Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.2.22

Sunburn Orange Tally (3)
Get ready for an espresso shot of Florida politics and policy.

Good Wednesday morning.


Rest In PeaceWeather predicting Milltown Mel dies just before Groundhog Day” via Fox 5 NY — A weather-predicting groundhog died just before his annual big day, Groundhog Day. It is a day when tradition holds that if a groundhog sees its shadow, we can expect six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, early spring is predicted. They said that this year’s celebration will be canceled because they don’t have time to find a replacement for Mel. Last year Milltown Mel did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring.


Slots still open — If you’re a lawmaker who is tired of seeing photos from your freshman term pop up on Florida Politics, you’re in luck.

Photographer Alex Workman will be in the Capitol Courtyard today to snap new headshots for any member who wants one. All you need to do is mark yourself down for a time, and we’ll handle the rest. If you have any questions, shoot an email to [email protected].

Sign up here.


Bettors have long viewed Gov. Ron DeSantis as the prohibitive favorite to win re-election in the fall. New betting lines show they’re more convinced than ever he’ll score another four years in the Governor’s mansion. said DeSantis’ odds have improved to 1/5 — or 83.3% — since November, when he stood a still-strong 2/9 chance of winning re-election.

As his odds rise, those for Democrats U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wilt. According to the oddsmaker, Crist went from a 10% chance of returning to his old job to a 9.1% chance. Fried, meanwhile, went from 10.5% to 7.7%.

For re-election, Ron DeSantis’ odds rise while Democrats dive.

The only Democrat in the race to see improvement was Sen. Annette Taddeo. She opened with a 1% chance to win two months ago and now stands a 3.9% chance.

The incumbent Governor also saw his stock rise among 2024 bettors.

His odds to be the Republican presidential nominee in two years improved from 5/1 (16.7%) in October to 9/2 (18.2%) today. Likewise, his odds of winning the presidency improved from 8/1 (11.1%) to 7/1 (12.5%). Donald Trump leads in the presidential market at 3/1 (25%), followed by Joe Biden at 9/2 (18.2%).

“DeSantis’ political outlook looks strong, as his odds for two major elections are trending in the right direction despite news suggesting a falling out with Trump,” a US-Bookies spokesperson said. “Given his strong position in both markets, the Florida Governor will have a difficult choice to make regarding which position to focus on.”


On Wednesday, a mobile billboard will appear outside The Capitol, calling out “Rona Ron” DeSantis for his “horrific” record on the COVID-19 pandemic. Protect Our Care Florida, the group behind the rolling attack ad, accuses the Governor of “denying science” by promoting treatments proven not to work on the omicron variant and downplaying vaccines and masks.

“DeSantis has remained committed to prolonging the pandemic by pandering to the most extreme parts of his base,” says a statement from the group.

The billboard will circle The Capitol between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern time.

The rolling attack ad ‘Rona Ron,’ coming to a Florida Capitol near you.


Love thisSt. Petersburg’s first Black Mayor raises Black History Month flag” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — On Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month, Ken Welch continued a tradition established in 2016 of raising the Woodson flag at City Hall. Dr. Carter Woodson, a historian known as the father of Black history, launched Negro History Week in 1926. In recognizing the contributions, struggle and achievements of Black Americans, Welch reminded the crowd how far St. Petersburg has come, from his election late last year to the swearing-in along with him of Richie Floyd, the first Black City Council member elected north of Central Avenue. Welch pointed to the city’s report of racial disparity in business contracts and structural racism study, which recommended reparations.

An incredible sight in St. Petersburg. Image via city of St. Pete/Twitter.


@RyanStyruck: The United States is now reporting 2,439 new coronavirus deaths per day, the highest seven-day average since Feb. 18, 2021, according to data from @CNN and Johns Hopkins University.

Tweet, tweet:

@TimJDillon: Nice of the media to take a break from starting a war in the Ukraine to defame a podcaster for a week straight before going back to telling everyone why they should need permission slips to have birthday parties.

@BrettPransky: While democracy falters, our press takes a “boys will be boys” approach to those who would destroy the American experiment while blaming the Dems for not instantly defeating a hate machine the right built over 50 years and funds with limitless corporate cash. It’s infuriating.

@TarynFenske: @ChristinaPushaw is a friend to all of us and we support her. Any indication we don’t is trash. As a great leader once wisely pointed out, when the liberal media is obsessing over you and attacking you, you’re probably doing something right.

@AnnaForFlorida: Pretty gross how many Florida conservatives tried to use the LIE that undocumented immigrants were at a Central Florida extended stay hotel to completely ignore and dismiss the VERY REAL nazis that are among us & empowered by that same xenophobic rhetoric.

Tweet, tweet:

@Fineout: After swearing-in of newly-elected Rep. Daryl Campbell, House Speaker @ChrisSprowls says, “they only applaud that loudly for you” when you first come in and “when you leave.” After some groans, Sprowls says, “it’s true.”

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@CHeathWFTV: The hot takes from Florida sports Twitter about how “(Tom) Brady should go into the Hall of Fame as a Buccaneer” will be enough to power a small nation.


XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 2; Super Bowl LVI — 11; Will Smith‘s ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reboot premieres — 11; Discover Boating Miami International Boat Show begins — 14; season four of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ begins — 14; Spring Training report dates begin — 15; Synapse Florida tech summit begins — 15; ‘The Walking Dead’ final season part two begins — 18; Daytona 500 — 18; Special Election for Jacksonville City Council At-Large Group 3 — 21; Suits For Session — 21; CPAC begins — 22; St. Pete Grand Prix — 23; Biden to give the State of the Union address — 27; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 30; Sarasota County votes to renew the special 1-mill property tax for the school district — 34; the third season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 49; season two of ‘Bridgerton’ begins — 51; The Oscars — 53; Macbeth with Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga begin performances on Broadway — 55; Grammys rescheduled in Las Vegas — 60; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 85; federal student loan payments will resume — 88; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 93; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 114; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 120; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 157; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 170; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 188; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 212; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 247; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 282; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 285; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 317; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 380; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 415; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 541; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 625; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 905.


DeSantis and the media: (Not) a love story” via Blake Hounshell and Leah Askarinam of The New York Times — If DeSantis somehow becomes the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2024, two factors will help explain why: his mastery of his party’s hostile relationship with the mainstream media, and his relentless courtship of Fox News. Former aides say that DeSantis views the press as just another extension of the political process — a tool to weaponize or use for his own benefit. During a recent interview on “Ruthless,” a conservative podcast, he expounded: “Too long, for many of these Republicans, they would always defer to the corporate media. They would try to impress the corporate media. Don’t work with them. You’ve got to beat them. You’ve got to fight back against them.” He’s proven remarkably deft at fighting back.

No love lost: Part of Ron DeSantis’ charm is his battles with the media.


DeSantis asks Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on Congressional map” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Pro — DeSantis, in another sign that he may veto a new congressional map being drawn by the state Legislature, asked the state’s highest court on Tuesday to tell him whether or not a 200-mile congressional district linking Black neighborhoods must be kept intact. DeSantis’ recently submitted his own proposed map that throws out the district now held by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat from Tallahassee. But so far, his proposal, which would likely increase the number of Republican-held congressional seats in Florida if enacted, has gotten a muted reaction from the GOP-controlled Legislature. Last month, the state Senate passed a map that keeps Lawson’s seat relatively the same.

Al Lawson is no fan of Ron DeSantis’ mapmaking skills. Now the high court is involved.

DeSantis still working on redistricting, trashes blue state gerrymanders” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — While signaling he intends to play a role in shaping Florida’s congressional districts, DeSantis took to task more liberal mapmakers. “It’s really, really unbelievable to hear some of these people carping for all these years and then to see kind of what these monstrosities are that they created,” he said. Last month, the Governor’s Office surprised lawmakers and political observers by submitting a proposed map for 28 Florida congressional districts. DeSantis shortly after suggested his office had legal concerns about maps under consideration in the Legislature. Outside observers have generally panned the DeSantis map (P 0079). The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, for example, gave the draft an “F” in partisan fairness for giving a significant Republican edge in 18 of 28 seats.

