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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.4.20

Here’s your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Lawmakers are lacing up their walking shoes as Sen. Lauren Book and her Lauren’s Kids Foundation prepare a multiday walk at the Capitol for child sexual abuse awareness.

That event intends to honor the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. Treadmills will be placed inside The Capitol where lawmakers, abuse survivors and others will take turns walking from noon Tuesday until noon Thursday.

Lauren’s Kids, led by Sen. Lauren Book, will have treadmills set up in The Capitol. It’s an extension of her annual Walk in My Shoes event. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

Among the elected officials joining Book for the walk is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Attorney General Ashley Moody, Sens. Aaron Bean, Wilton Simpson, Annette Taddeo and Tom Wright, and Rep. Melony Bell.

The Capitol walk is an extension of Lauren’s Kids’ annual “Walk in My Shoes” event, a multiday trek between Key West and Tallahassee.

During the 2019 Session, Book’s foundation switched things up and used the Capitol to host the walk. Book says she chose Tallahassee for the walk due to its pivotal role in improving the lives of those affected by abuse.

“I’ve always found that this is a place where true change takes place,” Book said.

“It’s just become such a special piece for me in watching these survivors grow into becoming thriving individuals that does not allow this to define them.”

During Regular Session, as in 2019, the event would be held in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But with lawmakers meeting early due to the election year, Book’s event got bumped up as well.

Several other groups also plan to walk on behalf of survivors. That includes police officers who have responded to abuse allegations, as well as trauma therapists walking one minute for each client they’ve seen over the year.

Book says she can still vividly remember the day she first disclosed her own abuse as a child.

“It was a bad time. It was a really difficult time.”

Book started Lauren’s Kids to help other abuse survivors get help and support. When the group launched its first Walk in My Shoes event, Book said she used it to “shed the bad” stemming from the trauma she experienced.

With more attention and support rallied for the issue, Book says attendees see it as something fully empowering.

“You can heal, you can survive, and you will thrive if you do the work,” Book said.

“I wish that I had a model for that when I was growing up. It’s remarkable when you see these kids. And I think there’s this perception that ‘we’re broken, we’re always going to be broken.’ And that’s not what they have. When I look at the kids today who come out and walk with us, they’re proud. They’re proud that they’re creating a different identity, a different family, a different world for themselves.”

The multiday event will stream at LaurensKids.org.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

On today’s Sunrise:

— A Senate committee approves raising the legal age for vaping and smoking from 18 to 21, but as things became a bit complicated, the issue gets split into two separate bills.

— A House committee votes to shine a light on impact fees charged by local governments

— A proposal to punish doctors who perform gender selection surgery on minors is workshopped but does not get a vote. And that’s about all it will get this Session.

— While Hurricane Dorian didn’t do any real damage to Florida, customers of Duke Energy will be paying anyway. The PSC votes on a Dorian surcharge that will cost consumers about $170 million over the next year.

— And the story of Florida Man, who was charged with attempted murder after police identified him by DNA in his own sock.

To listen, click on the image below:

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@MarcoRubio: If House votes to impeach, the Senate decides not just guilt or innocence, but also whether removal is in the nations best interest EVEN IF (not EVEN THOUGH) Article I could be proven, removal would not serve the nations best interest; Article II is a joke.

@DeFede: I’m about an hour into the Cable network Caucus coverage, and I’m more convinced than ever this is the dumbest system imaginable. How can I say this nicely: F&@# Iowa.

@Cameron_Kasky: I am at my first caucus ever, and the fact that this is how we do our politics is genuinely laughable. I had no idea how childish it was. Our democracy is an elementary school dodgeball game.

Tweet, tweet:

@SMurphyCongress: Proud that @Mike2020 recognizes the importance of Florida and is already investing here. As Florida goes, so goes the nation. Thank you for your continued focus on gun violence,

@TheRickWilson: I just heard the news that Rush Limbaugh has advanced lung cancer. I’m going to show you how this should be done: I wish Rush a speedy and complete recovery from his cancer. Human being pro-tip: don’t wish cancer on *anyone* … even on your adversaries.

@Fineout: So apparently a Fla Senate committee is having tough time figuring out how to pass bills in the aftermath of the 2/3 tax/fee requirement #FLLeg passed — gee if someone at the time had suggested that legislators did not fully explain/figure out how it would work … oh wait …

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@CarlosGSmith: Thanks to the moms, transgender Floridians, + REAL medical experts who shared stories in opposition to HB 1365 — a bill that criminalizes lifesaving care for trans youth. HB 1365 is procedurally DEAD for 2020 Session! Let’s stay vigilant to ensure it never sees the light of day!

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Eighth Democratic presidential debate in Manchester — 3; Capitol Press Corps press skits — 6; New Hampshire Primaries — 7; Pitchers and catchers begin reporting for MLB Spring Training — 7; South Beach Wine and Food Festival — 15; Ninth Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas — 15; Roger Stone’s sentencing — 16; Nevada caucuses — 18; “Better Call Saul” Season 5 premiers — 19; 10th Democratic presidential debate in Charleston — 21; South Carolina Primaries — 25; Super Tuesday — 28; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 38; Florida’s presidential primary — 42; “No Time to Die” premiers — 62; Florida TaxWatch Spring Board Meeting begins — 71; TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards — 72; Florida Chamber Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity — 101; “Top Gun: Maverick” premiers — 143; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 160; Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” premiers — 164; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start — 171; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 196; First Presidential Debate in Indiana — 238; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 202; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 246; Second Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 254; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 261; 2020 General Election — 273.

— TOP STORY —

Democrats lay big caucus egg: No results from Iowa election” via Steve Peoples and Thomas Beaumont of the Associated Press — Democratic party officials in Iowa worked furiously Tuesday to deliver the delayed results of their first-in-the-nation caucus, as frustrated presidential candidates claimed momentum and plowed ahead in their quest for the White House. Technology problems and reporting “inconsistencies” kept Iowa Democratic Party officials from releasing results from Monday’s caucus, the much-hyped kickoff to the 2020 primary. It was an embarrassing twist after months of promoting the contest as a chance for Democrats to find some clarity in a jumbled field with no clear front-runner.

Instead, caucus day ended with no winner, no official results and many fresh questions about whether Iowa can retain its coveted “first” status.

State party officials said final results would be released later Tuesday and offered assurances that the problem was not a result of “a hack or an intrusion.” Officials were conducting quality checks and verifying results, prioritizing the integrity of the results, the party said in a statement. The statement came after tens of thousands of voters spent hours Monday night sorting through a field of nearly a dozen candidates who had spent much of the previous year fighting to win the opening contest of the 2020 campaign and, ultimately, the opportunity to take on President Donald Trump this fall.

