The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the Florida Chamber of Commerce will release the “National Lawsuit Climate State Ranking Survey” today.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and other elected leaders are expected to attend.
This national survey is conducted every two years, and this is the first-time survey results are being released in Florida.
Among those expected:
— Harold Kim, COO, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
— Mark Wilson, president and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.
— GOP Sens. Joe Gruters, Kathleen Passidomo, Jeff Brandes, Doug Broxson and Keith Perry.
— GOP Reps. Bob Rommel, Paul Renner and Tom Leek.
That’s 9:30 a.m. at the Capitol, 4th Floor Rotunda, Senate side. The event will be broadcast on Facebook Live at www.Facebook.com/flchamber/.
— TODAY’S SUNRISE —
Holly Bell, the state’s Cannabis Director at the Agriculture Department, is telling lawmakers the first legal hemp crop could be planted in Florida by the end of the year. It will be the first in the Sunshine State since the 1940s.
Also, on today’s Sunrise:
— A coronation in Tallahassee, as Florida House Republicans formally designate Chris Sprowls to be the next Speaker of the House. In his first speech as Designate, Sprowls urged lawmakers to spend less time in the virtual world and more attention to the real one.
— Florida Democrats are accusing Attorney General Ashley Moody of deception, saying she is disingenuous in her attempt to keep an amendment banning assault rifles off the Florida ballot.
— A Miami Beach-area state lawmaker is filing a bill that would have lab animals put up for adoption instead of being killed when the research is done.
— Further adventures of Florida Man (or Men): Three men suspected of grand theft auto ended up in a sticky situation in Seminole County after they tried to escape by hiding in garbage bins.
To listen to the new Sunrise, click the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@TIAreports: I pray for the day @usiedecides to tell it all. Not just with DeSantis. All of it! (I’m ready when you are, Susie [Wiles]. Number is the same.)
—@Annette_Taddeo: As State Senators and Representatives of Miami-Dade County we know well what a devastation of a hurricane can leave behind, this is why the @is joining Senators @ & @ We are requesting that the Administration waives certain visa requirements to allow Bahamians who have relatives in the United States, to stay with them while they rebuild from Hurricane Dorian.
—@AnnaForFlorida: You know you’re back in legislative session mode when all you’ve had to eat in a day are rectangular-shaped things
—@CordByrd: It’s frustrating when policymakers discuss making new policy when they don’t know or understand what the existing laws say or how they work in the real world. #floridasenate
—@Anitere_Flores: Wait … what? That AOB reform will NOT reduce or even stabilize your property insurance rates? #shocked
—@MaryEllenKlas: Florida legislators have oversight authority over state agencies. So who do you think the @put in charge of overseeing regulation of insurance? If you guessed an insurance agent, you would be
—@IamTheChoy: Always a pleasure to award @with the @ Honor Roll. Thank you for helping to secure Florida’s future!
—@AnthonySabatini: Glad no one moved my spittoon while I was gone!
—@KomenFlorida: Thank you to Representative Jackie Toledo for meeting with members of @# deaths by 50% by 2026.today to talk about ways we can work together to meet our bold goal to reduce
—@FDACS: We didn’t think we had to tell you: Please, don’t kiss your chickens. The @is reporting that as of August 23, there have been over 1,000 cases of Salmonella in 49 states. 2 people have died & 175 were hospitalized. Chickens need love, but you don’t need Salmonella
—@mrochabrun: It’s such a wasted opportunity for the @ to be shutting down its Spanish website. 450M native speakers, with so many of them who need in-depth, independent journalism. It should be expanding, not closing
—@GabrielleRouson: The atmosphere is so fun at Olga’s Cantina. Lots of playful banter with employees, people cheering like it’s an Irish drinking song. #GalaxysEdge although my journalism friends and I can’t afford the drinks.
— DAYS UNTIL —
MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 2; Emmy Awards live on Fox — 4; 850 Hemp Summit begins — 14; “Joker” opens — 16; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 16; SNL season premiere with Woody Harrelson — 17; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 23; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 30; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO (watch the trailer and let us know what you think) — 32; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 40; Brexit scheduled — 43; 2019 General Election — 48; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 50; “Frozen 2” debuts — 65; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 75; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 93; 2020 Session begins — 118; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 119; Iowa Caucuses — 138; New Hampshire Primaries — 146; Florida’s presidential primary — 181; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 231; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 310; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 342; 2020 General Election — 412.
— TOP STORY —
“Next House Speaker Chris Sprowls tackles spending, climate change” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Moments after he was formally elected to serve as Florida’s next House Speaker, Palm Harbor Republican Sprowls waded into issues such as bolstering the state’s finances and addressing climate change. “We fund our wants at the expense of our needs,” Sprowls said. “We turn policy conversations into revenue conversations. We treat the state budget like it’s our own private charitable foundation to be used for the naming rights of buildings or programs. We can do better than this. We need to increase our reserves and create a new fund for disaster recovery. There is no excuse not to be prepared for the next storm or the next recession.”
