Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.2.21

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Your day is better when you start it with a first read on what's happening in Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Voters in Florida’s 7th Congressional District say they’re paying too much for their prescriptions, and they want U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy to empower Medicare to do something about it.

According to Public Policy Polling survey conducted in the district, nearly nine in 10 voters think that drug prices are too high in the United States.

Constituents are calling on Stephanie Murphy to do something about prescription prices. Image via Facebook.

The belief was nearly universal among Democrats (94%), though It’s a sentiment that crosses party lines — 86% of independents and Republicans said the same.

The survey, conducted on behalf of Protect Our Care, also found that roughly four-fifths of CD 7 voters would support giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, and 61% said they would “strongly” support granting it that power.

They said they don’t care if those negotiation powers stifle innovation — an argument commonly made by drug companies. They erred on the side of negotiating 71%-10%. Voters older than 65 — the eligibility age for Medicare — favor negotiation over drug innovation 72%-10%.

The PPP survey covered a long list of Medicare issues, but voters were clear that they expect their congresswoman to back such reforms.

More than two-fifths of those polled said they would be less likely to vote for Murphy if she opposed drug negotiations. That includes 47% of Democrats, 34% of Republicans, and 47% of independents.

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Breaking overnight — “High court divides 5-4 to leave Texas abortion law in place” via Jessica Gresko of The Associated Press — A deeply divided Supreme Court is allowing a Texas law that bans most abortions to remain in force, for now stripping most women of the right to an abortion in the nation’s second-largest state. The court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others that sought to block enforcement of the law that went into effect Wednesday. But the justices also suggested that their order likely isn’t the last word on whether the law can stand because other challenges to it can still be brought.

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Sunburn will be off Friday, returning to inboxes the Tuesday after Labor Day. We hope you have a relaxing weekend.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@KyleGriffin1: Axios-Ipsos poll: Just 20% of Americans are “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to get a COVID vaccine. That’s the lowest number ever recorded in the poll.

@KirbyWTweets: Interestingly, Florida now ranks ahead of seven states that went for (Joe) Biden in vaccinations per capita, according to @CDCgov: Illinois (!), Minnesota(!!), Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan and Georgia. Florida is 19th overall and climbing the rankings.

@GrayRohrer: There’s a nonzero chance both Laura Loomer and Anthony Sabatini will be in Congress in 2023.

Tweet, tweet:

@MBakerTBTimes: #FSU will host a COVID vaccine clinic before Sunday’s #NotreDame game. First 250 people will get a $50 gift card good for merch at the FSU Bookstore and Seminole Sportshop. Runs from 3-7 Sunday

— DAYS UNTIL —

Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 1; Notre Dame at FSU — 3; NFL regular season begins — 7; Bucs home opener — 7; California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election — 12; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 12; Alabama at UF — 16; Dolphins home opener — 17; Jaguars home opener — 17; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 18; The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 28; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 29; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 29; MLB regular season ends — 30; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 31; World Series Game 1 — 44; ‘Dune’ premieres — 48; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 55; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 55; Georgia at UF — 58; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 61; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 61; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 64; ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 66; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 67; Miami at FSU — 72; ExcelinEd’s National Summit on Education begins — 77; FSU vs. UF — 86; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 90; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 99; ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 106; ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 111; ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 114; NFL season ends — 129; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 131; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 131; NFL playoffs begin — 135; Super Bowl LVI — 164; Daytona 500 — 171; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 204; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 248; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 267; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 273; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 309; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 321; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 400; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 435.

— TOP STORY —

Long-haulers are fighting for their future” via Ed Yong of The Atlantic — Long-haulers were the ones who described, defined, and drew attention to their condition: “Patients collectively made long COVID,” two long-haulers wrote in a historical review. Now many feel that their expertise is being ignored and their hard-won knowledge is being excluded from investigations into their own illness. This attitude is slowing down long-COVID-19 research and skewing its focus. Both long-haulers and researchers who work with them talk about flawed studies that paint an inaccurate picture of the condition, or clinics that recommend potentially harmful treatments. Many researchers are missing the full picture because they’re treating long COVID-19 as a completely new entity and ignoring similarities to other complex illnesses such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).

Solving ‘long COVID’ is more of a struggle than it should be. Image via AP.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida COVID-19 update: 19,048 cases reported and a steep dip in number of hospital patients” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida on Wednesday reported to the CDC 19,048 more COVID-19 cases added Tuesday. The state also reported 10 new deaths. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,269,502 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 44,571 deaths statewide. On average, the state has added 263 deaths and 19,908 cases each day in the past seven days. During Florida’s third peak, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations appear to be at record highs but reports from the Florida Department of Health show ‘artificially’ few deaths in recent weeks.

—“Florida may be emerging from its worst COVID-19 surge” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Ron DeSantis: COVID-19 death reporting questions are partisan distraction” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis‘ statewide tour promoting monoclonal antibody therapies for COVID-19 has continued into September, as has scrutiny over how the state reports COVID-19 deaths. The Miami Herald on Friday reported the agency had reworked how the Health Department tallies COVID-19 deaths, reporting them by the date they died rather than the date they were reported. As Florida Politics reported a month prior, that has the effect of decreasing the count of fatalities in the “Previous Week” column on the state’s weekly reports. Florida has opened at least 21 sites offering monoclonal antibodies, a therapy available to people at risk for severe infections when they test positive.

Ron DeSantis calls the issue of reporting COVID-19 is politically motivated. Image via AP.

DeSantis: Rising COVID-19 deaths in Florida ‘a really terrible thing’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — DeSantis said the rising COVID-19 death toll in Florida is “a really terrible thing,” but focused on preventing future deaths rather than talking about the thousands of Floridians who have died recently. DeSantis was in Viera to continue his tour promoting monoclonal antibody treatment as a way to greatly temper COVID-19 infections and reduce the risk of death. The Governor said that it was “a really sad thing.” But he expressed no sympathy or condolences toward families, nor any remorse regarding the skyrocketing numbers of people dying of COVID-19 in Florida recently.