>>>Trump campaign reaction: “Democrats are stewing in a caucus mess of their own creation with the sloppiest train wreck in history. It would be natural for people to doubt the fairness of the process. And these are the people who want to run our entire health care system? Tonight President Trump posted a record performance in the well-run GOP Iowa caucuses with record turnout for an incumbent.” — Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager

Local residents check-in after arriving at an Iowa Democratic caucus at a high school.

The 1,600 volunteers who were supposed to make the Iowa Caucuses run smoothly” via Sydney Ember of the New York Times — As part of a set of reforms following the 2016 election, the Iowa Democratic Party introduced an app intended to make reporting numbers on caucus night easier. But there was a problem with the much ballyhooed innovation: Most people didn’t use it. According to more than a dozen Iowa Democratic Party officials, county chairmen and volunteers involved in running precincts, many precinct leaders ignored the party’s request that they download the app before caucus night or found the process of installing it too cumbersome. Instead, as they had always done, they planned to call their precinct results in. But some found it took hours for any of the dozens of people at party headquarters in Des Moines to pick up the phone to receive the results. What followed was an epic collapse of the rickety system Iowa has relied on for decades to tabulate the results of a largely analog electoral contest.

‘It kind of failed us’: With eyes of the world on Iowa, another hiccup in American democracy” via Isaac-Stanley Becker of The Washington Post — Sean Bagniewski, chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, said that local officials were aware of problems with the app since last Thursday and that they had requested state officials resolve the problems — to no avail. “We knew the app was a problem last Thursday,’ Bagniewski said. When local party officials asked the state party about issues they had with the app, they were referred to a ‘dedicated staffer’ who was not able to solve the problems, he said. “We had had so many complaints about the app that we started telling our chairs that if they were having problems with the app then you should call in the results,’ Bagniewski said. The state party did not provide any training on how to use the app, he said, adding that while the caucus trainings are done at the county level, the app itself came from the state level.”

The Iowa caucus in St. Petersburg, where Amy Klobuchar won over the snowbirds” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — For the first time, the state party held 24 satellite caucuses in other states — including four in Florida, and one in Paris — allowing Iowans who spend winters in warmer climates to vote remotely. This is what brought 106 Democratic voters — mostly senior citizens, many snowbirds — and a lot of confused Florida reporters to St. Andrew Lutheran Church. At the end of a chaotic three hours of speeches, debate, cheering and cajoling, the winner, at least here, was clear: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar led all candidates with 48 votes, more than doubling the next-closest competitor, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Whether this outcome was reflective of the will of all Iowa Democrats would not be determined by the time the church cleared out. It would be like trying to figure out how Florida is voting based off of one precinct in a Naples retirement community.

Check out the front page of the New York Post:

— DATELINE: TALLY —

Happening today — Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet will take up several matters, including proposals to purchase more than 5,700 acres in Sarasota County and 17 acres in Columbia County through the Florida Forever land conservation program, 9 a.m., Cabinet Meeting Room.

Liberal women’s groups plan Capitol protest against parental consent for abortions” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The National Women’s Liberation group is helping to promote the protest. The group describes itself as “a multiracial feminist group for women who want to fight male supremacy and gain more freedom for women.” The group lists abortion and birth control access among its top priorities. Planned Parenthood, Women’s March Florida, Indivisible and other liberal group supporters are organizing the protest. The gathering is scheduled for 3 p.m. “The Florida Senate is voting on SB 404, the forced parental consent bill, and we need to act,” National Women’s Liberation wrote in a release. “We’re doing everything we can to get supporters like you to help stop this bad bill and protect our access to abortion.”

Tom Leek on stopping trial lawyer scare tactics” via the Florida Chamber — On the latest edition of the Chamber’s “Bottom Line,” state Rep. Leek explains why it’s important to put consumers ahead of billboard lawyers — particularly those that are deploying scare tactics aimed at seniors. Rep. Leek’s legal advertising bill, CJS2, will be heard today in the Civil Justice Subcommittee. The Chamber is joining DeSantis and legislative leaders like Leek to take on billboard trial lawyers, which can cost the average family $4,442 each year in lawsuit abuse “taxes.”

To view Leek on “Bottom Line,” click on the image below:

— LEGISLATION —

Bill that would restrict medical treatments for transgender youth lies dormant” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — After lively and emotional debate on both sides of the issue, a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide minors with hormone therapy or to perform sex reassignment surgery will likely not see its first hearing. The bill would have carried a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine or 15 years in prison. The House Health Quality Subcommittee held a workshop filled with hours of testimony both for and against the bill. Chair Colleen Burton, announced at the end that it would be the last time the committee meets.

Is eight enough? Senate joins House in school board term limit debate.” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — A push for school board term limits overcame a significant hurdle as a Florida Senate committee advanced legislation that would ask voters to force board members from office after eight consecutive years. What makes the Ethics and Elections Committee’s party-line vote on SJR 1216 notable is sponsor Sen. Joe Gruters’ agreement to scale back his proposed limit to eight years from the original 12 he sought. In the past two Legislative Sessions, the limits concept ran aground in the Senate, where members were more insistent on longer terms. “Eight years aligns with the current term limits in place,” Gruters told the panel. “It would provide consistency among elected officials.”

Joe Gruters is looking to scale back his school board term limit bill to eight years from the original 12.

Affordable housing bill clears Senate committee — The Senate Community Affairs Committee voted 4-0 in favor of a bill that would allow large cities to remove impact fees for new affordable housing developments, POLITICO Florida reports. “My original draft was a little bit more aggressive and dealt with truly affordable and low income,” bill sponsor Sen. Jason Pizzo said. “Unfortunately, the appetite over in the other House is not there right now — I’m told — for the lower-income folks.” SB 856 initially aimed to slash property taxes for developers of low-income and workforce housing developments in larger counties.

Legislature has plans to end tourist tax subsidies for professional sports team” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Legislation filed this year (HB 1369) would repeal the Professional Sports Franchise Program created with the birth of the Miami Marlins — and which now has local governments on the hook for about another quarter-billion dollars in subsidies through 2038. Rep. Cary Pigman told the House Ways and Means Committee that it’s time to have a robust discussion about these taxpayer-funded projects. They often don’t deliver the return in economic development promised by the teams and leave the municipalities scrambling to pay for other government services, he said.