“Reserve levels matter, Sprowls says” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Sprowls thinks the Republican Party is at least somewhat to blame for Florida’s budget growth exceeding growth in its reserves. “We can’t ignore our own failings,” the Clearwater Republican told reporters. “I was specifically pointing out something we as a caucus can do better.” Republicans have controlled Tallahassee for two decades, and as the 2020 Session ramps up, what is certain is economic uncertainty. Sprowls, at least in theory, promises to be a fiscal hawk, focusing on reserve levels.
—“Sprowls: 3 speech highlights from the next Florida House speaker” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times
“Joe Henderson: Challenges await Sprowls” via Florida Politics — Three years of major hurricanes in Florida along with global jitters are warning signs that a bad moon is rising. That could be a full moon right around the time Sprowls receives the Speaker’s gavel. “That could be a challenge right off the bat,” Pasco County Tax Collector and former state legislator Mike Fasano said. “He will have to work with everyone to see how to address this.” “Everyone” means Democrats as well as Republicans, and that kind of bipartisan cooperation doesn’t always come easily in Tallahassee. The good news, Fasano said Sprowls could be just the person to change that mindset.
— DATELINE: TALLY —
“Gun legislation in Tallahassee split along partisan lines” via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — Ten bills have already been filed, three by Republicans and seven by Democrats, including three of the Democrats representing Broward County, home to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. The Florida Senate panel charged with probing the causes of mass shootings spent three hours listening to expert testimony while mostly sidestepping discussion of whether stricter gun laws may be needed. Among the most controversial measures are three bills filed by conservative House members from GOP strongholds in the Panhandle and Central Florida. Pensacola Republican state Rep. Mike Hill, who made a name for himself last Session with a controversial fetal-heartbeat, has filed a sweeping pro-gun bill, HB 6003, that would gut some of the state’s most stringent gun control measures.
“Lawmakers approved arming teachers. So who tracks them?” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — What the state doesn’t track is how many of those 1,084 employees are classroom teachers who have elected to carry a gun on campus, said Damien Kelly, director of the Office of Safe Schools in a presentation to the Senate Education Committee. “That’s not data that we ask (districts),” Kelly said. “We don’t ask for any identifying information at all.” That ambivalence, on the part of the agency that ostensibly oversees the program, drew fire from lawmakers who never supported the idea of arming teachers in the first place.
“Top Democrat criticizes lack of diversity on Senate panel” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida — Bamboozled. That’s the sentiment Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson expressed after testimony from a panel of experts who appeared before a Senate committee exploring issues related to mass violence and white nationalism. The panel included two university criminology researchers, a sheriff, a former police chief and the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But, Gibson said, none of the panel members represented Hispanics or blacks, groups that have been among the most high-profile targets of white nationalists’ attacks. “It seems impossible to me to have a conversation about white supremacy and not have anyone of color who has expertise on the panel,” Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat who is black, told The News Service of Florida.
“Surgeon General Scott Rivkees briefs lawmakers on hepatitis A outbreak” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rivkees says officials will need to vaccinate 80 percent of the state’s high-risk population to get a handle on the hepatitis A outbreak that is now a Public Health Emergency. Rivkees spoke with the Senate Health Policy Committee on Tuesday morning to offer an update on the spread of the disease. He says state officials arrived at that vaccination goal in consultation with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rivkees says the homeless and drug-addicted population makes up that “high-risk” pool. He estimated there are about 491,000 such individuals, meaning more than 392,000 need to be vaccinated. So far, county health departments have reached approximately 83,000 of those individuals, according to Rivkees.
“Democrats have a few questions for Florida’s new Surgeon General” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of Florida Phoenix — A brief exchange in the Florida Senate Health Policy Committee could foreshadow a rough confirmation process for state Surgeon General Rivkees. The first question he got came from Sen. Darryl Rouson. The Pinellas County Democrat wanted to know how Rivkees was balancing his duties as the state surgeon general with his responsibilities at UF. “How does one divide their time between Gainesville and Tallahassee in terms of the attention paid to these public health emergencies?” Rouson asked, citing other issues such as the opioid crisis in addition to the hepatitis outbreak.
“Bill would repeal constitutional amendment process that ‘ran amok’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — In a sweeping indictment of the work of the constitutional review panel controlled by former Gov. Scott’s appointees, a key Florida Senate committee advanced a proposal that will ask voters in November 2020 to remove the Constitution Revision Commission from the state’s top legal document. After last year’s commission — which bundled together unrelated ideas into single amendments to get voter approval for favored proposals — there is now bipartisan support in the Senate to kill the commission. “This is a perversion that we don’t see anywhere else in the country where unelected individuals bundle things together, put things on the ballot, and essentially have no rules,’’ said Sen. Brandes, sponsor of the amendment.
“Janet Cruz again calls for equitable distribution of school safety funding” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz filed SB 304 that would allow school districts who have opted out of the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to be able to spend the extra funding on general school safety projects. That could include salaries for school resource officers, or funding campus ‘hardening’ or other safety improvements. “To date, there are 29 Florida counties (out of 67) that have not opted into the Guardian program and have chosen instead to place a trained law enforcement officer in their schools. There is still $40 million being held hostage due to ideological differences on school safety,” Cruz said.