Nikki Fried holds moment of silence for Floridians lost to COVID-19” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Fried hosted a moment of silence Wednesday to remember the nearly 45,000 Floridians who have died with COVID-19. The CDC reports 44,561 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon. While the CDC still reports daily COVID-19 data for Florida, the state Health Department has reduced its reporting frequency to once a week. Fried now frequently reports the state data from the CDC, saying she’s doing the Governor’s job. She noted the children, daughters, husbands, teachers, health care workers, and more who have died due to the pandemic.

Nikki Fried leads a statewide honor for the victims of COVID-19. Image via Colin Hackley.

After court ruling, Ashley Moody jumps into Florida’s mask mandate legal fight” via Ana Ceballos of the Tampa Bay Times — Moody injected her legal opinion into Florida’s ongoing court battle over school mask mandates, adding noise to an increasingly political fight. Moody, a Republican ally of DeSantis, said school districts must comply with a state rule that says parents must have the ability to opt their kids out of mask requirements “unless and until the judiciary declares them invalid.” Her legal opinion comes days after a Leon County judge ruled that DeSantis and his administration “acted without legal authority” when issuing and enforcing a blanket ban on mask mandates.

DeSantis might find a friendlier court in North Florida for his appeal of COVID-19 mask ruling” via Rafael Olmeda of South Florida Sun-Sentinel — From the minute Leon County Circuit Judge John J. Cooper announced his decision upholding the right of school districts to mandate masks for students, an appeal seemed to be inevitable. Gov. DeSantis is standing by his position that those mandates violate the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights, and he’s confident that higher courts will see things his way and restore his ban on mandates. “We’ll end up getting it back,” he said. On the surface, the politics are on his side. Democrats make up a majority of mask-mandate supporters, but the judges who will rule on any appeal are all Republican. Party politics is not supposed to matter.

—”Florida’s GOP strongholds buck DeSantis on virus measures” via Max Greenwood of The Hill

Requiring customers to be vaccinated can draw $5,000 fines starting soon in Florida” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida businesses and governments that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from customers or members of the public will soon face $5,000 fines. Earlier this year, the Republican-led Florida Legislature passed a bill, SB 2006, banning businesses, governments and schools from requiring “vaccine passports,” essentially proof that people seeking their services have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. In May, DeSantis signed that bill into law. The legislation allowed the state’s Department of Health to issue fines “not to exceed $5,000 per violation.”

— CORONA LOCAL —

South Florida victims of the COVID-19 surge: Teachers, retirees, pastors, priests and more” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — A longtime science teacher at South Dade High with a passion for fishing and the outdoors. A young mother who served as a youth pastor in Florida City. There was even a Catholic priest — who ministered to the sick at Baptist Hospital. They were police officers, legal office clerks, and cafeteria workers. Most were parents or grandparents. Many were immigrants and toiled anonymously to build better lives for their families in South Florida. Their common thread: They are among the most recent victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, which has ravaged the state during the past two months. Most of the victims were not vaccinated.

Most of the South Florida COVID-19 deaths have been unvaccinated. Image via AP.

Miami school district tells state it’s standing by mask mandate despite funding threats” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade public schools officials told the Florida Department of Education in a letter the DeSantis administration is violating the state constitution by trying to prevent the district from carrying on with its mask mandate for students and staff in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The school district was responding to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s demand it document its rationale for its mask protocol by the middle of this week.

Orlando VA opens mobile ICU amid a surge of hospitalizations, deaths” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center began treating patients in a mobile intensive care unit after increases in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. “This mobile ICU will allow the Orlando VA to continue to provide necessary care to inpatients during this surge of Veteran hospitalizations,” wrote Heather Frebe. “The Orlando VA began using the mobile ICU for patient care on August 31, 2021, and will continue to operate it as long as the unit is needed.” On Wednesday, 16 of the hospital’s 24 ICU beds were occupied. The mobile unit is currently set up with beds for 10 patients, though it can treat up to 18 if needed. Three of the 10 mobile ICU beds are currently in use.

‘The virus is winning’: Hospital CEO says Brevard County School Board member misrepresented COVID-19 data” via Amira Sweilem of Florida Today — Parrish Medical Center CEO George Mikitarian said a Brevard County School Board member who claimed that the worst of COVID-19 could be behind us while arguing against a classroom mask mandate on Monday had misrepresented hospital data. Mikitarian did not name the school board member in his statement Wednesday posted on Parrish Hospital’s Facebook page, but it was School Board Vice-Chair Matt Susin who had introduced the data during the Monday emergency school board meeting. Susin had argued that hospital data showed the virus may have already reached its peak, that hospitalizations were decreasing, and that the worst of the pandemic may be in the past.

Polk County hospitals arrange for coolers amid surge in COVID-19 deaths” via Sara Megan-Walsh of The Ledger — Polk County’s hospitals have refrigerated coolers on standby in case the COVID-19 surge tests its morgue capacity. AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division sent an email to emergency managers stating it reached capacity at its morgues due to an influx of deaths. The hospital system also rented refrigerated coolers at 10 of their sites in Polk, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties. “These coolers are also quickly becoming filled,” the email reads. “We believe this backup is due to a throughput slowdown at local funeral homes, which is causing us to hold decedents for a longer period of time.”

Hillsborough Schools tell state: We had every right to order masks” via Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County School District leaders say emergency conditions in the schools gave them the legal right to impose a strict masking rule on Aug. 18. They also reject the notion that, in requiring medical documentation before a student can opt out of wearing a mask, they have violated the state’s new Parents’ Bill of Rights law. To the contrary, Hillsborough is following the law’s intent, the district said in a letter Wednesday to state education commissioner Richard Corcoran. The letter noted that the law allows school boards to take action that is “reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest.”

Pinellas County Schools to start pulling district staff to work as substitute teachers” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Pinellas County Public Schools will start pulling district staff members from their assigned offices to serve as substitute teachers starting next Wednesday amid educator absences due to COVID-19. In an email obtained by Florida Politics, district staff members were notified of the change and asked to complete a survey indicating their school level preference by Wednesday at noon. “In an effort to support our sites during this challenging time, we will begin utilizing all certified district staff as of Wednesday, Sept. 8, to assist in filling teacher absences,” the email reads.

