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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.10.19

Take a morning break and catch up with Sunburn.

When asked Tuesday about the “hundreds of people who haven’t yet been appointed to state commissions and boards,” Gov. Ron DeSantis shot back with his favorite rejoinder: “Stay tuned.”

“You’re going to see a lot more,” he added, speaking at a press conference at Orlando International Airport about EL AL Israel Airlines launching a new flight from Orlando to Tel Aviv.

Ron DeSantis celebrates the inaugural nonstop flight between Orlando and Tel Aviv. “This new route will help attract more visitors to the Sunshine State and will provide exciting new tourism opportunities for both Floridians and Israelis,” he tweeted.

DeSantis, when asked why it was “taking so long,” explained he has to “vet these things.”

“And if I put somebody on a board, you guys are going to find stuff,” he said. “And if we haven’t vetted them, they say, ‘Well, why did you put that person there when they had some type of speeding ticket five years ago?’ Whatever.”

As the Orlando Sentinel reported last week, “More than 150 political appointees rescinded by DeSantis remain in their posts, possibly without legal authority, months after (he) pulled their appointments made by Gov. Rick Scott.

“The boards and commissions involved range from obscure boards dealing with licenses for trades such as real estate appraisers to high-profile panels like the State Board of Education,” it added. “Some frequently approve multimillion-dollar contracts and shape policy on K-12 schools, state investments, water quality, local state colleges and toll roads.”

“So it takes time to vet,” DeSantis told reporters. “And I made the decision that we had so many legislative irons in the fire; we’ve been doing so much in terms of executive action, whether it’s environmental or these other things, that there was an ongoing process.

“(So) I was not going to be interviewing all these people in the midst of a Legislative Session, because I wanted to make sure we were successful.

“Now that we’ve done that — we’ve signed the budget, we’ve signed the bills, we’ve vetoed some bills — we’re going to be in a situation to start ripping off a lot of these,” he went on. “So stay tuned. It’ll happen very soon.”

Chances increase to 70% for tropical system developing in Gulf near Florida in next 48 hours” via Stephen Ruiz and Joe Mario Pederson of the Orlando Sentinel — A low-pressure area has emerged over the Florida peninsula and is now expected to move over the Gulf of Mexico where it has a 70 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression within the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday afternoon. If it becomes a named storm, it would be called Tropical Storm Barry. Hovering above Florida’s Apalachee Bay, the area of low pressure has an 80 percent chance of developing into a tropical depression by the end of the week, the hurricane center said. A U.S. Air Force Reserve Unit reconnaissance aircraft could be deployed Wednesday to investigate the low further, the hurricane center said.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@TomSteyer: It’s true. I’m running for president.

@SenRickScott: Spoke with @SuptFennoy this morning. This Principal should have been fired, not simply reassigned. There is no excuse for what he expressed. There is no excuse for Holocaust denial. There is no excuse for anti-Semitism of any kind.

@GovRonDeSantis: Today we celebrated the inaugural @ELALUSA nonstop flight between Orlando and Tel Aviv at @MCO! This new route will help attract more visitors to the Sunshine State and will provide exciting new tourism opportunities for both Floridians and Israelis.

@mattgaetz: I can confirm the President is a germaphobe.

@RepDMP: I said it in February. I’m saying it again: @SecretaryAcosta must resign.

@RepWilson: After our recent visit to Homestead my colleagues and I were extremely worried by what we didn’t see. What are they hiding?? I want to know: #WhereAreTheGirls??!

@VoteRandyFine: I apologize. Principal [William] Latson isn’t an anti-Semite. He’s an UNREPENTANT anti-Semite. @Book4Senate @JaredEMoskowitz @RepMikeCaruso #FlaPol @DerekGSilver

@AnnaForFlorida: At state lawmakers, we have the ability to visit state prisons — & though I have volunteered at a state prison several years ago, I haven’t visited one since being elected. That’s why I’m taking the #VisitAPrison pledge, and have set a date to visit a state prison this summer.

@SteveLemongello: I am informed that Socks and Sandals are indeed a Thing now with the Youth, despite literally being the symbol of the clueless shoobie (the Jersey shore term for annoying tourists). Fashion!

