the school. The memorial service will take place Wednesday, June 5 at 2 p.m. in Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, 222 S. Copeland St, Tallahassee. Visitation will take place 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at the D’Alemberte Rotunda, FSU College of Law, 425 W. Jefferson St., also in Tallahassee.


Congress must fund infrastructure improvement before disasters happen” via Wes Maul for the Miami Herald — The real problem lies with the fact that the current system prioritizes post-disaster spending on damaged infrastructure over completing pre-disaster mitigation projects. Today, too many federal disaster-recovery programs seek to put things back the way they were the day before the storm. This is flawed policy, as clearly the pre-storm condition was unable to withstand the impacts of the disaster. This is especially true when you look at our nation’s infrastructure.

James Buchanan: Keeping it local” via Florida Politics — When first elected to the state Legislature this past November, I made it my personal mission to keep it local. That meant delivering on promises I made throughout the campaign such as combating red tide, funding long-neglected infrastructure projects, and improving health care accessibility for the men, women and children of Sarasota County. I am pleased to report that having just completed my first legislative session in Tallahassee, we not only made significant progress in addressing these issues areas but also added a few more wins that will help our region thrive and prosper.


Personnel note: Daniel Tilley becomes ACLU of Florida Legal DirectorTilley will lead the organization’s litigation work and direct a staff of lawyers who maintain a large and active docket of civil liberties cases in Florida. Those cases cover a broad range of issues, including immigrant’s rights, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and bail reform. Tilley joined the organization in 2012 as a staff attorney whose work primarily focused on the LGBTQ community. Said Micah Kubic, ACLU of Florida executive director: “During a time when our state is facing repeated threats to our constitutional rights, we are confident that with Daniel’s leadership we will continue to successfully defend the rights of all Floridians.”

Orlando Biz Journal’s Matthew Richardson leaves for PR firm” via Chris Roush of Talking Biz News — Richardson, the tech reporter for the Orlando Business Journal, has left he newspaper for a job with Global-5 Communications, an Orlando public relations, marketing and digital firm, reports Dennis Pape of Orlando Venture Sourcing. Pape reports, “In his new role as an outreach and media consultant at Global-5, Matt will help build positive press coverage for business and other individuals in the community through event organization, social media engagement, and blogs.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Trenton Cotney, Cotney Construction Lobbying: Blockchain Construction

Karen Effrem: Florida Stop Common Core Coalition


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable panel with Gabriel Horn, one of Florida’s most celebrated Native American authors, on a special edition of Florida This Week.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on incentives and programs for veterans who want to start their own business. Joining Walker-Torres are Florida State Senator Victor Torres, former member of United States Marine Corps; Florida State Representative David Smith, retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps; and Danny Burgess, executive director, Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show features a discussion on safeguarding 2020 election infrastructure; DeSantis’ trip to Israel; Florida State Representative Fentrice Driskell will talk about her first Session; and PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a social media claim about Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon speaks with Meg Baldwin, executive director of the Big Bend’s Refuge House.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Major General Jim Eifert, Adjutant General at the Florida National Guard and Rick Mullaney from the JU Public Policy Institute Director.pastedGraphic.png


The Miami Dolphins fans are just beginning to get to know Josh Rosen, their new quarterback.

— Those fans are in the same position as Dolphins’ team owner Stephen Ross, who has yet to meet the new on-field leader of his team.

— Should Rosen struggle or suffer an injury, Miami can lean on an experienced, well-known backup: former Bucs’ signal caller Ryan (Fitz Magic) Fitzpatrick.

The recent sale of Daytona-based International Speedway Corp. to NASCAR ironically came on the same week the struggling auto racing industry has its biggest week.

— NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 runs Sunday evening, but ratings continue to plummet with a 29 percent drop in viewers last year as compared to 2016.

— Last year, the Indianapolis 500, which begins Sunday at noon, did slightly better than NASCAR, but had the lowest Nielsen rating than at any time since ABC began showing it live in 1986 (NBC takes over for ABC this year).

This week’s Major League Baseball Power Rankings show the Tampa Bay Rays taking a slight dip, but still among baseball’s best.

— Tampa Bay, with their 28-17 record, is ranked 6th this week, down from number three one week ago after losing two out of three to Yankees.

— The Miami Marlins, despite carrying a six-game winning streak, came in at 30th, and last, with a 16-31 record.

Perhaps the Orlando Magic deserve some credit for giving the surging Toronto Raptors a bit of a wake-up call.

— After Orlando shocked the Raptors 114-101 in game one of their first round series in Toronto, the Raptors won 8 of their next 10 to knock out the Magic and the rugged Philadelphia 76ers. Toronto is now only one win away from appearance in the NBA Finals.

The University of Michigan’s hiring of Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard is getting positive reviews around the country.

Miami Heat Assistant Coach Juwan Howard is leaving to become head coach at the University of Michigan

— Howard heads back to Ann Arbor, where he was a star on the Wolverines’ “Fab Five” in the early 90’s, but according to those close to the Heat, his departure “leaves a void.”

High-stakes softball is being played in Florida this weekend as two arch rivals try to advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

— The Florida State Seminoles are trying to make a return trip to the finals and defend the WCWS title they won a year ago. After losing game one of the Tallahassee Super Regional to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Thursday, the Lady Seminoles must win on Friday and Saturday to earn that trip.

— The Florida Gators are hosting their conference rival Tennessee in the Gainesville Super Regional beginning Friday. If they dispatch the Volunteers, Florida will make their third straight trip to OKC.

— ALOE —

Some Florida cities to hit 100 degrees during Memorial Day heat wave” via Kimberly Miller of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A dangerous heat wave will hit the southeast this Memorial Day weekend with near 100-degree temperatures or higher forecast for Jacksonville and inland areas of North Florida. Palm Beach County wllh only see slightly warmer than normal temperatures in the upper 80s. A ridge of high pressure expected to build into South Florida as well as a forecast upper level ridge intensifying over the southeastern U.S. is to blame for the heat and dry conditions.

Two Florida beaches make Dr. Beach Top 10 list for best beach in the U.S.” via Richard Tribous of the Sun Sentinel — Two of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. hail from the Sunshine State with Grayton Beach State Park in the Panhandle coming in at No. 3 and Caladesi Island State Park near Tampa coming in at No. 7. The No. 1 beach for 2019 is Kailua Beach Park on Oahu in Hawaii. The way the list works is that each year, Dr. Beach, aka Stephen Leatherman, a professor at Miami’s Florida International University who came up with the list 28 years ago, uses 50 criteria to name the top 10 beaches. 

USF Football to play 17-time national champion Alabama in 2-for-1 series” via WFTS — The University of South Florida just inked arguably the biggest three games in program history. The first game in the series will be on September 16, 2023 when the Crimson Tide roll into Raymond James Stadium. Then USF will travel to Tuscaloosa for the other two games on September 7, 2024 and September 12, 2026. The move comes just after USF scheduled games with University of Miami. USF and Alabama have met once previously with the Tide winning, 40-17, in Tuscaloosa on Aug. 30, 2003.


Best wishes to one of the dads I most admire, Rob Johnson of The Mayernick Group. Celebrating this weekend is good-at-everything-she-does Ashley Ross of Rubin Turnbull & Associates. (Our buddy Scott, Ashley’s husband messaged us to say, “I’m inspired every day watching Ashley as a mother and as a professional. She continues to amaze me.”) Happy birthday to the grande dame of Florida political prognosticators, Marian Johnson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Sharing their birthdays with Memorial Day are two red-meat Republicans, Stafford Jones and Christian Ziegler. 

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, Dan McAuliffe, and Drew Wilson.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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

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