CST cut a heavy lift — A bill that would cap the communications services tax statewide is facing strong opposition, Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida reports. SB 1174 would override local tax rates and set the maximum CST at 4%, down from the current cap of 5.1% by 2022. Local governments say the change would slash local government revenues by as much as $200 million. Though the measure was approved by its first committee Monday, bill sponsor Sen. Travis Hutson said its future is uncertain. Hutson said the cut might be included in a broader tax-cut package the House and Senate are negotiating.

Tighter restrictions on impact fees are one step closer to House passage” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Impact fees are charged to developers and builders meant to cover costs associated with upgrading or increasing public facilities and infrastructure to accommodate population growth associated with the new development. The House Ways and Means Committee cleared the bill (HB 637). Under existing impact fee guidelines, counties, municipalities, or special districts can impose impact fees on new development using a calculation that assumes the need for additional facilities or infrastructure. The bill, sponsored by Pinellas County Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie, would require local governments to calculate the fees using the most recent and localized data available within the previous 36 months, a requirement that does not currently exist.

Senators back stamping out smoking in parks” via the News Service of Florida — A Senate committee approved a proposal that seeks to let local governments decide if they want to ban smoking at their public parks. The Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee backed the measure (SB 630), which would allow cities and counties to restrict smoking within the boundaries of parks further. Bill sponsor Debbie Mayfield said the proposal is intended to keep local parks “a healthy environment” for residents and children. “Additionally, cigarette butts are one of the most littered items in our parks, which becomes a hazard to our wildlife,” Mayfield said.

Debbie Mayfield wants to stamp out smoking from public parks.

Vaping pulled out of Tobacco 21 bill and put in new bill; both pass Senate panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The result is that the age increase for vaping now is included in SB 1394, new legislation filed to incorporate the vaping component, and is on a separate track from SB 810, which now only deals with increasing the age for smoking. But, along the way, SB 810’s sponsor, Sen. David Simmons, found himself battling two challenges. First, bringing vaping under state regulation with any teeth would require a regulatory fee of $50, meaning the issue would have to be dealt with in a separate bill, one that eventually will require a two-thirds majority approval in both chambers of the Legislature. Simmons addressed that by stripping vaping out of SB 810 and putting it into SB 1394.

How size violence in black, Hispanic communities” via the News Service of Florida — A House panel approved a proposal that would create a task force to investigate the root causes of violence in black and Hispanic communities in Florida. Bill sponsor Shevrin Jones said the 10-member task force would be similar to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which was created after the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland to improve school safety. But under Jones’ proposal (HB 201), the task force would be charged with investigating systemic failures and causes of “high crime rates and gun violence incidents in urban core neighborhoods and communities.”

St. Pete tried to abolish super PACs. Jeff Brandes wants to end that.” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Brandes introduced the amendment to SB 1372, a bill he filed to update elections law sought by the Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections. But instead of limiting his bill to the supervisors’ fixes, he used it to take aim at a 2017 ordinance passed by the St. Petersburg City Council that abolishes super PACs and prohibits spending by foreign-influenced corporations in city elections. The Brandes amendment, which received bipartisan support on a voice vote of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, would ban cities and counties from “adopting any limitation or restriction” on contributions to political committees or expenditures from political committees in city elections.

Bills cracking down on shark finning, bear poaching advance in Senate” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Despite some audience consternation about what the bill might do to the legal shark fishing trade in Florida, SB 680, banning the export and import and restricting the sales of shark fins won committee approval. At the same time, sponsor Sen. Travis Hutson promised to work with fishermen to find ways to protect legal shark fishing. He amended the bill to exempt licensed commercial fishers in Florida but made clear there still was more work to do to ease the legal fishing community’s concerns. “Everybody has made it clear: it’s not as simple as catch-and-release. There’s a lot more going on here,” Hutson said. SB 688, Sen. Tom Wright‘s bill to tough penalties against bear poaching, faced no such resistance.

Sunscreen battle pits Republicans against Key West, Hawaii, FDA, and members of Congress” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — Florida lawmakers advanced bills last week to stop Key West and any other city from adopting “reef safe” regulations banning two specific sunscreen ingredients – oxybenzone and octinoxate – believed to harm corals. Preemption proponents argued the risk of skin cancer outweighs the threat to corals. Meanwhile, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced that its recent studies show that 12 popular sunscreen chemicals enter the bloodstream in concentrations that no longer qualify them for listing as “generally recognized as safe and effective.” The 12 include oxybenzone and octinoxoate. Meanwhile, two Florida members of Congress are pushing for reef-safe sunscreen restrictions, and lawmakers in Hawaii want to expand their own ban to include all the ingredients de-listed by the FDA.

— TODAY IN CAPITOL —

Realtor days — Nearly a thousand Florida Realtors are gathering in Tallahassee through Wednesday for the Great American Realtor Days (GARD) event, advocating for issues impacting homeowners, Realtors, and the real estate industry.

Happening today — Florida Home Builders Association Day on the Hill continues, 8 a.m., Hotel Duval, Autograph Collection, 415 N Monroe Street, Tallahassee.

Happening today — Walmart Day At the Capitol — Health and Wellness Fair, 8:30 a.m., 2nd floor Rotunda.

Assignment editors — Floridians, including first-generation refugees and their families, will hold a news conference celebrating the contribution of refugees and share their stories with state lawmakers as part of Florida Celebrates Refugee Day, 11 a.m., 4th-floor Rotunda.

Assignment editors — Last month, the House unanimously passed CS/HB 7011, which establishes a set of criteria implemented “to better protect student-athletes participating in athletics during hot weather and avoid preventable injury or death … ” A group of outdoor construction and agriculture workers will hold a news conference with Sens. Geraldine Thompson and José Javier Rodriguez to ask lawmakers for similar protections, 11:30 a.m., Room 304C, Senate Press Room.

Happening today — The League of Women Voters of Florida will host a news conference on the 2020 U.S. Census and its consequences for the state, 11:30 a.m., steps of the Old Capitol.

Happening today — Sen. Ben Albritton, Rep. Tina Polsky, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers representing the area around Lake Okeechobee will join Mayors and local advocates for an announcement on water quality issues impacting Southwest and South Florida, noon, 4th-floor Rotunda.

Happening today — Florida Keys Day, a reception highlighting the Florida Keys, 1 p.m., Capitol Courtyard.

Happening today — The Florida African American Ministers Alliance (FAAMA) is hosting a news conference to denounce attacks on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, 1:30 p.m. 4th-floor Rotunda.