@steveschale: Try to ban AC in Florida, and we will secede. #TeamJohnGorrie

@poniewozik: The fact that the biggest story in TV over the next year will be a competition among the decades-old sitcom reruns on streaming TV services really sums up something about pop culture right now.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Robert Mueller testifies to Congress — 7; Donald Trump‘s next campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina — 7; 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing — 10; “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” premieres — 16; Second Democratic presidential debates in Detroit — 20; “Beverly Hills 90210” reboot premieres — 27; Taylor Swift’s new album, ‘Lover,’ released — 44; Florida Gators opens vs. Miami football — 45; St. Petersburg primary election — 48; UCF Knights football opens vs. Florida A&M — 50; USF Bulls football opens vs. Wisconsin Badgers — 51; FSU Seminoles football opens vs. Boise State — 52; Labor Day — 54; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 68; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 69; “Joker” opens — 86; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 110; Scott Maddox trial begins — 117; 2019 General Election — 118; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 120; 2020 Session begins — 188; Iowa Caucuses — 208; New Hampshire Primaries — 216; Florida’s presidential primary — 251; 2020 General Election — 482.

— TOP STORY —

Zombie campaign coming back to life? Mark Foley tells FEC he’s ready for comeback” via Noah Pransky of Florida Politics — Responding to a May 29 Federal Election Commission inquiry as to why he was still spending 13-year-old campaign contributions, a representative for Foley indicated the West Palm Beach Republican kept his campaign account active because he is plotting another run for office and he “anticipates making a final decision sometime following the reapportionment resulting from the upcoming decennial census.” Foley resigned in disgrace in 2006. But the sudden departure left him with a hefty $1.7 million war chest of unspent donations that were never refunded or handed off to another committee. Instead, Foley used that balance over the last 13 years to buy tickets, tables, and dinners to posh West Palm Beach events.

Mark Foley: I’m baaaack (maybe).

— DATELINE: TALLY —

Civil rights groups raise privacy concerns over post-Parkland school security database” via Emily Mahoney of the Miami Herald — Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and several that advocate for people with disabilities or mental health issues, said Tuesday that the state should re-evaluate its plan for creating an expansive database of student discipline and behavior. In a letter sent to DeSantis, the 32 groups wrote that the still-developing database amounted to an “overly broad” attempt at “mass surveillance” of students that could end up discouraging kids from reporting bullying incidents or mental health needs out of fear that they could be labeled as a “potential school shooter.” The “data repository” includes information from law enforcement, schools, students’ social media posts, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families.

DMS begins nationwide search for state Chief Information Officer — The Department of Management Services (DMS) is searching for someone to lead the newly-formed Division of State Technology. DeSantis signed legislation creating the Division to support and oversee all state technology beginning July 1. In addition to managing all state technology assets, Florida’s CIO will serve on Florida’s cybersecurity task force and implement Florida’s new ‘cloud first’ policy, for “cloud-based solutions that are often more secure, flexible and less expensive than on-site hardware solutions,” a statement said. The nationwide search will continue until a qualified candidate is identified. The link to apply is here.

Senate Democrats: Legal opinion green-lights limited campaign coordination” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Outside campaign organizations can coordinate to a limited degree with Florida political committees, an activity that has long been considered a violation of state election law. The opinion, penned by attorneys from Perkins Coie, was paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, led by incoming Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer. The opinion, if valid, could have a significant effect on the 2020 elections, in which Democrats are hoping they can regain the Florida Senate. Farmer hired the law firm to deliver a legal opinion on whether outside groups that expressly advocate for or against a candidate — generally referred to as independent expenditure groups — can coordinate with committees like the one Farmer now leads.

Gary Farmer greenlights limited campaign coordination, which could be a boon for Senate Democrats. 

Newspaper, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter sue state for access to dependency court database — The Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Michael Braga are suing the Office of State Courts Administrator for access to the state’s Dependency Court database. The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court and was assigned to Circuit Judge Ron Flury. Braga and the newspaper say they seek only an “anonymized electronic copy” of the database to further coverage of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the state’s child welfare agency: To perform this necessary function, the Herald-Tribune must have access to records to evaluate and report on DCF’s triumphs, as well as to investigate areas for potential improvement.” Dependency Court handles cases of children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected.

— STATEWIDE —

Appeals court upholds decision in medical marijuana case — A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a lower court order requiring health officials to start registering certain medical marijuana providers to do business. The Department of Health appealed in October after a circuit judge sided with Florigrown, citing the 2016 marijuana amendment. The appellate court agreed that the Legislature’s measure “implementing” the amendment is unconstitutional. Kathi Giddings, the Akerman lawyer who represented Florigrown at oral argument, said the law “not only directly conflict(s) with the amendment’s mandates, but (is) also in clear violation of the will of Florida’s voters, who overwhelmingly adopted the amendment. This ruling is a huge victory for all of the Floridians who need access to medical marijuana.”

