Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 1.30.20

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Who's up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

Hitting double digits at the polls would be a welcome outcome for most running in the crowded Democratic presidential primary.

But in Florida, that’s also-ran territory.

The March 17 primary will see 219 delegates up for grabs — 76 of them will be awarded based on candidates’ share of the statewide vote tally, 143 will be allotted based on the vote totals in each of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.

But to get even one pledged delegate, a candidate has to earn 15% of the vote. In a two- or three-way race, that’s no big deal. For the 2020 Democratic field, the threshold could upset the current dynamic in the race.

As it stands, former VP Joe Biden would net the bulk of Florida’s cache. A survey released by St. Pete Polls earlier this week found him with a commanding 41% lead followed by former Mike Bloomberg at 17%.

Behind them is Bernie Sanders at 9%, Elizabeth Warren at 7%, Pete Buttigieg at 6%, Amy Klobuchar at 5%, and on down the line.

In other words: a bunch of also-rans.

If the survey proves correct — and St. Pete Polls’ CV speaks for itself on that front — that would leave Biden and Bloomberg to split Florida’s trove of delegates.

Say, 70-30 — based on the current gap?

The math could get even more interesting depending on how candidates assess their chances, and their war chests, over the next few weeks. Some could cede ground statewide to focus on clearing 15% in a district or two. Others might leave the state altogether.

Either way, Bloomberg’s strategy is looking more viable by the day.


Red Dog, Blue Dog in Tallahassee brings together party foes to save the pups” via Rosanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — Every dog has its day. In Tallahassee, that was Tuesday, Jan. 28. After a push for legislation supporting dogs — and other critters — during Humane Lobby Day at the Capitol, folks adjourned to the Township bar in CollegeTown for an evening of friendly cross-party competition at the sixth annual Red Dog, Blue Dog fundraiser. Eight guest bartenders — four red, four blue — served specialty drinks and hustled for tips that will be donated to local animal rescue groups. Slinging the Red Dog Das Mule were VISIT FLORIDA CEO Dana Young, Sen. Joe Gruters, Rep. Colleen Burton, and Rep. Alex Andrade. Pouring the Blue Dog Gaarden Party were Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, Sen. Gary Farmer, Sen. Jason Pizzo and Rep. Tracie Davis.

Township was the site of the sixth annual Red Dog Blue Dog to benefit the Animal Shelter Foundation, the Leon County Humane Society and Last Hope Rescue at the Township bar and restaurant in Tallahassee. mage via Mark Wallheiser.


Spotted — Online marketing firm Strategic Digital Services founders (and friends of the ‘burn) Matt Farrar and Joe Clements in the latest issue of Florida Trend Magazine, which talks about how they met in 2013 working on a special election for a Pasco County House seat (the candidate lost), and how they bonded over a mutual interest in social media marketing.

Good news about some good guys: Matt Farrar and Joe Clements.


Florida’s Emergency Operations Center is gearing up for the Super Bowl — just in case.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— A Senate committee approves a bill that would allow the early release of inmates 65 and older. They also want to speed up the release of inmates with terminal illnesses, so the state doesn’t have to pay for their health care.

— Another Senate committee approves a bill to spare VISIT FLORIDA from the budget ax.

— While the House and Senate always open floor sessions with a prayer, lawmakers don’t always like what they hear. Sunrise examines why.

— Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch drops in to talk about the latest goings-on in Tallahassee.

— A Florida Woman loses her job at a day care center for writing a note on the belly of an 18-month-old informing the child’s mother she was out of diapers. The big, black letters covered most of the toddler’s torso. The teacher was fired, and the director of the Children’s Education Center on Sanibel Island apologized to the mom.

To listen, click on the image below:


@RealDonaldTrump: For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non-Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying ‘Don’t do it, sir,’ takes the job, mistakenly says ‘Libyan Model’ on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?

@zacjanderson: A number of people I spoke to who saw John Kelly speak multiple times in Sarasota Monday remarked that he didn’t seem particularly fond of [Donald] Trump. That Kelly would talk up [John] Bolton’s honesty & say he believed Bolton was just the most notable example of being willing to cross Trump.

—@KThomasDC: @ScottForFlorida gets name checked by @JoeBiden in Sioux City. “No we’ve got a guy who is a multi-millionaire with an interesting past…now he’s started running negative ads out here in Iowa against me.

@NikkiFriedFL: With the #USMCA’s signing today, we look forward to having Administration officials in Florida to hear firsthand from our seasonal producers on protecting against unfair trade. @FlaFruitandVeg @FlaFarmBureau

Tweet, tweet:

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Tweet, tweet:

@ChrisSprowls: A great day for consumer privacy in the Florida House! The bipartisan passage of #HB1189 will ensure that every Floridian’s DNA is private and protected from insurance companies. This first in the nation bill puts Florida well ahead of the curve on protecting your DNA. #flapol

Tweet, tweet:


New Brexit deadline — 1; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 3; Great American Realtors Day — 4; Iowa Caucuses — 4; Eighth Democratic presidential debate in Manchester — 7; Capitol Press Corps press skits — 11; New Hampshire Primaries — 12; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 12; South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 20; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 20; Roger Stone’s sentencing — 21; Nevada caucuses — 23; “Better Call Saul” Season 5 premiers — 24; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 26; South Carolina Primaries — 30; Super Tuesday — 33; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 43; Florida’s presidential primary — 47; “No Time to Die” premiers — 67; Florida TaxWatch Spring Board Meeting begins — 76; TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards — 77; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 106; “Top Gun: Maverick” premiers — 148; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 165; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premiers — 169; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 176; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 201; First Presidential Debate in Indiana — 243; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 207; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 251; Second Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 259; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 266; 2020 General Election — 278.


Ron DeSantis may want to keep a teacher bonus plan, but Legislature doesn’t” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Miami Herald — While the early negotiations of the 2020 Legislative Session have only just begun, one major education development already seems settled: No lawmakers are interested in creating a new teacher bonus program proposed by DeSantis. When asked whether the Legislature had ruled out a new bonus program, the lawmaker in charge of crafting the Senate’s education budget, Sen. Kelli Stargel, said: “We have.” Budget chairman Sen. Ron Bradley also said Wednesday that he thinks lawmakers should focus on salaries. After years of watching the evolution of the state’s current teacher bonus program, Best and Brightest, Bradley said, “the fair way to attract and retain good teachers would be to move these dollars to base pay rather than through a bonus program.”

Few lawmakers are interested in creating a teacher bonus program proposed by Ron DeSantis.