Florida dermatologist urged parents to lie to schools to avoid COVID-19 quarantines” via Tony Mixon of the Panama City News-Herald — Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt recently addressed misinformation that was spreading online about the system’s COVID-19 quarantine protocols following social media posts by a local dermatologist. Dr. Jon Ward stirred up controversy during the weekend after he made a Facebook post urging parents to lie to school nurses to avoid quarantines. The post led to calls from concerned parents to the school system. Ward has backtracked on his statements since they caused a rift.

Huh? —Washington County elections supervisor promotes ivermectin on personal Facebook” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Carol Finch Rudd posted on Facebook sharing her and her husband’s experience with ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug some people are using to treat COVID-19 despite federal warnings against it. Online misinformation, largely on social media, touts the antiparasitic as an alternative treatment for COVID-19. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions that the drug has not been adequately tested for treating COVID-19. And some are taking a more accessible, animal-strength version of ivermectin meant for deworming horses, cows, and other livestock, leading to hospitalizations.

Carol Finch Rudd caused a ruckus by sharing her personal experience with ivermectin. Image via Facebook.

Key West’s royal king and queen campaign canceled” via Mandy Miles of Keys Weekly — There will be no king and queen fundraising campaign for Key West’s Fantasy Fest this year. The Royal Campaign, an annual eight-week fundraising campaign for A.H. Monroe leading up to the island’s Fantasy Fest celebration in October, has been canceled, the nonprofit’s board of directors announced Friday afternoon. “In an abundance of caution and recognizing its health services mission, the board of directors of A.H. of Monroe County, effective immediately, has canceled The Royal Campaign of Fantasy Fest 2021,” states a news release.

Months later, Auburndale COVID-19 survivor faces lasting physical, emotional effects” via Gary White of The Ledger – Daniel Barajas pulled down his shirt collar to reveal the scar between Jesus’ eyes. Barajas quipped that he worries the inch-long, horizontal slash signifies “bad juju.” The scar, a reminder of the tracheostomy he received in his chest during 3½ months of being hospitalized with COVID-19, disfigured the savior’s forehead on a large tattoo. The skin gash, though, is only a minor component of the enduring physical and psychological effects Barajas still endures five months after being released from Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center on March 26.

—”Infant dies of COVID-19 Florida hospital, doctor confirms” via 10 News

—”COVID-19 outbreak closes Ed White High, third Duval school to shift to virtual classes” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union

—”Daytona Beach police officer dies of COVID-19” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Jacksonville Beach police sergeant is the area’s third officer to die from COVID-19 recently” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union

— STATEWIDE —

Assignment editorsFried will host a roundtable on water quality in the Tampa Bay region and its impact on the environment and wildlife. Also taking part is Dr. Cynthia Stringfield, Senior VP of Animal Health, Conservation and Education at ZooTampa, as well as wildlife and environmental advocates. Fried will give a COVID-19 update following the roundtable, 3 p.m., Lowry Park, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. It will be livestreamed at Facebook.com/FDACS. RSVP to [email protected]

Nikki Fried will discuss Tampa Bay water quality issues. Image via Colin Hackley.

Next Surgeon General could get bigger paycheck — Florida’s next Surgeon General could be paid more than the $140,000 salary earned by Scott Rivkees. As Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reported, lawmakers are considering raising the position’s pay to attract top-tier candidates to replace Rivkees. No specific amounts were mentioned, but House Speaker Chris Sprowls is on board with the idea. “I fully expect and would support paying the surgeon general more,” he said. Sen. Aaron Bean, who chairs the chamber’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, said, “We don’t just want a doctor — we want a super doctor. We want a Superman in a white lab coat.”

Amid COVID-19, bill would make having fake vaccination card a felony in Florida” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Rep. Michael Grieco, a Miami Beach Democrat, proposed the measure last week for consideration during the 2022 legislative session, which will start in January. Under the bill, people could face third-degree felony charges if they create or possess a “certificate, card, or other physical or electronic media that falsely indicates that the holder of the certificate, card, or other physical or electronic medium has been vaccinated against a specific disease, with the intent to defraud.” While the bill comes during the pandemic, it is not limited to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Concerns over staffing shortages, COVID-19 impact dominate Pasco County delegation meeting” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Pasco County Legislative Delegation met Wednesday morning to prep for the 2022 Session. In addition to clearing a local bill and recognizing Senate President Wilton Simpson, who completes his last term next year, lawmakers also heard from local officials and community leaders concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amanda Maggard, representing AdventHealth, said that while the community was optimistic to see recent monoclonal antibody treatment sites, she hopes the delegation addresses health care worker shortages this upcoming Session.

Happening today — The Palm Beach County legislative delegation will meet: Sens. Lori Berman, Gayle Harrell, Tina Polsky, Bobby Powell; Reps. Joe Casello, Mike Caruso, Omari Hardy, Rick Roth, David Silvers, Kelly Skidmore, Emily Slosberg, John Snyder and Matt Willhite, 10 a.m., Florida Atlantic University, Acura Club, second floor of the FAU stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton.

New and renewed lobbying registration:

Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson, Ballard Partners: Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, Shiftkey

Heathcliff Beach, Avail Strategies: Mandiant — FireEye

Matt Bryan, David Daniel, Jeff Hartley, Lisa Hurley, Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: FullBloom

Crista Cole: Amazon.com Services

Mia Conway-Vogel: Roxbury Airport

Laura Jacobs Donaldson, Manson Bolves Donaldson Varn: BlueTriton Brands

Thomas Hobbs, Ramba Consulting Group: Florida Financial Services Association

Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart, Anita Berry, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: Manatee County

— 2022 —

Wealthy GOP donors flock to DeSantis as presidential speculation swirls” via Allan Smith and Henry J. Gomez of NBC News — DeSantis has cemented himself as the face of GOP opposition to anti-COVID-19 mandates — a position that is winning over not only rank-and-file voters ahead of the 2024 presidential primaries but also some of the Republican Party’s wealthiest donors. How the race shapes up will first and foremost be determined by whether former President Donald Trump decides to run. But many donors are investing early in potential candidates like DeSantis, who polling shows to be the leading Trump alternative in the prospective presidential field.

