Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of Jan. 13

Good or bad? Here's your Florida Politics judgment call.

Good morning campers. The Legislative Session is in full swing, and so are we here at Florida Politics with our weekly session of winners and losers.

Let’s get right to it.


Chalk up another one: It only seems Gov. Ron DeSantis appears in this space every week, but we have to include him again because the Florida Supreme Court handed him a big win.

The Court gave His Governorship a favorable ruling on the interpretation of Amendment 4, the 2018 bill that restored voting rights for felons that had completed their sentences. By a 4-1 vote, the Justices affirmed that felons must complete “all terms of sentence” that legally includes all “legal financial obligations.”

Translation: they must pay all fines, fees, and restitution associated with their original sentences.

Translation 2.0: Those crippling financial penalties means we may see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win back-to-back-to-back Super Bowls before we see the majority of ex-felons in the voting booth. But it’s what the Governor wanted.

Wait…college got more affordable? College students and their families got a jolt of good news. The popular Florida Prepaid program announced $500 million in refunds for about 224,000 accounts that paid into the plan since 2008. About half of that total will be considered paid in full.

The average refund is about $4,700.

Further, those paying into it now will their rates drop. Those joining the plan now also will see a significant increase.


But…the biggest winner of the week goes to (envelope please) …

Val Demings: The star keeps rising for the Congresswoman from Florida’s 10th District.

She was chosen as one of seven Democrats who will present the case for removal in President Donald Trump’s U.S. Senate impeachment trial.

Scott Powers of Florida Politics described Demings as someone with “a reputation for a sharp, no-nonsense, strategic and tactical intellect, a lifelong commitment to law and order.”

Oh, and she’s also a pretty sharp politician and is now being pushed as a potential Vice President candidate for the eventual Democratic nominee.

The skills and intangibles she would bring to that stage are obvious. She is female, African-American, has a sparkling reputation, respect across the board, and….what else?

Oh yeah, she’s from a swing state with 29 electoral votes.


TIM-BER!!! Tree-lovers were shoved aside by House Speaker Jose Oliva. He sent letter to 488 communities to remind them that Tallahassee has the final say on tree ordinances, not the local yokels.

“People should be free to protect their families and homes from trees and landscaping that poses a risk to them,” Oliva said. “The House takes seriously its duty to protect the rights of Florida residents and property owners and prevent government interference with those rights.”

Well, yeah.

But communities argue they should be able to stop developers from plowing over trees in favor of another Big Box store.

Chop chop!!

Those snakes in the Everglades grass: Those invasive Burmese pythons were once again targeted under The Florida Python Challenge- 2020 Python Bowl that concluded on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.

The South Florida Water Management District said the hunt “incentivizes a limited number of public-spirited individuals to humanely euthanize these destructive snakes, which have become an apex predator in the Everglades.”

Well, it sucks to be a Bumese python this time of year, but even they couldn’t edge out a well-known figure in Florida politics for the not-so-coveted biggest loser spot.

That goes to…

Hey, y’all forget who’s in charge? Mama Gun is up in arms, so to speak, and this time she is furious with Florida Republicans who support SB 7028.

Mama Gun, of course, is Marion Hammer, whose unyielding and broad interpretation of the Second Amendment makes GOP lawmakers’ knees turn to jelly.

In a mass mailing to National Rifle Association members and supporters, Hammer said the bill, the brainchild of Republican Senate President Bill Galvano, “…is clearly meant to simply ban all private sales of firearms through red tape and fear. This bill contains so much red tape and nonsense that there is almost no way a law-abiding person could comply.”

Alas for Hammer, the bill advanced through the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

Alas for supporters of the bill, it still faces significant headwind from Oliva in the House and possibly DeSantis.

Hammer is also up for a fight and more than often than not she prevails. She knows how to play and relishes the challenge to keep her toadies – I mean, the lawmakers – in line.

So, she may be behind on points now, but it’s early and she is one mad Mama.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


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