Assignment editors — DeSantis will make an announcement, joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Robert Spottswood, 9 a.m., Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Coral Reef Exhibit, 3rd Floor — Dive Level, 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Later, the Governor will join Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson for a major announcement, 11 a.m., Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, 7000 Front Street, Stock Island.

Assignment editors — First Lady Casey DeSantis joins state Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. for an announcement, 10 a.m., the Governor’s Mansion, 700 N. Adams St., Tallahassee.

House reveals its teacher pay plan, without bonuses” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Chris Latvala unveiled a spending plan that included $150 million more for teacher compensation than what the Senate recommended a day earlier. Latvala’s proposal, which heads to the full Appropriations Committee on Feb. 5, calls for $650 million in what he called a “salary enhancement supplement.” Of that amount, $500 million would go toward the goal of increasing the state’s minimum teacher pay. Latvala said the money would help the state reach a base of $47,000 — $500 less than what DeSantis has requested, but still, Latvala added, pushing Florida to second in the nation as the Governor wanted.

Chris Latvala released an education spending plan, without teacher bonuses.

Senate wants $639M for water projects — The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government proposed $639 million in water quality funding for the 2020-21 budget, Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports. The total is higher than the $625 million DeSantis asked for, though it includes $37 million for local projects the Governor didn’t include in his budget request. About half the allotment, $322 million, would be used for Everglades restoration. Another $125 million would be set aside for land acquisition and grants.

$340 million gap between House, Senate affordable housing plans — The Senate Appropriations Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Subcommittee is proposing a $13.7 billion budget proposal for the six state agencies in its silo, far exceeding the spending plan put forward in the House. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the $340 million gap between the chambers is mainly due to affordable housing plans — the Senate wants a combined $387 million for the State Apartment Incentive Loan and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership, also known as SAIL and SHIP. The House proposal sets aside just $122 million for those programs.

 Senate won’t take up death penalty issue” via the News Service of Florida — The Florida Senate isn’t expected this year to address a major state Supreme Court ruling that said unanimous jury recommendations are not necessary before death sentences can be imposed. “I don’t think we’re going to take steps in the Florida Senate to change or address that,” Senate President Bill Galvano. In a 4-1 decision last week, justices said the court “got it wrong” in 2016 when it required changes such as unanimous jury recommendations on death sentences. The 2016 ruling came as judges, lawyers and state leaders tried to move forward after the U.S. Supreme Court had found Florida’s death penalty system unconstitutional. After the 2016 ruling, the Legislature passed a law in 2017 that required unanimous jury recommendations.


Shot —After launching Disney plus, Disney is lobbying lawmakers to cut taxes on streaming video” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — A lobbyist representing Disney and Charter Communications Inc. — the parent company of cable provider Spectrum — has been working directly with the staff of House Speaker José Oliva, on a plan to rewrite the state’s communications services tax, which is charged on a variety of services, from landline telephones and cellphones to cable, satellite television and streaming video. The proposal (HB 701, SB 1174) would make three significant changes. It would ensure the tax is charged on all streaming video services, forcing any providers who may not be collecting the tax to start doing so. It would cut the tax — but force local governments, rather than the state itself, to absorb almost all the revenue hit.

Chaser — Anyone who pays attention to The Process knows French Brown works on nearly every tax issue that goes before lawmakers, and anyone who bothered to ask would know Disney isn’t driving the debate on this issue. Instead, the articles goes all-in on an angle that fell flat on its face from the start —  in the first paragraph, readers are to believe that Disney is looking looking bring monumental change to communications tax a mere two months after the launch of its premier streaming service? Sure, Disney has a telecom venture now, but they aren’t the driving force in the tax cut push. Not by a long shot. This is an issue that’s been debated by biggest telecom businesses out there for a while now. Side 1: those pushing to streamline the Byzantine collection process. Side 2: Those looking to cut taxes. Delving into the merits of each camp would have made for an interesting story and readers may have even learned a thing or two. It wouldn’t have been as entertaining as this fiction, however.


In the latest episode of the Chamber’s “Bottom Line” video series, Grant explains why the state Constitution should not be a “playground for politics.”

The Tampa Republican is currently sponsoring HB 7037, which allows the state’s Supreme Court to ensure any proposal will not violate the U.S. Constitution, as well as provide Florida voters greater transparency about which they are voting. The measure would also increase the signature threshold from 10 to 50% before an initiative gets a court review.

As well as discussing Florida’s constitutional amendment process, Grant explains the importance of HB 1, which protects employee paychecks from garnishing union dues without their consent.

To view Grant’s appearance on “Bottom Line,” click on the image below:


Ballot initiative restrictions move forward” via the News Service of Florida — The House Appropriations Committee approved a controversial bill that would place more restrictions on backers of ballot initiatives. The proposal (HB 7037) would make a series of changes to the petition-signature process and Florida Supreme Court reviews of ballot initiatives. To get proposed constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot, committees need to submit 766,200 valid petition signatures to the state and receive approval from the Supreme Court of the ballot wording. To trigger that Supreme Court review, committees need to submit 76,632 signatures, or about 10 percent of the 766,200. But as an example of the proposed changes in the House bill that would make the process harder for initiative supporters, the 10 percent threshold would increase to 50 percent.

Senate poised to approve parental consent for abortion in election-year move” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — A measure requiring girls under age 18 to get consent from a parent or a judge before having an abortion came under sharp attack from Senate Democrats, who failed in repeated attempts to derail the bill. A full Senate vote is planned for next week — with the GOP-led House also poised to approve a similar bill soon and send it to DeSantis, who has indicated he’ll sign it into law. “It’s not only the right of the unborn, but the right of parents to raise their children,” said Sen. Rob Bradley. “We should be encouraging parental involvement with their children in manners of morality and religion, and this bill promotes that.”

Kelli Stargel’s controversial abortion bill is looking likely to pass the Senate.

House moves to block insurers from using DNA testing” via Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — The House overwhelmingly approved legislation Wednesday that would bar life insurers from using genetic testing to deny policies. The House bill would prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurers from canceling, limiting or setting premiums based on DNA testing. Rep. Chris Sprowls, the sponsor of the House legislation and the next in line to become the chamber’s Speaker, called the bill a matter of genetic privacy. Life insurers oppose the House bill, saying it is too broad and restrictive. “We continue to express our concerns that this bill could disrupt the life insurance market and raise prices on consumers,” said Curt Leonard, the regional vice president for the American Council of Life Insurers.