House moves ahead with legislative map amid accusations of a secret process” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida representatives turned a map for 120 state House districts into legislation and prepared it for a Wednesday floor vote. But Democrats left discussions angry at answers Republicans refused to provide on who crafted the cartography. Lawmakers debated a map (H 8013) for roughly three hours before taking a clerical step on a near party-line vote. That step? Maps of House districts and 40 new state Senate districts (S 8060) have now been combined into a single bill (SB 100). That bit of housekeeping took place only after a lengthy debate about minority access to democracy and the transparency of drafting maps. The legislative redistricting process awaits one last vote in the House as the once-a-decade process governing the Florida Legislature’s political environment draws to a close.

House puts congressional mapmaking on hold” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — There will be no new congressional maps published by the House this week. The House canceled a Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee hearing after DeSantis asked the Florida Supreme Court to look at the constitutionality of Florida’s 5th Congressional District. DeSantis asked the Florida Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville district, enacted by that very court in a 2015 decision, complies with state law. The district, represented now by Rep. Lawson, has been called an “unconstitutional gerrymander” by DeSantis’ staff. But mapmakers in both the Florida House and Senate have included a district analogous to the CD 5 in every published draft to date. The Senate already passed a map with a similar district.

DeSantis risked selling out his Republican base to help Disney” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — With just two days remaining in the Florida Legislature’s 2021 Session: “Please call,” Stephanie Kopelousos, one of DeSantis’ top aides, wrote to a pair of staffers in the Florida House. Twenty-one minutes later, Kopelousos sent a proposal to carve a last-minute exemption into one of the Governor’s top priorities: A bill to crack down “on Big Tech oligarchs” allegedly censoring right-wing viewpoints on social media. It was the start of a 24-hour, late-Session scramble, trying frantically to rewrite DeSantis’ prized piece of legislation — all to accommodate one company. Disney. The legislation (SB 7072) was written in such a way that it also exposed The Walt Disney Co. because its Disney+ streaming service met the proposed definition of a “social media platform.” So, Disney apparently raised a last-minute objection. And the DeSantis administration leapt into action. Moments before passing the bill, the Senate added an amendment — an exemption to the new rules for any social media platform owned by a company that also owns a theme park. The Senate managed to sneak the amendment through without explaining what it did.

Vote-by-mail, ranked choice voting ban bill passes first committee one day after release” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — A committee substitute bill banning ranked choice voting, changing vote-by-mail forms, and other voting changes passed its first committee Tuesday. SB 524 passed the Senate Ethics and Elections committee 5-3 along party lines. The meeting to pass the bill took over three hours, requiring the meeting to receive a time extension from Senate President Wilton Simpson. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Travis Hutson, changes several areas of Florida election laws. It requires voters to put the last four digits of their Social Security, driver’s license, or state-issued ID card on a voter identification form that is signed to send with vote-by-mail ballots for their vote to count. It also bans local governments from implementing ranked choice voting to avoid local election runoffs.

‘We’re taking rights away’: Measure to restrict citizen ballot initiatives advances to House floor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Legislation that would limit changes the public can propose to the Florida Constitution cleared its final House committee Tuesday amid opposition from Democrats and activist groups. The measure (HJR 1127), sponsored by Lithia Republican Rep. Mike Beltran, would limit citizen initiatives to procedural matters, the structure of government, or the constitution. The proposed constitutional amendment cleared the House Judiciary Committee along party lines. “Is it really best that the Legislature make decisions and not the citizens of Florida on the ballot?” Brandon Democratic Rep. Andrew Learned questioned. “Shouldn’t the people of Florida have a vote in that process? If the people of Florida at the ballot aren’t a check on the Legislature, I don’t know what is.”

Mike Beltran and Andrew Learned take opposite sides on the issue of constitutional amendments.

Bill pushing freedom from discomforting lessons in classrooms, businesses heads to final House panel” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Legislation barring instruction that could cause someone to feel discomfort because of their demographics is approaching the end of the House committee process. The House State Affairs Committee voted 16-8 Tuesday, along party lines, to advance a bill (HB 7) targeting class lessons and corporate training that teach cultural guilt, teachings proponents say inserts ideology into history lessons. In classrooms, enforcement would be placed in the hands of parents who could approach teachers to resolve concerns before filing complaints. Critics argue the measure could effectively ban certain books, classroom materials or classroom discussions if parents believe the content contains subjective spins on historical facts. They asserted that some history lessons couldn’t be taught without possibly making people feel guilty or uncomfortable.

—TALLY 2 —

Barrier-breaking bill for homeless youths clears first legislative hurdle” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Bipartisan legislation that would breakdown several barriers to education and social services for young people experiencing homelessness cleared the first of two Senate committees Tuesday with unanimous support across the dais. The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee OK’d a bill (SB 1708) by Sen. Ileana Garcia to make numerous changes to how Florida assists youths struggling with housing insecurity. The bill still must pass through the Senate Appropriations Committee before reaching the floor. Woodson’s version awaits the first of three hearings in the Legislature’s lower chamber. The measure would require the Department of Health to waive all fees for certified birth certificate copies for unaccompanied homeless youths and young adults in foster care when turning 18.

Ileana Garcia gets traction on her bill to boost educating homeless youths.

Plans for state loan program to finance charter schools’ buildings advances” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Plans to give charter schools access to $10 million in state money to finance their school buildings received a nod from the Senate Education Committee Tuesday. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr.’s legislation (SB 1690) survived its first committee stop. The bill proposes a third-party administrator to dole out the money coming from the state’s general fund. The interest paid would be used to defray the cost of the program’s administration. The bill encountered Democratic opposition. Sen. Shevrin Jones wanted to know who would be paying the debt if the school closed. Diaz assured the committee that the full faith and credit of the state was not on the line.

Jackie Toledo’s human trafficking crackdown bill passes second committee” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — A bill aimed at cracking down on prostitution and human trafficking in Florida passed the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday with unanimous support. HB 1439, which Republican Rep. Toledo sponsors, would ban hourly rates at hotels, motels and vacation rentals and raises the first-time penalty for those paying for sex from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. The bill also creates the Statewide Data Repository for Anonymous Human Trafficking Data, which will collect data to help understand and fight human trafficking. The repository shall be housed in and operated by the University of South Florida Trafficking in Persons — Risk to Resilience Lab.

Legislation advances in Senate and the House to further limit use of physical restraints at school” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — An update to last year’s law that banned seclusion and limited the use of restraints to discipline students with disabilities received unanimous approval in both House and Senate committees Tuesday morning. Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, a former Orlando teacher, sponsored the legislation (HB 235) that outright bans school personnel from using a “mechanical restraint” on students, except school resource officers, school safety officers, school guardians or security guards. The bill is now heading to a full House vote. Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book sponsored an identical bill (SB 390) that won unanimous approval in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Juvenile expunction proposal clears final committee stop” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A bill that would broaden a juvenile’s ability to expunge their arrest record in Florida cleared its final committee stop Tuesday. The House Judiciary Committee OK’d the bill unanimously without questions or debate, ranking it among the few proposals to pass through the committee process without a single downvote. Rep. David Smith is the bill sponsor. Under current law, expungement opportunities are limited to minors who complete a diversion program solely after a first-time misdemeanor arrest. However, the bill (HB 195) would expand juvenile expunction laws to include felonies, except for forcible felonies, and arrests beyond a minor’s first offense. Forcible felonies include murder, rape and kidnapping, among others.

‘We know they don’t eat’: Proposed bills could feed breakfast to more hungry Florida students” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Marsha Nelson calls her students her babies. Some of her babies, however, can’t pay for the meals she serves every day and don’t have enough food at home. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nelson, an area supervisor for Leon County Schools, said it wasn’t unusual for her to pay the dollar or two for children who didn’t have money for breakfast. If legislation (SB 1656, HB 1187) passes into law this year, however, she won’t have to dip into her own pockets again to pay for meals for kids who can’t afford it. The bill would make free what are now reduced-price breakfasts for students who are just barely above the poverty level. The funds used to pay for those lunches would be reimbursed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.


Randolph Bracy tests positive for COVID-19” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic Sen. Bracy has tested positive for COVID-19. The two-term Senator from Ocoee said he was tested Saturday for the virus and was positive. Bracy said he was fully vaccinated and boosted. His office said he wanted to present “forceful opposition” to SB 524 at the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, though he had to sit out due to the virus. “Despite Florida’s stellar performance in the last election, Republicans are back at it again rewriting voting laws. The latest poison pill prescribed by DeSantis is SB 524. Aside from making it harder to vote, it sets up an election police force that would hunt down supposed election fraud. Dispatching law enforcement to enforce the state’s heavy-handed measures smacks more of tyranny than a democracy.”

