Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.28.21

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

A new Brennan Center study found state Supreme Courts nationwide fail to seat justices who represent the communities they serve.

The study found 22 states do not have any justice who publicly identifies as a person of color, including 11 states where people of color make up at least 20% of the population. Overall, just one in six of the country’s justices are Black, Latino, Asian American, or Native American, even though people of color make up almost 40% of the U.S. population.

The lack of diversity on the bench is just as true in Florida as it is elsewhere.

The Florida Bar reports that, as of 2017, only 17.5% of Florida’s state judges are people of color, even though the latest Census reports show that people of color make up nearly half the state’s population.

Florida’s Supreme Court is similar to courts across the country in its significant lack of diversity,

As for the state Supreme Court, Florida is one of 12 states with only a single woman justice and one of eight states where there is no Black justice, despite Black residents making up at least 10% of the population. 

The Florida Access to Justice Project says changing the way Florida nominates judges could produce a substantial and timely change.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell and Sen. Perry Thurston filed bills this year that would have curtailed the Governor’s influence over judicial nominating commissions. However, neither bill was heard in committee.

“Bills like the ones introduced this year by Sen. Thurston and Rep. Driskell were designed to limit the outsized influence Governors have on our judiciary and ensure a judicial nominating process that is independent and reflective of our diverse state,” said Damien Filer on behalf of the Florida Access to Justice Project and Progress Florida.

As Trelvis Randolph, General Counsel for the Miami-Dade NAACP, puts it: “By passing JNC reforms we can be assured Florida’s judiciary will reflect our diverse state and be free from the undue influence of partisan politics and special-interest money — with access to justice for all.”

I was in a mood yesterday, so I wrote a lot. Here are links to the posts:

💁🏻‍♂️ — Chris Sprowls and his House are having a stellar week: Pretty much every piece of legislation House Speaker Sprowls has pushed this Legislative Session made it through the Senate with near-unanimous votes. From workforce programs to early learning and school choice, even a bipartisan police reform bill, Sprowls’ list of wins is mounting. Read more here.

📚The part of early learning education every parent should get behind: If you’re the parent of a preschooler, you’ve probably by now figured out that you won’t officially know whether your child is kindergarten ready until, get this, they’re already in kindergarten. The early learning success bill changes that. Read more about why that’s good for moms and dads here.

👏A bad car crash and a bout of COVID-19 couldn’t get this lobby team down: Most lobbyists did better than expected this Legislative Session, but one, in particular, deserves particular kudos. Anfield Consulting found Frank Bernardino is still recovering from a nasty wreck; three team members were sidelined with COVID-19, one of whom spent a week in the hospital. So landing some $100M for their clients in the 2021/22 budget was a particular feat. Well played, Anfield crew. Well played.


@ItalanoLaura: The Kamala Harris story — an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against — was my breaking point.

@MaggieNYT: The culture war fights the GOP has been waging against Biden have moved from the realm of things with a nominal basis to being completely confected

@Mmcauliff: Marco Rubio was asked if he had any advice for Tim Scott‘s rebuttal speech to (Joe) Biden‘s address tomorrow. “Yeah. Drink water before.”

@NateSilver538: Given how much was written about a relatively modest increase in COVID cases in the US a month or so ago, there should probably be more coverage of the ~20% decline over the past two weeks, which reflects the power of the vaccines among other things.

@Davidifear: And how will we know these maskless people going about their day are vaccinated vs. the inconsiderate d-bags who’ve been going around outside maskless, possibly getting others sick, no big whoop, the entire time? Asking for a perpetually yelling friend.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@RPetty: As Floridians, we owe a debt to @JaredEMoskowitz and his beautiful family. A debt we cannot repay. A debt he’d never ever ask us to.

@NikkiFried: Another example of the out-of-touch priorities of Florida’s GOP legislature: They cut an important program that provides textbooks to thousands of students just to save $37 million. But they raise $1 billion in taxes on consumers & use the funds to lower taxes for corporations.

@FLSenate: In compliance with Article III, Section 19(d) of the State Constitution and Joint Rule 2, the conference report on the GAA — SB 2500 was electronically furnished to each member of the Legislature, the Governor, Cabinet, and the Chief Justice on April 27, 2021, at 12:06 p.m.

@CarlosGSmith: House rules are BS. @GovGoneWild filed strike-all amendment to sweeping elections bill at 1:55A. No time to read. Q&A just 60 mins. 119 members had 5 minutes total for closing debate. Time ran out. I wasn’t allowed to debate. Committee was rushed too. “No more questions!”

@DanP_ATT: This is the time of the Legislative Session where we reflect on the pre-session predictions of the elusive “early sine die.” Every. Year. This tweet powered by everyone who said they’re just going to do the budget and go home early.

@Leek_Leek352: If y’all don’t learn nothing else today. You should’ve learned not to play with Rep. @TracieDavisJax


NFL Draft begins — 1; Disney Wish announcement — 1; Disneyland to open — 2; Kentucky Derby — 3; Orthodox Easter 2021 — 4; Mother’s Day — 11; Florida Chamber Safety Council’s inaugural Southeastern Leadership Conference on Safety, Health and Sustainability — 12; Gambling Compact Special Session begins — 19; ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ rescheduled premiere — 30; Memorial Day — 33; Florida TaxWatch Spring Meeting and PLA Awards — 36; ‘Loki’ premieres on Disney+ — 44; Father’s Day — 52; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 57; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 64; 4th of July — 67; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 71; MLB All-Star Game — 76; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 86; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 86; The NBA Draft — 92; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 94; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 100; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 118; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 128; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 149; ‘Dune’ premieres — 156; MLB regular season ends — 158; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 164; World Series Game 1 — 181; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 188; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 191; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 212; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 223; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 230; Super Bowl LVI — 292; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 332; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 373; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 436; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 527; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 562.


Social media crackdown clears Senate, giving Gov. Ron DeSantis one of his top priorities” via Jim Saunders and Tom Urban of The News Service of Florida — In one of DeSantis’ top priorities of the Legislative Session, the Senate on Monday passed a measure to crack down on social-media companies that remove users from their platforms. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 22-17, along almost straight party lines, to approve the proposal (SB 7072), which now will go to the House. The bill, in part, would bar social-media companies from removing political candidates from the companies’ platforms. Companies that violate the prohibition could face fines of $100,000 a day for statewide candidates and $10,000 a day for other candidates. The proposal would also require social-media companies to publish standards about blocking users and applying the standards consistently.

Ron DeSantis gets a big wish fulfilled — a bill punishing Big Tech.

New sales tax holidays near passage in Florida” via WFLA — Florida will have three weeks of sales tax-free merchandise that includes hurricane and back-to-school supplies this year. There is also the third week of tax-free sales on recreational supplies and entertainment tickets beginning July 1st. Florida’s sales tax-free holidays are bigger and better this year. Under legislation expected to be approved Wednesday, hurricane supplies go tax-free the Friday before Memorial Day. Items that would be tax-exempt include generators under $750, coolers, batteries, weather radios, and more. The state’s outgoing Director of Emergency Management, Jared Moskowitz, said the tax-free days serve as a reminder.

Florida Senate to consider police reform, but Democrats say it ‘doesn’t go far enough’” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times — A House plan that would set statewide policing standards did not appear to go far enough for Senators who heard the bill for the first time on Tuesday — but it might just have to do this year. The legislation resulted from late-session negotiations between House Republican leaders and the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, whose members filed more than a dozen measures calling for “fair and just policing” after a wave of protests were set off by George Floyd’s death last May. “This bill certainly doesn’t go far enough. But I think it would be horrible if we didn’t have some type of legislation to recognize what is going on in our society,” said Sen. Thurston.

