Last Call for 12.15.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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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

Lawmakers will consider ditching the mockingbird as the state’s appointed avian and mull whether to make strawberry shortcake the official state dessert. They may as well update Florida’s nickname while they’re at it.

According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the past year has seen the Sunshine State establish itself as the Pugilism State with more than 114 sanctioned live events sanctioned by the Florida Athletic Commission and another three in the pipe before New Year’s.

That’s more than double the number of events greenlit by the panel formerly known as the Florida State Boxing Commission two years ago, and a 98% increase over 2020, when the Commission approved 59 events.

DBPR Secretary Julie Brown, who was appointed to by Gov. Ron DeSantis in February, said her boss’ anti-lockdown and pro-business policies served as the one-two punch that led to the boom in combat sports.

“While other jurisdictions were closed in 2020 and early 2021, Gov. DeSantis led the way in keeping Florida open for business. As a result, the number of professional combat sports matches in Florida skyrocketed, and Florida has been the fighting capital of the world over the last year,” she said.

Likewise, Florida Athletic Commission chief Patrick Cunningham said DeSantis’ policies delivered black eyes to blue states.

“Many events normally conducted in Las Vegas, California or New York moved to Florida this year. While the health and safety of athletes remain our top priority, promoters from across the globe have recognized that Florida offers an exceptional environment to do business and to host these events,” he said. 

The Commission said events held during the fiscal year that ended June 30 added about $1.1 million to state coffers — a 226% increase from the state’s $336,000 cut of the purse in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

A list of upcoming Commission-sanctioned events is available online.

Evening Reads

Calling it ‘state-sanctioned racism,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis seeks ban of critical race theory in schools, workplaces” via Gray Rohrer and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

How a Kennedy built an anti-vaccine juggernaut” via Michelle R. Smith of The Associated Press

The one-dose problem is real” via Dylan Scott of Vox

Don’t be surprised when you get omicron” via Yasmine Tayag of The Atlantic

Democrats’ $2 trillion spending plan in political peril as talks between Joe Biden, Joe Manchin appear to hit snag” via Tony Romm and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post

CDC virus tests were contaminated and poorly designed, agency says” via Emily Anthes of The New York Times

Nikki Fried stands by charge that university trustees were required to donate $100K to Gov. DeSantis” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Monoclonal antibody cheerleader Dr. Ken Scheppke named Deputy Health Secretary” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Ashley Moody vows to ‘aggressively push back’ on Head Start vaccine mandate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Grand jury: After Surfside collapse, require frequent inspections, stricter association rules” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald

Jeff Brandes, Jason Fischer file proposal to expand homestead exemption” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Did Mark Meadows texts include communications with Matt Gaetz?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

NFL and NBA games are now being decided by COVID-19 tests” via Andrew Beaton and Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal

On broadband, Congress has a chance for to show it can still govern” via Arthenia Joyner for Florida Politics

Leon County Commission asks staff to draft public defecation, camping ordinance” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

“DeSantis’ appointments are stacked with his biggest donors — and the Boards of Trustees are no different. She stands by her comments from last night, and I think it’s very clear that there’s a quid pro quo to obtain those appointments.” — Drew Godinich, a spokesperson for Nikki Fried, on her allegation that trustee reappointments hinged on donations to the Governor’s campaign. 

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