Randolph Bracy is the latest lawmaker laid low by COVID-19.

‘Quite the introduction:’ Florida’s newest Rep. weighs in on bill limiting how teachers talk about race” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — On the first day of Black History Month, the State Affairs Committee in the Florida House deliberated on legislation that would limit how race is discussed in public school classrooms and the workplace. There was a new member in the room: State Rep. Campbell, a Democrat representing part of Broward County who is a mental health therapist. Campbell argued against the bill, HB 7, saying that the effects of the legislation could limit a teacher’s ability to teach passionately. He said that if teachers are restricted to a certain paragraph or script, “they can’t invoke that passion into our students.”

Pharmacy benefit manager bill clears last House committee; Senate panel hears similar bill Wednesday” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) that don’t register with the state can face a $10,000 fine under a bill moving its way through the House. The House Health & Human Services Committee Tuesday unanimously approved HB 357. The bill is now available for consideration by the full House. According to House documents, 96 lobbyists have registered to lobby on the bill. Its Senate counterpart (SB 1476) by Sen. Tom Wright has not been heard by any Senate panel. While the House bill drew nearly 100 registered lobbyists, just 16 lobbyists registered on the Senate bill, documents show. The House bill passed unanimously and was supported by various lobbyists from hospitals to physicians to small independent pharmacists, all of which waived their testimony in support of the bill. Toledo made brief remarks before members of the House health care panel voted on the bill.

House teacher union bargaining bill heads to chamber floor — A bill (HB 1203) that would let school districts decide if unions should be able to bargain over teacher evaluations cleared its final committee, Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reports. The bill passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, with Democrats and the Florida Education Association in opposition. The bill would remove a requirement that districts bargain with unions over classroom evaluations, which factor into teacher pay.

Organized retail theft bill earns unanimous approval at second committee stop” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice approved a bill Tuesday that seeks to crack down on the uptick in “boosters,” and organized crime rings stealing from retail stores. The bill (SB 1534), carried by Sen. Jim Boyd, would increase penalties for those who steal multiple items from multiple stores in a short period. The legislation was cleared unanimously and is now headed to its final committee. Individuals or groups would be subject to third-degree felonies for, within 30 days, committing five or more retail thefts and stealing 10 or more items from at least two different locations. Those who steal 20 or more items would see that bumped up to a second-degree felony.

FRF cheers Senate panel for passing organized theft bill — The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice unanimously passed a bill (SB 1534) that would define and add penalties for organized retail theft in Florida, earning praise from the Florida Retail Federation. “Florida leads the way in holding criminals accountable for their actions,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “This legislation will protect Florida retail businesses from the rising impacts of organized retail theft. Thanks to the leadership of Attorney General (Ashley) Moody, Sen. Jim Boyd, and the Florida Legislature, prosecutors will have the tools they need to pursue cases and impose meaningful penalties upon those who prey upon Florida’s business community.”

Merchants shower Jim Boyd with praise for his retail theft bill.

Bill would scrap 2021 deal as public notices battle begins anew in Florida legislature” via Jim Rosica of USA Today Network — Lawmakers will again consider a proposal to allow government agencies in Florida “the option to publish legal notices on a publicly accessible website instead of in a print newspaper.” Online records show a “proposed committee bill,” or PCB, has been filed in the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, chaired by state Rep. Erin Grall. Generally, bills must be filed by the start of the Legislative Session, which was Jan. 11, but PCBs can be filed any time at the discretion of a committee chair and ultimately House Speaker Sprowls. The battle over legal notices in newspapers has been waged, off and on, for the better part of the last decade. The newspaper industry struck a deal last Session with lawmakers with the understanding the matter was put to rest.

Bill criminalizing on-street stunt driving — and filming it — speeds through Senate panel” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — Sen. Jason Pizzo’s bill seeking to criminalize street takeovers and stunt driving sped through the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice Tuesday. The Miami Democrat’s bill (SB 876) would make it a first-degree misdemeanor to take over a portion of a highway or roadway by blocking or impeding the regular traffic flow to perform stunts like burnouts, doughnuts, drifting and wheelies. He called the activity a “new phenomenon for kids and young adults.” It would also create penalties for spectatorship and filming events for promotional purposes. It does, however, include a carve-out for First Amendment protections.

— SKED —

Senate Democrats, doctors to speak out on abortion ban — Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book and Sen. Lori Berman will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Senate Portico in opposition to the proposed 15-week abortion ban. They will be joined by doctors who provide abortion services, many of whom are expected to testify against the bill (SB 146) when it goes before the Senate Health Policy Committee. “Every pregnancy is unique. Patients seeking care beyond 15 weeks are often in some of the most difficult circumstances, either because of serious health complications for the pregnant person, severe fetal anomalies, or because of harsh life circumstances,” said Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “This legislation ignores those real-life situations and puts medical decisions in the hands of politicians — that is simply wrong.”

Happening today — Paella Fest:

Happening today — The American Heart Association hosts the virtual Florida Heart Day to boost awareness of heart disease and stroke prevention and treatment. Wear Red and use #FLHeartDay on social media posts and pictures supporting Heart Day, heart disease, stroke prevention and treatment, 9 a.m. Register here.

Assignment editors — Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and Florida International University will announce the results of a three-year study revealing the presence of pharmaceutical contaminants in South Florida fish, 10 a.m., Turnbull Conference Center, Room #103, 555 W. Pensacola St., Tallahassee. Zoom link here.

— The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets to consider SB 150, from Sen. Danny Burgess, to end the state’s no-fault auto insurance system, 8:30 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 512, also from Burgess, to preempt vacation rental regulations, 8:30 a.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Transportation Committee meets to consider SB 1178, from Sen. Doug Broxson, to allow the use of digital license plates, 8:30 a.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building

— The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to consider SB 146, from Sen. Kelli Stargel, to ban abortions after 15 weeks, 11 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Agriculture Committee meets for an update on the timber industry, 11 a.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets to consider SB 1314, from Sen. Ed Hooper, to increase the money that the State Board of Administration could invest in “alternative” investments, 11 a.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The House Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee meets to consider HB 569 to permit businesses to sue for damages if local ordinances lower their profits, 11:30 a.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 988, from Sen. Ileana Garcia, to require patients at hospitals and nursing homes to receive visitors, 2 p.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets, 2 p.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The House will convene for a floor session to consider nursing home financial reporting (HB 539), the Senate redistricting map (SB 100), and proposal to temporarily shield the names of lottery winners from public record (HB 159), 2:30 p.m., House Chamber.

— The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider the confirmation of Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon, 4 p.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

Also, the following committees will meet.

— House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee, 8 a.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— The House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee, 9 a.m., Reed Hall.

— The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, 9 a.m., Morris Hall.

— The House Secondary Education & Career Development Subcommittee, 9 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

— The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, 11:30 a.m., Morris Hall.

— The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee, 11:30 a.m., Reed Hall.

— The House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee, 11:30 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 2 p.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee, 4 p.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

Happening today — The Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s Legislative Luncheon, 5:30 p.m., Historic Capitol Building. RSVP to Christian Minor at (321) 233-4232.


White chicken chili, chop house salad and 3 dressings; couscous salad with sun-dried tomato and feta; fruit salad; turkey Cobb wraps; spicy chicken cutlets with curry sauce; Buffalo cauliflower tacos with corn tortillas; cilantro lime rice; Southern-style succotash and GC bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert.


Miami prosecutors look at consultants at center of JEA and dark-money controversys” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Miami public-corruption investigators have begun to question and scrutinize consultants who have been accused of planning to manipulate the political process in Jacksonville on behalf of Florida Power & Light, whose parent company, NextEra, sought to acquire the city’s public electric, water and sewer utility two years ago during a contentious privatization campaign pushed by City Hall. Evidence Miami prosecutors are compiling has offered a rare window into the world of dark-money political operations and the consultants who have worked for some of Florida’s most powerful interests.