Elections law targeted over early voting sites” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida — Part of a new elections law that requires “sufficient nonpermitted parking” at early voting sites will create an unconstitutional burden on young voters attending colleges or universities, plaintiffs in a long-running dispute over campus early voting argued in documents filed Monday. The parking requirement was tucked into a sweeping elections package during the waning days of the legislative session in early May. In Monday’s amended complaint, the plaintiffs argued that the parking requirement was “enacted with the intent, at least in part, to suppress the vote of young voters in Florida.” The efforts “to particularly burden young voters are animated by a belief that doing so will assist in gaining or maintaining a partisan electoral advantage,” the plaintiffs argued.

Study analyzes lost productivity in each state from incarceration — Florida could be losing out on over $5 billion in lost productivity because of incarceration, a new study estimates. The study used numbers from the federal government and The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group, to estimate the number of prisoners in each state, the percentage of the state’s population that is incarcerated, and the lost productivity as a result. Florida was third highest in the total number of prisoners at over 152,000 and 13th in the percentage of incarcerated population at 0.74 percent. Using those numbers, researchers estimate Florida could be losing out on $5,112,544,584 each year.

Hurricane insured losses hit $6.65 billion” via News Service of Florida — Estimated insured losses from October’s Hurricane Michael have topped $6.65 billion, according to the information posted on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website. As of a June 28 tally, 147,877 claims had been filed, with 21,669 claims, or about 14.7 percent, remaining open. The total estimated insured losses were $6,654,241,887. The Category 5 Hurricane Michael caused devastating damage in parts of Northwest Florida after making landfall in Mexico Beach. The most significant number of insurance claims, 88,692, have been filed in Bay County, which includes the Panama City area.

PSC gives green light to Duke Energy’s solar projects” via Florida Politics — These projects “generate clean energy, diversify the utility’s fuel mix, and save customers an estimated $105 million,” the agency said in a news release. “Duke Energy’s solar projects will help the utility provide clean, cost-effective energy now and in the future to benefit Florida customers,” Public Service Commission chair Art Graham said in a statement. The PSC found the projects — the Trenton Project, the Lake Placid Project, and the DeBary Project — are cost effective and meet the provisions of its 2017 Settlement Agreement. The Trenton Solar Power Plant, a 74.9 megawatt (MW) facility in Gilchrist County, and the Lake Placid Solar Power Plant, a 45 MW facility in Highlands County, are expected to be in service in December 2019.

The PSC greenlights Duke Energy’s proposed solar projects.

Utility regulators approve Hurricane Michael surcharge for Peoples Gas” via Florida Politics — The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved an interim storm restoration recovery charge that will allow Peoples Gas System to recover costs for Hurricane Michael and replenish its storm reserve. Peoples reported recoverable costs of $3.4 million, which depleted its prestorm reserve balance, according to a news release. With Commission approval, a Peoples’ residential bill for a customer using 12.8 therms will reflect a 76-cent surcharge beginning in August and ending in December.

State regulators back FPL’s move to better track storm expenses” via Marcia Heroux Pounds of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The state’s utility regulators signed off Tuesday on a settlement with Florida Power & Light Co. that consumer advocates say could better protect customers from being overcharged for storm preparation or recovery. FPL demonstrated its new smartphone app for commissioners that it says is more efficient in recording contractors’ work hours and payments made for trimming trees before a storm and restoring power after a storm. The PSC seemed enamored with FPL’s smartphone app, which could be used for any storms this hurricane season, with plans to update by 2020. The state’s largest electric utility, based in Juno Beach, had been relying on paper to record contractors’ time worked and expenses paid.

State stabilizes FPL rates after Hurricane Irma review” via Florida Politics — The state’s Public Service Commissioners on Tuesday kept rates stable for FPL customers, approving an agreement recognizing $1.375 billion in Hurricane Irma restoration costs. “To help keep future restoration costs in check, the PSC also approved the use of new technology to track utility storm expenses,” a news release said. The agreement — between FPL; the Office of Public Counsel (OPC), representing consumers; and the Florida Industrial Power Users Group — establishes new guidelines to better monitor outside contractors’ costs and expenses.

