Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.21.21

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

Good Tuesday morning.

A top-of-Sunburn shoutout to Chris Dudley of The Southern Group. Everyone’s pal turns 5-0 today. Chris, I’ll never forget that conversation we had all those years ago at Cassis; it sort of launched it all. Your brother, Charlie, also wishes you a happy birthday: “What an honor and privilege to be Chris’ brother. He has never met a stranger; his love and devotion to his bride and boys is unmatched, and I love and admire him more as time marches on. Happy 50th to my little brother.”

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Florida Politics is conducting a new Influencer Poll later this morning, asking our exclusive list of influencers to weigh in on the state of play in the Florida Governor’s race. As with any poll, the more, the merrier! So, if you would like to be added to the list — or know someone who would be a good fit — drop us a note this morning, and we will add you (or them) right away. And if you are already on our roster of influencers, thanks again; your participation is always welcome.

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It’s ‘Clean Energy Week’ in Florida — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a proclamation Monday declaring Sept. 20-24 as “Clean Energy Week.” The official document says the state is “committed to the preservation of the natural environment” and highlights the environmental investments included in the 2021-22 budget. Further, the proclamation says this week “is an opportunity to encourage all individuals and organizations to implement eco-friendly and clean energy practices that reduce air pollution and mitigate other harmful impacts to our environment.”

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Assignment editors — Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis will host the ringing of the bell ceremony to honor fallen firefighters, 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, Capitol Courtyard. Eighteen fallen firefighters will be honored during the ceremony, inscribing their names on the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial. For more information, contact Devin Galetta at [email protected] or (850) 545-3043.

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Former House Speaker José Oliva sure knows how to pick ‘em.

Despite Oliva dumping more than half a million dollars into the race, future House Speaker Danny Perez shellacked his preferred candidate in last year’s Republican Primary for House District 116.

Apparently, he wants his name tied to a second embarrassing defeat. Or, best-case scenario, a shameful win.

Campaign finance records show Oliva, who served as House Speaker for the 2019 and 2020 Sessions, put $2,000 into Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s quixotic congressional campaign.

José Oliva sure knows how to pick them.

Sabatini is an unabashed troll who has worn-out the patience of members of most lawmakers, even most members of his own Party — he was recently quarantined to the Capitol basement, so his colleagues don’t have to see his mug as they walk to their offices.

He’s also a candidate for Florida’s 7th Congressional District, the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

Barring a redistricting miracle, the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican faces almost certain defeat in 2022. Even with a miracle, he would face fierce opposition from the Republican establishment — his recent comments deriding top Party leaders as “RINOs” make that a certainty.

Oh well, at least campaign contribution limits will save Oliva from wasting another half mil on a dumpster fire.

>>>Anthony Sabatini bill would kneecap Capitol Police investigation — Rep. Sabatini filed a bill (HB 133) Monday to prohibit people or state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the U.S. Capitol Police office in Florida. Sabatini’s bill specifically blocks law enforcement from using any resources or personnel to assist the field office and sharing agency databases. The only exception afforded is if they receive a court order. The bill comes after the Capitol Police opened a field office in Tampa to investigate threats against members of Congress in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

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Dean Mead’s lobbying team has a new leader: Jennifer Ungru.

The firm announced the longtime lobbyist would succeed Peter Dunbar in a Monday news release, noting that she is the first woman to lead the full-service law firm’s government relations practice.

“Using her political acumen and an analytical approach, Jennifer helps clients define their objectives, build a cohesive strategy, and overcome challenges that stand between them and their goals. Her deep understanding of ‘the how and the why’ of policy and the political process delivers results for clients,” Dunbar said. “That dedication and expertise makes her the ideal leader for the practice moving forward.”

Shattering the glass ceiling: Congratulations to Jennifer Ungru for taking the reins of Dean Mead’s lobbying team.

Alongside Ungru’s elevation, Dean Mead announced the addition of Emily Duda Buckley and Timothy Riley to its government affairs practice.

Buckley will serve as the firm’s government affairs manager. She comes to Dean Mead from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where she has worked as director of legislative affairs since 2019.

Riley is also joining the firm’s Tallahassee office, bringing to the firm his broad-based environmental law practice, which includes permitting and compliance counseling, civil and administrative litigation, regulatory due diligence, enforcement defense and legislative representation.

“Dean Mead’s Government Relations and Lobbying practice has a diverse array of clients with a variety of complex issues that require continuous counsel and strategy for legislative, executive and even federal lobbying initiatives,” Ungru said. “We need an equally diverse and experienced team to deliver results for our clients, the addition of Emily and Timothy strengthens our practice and will allow us to continue meeting even our most ambitious objectives for our clients.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Kylamb8: Comparisons to 1918 really are quite silly. The average age of mortality for 1918 flu epidemic was ~28 per CDC. It’s ranged from 75-80 for COVID-19. Deaths of kids ages 0-14 increased 43% from 1917 to 1918. In 2020, mortality of 0-14 decreased 4% provisionally from 2019 totals

@TheMaxBurns: Well, the exact situation Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh told the Senate wouldn’t happen is happening.

@RepWebster: I share the outrage expressed by many Floridians at the (Joe) Biden Administration’s abrupt change to the allocation of Monoclonal Antibody treatments. I am reaching out to the Biden Administration to express my opposition and demand answers.