Florida’s controversial toll roads projects are scrapped” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Two years after ordering the state to build more than 300 miles of toll roads across rural Florida, state lawmakers slammed the brakes. With little debate, the House voted 115-0 to repeal the bulk of the controversial projects, sending the bill to DeSantis’ desk. The bill is an extraordinary reversal of a top Republican priority from 2019, and Democrats declared it a victory, House Minority Co-leader Evan Jenne told reporters on Monday. “To see that get peeled back by about 85%, that was a huge win for us,” Jenne said. But it had been Senate Republicans who proposed doing away with the projects, saying they were a “fiscal cliff” for the state.

The death of M-CORES gives Evan Jenne a reason to cheer. Image via AP.

Sparing The Villages, Legislature shifts growth burden to taxpayers” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Tallahassee hasn’t been interested in managing Florida’s growth since Rick Scott got elected Governor more than a decade ago. If you had any lingering doubts about that, consider House Bill 337. That proposal to benefit a mega-retirement community called The Villages, will fundamentally change the way Florida pays for growth. It’s going to shift growth-related costs for roads and other infrastructure from developers to, well, everyone else. Someone has to pay for growth, and this bill means you, the taxpayer, will pick up more of the tab, while developers pick up less through so-called “impact fees.” The bill, co-sponsored by a Villages executive who moonlights as a state representative, has gotten through the state House and Senate is going to DeSantis, who is certain to sign it. He loves The Villages.


Budget proposal includes big pay boost for lowest-paid state workers and agency heads” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — There’s a substantial boost in pay for nearly 2,000 state workers, as much as 52% for some, in the budget deal Senate and House negotiators struck Monday night. Leadership has agreed to a $43 million plan pushed by Senate President Wilton Simpson to have the Legislature make a down payment on the minimum wage constitutional amendment voters approved in November. That will raise the minimum wage statewide to $15 by 2026. The approximately $100 billion spending plan lawmakers will vote on Friday will increase the minimum pay for a job with the State of Florida to $13 an hour July 1.

Wilton Simpson puts a down payment on higher wages for state workers. Image via Colin Hackley.

Waiting list to shrink amid lingering worker worries” via Christine Sexton of The News Service of Florida — Lawmakers have agreed to spend an additional $95 million a year to provide more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to services they need to live in their communities and out of institutions. Advocates said it’s the largest increase in recent history in funding to reduce a waiting list in the Medicaid “iBudget” program. But they worry about a worker shortage that, they say, will only grow worse as more people qualify for the program unless lawmakers do something about increasing wages for people who provide services. To address the dearth of service providers, the Legislature last year included $58.4 million in the budget to increase wages of people who provide such services, but DeSantis vetoed the money.

—”5 things to know about the Florida Health care budget” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Sprinkle list: Millions going toward Alzheimer’s and dementia research” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Alzheimer’s research across the state university system received hefty funding in this year’s House and Senate “sprinkle lists.” Research universities within the state system are set to receive a $2.5 million split between the two chambers’ lists to study Alzheimer’s disease with the Focused Ultrasound Neuroscience Research Institute. The House set aside $1.5 million in its list, and the Senate $1 million. The funding for this project stems from appropriation requests filed by Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez (SF 1343) and Rep. Nick DiCeglie (HB 3505), in which the lawmakers sought $5 million on behalf of the research program.

—“Sprinkle list: Police, youth mentorship program lands $375K” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics 

—”Sprinkle list: Palmetto school lands nearly $1M for Steve Wozniak-tied STEM program” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Budget provides for Pulse tragedy survivors, housing for homeless LGBTQ youth” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Line item appropriations in the 2021 budget bill include money for counseling for Pulse tragedy survivors and a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth, Sen. Linda Stewart announced Tuesday. Stewart tallied nearly $2.3 million in local project appropriations to help vulnerable populations in Central Florida, through housing, food assistance, after-school programs, services, and even Americans with Disabilities Act improvements to a Winter Park nature trail. “By funding these projects, we’ll help serve many of our most vulnerable populations. Providing housing and health services to our LGBTQ+ community, counseling for human trafficking victims, and expanding access to nutritious foods are just a few of the great impacts these dollars will have in our community,” Stewart stated in a news release.

Sprinkle list: Firefighter cancer research lands $800K” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — This year, the Legislature earmarked $800,000 in the state budget to fund research into cancer rates among firefighters. The budget item appeared late Monday on the Senate’s Supplemental Funding list, a technical term known alternatively as a ‘sprinkle list.’ Sen. Ileana Garcia proposed the Firefighter Cancer Initiative funding as a local funding initiative request, though she requested $2 million for the project. “This program aims to understand and address why firefighters are at increased risk of developing and dying of cancer relative to the populations that they serve,” the local funding initiative request says.

Ileana Garcia scores six figures for firefighter cancer research.

Sprinkle list: FSU lands $18.4M for new research building” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College are both among the institutions to slide into the state budget in the 2021 Legislative Session’s closing days. The Tallahassee-based institutions are among the nearly 200 budget items on the “sprinkle list.”. Under the budget, lawmakers award more than $18.4 million toward FSU’s Interdisciplinary Research Commercialization Building. According to the university, the building will foster a “collaborative environment” for research when it opens.

—“Proposed budget maintains Jacksonville autism school funding” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Sprinkle list: Metropolitan Ministries Pasco Campus to receive $4 million for expansions” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A Metropolitan Ministries campus in Pasco County is set to receive at least $4 million for expansion as part of the Florida Senate’s “sprinkle list.” The funding addresses requests filed by Sen. Ed Hooper (SF 1348) and Rep. Amber Mariano (HB 3367) to expand an existing campus in Pasco County. The project seeks $6,988,800 total from the state. While the “sprinkle list” offers $4 million in funding, about 57.2% of the requested amount, the nonprofit may still receive an additional $2 million in funding as pushed in Senate budget offers.

Sprinkle list: Youth development program scores $1 million” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Lawmakers will provide $1 million in the state budget to a statewide program aiming to help at-risk youth. The funding is a last-minute addition featured on the House Supplemental Funding list, which is more commonly known as a ‘sprinkle list’ to Capitol insiders. Under the budget, the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Positive Youth Development Program will receive $1 million in nonrecurring general revenue. Republican Rep. Sam Garrison of Fleming Island sponsored the budget request. “The goal of this program is to help young people learn about and avoid some of the most immediate threats to their well-being,” reads the appropriation request.

Lawmakers restore about half of Aramis Ayala death penalty budget cuts to Orange prosecutor’s office” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — When former Orange-Osceola prosecutor Ayala said she wouldn’t pursue the death penalty under any circumstance in 2017, then-Gov. Rick Scott moved 29 murder cases to a nearby circuit, and state lawmakers took $1.3 million out of her budget to go toward the cost of the cases. Now, with all but 13 of the cases resolved, the Legislature is poised to return some of the money to Ayala’s successor, Monique Worrell, who took office in January. Worrell’s office will get $700,000 under a budget deal reached between House and Senate negotiators.


Lawmakers reach a higher-education deal with a ‘BOGO’ offer among the tuition breaks” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times — Florida lawmakers have reached a compromise on a wide-ranging higher education bill that would create several tuition breaks for college students and would expand on the Legislature’s push to provide coronavirus liability protections. Lawmakers have stuffed the bill (HB 1261) with several new tuition breaks — a contrast to agreed cuts to other college financial aid programs this year. The bill, for example, offers in-state tuition to out-of-state students whose grandparents live in Florida, creates a “buy one, get one free” waiver for students who enroll in programs aligned to the state’s economic and workforce needs, and tuition and fee waivers for one online course for certain students, including veterans and active-duty military members.

House nears vote to limit public health orders, including vaccine passport ban” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The House is prepared to vote on a bill to create regulations for emergency orders, including a prohibition against requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports. The Senate approved their version of the bill (SB 2006) with a 27-9 vote on Thursday with opposition only from Democrats. Sen. Danny Burgess and Rep. Tom Leek, both the chairmen of their respective chambers’ pandemic committees, are shepherding the legislation. The vaccine passport ban, a request of DeSantis, would prevent businesses from requiring schools, businesses, and government entities from requiring documents certifying that a patron, student or resident has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Danny Burgess shepherds a vaccine passport ban through the Senate. Image via Colin Hackley.