“Records exemption back for judicial assistants” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate committee unanimously approved a proposal that would create a public-records exemption for information about current and former judicial assistants. The bill (SB 128), sponsored by Sen. Tom Wright would expand to judicial assistants an exemption that already shields from release information about judges. Wright told the Senate Judiciary Committee that judicial assistants serve as “gatekeepers” for judges and may deal with people who are unhappy because of court cases. The bill would shield from release information such as home addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers.
“Mel Ponder bill would let local elected officials pack heat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Local elected officials with Florida concealed weapon permits would be allowed to carry their guns at public meetings of their boards, under a proposal introduced Tuesday by Republican state Rep. Mel Ponder. Ponder, the former Mayor of Destin, introduced House Bill 183, which would allow members of county commissions, county school boards, city councils, and other county, city, and local special districts who hold concealed weapons permits to carry their guns at the meetings. HB 183 does not extend that authority to members of the Florida Legislature.
“Disabilities organization faces continuing questions” via News Service of Florida — An organization focused on helping Floridians with disabilities find jobs has not complied with some key demands by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who threatened to shut it down because of concerns about the potential misuse of money. The Commissioner last month cited “egregious concerns” with the operation of The Able Trust, a nonprofit organization for the Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and demanded it cut all ties with a charitable foundation it created without authorization from the Legislature. In an Aug. 15 letter, Corcoran told the organization it had until Sept. 1 to dissolve “all relationships and agreements” … But the organization did not meet the time frame.
— LEG. CMTE. MTG. SKED. —
Florida Competes to discuss Florida Competitive Workforce Act — Members of the Florida Competes coalition, joined by Senate Bill 206 sponsor Sen. Darryl Rouson and House Bill 161 sponsors state Reps. Holly Raschein, Jackie Toledo and Jennifer Webb, will host a news conference about the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, 11 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda, House side.
The House Health Quality Subcommittee will receive a briefing from Surgeon General Rivkees about the hepatitis A outbreak in the state, 9 a.m., 212 Knott Building.
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations about budget requests and potential reductions for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Citrus and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations about affordable and workforce housing, House subcommittee at 9 a.m., 12 House Office Building. Also, Senate subcommittee at 3:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations about budget requests and potential reductions for the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Department of Military Affairs, the Department of State, the Department of Transportation and the Division of Emergency Management, 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
The Senate Appropriations Committee will receive a presentation by Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic & Demographic Research, about a report known as the Long-Range Financial Outlook, 10 a.m., 412 Knott Building.
The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee will receive a presentation from the Department of Environmental Protection about springs-restoration projects, 12:30 p.m., 12 House Office Building.
The House Business & Professions Subcommittee will receive an overview of a Hurricane Michael report by the Florida Building Commission and the University of Florida, 12:30 p.m., 212 Knott Building.
The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations about budget requests and potential reductions for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Department of the Lottery, the Department of Management Services, the Department of Revenue and the Office of Insurance Regulation, 12:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.
The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations about budget requests and potential reductions for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, the Department of Elder Affairs and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, 12:30 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will receive an update from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles about a new law that strengthened the state’s ban on texting while driving, 12:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.
The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee will receive presentations from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services about agricultural water policy and from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about invasive species, 1:30 p.m., 110 Senate Office Building.
The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a presentation about the Department of Corrections, 1:30 p.m., 37 Senate Office Building.
The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee will receive an update about a new law that repealed the “certificate of need” regulatory process for hospitals, 3 p.m., 306 House Office Building.
The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee will review performance, preeminence and emerging-preeminence funding in the state university system, 3 p.m., 212 Knott Building.
The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee will receive an update about the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, which provides reinsurance, 3 p.m., 404 House Office Building.
— STATEWIDE —
“Attorney General takes on Purdue Pharma” via Jerry Hume of Spectrum News 13 — Florida’s Attorney General is planning to unveil a new resource this week to help end the opioid crisis as Purdue Pharma, the company responsible for the highly addictive OxyContin, will be in federal court for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing. Purdue says filing for bankruptcy will free up money to states and local governments that have sued the company over its alleged role in the opioid epidemic. Just last week, Florida announced it reached a multibillion-dollar agreement with Purdue. “This settlement will help Florida gain access to more lifesaving resources and bolster our efforts to end this deadly epidemic,” said Attorney General Moody in a video statement.
“Cabinet could OK conserving 8,100 acres” via the News Service of Florida — DeSantis and the Cabinet are scheduled to consider land deals that could help conserve more than 8,100 acres in Walton and Putnam counties. The three proposed deals would cost about $7.6 million. The proposals include two deals in Walton County part of a broader conservation effort known as the Seven Runs Creek Final Phase Florida Forever project. One of the proposals involves paying $2.42 million to Nokuse Education, Inc. for a 2,436-acre conservation easement. The other Walton proposal involves paying $2.315 million to the Stella Davis 2015 Plantation Trust for a 2,133-acre conservation easement. The targeted land in Putnam County is part of a broader conservation effort known as the Etoniah/Cross Florida Greenway Florida Forever project.