@MDixon55: A lot of in the weeds terminology that’s important to the process being discussed right now, but the bottom line is central Florida is likely to be the main focus of redistricting Population has boomed in that region of the state

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

The Problem with Jon Stewart premieres on Apple TV+ — 9; Disability Employment Awareness Month begins — 10; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres — 10; Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary party starts — 10; MLB regular season ends — 12; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres — 17; ‘Succession’ returns — 26; ‘Dune’ premieres — 31; World Series Game 1 — 35; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 36; Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting begins — 36; Georgia at UF — 39; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 42; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Primary — 42; The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 45; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 45; ‘Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 47; ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 48; Miami at FSU — 53; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 58; FSU vs. UF — 67; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 71; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri‘s death — 77; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 80; ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 87; ‘The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 92; ‘The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 95; NFL season ends — 110; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 112; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 112; NFL playoffs begin — 116; Super Bowl LVI — 145; Daytona 500 — 152; St. Pete Grand Prix — 159; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 185; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 229; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 248; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 254; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 290; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 302; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 381; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 416.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis, GOP Governors request border security meeting with Joe Biden” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis is among a collective of GOP governors seeking to meet and discuss the ongoing border crisis with Biden at the White House. In a letter addressed to Biden, DeSantis and 25 Republican governors described the border situation as a “national security crisis” spiraling out of control. The meeting, they requested, needs to be held within two weeks. “A crisis that began at our southern border now extends beyond to every state and requires immediate action before the situation worsens,” the group wrote. Border apprehensions are up roughly 500% compared to last year, they wrote. And of those apprehended this year, approximately 9,700 have prior criminal convictions.

Ron DeSantis is among the Governors requesting a sit-down with Joe Biden on border security. Image via AP.

Florida applies for federal pandemic aid to feed children — In what appears to be an about-face, the Florida Department of Children and Families is now applying for as much as $820 million in federal COVID-19 pandemic aid to feed millions of children across the state. The change comes after Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried criticized DeSantis for ignoring the offer and leaving Florida’s children vulnerable. First reported by POLITICO, DCF started the application process last week and said Fried will ultimately be responsible for administering the program. “Last week, out of an abundance of caution, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) started the process of applying for Pandemic EBT to make certain that any possible gaps left by Commissioner Fried’s program will not affect children,” DCF spokesperson Mallory McManus wrote in a statement to POLITICO.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Environmental oversight in Florida has improved under DeSantis, but there are still enforcement issues” via Amy Green of WFSU — Florida’s oversight of the state’s fragile natural resources has improved under DeSantis. Still, it remains far behind where it was a decade ago. While DeSantis has made the environment a priority of his administration, the report shows that the state Department of Environmental Protection conducted fewer inspections in 2020 than the year before. The overall rate at which programs regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection were found to comply with environmental laws declined to 59% from 64%. The lowest compliance was found in the domestic wastewater and potable water programs, with rates of 34% and 36%, respectively. In the potable water program, there were 185 inspections, compared with 785 in 2019.

DeSantis reshaped Florida’s appeals courts; it seems to be working out for him” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix — DeSantis has declared that he looks for judges who will interpret the law and Constitution, not make law from the bench. But there’s more than one way to skin a legal text, and of course, judges view cases through their own philosophical lenses. The question is whether the conservative monoculture DeSantis and his predecessors built within the judicial branch is willing to check excesses committed by the executive and legislative branches, which the Republican Party has dominated for decades. “It gives that appearance of the courts being far less independent. And that’s really problematic, right? That undermines the public’s trust and confidence in the courts,” said Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell of Tampa.

—”House Judiciary sets expectations for criminal justice data sharing project” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Patronis honors the state’s firefighting community with the 2021 Fire Service Awards — In a ceremony at the Senate Chamber, Patronis recognized the firefighting community for outstanding accomplishments during the 2021 Fire Service Awards. Each individual or facility was nominated and selected by various fire service organizations across Florida. “Florida’s first responders are the backbone of our state, and I was honored today to recognize outstanding members of Florida’s incredible fire service community who work around the clock to protect Floridians,” Patronis said. “It’s not just the firefighters that keep us safe, it’s the educators, inspectors, investigators, instructors, volunteers, and training centers that ensure we are protected — day in and day out.” The complete list of award winners is at MyFloridaCFO.com.

Jimmy Patronis recognizes members of Florida’s firefighting community for their outstanding accomplishments in the fire service industry.

Democratic leadership warns of Capitol COVID-19 outbreak as lawmakers reconvene” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Democratic leadership is concerned the House’s COVID-19 protocols for committee weeks aren’t strong enough, and at least one key member fears it could lead to an outbreak. Rep. Bryan Avila announced the Republican-led House’s protocols Monday morning, two hours before the first committee meeting in advance of the 2022 Session. House Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne criticized those protocols for not being as strict at a time when lawmakers return to Tallahassee, and COVID-19 transmission remain at a high rate.

Florida teachers union survey finds broad support for teacher pay boost, smaller class sizes” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A new poll finds, perhaps unsurprising, bipartisan support for improving public education, including adequate school funding, long-term teacher contracts, and higher teacher pay. The Florida Education Association, the state’s teacher union representing PreK-12 teachers, education staff, and higher education faculty and graduate assistance and students, contracted with Clearview Research on a poll taken Aug. 11-19. It found broad support for the FEA’s priorities regardless of Party affiliation. The results show 93% of all respondents believe the state should ensure access to “highly qualified and certified teachers.” Among only GOP respondents, 92% agreed with the statement.

Senate studies Central Florida growth as reapportionment gets underway” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Senate District 15 has half the population it had last decade. A half dozen Congressional districts in Florida remain short of the ideal population. The state is also home to the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the county, namely The Villages. Those are among some findings lawmakers are discussing as legislative committee meetings launch ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session. As the Senate begins the work of redrawing boundaries for now 28 U.S. House districts and every seat in the Florida Legislature, facts will shape the dialogue and Florida’s political boundaries. Looming over the matter, though, remains the court battle that ultimately upended most of the work on redistricting by lawmakers a decade ago.