House, Senate remain apart on property insurance” via The News Service of Florida — The Florida House and Senate remained split Tuesday about how to revamp the state’s property insurance system. House members took up a Senate property insurance bill (SB 76) and made significant changes as they prepared for a vote Wednesday. The bill would then have to bounce back to the Senate for further consideration. The House and Senate are looking to reduce insurance litigation, including placing restrictions on attorney fees and curbing what industry officials contend are questionable — if not fraudulent — roof-damage claims. The House plan, in part, would prevent contractors from soliciting homeowners to file insurance claims. Among other things, the plan would allow larger annual rate increases for customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

—“House adds potential Citizens rate hikes to insurance reform” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Staking a claim: Will proposed reforms stop rate hikes or hobble homeowners?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

— TALLY 3 —

Legislature OKs carrying guns at churches with schools” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — A proposal that would let people with concealed-weapons licenses pack heat at churches or other religious institutions that share properties with schools is heading to DeSantis. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 24-16 along party lines to give final approval to the measure (HB 259), which passed the House last month. DeSantis’ office did not immediately reply to a question about whether the Governor will sign the bill. Florida law generally allows people to carry concealed weapons at churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions, but it bars being armed on school properties. That leads to people being prevented from carrying guns on properties shared by religious institutions and schools. Senate sponsor Joe Gruters said the bill closes the “loophole.”

Joe Gruters is closing a loophole in Florida’s gun laws. Image via Colin Hackley.

Lawmakers approve juvenile arrest expunction bill” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The House unanimously voted Tuesday to pass a bill to broaden a juvenile’s ability to expunge their arrest record. That vote gave the bill (SB 274) the Legislature’s final OK before the proposal goes to DeSantis for his signature. The measure passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month. Currently, Florida allows minors to expunge first-time misdemeanors if they complete a diversion program. However, the proposal, carried by Sen. Keith Perry and Rep. David Smith, would expand juvenile expunction laws to include felonies and other arrests beyond a minor’s first offense. Moreover, a juvenile who completes a diversion program may omit or deny the expunction as well as their participation in a diversion program.

Lawmakers approve measure clarifying last year’s pelvic exam law” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The House has signed off on a bill clarifying 2020 legislation requiring affirmative consent before conducting pelvic exams. Last year’s bill and this year’s clarifying measure (SB 716) both come from Sen. Lauren Book. The Senate has already approved Book’s clarifying measure. Tuesday’s House vote means the bill can now head to the Governor’s desk. During last year’s Legislative Session, Book cited shocking reports showing medical students could perform pelvic checks on anesthetized patients who may agree to a general exam routine but don’t explicitly consent to those more invasive procedures. The bill, as approved by lawmakers and signed by the Governor, caused some confusion, however.

Senate amends physician assistants bill, awaits House’s second opinion” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Senate has passed a bill that would expand the scope of practice for physician assistants, reverting the bill back to the Senate version. The bill (HB 431), carried by Rep. Bob Rommel, would lift several restrictions on PAs, including raising the limit on how many PAs a physician can oversee from four to 10. With the Senate’s 38-2 vote, the bill must next go back to the House for members to approve the Senate’s changes, including differences in accreditation requirements. That brings the bill back to Sen. Manny Díaz‘s version (SB 894). When Díaz and Rommel filed the legislation in January, it would have removed physician oversight altogether.

Pandemic scam bill headed to Governor’s desk” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — After consumers were defrauded millions during the pandemic, the state’s fraud laws are likely about to get an update. All Senators supported a measure to make certain pandemic scams chargeable offenses Tuesday. The House already passed the bill (HB 9), meaning it’s now ready for DeSantis‘ signature. Land O’ Lakes Rep. Adrian Zika carried the bill in the House. It was the first bill to pass the lower chamber this Session. Officials at all levels of government have been warning people about scams promising vaccines or PPE in exchange for money, Zika said. Sen. Aaron Bean carried the bill in the Senate.

—”Bill updating homeowner association rules clears House” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Morning prayer sparks pushback from Senate Democratic Leader” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — As is the norm, the Senate opened Monday morning with prayer; but, what is usually a faint, reflective moment led by a faith leader instead turned into a more heated political discourse, garnering pushback by Senate Democrats. The prayer, led by Quincy Bishop Tyrone Smith of Life-Changing Faith Church, quickly turned into a reflection of issues facing the Legislature. “Father, in Jesus’ name we pray, now unto you, the only omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God of all creation, we come before the throne of grace and mercy,” Smith began the prayer. “Forgive us for our allowances of unrighteous acts,” Smith said. Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer immediately spoke out following the prayer.

Miami Mayor quietly pushed bill regulating Bitcoin in Florida. It might be a long shot.” via Joey Flechas and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a loud proponent for tech investments in South Florida, has quietly pushed legislation that could create the state’s first meaningful financial regulations for cryptocurrency. But the Mayor whose pro-business agenda and campaign coffers have benefited handsomely from Miami’s place in the tech spotlight might be striking out in Tallahassee. The measure, which would pave the way for broader use of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other such cryptocurrencies, and more clearly define how they fit into the existing financial system, passed the House last week in a unanimous vote.

Effort to keep search process for college presidents out of public view dies in Senate” via Ryan Daily of The News Service of Florida — A measure that would have provided a public-records exemption for information about people applying to lead Florida colleges and universities died Tuesday in the Senate, as it failed to draw the required support of two-thirds of Senators. The Senate voted 25-14 to support the bill (HB 997), falling one vote short of the 26 votes needed to reach a legally required two-thirds threshold for passing public-records exemptions. All Senate Republicans backed the measure and picked up the vote of Sen. Jason Pizzo, while 14 Democrats opposed the bill. Sen. Audrey Gibson did not vote in the roll call that determined the bill’s outcome, though she submitted a largely symbolic vote later against the bill.

Jason Pizzo was among the few Democrats supporting an exemption to the state’s Sunshine Law. Image via Colin Hackley.

FTBA says toll road repeal ‘responsibly addresses’ infrastructure needs — After the Legislature voted to repeal the M-CORES toll road plan, Florida Transportation Builders’ Association President Ananth Prasad said lawmakers’ action “responsibly address both short-term and long-term infrastructure needs in our state” and thanked Senate President Simpson and House Speaker Sprowls for “their leadership and continued commitment to the future of infrastructure in Florida.” He added, “As Florida’s population continues to grow, there will be an increasing number of vehicles traveling on our roads, and we will need both new and improved roadways throughout our state to accommodate them. This legislation is a sensible approach to begin addressing this issue.”


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Sara Clements, Rhett O’Doski, Ryder Rudd, Sean Stafford, McGuireWoods Consulting: DraftKings

Cory Dowd: Executive Office of the Governor

Natalie Fausel, Anfield Consulting: Florida Policy Institute

Gary Hunter, Hopping Green & Sams: Manny Seafood Corporation

Jerald Paul, Capitol Energy Florida: Florida Studio Theatre

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling


The Senate Democratic caucus meets, 9 a.m., Room 228, Senate Office Building, Zoom link here.

The Senate holds a floor Session, 10 a.m., Senate Chamber.

The House holds a floor Session, 10:30 a.m., House Chamber.


The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets, 8:30 a.m., Room 401, Senate Office Building; also after floor Session ends, Room 301, Senate Office Building.