Florida gets another $404 million for climate change prep. It needs billions more” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — The most vulnerable state in the nation is finally getting a billion-dollar boost to its plans to protect itself against the rising sea, the tip of the trillion-dollar iceberg of climate change expenses the state faces. On Tuesday, DeSantis announced funding for another 113 projects that will install new stormwater pumps and drains in flood-prone cities, convert leaky septic tanks to sewer lines, elevate and floodproof critical buildings and restore wetlands over the next three years. It’s the most significant amount of money for climate change preparation ever seen in Florida — and all $404 million are from the federal American Rescue Plan, the multi-trillion-dollar COVID-19 relief act championed by the Biden administration.

Another $404 million for climate preparedness? It’s just a drop in the bucket for what’s needed. Screenshot via Miami Herald.

DeSantis repeats argument that roads aren’t racist” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor, appearing in Miami highlighting resiliency spending, launched into a larger critique of spending priorities in Democratic-controlled Washington when he again mocked the idea that any such political intent went into road construction: “They’re saying that highways are racially discriminatory, I don’t know how a road can be that. I heard some stuff, some weird stuff from the Secretary of Transportation trying to make this about social issues. To me, a road’s a road.”

DeSantis on Sheriff Gregory Tony: ‘We’re going to review everything’ now that state found he concealed his past on forms” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Sheriff Tony’s job could be on the line if Florida’s Ethics Commission were to find evidence that the top cop falsified details of his past on documents to become certified as an officer. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that it would send the results of an investigation to the Florida Commission on Ethics at the suggestion of the State Attorney’s Office in Fort Myers. “We plan to send the case to the Ethics Commission this week,” said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. The Ethics Commission could take no action — or it could recommend that DeSantis remove the Sheriff from office, among other potential penalties.

CFO announces six arrests in West Palm Beach fraud scheme — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the arrest of six West Palm Beach residents who allegedly filed multiple fraudulent Aflac insurance claims totaling more than $71,000. Investigators from the Division of Investigative and Forensic Services say the suspects — Darneshia Hodge, Michelle O’Brien, Martine Charles, Chastity Barry, Cocynthia Hodgeand Glennesha Scantlebury — created and submitted forged medical records to collect reimbursement for medical services they never received. “Filing fake insurance claims to make a quick buck is an easy way to end up in jail. As CFO, I remain committed to ensuring criminals like this are brought to justice. Fraud affects everyone in Florida as it drives up insurance rates across the board,” Patronis said.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “Florida Farm Bureau Action Plan says it will stop writing new HO policies” via Insurance Journal — Another Florida property insurer is taking major steps to cut its losses, including suspending the writing of new homeowner policies starting this week, the latest warning sign about the state’s distressed insurance market. Florida Farm Bureau Insurance, a 50-year-old organization, recently sent a five-point action plan to its agents across the state, saying the company would stop writing new homeowners and dwelling-fire policies starting Feb. 1. Farm Bureau also plans to consider non-renewing some portions of policies driving losses in the state and begin identifying homes with shingle or tile roofs by age.

University of Florida to begin search for new president in March” via Duvya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Board chairperson Mori Hosseini and vice-chair Tom Kuntz were re-elected for second terms to oversee the search. Both are former members of the state Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System. Hosseini said choosing a president is the trustees’ most important task. A 15-member search committee will be named in March, and Hosseini said the panel will have big shoes to fill with the departure of President Kent Fuchs, who will remain in the job until a successor takes over.

Red America’s favorite sport is at war with its fans” via Derek Robertson of POLITICO — NASCAR has barred a planned sponsorship deal between one of its drivers and “Let’s Go Brandon Coin,” and NASCAR now finds itself unexpectedly at odds with one of its up-and-coming stars, a large segment of its fans and the right-wing media ecosystem itself. In its sound, fury and absurdity, NASCAR’s “Let’s Go Brandon” problem has become a supercharged case study for anyone trying to broaden their appeal in our fragmented, now almost inherently partisan media environment.

The Let’s Go Brandon crypto is going over like a lead balloon with NASCAR. Image via Brandonbilt Motorsports

After a record manatee die-off, conservation groups sue FWS to revise ‘critical habitat’” via Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Three conservation nonprofits Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government over Florida manatees’ unprecedented die-off last year. In August, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Save the Manatee Club filed a required notice of their intent to sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which they also petitioned in 2008 to update manatees’ critical habitat designation. According to state wildlife data, a record of 1,100 manatee deaths was recorded in 2021, mostly in Brevard County’s stretch of the Indian River Lagoon. That surpasses the previous record of 830 set in 2013. The nonprofits want the agency to recognize the biological factors threatening manatee habitat.


‘Stealth’ omicron is more contagious. Now Florida has two cases.” via Christopher O’Donnell and Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — The highly contagious omicron variant set pandemic infection records in Florida and the U.S. and is still spreading across many states and the rest of the world. But coming up fast behind it is a subvariant that early studies suggest is even more infectious, may cause more breakthrough infections in the vaccinated, and now it’s in Florida. The COVID-19 subvariant is designated as BA.2 but is better known by its nickname “stealth” omicron. It was first detected in Denmark in December and has already overtaken the original omicron strain to become the dominant variant in that country. It has been identified in at least 57 countries and 29 U.S. states as of Monday.

Welcome to Florida, ‘stealth’ omicron. Image via Bloomberg.

House committee votes to protect churches from emergency lockdowns” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The House Judiciary Committee OK’d a bill Tuesday that would ensure church doors are among the last to close during a declared state of emergency. Under the bill (HB 215), state and local governments can no longer deem a box store more essential than a church. So long as any business is permitted to operate, the bill asserts, so shall religious services. Rep. Nick DiCeglie is the bill sponsor. The committee OK’d the measure despite some concern among Democratic lawmakers. The bill will now head to the House floor. “I’m a Floridian, and I’m an American who wants to make sure that my First Amendment right is protected,” DiCeglie told lawmakers. The bill, DiCeglie explained, is a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s subsequent response.


Duval County educators’ group demanding better COVID-19 protections, contact tracing for teachers, students” via First Coast News — A group of Duval County teachers is planning to hold a news conference Tuesday demanding the district do more to protect students and teachers from COVID-19. The news conference will be hosted by Duval Coalition of Rank (and File) Educators, also known as “Duval CORE.” The group said the teachers are set to make three demands to the district. The first demand is that personal protective equipment is distributed to all Duval County teachers, including N95 masks. The teachers also demand PPE be made available to give to students as well.

Duval County educators demand PPE for all.

Flood of COVID-19 home foreclosures didn’t happen in Orlando” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — After fears that an end to the pandemic-induced moratorium on foreclosures would lead to a wave of homelessness, 2021 had the fewest foreclosures on record, and experts are saying they aren’t likely to rise much this year. The trend contributes to the already tight U.S. housing inventory and puts more pressure on prices. There were foreclosure filings on 151,153 properties nationwide in 2021, a 29% drop from 2020. Metro Orlando, including Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole counties, saw fewer than 2,000 foreclosure filings, 5% less than 2020 and 68% down from 2019. Experts say this is part of a trend accelerated by the pandemic, but predates it.

Cocoa police code enforcement officer dies after nearly a month of COVID-19 complications” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — A Cocoa Police code enforcement officer died after about a month of battling COVID-19 complications Saturday evening. Steve Murdick, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, joined the Cocoa Police Department in March 2016 as a civilian employee serving as a code enforcement officer, said Yvonne Martinez, a spokesperson for the Police Department. “Steve had a heart for service and was very dedicated to doing his job and doing it well,” said Chief Evander Collier IV. During his time in the Coast Guard, Murdick held qualifications as a boarding officer, engineer, boat crewman, watch stander, and machine-gunner on small boat platforms.

Nurse says Boca condo board turned down her rental application over COVID-19 fears” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The governing association of a Boca Raton condominium complex faces a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit seeking the release of documents that could help prove whether it illegally blocked a nurse from renting a condo because she could have been exposed to COVID-19. The Boca View Condominium Association was accused by a unit owner, Greta Tremmel, of refusing to allow Jennifer Piraino, an intensive care unit nurse, to move to the property with her young daughter in April 2020. Court records state that the complex’s covenants require association approval of all rental agreements. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, a person with COVID-19 is considered to have a disability and falls into protected status.