The House Health Market Reform Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1163 from Rep. Colleen Burton, which seeks exemptions to the Certificate of Need regulatory process for specified intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities, 8 a.m., Room 306, House Office Building.

The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee meets to consider HB 771 from Rep. Erin Grall, which seeks to repeal the state’s long-standing no-fault auto insurance system, 8 a.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee meets to consider HB 737 from Rep. Kimberly Daniels, which requires public schools to hold a daily moment of silence, 8 a.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 199 from Reps. Tracie Davis and Scott Plakon, which seeks to end the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse victims to bring about criminal cases against their abusers, 9 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House Workforce Development & Tourism Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1297 from Rep. Will Robinson, which seeks to make several changes to drug-free workplace programs, 9 a.m., Room 12, House Office Building. 

The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee meet to consider SB 1876 and HB 1063 from Sen. Bill Montford, Reps. Brad Drake and Ralph Massullo, which seek to make changes in the state hemp program, Senate meeting at 9 a.m., Room 301, Senate Office Building. House meeting at noon, Room 12, House Office Building.

The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee meets to consider SB 474 from Sen. Ben Albritton, which seeks to cut or eliminate regulations on a series of professions such as hair braiders, hair wrappers and interior designers, 9 a.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee meets to consider several bills, including SB 1018 from Sen. Linda Stewart, which seeks to boost criminal penalties for indecent exposure, 9 a.m., Room 37, Senate Office Building.

The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to consider the confirmation of the Department of Health Secretary Scott Rivkees, who is also serving as state surgeon general, 9 a.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider PCB HEA 20-01, which seeks to restrict sponsorship of athletic facilities at state colleges and universities, 10 a.m., Room 212, Knott Building.

The House Business & Professions Subcommittee meets to consider HB 363 from Rep. Sam Killebrew, which seeks to end “rent-to-own” pet leasing arrangements for dogs and cats, noon, Room 212, Knott Building.

The House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 1011 from Reps. Jason Fischer and Mike La Rosa, which seeks to preempt cities and counties from regulating vacation rental properties, noon, Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 6031 from Rep. Cary Pigman, which seeks to remove the $1 million lifetime coverage limit for children enrolled in the Florida Healthy Kids program, noon, Room 404 House Office Building.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee meets to consider HB 6083 from Reps. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Blaise Ingoglia, which seeks to revoke state authorization of red-light cameras, noon, Reed Hall, House Office Building.

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets to consider SB 924 from Sen. Brandes, which seeks to make it harder to file “bad faith” claims against insurance companies, 12:30 p.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 152, also from Brandes, which seeks to add “dental therapists” as an additional type of health care provider, 12:30 p.m., Room 301 Senate Building.

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets to consider SB 1354 from Brandes, which seeks to make changes to the statewide voter registration application process as well as address the eligibility of felons to vote, 12:30 p.m., Room 110, Senate Office Building.

The Senate is scheduled for a floor session to consider SB 404 from Sen. Kelli Stargel, which seeks to require parental consent before minors can have abortions, 3 p.m. Senate Chamber.

The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee meets to consider HB 835 from Reps. Matt Willhite and Plakon, which seeks to increase the state’s efforts to address Alzheimer’s disease and dementia-related disorders, as well as create the post of dementia director in the Department of Elder Affairs, 3:30 p.m., Room 12, House Office Building.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee meets to consider HB 319 from Rep. Clay Yarborough, which seeks to develop a “Florida Guide to a Healthy Marriage,” to be posted on court clerks’ websites and possibly as printed copies distributed to marriage-license applicants, 3:30 p.m., Room 404, House Office Building.

The House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee meets to consider HJR 1325, a constitutional amendment from Rep. Vance Aloupis, which seeks to end the public campaign-financing system available to statewide political candidates, 3:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building.

The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider HB 23 from Reps. Dan Daley and Mike Gottlieb, which seeks to mandate public schools to have panic alarms for emergencies, 3:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building.

Happening today — The 2020 Senate Reunion celebrates the legacy of former lawmakers and their collective service to the state of Florida, 3:45 p.m., Senate Chamber.

— GOV. CLUB BUFFET — 

New England clam chowder; mixed garden salad with dressings; Caesar salad with grilled chicken; tomato, cucumber, red onion, and feta salad; deli board, lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses, and breads; Ronnie’s fried chicken; Nana’s meatloaf with mushroom sauce; grilled salmon with lemon piccata sauce; buttermilk mashed potatoes; braised collard greens; corn and okra; peach cobbler for dessert.

— STATEWIDE —

Florida’s new judges ‘all think the same,’ Ron DeSantis’ top lawyer says” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis appointed 56 judges during his first year in office, more than half of them women and nearly 40% of them minorities. But they’re identical in one respect: They all share the same strict judicial philosophy, said DeSantis’ general counsel, Joe Jacquot. This commonality was revealed when the judges recently attended the Florida Judicial College program, a course required of all new judges, Jacquot said during a Federalist Society convention in Orlando. “I heard back from several of them who talked about the diversity in the room,” Jacquot recounted. “But they said, ‘We all think the same.’ So that’s great.” Jacquot‘s comments provided a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse at how the governor chooses his jurists.

Joe Jacquot, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel, gives a glimpse into the judicial nominating process.

Marco Rubio criticizes banks for halting voucher contributions, says they’re seeking ‘wokeness points’” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — U.S. Sen. Rubio criticized Fifth Third and Wells Fargo banks in a statement on Monday, saying the companies were seeking “’wokeness’ points from the radical left” after they halted contributions to Florida’s most extensive voucher program unless the state prohibits private schools that receive the money from discriminating against LGBTQ students. The banks’ decision came after the Orlando Sentinel reported Jan. 23 that more than $105 million from the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which pays for low-income children to attend private schools, went to campuses with anti-LGBTQ policies last year. The program is funded by companies that receive dollar-for-dollar tax write-offs for their contributions.

A change in Florida’s rules of court just made work life easier for women” via Michael Molina Florida Phoenix — The new rule creates a presumption that attorneys arguing lawsuits are entitled to continuances — that is, procedural delays — to accommodate parental leave when they give birth or adopt. “This rule will remove an obstacle to anyone who wants to be both an engaged parent and a successful litigator,” Kimberly Hosley of The Orlando Law Group, president-elect of the nonpartisan Florida Association of Women Lawyers, told the Florida Phoenix. “As studies show, women are not given the opportunity to be lead trial counsel at the same rate as men. Some think that is because of the fear that their lead counsel could potentially be unavailable at the time of trial due to childbirth or maternity leave,” Hosley said.