Lawmakers push legislation to expand Medicaid as Donald Trump moves to scale back” via Sarah Mueller of Florida Politics — Sen. Annette Taddeo is sponsoring a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 224) that would expand Medicaid coverage for Floridians who are at or below 138% of the federal poverty level. If passed, the state Medicaid agency would have to submit an expansion plan to the Governor by April 1, 2021. The state would have to submit the plan to the federal government by that October. Rep. Cindy Polo is sponsoring a companion House Joint Resolution (HJR 247). Rep. Nick Duran said not expanding Medicaid in Florida means it’s giving up millions of dollars in federal funding. He adds that Florida already makes it hard to get Medicaid. A family of three can’t earn more than $7,000 because of the income limits.

House panel advances ‘accuracy in damages’ bill” via Florida Politics — The House Civil Justice Subcommittee passed a long-sought “accuracy in damages” reform package Wednesday, HB 9 by Rep. Tom Leek. In Florida, when juries calculate damages in personal injury cases, they generally only see the amounts billed. That artificially inflates jury awards, creating perverse incentives and raising the cost of doing business. To address the issue, Leek’s bill ensures that juries base their awards for medical expenses on the usual and customary amounts actually received by medical providers. If the claimant has health insurance or government health coverage, the amounts paid or payable under that coverage are considered the usual and customary amounts.

House OKs bill to protect student-athletes from heat” via Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — Public schools in Florida would be required to have immediate access to emergency cooling tubs and other lifesaving equipment to save student-athletes from deadly heat strokes, under legislation approved Wednesday in the state House. Lawmakers voted unanimously to advance the legislation, which now awaits action by the Florida Senate. More than 460 student-athletes in Florida were treated for exertional heatstroke during the 2017-18 school year, according to state officials. Florida leads the nation in high school student-athlete deaths from exertional heatstroke, with four since 2011.

Senate passes bill to block local bans on sunscreen” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Florida cities and counties wouldn’t be able to ban sunscreens containing ingredients that some researchers say harm coral reefs, under a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday. The Senate voted 25-14 in favor of the bill after no discussion or debate. If it becomes law, a Key West ordinance to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate would be nullified. The Key West ban is set to go into effect next year. Research has shown the chemicals can cause coral bleaching, and the reefs around Key West attract divers, snorkelers and fishing enthusiasts. But Republican Sen. Bradley has said previously that he sponsored the bill because protecting people is more important, and the research hasn’t proven the chemicals actually harm reefs.

Space Florida wants to ‘streamline’ bond process by removing rule requiring Governor’s approval” via Chabeli Carrazana and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Questions under current state law about how exactly Space Florida can borrow money — and who is ultimately on the hook if a deal goes bad — have created challenges for the agency as it seeks to enter into more bond deals. The bill, known as House Bill 717, would strike the provision that Space Florida give 14 days’ notice to the presiding officers and appropriations committee chairs in both houses before presenting the proposal to the Governor and the Cabinet. It would also extend the definition of the word “bonds” to “other types of debt, including bank loans,” which has been a common method of financing for Space Florida in recent years.

Senate panel passes resolution defining climate change threats — A resolution enumerating the risks posed by climate change passed the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee this week with a unanimous vote. SR 1572, sponsored by Orlando Sen. Linda Stewart, includes rising sea levels, freshwater contamination, severe storm events, and changes to agriculture among the challenges facing Florida. “I believe this resolution will bring awareness to Florida’s needs. It is time that the Florida Senate acknowledges climate change and its threats to our environmental and economic security,” Stewart said following the vote.


The House Judiciary Committee meets, 8 a.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Education Committee meets, 9 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The House Health & Human Services Committee meets, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House Commerce Committee meets, 11:30 a.m., Room 212, Knott Building.

The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee meets, 11:30 a.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House State Affairs Committee meets, 11:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House will hold a floor session, 3 p.m., House Chamber.

The House Rules Committee meets 15 minutes after floor session, Room 404, House Office Building.

Assignment editors — Sen. Gayle Harrell and Rep. Jackie Toledo will join pharmacists from around the state to introduce a Florida-specific study on the impact of the pharmacy benefit manager industry on patients and taxpayers, 10:30 a.m., 4th Floor outside Senate Chambers.

Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court releases its weekly opinions, 11 a.m.

Assignment editors — The Florida Juvenile Justice Association will be holding a legislative reception, 5:30 p.m., The Historic Capitol.


Zuppa Toscana; mixed garden salad with dressings; Caprese salad; antipasto salad; deli board with lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses and breads; chicken Parmesan; roast beef pizzaiola; balsamic roast pork loin; grilled ratatouille; green beans with pancetta; Italian orzo mac and cheese; assorted club baked cookies.


Judges challenge DeSantis attorney about fairness of Amendment 4 bill” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Three federal judges hearing a legal challenge to a Florida measure allowing felons to vote asked tough questions of the attorney for Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, repeatedly asking about the fairness of a subsequent bill that levied what critics called a “poll tax.” The questioning by the judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta went to the heart of the battle over Amendment 4, which voters passed in 2018. The justices appeared critical of the requirement passed by the Legislature last year that felons pay back all court fees, fines and restitution to victims before being allowed to vote.

Big corporations dispute sponsoring a Florida police charity that mainly pays telemarketers” via Sarah Kleiner and Chris Zubak-Skees of The Center for Public Integrity — At least four of these organizations — Southwest Airlines, the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Universal Orlando Resort — say they have no record of sponsoring the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund, the charitable arm of the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO. The Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund and the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, have spent about $82.3 million — 77 percent of their operating expenditures — on fundraising services from around 2011 to March 2018. The executive board of the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund and the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, appear to be strengthening their political connections as the nation barrels toward the 2020 election.

Wells Fargo pulls Florida voucher donations over anti-gay school policies” via Brooke Sopelsa and Ryan Ruggiero of CNBC — “We have reviewed this matter carefully and have decided to no longer support Step Up for Students,” the San Francisco-based bank said of the voucher program. “All of us at Wells Fargo highly value diversity and inclusion, and we oppose discrimination of any kind.” The banks’ decisions come less than a week after an Orlando Sentinel investigation found that 156 private Christian schools with anti-gay views educated more than 20,000 students across the state with tuition paid for by Florida taxpayers.

Floridians believe exorbitant attorney fees risk homeownership affordability, survey says” via Florida Politics — A recent survey shows most Florida voters agree that exorbitant legal fees in property insurance cases are driving up the cost of homeownership. Eighty-seven percent of those polled were especially concerned about the “multiplier fee,” allowing attorneys to collect up to 30 times what a family may get in an insurance dispute. The survey also showed: 75% of polled voters say that limiting lawyer fees will stop greedy lawyers from taking advantage of homeowners; 73% agree that reducing lawsuit abuse will help keep the costs of living down in Florida; 76% said excessive litigation and out of control attorney’s fees are driving our insurance rates up and making it more expensive to buy a home or afford insurance coverage.