— 2022 —

The GOP’s midterm playbook: Flip the script on COVID-19” via Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki of NBC News — Like never before, Republicans are campaigning on the coronavirus, looking to harness the anger of the conservative base and a growing sense of broader voter fatigue with masks and hybrid schooling. It’s a strategy backed up in polls and focus groups. Democrats, in contrast, aren’t talking much about COVID-19 in their paid advertisements or campaign speeches. It’s in sharp contrast to 2020 when Trump’s erratic handling of the pandemic played a crucial role in his loss to Biden, whose own poll numbers on his management of COVID-19 are collapsing.

Republicans are hoping to change the COVID-19 narrative. Image via CQ Roll Call.

Republicans lead 2022 money race as both parties hit record levels of cash on hand” via Michael Scherer and Isaac Stanley-Becker of The Washington Post — Major Republican organizations focused on winning back control of the House and the Senate ended last year with significantly more money than their Democratic counterparts, a reversal of past fortunes that suggests shifting momentum ahead of the midterm elections. The new fundraising totals showed both parties holding record amounts for the off-year of the congressional cycle. But the growth in the Republican cash hoard compared with the 2020 and 2018 cycles outstripped Democratic gains, as GOP donors, particularly those who give seven- and eight-figure checks, leaned into the effort to take back control of the House and the Senate this fall.

Pending lawsuit, North Florida casino bid fails as petition drive comes up short” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The campaign for a North Florida casino failed to get enough petition signatures verified to make it onto the 2022 statewide ballot, though the organization behind it is suing for more time. As the state law deadline passed at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Florida Voters In Charge, a group backed by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. of Nevada, had managed to get just 814,266 petition signatures verified. That is about 77,000 short of the bare minimum 891,589 that Florida law requires to be turned in by the deadline to get a constitutional amendment proposal eligible for the November General Election ballot. The petition drive fell far shorter than that. Many of the verified signatures were gathered in the wrong congressional districts.

Records shed light on ‘parallel’ dark money investigation that emerged from Artiles probe” via Annie Martin and Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — A “parallel investigation” that emerged from the case against ex-lawmaker Artiles has expanded to examine a wide network of nonprofit organizations and political consultants with connections to last year’s “ghost” candidate scheme, newly released records from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office show. Prosecutors have homed in on consultants who operated a network of nonprofit organizations apparently designed to conceal the source of $550,000 used to send mailers promoting independent candidates in three Florida Senate races, including one in Central Florida. A political consultant whose colleagues controlled Grow United, the entity that paid for the ads, worked closely with Florida Power & Light executives in 2020.

Republican Brady Duke posts second big fundraising period for CD 7” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Duke, a former Navy SEAL who runs a ministry in Central Florida, posted his second strong fundraising effort in late 2021, putting him atop a crowded Republican field vying for the seat opening in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Duke pulled in $386,014 in campaign contributions in the fourth quarter of 2021, following his campaign’s $420,395 haul for the third quarter. The latest contributions put Duke atop a tight trio of Republicans amassing sizable campaign chests for CD 7. The district, for now, covers Seminole County and parts of Orange County. Duke, Cory Mills and Anthony Sabatini have each topped $700,000 in total campaign funds, though Mills did so mainly on the strength of personal money he lent his campaign.

Bracy wins backing of pro-Israel Democratic PAC” via Scott Powers — Sen. Bracy has won the endorsement of the Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) PAC in his campaign to be elected to the open seat for Florida’s 10th Congressional District. The PAC, the political action arm of a pro-Israel Democratic group, announced its first slate of endorsements for the 2022 congressional elections by picking 15 candidates from around the country, including Bracy. “Traveling to Israel myself, I saw firsthand the need for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship,” Bracy said. “I’m proud to be endorsed by Democratic Majority for Israel.”

With $400K haul, Maxwell Frost continues to set cash pace in CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Frost continues to set the pace in the cash chase for the open seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Civil rights lawyer Natalie Jackson raised $8,735. It is likely to remain so after this year’s redistricting process, based on maps being considered by the Legislature. Frost reported raising $407,958 from contributions during the quarter but lost some of that to refunds. “Our campaign’s message is resonating with working families who want representation that has the courage to ask for more,” Frost said in a campaign statement Tuesday.

Anna Paulina Luna leads fundraising for Florida’s 13th Congressional District” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Luna, the first Republican to jump into Florida’s hotly contested 13th Congressional District race, raised more money than any of her competitors in the last quarter of 2021. But Luna’s campaign also spent at a higher pace, leaving her with less cash on hand than some other campaigns that raised less. For the three months starting in October and ending at the end of 2021, Luna brought in $524,094. She spent more than 70% of that amount in the same period. Since her campaign launched, Luna had brought in more than $1 million and spent about three-quarters of it. The bulk of her spending was on digital advertising.

Republican challenger Jay Collins collects $257K, outraises Kathy Castor in Q4” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Collins outraised incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Castor in fourth quarter fundraising for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Collins, an Army veteran, collected $257,877 in Q4, which started Oct. 1 and ended Dec. 31. Collins’ campaign provided the most recent finance numbers. In the same time frame, the incumbent raised $194,697. With his Q4 haul, Collins has raised $386,186 since entering the race in July. Castor’s Q4 haul brought her total yearly fundraising total to $528,904. “After nearly two decades in Washington, it is time for career politicians like Kathy Castor to find a new line of work,” Collins said in a statement.

Jay Collins is outpacing Kathy Castor in the CD 14 money race.

Martin Hyde loans campaign another $100,000 as he challenges Vern Buchanan” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Hyde continues to rely on his wealth as he challenges U.S. Rep. Buchanan in the District 16 GOP primary. According to a fundraising report filed Monday, Hyde lent his campaign another $100,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021. He has put $164,000 of his own money into the campaign so far and raised $17,509 from donors, including another $4,428 in the fourth quarter. Buchanan has raised significantly more money than Hyde as he seeks a ninth term. Last week, his campaign said that it collected at least $316,000 in the fourth quarter. Buchanan has $683,000 in cash on hand, compared with $39,000 for Hyde.

Dennis Cooley holds $100K cash for bid in proposed HD 70” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ellenton Republican Dennis Cooley has $50,000 in the bank as he runs for an open seat in the Florida House. The Bradenton native intends to run in proposed House District 70 on a new map expected to clear the Legislature this week. The entrepreneur now holds more than $100,000 cash on hand for the race. “My message of keeping Florida free is resonating,” Cooley said. “Gov. DeSantis and legislative leaders have kept our economy open and, as a result, Florida is the economic envy of the nation. I intend to keep it that way and am humbled by the quick outpouring of support from my friends and neighbors for the campaign.”


Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children under 5 could be available by the end of February, people with knowledge say” via Laurie McGinley, Lena H. Sun and Carolyn Y. Johnson of The Washington Post — Coronavirus vaccines for children younger than 5 could be available far sooner than expected, perhaps by the end of February, under a plan that would lead to the potential authorization of a two-shot regimen in the coming weeks, people briefed on the situation said Monday. Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, the manufacturers of the vaccine, are expected to submit to the FDA as early as Tuesday a request for emergency-use authorization for the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, which would make it the first vaccine available for that age group. Older children already can receive the shot.


U.S. national debt tops $30 trillion as borrowing surged amid pandemic” via Alan Rappeport of The New York Times — America’s gross national debt topped $30 trillion for the first time on Tuesday. The borrowing binge, which many economists viewed as necessary to help the United States recover from the pandemic, has left the nation with a debt burden so large that the government would need to spend an amount larger than America’s entire annual economy to pay it off. Taming deficits had fallen out of fashion in recent years, including during the Trump administration. While Republican lawmakers helped run up the nation’s debt load, they have since blamed Biden for putting the nation on a rocky fiscal path by funding his agenda.

COVID-19 helped push U.S. debt to record highs. Image via Reuters.

4.3 million Americans left their jobs in December as omicron variant disrupted everything” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Some 4.3 million people quit or changed jobs in December, down from November’s all-time high but still near record levels, as the labor market remained unsettled and the omicron variant swept through the United States. Employers reported some 10.9 million job openings, well above pre-pandemic averages. December proved to be an incredibly disruptive month for the labor market. Parents scrambled to navigate their work lives as schools and day cares closed due to growing virus cases. Employees grappled with sudden outbreaks at work, with little social safety net protections or pandemic-controlling measures that helped cushion the blow from earlier waves.