Florida to debut high school civics test” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — In a memo to school district superintendents, K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva announced that the test would be available in the spring for schools to pilot on a voluntary basis. “Pilot exam results will not affect graduation requirements or school accountability,” Oliva wrote. “The department will report on which districts and schools participate in the pilot, and on student participation and pass rates.” Although not required at this point, the department is encouraging students taking U.S. government or economics courses to take the test. The department would provide the exam to the districts and allow them to offer it either via computer or paper. The test would take 100 minutes and could be spread over two sessions.

— WATER FIGHT —

A group of scientists, academics, local businesses, green industry professionals, and local leaders concerned about protecting the state’s water quality have joined together to launch Floridians for Water Quality Protection, a coalition set up to fight and advocate for water and waterways.

Floridians for Water Quality Protection will focus on the current assortment of local fertilizer ordinances — several of them conflicting — which they say is among the main reasons Florida is still struggling with water quality problems.

A new coalition is trying to make sense out of fertilizer regulations to protect Florida waterways.

As evidence of the continuing failure of local ordinances to impact these issues, the group points out the 2018 increase in algae blooms and red tides.

“The State of Florida essentially has 410 cities with their own rules and regulations or nothing at all when it comes to local fertilizer ordinances,” said director of agronomy of Massey Services Eric Brown, Ph.D. in a statement. “This has essentially created a conflicting — and sometimes very confusing — patchwork of local fertilizer ordinances that are not based on science and are doing more harm than good when it comes to our water quality.”

Others argue that local ordinances often go against proven science and independent, third-party data, as well as Florida statute.

“In many places, the county may have completely different rules than what’s in the city or vice versa, revealing the abject failure of local control to meaningfully address this issue, however well-intended,” said Mac Carraway, executive director of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, Inc. “These ordinances simply ignore the established peer-reviewed findings that healthy lawns and landscapes contribute little if anything to runoff.”

For more information on Floridians for Water Quality Protection, visit ProtectFlaWater.com, follow @ProtectFlaWater and like FB.com/ProtectFlaWater.

— MOTHER NATURE —

Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission meets to consider a proposal allowing Duke Energy Florida to collect $171.3 million from customers to cover costs related to Hurricane Dorian, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.

Agriculture Commissioner fires, takes consultants tied to sugar farmers off Lake O panel” via Tyler Treadway of TC Palm — The department had a $35,000 contract calling for firm President Thomas K. MacVicar and two employees, William Baker and Lennart “Len” Lindahl, to help with “monitoring, understanding and influencing the water-related issues important to agriculture in South Florida.” … Fried terminated the contract “because it’s at her discretion to do so,” spokesman Franco Ripple told TCPalm in an email. “It’s great news that Commissioner Fried has listened to Floridians who are sick and tired of business as usual and finally decided to do the right thing,” U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who has called for both lower lake levels and firing MacVicar, said in an email.

Water management district backs Everglades deal” via the News Service of Florida — The South Florida Water Management District has approved a plan to buy about 20,000 acres in the Everglades, a deal that would block exploratory oil drilling on part of the property. The district’s Board of Governors on Saturday approved purchasing the land from Kanter Real Estate LLC. DeSantis last month announced the proposed acquisition, after years of litigation about potential oil drilling on part of the Kanter property in Broward County. The state Department of Environmental Protection obtained an option to buy the 20,000 and wanted to assign the option to the water management district, according to an agenda for Saturday’s meeting.

Ray Rodrigues questions Drew Bartlett’s effectiveness as SFWMD Executive Director” via Florida Politics — When Bartlett came before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee, Rodrigues questioned why Bartlett failed to request authorization for the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At the time, Bartlett said he needed to discuss an unrelated project — the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir — before he could send the request to the Corps. Rodrigues isn’t buying it. “What is disappointing is that on November 14, 2019, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) discussed the LOWRP. At the meeting’s end, you were asked by SFWMD Board Chairman Chauncey Goss if you understood their direction to write the letter. In response, you responded ‘absolutely,” the Estero Republican wrote in a letter dated Jan. 29.

Drew Bartlett is coming under fire for his perceived lack of effectiveness as SFWMD Executive Director.

Current Florida panther roadkill pace would double state record” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — Drivers are on pace to kill 72 Florida panthers this year after six road kills were recorded in January. That would more than double the current record of 34 vehicle deaths set in 2016. But scientists and panther advocates say that’s unlikely to happen. Road kills often occur in bursts, and weeks can pass between road kills when the pace is slower. “The data shows we don’t keep this pace per month,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther biologist Dave Onorato. “We kind of go through these spurts, and then we go through some dry spells.”

1,400 pounds of shark fins found by wildlife inspectors in Miami” via NBC 6 South Florida — Wildlife inspectors found dried shark fins in Miami worth upward of $1 million. The 18 boxes of fins were found at a port in Miami on a shipment believed to have originated in South America and that was likely headed to Asia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said. The commercial value of the seized shipment is believed to be between $700,000 and $1 million, officials said.

— 2020 —

Bernie Sanders won the race for Democratic donors in 2019” via Kevin Schaul, Anu Narayanswamy, Reuben Fischer-Baum and Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post — Sanders had 1.4 million donors from across the country. Sanders, who is surging in the polls as Iowa’s caucuses open, entered 2020 with at least $18 million — more than any of his Democratic rivals who are not self-funded billionaires. Democratic candidates tended to draw the most donor support from their home states, but the U.S. Senator built a sprawling donor base from coast to coast. Sanders’s donor base spiked in the final quarter of 2019, when he garnered hundreds of thousands of new donors — a remarkable political revival for the candidate, who had a slow summer and whose heart attack in October raised doubts about how long he would remain in the race.

Bernie Sanders is the big money winner for 2019.

Sanders once likened poor whites to Blacks under apartheid” via Marc Caputo and Laura Barrón-López of POLITICO — At a 1986 public forum, Sanders said poor Vermonters “are the equivalent of blacks in South Africa. They don’t vote; they aren’t involved, they don’t care about the issues,” according to the Bennington Banner in Vermont. Sanders amended his statement after one observer on stage commented about his “pretty fiery oratory.” “Obviously, the analogy is not true,” Sanders then responded, “because in South Africa, the blacks are not invisible — they are beginning to stand up.” At the time of his remarks, Vermont’s population was about 99 percent white and about 0.2 percent black.

