Last Call for 12.19.19 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Get up early Friday. Go outside. Look toward Cape Canaveral at 6:36 a.m. You could see the next great hope for the Space Coast.

An Atlas V rocket is set to blast off with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.

It’ll be the maiden launch for Starliner, Boeing’s newly-created spacecraft for NASA’s commercial crew program.

“The nation has been on a long journey to returning U.S. astronauts to space from U.S. soil,” said Space Florida’s Dale Ketcham. “There are only a few steps left on that journey, and this test launch is one of them.”

It’s also a major milestone for Florida and particularly the Space Coast.

This mission will be uncrewed, except for a dummy named Rosie. But NASA, Boeing, and rocket provider United Launch Alliance hope to send the next Starliner up with three astronauts, sometime in 2020, perhaps early in 2020.

Since the last space shuttle launch in 2011, there’s been a lot of talk of the importance of the rapidly-growing commercial space industry to the economy of the long-stagnant Space Coast.

But launches of satellites or cargo just don’t have the kinds of tourism draw the area enjoyed back when rockets had astronauts, and hotels, beaches and roads all got packed. Now only highly-hyped launches attract many tourists, and those are rare.

“When the Falcon Heavy went up [Feb. 6, 2018,] we tracked about 100,000 additional people coming to the area,” said Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism. “I believe when we start launching American astronauts from American soil again, we’re going to see a lot of interest in that … in the same range as the Falcon Heavy, if not greater.”

Evening Reads

How 2 Soviet émigrés fueled the Donald Trump impeachment flames” via Michael Rothfeld, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, Kenneth P. Vogel and  of The New York Times

Marco Rubio on impeachment: No Senator can be an ‘impartial juror’” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

Pam Bondi says Impeachment ‘a stain on Trump’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Merry Christmas, Here’s how Congress is about to waste your money” via Rick Scott for National Review

House passes USMCA free trade deal” via Rashaan Ayesh of Axios

Florida’s 2020 ballot will include $15 minimum wage question” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida

Justices rule on ‘stand your ground’ change” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

Florida toll-road task force members want greater public input” via Jeff Schweers of the USA Today Network

House Speaker calls for more investigations after abrupt resignations at Moffitt Cancer Center” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

Florida lawmakers confronted with prison problems” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida

RedefinED’s 2019 myth of the year” via Jon East of redefinED

Antonio Gilliam backs out of Tallahassee police chief job over contract dispute” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat

Quote of the Day

“Now, the sprint to reverse decades of inequality really starts — and let me tell you — this is going to be a tough challenge. But just like voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana in 2016, I’m confident that we will do the same in 2020.” — Attorney John Morgan reacting to the Florida Supreme Court’s approval of the ballot amendment raising the minimum wage.

Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

An administrative law judge will hear arguments in a case dealing with the underground power lines rule-making process. The hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. in the DeSoto Building, 1230 Apalachee Parkway, in Tallahassee.

The Revenue Estimating Conference will meet to discuss the financial impact of bills filed for the 2020 Legislative Session. They convene at 9 a.m. in the Knott Building at the Capitol.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will release unemployment data for November. The last set of data showed Florida with a 3.2% unemployment rate. The data will be released at 10 a.m.

Staff Reports


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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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