Teachers are quitting, and companies are hot to hire them” via Kathryn Dill of The Wall Street Journal — Burned out teachers are leaving the classroom for jobs in the private sector, where talent-hungry companies are hiring them and often boosting their pay to work in sales, software, health care and training, among other fields. According to federal data, the rate of people quitting jobs in private educational services rose more than in any other industry in 2021. Many of those are teachers exhausted from toggling between online and classroom instruction, shifting COVID-19 protocols, and dealing with challenging students, parents and administrators. Teachers started leaving classrooms in 2020 when the pandemic upended education and child care, and the number of resignations from the private-education sector hit nearly 550,000 between January and November.

COVID-19 widows struggle to get benefits as Social Security offices remain closed” via Chabeli Carrazana of 19th News — Across the country, Social Security Administration offices have been closed since the start of the pandemic and with nearly 900,000 additional deaths caused by coronavirus, there are thousands of people seeking Social Security survivors benefits, some who know little about the process. The majority of people seeking survivors’ benefits, by far, are women. In December 2021, the most recent month of data, about 92% of those seeking young survivors’ benefits were women with one or more children. Applications that could be completed in one in-person visit in a normal year are taking weeks and even months to complete.


Fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine may help immunocompromised but might not be needed for everyone” via Karen Weintraub of USA TODAY — Evidence supports giving the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine to people with weakened immune systems. A third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine has been extremely effective at preventing severe disease from the omicron variant, which accounts for virtually all the COVID-19 infections in the USA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized a fourth dose at least five months after a third for people with immunocompromised conditions — such as transplant recipients, cancer patients receiving certain treatments, and people on certain medications. The CDC has not said whether or when it would consider allowing healthy people to get a fourth shot, nor has the Food and Drug Administration considered authorizing one.

Another jab: A fourth shot may be needed in some cases. Image via AP.

How the falsehood of athletes dying from coronavirus vaccines spread” via Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post — “Of course, we’ve heard story after story. I mean, all these athletes dropping dead on the field, but we’re supposed to ignore that,” said Congressman Ron Johnson. Here’s the rub: This claim has been debunked repeatedly. The story of athletes dropping dead from coronavirus vaccines has its roots in mysterious Austrian websites tied to that country’s far-right populist party, the Freedom Party. Those stories were then recycled by right-wing media in the United States and eventually came out of the mouth of a U.S. Senator. But respected medical experts say there is no question: Contracting the coronavirus is much more dangerous to an athlete than getting vaccinated.


Biden vs. Donald Trump: The makings of a shattering constitutional crisis” via Bruce Ackerman and Gerard Magliocca of POLITICO — Trump is already signaling that he will run for President in 2024. A Biden-Trump rematch risks worsening our country’s already deep divisions. But there’s more to be worried about: The next election will provoke a genuine constitutional crisis unless decisive steps are taken soon to prevent it. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the Disqualification Clause, expressly bars any person from holding “any office, civil or military, under the United States” if he “engaged in insurrection” against the Constitution after previously swearing to uphold it “as an officer of the United States.” These terms definitely apply to Trump, and some Democrats are exploring the use of Section 3 against him.

A repeat matchup could just make things worse. Image via AP.

Who will win Florida in 2024? A new poll has Biden losing to these two prominent Republicans” via David Jackson of USA Today — A new poll says Biden is struggling in the politically pivotal state of Florida, where more than half of potential voters disapprove of his handling of the economy and his job overall. The poll suggests only 39% of respondents approve of Biden’s job, while 53% disapprove. By a 30-point margin, 58%-28%, the poll says voters in Florida believe the nation as a whole is on the wrong track, and a full 57% disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy. While Trump won Florida in 2020, Biden and the Democrats hope to make a big play for the nation’s third most populous state, one that will have 30 electoral votes in the 2024 election; the new poll indicates that their work is cut out for them.


Supreme Court shouldn’t be covered in Ivy, two lawmakers say” via Jessica Gresko of The Associated Press — Enough already with the Supreme Court justices with Harvard and Yale degrees. That’s the message from one of Congress’ top Democrats to Biden, and a prominent Republican Senator agrees. Eight of the current court members went to law school at either Harvard or Yale. But it would be good if the person named to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer doesn’t have an Ivy League degree, according to Rep. Jim Clyburn and Sen. Lindsey Graham. The bipartisan message from the two South Carolina lawmakers neatly aligns with the background of the South Carolina judge they’ve praised as a good candidate to fill the seat. “We run the risk of creating an elite society,” said Clyburn, a South Carolina State University graduate.

Jim Clyburn says enough with the Ivy League SCOTUS. Image via AP.

Media barred from Justice Neil Gorsuch talk to Federalist Society” via Mark Sherman of The Associated Press — Gorsuch is billed as the banquet speaker Friday at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society’s annual meeting at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista. The schedule on the organization’s website notes, “The banquet is closed to press.” The two-day meeting will also feature former Vice President Mike Pence, DeSantis, and a session billed “The End of Roe v. Wade?” moderated by a federal judge appointed by Trump. The high court is weighing a major rollback of abortion rights and could overrule the 1973 Roe decision.

Removal flights to Colombia spur Venezuelan fears of harsher immigration treatment in the U.S.” via Antonio Maria Delgado, Michael Wilner, and Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — For thousands of Venezuelans hoping to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, recent news that Washington has decided to turn back those who have resided in Colombia is only the most recent sign that the path to the United States is disappearing. The Department of Homeland Security started returning Venezuelans who had previously resided there via removal flights. Federal authorities are undertaking the effort citing Title 42, a public-health order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the U.S. government has used to turn away migrants at the U.S. border during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those seeking asylum. The Venezuelan Embassy in the U.S. said that Venezuela’s refugee crisis was caused by the “complex humanitarian crisis generated by the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro.”


Some records sent to Jan. 6 committee were torn up, taped back together, mirroring a Trump habit” via Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner and Tom Hamburger of The Washington Post — When the National Archives and Records Administration handed over a trove of documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, some of the Trump White House records had been ripped up and then taped back together. Trump was known inside the White House for his unusual and potentially unlawful habit of tearing presidential records into shreds and tossing them on the floor. The National Archives on Monday took the unusual step of confirming the habit. Some of the documents turned over by the White House had not been reconstructed at all.

Donald Trump had a nasty habit of tearing up documents reserved for the Presidential Records Act.

Ex-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany turned over text messages to Jan. 6 committee” via Jonathan Karl Benjamin Siegel and Will Steakin of ABC News — Former White House press secretary McEnany turned over text messages to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a source familiar with the investigation — the latest indication of the extensive level of cooperation the committee has received from many witnesses. McEnany, who was at work in the White House and around then-President Trump before and during the Capitol attack, was subpoenaed by the panel for records and testimony in November and turned over text messages to committee investigators. A source familiar with her interactions with the committee has told ABC News that text messages from McEnany’s phone were quoted in a recent letter the committee sent to Ivanka Trump. The texts came directly from documents turned over by McEnany.


Trump had role in weighing proposals to seize voting machines” via The New York Times — Six weeks after Election Day, with his hold on power slipping, Trump directed his lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to make a remarkable call. Trump wanted him to ask the Department of Homeland Security if it could legally take control of voting machines in key swing states, three people familiar with the matter said. Giuliani did so, calling the department’s acting deputy secretary, who said he lacked the authority to audit or impound the machines. Trump pressed Giuliani to make that inquiry after rejecting a separate effort by his outside advisers to have the Pentagon take control of the machines.

Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump played active roles in possibly seizing voting machines. Image via Getty.

Trump entered 2022 with $122 million in the bank” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — Trump’s political operation raised more than $51 million in the second half of 2021 as the former President continued to dominate the Republican fundraising landscape in his first year out of the White House. Trump’s overall war chest entering 2022 stood at $122 million, more than double the cash on hand of the Republican National Committee itself. The huge sum gives Trump an invaluable head start should he run for the White House again, as he has repeatedly suggested is his intention.