DeSantis onboards Taryn Fenske as new Communications Director” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The DeSantis Administration will soon undergo at least two major roster changes, including the onboarding of a new Communications Director. Department of Education Communications Director Taryn Fenske will join the DeSantis administration as the new Communications Director. The position has remained vacant since December after the departure of Fred Piccolo. DeSantis spokesperson Meredith Beatrice, meanwhile, will transition out of DeSantis’ office to become Chief of Staff at the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Additionally, Brian McManus, Chief of Staff for the Department of Economic Opportunity, will transition to Deputy Secretary for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Greg Newburn, criminal justice reform advocate, headed to Niskanen Center” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — One of Florida’s most prominent advocates for criminal justice and sentencing reform voices is turning toward Washington, D.C. Newburn, of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, will soon join the Niskanen Center, a think tank in the nation’s capital. Newburn will head up a new criminal justice program at the Center, which has previously developed a reputation in environmental advocacy and immigration reform. He will continue to live in Florida. “I’m grateful for my time at FAMM and proud of the work we’ve done, which includes the successful repeal of some terrible sentencing laws and helping pass an important constitutional amendment,” Newburn said.

Greg Newburn heads to a prestigious D.C. think tank.

Maitland to remain in legal battle with other cities against Florida over gun regulations” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — Maitland City Council members agreed on Monday to remain in a legal battle with other local governments against the state over a law that threatens penalties if municipalities enact stricter gun rules. Since 1987, the state has prevented cities and counties from tightening regulations on firearms and ammunition. But Florida strengthened its regulatory hold in 2011 with a law that includes sanctions of up to a $5,000 fine against local officials, a ban on a government using public funds for legal defense if it is sued and awarding damages of up to $100,000 plus attorney’s fees to a member of the public or an organization if they successfully sue a city over gun ordinances.

Toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee prevents discharges into Atlantic” via David Fleshler of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Toxic algae along the east side of Lake Okeechobee led the Army Corps of Engineers to decide against discharging water this week east into the Atlantic Ocean. The Corps is lowering the lake’s water level to make room for the heavy rains that come in the summer. But all discharges this week will be from the west side of the lake into the Gulf of Mexico. Algae off the town of Pahokee did not have a high level of microcystin, the toxin that can cause bad smells and gastrointestinal problems. But algae tested around Port Mayaca exceeded federal guidelines for the toxin, leading the Corps to decide against any discharges through the St. Lucie River to the Atlantic.

— 35,000 —

As of Monday, nearly 35,000 Florida residents had died of COVID-19. Here is a breakdown, via The News Service of Florida, of the resident deaths by age group:

—Ages 0-4: 1 death

—Ages 5-14: 5 deaths

—Ages 15-24: 46 deaths

—Ages 25-34: 199 deaths

—Ages 35 to 44: 545 deaths

—Ages 45 to 54: 1,373 deaths

—Ages 55 to 64: 3,853 deaths

—Ages 65 to 74: 7,451 deaths

—Ages 75 to 84: 10,556 deaths

—Ages 85 and older: 10,883 deaths

Florida adds 5,271 coronavirus cases, 46 deaths Tuesday” via Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida reported 5,271 coronavirus cases and 46 deaths Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths since the pandemic began to 35,646. The state has seen 2,217,368 infections throughout the more than yearlong pandemic. On average, the Florida Department of Health has reported about 5,816 infections and 504 deaths per day over the past seven days. It can take officials up to two weeks to confirm and report a coronavirus-related death, meaning the number of fatalities added does not necessarily reflect the number of people who died the previous day. The health department processed more than 76,269 tests on Monday, reporting a daily positivity rate of about 7%.

DeSantis extends Florida’s COVID-19 emergency order” via WESH — DeSantis has extended the “State of Emergency” in Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state of emergency has broadened the Governor’s powers to respond to the pandemic, allowing him to activate the state’s emergency operations center and deploy National Guard troops if necessary. On Tuesday afternoon, the Governor’s Office said the order had been extended for another 60 days. On Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 3,513 new known cases of COVID-19 in the state and 66 new deaths related to the pandemic. Since the first cases were reported last March, 2,212,097 cases have been recorded in the state.

With a Ron DeSantis extension, Florida remains under an emergency order.

Too many of Florida’s long-term care workers are unvaccinated. That’s irresponsible” via the Miami Herald editorial board — A majority of workers in Florida’s long-term care facilities and nursing homes still had not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine as of April 22, according to state numbers. That’s not only a startling fact; it’s a scary one, too. These are the people in charge of caring for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, and Florida has already lost more than 10,000 residents and staff members to COVID-19 in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. The enormous relief when those facilities finally were able to vaccinate residents was palpable. Why, then, have only 35% of nursing home workers and 42% of long-term care workers gotten the lifesaving vaccine themselves?

Why won’t DeSantis give the pandemic his best shot?” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — We know that DeSantis opposes attempts to contain COVID-19, such as mandatory mask-wearing and limits on indoor gatherings. So how does the pandemic, which remains very much with us, end in Florida? COVID-19 Act Now just ranked Florida at “very high risk,” its second-highest warning level. Only eight other states share that dubious rating. COVID-19 hospitalizations trended up in April, especially among younger Floridians, and are at levels above last October. Five variants are circulating. Variants shot up after spring break. DeSantis had barred local governments from imposing public health measures. The answer from DeSantis’ office on how the pandemic ends was a non-answer.

State extends work search waiver for unemployed Floridians” via Florida Politics — State officials are extending the waiver, allowing unemployed Floridians to continue receiving benefits even if they aren’t able to search for work. The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced the move Tuesday. That waiver will remain in effect until May 29 and applies to all work search and work registration requirements. DeSantis and the DEO will also keep in effect a separate waiver removing the one-week waiting requirement to apply for unemployment after losing a job. The waiting week waiver is being extended even further, until June 26. Several of the state’s unemployment mandates were put on hold last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19-related food assistance expands, Floridians experience delays, frustration” via Christina Saint Louis of the Miami Herald — Across the state, low-income households that depend on SNAP, a rebranding of what was once known as the food stamp program, experienced delays and didn’t know why. Will the delays happen again next month? Asked by the Miami Herald, DCF wouldn’t say. DCF did, however, provide a reason for this month’s delays: a federal policy change. Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in March 2020, which did away with the sliding-scale concept and made it so that any SNAP-qualified household could receive the maximum amount of benefits available for its size. That’s the root of DCF’s April delays. Households received their pre-pandemic amount of SNAP benefits on time, but their emergency allotments came later.

Frustration grows as Governor and others go maskless at Delray market” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Is Palm Beach County’s mask mandate effective if its leaders aren’t abiding by it? That’s the question posed by a frustrated county commissioner Tuesday after public officials were photographed without masks at a big event last weekend. It also sparked a debate over when the county should repeal the mandate. On Saturday, Delray Beach Market held its grand opening with numerous officials on hand, including DeSantis. In pictures posted on the Governor’s Twitter account, hardly any masks were visible during the event. Four county commissioners — County Mayor Dave Kerner, Robert Weinroth, Maria Sachs and Mack Bernard — were among the people shown maskless at the event.


Outdoor mask guidelines may be relaxed. What that means to South Florida” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Floridians may finally be able to peel off their masks and more calmly breathe the warm air. In South Florida, some cities and counties have loosened outdoor COVID-19 restrictions and mask-wearing requirements, but updated CDC guidance will clarify what the scientists recommend. Florida has not had an outdoor mask mandate during the pandemic, although some counties and cities did have one. Palm Beach County, for example, is grappling with whether to keep its mask mandates in place. Beachgoers, park users, and outdoor bar patrons in some areas of South Florida already have tossed their masks. With 50% of its residents vaccinated, Broward County has given its residents the green light to do so.

Vaccinated Americans can ditch the mask outdoors. Image via AP.

COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for Palm Beach County Tax Collector employees” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — Hundreds of employees who work for the Palm Beach County tax collector’s office must get the COVID-19 vaccine. If an employee refuses, they risk being fired. Tax Collector Anne Gannon informed her 315 employees of her decision last week after doing legal research on the issue for a few months. How often her employees interact with the public was a “very big consideration” in this decision, she said. Another was that two of her employees tested positive for the coronavirus within the past two weeks. “There’s no reason anybody should be getting COVID-19 now,” with the availability of vaccines, Gannon said.