Michael Bloomberg campaign launches anti-gun violence bus tour in Orlando, opens first Florida field office” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — On a night when other presidential campaigns were out in force across a cold and wintry Iowa, volunteers and organizers for the Bloomberg presidential campaign put the finishing touches on its first field office in Florida, complete with a bus ready to roll out on a multistate tour centered on ending gun violence. Field organizer Dan Larson drilled the last screws into the “Mike Bloomberg” sign at the entrance to the former City Arts building on S. Orange Ave. Bloomberg, the financial billionaire and former New York City Mayor, had skipped the contentious Iowa Democratic caucuses and early primary states for a risky but potentially delegate-rich strategy of focusing on the larger states voting in March, including Florida.

‘An unacceptable and upsetting environment’: 2020 Democratic Host Committee under investigation” via Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — The two top officials overseeing Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention were sidelined Monday amid allegations of a toxic work culture.  In a letter to staff, the board said it had retained an attorney to investigate “concerns about the work environment” for the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee.  During the investigation, Liz Gilbert, president of the host committee, will not be in the office and “will not have direct contact with staff,” the letter says. Adam Alonso, the chief of staff for the group, has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the probe.

First in Sunburn — Former state Rep. Robert Asencio switches endorsement from Joe Biden to Bloomberg — Following the Iowa Caucuses and the release of Democratic candidate Bloomberg’s plan to support Puerto Rico, Asencio is changing his endorsement from Biden to support Bloomberg. “While many leaders offer empty words and meaningless rhetoric, Mike Bloomberg is offering a substantive plan that would ensure long term security for Puerto Rico,” Asencio said. “As a Puerto Rican, I knew after seeing his plan that he was the best choice to be the next President. Given his record on Puerto Rico, I trust he will take the action we need to improve life for my friends and family on the Island.” Last week, Bloomberg laid out a plan to invest in infrastructure and revitalization of Puerto Rico, while also endorsing statehood.

Bob Buckhorn backing Bloomberg — Former Tampa Mayor Buckhorn is endorsing Bloomberg, touting his experience and ability to beat Trump in November. Buckhorn has also been named one of the state co-chairs for Florida. In his endorsement, one day after the Iowa Caucuses, Buckhorn cited Bloomberg’s record on climate change, his commitment to gun safety laws, and his health care plan that will expand on the Affordable Care Act to ensure coverage for all Americans. “Mike’s record in business and as Mayor of New York City makes him uniquely qualified to serve as the next president of the United States. I am proud to endorse him because I know he will bring our country together at a time when we need it most,” Buckhorn said.

— SOTU —

Several members of Florida’s congressional delegation have announced the guests they are bringing to the State of the Union tonight. Many of them are bringing people connected to the causes they support or issues they care about. Here’s a round of those who have announced who they’re bringing.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is bringing prominent Uyghur human rights activist Rushan Abbas and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez as his guests.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is bringing high school student Mimi (Xiaoyi) Chen of Longwood. Chen won a State of the Union essay contest earlier this month.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is Orlando Commissioner Bakari Burns as her guest. He is the CEO of a community health center.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is bringing Puerto Rican native Jessica Carrillo. She and her mother relocated to Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg is bringing 18-year-old Taylor McKenny, a Type 1 diabetic and activist.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch is bringing Alan T. Brown. Brown has quadriplegia and has dedicated his life to improving the lives of people living with paralysis.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel is bringing Annette Mayer, a South Floridian who works at a local independent pharmacy.

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is bringing Cooper City high school student Emily Kaufman. Kaufman has Type 1 diabetes.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is bringing 16-year-old student researcher and scientific diver in-training from Key West, Marsella Munoz. 

— PEACHY —

Donald Trump trial closing arguments aim at voters, history” via Lisa Mascaro and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — Closing arguments Monday in Trump’s impeachment trial were directed more toward history than to sway the outcome, one final chance to influence public opinion and set the record ahead of his expected acquittal in the Republican-led Senate. The House Democratic prosecutors drew on the Founding Fathers and common sense to urge senators — and Americans — to see that Trump’s actions are not isolated. Still, a pattern of behavior that, left unchecked, will allow him to “cheat”′ in the 2020 election. The President’s defense countered the Democrats have been out to impeach Trump since the start of his presidency, nothing short of an effort to undo the 2016 election and to try to shape the next one, as early primary voting begins Monday in Iowa.

Adam Schiff closes the Donald Trump impeachment trial by attempting to put it in a historical context.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump and Nancy Pelosi haven’t spoken in months” via Manu Raju of CNN — According to a Pelosi spokesman, the two had not spoken since the October 16 meeting in which Trump insulted Pelosi, including calling her a “third-grade politician,” before she and other top Democrats walked out and later accused Trump of having a “meltdown.” That meeting was supposed to be about Syria. The lack of communication comes amid Trump’s impeachment proceedings but is all the more remarkable given the number of high-profile events that have impacted the U.S. during that time, including the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump said he would likely have a difficult time working with Democrats after his expected acquittal vote.

Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi haven’t spoken in months.

Ex-U. S. Rep. Corrine Brown continues appeal of fraud conviction, prison time” via Steve Patterson of the Florida Times-Union — Former U.S. Rep. Brown is taking the appeal of her fraud conviction a step beyond the panel that upheld her conviction last month. A lawyer for the 12-term Democratic congresswoman, now serving a five-year prison sentence, asked last week to challenge her conviction in front of the entire 21-judge 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel rejected the appeal last month, but attorney William Mallory Kent argued that decision conflicted with precedents and that “consideration by the full court is necessary to secure and maintain uniformity of decisions.” Kent had argued Brown deserved a new trial because U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan removed a juror who said the “Holy Spirit” had told him Brown was innocent.

— THE TRAIL —

Happening today — The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments on two proposed constitutional amendments, seeking to allow recreational marijuana and prevent possession of assault-style weapons, 9 a.m., Florida Supreme Court, 500 South Duval St., Tallahassee.

First in Sunburn: Navy veteran Todd Chase enters CD 3 race Chase, a Navy veteran and conservative business leader, is now the latest Republican to enter the race for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, currently held by Ted Yoho. To announce his candidacy, Chase released a 90-second campaign launch video, “The Pilot.” “As a local leader, I fought, oftentimes alone, to remind other leaders who they work for,” said Chase, who holds a Harvard MBA. “I’m running for Congress to bring conservative values, backed by real-world experience, to Washington where politicians spend too much time attacking each other instead of attacking the challenges that stand between us and our future.” A Jacksonville University graduate, Chase had previously served as the “lone conservative” on the Gainesville City Commission.

