Last Call for 8.26.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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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

Breaking — NBA players are making their strongest statement yet against racial injustice as the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for a scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The teams were set to begin Game 5 of their series shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern time, with the Bucks needing a win to advance to the second round. Players had been discussing boycotting games after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Magic players and referees were on the floor for the game, but Milwaukee never took the floor.

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The coronavirus pandemic did a number on state revenues, but there are signs the worst has subsided.

The newest monthly revenue report from the Office of Economic & Demographic Research shows the state beat revenue forecasts by $2.5 million last month. It marks the first time since March that revenues have beaten projections.

The income, however, is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount the state lost in the three months prior. In April alone, the state saw an $878 million shortfall. Combined, state revenues were nearly $2.1 billion below forecasts in the second quarter.

Nearly three-quarters of the losses, $1.6 billion, stem from a sharp drop in sales tax collections. That revenue stream was still below the mark in July, but much less so, coming in at $165 billion below estimates.

Most of the lost sales tax revenue, EDR said, can be attributed to declines in the tourism and hospitality-related industries.

The sales tax losses were offset by gains in corporate income tax revenues, which were up $135 million in July — the start of the fiscal year — after falling $357 million short under the annual estimate for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Corporate filing fees also came in $35 million above estimates.

EDR said that growth occurred because the state delated corporate tax due dates during the height of the pandemic. When the rescheduled date hit, it shifted revenue that traditionally comes in earlier months to July.

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The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has rescheduled the next Florida Bar exam for Oct. 13, the Florida Supreme Court announced Wednesday.

The court said that testing could continue into Oct. 14 for those who require test accommodations.

The new dates put the 2020 Bar exam about three months behind the original testing date in mid-July.

The 2020 Bar exam was originally set to be held in person — as it always had been before the pandemic — but shifted to virtual over fears Florida Bar applicants could contract the virus in a crowded testing environment.

The virtual solution wasn’t ready for prime-time, however, with test-takers reporting numerous issues with the platform ahead of the Aug. 19 exam date. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners ultimately canceled the exam Aug. 16, citing problems with the online testing system.

The court’s announcement said the October exam “will be administered using an online format provided by ExamSoft, a company with more than 20 years’ experience with delivery of online exams.”

The new date comes two days after the Florida Supreme Court issued an order allowing some Bar exam applicants to practice law without having passed the exam.

The order requires applicants to work under a supervising attorney, defined as “a member of The Florida Bar in good standing who is eligible to practice law in Florida, who has maintained that status for at least five years, and who does not have any pending discipline posted in the member’s profile on The Florida Bar’s website.”

Attorneys-to-be who choose that route would be allowed to practice until 30 days after the results of the February 2021 Bar exams are released.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 602,113 FL residents (+2,937 since Tuesday)

— 6,609 Non-FL residents (+283 since Tuesday)

Origin:

— 4,618 Travel related

— 197,299 Contact with a confirmed case

— 4,843 Both

— 395,353 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 37,404 in FL

Deaths:

— 10,872 in FL

Evening Reads

17-year-old arrested in killing of 2 people during Wisconsin protests” via The Associated Press

Marco Rubio says Democrats ‘don’t want to be seen’ taking on violent protesters” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Nikki Fried slams RNC speakers for describing pandemic in past tense” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

The Donald Trump children are here to feed your grievance and resentment” via Paul Waldman of The Washington Post

Is the electoral map changing?” via Elena Mejia and Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight

Former Trump campaign manager traveled to Cuba to meet ‘Castro’s son’, Senate report says” via Nora Gamez Torres of the Miami Herald

Florida adds more than 3,000 new cases, 153 new COVID-19 deaths” via Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union

After big debate over hugs, task force recommends limited nursing home visits” via Mary Ellen Klas and Bailey Lefever of the Miami Herald

Tracking coronavirus cases at U.S. colleges and universities” via the staff of The New York Times

South Florida records 65 new COVID-19 deaths as daily death toll rises for fourth straight day” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ lack of urgency on unemployment: Jobless workers still don’t have $300 supplement” via Laura Cassels of The Florida Phoenix

State revenue meets projections for first time since March” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Poll: Majority of Floridians worry about school reopening, agree with Judge’s ruling” via Janelle Taylor of Florida Politics

Donald Trump Jr. gives a shoutout to embattled Richard Corcoran on school reopening snag” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna hosted panel at We Build The Wall event” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times

Child advocates, political enemies pile on Margaret Good over sex doll vote” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Women’s Equality Day — Inspiration and honoring those who blazed trails, shattered ceilings” via Ashley Moody for Florida Politics

Now Category 4 Hurricane Laura up to 140 mph winds, threatens ‘unsurvivable’ 20-foot storm surge” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel

Quote of the Day

Joe Biden said they would not steal our manufacturing jobs or become an economic competitor. Joe Biden was wrong. Millions of American businesses, jobs, factories were destroyed. Joe Biden isn’t strong enough to take on China. And Joe Biden has no plan to deal with China. The damage we do to our country may be irreversible.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on the perceived consequences of a Biden presidency.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Jesse Scheckner, Andrew Wilson, and Tristan Wood.

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