“FDLE declines to investigate potential violation of open-meetings law at Orlando airport” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement declined to open an investigation into potential sunshine law violations related to the Governor-appointed board that controls Orlando International Airport. The decision comes in response to a letter to State Attorney Aramis Ayala from the First Amendment Foundation that raised concerns after the Aug. 28 meeting of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. Ayala had forwarded the letter to the FDLE. During that meeting, board members Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings questioned whether “inappropriate” conversations took place regarding a plan to hire new co-general counsels at the airport.
“Lobbyist involved in Orlando airport controversy represents client linked to airport lawsuit” via Jason Garcia and Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel — About a month after DeSantis installed a new majority on the board that runs Orlando International Airport, a lobbyist registered to represent a new client before the agency. The lobbyist was Chris Dorworth, who now works for Ballard Partners. And the client Dorworth signed up to represent before the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority was called Generational Capital Partners LLC, a 2-year-old company based in Detroit that airport leaders say they had never heard of before. But records in Michigan show that company was set up by a senior executive at a much larger firm that airport officials know quite well — Walbridge Co., a major construction contractor that is suing the agency over a baggage-handling project gone bad.
“Can you hear me now? State radio contract deal now before appellate court” via Florida Politics — A panel of 1st District Court of Appeal judges now will decide whether Motorola Solutions should keep a major state law-enforcement radio contract potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Judges James R. Wolf, M. Kemmerly Thomas, and Associate Judge Scott Duncan heard argument Tuesday in the appeal brought by the former Harris Corp., which lost the contract to Motorola last year. A bidding contest was first heard last May by Administrative Law Judge J. Bruce Culpepper in Tallahassee. He found for Motorola, and then-Department of Management Services Secretary Erin Rock later agreed with Culpepper.
“’Lots of hype about hemp’ but many hurdles to clear before farmers can grow it in Florida” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — “There’s a lot of hype about hemp up and down the supply chain,” said Sen. Ben Albritton, a Republican farmer from Bartow and chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “But is there any estimate how much planted acreage or crop value there would be in Florida … to let us know what Year One might look like?” he asked after hearing a presentation from Bell, the head of the state’s fledgling hemp program. Based on the 3,000 people already interested in applying to grow hemp, the amount of acreage they want to seed and the demand for CBD oil, Bell said, the first year or two of hemp production could bring in several million dollars a year.
— STORM SEASON —
“New tropical depression projected to become Hurricane Jerry, threaten Caribbean, Bahamas” via Joe Mario Pederson and David Harris of the Orlando Sentinel — Tropical Depression 10 was moving west-northwest at 10 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, the NHC said. Meteorologists expect the storm to increase its maximum sustained wind speed to higher than 39 mph by this evening — meaning it would then be classified as Tropical Storm Jerry, and grow into Hurricane Jerry with at least 74 mph winds by Friday as it approaches the Leeward Islands, the NHC said. “The depression is expected to strengthen and be a hurricane when its moves near the northern Leeward Islands Thursday night and Friday, although it is too soon to determine if there will be any direct impacts in the islands,” the NHC said.
“Insurance chief details Dorian, Michael claims” via the News Service of Florida — Nearly $10 million in property-insurance claims have been filed for Dorian. Meanwhile, state Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said insurance companies continue to face pressure to close thousands of claims still open after Michael last October. “We are certainly hearing a high level of frustration with that from others,” Altmaier told the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Michael top $6.9 billion. As of July 26, the state reported that 148,347 claims had been filed from Michael. Altmaier said 18,211 claims remain open and insurance companies made initial payments in just over half of those claims before applications were reopened
“Why are 18,000 insurance claims from Hurricane Michael still open?” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier defended the companies handling Hurricane Michael claims, telling lawmakers that he couldn’t think of a single instance of companies not paying claims on time. But Altmaier acknowledged that people aren’t happy about how many claims are still open. Altmaier told the Senate’s Banking and Insurance Committee that more than 18,000 claims remain open from Hurricane Michael, nearly a year after the Category 5 storm made landfall near Mexico Beach. But why those claims are still open is a mystery. Altmaier told senators that of the open claims, only 3,612 were open because of lawsuits.
“Hurricane Dorian prompts 40 percent drop in Orlando hotel stays” via Marco Santana of the Orlando Sentinel — The worst of it came Aug. 31, when the occupancy rate fell by 41.9 percent compared with the same day in 2018, according to the research firm STR. According to the data, revenue on Aug. 31 dropped 43 percent over 2018. The data showed that just 69,517 of the 129,244 hotel rooms in the Orlando metro area were occupied that day. “It’s to be expected when there is a prediction of a storm that people will cancel leisure trips, which are a lot easier to cancel than business trips,” said Deborah Breiter, a tourism professor at the University of Central Florida. “Meanwhile, the tourism people, they want you to know that we are open for business.”