To view Chase’s campaign launch video, click on the image below:

Darren Soto enters 2020 with $290K in campaign coffer” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Soto‘s campaign picked up $155,500 during the fourth quarter of 2019 and entered the election year with $290,848 in cash to support his reelection bid in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Soto is seeking a third term in the district representing southern Osceola County, south Orange County, and eastern Polk County. He posted modest campaign fundraising for an incumbent but remained comfortably well-endowed compared to any of his challengers. In the fourth quarter, his campaign cashed political action committee checks totaling $105,500 and checks from individual supporters for another $50,030. That put him at $498,203 raised with $290,808 left in the bank.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk endorses Anna Paulina Luna in CD 13 contest” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Kirk, founder and president of the pro-Trump Turning Point USA and chair of Students for Trump, is endorsing Luna for Congress. Luna is running in the Republican primary in hopes of taking out Democratic incumbent Crist. “Anna is a true fighter for our country! We need more like her! Check out her run for Congress, critical to help patriots like her,” Kirk wrote in an announcement. Turning Point USA is a far-right conservative nonprofit that seeks to increase conservative engagement among high school and college students and actively rallies against what the group sees as an influx of liberalism in academic settings and an erosion of freethinking principles.

Charlie Kirk makes an endorsement in CD 13.

Greg Steube closes 2019 with $187K on hand for reelection campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Throughout the year, he raised $332,268 in new contributions. But that wasn’t the only fundraising tied to Steube that took place last year. Political committee activity showed he might be interested in extending his influence beyond Florida’s 17th Congressional District. The Greg Steube Victory Fund, a committee separate from the Congressman’s campaign, also raised $22,700 in 2019. By year’s end, all that money went either to Steube’s campaign ($12,400), to 9Seven Consulting ($500), or to the Getting Republicans Elected for Generations PAC ($9,800). GREG PAC spent money on 9Seven and services from Alex Blair, Steube’s campaign manager. Consider it a sign the Sarasota pol wants groundwork laid to help elect other Republicans to the House.

Perry Thurston endorses Shevrin Jones in SD 35 contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Jones is one of five Democrats competing in the left-leaning district. Serial candidate Josue Larose has also filed as a Republican. Thurston’s support is another signal that state Democrats are getting behind Jones’ candidacy. Term-limited Sen. Oscar Braynon, who currently holds the SD 35 seat, already backed Jones to serve as his successor. Last month, Jones also courted an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. Andrew Gillum‘s political committee, Forward Florida, is supporting Jones as well. “As both a colleague representing Broward County and a friend, I’ve known Shevrin for many years and have seen his fierce commitment to the people of South Florida firsthand,” Thurston said.

Happening tonight:

and

Matt Caldwell, running for Lee Property Appraiser, trashes Florida GOP efforts in 2018” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Caldwell said that despite victories at the ballot box in 2018, results overall disappointed. “What is indisputable is that the party has never recovered from Crist and Jim Greer, and I think that fact had a lot to do with how weak our showing was in our statewide elections overall.” Caldwell will also run for Lee County State Committeeman. That would put him in position to run for a statewide position with the party, and rumors in Lee County have swirled he wants to be state chair. “For now, I will say, I’m just looking to make myself available,” he said.

— LOCAL —

Attorney: Mar-a-Lago checkpoint crasher is mentally ill” via Terry Spencer of The Associated Press — The Connecticut opera singer who drew gunfire when she smashed an SUV through security checkpoints outside Trump’s Florida home is mentally ill and wasn’t taking her medication before leading a trooper on a wild chase, her attorney told a judge Monday. Attorney David Roth did not elaborate on Hannah Roemhild’s illness, but Palm Beach County Judge Ted Booras agreed to have her seen by a psychologist before holding another hearing. Roemhild, 30, will remain jailed without bail on charges that include aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer from last Friday’s chase through Palm Beach and past security outside Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and home. Roemhild refused to appear in court.

Lawyers for Hannah Roemhild, who is accused of driving through checkpoints outside Donald Trump’s Florida home Mar-a-Lago, say she is mentally ill.

al-Qaida in Yemen claims responsibility for NAS Pensacola shooting” via Samy Magdy of The Associated Press — al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility Sunday for last year’s deadly shooting at the Naval Air Station Pensacola by an aviation student from Saudi Arabia. The shooter, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was a member of the Saudi Air Force in training at the base. He opened fire inside a classroom at the base on Dec. 6, killing three people and wounding two sheriff’s deputies before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt. al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, released a video claiming the attack. SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks messaging by militant groups, reported the claim.

Osceola sheriff’s letter said Aramis Ayala hindered Nicole Montalvo case. ‘Blatant lies,’ she says” via Monivette Cordeiro and Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Sheriff Russ Gibson accused Orange-Osceola State Attorney Ayala of hindering the investigation into Montalvo’s killing by directing her staff not to assist detectives in obtaining evidence from the suspects’ phones or testimony from a key witness — a claim Ayala called “complete blatant lies.” In a letter to DeSantis, the Osceola sheriff alleged “inaction” by Ayala’s office was due to Ayala’s “desire to advance her position against the death penalty” and asked for her removal from the case. Two days after Gibson’s letter, DeSantis reassigned the case to Ocala-based State Attorney Brad King. Ayala vehemently denied Gibson’s accusations. “Unfortunately, the attorney general and the governor based their perspective and decision on whatever action needed to be taken on lies.”

From $1 to $1,500: Cost of alleged nepotism just went up for former Midway Mayor Wanda Range” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Commission on Ethics took a rare step in changing an administrative law judge’s recommended $1 fine in favor of $1,500 against a former Midway Mayor who voted to appoint her first cousin to step into her role whenever she couldn’t perform her duties. If the purpose of a fine is “to deter future disobedience of the law,” the commission ruled in its final decision, made public last week, then “the issuance of a merely nominal penalty … is not reasonable.” The decision wraps up an ethics case that began with complaints filed by residents of Midway against their former Mayor, Range, in 2017 and 2018.

Six big Tampa Bay projects racing to be ready for Super Bowl 55” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg Pier, the new $92 million Pier and its 26-acre redeveloped site are projected to make their debut in the spring; JW Marriott, 510 Water St., Tampa; Midtown Tampa, the $550 million project about two miles south of Raymond James Stadium has been 20 years in the making; Haya Hotel, the $52 million Hotel Haya in Ybor City is projected to open this spring; Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, the opening date for the ambitious five-story, 137,000-square-foot Museum it is currently projected to be early this spring; Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotels, southeast corner of N Florida Avenue and E Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, is projected for the first quarter of 2021.