’We can’t afford Florida’ shouted renters at a news conference in Capitol” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix — Frustrated renters spoke out at a Florida Housing Justice Alliance news conference in the state Capitol. Trenise Bryant, housing organizer of Miami Workers Center and leader of the news conference, brought attention to statewide housing dilemmas and urged more lawmakers to prioritize accessible housing options for Floridians. A varied group of supporters rallied behind Bryant in a unifying chant. “We can’t…,” Bryant started. “ … Afford Florida!” they finished, echoing the posters and banners dispersed throughout the crowd. Several Florida lawmakers spoke at the news conference to introduce a thorough and comprehensive legislative agenda to promote affordable housing and renter protections across the state.

Anna Eskamani speaks about the importance of housing rights. Image via Twitter/New Florida Majority.

Have unpaid tolls? You’ll likely be sent to collections, agency warns” via Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise warned state residents this week to pay their overdue tolls or be sent to collections. The reminder was tweeted out Tuesday by the Turnpike Enterprise, a branch of the state Department of Transportation that manages toll roads. In a release, the agency said that any unpaid toll fees from June 2018 through 2019 are at risk.”


Counties look to Governor for disaster fund help — A group of Florida counties is asking the DeSantis to allow state agencies to partner up to distribute $900 million in federal disaster recovery money that has sat vacant since Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida, East Central Florida Regional Planning Council Chairman Sean Parks wants DeSantis to direct the Department of Economic Opportunity, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Division of Emergency Management work together to deploy the federal cash. “We strongly recommend the State fortify partnerships among agencies that act as a conduit for Federal resources with agencies that provide mitigation services across sectors to include housing, transportation and green infrastructure,” Parks wrote.

Legislature debating using drones to hunt down pythons in Everglades” via Sarah Rumph of Mediaite — The Burmese python has plagued the Florida Everglades for years, and the state’s Legislature is considering using a new strategy to hunt them down: drones. Florida authorities have employed a variety of strategies over the years to battle the pythons, including offering generous cash prizes for anyone willing to hunt the big snakes. Tracking down the pythons through the hundreds of square miles of Everglades swamps is still a challenge, and that is where drones could provide help. Current Florida law restricts the use of drones by law enforcement agencies to gather evidence or other information, a statute that was passed in response to privacy concerns that this developing technology would be abused by police to conduct warrantless searches of Floridians’ property. This bill would carve out an exception for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Forest Service to use drones for tasks like “managing and eradicating invasive exotic plants and animals.”

Lawmakers are considering using drones in the hunt for invasive species like pythons.

Oak leaves contain potential cure for citrus greening disease” via Paul Brinkmann of UPI — Scientists in Florida have confirmed that oak trees could inhibit citrus greening disease, which has brought the once-thriving Florida industry to the brink of collapse. Oak leaves represent “the first potential organic cure” for the destructive tree sickness, said Lorenzo Rossi, a University of Florida biologist and co-author of a study published in the January issue of the journal Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. Research over the past year at a University of Florida greenhouse in Fort Pierce showed that citrus trees recovered from citrus greening when sprayed and drenched with treated water twice a week for two months. The water was treated by steeping chopped oak leaves in it overnight, allowing leaf compounds to leach out.

Land deals eyed in Sarasota, Columbia counties” via the News Service of Florida — More than 5,700 acres in Sarasota County and 17 acres in Columbia County will be up for purchase by DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet. The property would be acquired through the Florida Forever conservation program. Cabinet aides, in advance of next week’s Cabinet meeting, reviewed the proposed $21 million purchase in Sarasota County from Orange Hammock Ranch, LLC. “This protection ensures that sufficient quantities of water are available to meet the current and future needs of natural systems and the citizens of the state,” a staff review of the proposal said. The state’s cost could be offset by $1.5 million from the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast.

FPL tries a new place to soak in solar power: Floating panels on a Miami lake” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — Flying into Miami can be a feast for the eyes. Now, some may also see 400 solar panels floating on Blue Lagoon right next to the airport — half an acre of panels gleaming in South Florida’s world-famous sunshine. Florida Power & Light on Tuesday launched a solar array that will be visible to Super Bowl fans flying in and out of the city. Drivers along a stretch of the Dolphin Expressway will also be able to see the installation, which measures about 22,000 square feet and will generate 160 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power more than 20 homes per year. “What better way to showcase this city, this county and how innovative we are than with this facility behind us,” said Florida Power & Light CEO Eric Silagy after helping about 10 technicians push the installation into the lagoon.


in 2019, Trump’s reelection campaign set up an advanced social media machine with the goal of reaching out to conservative voters, fine-tune its message and build an impressive email list.

Over the past year, The Guardian reports that the Trump campaign spent nearly $20M on over 218,000 various Facebook ads, many of which include images and videos that made news — for having “xenophobic, fearmongering, vitriolic and outright false rhetoric.”

Despite that, the campaign also ran a more conventional social media campaign, employing many of the “classic marketing ploys” to collect user data. Even though they were substance-free and noncontroversial, they were quite useful in their ultimate goal — maximize engagement with repetitive requests.

Donald Trump has built an impressive social media machine.

This mastery of social media has struck fear in many Democrats. Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale had touted this sophistication, particularly on Facebook.

“The campaign is all about data collection,” Parscale told the Guardian. “If we touch you digitally, we want to know who you are and how you think and get you into our databases so that we can model off it and relearn and understand what’s happening.”

A Guardian examination of all 218,100 campaign ads from the campaign in 2019 — seen between 633 million and 1.3 billion times — found that Trump has vastly outspent his Democratic rivals, including billionaire Tom Steyer, who spent $16.8 million on just 12,704 ads. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg is the only candidate who came close to Trump’s volume, with 74,286 separate ads.

“Of the hundreds of thousands of Facebook ads the Trump campaign ran in 2019,” The Guardian notes, “the most successful could reasonably be described as the most boring.”

For example — One of the most effective posts starts with the copy, “TAKE THE OFFICIAL APPROVAL POLL” over a picture of Trump. The link leads the user to an “official approval poll” and a “job performance survey” designed exclusively to collect email addresses. This format amassed nearly 49 million impressions.