—”House Democrats lambaste Republicans for seeking advantage with new election law” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Aaron Bean wants to fix some long-standing health care budget woes” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Bean, entering his final Session in the Florida Legislature, is hopeful Florida’s budget surplus can be used to fix long-standing holes in the state’s health care programs. Bean is spending his last year in office as chair of the Senate committee overseeing health care spending, usually a job that requires legislators to grapple with budget deficits, waiting lists or enrollment surges. It’s no different this year as Florida projects to see its overall Medicaid enrollment surpass 5 million due to the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Florida’s improving economy and billions in extra federal aid, including a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate, has put the state in a “great position,” Bean said. That could give the state a chance to shore up programs that haven’t seen rate hikes in years.

Aaron Bean wants to make his last Session count. Image via Colin Hackley.

Medicaid waitlist remains long after $95 million infusion” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — More than 22,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are on a waiting list for Medicaid services through the iBudget program, budget documents show. That’s despite lawmakers targeting $95 million in additional funding earlier this spring to reduce the backlog. Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director of Budget Planning and Administration Rose Salinas told members of a House health care spending panel Monday the agency has sent 621 “offers” to people on the waitlist for the Medicaid waiver program called iBudget, and that an additional 252 offers to people on the waitlist will be sent Oct. 8. Salinas could not say how many of the 621 people the state notified were enrolled in the iBudget waiver program.

Assignment editorsFried, Sen. Annette Taddeo, Rep. Anna Eskamani will join Planned Parenthood and other reproductive freedom advocates for a news conference to oppose a Texas-style abortion ban in Florida, 11:30 a.m., The Capitol Courtyard (Senate side).

Assignment editors — House Majority Leader Michael Grant will lead the ceremony to nominate Rep. Paul Renner to serve as House Speaker for the 2022-2024 legislative term, 10 a.m., House Chamber, The Capitol. For more information, contact Christina Johnson, [email protected] or (850) 339-5773.

Lauren Book brings on Senate hires via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Senate Minority Leader Book is announcing Maggie Gerson will become the next staff director for Senate Democrats while Cathy Schroeder is coming on board as deputy staff director. The moves come days after four top staffers in the Senate Democratic office were let go. Gerson spent 15 years as a former prosecutor in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the last two years as chief of staff for state Sen. Jason Pizzo and will be the first female Hispanic staff director in Senate history. Schroeder has spent more than 20 years working in public affairs and media relations, including in the administration of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

—”1,059 deaths added, with most spanning the past 28 days” via Michelle Marchante and Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald

Daily average of new cases drops below 10,000; hospitalizations continue decline” via Kathy Laskowski of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida on Monday reported 9,022 new COVID-19 cases from the weekend, bringing the daily average below 10,000 for the first time since July 21. There have been more than 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the CDC. The state also increased its total coronavirus death toll by 1,059 on Monday. At least 51,884 Floridians have died of COVID-19-related complications. Deaths are counted on the day they occur, not the day they are reported, and can take up to two weeks or more to be reflected in the data.

Being a school board member is increasingly difficult. Image via Reuters.

Florida Republicans call on HHS to reverse decision to ration antibody treatments” via Florida Daily — At the end of last week, Republicans in the Florida congressional delegation sent a letter urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse course on the department’s sudden decision to ration monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19, which will cause the State of Florida to face a severe deficit of doses. “While these therapies are not a substitute for vaccines, they have prevented thousands of hospitalizations, including in breakthrough cases,” the letter read. “This decision was made without providing the Florida Department of Health or health care providers any time to prepare for this dramatic shift.”

Tampa General Hospital considers limiting monoclonal antibody treatments” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A top Florida hospital executive chided the Biden administration for its decision to change how monoclonal antibody treatments are distributed nationwide, calling it “plain wrong.” “The reality is they need to look at it from a supply and demand perspective and they need to look at it as from how different states are using it as a therapy. It’s one of many tools we have now to fight COVID-19. This change is going to hurt people in Florida,” Tampa General Hospital President and CEO John Couris said. Monoclonal antibody treatments have been available since 2020 but are not yet in universal use. DeSantis, in August announced the opening of state-supported monoclonal centers.

Florida hospital systems are looking to expand in-home medical care, but will lawmakers go along?” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and an influx of sick patients, some overwhelmed hospitals in Florida have found innovative ways to deliver health services to residents’ homes. Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer at AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division, told House lawmakers health officials are looking for more remote care opportunities for residents. “It became very clear to us at the outset that if COVID-19 got as bad as we thought it could be that we could potentially have limited space left within the walls of our facilities,” Finkler said. The model, which provides hospital-level care at homes, is currently offered in Jacksonville, but Mayo Clinic plans to expand the program.

For Florida school boards, criticism gets personal as issues intensify” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The job of school board member has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, as boards have confronted some of the nation’s hottest issues in ways that directly and immediately affect children and families. The topics have included masks, race relations, and transgender student rights, and people have gotten angry. The resulting fights, which occasionally have become physical, have prompted calls from higher-level politicians such as DeSantis to focus on controlling the local boards to implement preferred policies. Florida School Boards Association Executive Director Andrea Messina worries that, as board members see their families get pulled into the picture, some people who would otherwise be drawn to public service might turn away.

— CORONA LOCAL —

3 Jacksonville-area health systems have staff vaccine mandates. How many are complying?” via Beth Reese Cravey of The Florida Times-Union — Three Jacksonville-area health care systems have required their employees be vaccinated against COVID-19. Only two of them will provide updates on compliance. In July, the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic announced that its employees nationwide, including those at the Jacksonville campus, had to be vaccinated by Friday. By Monday, about 97% of Mayo physicians across the country were vaccinated, and “overall staff vaccination rates exceed 85%,” according to a statement. The health system also declined to say how many employees locally or nationwide refused the vaccine.

The Mayo Clinic wants all employees vaccinated by Friday.