Pasco superintendent apologizes for school mask confusion” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning says he’s sorry. Mask requirements for students and staff have proved a point of controversy in his district and others. And he recognized on Tuesday that he didn’t help matters with a series of contradictory and, in certain instances, incorrect statements about the subject since early April. On Tuesday, he took to social media to acknowledge his missteps. “I apologize for any confusion I may have caused,” Browning said in a two-minute YouTube video. The criticism started raining down on Browning shortly after his Monday announcement that his district would continue requiring masks through the end of the semester.

Leon County officials say mask mandate continues as CDC relaxes guidelines for outdoor use” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — As federal health officials relax mask requirements outdoors, Leon County officials are emphasizing that an ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings indoors remains in effect. That’s because county commissioners would first have to vote to repeal the ordinance they enacted last summer. “With more vaccinations occurring every day, we are all eager to be done with the pandemic, but it’s not yet done with us,” County Commission Chairman Rick Minor said in a statement noting that the new CDC guidance is in line with the county’s ordinance. “The new CDC guidance reinforces what we know: Outdoor gatherings can be safe, and indoor gatherings can lead to the spread of COVID-19,” Minor added.

Seminole County mask mandate remains in place for now” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — A divided Seminole County Commission voted on Tuesday not to drop its mask ordinance but will review the controversial policy in 30 days. The 3-2 decision was made after about four hours of public comments, the majority from residents who blasted the mandate, saying it is ineffective without penalties and described the order as “draconian.” Commissioner Amy Lockhart, who voted along with Commissioner Andria Herr against keeping the ordinance in place, has been pushing for its replacement with a resolution that encourages people to wear masks. Lockhart noted that the mandate is “completely unenforceable” and that the county is in a different place than on July 1, when the executive order was enacted.

Johnson & Johnson shots return to Orlando mobile sites” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available at pop-up sites around Orlando Wednesday, marking the return of a tool to target hard-to-reach communities with vaccines, state officials announced. Mobile clinics, which typically target under-vaccinated communities, will be stood up at the Florida Mall, in Lake Nona, and Kissimmee. Each site offers 200 shots of the single-dose vaccine. Before the national pause on Johnson & Johnson, which was lifted last week, pop-up sites rotated around metro Orlando daily with as many as 400 shots each. Federal regulators have said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe after a committee investigated rare but serious blood clots reported in 15 women who received the shot.

Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines are returning to Orlando. Image via AP.

Church got COVID-19-relief money for 12 employees. But state says it has no record of these workers.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tamarac Commissioner Marlon Bolton’s church received more than $36,000 in federal loans that are meant to help struggling workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but public records show the church might not have qualified for the money. Bolton is the president and pastor of the Praise Experience World Outreach Church. According to the Small Business Administration, Bolton’s church received a $25,300 loan on May 1, 2020, and another $11,000 on March 3, 2021. For each loan, 12 employees were reported. When contacted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Bolton declined to comment about the church loans. Other church representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.


CDC eases face mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people outdoors” via Betsy McKay, Sabrina Siddiqui and Caitlin McCabe of The Wall Street Journal — People who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus don’t need to wear face masks when walking, hiking, biking, running alone or gathering in small groups outside, federal health officials said, taking a major step to ease pandemic guidance while encouraging more people to get shots. The same applies to conducting those forms of exercise with household members, dining at restaurants outside, and to small outdoor gatherings that include some unvaccinated people, the CDC said Tuesday. Yet vaccinated people should still wear masks in public settings indoors and outdoors where there is a substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission, such as concerts, sporting events, and other crowded gatherings, the CDC said.

Joe Biden urges unvaccinated people to ‘go get the shot’” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — Biden urged Americans who’ve yet to be vaccinated to “go get the shot” Tuesday, asserting that “it’s never been easier.” Appearing outside the White House, he thanked Americans who have been vaccinated for doing their “patriotic duty” as he promoted updated federal guidance that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks outdoors except in crowded settings. “The vaccines are about saving your life but also the lives of the people around you,” he said. “But they’re also about helping you get us get back to closer to normal and our living more normal lives.” Biden had set July 4 as a target for when people could get together for backyard picnics with a sense of normalcy.

Joe Biden pleads with younger Americans to get their shots.

Political leanings sway seniors’ vaccine enthusiasm” via Caitlin Owens of Axios — Seniors are more enthusiastic about the coronavirus vaccines than younger Americans, but even that high-risk population is still subject to some partisan divides, according to Axios-Ipsos polling over the last several months. In the most recent waves of our Axios-Ipsos survey, 85% of seniors said they had already been vaccinated or were likely to get vaccinated. Real-world results bear that out: 82% of U.S. seniors have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per the CDC. Even though a large majority of seniors have embraced the vaccine, partisanship is still the biggest dividing line mirroring the trends in the population as a whole.

The coming conflict between introverts and extroverts” via Julie Beck, Amanda Mull and Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic — The coronavirus pandemic made many of those things dangerous or impossible, and shrank our social worlds dramatically. Now, as vaccination rates go up, the floodgates of social life are poised to reopen. But not everyone will want to use this newfound freedom in the same way. Even before the pandemic, introverts and extroverts disagreed on the optimal size and frequency of gatherings. Post-vaccine life may breed some misunderstandings between the extroverts who want to dive headfirst into a sea of other people and the introverts excited to see their friends but don’t want to pack their schedules so full that they have no time just to be.


The Fed helped fuel a stock market boom that benefited wealthy Americans — and left behind everyone else” via Allan Sloan and Cezary Podkul of The Washington Post — Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the Federal Reserve has gotten plenty of kudos for moves that have helped stabilize the economy, kept house prices from tanking and supported the stock market. But those successes have obscured another effect: the inadvertent impact the Fed’s ultralow interest rates and bond-buying sprees are having on economic inequality. “High-wealth households do much better in a low-rate environment than lower-wealth households do,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said. “The low-interest environment increases inequality by increasing the wealth of people who are well-off.”

A quarter of women say they are financially worse off a year into pandemic” via Heather Long and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Women and people of color are the most likely to say they are financially worse off today than before the pandemic began, underscoring the struggles many Americans are still facing even as the broader economy shows signs of improvement. A quarter of women say their family’s financial situation is worse today than before the coronavirus-related shutdowns began in March 2020, compared to 18% of men, the poll finds. And 27% of non-Whites say they are worse off now vs. 18% of Whites. The findings highlight the ongoing financial hardships that many families face a year into the global health crisis.

The pandemic has been particularly hard on working women. Image via AP.

Coming this summer: Gas stations running out of gas” via Chris Isidore of CNN Business — Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. Good luck finding gas. Not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply. According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason.

The most promising coronavirus vaccine you’ve never heard of” via Sarah Owermohle of Carmen Paun of POLITICO — Hopes are growing that a dark-horse coronavirus vaccine from a tiny U.S. drugmaker can shore up supplies in the U.S. and globally. The vaccine’s developer, Novavax, has never brought a product to market. The shot entered late-stage clinical trials months after candidates from bigger names like Pfizer and Moderna. But the Novavax vaccine proved just as potent as those mRNA shots in a U.K. trial, and the company is now preparing to file for U.S. authorization in a matter of weeks, potentially leapfrogging AstraZeneca, a former front-runner. The company has enlisted production partners worldwide after struggling to scrape together the tens of thousands of doses needed for its clinical trials. The company aims to pump out 150 million doses a month by the second half of the year.

A lesser-known vaccine shows promise.