“Hundreds of sea turtle nests lost after Dorian — ‘It could have been worse’” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — The massive storm brushed past the East Coast, and beach runs were halted until conservation teams could safely survey Dorian’s impact on the marked nests. The state accounts for 90 percent of the nation’s sea turtle nests and many East Coast beaches are expecting record numbers this year. Officials at Canaveral National Seashore estimate that 1,500 nests of 6,000 marked before Dorian’s arrival were affected. Spokeswoman Laura Henning said the estimate is based on the number of markers that were washed away. There’s still a chance the nests weren’t wiped out, and any remaining buried eggs could hatch, she added.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Donald Trump relies on Nicolás Maduro-bashing to win Florida next year” via Ed Kilgore of New York magazine — The Trump administration and its local allies are counting on the president’s bellicose attitude toward the failed petro-socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela (and his support for rival leader Juan Guaidó) to remind Cuban-Americans of their heritage and to curry favor with a growing Venezuelan-American émigré population, along with recent immigrants from other South American countries affected by the crisis in Caracas. It’s not, moreover, just a matter of voters who immigrated (or whose parents and grandparents or great-grandparents immigrated) from countries where Maduro’s misrule (or fallout from the struggle for control of Venezuela) is wreaking havoc.
“Trump says he will do ‘something’ about homelessness” via Stefanie Dazio of The Associated Press — Trump began a California visit saying he will do “something” about homelessness but offering no specifics beyond the mention of creating a task force. “We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening,” Trump said aboard Air Force One. He said police officers on the beat are getting sick and that tenants want to move because of the homeless problem. “The people of San Francisco are fed up, and the people of Los Angeles are fed up, and we’re looking at it, and we will be doing something about it at the appropriate time,” Trump said.
“Secret Service bids to buy Jet Skis for Trump family protection on Mar-a-Lago stays” via Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post — The U.S. Secret Service wants two new Jet Skis to join the gunboats that already patrol the Intracoastal waterway when Trump and the first family visit Mar-a-Lago. “The First Family is very active in water sports,” the agency wrote in a memo. “Several family members and their guests participate in open water activities for which the USSS Special Agent Rescue Swimmers are responsible.” Agents have paid out of pocket to rent Jet Skis “to be near our protectees in various water environments,” according to the memo. The agents are later reimbursed.
“Marco Rubio weighs in on the swiftly sinking Miami Dolphins” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Rubio asked his Twitter followers to consider “Which team is better off of the future? An uncompetitive 0-16 team with $160 mil in cap space & 6 of the top 65 picks in next years draft or a semi-competitive 3-13 team with limited cap space?” “Miami’s front office has correctly determined that in today’s @NFL if you don’t have exceptional QB play you aren’t getting a ring. Entire seasons imploding right now because QB went down (ie. Pittsburgh). 2 of best rosters (Minnesota & Chicago) are being held back by QB play.”
“Stephanie Murphy: Republicans, Democrats must abandon positions for sake of election security” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republicans must accept that Russian interference occurred in the 2016 election and Democrats must stop trying to re-litigate that election if America is to unite and secure the 2020 elections from foreign interference, Murphy declared Tuesday.
“VA Secretary, congressman feud over office space in inside Florida hospital” via Nikki Wentling of Stars and Stripes — Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie accused a Florida congressman of misleading the public Friday after the lawmaker expressed outrage at being evicted from his congressional office inside a VA hospital. The VA sent eviction notices to six members of Congress at the end of August, booting them and their staffs out of their offices inside VA hospitals in West Palm Beach and Orlando. Rep. Brian Mast, an Afghanistan War veteran and double amputee who in 2017 opened the first-ever congressional office inside a VA hospital, accused the agency of trying to avoid transparency and accountability.
“Miami Holocaust survivors urge Congress to let them sue European insurance companies” via Alex Daugherty and Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — The president of the Holocaust Survivors of Miami-Dade County wants to allow survivors and their families to use the courts to get payouts from European insurance companies for policies that were upended by Nazi Germany. And after years of advocacy from South Florida lawmakers, David Mermelstein might have the White House on his side. Now, 75 years after leaving Auschwitz, the 90-year-old Mermelstein is pushing to get a law passed that gives Holocaust survivors the right to use the U.S. court system to compel private European insurance companies to look through their own records and pay out the money owed to survivors and their families, which could total up to $25 billion when factoring in compound interest over time.
“Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposes fining FPL, bans former executive for retaliation” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $232,000 fine against Florida Power & Light and has barred a former FPL executive from NRC-licensed activities for five years for retaliating against a contract employee who raised a safety concern at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant near Fort Pierce. The NRC did not name the former executive. The NRC concluded FPL and its contractor, Framatome, canceled the employee’s work assignment after the individual filed a concern in St. Lucie’s corrective action program during a refueling outage in 2017. The NRC also concluded Framatome played a minor role in the retaliation.
— 2020 —
“Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren gain in latest poll of Democratic primary voters” via Ken Thomas of The Wall Street Journal — Biden and Warren have gained support since the summer in their fight for the Democratic presidential nomination and are beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the party’s sprawling 2020 field, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. Biden was the top choice of 31 percent of Democratic primary voters, while Warren was favored by 25 percent in the poll, which was conducted after the party’s third primary debate, in Houston. Bernie Sanders was the only other candidate with double-digit support, at 14 percent. Biden and Warren were the only candidates whose support grew meaningfully since a July survey. But measures of voter enthusiasm for Warren have risen during the year while declining for Biden.