Tweet, tweet:

Fried credits commitment to transparency to tardy financial filing” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republicans criticized Fried for a tardy filing of financial disclosures. But the Democratic candidate for Governor said a commitment to transparency made her take her time. “We were just trying to be as transparent, and they (Republicans) were just not used to that,” she told reporters Wednesday. Fried on Tuesday filed her Form 6 disclosures for 2020 on the last day of a two-month grace period before the Florida Commission of Ethics started charging daily fines. The disclosures were due July 1. Fried also amended her 2019 disclosures to include a retirement fund with the state.

Florida’s first Latina Governor? This Democratic lawmaker considers bid” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Tampa Bay Times — It was around the time Florida Democrats suffered blistering defeats in Miami-Dade in the 2020 election that Sen. Annette Taddeo began mulling a run for Governor. But she’s not quite ready to jump in, she says, despite the fact she doesn’t “think it’s a secret” her name comes up as a potential top contender in 2022. “If I were to become the nominee, clearly, we have a lot of opportunity to have a lot of excitement, and with Val Demings also running [for U.S. Senate] … I believe that’s what it’s going to take,” Taddeo said.

Moody officially files for reelection as Attorney General” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Moody filed for reelection Wednesday as Florida’s top cop. Thus far, Moody’s path to reelection is without many obstacles. With no credible challenger in the race, political prognosticators expect the office to remain in Republican hands for at least a fourth consecutive term. Moody, elected in 2018, focused on various issues, including human trafficking and opioid addiction, during her first term. A former lawyer, federal prosecutor and judge, she proved herself a fundraising machine, outpacing all statewide candidates except DeSantis this year.

Stephanie Murphy to head Florida Democratic Party voter protection and democracy program” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Murphy will chair the Florida Democratic Party’s Democracy and Voter Protection Program. The Winter Park Democrat takes on the role as she prepares for a significant election cycle for herself and the state party. “We are thrilled that Congresswoman Murphy is going to lead us in this effort,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz. Murphy’s own immigrant story, rescued as an immigrant from Vietnam as her family fled by boat, played high in a party announcement of her role. Florida Democrats took a beating in 2020 as Republicans painted the party as pro-socialist; many immigrants with roots in South American countries turned on Democrats as a result.

This clown — “Far-right lawmaker wants Florida to copy new Texas abortion restrictions and get publicity for his next campaign” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — State Rep. Sabatini said Wednesday he would introduce legislation that would duplicate Texas’ strict new anti-abortion law in Florida. It would ban most abortions. He and other anti-abortion lawmakers have repeatedly tried and failed to do the same thing before. The measure keeps getting killed in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature. But there are differences this year: The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to go into effect. And the Supreme Court will take up abortion in its next term, with the possibility that it could significantly reduce abortion rights.

Laura Loomer swaps races, will challenge Daniel Webster in CD 11” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Right-wing activist and once-defeated Loomer is switching up her 2022 plans, now mounting a Primary challenge against Republican U.S. Rep. Webster in Florida’s 11th Congressional District. Loomer had previously filed to seek a rematch against Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Loomer emerged from a contested GOP Primary last year for the right to challenge Frankel. But Frankel handily defeated Loomer last November, pulling in 59% of the vote and topping Loomer by nearly 20 percentage points. Loomer likely saw the writing on the wall heading into 2022. CD 21 leans heavily Democratic, though all districts are subject to redrawn boundaries ahead of next year’s contest.

Corinna Balderramos Robinson files against Brian Mast in CD 18” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Balderramos Robinson announced she’s running for Congress in Rep. Mast’s district. “Service to my country has been at the heart of who I am my entire life,” Balderramos Robinson said. A retired Army Major, she last year ran for state Senate against Sen. Gayle Harrell. She secured the Democratic nomination but lost to the Republican incumbent by 18 percentage points in the General Election. Now Balderramos Robinson has her sights on Washington. Democrats have long viewed Florida’s 18th Congressional District as potentially competitive ground.

Corinna Balderramos Robinson hopes to take down Brian Mast.

Statehouse races heat up during changing of guard in Duval County” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The race for the state Legislature is tossing and turning in Duval County contests that will bring the biggest changing of the guard in years because term limits will prevent longtime Sens. Audrey Gibson and Bean from running for the first time in a decade. The race to fill the seat of Gibson is shaping up as a more contested affair. City Council member Reggie Gaffney has already started raising money for a campaign, and Rep. Tracie Davis said she will file soon to join the fray. Jacksonville City Council member Garrett Dennis said he plans to file as a candidate for the House seat filled now by Davis.

Dean Black backs Cord Byrd for HD 11, eyes 2024 run Duval County GOP Chair Black had all but declared for the House District 11 race, but on Wednesday, he announced he would put his aspirations on hold to let Rep. Byrd serve one final term. Black never filed paperwork to run for HD 11, but he had amassed more than $170,000 in a political committee and had recently earned the endorsement of one of his would-be primary opponents. Still, his candidacy was contingent on Byrd sticking to his plans to run in Senate District 4. That didn’t pan out, but Black was cordial. “I am thrilled that my friend Representative Cord Byrd has decided to return to the Florida House. Our region is well served with Cord in the Legislature, and he has my complete and total support for another term,” he said. While he will not run this cycle, he’s likely to seek the seat in 2024, when Byrd faces term limits. If he does, his committee stockpile will give him a solid head start.

Young Republican Jake Hoffman to challenge Susan Valdes in HD 62” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Hoffman is challenging Rep. Valdes for her seat in Florida House District 62, he announced Wednesday. Hoffman, who has served for the past three years as president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans, has been a vocal opponent to lockdowns and various other COVID-19 restrictions throughout the pandemic affecting small businesses. “There were virtually no politicians fighting against these crazy mandates,” Hoffman said in a campaign announcement. Hoffman co-founded Invasion Digital Media, a company that partners with the National Football League and the Ultimate Fighting Championship to sell digital fitness programs.

Jennifer Wilson joins HD 66 race to replace Nick DiCeglie” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Wilson, a lawyer and lobbyist, is the third Republican to join the race for Florida House District 66. The third-generation Floridian joins GOP candidates Berny Jacques and Alen Tomczak in the race to replace Rep. DiCeglie, who is leaving office to run for the Senate. What I love most is helping people,” said Wilson of her motivation to run. “Throughout my life and career, I have been blessed with opportunities to help those who have trusted me to be their voice and champion. That’s exactly what I will continue doing when I am elected to the Florida House.” Wilson told Florida Politics, if elected, she plans to focus on veterans’ issues, the environment, public safety, child safety and welfare, including support for law enforcement, among other issues.

