Last Call for 10.1.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

LAST CALL FEATURED IMAGE GRAPHICS 3.20
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

Business groups have not been shy in opposing Amendment 2. Now, they’re launching an ad campaign highlighting how the amendment, which would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, could devastate small businesses.

A three-and-a-half-minute video put out by the Amendment 2 Hurts You coalition puts small-business owners and employees in front of the camera to explain the amendment’s possible negative impacts.

The take-away: Bouncing back from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 is already daunting but finding the cash to pay higher wages could make it impossible.

“If Amendment 2 were to pass, I’d feel devastated,” said Sandy Creek, a server and bartender at Crabby Bill’s in Pinellas County. “I worry about it now when I go home at night. Just the thought, when I heard about it, it scares me. It scares me that I’m not going to barely to make ends meet. Would I have to go get another part-time job to put food on my table?”

Nino Wardrip, general manager of Brick’s Smoked Meats in Sarasota, added, “If Amendment 2 were to pass, it would definitely put a lot of jobs in jeopardy here, from the servers to the cooks to the managers.”

The coalition, which includes AIF and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, also put the spotlight on a study from Save Florida Jobs that claims Amendment 2 could cost the state upward of 158,000 jobs and an economic impact report from Florida TaxWatch that estimated businesses will pay an additional $7.3 billion a year to employ the same number of workers today at a $15 minimum wage.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

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It’s been three years since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, and the people affected by the Category 5 storm — one of the deadliest to ever hit the United States — are still struggling.

Alianza For Progress is partnering with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto to hold a virtual rally at 10 a.m. Friday to raise awareness to the ongoing challenges faced by those victims.

The event will highlight how insurance companies and an “incompetent, hostile disaster relief effort” by the Trump administration denied Puerto Ricans the protections they thought they had. Earlier this year, The New York Times published an article that revealed there are still $1.6 billion in unpaid insurance claims connected to Hurricane Maria.

“The practice of denying insured storm victims in Puerto Rico the payouts that they’re entitled to is just another tool of oppression against Puerto Ricans,” Alianza’s Executive Director Marcos Vilar said. “Just like Donald Trump treated Puerto Rico as undeserving of relief after the most devastating storm in its history, and now wants us to praise him for throwing us scraps from his table, these insurance companies are hoping to get away with giving us less than we deserve.”

Soto added, “Over three years ago, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and caused over $100 billion in damages. Lives are still being lost due to the lack of reconstruction funds. Businesses have remained closed for years, homes are still wrecked, and blue FEMA tarps are still nailed to broken roofs.

“Hundreds of thousands of people rely on obtaining proper payment of their insurance claims. It is an absolute shame that, after all this time, Americans in Puerto Rico are still being victimized by an uncaring and ineffective federal response.”

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U.S. Sugar and the Glades community kicked off the beginning of the company’s 90th harvest season Thursday with a dedication ceremony for the historic steam locomotive Engine No. 148, which hauled the season’s first sugar-cane train from field to mill.

“Our company has great respect for the hard, admirable work that brought this piece of history back to life,” said U.S. Sugar President and CEO Robert Buker. “We are proud to finally be able to show everyone this amazing artifact of American ingenuity, innovation and industrial know-how.”

Attendees gathered around the century-old locomotive as it came to halt on the tracks before them and Buker and his wife smashed a champagne bottle filled with pure cane sugar over its coupler to christen the “Sugar Express” before sending the train on toward the mill.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was not open to the public, but the City of Clewiston invited local residents and rail fans to view the train from a secure location as it chugged through town. The newly restored steam engine was also displayed for several hours at the U.S. Sugar Locomotive North Shop for locals to take photographs and videos.

“Ninety years ago, our founder, Charles Stewart Mott first laid out his vision for U.S. Sugar to become a leader in innovation,” said Ken McDuffie, Senior VP of Sugarcane Operations at U.S. Sugar. “Part of that innovation was developing the only large-scale rail network for trains to haul harvested cane to a sugar mill.”

U.S. Sugar plans to add passenger cars to Engine No. 148 in the future so visitors can see their farms and learn more about the company’s rich history and food production from a unique perspective.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 700,602 FL residents (+2,551 since Wednesday)

— 8,542 Non-FL residents (+77 since Wednesday)

Origin:

— 5,784 Travel related

— 254,989 Contact with a confirmed case

— 6,081 Both

— 431,197 Under investigation

Hospitalizations:

— 44,320 in FL

Deaths:

— 14,619 in FL

Evening Reads

It’s time for Jeb Bush to endorse Joe Biden” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

How Donald Trump torpedoed the presidential debates” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

Trump’s Proud Boy moment sparks Black outrage in Florida” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO

Florida Jewish Democrats bash Trump over Proud Boys comments” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Food banks are removing the signed letter Trump wanted to include in every food-aid box” via Laura Reiley and Kim Bellware of The Washington Post

Remember when Trump claimed fraud in Florida?” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times

Trump’s chances are dwindling. That could make him dangerous.” via Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight

The first presidential debate was chaotic. Here’s why improving the next one will be tough.” via Kim Bellware of The Washington Post

Florida coronavirus: 127 new resident fatalities, 2,628 new cases” via Tiffani Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel

First-time unemployment claims drop in Florida” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida

Hurricane Sally a ‘major disaster’ but no individual assistance coming without public’s help” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal

Three years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans still struggle with insurance claims” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Did the Florida Democratic Party illegally funnel thousands to Sarasota Co. Commission candidate?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

The era of Greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end” via Craig Pittman for National Geographic

Quote of the Day

“I think it was a mirror that sort of showed us what we look like as a nation and as a people in which we’re all talking at each other and over each other, but not to each other.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on Tuesday’s presidential debate.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

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