Citrus industry eyes orange juice consumption” via the News Service of Florida — The Department of Citrus is looking for three separate studies that would assess various aspects of orange juice consumption, including how it can affect people’s moods when drinking it as a snack. According to a bid notice, the state wants to conduct a pilot study to “assess nutrient intake, satiety and sensory and mood perceptions related to the consumption of 100% Orange Juice as a snack.” All proposals for this study will be made public on Sept. 4. The department also wants a “systematic review and research gap analysis for Hesperidin,” which is a type of plant pigment found primarily in unripe citrus fruits that can act as an antioxidant and produce anti-inflammatory effects.

Verdict upheld in exploding E-cigarette case” via the News Service of Florida — A state appeals court upheld a verdict of more than $2 million in a case involving an electronic cigarette that exploded and caused damage to a man’s teeth. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by R-L Sales, which sold a lithium-ion battery used in the electronic cigarette. J. Michael Hoce filed the Alachua County case against companies that made and sold the electronic cigarette and components, including R-L Sales. At the time of trial, R-L Sales was the only remaining defendant and was found at fault by a jury. The jury awarded $48,000 for medical expenses and $2 million in pain-and-suffering damages.

Included in the court filing is this photo of the lithium-ion battery in the E-cigarette after it exploded in a Gainesville man’s mouth. Image via Morgan & Morgan.

Substance abuse center owner pleads guilty in scheme” via the News Service of Florida — A 36-year old Jacksonville Beach man pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering for his role in a $57.3 million scheme involving substance-abuse treatment centers, rural hospitals and urine testing. As part of the plea, Kyle Ryan Marcotte agreed to a forfeiture judgment of $10.2 million. The U.S. Department of Justice alleged the laundering dated to 2015 when Marcotte, the owner of a substance-abuse treatment facility in Jacksonville, first entered into an agreement with a laboratory owner, who was not identified. Marcotte would send the urine for drug testing to the lab which, in turn, arranged contracts with managers at two rural hospitals to have the testing billed under in-network insurance contracts, which have more favorable reimbursements.

Without parking, thousands of Americans who live in vehicles have nowhere to go” via The Conversation — There is no official method for counting people who live in their vehicles. Some cities’ counters simply look for condensation on windshields early in the morning, while others suggest that “you’ll know it when you see it.” … News reports from across America tell of vehicle residents from virtually every background attempting to settle in cities. They find themselves essentially blocked from local communities and social services because there are few parking spaces to leave their home where it is safe from tickets or from being towed. Without official recognition, there is little political representation to protect these communities from legal discrimination, such as signs that banish them from public spaces.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump can’t block critics from his Twitter account, appeals court rules” via Charlie Savage of The New York Times — Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The ruling could have broader implications for how the First Amendment applies to the social-media era. Because he uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts — and engaging in conversations in the replies to them — because he does not like their views, a three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled unanimously. The First Amendment prohibits an official who uses a social media account for government purposes from excluding people from an “otherwise open online dialogue,” the ruling stated.

An appeals court ruled that Donald Trump cannot block critics from his Twitter account.

Democratic leaders demand Alex Acosta resign” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO Florida — The top three Senate Democratic leaders are calling on Acosta to resign as Labor Secretary, slamming his previous leniency toward Jeffrey Epstein, the financier charged with running a sex ring of underage girls. By Tuesday morning, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer heard enough. “I am calling on Secretary Acosta to resign. It is now impossible for anyone to have confidence in Secretary Acosta’s ability to lead the Department of Labor. If he refuses to resign, President Donald Trump should fire him,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “Instead of persecuting a predator and serial sex trafficker of children, Acosta chose to let him off easy.”

Acosta defends plea deal for Epstein” via Axios — With the wealthy financier once again facing charges, this time in New York, Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are demanding Acosta resign over the lenient deal reached 11 years ago. In a series of tweets, Acosta said the prosecutors at the time “insisted that Epstein go to jail, register as a sex offender and put the world on notice that he was a sexual predator.” While Epstein was jailed, he pleaded guilty to state charges to soliciting prostitution, not to sexually abusing minors. He was free during the day under a “work release” deal and freed entirely after 13 months.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast among members of Congress forming Roosevelt Conservation Caucus” via Tyler Treadway of the TC Palm — Mast and seven other members of Congress and the U.S. Senate are forming the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, which will embrace and promote efforts to advance conservation and address environmental issues. The caucus is named for President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican who helped establish 230 million acres of public lands during his presidency, including the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Indian River County, the country’s first such refuge. According to a news release from Mast’s office, the caucus will take up topics such as protecting Americans from the harmful health risks of water pollution; ensuring “fishable and swimmable” water; reducing ocean plastic pollution; Increasing access to America’s public lands and waters for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing.