— 2020 —

Elizabeth Warren’s latest campaign bet: A ground game in late-voting state like Michigan” via Jess Bidgood of The Boston Globe — The flurry of activity in the Warren campaign’s Michigan headquarters provides a glimpse into a critical bet Warren has placed in the Democratic race. Even as her poll numbers lag in crucial early states, the Massachusetts Senator has built up organizations in places like Michigan, where her campaign was the first of any Democrat to open an office, in a bid to ride out a protracted nomination fight no matter what happens in Iowa. It’s hard to overstate how unusual it is for Warren to have such a large footprint in this Midwestern state, crucial as it is in the general election. The state’s primary isn’t until March 10.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign is turning her focus on later-primary states.

Bernie Sanders search worry some Democrats, but they fear a push to stop him would backfire” via Matt Viser and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — Even the hint of an organized anti-Sanders movement would risk alienating the Vermont independent’s sometimes belligerent supporters and play into claims that the process is “rigged,” many Democrats say privately. Democratic House candidates in swing districts say they are nervous about running on the same ticket as Sanders, but they, too, are reluctant to say so publicly. That is leading some Democratic centrists to warn that the silence carries a risk of waiting until it’s too late. “People need to start taking Bernie pretty seriously — there is a really substantial risk of him becoming unstoppable if he wins these early states by large numbers,” said Matt Bennett, executive vice president for public affairs at Third Way, a centrist Democratic group.

Twitter users can now report voter suppression, misinformation” via Steven Overly of POLITICO — The company expects the reporting tool will help cut down on misinformation about how to vote or take part in other forms of civic engagement, an issue that has been top of mind for social media companies as the U.S. election and census take place this year. Users can now report tweets that contain misleading voter information, just as they can for those containing harassment, spam or intentions of self-harm. They will then be reviewed against Twitter’s rules, which prohibit content that may mislead voters or suppress turnout, and offenders could face possible recourse. It’s the first time the tool is being used in the U.S.

Inside the messy, awkward, occasionally successful dating scene on the campaign trail” via Lisa Bonos of The Washington Post — In the nerdy, stressful version of adult summer camp that is the presidential race, driven and idealistic young people bond while knocking on voters’ doors during the day and kicking back over cheap beers late At night — so it’s no wonder they fall for one another. And yes, make some passionate mistakes they’d rather forget. Many campaign couples meet as field organizers or while doing advance work, as both jobs are typically held by recent college grads working in small offices in remote towns they’ve never been before. It gets lonely, fast. In 2008, organizers all around Iowa would drive to Des Moines to find other campaign staffers who could relate. Now, Tinder or Bumble can find someone nearby.


Senate and John Roberts face possibility of epic tie on witnesses” via Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan of POLITICO — Ahead of a tight vote on whether to hear new witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial, the Senate is preparing for the possibility that this crucial roll call has an asterisk in the history books: It ends in a tie. And it’s a scenario that would suddenly put a spotlight on Chief Justice Roberts. Ahead of Friday’s widely anticipated showdown over whether to call new witnesses and with GOP leaders moving to lock down on-the-fence Republicans, the Senate is newly abuzz over the uncertainty of what happens if the chamber deadlocks and what Roberts might do in the event of a stalemate. “That is a great unknown,” said Sen. James Lankford.

John Roberts could be facing an epic tie.

Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose Donald Trump’s use of executive privilege to muzzle witnesses” via Caitlin Oprysko of POLITICO — Nearly six in 10 voters oppose the president’s invoking executive privilege to block new testimony, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. The latest poll shows that just over a quarter of voters, 26%, think the president should be allowed to use executive privilege to muzzle potential bombshell witnesses like former national security adviser Bolton. That’s compared with 57% who say Trump should not be allowed to invoke the powers of the presidency to block certain witnesses. Though the majority opposed to Trump’s invoking executive privilege was primarily driven by Democrats (86%), that opposition also found a home among 57% of independents.

White House has issued formal threat to John Bolton to keep him from publishing book” via Jake Tapper of CNN — In a letter to Bolton‘s lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s book “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information” and couldn’t be published as written. The letter said some of the information was classified at the “top secret” level, meaning it “reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security.” “The manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information,” the letter read.

On impeachment, Rick Scott poses questions about Democrats, none about Donald Trump” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Scott released his list of questions for the impeachment trial of Trump with most exploring what Democrats did or did not do, and none exploring what Trump did or did not do. Scott’s questions include two about former Vice President Biden; one seeking information about the whistleblower whose complaint led Democrats to investigate last year; three about the conduct of Democratic House managers who’ve prosecuted the case against Trump; and one rhetorical question about whether the whole impeachment process is nothing more than a partisan attempt to interfere with the 2020 election. It’s not known when the Senators’ questions might come up on the Senate floor. Nor is it certain if all Senators’ questions will be posed.

Outrage grows over Scott’s ‘hostage’ reference in impeachment” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Democrats are expressing outrage over a video from Scott, in which he complains that he’s been “taken hostage,” forced to listen to what he feels is nonsense arguments over impeachment. Scott is clearly, unequivocally, 100% in Trump’s camp — and doesn’t like having to hear the evidence against the president from House impeachment managers. The problematic part, for many, is at the beginning of the two-minute video. “As you may have heard, I’ve been taken hostage, along with 99 other people in the U.S. Capitol. We are receiving only milk and water. And we are being subjected to the cruel and unusual punishment of listening to the rantings of Adam Schiff, a person from a parallel universe.”

Tweet, tweet:

Val Demings has an American dream. The impeachment trial is testing it” via Ellen McCarthy of the Washington Post — In 1968, Florida sixth-grader Val Demings was chosen for a coveted role: safety patrol. It was a big deal. For the first six years of her education, Demings had been bused across Jacksonville to a school for black children. Now, as one of the few black members of her new school’s first integrated class, she had impressed her teachers enough to be elevated to a position of authority.

Law firm that helped Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s political rise cuts its ties” via Be Wieder and Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — A powerhouse South Florida law firm is where Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman turned to for a variety of tasks during their political rise, Greenspoon Marder. The firm had represented Parnas and Fruman in several matters: Defending them in lawsuits, speaking for them to the press, registering businesses across the country, and even handling Fruman’s divorce from his wife, Liza Naumova. But the relationship appears to have now abruptly come to an end. Last week, the firm withdrew as counsel for Parnas and a business partner, David Correia, in a Palm Beach County lawsuit against a real estate development company, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The firm requested to drop Parnas and Correia as clients in a federal lawsuit related to a failed movie investment, again citing irreconcilable differences.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce is celebrating Trump’s signature on the newly ratified U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Chamber leaders believe the new deal will “preserve and strengthen U.S. trade ties to Canada and Mexico — two of Florida’s top six countries for Florida-origin exports.”

