Last Call for 3.19.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

State universities and K-12 schools may have shut their doors, but private colleges are still open.

Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, an association representing the state’s accredited nonprofit private institutions, knows that many students depend on their campus remaining open.

“Florida’s independent colleges and universities consider the health and safety of their students and staff the top priority, particularly right now with the threat of COVID-19,” said Bob Boyd, President and CEO of ICUF.

“These institutions have implemented the guidance of the CDC and are following the directions of state and local governments. Where permitted, many remain open to support their students — many of whom depend on their school for housing and meals — through this difficult time.”

Still, ICUF institutions are taking the new coronavirus seriously. Like state schools, in-person classes have transitioned to online learning.

Campuses have also implemented social distancing best practices: limiting gatherings to fewer than 10 individuals, maintaining safe distances between individuals, canceling all nonessential events and keeping surfaces clean from possible contamination.


Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is heading back to her job at lobbying and consulting firm Ballard Partners.

Bondi, who served two terms as AG, joined the firm early last year and headed up its regulatory compliance office. She left the job after the White House tapped her for a position on President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team.

Now that those duties are over, Bondi will pick up where she left off at Ballard Partners.

“All of us at Ballard Partners are proud of Pam’s recent public service in the Administration and are very pleased that Pam is rejoining our firm,” firm founder Brian Ballard said in a news release. “Pam’s experiences as a lawyer are unparalleled, and our clients will find her to be a world-class advocate on their behalf in Washington.”

Bondi added, “I am delighted to rejoin Brian and the super-talented team at Ballard Partners. The firm’s growth in the past three years has been exceptional, and I look forward to helping Brian and the firm’s partners continue to build an outstanding and effective bipartisan firm.”

In addition to Bondi coming back to the firm, Ballard Partners has made a couple of new hires in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the firm hired Trent Morse, who worked in the Trump administration as the White House liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services. Before Morse, the firm hired Hunter Morgen, who worked in the White House as a principal deputy specializing in trade and immigration matters.


A special Sine Die Metz Husband Daughton-sponsored question of the day: When was the last time a regular Legislative Session ended on time?

As always, click here to tweet your answer to @MHDFirm. The first person with the correct answer will get a shoutout in Monday’s Last Call!

Evening Reads

Donald Trump says feds should take equity in firms it bails out” via The Associated Press

‘We’re not a shipping clerk’: Trump tells Governors to step up efforts to get medical supplies” via Quint Forgey of POLITICO

$10 toilet paper? Coronavirus gouging complaints surge in U.S.” via Reese Dunklin of The Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis might ease restrictions on unemployment benefits” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO

Lawmakers just passed a budget. Coronavirus will likely change it.” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell wants $760 billion infrastructure plan included in coronavirus relief” via the Miami Herald

Coronavirus, flu or anxiety? ER visits are up in South Florida, but we don’t know why” via Daniel Chang and Ben Conarck of the Miami Herald

For Jacksonville, the coronavirus outbreak is a race against time” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Jacksonville City Councilman recovering after testing positive for coronavirus” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

The wave of coronavirus cases is shutting down Florida beaches” via CBS News

Publix sets Tuesday, Wednesday mornings as ‘senior shopping hours’ during coronavirus outbreak” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Darden Restaurants announces emergency pay, coronavirus response” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel

Tulsi Gabbard suspends presidential campaign, endorses Joe Biden” via Axios

Primary election overhaul set for November” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida

DeSantis delays decisions on Supreme Court picks” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“God bless the state of Florida, God bless this chamber and please, six feet and wash your damn hands.” — Rep. Evan Jenne, to fellow House members after the budget vote.


Bill Day’s Latest

Breakthrough Insights

Wake Up Early?

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will visit the site of the first coronavirus drive-thru testing operation in Miami-Dade, 11 a.m. Media interested in attending should RSVP to [email protected]. Location details will be shared with those that RSVP.

Follow for the latest announcements from the Governor and other state leaders.

Staff Reports


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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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