Activists worry about potential abuse of face scans for ICE” via Frank Bajak of The Associated Press — Civil rights activists complained of the potential for widespread abuse following confirmation that at least three states have scanned millions of driver’s license photos on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement without the drivers’ knowledge or consent. “States asked undocumented people to come out of the shadows to get licenses. Then ICE turns around and uses that to find them,” Alvaro Bedoya, director of the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, said. ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke did not directly address written questions, including whether the agency used the scans to arrest or deport anyone.

Appeals court skeptical Obamacare can survive” via Paul Demko of POLITICO Florida — Two Republican appointees on the three-judge panel frequently interrupted attorneys to question whether the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and if not whether the entire law could stand without it. The ACA’s future appeared murky after two hours of oral arguments at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it’s not clear if the judges were ready to uphold a federal judge’s earlier decision invalidating the law. The lawsuit puts at risk coverage for 20 million people covered by the ACA, as well as the law’s popular protections for insurance protections. The closely watched case is expected to eventually move to the Supreme Court, which has saved the law twice already.

As ACA court challenge resumes, Florida Dems blast Donald Trump health care stance” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Trump administration has declined to defend the ACA in court. Several Republican attorneys general filed the suit in 2018, arguing that the law is invalid after the Republican Congress eliminated the ACA’s tax penalty. A lower court agreed. Now, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is readying to weigh in. Regardless of the outcome, the case will almost surely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. “This lawsuit would raise out-of-pocket costs for premiums and for prescription drugs,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “That would be devastating for our senior population in Florida.” Fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo joined Wasserman Schultz in a conference call to reporters.

Ross Perot, brash Texas billionaire who ran for President, dies at 89” via Robert D. McFadden of The New York Times — Perot, the wiry Texas gadfly who made a fortune in computer services, amazed the nation with audacious paramilitary missions to Vietnam and Iran, and ran for president in 1992 and 1996 with populist talk of restoring Norman Rockwell’s America, died on Tuesday at his home in Dallas. He was 89. The cause was leukemia, a family spokesman, James Fuller, said. They called him the man from Texarkana, but he really came out of an era — the Great Depression, World War II and the exuberant postwar years — when boys had paper routes, folks tuned in to the radio and patriots rolled up their sleeves for Uncle Sam and built innovative companies and a powerful nation.

RIP: Texas gadfly and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot dies at his home in Dallas.

— 2020 —

Why we’re not treating Tom Steyer as a ‘major’ candidate (yet)” via Nathaniel Rakich of FiveThirtyEight — On Tuesday morning, liberal donor Steyer announced in a video that he was running for president. As those of you who have been closely monitoring the 2020 Democratic primary know, it was actually his second presidential campaign announcement — the first came in January when he said he was not running. And Steyer’s indecision may have cost him. With more than 20 candidates already in the Democratic race, there doesn’t seem to be much room for more … the fact that he waited so long to jump into the race and has never held public office hurts him.

Steyer taps Kevin Cate to run media for presidential campaign” via Florida Politics —“I think what people believe is that the system has left them,” Steyer said in a Cate-produced video announcing his bid for the presidency. “I think people believe that the corporations have bought the democracy.” Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida first reported the hire. Cate is the founder of media production company CATECOMM and has been involved in several Democratic campaigns that received significant support from Steyer in recent election cycles. “Very excited and proud to be working with Tom Steyer for President — my second presidential campaign, first doing TV,” Cate wrote on Facebook.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

What Secretary of State Laurel Lee is reading — “Democrats will be able to vote by telephone under changes to Nevada’s first-in-the-West caucus” via The Nevada Independent — Democrats in the Silver State will for the first time be able to choose their preferred presidential candidate by phone in the state’s first-in-the-West nominating contest next year. It’s part of an overall effort by the state party and the Democratic National Committee to make the caucus process as smooth and inclusive as possible … State Democratic Party officials released details of the telecaucus process. Officials in Iowa also announced the details of their telecaucus process the same day.