Jennifer Wilson makes it three Republicans seeking to replace Nick DiCeglie.

Michael Hepburn: Miami Commissioner Jeffrey Watson ‘a liar’ for reversing pledge to leave office” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Hepburn says he isn’t disappointed that the man Miami officials installed last year to fill a vacancy on the City Commission may not keep his promise to vacate his seat once his one-year term ends in November. But with just over two months from the city election, and with the newly announced backing Wednesday of The Collective PAC, a committee dedicated to boosting Black participation and representation in politics nationwide, that isn’t really his focus either. Hepburn is running to replace Jeffrey Watson, whom City Commissioners appointed last November to succeed Keon Hardemon.

Kristi Noem to headline Florida Right to Life banquet in October — The South Dakota Governor will be the keynote speaker for the 2021 Florida Right to Life “Love for Life” Banquet on Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. Admission is $125; sponsorships start at $1,500. More information at frtl.org/loveforlife2021.

— CORONA NATION —

COVID-19 hospitalization rates rise as delta variant continues to spread” via Janie Haseman of USA Today — In some states, the number of people being admitted to the hospital with confirmed COVID-19 had topped levels not seen since the winter, when cases, hospitalizations, and deaths last surged most significantly in America. COVID-19 vaccines, which are available to everyone in the U.S. age 12 and older, are extremely effective at preventing death and hospitalization. In recent weeks, vaccination rates have risen alongside cases and hospitalizations; but just under half the country is still not fully vaccinated. The rise in COVID-19 patients has pushed some hospitals to capacity, leaving less room and staff for people with other medical needs.

Unvaccinated people should not travel Labor Day weekend, CDC director says” via Eve Chen of USA Today — The CDC is urging Americans to reconsider their Labor Day travel plans, particularly if they aren’t vaccinated, amid one of the worst COVID-19 surges of the pandemic. “First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. The CDC recommends people who aren’t fully vaccinated hold off on traveling “because travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.” Additionally, anyone sick with coronavirus symptoms is urged to stay home, even if they’ve been vaccinated. The CDC has said fully vaccinated Americans can travel while wearing face masks.

Labor Day travel is strongly discouraged. Image via AP.

—”Americans are stocking up on toilet paper again” via Jaewon Kang and Sharon Terlep of The Wall Street Journal

Why can’t America fix its COVID-19 testing problems?” via Dylan Scott of Vox — A year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the United States is facing a new version of the same problem that stymied its response from the beginning: We aren’t testing enough to catch every case or surveil the virus and its new variants. Nationwide, about 11% of tests are now coming back positive, up from 2% in mid-June. Experts have said the positive test rate should be below 10% and preferably much lower to be confident most cases are being caught.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Tens of billions of dollars in pandemic aid for hospitals and nursing homes sits unused” via Amy Goldstein of The Washington Post — Tens of billions of dollars designated by Congress to help hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers stave off financial hardship from the coronavirus pandemic are sitting unused, because the Biden administration has not released the money. As many hospitals bulge again with COVID-19 patients, a wide swath of the health care industry is exasperated that federal health officials have not made available any more of the aid since Biden took office. About $44 billion from a Provider Relief Fund created last year remains unspent, along with $8.5 billion Congress allotted in March for medical care in rural areas.

Wall Street South builds its own New York to lure younger crowd” via Amanda L. Gordon, Sridhar Natarajan and Natalie Wong of Bloomberg — After the COVID-19 pandemic supercharged, a migration of Manhattan elite local developers and entrepreneurs are working to transform once-sleepy West Palm Beach into a thriving center of finance. That means new power-dining perches, after-work bars, gleaming towers, and even an entirely new neighborhood that nods to Manhattan’s West Village. NYU Langone and Mount Sinai have doctors on the ground. One private school has hired an enrollment director straight from the Upper East Side’s Hewitt School. Talks have begun for a university campus modeled after New York’s Cornell Tech.

West Palm Beach is turning into a younger Wall Street South. Image via Bloomberg.

Apple asks all U.S. employees to report vaccination status” via Mark Gurman of Bloomberg — Apple Inc. is asking all U.S. employees to report their vaccination status, marking the latest move in a COVID-19 campaign that has stopped short of mandating shots. The iPhone maker has asked the employees to report their status “voluntarily” by mid-September, regardless of whether they work remotely or from an office. The company said it’s using the data to inform its COVID-19 response efforts and protocols. Apple previously asked employees in California, Washington and New Jersey to comply with local regulations. Unlike several of its peers in technology, Apple doesn’t require vaccines.

Florida’s federal unemployment benefits end Monday” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The federal unemployment benefits that have helped millions of Floridians stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic run out Monday. The state’s jobless agency said Wednesday that two key federal programs end Sept. 6: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which paid up to $275 per week for gig workers and others who aren’t eligible for state assistance, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which extended the number of weeks someone would be eligible to receive state benefits. The programs are set to expire on Labor Day for millions of Americans across the country.

— MORE CORONA —

When will the delta surge end?” via Apoorva Mandavilli, Benjamin Mueller and Shalini Venugopal Bhagat of The New York Times — The United States has entered the fourth wave of the pandemic. As the vaccination campaign lags and the contagious Delta variant spreads, cases and hospitalizations are at their highest since last winter. COVID-19 deaths, too, are on a steady incline. After every other peak has come a trough, however, often for reasons that were not immediately obvious. In Britain, where the variant is also the dominant form of the coronavirus, daily cases fell from a peak of 60,000 in mid-July to half that within two weeks, though they have since been climbing again.

What Christina Pushaw is readingMassive randomized study is proof that surgical masks limit coronavirus spread, authors say” via Adam Taylor and Ben Guarino of The Washington Post — The authors of a study based on an enormous randomized research project in Bangladesh say their results offer the best evidence yet that widespread wearing of surgical masks can limit the spread of the coronavirus in communities. The preprint paper, which tracked more than 340,000 adults across 600 villages in rural Bangladesh, is by far the largest randomized study on the effectiveness of masks. Its authors say this provides conclusive, real-world evidence: mask-wearing can significantly limit the spread of symptomatic COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

A massive research study settles it; masks work. Image via AP.