Europe to set a global vaccine passport standard” via Felix Salmon of Axios — Europe seems poised to set the global standard for vaccine passports, now that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has signaled that vaccinated Americans will be allowed to travel to the continent this summer. Opening up travel to vaccinated Americans will bring new urgency to creating some kind of trusted means for people to prove they’ve been vaccinated. There will probably never be a single credential that most people use to prove they’ve been vaccinated, for every purpose. But the EU’s system will help set a standard for proof of vaccination that’s both easily accessible and difficult to forge.

After sad Mother’s Day 2020, vaccines offer sweet reunions” via Leanne Italie of The Associated Press — Many moms, grandmothers and their offspring around the U.S. were forced to hold off on the physical joys of Mother’s Day last year amid pandemic fears and restrictions. This time around, vaccinations and abiding by post-shot waiting periods have brought more security and comfort to bring on the hugs and kisses for sweet in-person — and indoor — reunions. Of course, not everyone will feel that joy. There are those mourning for mothers lost to COVID-19, and others who are refraining from socializing in person until they, too, can get vaccinated.


Some bad news about our future gives Biden a big opening. Will he seize it?” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — The first batch of 2020 census data finds that the population grew by just 7.4% in the last decade, the second-slowest population growth in our history. Putting aside the impact of this news on the partisan balance of power, it should give Biden and Democrats an opening to reset the immigration debate, by stating clearly and forcefully that over the long term, we will need more people, which means (at a minimum) that we must think seriously about ways to make it easier to enter the country legally. The stagnation in population growth results from declining births, increasing deaths, and cuts to immigration levels during the 2010s.

Will Joe Biden take advantage of America’s changing demographics? Image via AP.

Biden aims for Donald Trump voters, suburbs with jobs-plus-kids pitch” via Nancy Cook of Bloomberg — Biden’s massive infrastructure and family-support plans are a direct appeal to the discontented White voters who put Trump in office and to independent suburban women, his advisers say, with the President staking a claim on economic issues ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. The so-called American Jobs Plan Biden released last month features spending on traditional infrastructure like highways and airports to better compete with China, a pitch his advisers think will resonate with Republican men and blue-collar workers. Republicans have long polled with voters as more trustworthy on economic stewardship, but Biden bets that his proposals can peel away enough GOP support that Democrats can keep control of the House and Senate.

Cooling the temperature: Biden faces fractious Congress” via Mary Clare Jalonick and Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Trust between the parties, and between members themselves, has cratered as Biden prepares to address the House and the Senate for the first time in his presidency. While Trump often added a reality TV star’s drama to his congressional addresses, Biden has the chance to play the elder statesman. Lawmakers in both parties say Wednesday’s address to Congress presents an opportunity for him to push past some of the antics and anger, for a few hours at least. With the House out of session for the week, many, if not most, House Republicans are expected to skip the event, increasing the chances that Biden will be speaking to a mostly friendly audience of Democrats. The Senate is in session, but some Republicans from that chamber are expected to skip as well.

Fresh off election falsehoods, Republicans serve up a whopper about Biden” via Ashley Parker of The Washington Post — By the time Biden’s aides gathered for their morning meeting on Monday, the juicy whopper of a mistruth making its way around the conservative ecosphere had officially entered mainstream public discourse. Biden’s team looked for an opportunity to quickly debunk the falsehood. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain retweeted a CNN fact check titled, “No, Biden is not trying to force Americans to eat less red meat,” while several press aides tweeted a photo of a grinning Biden flipping burgers at a 2019 Iowa steak fry, along with the caption, “White House to the fact-challenged: where’s the beef?” To White House aides, the wholly fictional Biden-will-ban-hamburgers storyline was in part an amusing flare-up perpetuated by Republicans who have struggled to find ways to attack the President successfully.


Trump’s close advisers urge him to make PSA to persuade his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine” via Elizabeth Cohen of CNN — With polls showing half of Republicans unenthusiastic about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, Trump’s advisers are encouraging him to make a public service announcement urging followers to roll up their sleeves. Two former senior Trump administration officials emphasized vaccine hesitancy among Republicans could threaten herd immunity and Trump’s followers will listen to him — and pretty much only him. “Trump understands that this legacy is at risk because half of his supporters are not taking the vaccine,” one of the officials said. “It’s just not clear yet if he understands that he’s the only one who can fix this.”

People close to Donald Trump are trying to get him to speak out on vaccination.

Trump must testify in protester assault suit, appeals court says” via Chris Dolmetsch of Bloomberg — Trump has to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit by a group of human-rights activists who say his security team assaulted them during a 2015 protest outside Trump Tower, a New York appeals court ruled. A state court judge in the Bronx in 2019 ordered Trump to answer questions under oath in the case, but the then-President argued on appeal that he could not be compelled to testify. On Tuesday, the appellate panel threw out the challenge as moot because Trump is no longer President. The plaintiffs claim Trump’s guards attacked them in September 2015 while demonstrating against his remarks about Mexican immigrants and the Black Lives Matter movement.


U.S. Capitol riot prompts more lawmaker spending on personal security” via Tia Mitchell and Isaac Sabetai of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock paid $112,000 on expenses labeled as security during the first three months of 2021, with most of that spending occurring after he was sworn into office Jan. 20. The freshman lawmaker’s security costs are among the highest in Congress as a whole and indicate his high profile as the winner of a nationally watched race and the first Black Democratic Senator elected from Georgia. But it also comes as members of Congress are increasing the money spent on protecting themselves and their offices after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Warnock’s counterpart, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, spent roughly $48,000 on security.

After The Capitol riot, Raphael Warnock is spending more on security. Image via AP.

A Capitol invader left a note calling Nancy Pelosi a b-word. His attempt to walk it back has been … really something.” via Monica Hesse of The Washington Post — A few days ago, noted Capitol rioting defendant Richard “Bigo” Barnett’s attorneys submitted court filings alleging that the government had gotten it all wrong, that the government was engaged in a “deliberate attempt” to paint Bigo in the “worst possible light.” Though their client had indeed left a note in Pelosi’s office after he infiltrated her workspace and propped his feet on a desk during the Jan. 6 invasion, the note did not say, “Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch,” the defense explained. “Rather, it said, “Hey, Nancy Bigo was here biatd.” This, of course, changes everything.

Extremists find a financial lifeline on Twitch” via Kellen Browning of The New York Times — Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, a podcaster who fought to overturn the 2020 presidential election, recently railed against mask mandates to her 4,000 fans in a live broadcast and encouraged them to enter stores maskless. On another day, she grew emotional while thanking them for sending her $84,000. Millie Weaver, a former correspondent for the conspiracy theory website Infowars, speculated on her channel that coronavirus vaccines could be used to surveil people. Twitch comes with a bonus: The service makes it easy for streamers to make money, providing a financial lifeline just as their access to the largest online platforms has narrowed.e


Ghost’ candidate ran in race with Matt Gaetz’ buddy until indictments started dropping” via Josh Kovensky and Zoë Richards of Talking Points Memo — For Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson, it wasn’t Joel Greenberg’s crypto holdings that proved to be a headache in the 2020 elections so much as another phantasmic presence: that of so-called “ghost candidates,” candidates who lack party affiliation, don’t run substantial campaigns, but exist solely to siphon votes away from others in the race. Daniel L. Day ran as a sham candidate meant to siphon votes away from a Democrat named Lynn Moira Dictor. Day, however, refused to run under his birth name, and instead chose to run under what he told elections officials was a nickname: Dani Mora Day. That stoked suspicions that Day had altered his name to make it closer to Dictor.

Joel Greenberg’s shenanigans now include ‘ghost candidates’ and election rigging. Image via AP.

The crazy case of Gaetz wingman’s fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans” via Roger Sollenberger of the Daily Beast — Lost in all of the news surrounding an alleged sex ring involving Gaetz and his close associate Greenberg are allegations about a more 2020 kind of crime: fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans. Among the 33 charges Greenberg is facing — including sex trafficking — are allegations that he bribed a newly hired Small Business Administration official to skirt federal regulations that would have otherwise prevented him from accessing disaster relief money set aside for businesses hurt by the pandemic. Greenberg did not even operate an independent business, let alone one that would qualify for the taxpayer-backed COVID-19 relief loans he sought. He allegedly got around that technicality by reinstating two of his companies that had been defunct for years.