Tallahassee hospital on pace to see record number of deaths as Leon County cases fall 27.3%” via Chris Cann and Mike Stucka of the USA Today Florida Network — By Aug. 19, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare reported 45 COVID-19 related deaths for the month, which eventually set the record at 77, according to spokesperson Danielle Buchanan. By the same measure in September, the hospital has had 61 deaths. On Thursday, TMH reported seven deaths, its highest single-day COVID-19-related death count. Hospitalizations, however, continue to decline with Monday’s COVID-19-positive patient count at 116, split between 61 in TMH and 55 in Capital Regional Medical Center. Four weeks before — at the peak — there were 251 COVID-19 patients between the two hospitals. TMH’s Monday COVID-19 snapshot shows most patients remain unvaccinated, and 28 are in the intensive care unit, a decrease of 10 from Friday’s total.

Escambia County’s COVID-19 cases fall 28.8% from last week, Santa Rosa County down 42.3%” via Mike Stucka of the USA TODAY Florida Network

Jerry Demings credits vaccinations, masks with alleviating summer COVID-19 surge” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Vaccinations, masks, and testing programs are alleviating the summer surge of COVID-19 in Orange County, Mayor Demings said. Demings and other Orange County officials expressed optimism that falling numbers of new cases and positive test rates show the county is emerging from the worst surge of COVID-19 yet in the coronavirus crisis. They said the county needs to continue aggressively encouraging vaccines, masks, and virus testing for the trend to continue. For that purpose, Demings announced he is extending operations at the county’s three major testing sites and the vaccination site at Camping World Stadium through the end of October.

—”Orange County on mend after sky-high COVID-19 infections and deadly August” via Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

Tampa employees unfazed by vaccine mandate, survey shows” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — City employees in Tampa don’t mind vaccination requirements, according to results from a series of surveys the city provided Monday. Members from three employee unions, representing 80% of the city’s rank-and-file staff, voted overwhelmingly to support Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s order requiring vaccinations for city employees. A full 65% of Police Benevolent Association members surveyed backed the policy, which requires all city employees, regardless of whether they are a union member, to get vaccinated by Sept. 30, prove they have antibodies, or wear an N95 mask on the job and submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. An even larger share of police managers, 83%, also supports the mandate.

Polk County school nurse dies of COVID-19 hours after teacher succumbed to the virus” via Ken Suarez of Fox 13 Tampa Bay — A nurse with the Polk County school system has died from COVID-19, and the community is mourning the beloved caregiver’s contributions to children. Cindee Kasey, 58, died on Wednesday at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. “She was just the sweetest, fun-loving nurse you could ever ask for,” commented one of her best friends, Michelle Montero, a kindergarten teacher at REAL Academy, where they both worked. “Everybody loved her.” Montero says Kasey was one of several people at REAL that got COVID-19 since the new school year began.

Cindee Kasey was a well-loved school nurse who succumbed to COVID-19. Image via Facebook.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office announces another COVID-19-related death” via WFLA — The sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook that Intake Records Specialist Renea Rogers, 55, died on Sept. 6, 2021, after contracting the illness. A Baltimore native, Rogers was hired by the PCSO Department of Detention in 2006 after moving to Florida, working in classification and booking her whole career. “Renea was passionate about coffee and lighthouses,” the sheriff’s office wrote. Rogers leaves behind her parents, her daughter and son-in-law, and her granddaughter. The Sheriff’s Office said that Rogers had another daughter who died before her. A memorial service is planned for Rogers at Oak Ridge Funeral Home at 10 a.m. Friday.

—“Alachua County sees under 1,000 new COVID-19 cases last week for the first time since July” via Danielle Ivanov of the Gainesville Sun

—”Florida restaurant owner: God told me not to get COVID-19 vaccine, so I won’t make my workers” via Tiffini Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Unvaccinated, pregnant Florida woman, 30, dies of COVID-19; husband can’t afford burial” via Tiffini Theisen of the Orlando Sentinel

‘We’re coming back:’ Parents plan to keep pushing for masks after school board strikes down meeting” via Jake Newby of the Pensacola News Journal — The Escambia County School District board voted against calling a special meeting about face masks in the classroom, but that hasn’t stopped a growing number of concerned residents from pushing for the board to reconsider. “We’re at least trying to get them to go back to the protocols they used last school year,” said Pensacola resident Dianne Krumel, who delivered a pair of impassioned pro-mask speeches during the public forum of two school board workshop meetings.

— 2022 —

Mike Pence tops Ron DeSantis by double digit margin in shock 2024 poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — For months now, polling of a hypothetical 2024 Republican Presidential Primary field has shown DeSantis as second only to Trump. One survey released Monday shows a deviation to DeSantis’ detriment, however, with DeSantis down more than double digits to one candidate in a fresh survey. Trump’s former Vice President is the non-Trump favorite in a poll of 490 Republican registered voters. They were surveyed by the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and the Harris Poll on Sept. 15 and 16. Pence trumps DeSantis with or without the former President in the field. Trump drew 58% support when included, compared to Pence’s 13% and DeSantis’ 9%. Sans Trump, Pence secured 32% support, while DeSantis had just 20%. Pence’s margin tripled.

In a surprising poll, Ron DeSantis loses by double digits in a head-to-head with Mike Pence. Image via AP.

The forgotten primary: 11 Democrats vie for Florida’s bluest seat without outside help” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — There’s less than two months until Democrats will select their next member of Congress in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. The 11 candidates are largely on their own. “It’s not to disqualify anyone, but when you have two County Commissioners, two state Representatives, and a state Senator, there’s no one person that’s kind of a standout,” said Dwight Bullard, a senior adviser for Florida Rising. To date, national interest in the field of candidates is extremely limited. Only three national groups, Brand New Congress, 314 Action Fund, and Elect Democratic Women, have made endorsements. “What’s happening is there’s multiple people from multiple sects,” said former Democratic state Sen. Oscar Braynon.