“With more than 2.5 million high-wage Florida jobs depending on international trade, the Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks President Trump for signing the USMCA trade agreement. USMCA will benefit Florida’s agriculture industry, manufacturers and local businesses, and will help grow Florida’s $57 billion in exports of goods and $43 billion in exports of services,” said Bob Grammig, chair of the chamber’s International Trade Division. The International Trade Division will “continue fighting to strengthen Florida’s position as a global trade leader and will continue working to ensure Florida’s exports in goods double and exports in services triple by 2030.”

According to, Florida-origin exports are $57.2 billion; the Chamber’s goal for 2030 is to get that number to $114.4 billion. The state also exports $43.3 billion in services and hopes to bring that number to $129.9 billion by 2030. Florida imports $80.6 billion of goods every year.


Kathy Castor urges DeSantis to ‘be bold’ on climate policy” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Castor, chair of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, penned a letter to DeSantis urging him to commit the state to modern energy efficiency initiatives that not only protect the environment and combat climate change, but also save consumers money. “Florida should be a leader in building a clean energy economy and creating economic opportunities with high-quality professions and trades,” Castor wrote. “The most economically competitive states in America will be grounded in clean energy, and the ‘Sunshine State’ should be a world leader.” Since taking office, DeSantis has earned praise for his environmentally-focused priorities on clean water. But while those efforts earned points with environmental groups, it hasn’t been enough to appease them.

Kathy Castor is calling on Ron DeSantis it ‘be bold’ on climate change.

Darren Soto, Stephanie Murphy strike deal to get back into VA hospital” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The offices of U.S. Reps. Soto and Murphy are headed back into the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lake Nona. However, their office in the hospital is gone, and they’ll be providing constituent services to veterans from a table in a hallway a few days a month. In a news release, Soto and Murphy characterized the result as a compromise solution, following months of negotiations, and accepted that it would allow them to renew, providing what they always asserted was critical assistance to veterans inside the hospital.


Keep Our Constitution Clean has enough signatures for 2020 ballot” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A proposed ballot amendment that would make it harder for future constitutional amendments to pass has collected enough signatures to secure a spot on the 2020 ballot. Keep Our Constitution Clean had collected 768,096 valid petition signatures as of Wednesday evening, according to the Florida Division of elections website. Constitutional amendments need 766,200 signatures to make the ballot. The committee is pushing a measure that would require future constitutional amendments to be passed by voters twice before they are included in the Florida Constitution. Increasing the necessary rounds of public approval, from one round, would make Florida’s constitution one of the hardest state constitutions to change.

Donna Deegan outraised John Rutherford during last quarter of 2019” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — Incumbent U.S. Rep. Rutherford rolled out fourth-quarter fundraising numbers. The Congressman has a cash on hand advantage over likely Democratic challenger Deegan, but he did not raise as much as her during the last quarter of 2019. Rutherford raised $123,850, compared to Deegan, a former broadcaster and cancer survivor, who raised $204,000 in her first quarter in the race. Most of Rutherford’s money came from corporate PACs and the Jacksonville donor class. The congressman is spending also — $70,000 over the last three months of 2019.

Leo Valentin, Carlos Giménez make NRCC’s ‘on the radar’ list for congressional runs” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican congressional candidates Valentin in Orlando and Miami-Dade County Mayor Giménez are in line for national Republican support for their campaigns, now that the National Republican Congressional Committee has declared both of them to be “On the radar” for the party’s “Young Guns” program. Both are in multiple-candidate Republican primary battles for chances to take on Democratic congresswomen who are being targeted by national Republicans. The “On the radar” designation means they have achieved the first level of campaign thresholds for fundraising, organization, and viability, and have been identified as promising by the NRCC.

Tweet, tweet:

Voters to decide in November whether to bring back tax for Conservation Collier” via Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Commissioners this week voted 4-1 to approve ballot language to ask voters this November whether they support bringing back a special tax to continue to buy and manage environmentally sensitive lands. Voters will be able to decide whether they agree with reestablishing a quarter-mill property tax for 10 years. However, Commission Chairman Burt Saunders noted that the proposed rate could be adjusted up until ballots are actually printed. “This is nothing that’s cast in stone,” he said at the hearing on the issue. “So, we can have further discussion, but it’ll get the dialogue started.”


Tampa City Council member uses anti-Semitic slur” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — In the midst of describing why he thought the city of Tampa was being charged too much for construction costs, City Council member Orlando Gudes put it this way to a Tampa Bay Times reporter: “We’re getting Jewed.” Gudes, 52, a first-term council member and retired police officer, immediately retracted his words, saying he shouldn’t have said it. He later said he didn’t want to be misinterpreted as using a slur against Jewish people. “Sometimes, people use the word ‘I got Jewed’ meaning by a Jewish person … And I thought someone could take that the wrong way,” said Gudes, who is African American. “Let’s not go down that road, OK? I’m not a racist.”

Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes put his foot in his mouth with an anti-Semitic slur.

Hillsborough School Board descends on Capitol as teacher pay debate rages” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — It’s rare for an entire board and an agency’s top executive to all travel together to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers on issues, making the district’s trip a unique opportunity. The group established a list of items to tackle on the trip, matters on which both Republican and Democratic members of the board agreed. The goal was to create a focused platform with achievable ideas by targeting DeSantis and leading lawmakers’ already established priorities. Their goal is to further the conversation on issues by building on or improving measures already working through the 2020 Legislative Session. The group narrowed its list to six topics and are meeting with more than a dozen lawmakers to address them.

South Florida students told to stay home after possible exposure to coronavirus” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Thirty high school students in Palm Beach County were told to stay home because they may have been exposed to coronavirus at a weekend conference. The group had attended a Model United Nations event at Yale University in Connecticut that was cut short when the university notified participants that a student from China with a cough and fever had been taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital. The Chinese student tested positive for influenza and has been isolated while awaiting test results for coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of coronavirus show up two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Yale said more than 1,500 student delegates from cities around the world attended.

JEA will ask senior executives to give up unusual benefits in employment agreements” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — State law limits severance pay to 20 weeks of compensation for government workers in Florida. Still, the JEA employment agreements say senior leadership team members dismissed without cause also will get consulting contracts after their last day. The total value of those consultant contracts was $1.6 million, according to a City Council Auditor report. No other independent authority in Jacksonville provides guarantees of consulting contracts to dismissed employees. The Jacksonville City Council approved a resolution Tuesday that includes a request for JEA to renegotiate the non-CEO agreements with senior leadership team members. City Ethics Director Carla Miller has called on the executives to voluntarily agree to cancel the contracts as a way to “increase citizen trust in JEA.”