Biden seeks $80 billion to beef up IRS audits of high-earners” via Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport of The New York Times — Biden, to pay for his ambitious economic agenda, is expected to propose giving the IRS an extra $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years to help crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations. The additional money and enforcement power will accompany new disclosure requirements for people who own businesses that are not organized as corporations and for other wealthy people who could be hiding income from the government. The administration estimates that giving the IRS an additional $80 billion over a decade could raise at least $780 billion in new tax revenue, for a net gain of at least $700 billion.

Stephane Murphy ‘close to decision’ on challenging Marco Rubio” via MSNBC — Murphy joined Ayman Mohyeldin on MSNBC to discuss a recent visit to the White House and how Congress will move forward on an infrastructure package. Mohyeldin asked the Central Florida Congresswoman whether she was any closer to a decision a run for the Senate: “Well, I’m working through my decision-making process. You know, I’m somebody who loves this country so much, and I’m always looking for ways in which I can be of greatest service to this country. I know what it takes to build the fundraising and grassroots operation to win in a swing district because I have done it before. So, I think I have some ideas to offer, and I am getting close to making my decision.”

To watch the segment, click on the image below:

Fear, lack of funding hurt census in Sun Belt, advocates say” via Acacia Coronado, Nicholas Riccardi and Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — According to the new census, the booming Sun Belt isn’t booming quite as the experts thought. Population counts released Monday came as a shock to many demographers and politicians who expected to see the growth that could add numerous congressional seats to a region that’s apparently been gaining people rapidly all decade. Instead, the census found more modest growth that added only three seats total in Florida and Texas. The questions that advocacy groups and officials are now asking are whether all the new subdivisions and shopping centers are a mirage; whether those states erred in not investing more in encouraging residents to fill out census forms — and whether Latinos, in particular, were reluctant to trust the Trump administration with their information.


Broward Schools Chief Robert Runcie and district’s top lawyer will resign” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Broward Schools Superintendent Runcie and the district’s top lawyer Barbara Myrick said they would resign Tuesday night following their respective statewide grand jury indictments earlier this month. Runcie said, however, that it was not specifically the felony perjury count in which he’s been charged that led him to resign, but rather the continued blame he’s received for the events leading up to the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 17 students and faculty dead. “I will step aside so you can have the peace you are looking for,” Runcie told School Board Member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed in the shooting when she was only 14.

Runcie out. Image via AP.

Volusia County lines up funds for SunRail DeLand expansion project” via Ryan Lynch of the Orlando Business Journal — The Volusia County Council on April 20 unanimously approved having county staff apply for an $11.24 million state infrastructure bank loan. This will help finance Volusia’s 25% share of the 11.5 mile, $44 million project, which would go from DeBary to DeLand. Previous projections for the project, initially estimated at $74.7 million, would have required the county to pay roughly $19.2 million for its share. The cost was reduced after the project, including the size of the station, was scaled back. The project presentation shows two separate design/build contracts, including one for tracks, station and civil works. The second is for train control signals and grade-crossing warning signal systems.

Coalition forms to oppose Pasco Sheriff intelligence program” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — A group of 30 national and state organizations have come together to oppose the Pasco County School District’s practice of sharing information with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, which uses the data to create a list of children the law enforcement agency believes could commit crimes. The PASCO Coalition, People Against the Surveillance of Children and Overpolicing, is the latest group to speak out about the relationship. In April, the Department of Education announced it was launching a federal investigation to determine if the district broke federal law by providing protected student data. According to a news release, the coalition urged them to look into the impact on children of color, those with disabilities, and other vulnerabilities.

No plea deal for Tampa Super Bowl streaker, says Hillsborough judge” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — A county judge rejected a proposed plea deal Tuesday for a pair of men accused of streaking onto the football field at Raymond James Stadium during the final quarter of Super Bowl LV. An attorney for Yuri Andrade and Douglas Schaffer said they had reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to misdemeanor trespassing charges for their Feb. 7 streaking stunt. In exchange, they would serve six months of probation, complete 25 community service hours, pay off court costs and write a letter of apology to the National Football League. That was unacceptable, said Hillsborough County Judge Jack Gutman.

Seminole to hire law firm for effort to recoup public money allegedly misspent by Joel Greenberg” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole commissioners on Tuesday agreed to hire a law firm to help analyze how much the county would be able to recoup from Greenberg, who currently faces 33 federal charges, including allegations that he embezzled taxpayer funds. County Attorney Bryant Applegate told commissioners that he is negotiating with an Orlando law firm and could spend up to $75,000 to help his staff study how much money Seminole would be able to be reimbursed. The law firm could also help advocate in federal court on behalf of Seminole for reimbursement of any public funds that Greenberg misspent.

Seminole tax collector to buy building, merge offices, in reversal from disgraced predecessor Joel Greenberg” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Less than two months after taking office in January 2017, Greenberg moved his staff out of his rent-free offices in the county administration building in Sanford and into the second floor of a building on North Sun Drive in Lake Mary, paying $9,200 a month in rent. A few months later, he closed the Altamonte Springs branch on State Road 434 and opened a new branch on Wekiva Springs Road in Longwood, saying that he wanted a larger facility despite the higher rent costs. On Tuesday, Tax Collector J.R. Kroll announced plans to combine the administrative offices in Lake Mary and the Longwood branch into an existing two-story office building in Altamonte Springs that he plans to buy for $1.7 million and spend roughly $200,000 renovating.

City of Tallahassee to appeal DCA Marsy’s Law decision to Florida Supreme Court” via Monica Casey of WCTV — The City of Tallahassee will be appealing the First District Court of Appeals’ decision on Marsy’s Law; the appeals court had ruled that it does apply to police officers, allowing their identities to remain secret in officer-involved shootings. The City of Tallahassee has released a statement on its intent to ask for a review from the Florida Supreme Court on the First DCA’s Marsy’s Law decision. The First DCA decision reversed the trial court’s decision, in which a Leon County Circuit Court Judge had ruled that police officers could not be protected by Marsy’s Law while acting in their official capacities. In the trial court order, Judge Charles Dodson wrote that the officers were not seeking protection from the “would-be accuseds.”

Maitland to remain in legal battle with other cities against Florida over gun regulations” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — Maitland Council Members agreed on Monday to remain in a legal battle against the state over a law that threatens penalties if municipalities enact stricter gun rules. Since 1987, the state has prevented cities and counties from tightening regulations on firearms and ammunition. But Florida strengthened its regulatory hold in 2011 with a law that includes sanctions of up to a $5,000 fine against local officials, a ban on a government using public funds for legal defense if it is sued and awarding damages of up to $100,000 plus attorney’s fees to a member of the public or an organization if they successfully sue a city over gun ordinances. Maitland was one of the first plaintiffs to join the lawsuit in 2018.

New study shows Miami’s housing inequality keeps getting worse for Black homeowners” via Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — A new study shows Miami’s housing inequality for Black homeowners keeps getting worse. A joint venture between the data company Clever Real Estate and the nonprofit Dream Builders 4 Equality, the study shows the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area ranked fourth in a list of 15 U.S. cities with the greatest value disparities between predominantly Black and non-Black ZIP codes. The study shows typical property values in South Florida are $269,128 in Black majority ZIP codes versus $1,556,398 in non-Black majority ZIP codes — a difference of 478%. The only three cities with a greater disparity were Flint, Michigan (645%), Kansas City, Missouri/Kansas (516%), and Toledo, Ohio (485%).