— “A congressional election is almost here. Who knew?” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Will the force be with her? Anna Eskamani enlists Mark Hamill for fundraiser” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Eskamani, a self-described warrior of the resistance movement among progressives, is getting a boost from Hamill, the most famous Jedi warrior of the Star Wars franchise’s Rebel Alliance. Hamill, forever known as Star Wars’ hero Jedi Luke Skywalker, will be a featured guest at Eskamani’s virtual campaign kickoff set for late October, she announced Monday. “I’m so excited and so grateful he’s making the time,” Eskamani, of Orlando, said. Her 2022 House District 47 reelection campaign kickoff fundraiser will take place virtually, on Oct. 25, from 6-7 p.m. Tickets range in price from $100 for “Ewok-Supporter” level, to $1,000 for a “Jedi Master-Chair Sponsor” level.

Anna Eskamani’s latest fundraiser goes all ‘Star Wars’ with an appearance by Mark Hamill.

Democratic lawmakers back Jeremy Katzman for HD 99 Katzman announced Monday that he had received endorsements from 11 current and former lawmakers for his bid in the Democratic Primary for House District 99, the seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Evan Jenne. The current electeds backing his bid are Reps. Robin Bartleman, Dan Daley, Michael Gottlieb, Emily Slosberg and Marie Woodson. He also received endorsements from former Sen. Eleanor Sobel and former Reps. Steven Effman, Fred Lippman, Elaine Schwartz, Richard Stark and Jack Seiler. “Earning the support of so many respected leaders who are part of the Broward community is humbling,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s about serving the people, and I will continue to work tirelessly to meet the residents I aim to represent in Tallahassee and use my life experiences to build a better Florida.”

—”CWA endorses Angel Perry in HD 50 Republican Primary” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Former Navy SEAL commander backs Alen Tomczak for HD 66” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—”Adam Hattersley backs Lindsay Cross for HD 68” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Happening tonight — Several fundraisers throughout Tallahassee: Rep. Dotie Joseph at the Governors Club Balcony; Reps. Bartleman, Joseph Casello, Michael Gottlieb, Slosberg and Woodson at the Governors Club Library Room. Both start at 5 p.m., 202 S. Adams St. Rep. Michael Grieco, 5 p.m., AC Hotel Lounge, 801 S. Gadsden St. Also, Daley, 5:30 p.m., Eve on Adams, 101 S. Adams St.

— CORONA NATION —

Breaking overnight — “J&J says COVID-19 booster shot is 94% effective in the U.S. when given two months after first dose” via Berkeley Lovelace Jr of CNBC — Johnson & Johnson said its COVID-19 booster shot is 94% effective when administered two months after the first dose in the United States. It also said the booster increases antibody levels by four to six times compared with one shot alone. A J&J booster dose given six months out from the first shot appears to be potentially even more protective against COVID-19, the company said, generating antibodies twelvefold higher four weeks after the boost, regardless of age.

COVID-19 is officially America’s deadliest pandemic as U.S. fatalities surpass 1918 flu estimates” via Berkeley Lovelace Jr. of CNBC — Reported U.S. deaths due to COVID-19 crossed 675,000 on Monday, and are rising at an average of more than 1,900 fatalities per day. The 1918 flu — which came in three waves: spring 1918; fall 1918; and winter/spring of 1919 — killed an estimated 675,000 Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was considered America’s most lethal pandemic in recent history up until now. “I think we are now pretty well done with historical comparisons,” said Dr. Howard Markel, a physician and medical historian at the University of Michigan. “This is the pandemic I will be studying and teaching to the next generation of doctors and public-health students.”

It’s official, COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the 1918 flu pandemic. Image via AP.

The FDA is likely to make its long-awaited decision on Pfizer boosters this week.” via Katie Thomas of The New York Times — The Food and Drug Administration is likely to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots this week for many Americans at high risk of falling seriously ill from the coronavirus. On Friday, a panel of experts endorsed offering Pfizer booster shots for ages 65 and older and people 16 and over who are at high risk of getting severe COVID-19 or who work in settings that make them more likely to get infected. The agency, which often follows the committee’s advice but is not required to, is expected to decide early this week. A CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss booster shots before that agency — which sets vaccine policy — issues its recommendations.

Low dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, companies’ study finds” via Carolyn Y. Johnson of The Washington Post — A lower dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, one-third the amount given to adults and teens, is safe and triggered a robust immune response in children as young as 5 years old. The finding, eagerly anticipated by many parents and pediatricians, is a crucial step toward the two-shot coronavirus vaccine regimen becoming available for younger school-aged children, perhaps close to Halloween. The companies still must prepare and submit the data to the FDA. Then, the full data will be scrutinized by regulators to ascertain that the vaccine is safe and effective. That could take weeks, or up to a month.

Republicans maneuver to block vaccine mandates, undercutting a policy widely seen as an effective tool to end pandemic” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — In recent days, as Biden and public health experts have embraced broad vaccine requirements as a necessary tool to combat the spread of the coronavirus’s highly infectious delta variant, DeSantis has shifted his focus, devoting much of his time to battling any business or government agency that would require workers to get the shot. DeSantis’ hard-line stance has become the prevailing view of the Republican Party. But the GOP’s increasingly combative rhetoric on mandates and pandemic policies more broadly is making it harder for the country to move past the virus, some experts say.

The GOP blocks one thing that could help end the pandemic. Image via AP.