Feds investigating former Florida state attorney’s tenure” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — A federal grand jury in Jacksonville is investigating the tenure of Jeff Siegmeister, a North Florida state attorney who resigned last month while FBI agents were questioning potential witnesses. Although the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville and the FBI said they couldn’t confirm or deny the investigation, Mitch Stone, an attorney for one of the men approached by FBI agents, said the grand jury is investigating what went on in the 3rd Judicial Circuit during Siegmeister’s tenure. His lawyer, Bobi Frank, a Gainesville criminal defense attorney, said in an email, “As the former State Attorney for the Third Judicial Circuit, if he was under investigation for any reason, he would fully cooperate with Federal Agents and Prosecutors-he has nothing to hide.”

Gaming arcades have 30-day deadline to vacate Nassau County after commission vote” via Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union — The vote, which followed a lengthy public hearing with comments from supporters and opponents of the so-called internet cafes, saw many ask to be left alone. But in the end, all five commissioners voted unanimously to shut them down after the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office reported an increase in crime. County attorney Michael Mullin told the audience that gambling is illegal in Nassau County. Yet, there has been a “proliferation” of businesses using a computer or video games and contests “generally associated with legalized casino or gambling outlets.” He said people might be deceived into thinking such devices are legal when the commission finds them “deceptive” and adverse to the county’s quality of life.

Keith Powell bows out as new Tallahassee ethics officer, apologizes for political tweets” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — “I’m sorry if my past comments offended members of this community,” Powell said in a news release. “This was never my intent. I am a deeply religious man who wears my faith on my sleeve. For better or for worse, that is just who I am.” Powell’s Twitter feed, which has since been deleted, included sharp jabs at prominent Democrats. In one of the tweets, he complained about a gay kiss shown during the broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the news release, which was issued by John Reid, attorney for the Independent Ethics Board, Powell said his comments were not made with malice “but rather reflect his conservative views on various social and political issues.”

Metromover beats monorail for riders to Miami Beach, but costs more. Worth it?” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — With a new three-mile extension over Biscayne Bay, a rider could take a train from the main Metrorail station in downtown Miami to southern Miami Beach in 13 minutes. The analysis predicts the free transit option would be popular, generating 13,600 trips a day on a line expected to cost about $630 million to build. The other leading option is monorail, which would be far cheaper to operate but with fewer riders, according to projections laid out by the Parsons consulting firm. The Parsons analysis predicts 8,900 trips a day on a $680 million monorail system, about 52 percent fewer than would be generated by a Metromover extension to South Beach.

Who’s a lobbyist? Leon County may strengthen local law after Tallahassee Democrat investigation” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Commissioner Rick Minor asked County Attorney Herb Thiele to bring back an agenda item clarifying the definition of lobbying to clear up any confusion. In his request for ways to improve transparency, Minor cited recent reporting by the Tallahassee Democrat about the intersection of lobbying, private business and public policy. A handful of unregistered lobbyists met with elected officials in the last year, the paper has reported. The broad interpretation in local ordinances of what is lobbying is causing officials — and ethics watchdogs — concern over who is influencing local politics. No one has ever faced sanctions for violating the city or county lobbying ordinances. The county ordinance does not include language on how violations are monitored or enforced.

Leon County Commissioner Rick Minor wants some clarification of just what is a lobbyist.

UWF audit expected to last through late March — Lawmakers won’t get to see the results of a review addressing the University of West Florida’s alleged mismanagement of Complete Florida Plus during the Legislative Session. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the audit was initially expected to be completed by the end of last year, but the State University System Board of Governors now expects to report its findings when it meets March 24. The Legislative Session is scheduled to end on March 13. Speaking at a BOG meeting, state university system inspector general Julie Leftheris said that the audit is ongoing.


Time has come for taxing Internet commerce” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — It could all be done electronically, just like the little code reader at Publix scans each item and detects which ones are sales-taxable. The current law refers to “mail-order sales,” which brings to mind visions of the Wells Fargo wagon coming to town in “The Music Man.” The legislation, Senate Bill 126 and House Bill 159, changes that to “remote” sales. The first big thing to understand (or get over) about the idea is that this is not a tax increase. Nobody likes to start paying a fee they’re able to skip now, and the idea of giving more money to the government may not fill your heart with joyous anticipation, but this is money that’s already owed. And it’s fair.


Not a bank of bigotry. Fifth Third pulls voucher-school money until anti-gay policies cease” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — On Tuesday, Fifth Third Bank became the latest company to say it will no longer steer tax payments to Florida’s voucher-school program. The reason: Fifth Third learned from the Orlando Sentinel that more than 80 schools in the program say they refuse to serve LGBT students or families. Quite simply, it was hard for the bank to preach diversity and inclusion to its customers and employees while also funding schools like Trinity Christian in DeLand, where the handbook says students can be expelled for saying: “I am gay.” It was all too much for Fifth Third, which tweeted: “We have communicated with program officials that we will not be contributing again until more inclusive policies have been adopted by all participating schools to protect the sexual orientation of all our students. We are proud to stand with #LGBTQ students and parents.”

Dishonest posturing by Everglades foundation jeopardizes DeSantis proposal to combat algae blooms” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — The group is standing alone in opposition to a high-priority proposal backed by DeSantis that would create additional oversight of leaky septic tanks, add more transparency and data collection to reporting on agricultural water management practices, as well as add a new wastewater grant program to minimize pollution. They are in SB 712 from recommendations by the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force. In testimony before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment and General Government, the Everglades Foundation General Counsel Anna Upton told Senators that a proposed compromise amendment would move the bill “backward.” Sen. Debbie Mayfield said. “It takes us forward. We’re trying to set something up that’s going to be a success.”

Why should I have to use a clumsy, inaccurate system before I hire someone?” via Paul DiMare for the Tallahassee Democrat — A few politicians are trying to mandate that virtually every person hired in Florida – for any job whatsoever – must have their identity screened through the notoriously unreliable federal E-Verify employment eligibility system. That means every school, church, farm, convenience store, hair salon, restaurant, charity, hotel, hospital, daycare and doctor’s office will have to get approval from Washington, D.C., before hiring anyone. That approval will be required for all levels of employees from janitor to CEO. If successful, this politically-motivated effort in Tallahassee will bring our booming economy to a screeching halt.