“Trump campaign cuts ties with top adviser in Florida” via Alex Isenstadt and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Trump‘s campaign has severed ties with Florida adviser Susie Wiles, leaving the president without a top adviser in a major battleground state going into the 2020 election. The move was made at the urging of DeSantis, who has been attempting to install his own allies in the state party. A senior Republican Party official confirmed Wiles’ departure, which followed weeks of behind-the-scenes drama that has prompted turnover at the highest levels of the state GOP apparatus. DeSantis personally made it clear he wanted Wiles out, according to two senior Republicans familiar with discussions between DeSantis and the Trump campaign.
News of the Wiles ouster had not filtered down to Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters as of early Tuesday.
Early in the day, the state senator called Wiles a “superstar” and said he expected her to be an “integral part of the team.”
— Gary Fineout (@fineout) September 17, 2019
“Voters don’t like no-shot campaigns. Just ask Bill de Blasio.” via Harry Enten of CNN — De Blasio‘s popularity among New York City voters is the worst it’s ever been. Siena College polled New York state voters and provided a substantial crosstab of New York City voters. According to this poll, just 33 percent of New York City voters say they have a favorable rating of de Blasio. His unfavorable rating has climbed to 58 percent. This makes for a net favorability rating of -25 points. He earned 0 percent of the vote among Democratic voters in a potential presidential primary. Crosstabs, of course, have margins of error, but the trendline here is unmistakable.
— THE TRAIL —
“‘I’m very scared about our future:’ Florida billionaire pitches jungle primary to fight political extremism” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — A billionaire who quit the Republican Party out of disdain for President Donald Trump is spending millions of dollars in a bid to establish a jungle primary system in Florida, a move that could rearrange the state’s political landscape. And as the political battleground preps for the upcoming presidential campaign, party leaders aren’t happy.
Assignment editors — Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo, state Rep. Cindy Polo, the Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and March for Our Lives will hold a joint press conference to call out Attorney General Moody’s attempts to deny the voters from deciding on if Florida should ban certain assault weapons and counter the misconceptions she has spread, 9 a.m., outside by the Florida Capitol dolphin statue, 500 Duval St., Tallahassee.
“Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary files for Orange Co. commission” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Winter Park Mayor Leary ended months of anticipation when he filed to run for the Orange County Commission in District 5. The filing places Leary, a Republican, in a three-way contest thus far for the nonpartisan seat, with incumbent Commissioner Emily Bonilla, a Democrat, and Anjali Vaya, a Republican from Winter Park. Leary, midway through his second-term as Winter Park Mayor is term-limited in that post. He’s been speculated on all year as a candidate for District 5, which stretches from Maitland and Winter Park through northeastern Orange County to include the University of Central Florida, and the rural communities of Bithlo and Christmas.
“‘I’m very scared about our future’: Florida billionaire pitches jungle primary to fight political extremism” via Gary Fineout of Politico— A billionaire who quit the Republican Party out of disdain for President Donald Trump is spending millions of dollars in a bid to establish a “jungle primary“ system in Florida, a move that could upend the state’s political landscape. And as the political battleground preps for the upcoming presidential campaign, party leaders aren’t happy. Mike Fernandez, a Miami health care executive whose family fled Cuba when he was 12, is close to putting a question on the 2020 state ballot that, if approved, would allow any voter, regardless of party affiliation, to cast a ballot in state primaries.
— LOCAL —
“A Miami-based jail health care company profits while patients die” via Brittany Shammas of the Miami New Times — Amid the public uproar about the death of an inmate who spent his final days pleading for help, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly terminated the county’s contract with the for-profit company that provided the jail’s medical services, Armor Correctional Health Services. “In response to this tragedy, Armor has shown little interest in anything other than denying responsibility and trying to bill us for even more money,” the sheriff said. Anthony Fennick‘s death is one of the latest incidents to rock the Miami-based company, which has positioned itself as a major player in the private correctional health-care industry. As of last year, Armor was handling health care for 41,000 inmates under contracts with 32 clients in eight states.
“Condo boards ‘fatten coffers’ with illegal fees. Residents just won a class-action settlement” via Rene Rodriguez and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — In a move that could have implications for thousands of Miami-Dade County residents and cost the local real estate industry millions of dollars, a Brickell condominium association accused of charging residents inflated fees in violation of state law has agreed to pay up to $300,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by Joshua and Allison Kobasky, argued that The Plaza 851 Brickell Condominium Association ripped them off by charging mandatory, nonrefundable “transfer” fees greater than $100 when they applied to lease a unit and move in. The Florida Condominium Act prohibits associations from charging fees greater than $100 per person or married couple in connection with the sale, lease or transfer of a condo unit.
“To beat traffic north of Miami, state recommends new ‘purple line’ for Metrorail” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — After studying monorail and magnetic-levitation trains, a Florida transportation consultant recommends Miami-Dade stick with its elevated Metrorail system and add a 10-mile extension north to Miami Gardens that would cost nearly $2 billion to build. The preliminary report by state consultant WSP finds expanding Metrorail as the most cost-efficient option open to Miami-Dade for the commuting corridor that runs north and south along Northwest 27th Avenue. It recommends a 9.5-mile “Purple Line” running on elevated tracks above 27th Avenue, joining Metrorail’s Green Line and the Orange Line, which runs from Dadeland South to Miami International Airport. It would cost about $1.9 billion to build, with annual operating and maintenance costs of $49 million.