As COVID-19 patients fill hospitals, health care workers fight fear and exhaustion: ‘Here we go again’” via Antonio Olivo and Rachel Chason of The Washington Post — Earlier this summer, it looked like the widespread availability of vaccines might mean the coronavirus pandemic was behind them. Now, those on health care’s front lines share a hardening view toward the delta variant’s biggest target: the willingly unprotected. The workers are baffled over how, after so much pain and death, there is still even a debate over whether to get vaccinated or wear a mask in public. Their patience is wearing thin, they say. And as they toil in stifling plastic protective gear, exhaustion has settled in. Many have quit, Kanak Patel, the director of critical care medicine at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center, said, or are thinking about it.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

White House to revoke COVID-19 travel ban on international visitors” via Marisa Iati, Paulina Firozi, Rachel Pannett and Annabelle Timsit of The Washington Post — The White House said it would revoke its travel ban on visitors from 33 countries, which was implemented to quell the spread of COVID-19. Foreign nationals flying to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus when the policy takes effect in early November, said White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients. Vaccinated travelers will also have to test negative for the virus within three days of departure. Unvaccinated Americans returning to the United States will be required to test negative within one day of leaving and again after arriving.

The U.S. is considering easing restrictions on international travel. Image via AP.

— MORE CORONA —

Horse owners can’t find ivermectin as Americans flock to unproven coronavirus cure” via Bryan Pietsch of The Washington Post — Equine ivermectin comes in small tubes and syringes and helps eliminate “many types of worms,” often for less than $10. And lately, it’s been hard to find. Amid the recent clamor for the deworming agent as an unproven COVID-19 treatment for humans, people who need to treat their horses with the substance have been faced with empty shelves and the fear that they could be mistaken for the people who are using the drug on themselves. Some horse owners who have been able to find ivermectin in stock have seen higher prices due to “all this ivermectin craziness,” as one equine forum poster put it, and extra hurdles in buying it.

Ivermectin is becoming harder to get.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Why Biden bet it all on mandates” via Peter Nicholas of The Atlantic — Under the new rules, Biden hopes to pressure about 80 million more Americans to get their shots. It’s a political risk that opens him up to Republican attacks that he’s intruding on peoples’ freedoms, ahead of midterm elections that could easily strip the Democrats of their congressional majority. Biden gets this. He’s all in, win or lose. Biden’s bet, while risky, grows more solid by the day. Two of the most prized voting blocs in an election — suburban and independent voters — favor Biden’s vaccine-mandate plan by solid margins. They don’t see the vaccine requirement as government overreach; for them, it’s a step toward reentering a world they remember from two years ago.

Joe Biden is hoping his big bet on mandates will pay off. Image via AP.

Vaccine supply fears motivated White House booster push” via Erin Banco of POLITICO — Top advisers to Biden pushed for his administration to announce a broad booster rollout for September in part because of fears that the U.S. could run short of doses needed to offer the shots to its entire population if vaccines’ protection decreased suddenly. The internal campaign coincided with pleas from international leaders for the U.S. to do more to help lower-and middle-income countries secure initial doses. Biden’s team wanted to make sure the U.S. would have enough supply for the 40% of eligible Americans who still needed their first shots and those who would eventually need a boost, the officials said, despite the country’s deep vaccine stockpile.

Dems fear Biden’s domestic agenda could implode” via Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle of POLITICO — Internal Democratic discord has wounded President Biden’s massive social spending plan, raising the prospect that the package could stall out, shrink dramatically — or even fail altogether. Myriad problems have arisen. Moderate Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona continue to be a major headache for party leadership’s $3.5 trillion target. The Senate parliamentarian just nixed the party’s years-long push to enact broad immigration reform. House members may tank the prescription drugs overhaul the party has run on for years. And a fight continues to brew over Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ push to expand Medicare.

Biden administration to raise refugee admissions cap to 125,000” via Michelle Hackman and Tarini Parti of The Wall Street Journal — Biden is raising the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the government’s budget year beginning Oct. 1, the State Department confirmed Monday, in line with the goal he set during his 2020 campaign. The move follows the blowback the President received earlier this year for backing away from his commitment to take in more refugees and for the evacuation of U.S. allies from Afghanistan. Though the cap has been set to 125,000, the administration told Congress it foresees difficulty reaching that number because of the pandemic. The administration said it would initially fund refugee operations in the U.S. and abroad to take in about 65,000 refugees for the year and reevaluate and possibly increase those funding levels.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump 2024 flirting doesn’t stop other Republicans from visiting early-voting states” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — There have been numerous articles written since the 2020 presidential election on whether Trump’s repeated teasing of another White House bid is freezing the field in the race for the 2024 Republican nomination. While Trump remains very popular with the base of the GOP, and polls at this extremely early point in the 2024 presidential cycle indicate the former President is the overwhelming front-runner in the nomination race, his immense clout is not preventing other potential Republican White House hopefuls from visiting the states that kick off the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

Donald Trump’s 2024 tease is not scaring away other contenders. Image via AP.

Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee personally vetted Trump’s fraud claims, new book says. They were unpersuaded.” via Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — In a Jan. 2 meeting arranged by Mark Meadows, Graham met with Rudy Giuliani and his legal team to learn about findings they said could hand Trump a second term. Giuliani put forward a computer whiz who presented a mathematical formula suggesting Biden’s support in certain states was unrealistic. Graham found the reasoning too abstract. He wanted hard evidence. Giuliani promised details by Monday, proof that scores of ballots had been cast in the names of dead people and people under 18, among other irregularities. Privately, Graham gave the arguments a withering assessment, according to “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, saying they were suitable for “third grade.” The episode illustrates how strenuously the President’s legal team sought to nullify the results of the election.

— CRISIS —

How Sarasota became the conspiracy capital of the United States” via David Gilbert of VICE — Overstock.com founder and uber — conspiracy theorist Patrick Byrne recently purchased six properties in the county, all at extremely inflated prices. Cyber Ninjas, the company with no election audit experience currently running the recount in Arizona’s Maricopa County, is headquartered in Sarasota County. Charlie Kirk, head of the pro-Trump, far-right group Turning Point USA, also lives in the county. As does Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, one of Trump’s closest political allies in the state. As a result, local conservatives have been emboldened, launching campaigns against the teaching of critical race theory and attempting to disrupt school board meetings. The groups are currently focused on trying to overturn mask mandates. Still, they have their eyes set on another goal: undermining election integrity in Sarasota County.