Army Corps’ $2 billion storm protection plan to shore up parts of Collier’s coast draws concerns” via Karl Schneider of Naples Daily News — A federal plan to shore up some of Collier County’s coastline against large tropical storms was met with opposition Tuesday during a public meeting. The Board of Collier Commissioners unanimously agreed to sign two nonbinding letters of support for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s proposed $2.1 billion plan to provide coastal resiliency for parts of the county, though commissioners showed reluctance for the plan as it’s written. Summing up the board’s concerns, Commissioner Andy Solis said signing the nonbinding letters today would not prevent the county from opting out later. “None of this is going to be set in stone,” Solis said. “It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s $2 billion worth of funding, and we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

The Army Corps’ plan to shore up Collier County beaches gets pushback from locals.

Key West’s Conch Republic celebrates its outrageous independence” via Keys Weekly — Conch Republic Independence events will take place through April 25, featuring sunset sails, bar crawls, pool bar crawls, a Saturday street fair, and a host of other outrageous activities. Visit for a complete schedule and online registration for individual events. “The city has been extremely supportive of these events,” said producer Jim Gillernan. “Key West Mayor Teri Johnston felt safe enough to come to our Wearable Art Fashion Show at Key West Theater because we’ve strictly followed protocols and we didn’t embarrass the city.” A 17-mile traffic jam immediately ensued as the Border Patrol stopped every car leaving or entering the Keys, supposedly searching for illegal drugs and immigrants who might be hiding under the front seats, in glove compartments, and trunks.


Trump’s first 100 days were sheer craziness. Biden’s are sheer competence.” via Max Boot of The Washington Post — When it comes to evaluating his first 100 days, Biden has an unbeatable advantage: He is not Trump. Simply by not inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol and not telling them to take hydroxychloroquine, Biden looks infinitely better than his predecessor. There is, of course, much to be said in Biden’s favor beyond the obvious fact that he is the anti-Trump. But after the traumas of the past four years, I still marvel at the night-and-day differences. Even looking only at Trump’s first 100 days — and not what followed in the next 1,361 days — the comparison is lopsidedly, preposterously tilted in Biden’s favor.


The next Republican attack on Biden will boomerang on the GOP” via Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — Enforcing tax collection tends to get less attention than other Biden tax proposals do. We’ve been debating whether to raise taxes on corporations, capital gains, and top-level incomes and crack down on tax avoidance by multinational companies. All this should also make it harder for Republicans to oppose the plan. They will try to rehash old attacks by arguing that the jackbooted IRS will be coming for ordinary Americans. But the proposals are geared toward rich investors, so that will be a harder case to make without Republicans appearing to protect their interests. Second, Republicans may have a tougher time arguing that this IRS funding shouldn’t be protected, given recent history and their own role in authoring that history.

It’s up to local leaders to protect immigrants in our community” via Dafne Ostermuenchner and Dariel Gomez for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — To fight for the American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that we take pride in, we have to take an active role against discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiments we are seeing in our communities. We must support immigrants who contribute every day to the place we are lucky enough to call home. We have the power to make Florida a place where immigrants are accepted and protected, and it starts with the actions of our own local governments. For you, that means getting involved in the city and county governments where you live and advocating for change. For us, two Hollywood residents, that means it starts with our city, home to immigrants from many different countries.

Florida’s new ‘anti-riot’ law benefits one person: DeSantis” via Lizette Alvarez of The Washington Post — DeSantis seldom passes up an opportunity to celebrate the Sunshine State’s greatness under his watch. Earlier this year, he told television viewers that cities in Florida looked nothing like Minneapolis or other cities that had struggled with protracted violent outbreaks following the death of George Floyd in police custody last May. The Governor was right. Yet, as a jury deliberated whether to convict former Chauvin of murdering Floyd, DeSantis signed into law a draconian, First Amendment-vandalizing measure supposedly intended to prevent looting, arson, blocking highways and “mob intimidation” (whatever that means). But the beneficiary is obvious: DeSantis and his outsize ambition. His popularity among Trump devotees, who are cheering the new law, continues to skyrocket.

A rare victory for openness, thanks to 14 Democratic Senators” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Republicans wanted to toss a broad blanket of secrecy over the politically charged business of choosing the presidents of Florida’s 12 state universities and 28 state colleges. This broad new exemption to public record and public meeting laws would have kept secret the names of all presidential candidates until 21 days before a vote, when only the names of finalists would be made public. The bill contained a glaring loophole to allow an outside search firm to recommend just one finalist, and college and university boards of trustees could vet candidates in secret. The credit goes to Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer of Lighthouse Point and 13 of his colleagues, who rejected more secrecy at state colleges and universities.


The House is ready to vote on the final passage of a bill to change the way Floridians vote by mail. Democrats offered 18 amendments to the elections bill. None passed.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— A bill that allows concealed carry of guns at churches that share space with a school is on its way to DeSantis.

— Another bill exempts presidential search committees at state colleges and universities from the Sunshine Law flames out in the Senate. The bill had support from most Senators, but it was one vote short of the two-thirds margin required to pass an exemption to the open records law.

— After being indicted by the statewide grand jury, Broward County School Superintendent Runcie vows on video to beat the perjury charge. Several hours after a video dropped, Runcie announced he’s resigning — but not because of the indictment.

— Otter Cat is back in the Legislature, but now with a fancier name — jaguarundi.

— And finally, a Florida Woman says teachers vaccinated for COVID-19 can’t work at her school anymore because it messes with a student’s menstrual cycles. Spoiler alert: it’s a hoax.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Pet iguanas are about to be banned in Florida. But there is a way to make yours legal” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — If you have a pet iguana or tegu, you’ll need to apply for a no-cost permit and microchip the scaly critter before it becomes illegal to own one in Florida. The set of new rules approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in February will take effect Thursday. The rules, which will be phased in over coming months, make it illegal to sell, own or breed green iguanas, Burmese pythons, tegus, and a dozen other invasive reptiles in Florida. It’s part of the state’s strategy to crack down on an exotic pet trade that scientists blame for Florida’s worsening problems with invasive reptiles.

Popular ‘Pub Sub’ social media accounts go silent after Publix objects” via Kyle Wood of the Tampa Bay Times — A popular Twitter account that notified people when Publix chicken-tender subs were on sale has been abandoned after lawyers for the Florida-based grocery chain apparently objected. The account “Are Publix Chicken Tender Subs On Sale?” — with nearly 40,000 followers — has been dormant since March 11. One of its final tweets noted that the subs were, indeed, on sale, and added ominously: “This may be our last Tweet.” A big clue about what happened: In another post, the Twitter account said it had received a cease-and-desist order from Publix objecting to a related text message notification service. The account promised more details “later this week” but never shared more information.

Tweet, tweet:

Essential Quality is 2-1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby” via The Associated Press — With the rail still open and Kentucky Derby post positions dwindling, Brad Cox grew anxious about the most notable of his two horses drawing the least desired spot. The homegrown trainer soon breathed easier. Essential Quality got something more palatable, though the hardest part awaits with the target firmly on his back. Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning line favorite and will start from the No. 14 post for Saturday’s 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. “It got a little nerve-wracking with both horses still to go and the rail still being out there,” Cox said. “I think it’ll be a good spot. He’s got good tactical speed that he’ll be able to get into a good position from there.”

Shades of gray rare among Kentucky Derby favorites, winners” via Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press — Chris Goodlett has walked around Churchill Downs many times since joining the Kentucky Derby Museum and heard admiring fans say to each other: “Oh, look at that beautiful gray horse.” Not many of those remarks have come while looking at the winner’s circle after The Derby. Essential Quality is expected to be the first gray horse to go off as the Kentucky Derby favorite in 25 years. A gray horse hasn’t won The Derby since Giacomo in 2005, and only eight grays have won it since 1930. According to historians and experts, there are just fewer gray horses than more traditional chestnut, bay, brown and black horses, and therefore fewer chances to win the sport’s biggest race.


Happy birthday to Ben Nelson and Jenn Ungru of Dean Mead.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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