— TOP OPINION —

The moment is now for LGBTQ equality in Florida schools and everyday life” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — House Bill 45 revises the eligibility requirements for a private school to get state voucher money. If only Florida’s other problems were this simple to remedy. Like, say, convincing Florida’s legislative leaders that it’s finally time to end state-sanctioned discrimination. State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, who heads the House Education Committee, is quite fine with discrimination against gay kids, saying if parents don’t like it, they can find another school. “Not every school is going to be the best fit for every student. That’s one of the great things about a choice program: that a parent has that opportunity to go to multiple schools and see what culture is going to best benefit that student.” Got that? Discrimination = culture.

— OPINIONS —

After witness vote, a Senate only Caligula could love” via John Micek of Florida Phoenix — The next time someone tells you that the U.S. Senate is the world’s greatest deliberative body, your answer should be no longer than two words: Marco Rubio. “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a President from office,” Rubio wrote in a post before the Senate voted along party lines to reject calling witnesses. Or you can answer “Lamar Alexander.” Alexander agreed Trump “did something inappropriate, but I don’t agree he did anything akin to treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. I think there’s a big gap there.” The world’s greatest deliberative body? Hardly. It’s a Senate that only a Roman emperor could love.

Lamar Alexander’s finest hour” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The Tennessee Republican listened to the evidence and arguments from both sides, and then he offered his sensible judgment: Even if Trump did what House managers charge, it still isn’t enough to remove a President from office. This isn’t an abdication. It’s a wise judgment based on what Trump did and the rushed, partisan nature of the House impeachment. Alexander’s statement made two other crucial points. The first concerns the damage that partisan removal of Trump would do to the country. “Our founding documents provide for duly elected presidents who serve with ‘the consent of the governed,’ not at the pleasure of the United States Congress. Let the people decide.”

The death of growth management in Florida — a sequel” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — This year’s proposal, backed by state House Rep. James Grant, is ostensibly related to guarding private property rights, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. It says the government can take someone’s property for a public purpose, but the property owner must receive “just compensation.” Florida law goes further. Even if the government doesn’t actually take possession of someone’s property, the owner might be entitled to some compensation if a government regulation or ordinance unfairly restricts the property’s use. Under Grant’s bill, if there’s a settlement, or if the property owner wins, “similarly situated” property owners would be able to get in on the action. No one is quite sure what “similarly situated” means.

Permanent alimony needs to come to an end” via Alex Andrade for the Pensacola News Journal — I’m proud to sponsor legislation in the 2020 Session seeking to reform Florida’s outdated alimony system. This reform is designed to accomplish several goals. First, lifetime alimony must be eliminated. Lifetime alimony has created a culture of dependency; one ex-spouse can rely on another for monthly support until death. In 2020, our laws should focus on encouraging long-term self-sufficiency. Second, our legislation creates clearer guidelines for alimony rulings, allowing for parties to anticipate their outcomes without the need to undergo drawn-out alimony battles in court. Third, we establish an absolute right to retire for alimony payors. These reforms, among others, aim to let ex-spouses move on and no longer remain connected to a failed marriage.

— MOVEMENTS —

Senate panel approves Eric Silagy, others for State University System Board of Governors” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Senate Education Committee signed off on a series of executive appointments, including a move to place Florida Power & Light (FPL) President and CEO Eric Silagy on the State University System (SUS) Board of Governors. The Committee reviewed four DeSantis appointments to that board at a Monday afternoon hearing. The panel also approved the appointments for Brian Lamb, Steven M. Scott and Kent Stermon. Those approvals were unanimous. The members’ respective terms will end on Jan. 6, 2026. Monday’s stop was their first. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee is also slated to review the appointments before they go up for a vote by the full Senate.

— ALOE —

FSU alum, Chiefs player celebrates Super Bowl win by paying off dog adoption fees” via Curt Weller of the Tallahassee Democrat — Derrick Nnadi is a former Florida State defensive tackle who started for Kansas City as the Chiefs rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens. Along with former FSU offensive lineman Cameron Erving, they are the 38th and 39th FSU alumni in program history to win a Super Bowl. Within hours of winning it all, Nnadi made the most of the moment. In the wake of the win, he announced that he’s paying the adoption fees for all the dogs currently living at KC Pet Project. Nnadi had been helping KCPP find homes for homeless animals all season through his Derrick Nnadi Foundation, but this commitment takes his pledge to another level.

FSU alum, Chiefs player Derrick Nnadi, celebrates his Super Bowl win by paying adoption fees for shelter dogs.

Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes joined by Make-A-Wish recipient at Disney World Parade” via Benjamin VanHoose of People — Mahomes is feeling the Disney magic. On Monday — just hours after he led the Kansas City Chiefs to a win over the San Fransisco 49ers at the Super Bowl — the quarterback, 24, made the trip to Walt Disney World to take part in an extravagant parade. According to a Disney Parks Blog news release, 10-year-old Nathaniel of Austin, Texas, got to take part in the parade with the NFL star, as 17 other Make-A-Wish children were also along to visit the Magic Kingdom. Disney Parks donated $1 million to Make-A-Wish as part of the celebration. The Disney Parks Blog announced the victory trip on Instagram, showing highlights from the big game with “When You Wish Upon a Star” from the 1940 Disney film Pinocchio playing over it.

The Kaiseki Chef’s Table experience at Epcot’s Takumi-Tei is Disney’s hottest new foodie splurge” via Amy Drew Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — Purple flowers, red tomato, golden bee pollen studded with black sesame, all piled atop a lush, green nest of frisée dressed with leek. Alongside, a petite carapace — tamagogani — nestles as if hiding in seaweed washed up on the sandy beach beneath. The hefty treasure of snow crab leg, its naked meat an alluring stalk few could finesse from the shell sat at the center. A tiny claw crowned the dish; in its pincer, a radiant pink scroll of housemade tsukemono — watermelon radish — its color entirely natural. It was apt that my opportunity to sample the delicately beautiful dishes and drinks at Disney’s Takumi-Tei fell amid the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, as this serene, sophisticated space is nothing if not artful.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

How could we forget to wish the incredible Katie Webb of Colodny Fass a happy birthday? She’s a Golden Rotunda winner and one of the top lobbyists in the industry. Our sincere apologies. Celebrating today are Dan Barrow of Veterans Florida, Dan Berger, former Sen. Dwight Bullard, and Joel Greenberg.

___

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

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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