Sarasota has become ground zero for conspiracy theories.

‘Cowboys for Trump’ founder’s Jan. 6 case highlights challenges facing prosecutors” via Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — A New Mexico county official charged with two misdemeanors for breaching Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 lashed out Monday after a federal judge set a March 2022 trial date to resolve his case. “I broke nothing; I didn’t fight with anybody,” Couy Griffin, an Otero County Commissioner and the founder of “Cowboys for Trump,” said during a video hearing before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden. “My life’s been turned upside down. … I’m being punished every day I don’t have a trial.” Prosecutors face competing pressures: their obligation to turn over an exhaustive database of evidence to all of The Capitol riot defendants while guaranteeing their right to a speedy trial.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Democrats unveil new plan to fund government, suspend debt ceiling as major showdown with GOP looms” via Tony Romm of The Washington Post — The plan sketched out by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer seeks to prevent what they have described as an economic doomsday, a federal shutdown at the start of October and a Treasury Department that’s unable to pay its bills soon after. The dual blows could jeopardize the U.S. recovery, the top Democrats warned, leaving millions of Americans without critical aid while destabilizing global markets. But the Party’s plans immediately encountered fierce resistance from Mitch McConnell, who reaffirmed Republicans’ prior threats to vote against an increase in the country’s borrowing limit even if it is attached to a measure that funds the government.

Democrats have a strategy to ward off an ‘economic doomsday.’ Image via The Washington Post.

Stephanie Murphy fires back at progressives blasting her over Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan” via Steven Lemongello of The Orlando Sentinel — The bill that Biden sees as the cornerstone of his agenda is facing pushback from an unexpected corner: a group of centrist Democrats that includes Murphy. Biden’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is getting strong support from progressive groups such as Our Revolution. Its leaders accuse Murphy of undermining the President. Murphy defended her position as being both fiscally responsible and politically realistic. “Only bills that get signed into law can actually make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

Kathy Castor slams DeSantis ‘nefarious’ failure to tap federal education funds” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Castor criticized DeSantis for his decision not to reenlist the state in a pandemic-era program to bring federal food aid to 2.1 million children from low-income homes. “We’re already starting behind, and when a state refuses to draw down emergency aid that was intended to be distributed expeditiously, there’s something nefarious or ideological going on here that is not helpful to our students and kids,” Castor said. Castor made the remarks at a virtual town hall. The speakers focused on the state’s refusal of about $820 million in child food aid for Florida’s neediest families. Florida is the only state in the country that has not applied for federal food assistance, provided at no cost to the state.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Scott Maddox seeks prison listed among America’s ‘cushiest’ as prosecutors say he undermined case” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Federal prosecutors believe Maddox undermined their case against his co-defendant, John “J.T.” Burnette, with “equivocal” testimony during the businessman’s trial. Meanwhile, lawyers for the former Tallahassee Mayor and City Commissioner have asked that he serve his five-year sentence on public corruption charges at a prison described as one of the “cushiest” in America. The records include sentencing memos from government and defense lawyers along with letters of support for Maddox from U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and other prominent people. Lawyers for Maddox wrote in their sentencing memo that his conviction was “an isolated blemish on an otherwise strong career in public service” and that Maddox already “lost the things he cherished most.”

Are candidates in Miami-Dade trying to pull a fast one to get on election ballots?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — This year’s election cycle began with current and term-limited, Commissioner Michael Góngora saying that because his tenure had an interruption, he was eligible to run for a third term. A Miami-Dade Circuit judge ruled last month that a 2014 voter referendum limiting a Commissioner’s time in office to two complete terms does, in fact, apply to Góngora. A second Miami Beach Commission candidate is being accused of ineligibility over residency questions. Fabián Basabe, a former New York socialite who is challenging incumbent Mark Samuelian in Group II, says he is indeed is eligible and blames politics for the controversy over his candidacy. In Miami, Mayra Joli, who in recent years has run for Congress and the Coral Gables Commission, is accused of not living in Miami.

Michael Góngora is among the South Florida politicos trying to wiggle onto the ballot.

Miami Beach to become ‘center of the climate action world’ with 2022 Aspen Ideas conference” via Alex Harris of Florida Politics — A new climate conference is coming to Miami Beach and it’s a big one. On Monday, city leaders announced that global nonprofit Aspen Institute planned to host its first climate-changed theme conference in Miami Beach next year, titled “Aspen Ideas: Climate.” Call it the climate change version of Art Basel, said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. He says it’s the best comparison for the influx of visitors, international attention and celebrity prestige this annual conference could bring, especially as it grows. The Aspen Institute holds the prestigious Aspen Ideas Festival every year to discuss solutions to policy programs.

—“DeSantis appoints five ‘rule of law’ judges in South Florida” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Corporate giant setting up corporate offices in Naples. Could it be potential headquarters?” via Phil Fernandez of the Naples Daily News — Ametek, one of Earth’s largest industrial electronics companies with roots dating to the Great Depression, is setting up shop in Naples. But could those executive offices mean a corporate headquarters here? “They’re a global manufacturer of electronics, and they have a $32 billion market cap,” said Adam Palmer of LandQwest Commercial, which was involved in a lease deal bringing Ametek here. “When you look at Southwest Florida as a whole, including Naples, this region does not have very many $32 billion employers.” To put the validation in perspective among others with local home offices: Estero’s Hertz car rental comes in at $1.4 billion; NeoGenomics genetic testing firm totals $5.8 billion, and Chico’s apparel hits the $500 million mark.

Electronics giant Ametek is putting down roots in Naples.