— THE TRAIL —

Lawrence McClure draws democratic foe” via News Service of Florida — As he runs for a second full term in the Florida House, Dover Republican Rep. McClure has drawn a Democratic challenger. Tampa Democrat Angel Rafael Morales opened a campaign account this week to run against McClure in 2020 in Hillsborough County’s House District 58, according to the state Division of Elections website. McClure was elected to the House in a 2017 special election and won a full term in 2018. He had raised $15,500 for his 2020 reelection bid as of June 30, a new finance report shows.

Lawrence McClure (left) has drawn an opponent in his reelection bid. Image via Florida House.

Robin Bartleman leads HD 104 fundraising for second month” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — As Bartleman attempts to get elected to the Florida House, she’s once again leading the field in fundraising as she competes for House District 104. According to documents filed with the Florida Division of Elections, Bartleman raised just over $1,500 in June. That’s a bit of a drop off from May, where she earned more than $4,300. But it was more than enough to outraise her opponents. Fellow Democrat Morey Wright, Jr. showed just $140 received in June. That’s after hauls of more than $2,000 and $1,000 in April and May, respectively. A third Democratic candidate, Imtiaz Mohammad, still has not raised any money since filing for the district on Nov. 11, 2018.

— LOCAL —

Duval half-cent sales tax finds many school supporters” via Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — Ever since it crept into the public eye back in January, a half-cent sales tax for Duval schools has drummed up support and some opposition from high-profile groups across Jacksonville. Though a majority of the groups to speak out about the referendum back it and hope to see a 2019 special election, notable voices of resistance have included some members of the City Council, Mayor Lenny Curry’s office and the Civic Council — a private group comprised mostly of local CEOs.

Lenny Curry is among the major voices against an off-year school tax referendum. Image via First Coast News.

No new jail in Jacksonville’s construction plans” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Curry said last December he wants to relocate the county jail out of downtown, but the draft version of the five-year plan through 2024 does not show any money for building a new jail, which would cost several hundred million dollars. The draft list prepared by city administrators contains $153 million for dozens of projects in the 2019-20 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. The plan is wide-ranging but does not propose any large new projects. The bottom-line figure could grow larger after adding additional projects for drainage and the landfill.

At Tampa General Hospital, 3-D printers are removing guesswork for doctors and patients” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — The use of 3-D printers in medicine is not new, but it’s becoming more mainstream. The American Medical Association approved new 3-D printing billing codes that take effect this month, which means the cost of the service soon could be covered by more insurance reimbursements. And thanks to recent advancements in the technology, Summer Decker and her 3-D Anatomical Modeling and Printing Division team can print 3-D replicas in record time, making it much more useful in settings like the Tampa General operating room.

Thousands of palm trees are dying from a new disease. Tampa is ‘ground zero.’” via Elizabeth Djinis of the Tampa Bay Times — The section of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard that winds around the Hillsborough Bay is lined on either side by one of Florida’s most iconic plants, the palm tree. Among a canvas of lush palms, a few trees stand out. Their fronds are a sickly light brown. Local forester Richard Bailey offers a prophetic warning: These palm trees are dying. So are many more around the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida. Just as worrisome: There is no cure for the disease that ails them. The disease that afflicts these trees, lethal bronzing, has a name similar to the color it turns diseased leaves, a brown that slowly morphs onto each leaf until the whole tree dies.

— #TBMPP2019 —

Day Two of the seventh annual Tampa Bay’s 25 Most Powerful Politicians brings a mix of local, state and congressional figures, each offering an influential reach in the region.

Day Two brings a mix of local state and congressional leaders. And we’re just getting started.

Tuesday’s five names are:

No. 21: Ken Welch — “Welch is known for his work on progressive issues including diversity, affordable housing, transportation and poverty reduction. Welch served at the state level as both the first and the second vice president of the Florida Association of Counties. He’s also served on that group’s Urban Caucus as co-chair and chaired its Finance, Transportation and Administration committee.”

No. 20: Ben Diamond — Said Democratic political consultant Meagan Salisbury: “His ability to build coalitions and work across the aisle is great news for Tampa Bay as we continue to grow. He’s also just a really likable guy — you’d have trouble finding anyone on either side of the aisle who doesn’t respect him and the work he does for his constituents.”

No. 19: Janet Long — “As Chair of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Long is leading conversations about how to make the agency solvent as it faces a massive $1.7 million deficit next year.”

No. 18: Gus Bilirakis — “The Bilirakis name is a household one in Tampa Bay. Gus always does his region right whether it was in the halls of Tallahassee or Washington, D.C.,” said Republican strategist Anthony Pedicini. “He embodies Teddy Roosevelt’s quote, ‘Walk softly and carry a big stick.’”