Airing 2020 election grievances, Trump appears in first TV ad for Georgia gubernatorial hopeful David Perdue” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — Trump speaks directly to the camera in the first television ad aired by Perdue, underscoring how much that race centers on the former President and his grievances about the 2020 election. The 30-second spot, which debuted Tuesday, opens with “a message from Trump” in which Trump excoriates the state’s incumbent Republican Gov., Brian Kemp, for not intervening to overturn Biden’s presidential election victory in Georgia. “The Democrats walked all over Brian Kemp,” says Trump. Trump later offered his endorsement of Perdue, a former U.S. Senator who Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated in a runoff in January 2021.


Fired Miami Dolphins coach sues NFL, alleging racist hiring” via Larry Neumeister of The Associated Press — Fired Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, suing the NFL and three teams Tuesday over alleged racist hiring practices for aspiring coaches, is alleging the Dolphins offered him $100,000 a game his first season to “tank” so the club could secure the top draft pick. Flores was fired last month by Miami after leading the Dolphins to a 24-25 record over three years. They went 9-8 in their second straight winning season but failed to make the playoffs during his tenure. The lawsuit alleges that the league has discriminated against Flores and other Black coaches for racial reasons, denying them positions as head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterbacks’ coaches, as well as general managers.

Brian Flores gets litigious against the NFL and three teams for racial discrimination. Image via AP.

Daniella Levine Cava enters second year as Miami-Dade Mayor with across-the-board favorability” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Levine Cava is entering her second year in office with favorable ratings across all party lines and cultural demographics. Levine Cava now carries 80% name awareness. A spokesperson for the firm said her strong favorability “makes her the most favorable elected leader in Miami-Dade County.” SEA Polling spoke by phone with some 600 people from Jan. 10-16. Of those polled, 39% identified as Democrats, 39% were Republicans, and 27% cited no party affiliation. Demographically, 58% were Hispanic, 21% were White, 18% were Black, and 3% identified as belonging to another ethnicity. The poll included a four-point margin of error.

Miami-Dade Commission approves community ID program for undocumented residents, others” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County’s “community ID” program won approval Tuesday after Commissioners endorsed Mayor Levine Cava’s plan for creating county-approved identification cards for people who don’t have driver’s licenses or state IDs. The 7 to 2 vote was a victory for activists who have pushed the cards as a way for undocumented residents and people experiencing homelessness or leaving incarceration to have easy, affordable access to photo identification. “We were hearing stories from members in our congregations across the county. They couldn’t pick up their kids from school because they didn’t have a form of ID to prove who they were,” said Aaron Lauer, pastor of Coral Gables Congregational Church and a leader of PACT.

Bye-bye birdie: Miami-Dade County to let cities develop plans to eliminate peafowl” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Peacocks and peahens living within municipal borders in Miami-Dade County could face relocation or extermination as a result of a new ordinance that narrowly passed Tuesday. The Miami-Dade Commission voted 5-4 for an item by Raquel Regalado, allowing cities to develop individualized mitigation strategies to rid themselves of the pretty-to-look-at but bothersome and invasive birds. Municipalities may now develop “peafowl-mitigation plans” to take to the County Commission for approval on a case-by-case basis. Such plans can include killing the birds. Regalado said cities in her district “cannot tolerate” the birds.

State finds Broward Sheriff Tony lied about his murder arrest and much more. But he won’t be prosecuted.” via Brittany Wallman and Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A state investigation into Tony’s lies on official applications is closed, and he will not be charged. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said some of the Sheriff’s falsehoods were too long ago to prosecute, and the most recent allegation — that he lied to obtain a new driver’s license — will not be pursued because the clerk’s memory of the incident is fuzzy. “Although it appears that Tony knowingly and willfully [misled] public servants … a criminal prosecution of these actions would be negated” by the Florida statute of limitations, a memo says.

Two longtime Palm Beach County judges retiring from bench; DeSantis to name replacements” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — A Palm Beach County judge who rocketed onto the national stage in 2019 when he made a key ruling in the Robert Kraft prostitution case and another longtime jurist are retiring. County judges Leonard Hanser and Mark Eissey are among three jurists who have left the bench in the last six months, allowing DeSantis to pick their replacements. Hanser, who began his career in public life in 1993 when he was hired as a county magistrate, made national headlines when he threw out surveillance video from a Jupiter day spa that was key evidence against Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.

FIU to build facility to simulate 200 mph hurricanes, 10-20 foot storm surge” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — With climate change making hurricanes more powerful, Florida International University has received a major federal grant to design and build a facility to simulate a hurricane with winds as ferocious as 200 mph — and a 10- to 20-foot storm surge. “This would be a state-of-the-art facility. It would be the first of its type; currently, no other facility like this exists anywhere in the world,” said Arindam Gan Chowdhury, the principal investigator of the project and an engineering professor at Florida International University. The project’s research could help develop stronger structures in the face of stronger storms stemming from warmer seas.

Sheriff: Charges ‘forthcoming’ against 3 in neo-Nazi rally near UCF” via Monivette Cordeiro, Natalia Jaramillo and Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Charges are “forthcoming” against three people after a passerby was videotaped being beaten by participants in a neo-Nazi demonstration over the weekend in Orange County, Sheriff John Mina said Tuesday. The incident occurred near Alafaya Trail and Waterford Lakes Parkway on Saturday, where a University of Central Florida student was reportedly spat on and punched by swastika-clad demonstrators who also shouted antisemitic slurs at passing cars. Mina called the antisemitic protest “hurtful to everyone” and said he’d been in contact with leaders in the Jewish community to offer extra protection.

Someone is going to pay. Image via Twitter.

‘Water, rest, shade’: The fight to protect Florida’s outdoor workers from extreme heat” via Alex Harris and Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — When Pedro Trejos was in his early 20s, the Nicaraguan-born construction worker was on the second floor of a job site in Miami when he lost his footing in a spell of dizziness. His colleagues helped him up and called emergency services, who told him that he was dehydrated because of the hot temperatures. “If the security band hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” he said. Like many other migrants, Trejos has spent his three decades in the United States laboring outdoors: repairing roofs, making fences, painting walls. Along the way, he has experienced abuse from patrons, he told the Miami Herald.

Florida State probes air quality concerns in another building; some faculty shift to remote classes” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University will examine air quality in another on-campus building just days after the Sandels Building closed amid reports of troubling health concerns. The university is examining the Williams Building, which houses the English department, after air quality concerns were received by the university, according to spokeswoman Amy Farnum-Patronis. Faculty who work in the building, which remains open, have been allowed to work remotely temporarily. As of Friday morning, professors have begun to move classes online.


DeSantis is following Trump’s White supremacy playbook” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — As President, Trump famously insisted there were “very fine people” on both sides in the 2017 clash between protesters and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. Trump repeatedly avoided condemning the White supremacist group Proud Boys. DeSantis, who apparently longs to inherit the mantle of MAGA leader, has paid attention. Images of a Nazi flag-waving group shouting antisemitic slurs in Orlando flooded news coverage over the weekend. The Governor’s press secretary tweeted (and soon deleted) a bizarre suggestion: “Do we even know they’re Nazis?” DeSantis knows his base. He also knows the support of his potential presidential campaign would not like a leader who calls out White supremacists.


Marco Rubio’s ‘hotel towel’ strategy for climate change” via Pam McVety of the Orlando Sentinel — Sen. Rubio recently sent me a long letter about all that he is doing to address climate change. It was greenwashing. The term “greenwashing” was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 when he criticized the “save the towel” campaign in hotels. Simply put, greenwashing is used to persuade you that a company or politician is green when their environmental actions are weak, superficial, or not really addressing the problem. I will give Rubio points for using the words “climate change,” which Rick Scott did not want state employees to use. In his letter, he says that “Scientists continue to study the Earth’s changing climate, including the contributions of human activities.” Continue to study human contributions? It is a proven fact that burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.

Penny Ceasar: Don’t let Florida politicians take away our freedom, rights, protections” via Florida Politics — I work in a hospital because I care about helping people. Being a member of the union helped me find my voice and my power and showed my fellow members how we could come together to help each other on the job. But some Florida politicians are making it harder and harder for us to succeed. Two proposed bills — SB 1458 and HB 1197 — attack workers’ rights as yet another attempt to break up unions in our state. As a longtime health care worker and member of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, I’ve had a front-row seat to what caregivers have faced during this unprecedented public health emergency. As workers, we’ve had to band together to support each other.