Moffitt CEO shares new details on major Pasco County project and cell therapies” via Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — A clearer picture is emerging about the first phase of Moffitt Cancer Center’s long-term development in Pasco County. In January, Moffitt said it would transform undeveloped land into a significant mixed-use development and massive research and corporate hub. The entire campus is slated to include over 1.4 million square feet of research lab/office, light industrial/manufacturing, general office, and clinical building space within the 775-acre site. “We want it to be a collaboration between cutting-edge biotech companies and Moffitt Cancer Center because, as you know, the Tampa Bay area is an up-and-coming tech place. We think it’s the up-and-coming biotech place as well,” said Moffitt’s CEO Patrick Hwu.

Officials say there’s a nationwide police shortage and it’s affecting Polk County as well” via Rebecca Lee of The Ledger — Police agencies nationwide are experiencing an officer shortage. Officials and experts are saying it’s not a result of COVID-19. Risdon Slate, a criminology professor at Florida Southern College, said the National Police Foundation reported a nationwide shortage based on its recent survey. “They’re saying that in 2020, 86% of departments reported a staffing shortage across the country,” Slate said. He said before the recent shortage, the number of officers being sworn in increased nationwide between 1997 and 2013. “2013 to 2016, the number dropped by more than 23%,” Slate said. “And now, in 2020, it has dropped even further in terms of a shortage.”

Jai alai ending for good at Dania Beach casino after 69 years” via David Selig of Local10.com — Go ahead and plan that last trip to the fronton. In late November, the Casino @ Dania Beach will be ending its jai alai operation. The casino confirms that this jai alai season will be its last, with the final games scheduled for Nov. 28. Dania Beach has hosted jai alai for the past 69 years and is one of the last facilities in the country hosting the gambling-driven game. Magic City Casino and Casino Miami are among the others.

— TOP OPINION —

Biden’s vaccine mandates are not enough. He must also mandate vaccines for travel.” via Ezekiel J. Emanuel and John P. Moore of The Washington Post — To overcome COVID-19, at least 80% of Americans need to be vaccinated. We are now at 54%. Voluntary efforts have proved to be insufficient. It is inevitable we will need another mandate, this time for domestic travel by planes, trains and buses. Requiring vaccination for travel is hardly radical. The U.S. government has been considering a mandate for people flying into the United States from foreign countries. It’s already required for Americans to fly internationally if they don’t want to quarantine for 10 or more days in Germany, Britain and other destinations. These policies have allowed international travel to resume.

— OPINIONS —

Purging Anthony Gonzalez” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — Gonzalez easily won a second term in 2020. But he was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after his disgraceful behavior on Jan. 6. He voted his conscience and hasn’t made a media show of his vote. But Trump targeted Gonzalez, as he has all Republicans who voted to impeach and those who don’t accept his claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Trump’s focus on the 2020 election is a major problem for the GOP. It divides the Party, wasting energy and money on internecine fights rather than running against the damage from the Pelosi-Schumer-Biden agenda.

How Trump mobilized women — including me” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Trump’s victory in 2016 came as a shock to Republican-leaning women like me who had crossed Party lines to vote for Hillary Clinton. I had always voted Republican for President. I admired mainstream Republicans who were dedicated to victory in the Cold War. I looked to free markets for expanded economic opportunity and embraced free trade and robust legal immigration. I watched in horror in 2016 as Republicans embraced a racist bully bent on undermining our democracy and promoting White Christians’ quest for political dominance. Republicans who once insisted character was a critical factor in selecting leaders seemed almost giddy when Trump unleashed his personal viciousness on their progressive opponents.

The time is now: $5B of the $3.5T budget bill must go to completing Everglades restoration” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Everglades restoration has been one of Florida’s longest-running bipartisan issues. Getting the money to finally complete it, however, may depend solely on Democrats. Environmental groups have focused on Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion, 10-year spending plan. They have urged the state’s congressional delegation to include $5 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. It would cover the remaining federal share of roughly a dozen projects in the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) that have been authorized but for which Congress has not allocated money.

Angela Garcia Falconetti: The Florida College System — fueling Florida’s future” via Florida Politics — The Florida College System (FCS) remains the top system in the United States, and the No. 1 provider of workforce education and training industries including health care, law enforcement and manufacturing. Beyond the economic benefits, the FCS provides many Floridians an improved quality of life and employment opportunities through transformative education. The training our institutions provide remains essential to supporting businesses in our communities and the overall prosperity of our economy. The FCS is in alignment with the Governor and the state’s workforce development priorities to accelerate the provision of quality workforce education programs and services and support other key priorities like dual enrollment and transfer student articulation. However, this requires investment in the Florida College System Program Fund.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Republican lawmakers were caught red-handed using Party officials to overhaul Florida’s election system.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— House Democrats blast attempts by Republican leaders to make school board elections partisan.

— Redistricting hearing gets underway during its first committee meeting.

— Planned Parenthood is holding a rally today against Florida adopting a Texas-style abortion ban.

— Florida Politics reporter Jacob Ogles talks about sitting in on the Legislature’s first meeting in the once-a-decade redistricting process.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Tweet, tweet:

At St. Pete Pier, local businesses thrive despite the pandemic” via Bernadette Berdychowski of the Tampa Bay Times — The Pier opened amid the pandemic last summer with uncertainty over how COVID-19 could dampen its success. But vendors at the Pier said the atmosphere pushed their business to new heights. According to Colliers, nearly all 17 original retailers renewed their lease after a year at the Pier, a real estate firm advising the city on the project. Two new vendors have also been added to the lineup. “We were all a little bit nervous seeing how this would play out,” said Stephanie Addis, director of retail for Colliers. “It exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Rep. Mike Grieco, former Sen. Denise Grimsley and Carlo Fassi of The Southern Group.

___

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 and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.



#FlaPol

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

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

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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