Last Call for 2.18.21 — 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

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Julie Brown as the next Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

“I’m pleased to appoint Julie Imanuel Brown as Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Julie brings a unique blend of experience in the private and public sectors, as well as the legal field, including over 10 years of service on the Florida Public Service Commission and various corporate positions. I’m confident she will do a great job in our continued fight to cut red tape and ease regulation on our businesses and hardworking Floridians.”

Brown said, “I’m honored to be appointed by Gov. DeSantis to this important position, which impacts millions of Floridians. As Secretary, I will work to build on the Governor’s foundation to implement meaningful occupational licensing reform, as well with business leaders and business owners during Florida’s economic recovery.”

Brown currently serves on the Florida Public Service Commission. She was appointed to the PSC a decade ago and served as PSC chair from 2016 to 2018. Shortly after DeSantis took office in 2019, he reappointed Brown for a third term. The Governor also appointed Brown to the Florida Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

Before joining the PSC, Brown worked as an associate legal counsel at First American Corporation, where she handled corporate compliance with regulatory authorities and other legal issues. She has also worked as a corporate attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions and securities law at Tampa law firm Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick.

Her appointment to lead DBPR comes a month after former Secretary Halsey Beshears announced he would step down, citing personal health issues. His last day was Jan. 29.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 1,816,108 FL residents (+5,030 since Wednesday)

— 33,636 Non-FL residents (+87 since Wednesday)


— 14,517 Travel related

— 694,294 Contact with a confirmed case

— 19,818 Both

— 1,087,479 Under investigation


— 77,124 in FL


— 29,990 in FL


— 3,783,965 Doses administered

— 2,551,882 Total people vaccinated

— 1,319,799 First dose

— 1,319,799 Series completed (+138,633 since Wednesday)

Evening Reads

Behind America’s botched vaccination rollout: fragmented communication, misallocated supply” via Sarah Krouse, Brianna Abbott and Jared Hopkins of The Wall Street Journal

Ivanka Trump will not run against Marco Rubio for one of Florida’s Senate seats.” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times

Ted Cruz is no hypocrite. He’s worse.” via David Graham of The Atlantic

Ron DeSantis omits data on child COVID rates as he touts decision to open schools” via Tony Pipitone of NBC 6 Miami

DeSantis says it’s not his call on how pop-up COVID-19 vaccine sites dole out shots” via Richard Tribou and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

DeSantis turns to Fox News for damage control over special treatment on COVID vaccine” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix

‘Hang in there,’ DeSantis says as he announces more COVID vaccine delays. Publix stops scheduling new appointments” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

With the help of connections, several Florida groups appear to get special treatment in securing vaccine doses” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix

Lawmakers trying to squash Key West voters’ wishes, but forget one thing” via Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix

Joe Gruters’ e-fairness plan goes back to revenue neutral” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Marjorie Taylor Greene exposes social media problem” via Fred Guttenberg and Igor Volsky for Florida Politics

Can Florida’s broken workforce aid program be fixed? Lawmakers aren’t sure.” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Momentum builds for medical marijuana THC caps” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

‘This is about common sense’: Wilton Simpson says anti-riot legislation isn’t politically motivated” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

NASA rover Perseverance lands on Mars in mission searching for past life” via Joel Achenbach, Sarah Kaplan and Ben Guarino of The Washington Post

Florida celebrates sea-level rise planning tool after years ‘behind the curve’” via Zachary Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times

Quote of the Day

“I am really not sure how that became political at all. If you attack a law enforcement officer, there should be substantial penalties. If you destroy private property, there should be a substantial penalty for that. I think we should all be able to agree on those things.” — Senate President Wilton Simpson, on the controversial anti-riot bill.

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