—”Alaska surpasses previous hospitalizations record and reports deaths of 6 with COVID-19, including woman in her 20s” via Annie Berman and Zaz Hollander of Anchorage Daily News

—”Hawaii health officials warn of oxygen shortages as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise” via Siladitya Ray of Forbes

—”Idaho hospitals are ‘beyond constrained’ by COVID-19. Gov. Brad Little deploys National Guard” via Hayat Norimine of the Idaho Statesman

—”Kentucky continues to shatter its COVID-19 hospitalization records. 23 more deaths.” via Alex Acquisto of the Lexington Herald-Leader

—”Marine corporal discharged over refusal to wear a mask” via Military.com

Even survivors of milder COVID-19 face heightened risk of kidney damage, study finds” via Hannah Knowles of The Washington Post — A new study provides grim insight into “long COVID,” finding that even survivors of less-serious COVID-19 cases had a heightened risk of kidney damage. The dangers increase with the severity of infection but extend even to those who were not hospitalized. Risks included “end-stage kidney disease,” in which the organs can no longer filter blood without transplant or regular dialysis. The researchers wrote that given the massive scale of coronavirus infections in the United States and worldwide, “the numbers of people with long COVID-19 in need of post-COVID-19 care will likely be staggering and will present substantial strain on already overwhelmed health systems.”

Joe Rogan says he has COVID-19, took ivermectin” via Amy Gehrt of the Tampa Bay Times — Rogan, a veteran comic and podcaster, says he tested positive COVID-19 just days after he performed in Tampa. Rogan, who hosts the popular Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, posted a video to his official Instagram account Wednesday to announce he has the coronavirus. “We immediately threw the kitchen sink at it,” he said. “All kinds of meds. Monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-Pak, prednisone — everything. And I also got an NAD drip and a vitamin drip. I did that three days in a row, and so here we are on Wednesday, and I feel great.”

Europe’s tourist hotspots stay open to Americans, for now” via Giovanni Legorano and Nick Kostov of The Wall Street Journal — Many European countries are in no hurry to close the door to American tourists, despite a new European Union recommendation to national authorities to halt nonessential travel from the U.S. The EU’s recommendations for travel rules aren’t binding on the bloc’s 27 member countries. Major tourist destinations Spain and Greece said on Tuesday they would stay open for American visitors for the coming weeks. Others, including France and Italy, said they have no immediate plans to change their rules for travel from the U.S. Europe’s leading tourism nations, in most cases, allow U.S. tourists to enter without quarantine if they can show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, recovery from the virus or a negative test result.

Travel agencies are having a moment amid COVID-19 chaos” via Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal — Travel has grown difficult thanks to virus-related complexity, uncertainty, cancellations, delays, border restrictions, and testing requirements. As a result, many travelers booking a beach getaway or other trips turn to professionals to help them with plans. Travel advisers are cool again. Do-it-yourself booking and declining commissions paid by airlines shrank travel agencies beginning in the 1990s. The industry has proved resilient, and now it’s hot. Travelers are itching to go somewhere after many sat grounded for a year or more. And they have myriad questions about what you have to do to travel internationally and how you can protect yourself against disappointment.

As tourism heats back up, professional travel agents are getting hot. Image via ASTA.

Paramount delays ‘Top Gun’ sequel amid resurgent coronavirus” via Kelly Gilblom of Bloomberg — ViacomCBS Inc. moved the release date for “Top Gun: Maverick” into next year as Hollywood continues to wrestle with the pandemic that’s kept many people from theaters. The highly anticipated sequel featuring action star Tom Cruise was expected to debut on Nov. 19 and will instead move to May 27. The change was part of a broader reshuffling of dates at Viacom’s Paramount Pictures studio. “Mission: Impossible 7,” also featuring Cruise, moved to Sept. 30 of next year from the May date “Top Gun” has taken. “Jackass Forever” shifted to Feb. 4 from this October.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Mitch McConnell: Joe Biden ‘is not going to be removed from office’” via Jordain Carney of The Hill — McConnell shot down calls from within his own party to try to impeach Biden, pointing to next year’s midterm election as a potential check on the administration. “Well, look, the president is not going to be removed from office. There’s a Democratic House, a narrowly Democratic Senate. That’s not going to happen,” McConnell said when asked if Biden’s handling of the drawdown in Afghanistan merits impeachment and if he would support it. “There isn’t going to be an impeachment,” he added.

Mitch McConnell says Joe Biden is not going anywhere.

Moody keeps up opposition to Biden border ‘chaos’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Republican Attorneys General continue to stand opposed to the immigration policies of Biden‘s administration. Florida is joining a coalition of 17 states attempting to thwart a Biden administration effort to obtain a stay on a court decision reinstating the pre-Biden “Remain in Mexico” policies. “Instead of following the direction of the court to enforce federal law, President Biden is seeking an emergency order to keep his illegal policies in place. Every day he ignores federal law, we become less safe,” Moody asserted. AGs from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia all signed onto the brief in support of the suit from Texas and Louisiana.

Ann Coulter effusively praises Biden’s Afghanistan speech: Unlike Donald Trump, he ‘had the balls’ to withdraw” via Michael Luciano of Mediaite — Biden had just concluded his address to the nation on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, ending a war that had lasted 20 years. The president has been criticized for failing to anticipate the rapid crumbling of Afghan security forces in the face of the Taliban’s advance. That caused a chaotic scene at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, where the U.S. military hurried to evacuate more than 123,000 Americans and Afghans despite being surrounded by the Taliban and ISIS-K. After the president’s address, Coulter took to Twitter and thanked Biden “for keeping a promise Trump made but then abandoned.”

— EPILOGUE: TRUMP —

Trump, Pam Bondi and $25,000: The investigation that never was” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — One of Florida’s higher-profile political scandals is making national headlines again. We’re talking about the infamous and improper $25,000 check Trump cut to Bondi’s campaign back in 2013, when Bondi’s office had been asked to investigate some of Trump’s sketchy moneymaking ventures. Trump’s team cut the check from one of his charitable foundations, which federal law prohibits. Tax-exempt charities can’t donate to political committees.