“Prosecutors still want to prosecute Robert Kraft on misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution” via the Boston Globe — Florida prosecutors signaled they remain determined to prosecute New England Patriots owner Kraft on two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution as they asked an appeals court for a second extension to prepare their case. Prosecutors were supposed to file their legal briefs, but prosecutors said they need at least 15 more days to address what they consider complex legal issues raised by the use of secretly installed surveillance cameras to investigate prostitution and alleged human trafficking.
“Duval school board sues city to get sales tax vote” via Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union — Duval County Public Schools has worked toward a sales tax referendum for school maintenance for months. But things came to a stop last month when City Council overwhelmingly voted to withdraw the bill that would give Duval residents the right to vote on the tax issue. Now, less than a month since hiring a team of outside attorneys, the school board is working with Duval Teachers United to force the vote. “Many of the district’s schools are in desperate need of maintenance, repair, renovation, and, in some cases, replacement to keep students safe and make the educational environment conducive to learning. Presently, this cannot be accomplished due to a severe lack of funding,” said the complaint.
“Jacksonville City Council member: Selling JEA water would be for ‘fools’” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council member Randy DeFoor came out strongly against selling the water side of JEA, saying the city would “look like the biggest fools ever” if it sold off rights to a water supply whose value will only increase in the future. DeFoor made her comments at a meeting called by City Council member Garrett Dennis for council members to discuss JEA’s solicitation of offers for the city-owned utility. JEA provides electric, water and sewer services to customers in most of Duval County and parts of St. Johns, Clay and Nassau counties. Several council members said JEA moved too fast on seeking offers for the utility and left the City Council out of the decision-making process.
“Fired CEO to St. Pete housing board: Give me $157K job running your nonprofit and I won’t sue” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Less than a month after he lost his $157,000 a year job as chief executive of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, Tony Love wants the board that fired him to let him run the agency’s nonprofit group for exactly the same salary. If the board doesn’t agree, his attorney warned, he is considering legal action. Love’s attorney Marion Hale made the unusual ultimatum in a recent phone call to Charley Harris, the agency’s legal counsel, emails show. It says that Love would agree not to sue if he is hired as the president and sole employee for the Rise Development Corp., a nonprofit group the agency established in 2016 to partner with developers on new public and affordable housing.
“Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s first budget wins unanimous approval” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times— It wasn’t short, but it ended sweetly for Castor on Tuesday night. She won the votes of all seven City Council members to approve her inaugural budget of $1.04 billion. Those members didn’t leave empty handed, either, especially Orlando Gudes, who represents the city’s only majority black council district. Two weeks ago, in the first budget hearing, Gudes nabbed nearly $1.6 million for a cultural center and increased ambulance service for the city’s poorest neighborhoods in East Tampa.
“Study shows Central Florida is the most dangerous place to walk in the United States” via Ricky Pinela of the Orlando Sentinel — A new study from Smart Growth America has found that between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 49,340 people who were walking on streets across the United States. The study shows that 5,433 of those people died in the state of Florida, but an alarming 656 of those fatalities occurred in Central Florida. That makes the Orlando, Sanford and Kissimmee metropolitan area the most dangerous place in the United States to walk, according to the report.
“PBC to crack down on Airbnb rentals, looking for bed tax scofflaws” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — In an agreement that ends one of several lawsuits between Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon and the vacation rental websites, both sides agreed to make sure the thousands of county residents who are renting out private homes are using proper tax identification numbers. Those who aren’t won’t be able to use the platforms to generate extra cash, according to the settlement that brings an end to a federal lawsuit. Beginning Nov. 7, Airbnb and HomeAway.com will give Gannon’s office a biweekly accounting of all the places in the county that are being advertised for rent on their websites, according to the accord. Gannon’s office, in turn, will check the tax numbers to make sure they are valid.
“Pasco Commissioner unlikely to forget his ‘never forget’ 9/11 post” via CT Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — An attempt by Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano to turn a 9/11 remembrance into a political statement blew up into a social media firestorm last week. Mariano shared to his Facebook account a meme showing the moment United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The meme included the statement, “‘Never forget’ — you said …,’’ above the photograph showing a fireball from the exploding jet. But below that picture, it says, “I am the proof you have forgotten,’’ across an image of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar a Somali-American and a Muslim. Mariano offered no commentary or explanation at the time for the social media post.
“Polk farm trades citrus for hemp in state pilot project” via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger — Hook-R Farms plowed down the orange trees this year and replaced them with hemp, a form of cannabis-related to marijuana. The company, which Henry Hooker co-owns with his sister, Deborah Hooker, a lawyer based in Okeechobee, has a contract to grow hemp for Green Earth Cannaceuticals. That company, based in Alachua County, is one of two in Florida licensed to grow industrial hemp through a pilot project overseen by Florida A&M University and the University of Florida. Green Earth Cannaceuticals has a partnership with Florida A&M. The company installed about 45,000 hemp plants at the Alturas property in the first two days of August.