TV Guy signs off, says thanks” via Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel — I have reached one of the most bittersweet days in my life: I have accepted a voluntary buyout after 25 years at the Orlando Sentinel. This week, the TV Guy is signing off on this network, which has been so good to me.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian Bautista, David Browning, Mercer Fearington, Paul Mitchell, The Southern Group: Apple, Florida Peninsula & Edison Insurance Company, Hillsborough County, Lumina Analytics, South Central Florida Express

Christian Camara, Chamber Consultants: Florida Association for Office-Based Surgery

Marty Fiorentino, Davis Bean, John Delaney, Joseph Mobley, Mark Pinto, Shannan Schuessler, The Fiorentino Group: CareerSource Northeast Florida

Dylan Fisher: Executive Office of the Governor

Mathew Forrest, Ballard Partners: Vinik Family Office

Shawn Foster, Sunrise Consulting Group: Everbridge

Richard Fox, Sandra Starnes: Office of Insurance Regulation

Elizabeth Guzzo: Office of the Attorney General

Michael Horner, Macy Island Consulting: Sea and Shoreline

Jonathan Kilman, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Enterprise Holdings

Amy Maguire, Shumaker Advisors Florida: Sportradar Solutions

Safia Malin: SPLC Action Fund

Andre Parke, Sachs Sax Caplan: Zaner-Bloser

Michael Spinelli: Bay Area Metro, ETC of Central Florida, Orange Lake Resort & Country Club, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, South Florida Quarter Horse Association

Jenna Stevens: Environment Florida

Kelley Teague: Orange County Government


Emergency officials ready for Super Bowl” via the News Service of Florida — State Emergency Management Director Moskowitz said his agency will be at “Level 2” staffing in support of homeland security operations surrounding the game. “We are in a supporting role and not just myself but FDLE and other state agencies,” Moskowitz said, referring to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “We will have boots on the ground. The (state Emergency Operations Center) is actually going to be open and operating. So, we are going to be ready to support potentially anything that may happen. Except, the only thing I hope that happens is one of those teams has a good game. And that’s the end of that. And people go home in a nice, orderly fashion.”

State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz says his agency is ready for the Super Bowl. Just in case.

The most balanced team in the Super Bowl is not the favorite” via Michael Salfino of — One team competing this weekend in Super Bowl LIV has proved all season that it is one of the most dominant, well-balanced squads in NFL history. It’s the team widely expected to lose. Given the defensive reputation of San Francisco, it shouldn’t be a shock that the Niners allowed far fewer yards than the Chiefs did this season. But you may be surprised that the 49ers narrowly edged out the Chiefs in terms of total yards gained. In fact, the 49ers are the first Super Bowl team since the 2007 New England Patriots — unbeaten in the regular season — to rank in the top five in both most yards gained (6,097, fourth) and fewest yards allowed (4,509, second).

Katie Sowers is the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl. Her goal: ‘make sure I’m not the last.’” via Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post — It was a common NFL occasion, a coach helping a young player through a test, and yet it was unlike almost any interaction on an NFL sideline. The coach’s name was Katie Sowers. She was not just a striver. She was a trailblazer, a fierce former quarterback who saw a path when one did not really exist. Sowers will become the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl. One of three women who have full-time NFL coaching jobs, she is an offensive assistant on 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff. Her job consists mostly of grunt work. She is living her dream.

The forever cycle of Chiefs fandom has been broken” via Rany Jazayerli of The Ringer — If it’s darkest before the dawn, well, this was the darkest it’s been for me. I never had to give up on the Chiefs. I’ve been rooting for the Chiefs for longer than most of them have been alive. Patrick Mahomes Senior wasn’t born the last time the Chiefs played in the Super Bowl. Aside from punter Dustin Colquitt, not one member of the roster was even in the organization when it lost to the Ravens in the wild-card round nine years ago. These players can lay claim to the AFC championship, but the end of a 50-year drought is not theirs to claim, nor should they want any part of that.

Who the hell is Raheem Mostert?” via Tyler Dunne of — How does a 27-year-old who has been cut again … and again … and again — six times in all — have maybe the best game a running back has ever had in the playoffs? Back when the 49ers were predicting this type of season, there’s zero chance even they could’ve expected the part Mostert would play in it. And yet there he was Sunday, a mic in his face, holding his son Gunnar in one hand and the Halas Trophy in the other as confetti rained. To espouse the virtues of lifting and training and believing in himself. And yes, this 5’10,” 210-pounder with 4.32 speed, veins snaking down his forearms and biceps popping out of a maroon shirt is clearly committed. Or to launch into an attack on the teams that didn’t believe in him. And yes, he keeps the dates of those six cuts in the Notes app on his phone.

49ers running back Raheem Mostert is an unlikely legend.

Miami street artists to feature works during Super Bowl” via The Associated Press — Some of the most popular street artists in Miami’s trendy Wynwood district will get a boost from the Super Bowl. Five artists will showcase their work at the stadium, around the city, and on the actual game day ticket. The NFL partnered with the curators of the renowned Wynwood Walls and commissioned five artists to create large scale murals, sculptures, and building wraps into the Super Bowl LIV experience. The Walls, a year-round spot in the heart of Wynwood, features large murals by artists. It has become a popular tourist spot and a colorful selfie backdrop.

Here’s when you can expect Uber, Lyft price surging in Miami during Super Bowl week” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — How much will an Uber or Lyft cost you during Super Bowl week? Probably enough to make your bank account feel like it’s running on empty. Uber and Lyft declined to say when riders can expect to see price surging or how high it could get during the Super Bowl. Instead, both companies said it fluctuates based on various factors, including traffic, location, time and demand for drivers. While this will be Miami’s first Super Bowl with Uber and Lyft, ride costs did get pricey in other cities during previous Super Bowls. MPR News, a public radio station in Minnesota, tracked Uber surge pricing when Super Bowl 2018 was in Minneapolis. The highest surge it found was 3.9x regular prices at 4:30 a.m. Monday — hours after the game had ended.

‘Kobe would want us to push through’: Shaq won’t cancel his Super Bowl party in Miami” via Madeleine Marr of the Miami Herald — Shaquille O’Neal is reeling after the death of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, but won’t let his sadness get in the way of his Super Bowl party in Miami Friday night. The onetime Miami Heat star is bringing his Shaq’s Fun House to Mana Wynwood and will put on his best game face. But the carnival-like party is sure to be a toned-down affair in the wake of Bryant’s tragic death last weekend in a helicopter crash that also claimed eight other people, including the Lakers legend’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, an aspiring basketball star.


Best wishes to Sen. Perry Thurston. Senate Democrats will be in good hands when he takes over as their leader.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

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.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

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