Donald Trump’s $25K check to Pam Bondi’s PAC is back in the news.

Trump Organization’s security director agrees to testify to grand jury” via David A. Fahrenthold and Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Matthew Calamari Jr. has agreed to testify before a Manhattan grand jury investigating the former president and his company, according to a person familiar with the case. He received a subpoena to testify on Tuesday from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., a Democrat, and will appear before the grand jury Thursday afternoon, according to the person. Calamari Jr. is the son of Matthew Calamari Sr., who now serves as the Trump Organization’s chief operating officer and has worked for former President Donald Trump as a bodyguard, security man and executive for more than 30 years.

— CRISIS —

Intel shows extremists to attend Capitol rally” via Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — Far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend a rally later this month at the U.S. Capitol that is designed to demand “justice” for the hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with January’s insurrection. As a result, U.S. Capitol Police have been discussing whether the large perimeter fence erected outside the Capitol after January’s riot will need to be put back up. Officials have been discussing security plans that involve reconstructing the fence as well as another plan that does not involve a fence, the people said.

Kevin McCarthy threatens tech and telecom firms that comply with Jan.6 committee’s request” via Felicia Sonmez and Cristiano Lima of The Washington Post — House Minority Leader McCarthy is threatening telecommunications and social media companies that comply with a request by the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, declaring that Republicans “will not forget” their actions. McCarthy spoke with then-President Trump on the day of the attack and is a potential witness in the select committee’s probe. The panel on Monday asked 35 companies to retain phone records and other information related to the attack as it ramps up its investigation ahead of the return of Congress next month.

— D.C. MATTERS —

The national Republican Party produced a video directed at Afghanistan veterans, telling them their service was not in vain. Prominently featured in the five-minute clip are two members of the Florida Delegation: U.S. Rep. Mast and U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz.

Both Congressmen are veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

“Veterans, Goldstar families, victims of 911 — their sacrifices were not in vain. A whole generation of Americans have grown up, not worried about planes flying into buildings, not worried about suicide bombers on school buses,” Waltz says in the video.

Mast echoed the sentiment, saying their sacrifice “will never fade away.”

— LOCAL NOTES —

City Council member LeAnna Cumber could upend 2023 Jacksonville mayoral race” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Cumber filed papers to form a political committee as she considers a run for Jacksonville mayor in 2023, a development that would upend any easy path to victory for the growing list of Republicans interested in the race. More than anything, Cumber’s potential candidacy is a challenge to JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis, who is widely expected to run as the inheritor of the city’s right-of-center political establishment and the donors that come with it. He, like Cumber, is not yet an official candidate, but he has already amassed nearly $2.5 million to a state political committee he controls.

Will Chris Latvala challenge Dave Eggers for Pinellas commission? He’s not ruling it out.” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — On Tuesday, after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the first meeting of the Pinellas County Redistricting Board would not be video recorded, State Rep. Latvala blasted the county’s decision. But he used the opportunity to call out Commission Chair Eggers, a fellow Republican, who is up for reelection in November 2022. “The Pinellas County administrator should reverse course and allow for full transparency,” Latvala stated in the news release of the redistricting board process. Latvala, term-limited from the state House next year, already announced he will run in 2024 for Pinellas County Commission District 5 when incumbent Republican Commissioner Karen Seel said she plans to leave office after 25 years in the seat.

Chris Latvala plans his next move.

Second Republican files to challenge Pat Gerard in 2022” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A second Republican has entered the race to challenge Gerard for her District 2 seat on the Pinellas County Commission. Brian Scott, president of Escot Bus Lines, filed for the race Tuesday. In the race, he joins fellow Republican Debbie Buschman, the Lunch Pal coordinator for Pinellas County Schools. Gerard has not yet filed for reelection but is expected to. In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times announcing his candidacy Wednesday, Scott said he had to fight to keep his family business, founded by his parents in 1983, alive during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a charter bus executive, Scott previously served as a board member on the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. He also served on the Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Advisory Board.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell unveils unit to clear backlog of traffic homicide cases” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office has created a traffic homicide unit to clear a backlog of dozens of cases dating to 2019, State Attorney Worrell announced. The new division will be overseen by prosecutor David Fear, who will take the lead in deaths caused by traffic accidents, which were previously handled by the agency’s violent crimes unit. Worrell said the new unit has already cleared its backlog from 2019, with Fear adding that he hopes to close unresolved 2020 cases by the end of the year.

Monique Worrell has a new unit to help lighten the load of homicide cases.

Unanimous decision: Palm Beach County, city approve plans for UF campus near downtown” via Wayne Washington and Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — In back-to-back, unanimous votes, commissioners in Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach approved preliminary plans to have the University of Florida open a campus near downtown, a move supporters described as “historic” and “transformative.” County commissioners followed up with their own approval on Tuesday morning. UF President Kent Fuchs attended both meetings, praising the university’s expansion plan as an opportunity to offer graduate school offerings that will be taken by students who eventually start businesses and occupy high-level jobs brought to the area.

Perfect Plain Brewing Co. owner D.C. Reeves files to run for mayor of Pensacola” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — The Pensacola businessman is officially running. Reeves arrived at the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections office just before 9 a.m. Wednesday to file paperwork declaring his candidacy for the Mayor of Pensacola. He was joined by a small group of family and friends. After filling out the forms with his campaign treasurer Matt Davis, Reeves handed in his candidacy documents with his young daughter, Caroline, and was officially a candidate for Mayor.

‘We must always remember’: Holocaust Council to honor Steve Uhlfelder for education” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Uhlfelder, who has made a major impact on Holocaust education, will be honored with an education award at the Holocaust Education Resource Council Remembrance Dinner at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the FSU University Club. Uhlfelder helped establish the Holocaust Institute for teachers at Florida State University in 1995. He led the legislative efforts to create a Holocaust Memorial at the state Capitol. While at the Holland & Knight Law Firm, he helped create the National Holocaust Remembrance Project. This project awarded scholarships for students who were the winners of an essay contest, which was a life-changing experience for them.