No. 17: Andrew Warren — “State Attorney Warren has quickly solidified his place as a state leader on justice issues. His policy initiatives have received bipartisan praise, and he’s transformed the conversation around criminal justice reform for the better,” Salisbury says.

The series runs through Friday. Follow the entire list here, on Facebookand Twitter with #Top25InTB

— OPINIONS —

Anti-gay policies vex Florida’s school voucher program” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — News reports that private schools receiving state-subsidized tuition vouchers discriminate against gay students has roiled the program. At least a handful of local schools eligible for the vouchers say on their websites that they will not admit, or would expel, gay students or children of same-sex couples. But state officials and officials of the largest nonprofit corporation that helps run the program say they aren’t discriminating. Doug Tuthill, president of nonprofit Step Up for Students, said the corporation had found 38 of those schools that “express disapproval of homosexuality in their codes of conduct.” He also said in his 11 years as Step Up president, “I’ve never seen evidence of a single LGBTQ+ scholarship student being treated badly by a scholarship school. And I’ve looked.”

Hemp in Florida: Hurry up and wait” via Jonathan Zachem of Zachem Law — (Zachem was Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation under Gov. Scott.) Florida acted quickly and passed legislation to create a regulatory plan for hemp. This bill was voted on and sent to the governor for his signature and enactment into law … According to (the state’s Department of Agriculture), the federal government must complete rule-making before evaluating any regulatory plans — and there is no definitive timeline for such completion. This likely will take several months. New regulations must be created for this emerging industry.

— MOVEMENTS —

Personnel note: Nicole Washington appointed to Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees — Washington, of Miami Beach, is the principal at Washington Strategies, an education consulting firm. She is a current member of the Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) Board of Trustees and a former member of the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, where she was vice chair of the education committee. Washington is appointed for a four-year term. She received an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Princeton University and graduate degrees in elementary education and teaching from Mercy College and in international and comparative education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Nicole Washington, a member of the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, is the newest member of the Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees.

Personnel note: Barbara Zdravecky joins Ruth’s List board of directors — Ruth’s List Florida announced Tuesday that Zdravecky is joining its executive board of directors. Zdravecky is the former leader of Planned Parenthood in Southwest in Central Florida, a position she held for 24 years before retiring in 2018. “I’m thrilled to continue working on my lifelong mission of supporting women’s rights and mentoring other women into leadership positions,” she said. “I believe more women belong at the table where policy is made, and the protection of rights for all is mandatory.” RLF president Pamela Goodman said Zdravecky “brings priceless resources including wisdom, motivation and proven accomplishments” to Ruth’s List. RLF is an organization dedicated to helping pro-choice Democratic women get elected to public office.

1st District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission to meet — Its acting chair, Richard Doran, announced a public meeting at 10 a.m., offices of Ausley McMullen, 123 South Calhoun St., Tallahassee. The call-in number for the public is (877) 868-6863, participant code 889632#. After electing a new chair and vice chair for 2019-20, the panel will set deadlines for submission of applications and future meeting dates. The group, which recommends lawyers for judgeships on the north Florida appellate court, must deal with two vacancies: Allen Winsor recently became a federal judge and T. Kent Wetherell II is expected to be confirmed this week, also for the federal bench.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Patrick Bell, The Legis Group: Christeia Jones, Mitchell v. South Broward Hospital District

Jim Boxold, Capital City Consulting: Orange Barrel Media

Aimee Diaz Lyon, Metz Husband & Daughton: SMA Healthcare

Dawn White: American Airlines

Stephen Winn, Stephen R. Winn and Associates: Union County Sheriff’s Office

Uh oh — “Oklahoma Governor orders end to state lobbyist hiring” via The Associated Press — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is ordering state agencies to end the practice of hiring outside firms to lobby the Legislature. The Republican says he doesn’t believe the practice is a proper use of state funds. One of Stitt’s first executive orders was to direct state agencies to report to him the names of any contract lobbyists and the amount the agency spent over the last five fiscal years. A list provided by the Governor’s Office shows more than two dozen agencies, including state universities, spent nearly $1.5 million on contract lobbyists last year.

