Last Call for 11.17.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

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

First Shot

Florida corrections officers are getting a pay raise next year and those who choose to join their ranks will get a starting bonus, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday.

The plan would see base pay for new corrections officers jump to $38,750, a 16% bump from the current $33,500 starting salary. Current corrections officers will receive a $1,500 check state probation officers will receive a $3,000 one next month.

Additionally, all new officers will receive a $3,000 bonus. Applicants who already have a correctional officer certification can tack on another $1,000 and signing up to work at a high vacancy institution will net another $1,000, for a max starting bonus of $5,000.

“As so many cities and states choose to disrespect, degrade and defund the work of men and women in uniform, we want Florida to continue valuing them today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” DeSantis said in a news release.

“This year, we have prioritized initiatives to recruit and reward high-quality officers, especially corrections officers, and these new bonuses, effective immediately, will help support public safety positions within the Florida Department of Corrections.”

The bonus plan comes as DOC is struggling with high turnover due to low pay and long hours. In September, Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon said that 5,000 of the 18,000 security staff positions at DOC were vacant.

He said that for every 200 new hires, 400 leave a month, and that exodus comes with a massive price tag — DOC spent more than $103 million on overtime pay in the 2020-21 fiscal year. The staffing challenges led DOC to shutter three prisons as well as 27 work camps, and five community release centers this year.

Evening Reads

Bitter partisan debate dominates as House passes vaccine mandate ban” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

House votes to strip Surgeon General vaccine mandate power” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Interviews examine Frank Artiles’ boasts about ‘ghost’ candidate scheme, funding for dark-money group” via Jeff Weiner, Annie Martin and Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

Chris Sprowls: Fear of empty toy shelves for Christmas drove federal vax mandate delay” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Retailers say they have plenty in stock for Black Friday” via Sarah Nassauer and Charity L. Scott of The Wall Street Journal

Charlie Crist pitches gas tax break to offset inflation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

School trips to D.C. are back in all their teenage glory” via Natalie B. Compton of The Washington Post

Can SD 19 lines shift to only Hillsborough and still remain a minority district?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Is your doctor at risk? Physicians burning out after prolonged fight on the COVID-19 front lines” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News

How Americans’ appetite for leather in luxury SUVs worsens Amazon deforestation” via Manuela Andreoni, Hiroko Tabuchi and Albert Sun of The New York Times

Construction of luxury condo just feet away weakened frail Champlain Towers, lawsuit says” via Nicholas Nehamas and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald

U.S. overdose deaths topped 100,000 in one year, officials say” via Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press

Lawmakers, advocates react as new Lake Okeechobee regulation plan takes shape” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“This bill isn’t about protecting workers. This bill is a giant charade in a political stunt. We all know that. We have been here all week debating this in a way that is only prolonging this pandemic and making it harder for us to get shots in arms and dollars in people’s pockets so we can get on with our lives.” — Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned, on legislation (HB 1B) blocking COVID-19 mandates.

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