“Should Port St. Lucie pay Mayor, Council more to get good candidates?” via Gil Smart for TCPalm — When I first heard Port St. Lucie officials were considering hiking the Mayor’s salary by 61 percent, and city council members’ pay by 36 percent, I laughed. But after hearing the reasoning behind the proposed raises, I thought: Maybe. Not necessarily because better pay will attract better public servants. Rather, because the nature of public service itself has changed, with elected officials expected to do more — and put up with more. More compelling (to me, at least) is the case for a pay hike based on all that’s required of modern public officials, both politically — and personally. Good governance does indeed cost money — especially as the cost to the governors themselves escalates.
“Florida fisherman who dragged live shark behind boat gets sentenced” via the Associated Press — A Florida fisherman will spend five weekends in jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty for dragging a live shark by the tail from a boat.
Why is this news? Why are we putting it in Sunburn? — “Money from viral lemonade stand goes to game tickets for children rather than Willie Taggart buyout” via Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat — Money from Daniel Grant‘s lemonade stand that was earmarked for Taggart‘s million-dollar buyout will instead be used to purchase game tickets for children. Grant, an FSU grad and Platinum Chief Seminole Booster, said the tickets for Saturday’s Florida State-Louisville showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium would be donated to the youth organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend. “So we had a little lemonade stand last Sunday and have decided to divert the money we raised to a great cause. We have used the funds to purchase tickets to this weekend’s FSU-Louisville game and donating the tickets to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend.
— OPINIONS —
“Chris Sprowls as House Speaker should benefit Tampa Bay” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Tampa Bay is particularly fortunate because Sprowls will be House Speaker while Sen. Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, will be Senate president. With both Legislature’s presiding officers from this region, the area’s business leaders and elected officials should aim high and set some priorities. For decades, Tampa Bay has been shortchanged in Tallahassee while South Florida or the Orlando area have benefited by speaking with one voice on a common goal. Sprowls deserves credit as a hardworking lawmaker who quickly rose through the ranks with a blend of pleasant personality, policy expertise and political acumen.
— MOVEMENTS —
Personnel note: Bob Boyd takes the reins at ICUF — Boyd, formerly general counsel for the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida now has formally taken over as President. The former head of the association, Ed Moore, retired. He led ICUF, which represents Florida’s private institutions of higher learning, for 16 years. Boyd has been an adjunct professor of business law at Flagler College, one of ICUF’s member institutions, as well as a partner at statewide law firm Sachs Sax Caplan, where he was co-chair of the firm’s Government & Lobbying Practice Group. And Boyd, by the way, was the attorney for the first half-dozen charters approved by the state.
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Melissa Akeson, Erica Chanti, Rubin Turnbull & Associates: Western Governors University
Susan Anderson: LeadingAge Florida
Mario Bailey, Becker & Poliakoff: City of Miami Springs, City of South Miami, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Village of Pinecrest, Village of Virginia Gardens
Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, Sarah Suskey, Jeffrey Woodburn, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: BlueGreen US Water Technologies
Robert Beck, Tanya Jackson, PinPoint Results: HCA Healthcare
Elizabeth Biser: The Recycling Partnership
Jorge Chamizo, Nichole Geary, Cory Guzzo, Floridian Partners: Mackinac Center for Public Policy
Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: H2 Processing
Macy Harper, Capitol Linked: Hitmaker Services
Danny Jordan, Nicola Powell, Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yaeger, One Eighty Consulting: Compuware
Jerald Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Suncoast Humane Society
Dustin Robinson, Robinson Consulting and Advising: Regulated Solutions Group
Lauren Storch: Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners
Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Jackson County Board of County Commissioners
— ALOE —
“Disney: Galaxy’s Edge music played in Oga’s Cantina now available” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The popular hot spot showcases tunes presented by animatronic DJ R3X. The space is inspired by the funky cantina seen in the very first “Star Wars” movie in 1977. The well-known jaunty tune from back in the day — titled “Cantina Band” — gets a musical salute in the new playlist in the first track, which is called “Mad About Mad About Me.” Among the 18 songs on the R3X playlist are “Bright Suns” by Mus Kat & Nalpak, “Aloogahoo” (Vee Gooda & Ryco), Utinni (The Dusty Jawas), “Droid World” (Sentient 7 and the Clankers) and Batuu Boogie (Chaka Mater Laka, featuring MW-59). The music is available via Apple Music, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube and Vevo.
“Pop-up, seasonal stores draw Halloween enthusiasts” via Andrew Wigdor of the Naples Daily News — Pop-up locations and seasonal stores offer more opportunities for holiday fanatics to purchase costumes, decorations and more, and the money thrown at the festivities can be downright scary. According to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, Halloween spending was estimated to reach $9 billion in 2018, with more than 175 million people in the country expected to engage in holiday events and festivities. The $9 billion figure was the second-highest in the history of the survey’s 14-year run, trailing closely behind 2017’s estimated $9.1 billion. To accommodate the droves of families hoping to get in on the haunt each year, pop-up stores, such as the national Spirit Halloween chain, appear during the late summer and fall months.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Anthony Close, publisher of the essential St. Pete Rising, former Rep. Bob Cortes, Reggie Garcia, Jack Harris, top GOP consultant Steve Marin, Jennifer Mikosky, and Corinne Mixon of Rutledge Ecenia.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.