— TOP OPINION —

Texas shows us what post-democracy America would look like” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Thanks to a series of actions by the Texas legislature and governor, we now see exactly what the Trumpified Republican Party wants: to take us to an America where women cannot get abortions, even in cases of rape and incest; an America where almost everybody can openly carry a gun in public, without license, without permit, without safety training and without fingerprinting; and an America where law-abiding Black and Latino citizens are disproportionately denied the right to vote. It is where the rest of America will go unless those targeted by these new laws, women, people of color and all small “d” democrats, rise up.

— OPINIONS —

DeSantis snubbed $820 million in federal food aid and won’t say why” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Nobody’s going to bed hungry tonight in the Governor’s mansion. Too bad that’s not the case across the state. Yet Ron DeSantis is apparently leaving up to $820 million in federal food assistance on the table, and he won’t explain why. Does he have a reason? Or is it just a really bad one? More than four months after Florida could have first applied for the aid, it remains unclear if state officials are seeking the money, which is enough to feed 2.1 million children in low-income homes. More than 80 advocacy groups, including the food bank Feeding Tampa Bay, signed on to the letter Monday calling on DeSantis to seek the money.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “A state of ‘collapse’ in Florida’s prison system” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida locks up too many prisoners and pays too few officers to watch them. This perilous situation has prompted the Department of Corrections to close three of its 50 major institutions so it can concentrate inmates and staff elsewhere. The agency should use the sensible expedient of early release for elderly, ailing or nonviolent inmates, but it can’t. Having abolished parole like 15 other states, Florida is one of six whose laws require even nonviolent offenders to serve at least 85% of their time despite good behavior. Sentences have grown longer, largely because of 108 mandatory minimums that tie judges’ hands. It’s the result of politicians who pander for votes by cracking down on crime without paying for it.

—GAMEDAY —

AAC commissioner: UCF-Boise State game a prestige game that plays pivotal role in league’s playoff push” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — When UCF host Boise State at the Bounce House Thursday night, it not only represents a huge opportunity for the Knights but also the American Athletic Conference. The game is one of several nonconference showdowns the AAC hopes will provide the league with an early boost, particularly as it makes another push in the race for the College Football Playoff. “It’s a chance to make a statement,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco.

The Bounce House will be bouncin’ Image via UCF.

How will UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn call Thursday night’s game against Boise State?” via Brian Smith of Sports Illustrated — Malzahn has found different ways to run the football before coming to Orlando. Inside zone, option, and gap schemes have all been used to run the football. However, with Dillon Gabriel now running the show behind center, Coach Malzahn will be afforded a unique passer that’s very accurate, especially with the deep ball. Even with Gabriel, look for Coach Malzahn to attempt to establish the running game. It’s his mentality; it’s his bread and butter.

Stopping the run will be ‘super important’ for Boise State against UCF” via B.J. Rains of The Blue Mountain Eagle — Weeks of preparation and hours of film study and game planning for Boise State’s defense heading into Thursday’s opener against UCF can be simplified into one main point: stop the run. Sure, there’s a lot more to it, but the Broncos know they’ll have a strong shot of leaving Orlando with a win if they are successful in stopping the run. “It’s super important,” nickelback Kekaula Kaniho said. “They do a lot of different formations and things to kind of get your eyes moving all over the place to run the ball downhill at you, so if we can settle down and focus on those things and stop the run, I think we’ll be in great shape.”

Boise State preps for Florida humidity and UCF’s full Bounce House” via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel — The high temperatures for tonight’s weather forecast in Boise, Idaho and Orlando read identical: 86 degrees. One key difference: the humidity. At Boise State, the estimated humidity will be around 25%, while at UCF, that number is expected to be more than three times higher at 88%, the forecast reads. That difference in humidity is something the Broncos have attempted to recreate throughout practice, Boise State head coach Andy Avalos explained Saturday.

How will Boise State fare in the Florida heat? Image via AP.

Why UCF-Boise State is the state’s most interesting Week 1 matchup” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will be making his Knights debut against the Broncos’ first-time head coach, Andy Avalos, in a matchup of two teams who could challenge for a spot in a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl game. The possibility of conference realignment adds another wrinkle. The Big 12 isn’t going to base its expansion decisions on one nonconference result, of course. But two potential Big 12 targets playing each other in a prime-time, weekend-opening game creates another selling point for both programs.

— ALOE —

Saints-Packers season opener moved to TIAA Bank Field in Hurricane Ida aftermath” via John Reid of The Florida Times-Union — The New Orleans Saints were originally scheduled to play at the Superdome for their Sept. 12 opener. But due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, where power remains out, along with disrupted services like water and sewage in the New Orleans area that could extend several weeks to repair, the franchise has been conducting its operations in Dallas. With the Jaguars playing at Houston for their Sept. 12 opener, the New Orleans Saints confirmed Wednesday afternoon they have moved their season-opener against the Green Bay Packers to TIAA Bank Field on that day with a 4:25 p.m. kickoff scheduled.

Hurricane Ida put a wrench in the Saints’ schedule. Image via AP.

Expect ‘a celebration of Blackness’ with the return of the Orange Blossom Classic” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — Sen. Shevrin Jones didn’t even like football. So, imagine his surprise when a friend invited him to a Florida A&M football game. At some point during the contest, something switched inside the future FAMU alum; the score became irrelevant, the players an afterthought and the fans a family. “It’s a huge family reunion,” Jones said. “I wish everyone — Black, white, Indigenous, just everybody — had the opportunity to experience the culture of HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] even if you did go to a [primarily white institution].” With the Orange Blossom Classic scheduled to make its triumphant return to South Florida during Labor Day weekend, expect more than just a normal football game.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Congressman John Rutherford, Rep. Spencer Roach and Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan.

___

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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, 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.


2 comments

  • Tom

    September 2, 2021 at 6:46 am

    Shockingly Peter, no headline, front story on Frauds financials misgivings. Nothing like benefiting financially while people lose jobs, can’t enjoy their freedoms, Unlike N Fraud.

    Gifted house and other financial benefits.

  • Pancho Villar

    September 2, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    Peter, how are you so up the keister of the university in Orlando that you’re incapable of throwing even a mention regarding USF’s game tonight? Florida Politics is based in St. Pete, right? How’s that for local coverage? USF v. NcSt, tonight @ 7:30pm on ACC Network. Go Bulls!

Comments are closed.


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Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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