— ALOE —

Scalloping season begins in Florida” via Zach Perry WFTS — Scallop season runs from early July to late September, and it’s the perfect adventure for the whole family. Hop on a boat and go scalloping in the beautiful water of Crystal River and Homosassa River. Snorkel underwater and search for bay scallops, which rest under four to six feet of water along the seagrass bottom. What do you need? Snorkel, mask, mesh bag, saltwater fishing license. The bag limit is two gallons of whole scallops (in the shell), or one pint of scallop meat per person per day. River Adventure Tours offers tours starting at $350 for four people / $87.50 per person.

Mary McLeod Bethune statue sculpted in Italy as Daytona group nears money goal” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Fundraising is nearing completion for a marble representation of Daytona Beach education and civil rights luminary Bethune in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. The Mary McLeod Bethune Statuary Fund Inc., a nonprofit corporation, announced recently that it had collected $380,000 — just 5 percent shy of its goal of $400,000. It is expected that in 2020 the 9-foot statue of Bethune will replace one of General Edmund Kirby Smith of the Confederate Army as one of two representing Florida in the museum. Sculptor Nilda Comas has been commissioned for the work and has been creating it in Pietrasanta, Italy.

Mary McLeod Bethune statue sculpted in Italy as the Daytona group nears money goal. Image via Nilda Comas.

How a sleepy Florida town became the horse riding capital of the world” via Marshall Heyman of the Robb Report — In Wellington, a patch of what was once farmland 15 miles from the exclusive enclave of Palm Beach Island and the Atlantic Ocean, every day is kind of a play date — for adults and their offspring. From mid-December to late April, around 2,500 riders and 7,500 horses descend on Wellington to make the Winter Equestrian Festival the headquarters of the horse set. But entrepreneurs, including one who has arguably made Wellington the equine epicenter it is, are attempting to capitalize on the buying power of the horse world and both draw on and draw away from the town’s enormous popularity. And, of course, there is the socializing that happens before and after the riding.

We’ll believe it when we see it — “Sobering up: In an alcohol-soaked nation, more seek booze-free social spaces” via RouteFifty.com — It’s Saturday night, and the lights are low. Frank Sinatra’s crooning voice fills the air, along with the aroma of incense. The place has all the makings of a swank boozy hangout. Except for the booze … An emerging national trend: alcohol-free spaces are offering social connections without peer pressure to drink, hangovers or DUIs. From boozeless bars to substance-free zones at concerts marked by yellow balloons, ‘sober spots’ are popping up across the nation in reaction to America’s alcohol-soaked culture, promising a healthy alternative for people in recovery and those who simply want to drink less.

— APOLLO —

The Washington Monument will blast off in honor of Apollo 11” via Patricia Ahmed and Katherine Dillinger of CNN — The District of Columbia will celebrate the nation’s pride by projecting a 363-foot Saturn V rocket onto the face of the Washington Monument. The virtual rocket will appear on July 16, the anniversary of Apollo 11’s 1969 launch. For two hours each night, the iconic rocket will grace the sides of the national treasure. The rocket will be joined by an extravagant light show July 19 and 20. The 17-minute show will re-create the launch of Apollo 11 and tell the story of the first moon landing with full-motion projection mapping and archival footage. There will also be a 40-foot-wide re-creation of the famous Kennedy Space Center countdown clock.

Here’s how you can relive the Apollo 11 launch at Kennedy Space Center” via Adrianne Cutway of ClickOrlando.com — The Visitor Complex will host the Apollo 11 Launch Flashback Event on July 16 beginning at 7:30 a.m. Guests will get a play-by-play of the launch sequence at KSC 50 years ago, thanks to archival CBS television footage from the historic occasion. Attendees will begin the experience by boarding buses at the Visitor Complex for a ride to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, where they’ll spend time learning about the dozen lunar missions in the Moon Tree Garden. From there, they’ll be taken to the Banana Creek Launch Viewing area to gander at vintage cars — including Neil Armstrong’s blue Corvette — and munch on a catered breakfast.

Stunning Apollo 11 cornfield maze depicts Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon” via James Rogers of Fox News — A stunning maze depicting Apollo 11 astronaut Aldrin has been created in a cornfield to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. The cornfield maze at the National Forest Adventure Farm in Burton-Upon-Trent, U.K., recreates the iconic photo of Aldrin on the lunar surface captured by Apollo 11 Mission Commander Armstrong. It also features a huge depiction of the Saturn V rocket that carried NASA astronauts Aldrin, Armstrong and Michael Collins on their historic mission.

It’s a-mazeing. Image via Fox News.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, former Sen. Rene Garcia, former Rep. Gary Aubuchon, and Beth Gosnell.

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, 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

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