Logan McFaddin: No-fault repeal legislation could significantly increase auto insurance costs for Florida drivers” via Florida Politics — This Session, legislation is again being considered that could result in significant increases in auto insurance costs, especially for those who can least afford it. An independent analysis of Senate Bill 150 and House Bill 1525 found that the proposals could cause auto insurance costs to skyrocket between 48 and 77% for drivers who purchase minimum limits. In Florida, that is approximately 40% of drivers. Additionally, the legislation under consideration this year could increase the cost of the average auto insurance policy by as much as 13.3%. Any reform of Florida’s auto insurance system should prioritize reducing costs for consumers by addressing rampant legal abuse of Florida’s bad faith laws — a major cost driver that negatively impacts consumers.


Would HB 7 allow teachers to explain the Holocaust but not say genocide is bad? Hear the debate over the bill to eliminate critical race theory from classrooms.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The President of the Florida Association of Teachers explains how teachers would teach if HB 7 became law.

— Brady’s retirement was top of mind for Gov. DeSantis. If you’re wondering … yes, he says Tom’s the G.O.A.T.

To listen, click on the image below:


The Sunshine State Seven” via Axios — Florida is sending seven athletes to the Winter Games in Beijing next month, far more than any other southern state. One athlete from the Tampa Bay area, Nathan Smith of Hudson, will play for Team USA in men’s hockey. Smith, a junior center for Minnesota State, is believed to be the first NHL draft pick born in the Tampa Bay area and graduated from a local high school. The rest of Team USA’s Floridians: Mia Kilburg of Crestview in speedskating, Joey Mantia of Ocala in speedskating, Erin Jackson of Ocala in speedskating, Brittany Bowe of Ocala in speedskating, Josh Williamson of Sanford in bobsled, and Steven Kampfer of Hollywood in ice hockey.

Tampa Bay native Nathan Smith is one of Florida’s seven Olympians. Image via

Which countries win the most medals at the Winter Olympics?” via Amanda Shendruk of Quartz — Two countries persistently pop up with the most wins during recent Winter Games: Germany and the U.S. A strong showing by the U.S. isn’t surprising — the country also has historically dominated the Summer Games. Despite having the largest population globally, China was only able to grab one win for every 154 million people, which is quite a contrast to its success at recent Summer Olympics. India had similarly bad luck in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The country won two medals, meaning a single medal for every 656 million people. Wealthy, populous nations tend to send hundreds of athletes. More people competing could easily mean more medals. But most nations just aren’t sending that many people.

The icy truth about Olympic snow-making” via Bonnie Berkowitz and Artur Galocha of The Washington Post — Many Winter Games, including the past three in Pyeongchang, Sochi and Vancouver, have made heavy use of snowmakers for this non-negotiable necessity. In Beijing, machines churn out every inch of the white stuff for the 66 medal events requiring it. But spreading snow onto a world-class ski run is not like slathering cream cheese onto a bagel. It requires precision in every step, from the air-and-water mixture in the snow guns to the last team of groomers on skis who smooth away remaining imperfections before showtime.

Peacock looks to Beijing Winter Olympics for a second chance” via Lillian Rizzo of The Wall Street Journal — Audie Norman signed up for Comcast’s Peacock last summer after hearing that the streaming service made it possible to watch the Tokyo Olympics without a pay-TV subscription, which he hasn’t had in at least a decade. During the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. men’s basketball games were the only events livestreamed on Peacock’s premium tiers. NBCUniversal is looking to avoid disappointing anyone planning to give Peacock a try for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will begin in Beijing later this week. The company said that this time, the entirety of its Olympic broadcasts would be available live on Peacock’s premium tiers, which cost $4.99 a month with ads, or $9.99 without. Many Peacock subscribers who were still new to the platform said they weren’t sure if some Olympic events were unavailable on Peacock or just hard to find.

— ALOE —

Elon Musk’s teen tormentor now exposing private jet movements of other billionaires after refusing his offer of $5k to quit” via Maroosha Muzaffar of MSN — Jack Sweeney, who runs the Twitter bot page Elon Musk’s Jet that monitors the Tesla owner’s private jet’s movements, made Musk a counteroffer of $50,000 to stop the tracking but the SpaceX owner didn’t respond to that. He instead blocked him on social media. Now Sweeney is set to go after other billionaires such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and other high-profile businesspeople. Musk had asked the 19-year-old first-year student at the University of Florida to stop tracking the jets as it was a “security concern” and that he did not “love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.”

On paper, Tom Brady was unremarkable. On the field, he grew into a legend.” via Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post — Brady proved that any kid with perfectly ordinary athletic prospects, the middle-of-the-packer who doesn’t come with some preloaded or far-fetched anatomical gift, can construct greatness. What made him great was an inner curiosity, an urge to fill in his blanks and see what might happen with enough study and sweat. As Tom Moore, legendary offensive consultant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said before last year’s Super Bowl triumph, “He wanted to have greatness, and he worked hard to get it; it didn’t just fall out of the trees.”

GOAT: Tom Brady made the ordinary extraordinary.

For Super Bowl entertaining, make room for melty hot dips” via Katie Workman of The Associated Press — There are recurring themes to most Super Bowl menus: sliders, chilies, nachos, pulled pork, pizza and always, always a dip. Most of the time, that’s a hot dip plunked down on the table to a very warm reception. I’ve yet to find a person who doesn’t get a little weak in the knees at the sight of a creamy, often cheesy dip bubbling away in its baking dish. I offer an assortment of dippers, from the healthy to the indulgent. Popular hot dip recipes include Buffalo chicken dip, cheesy artichoke dip, queso, and spinach and goat cheese dip. As you begin your hot-dip cooking adventures, you’ll see that many combinations of creaminess, vegetables, and proteins can be worked into a bubbling pan of dip deliciousness.

Chances of on-time Spring Training start all but vanish” via Ronald Blum of The Associated Press — Whatever little chance there was of an on-time start to Spring Training all but vanished Tuesday during a contentious 90-minute negotiating session between locked-out players and Major League Baseball. Players made two slight moves during the first meeting in a week. The union lowered its proposed pool of money for pre-arbitration-eligible players from $105 million to $100 million. The union also cut the number of players it wants credited with an additional year of major league service to the Top 20 at each position in each league by WAR, or the Top 7, depending on position, down from 30 and 10. A session on noneconomic issues is set for Wednesday, and there is no date for the resumption of talks on the core matters, such as luxury tax thresholds.

Florida boy reels in 0.50-caliber Barrett sniper rifles while fishing” via Sarah Sicard of Military Times — Over a balmy winter weekend in South Miami-Dade, a young boy and his grandfather set out to fish along a canal. What they reeled in weren’t fish, but holy mackerel, were they a catch. Duane Smith was shocked when his grandson Allen Cadwalader pulled in two 0.50-caliber Barrett sniper rifles while magnet fishing. “We ended up with 2 pounds of scrap metal and 40 pounds of gun,” Smith said, adding, “I figured, since it was our first time, this was beginner’s luck.” But luck struck twice, and the pair pulled up a second rifle one drop after the first. Smith said he was interested in the firearms’ lower receivers, where serial numbers are typically located. He immediately called the police.


Best wishes to one of Florida’s best lobbyists, our friend and Fulton and Anna‘s mom, Katie Webb of Colodny Fass. Also celebrating today are Matt Bogdanoff and Eric Jontz.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • Tom

    February 2, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Really more bad news for Florida Dems.
    America’s Governor leads Biden 52%to 44% in a head to head vote in Florida.
    For Gov he leads Crist 49% to 43%, N Fraud has no chance, 51% to 40%. She can withdraw now. Biden’s approval is abysmal at 39% in Florida, he’s down in 46 states. Sen Rubio leads Demings 49% to 41%. Dems are running away from him. His terrible numbers ensure Gov Ron’s favorable reelection and Rubio. With Repub. registration outpacing Dems this all demonstrates the dire situation Florida Dems are now in.

    DeSantis is America’s Governor and now speaks to a very large audience across the country. Dems are really in a bad place, which will only get worse and lead to catastrophic losses in Florida and across U. S. 40 to 60 net House seats to flip GOP and 6 plus U S Senate seats.
    Dems are living in a bubble withdrawn from real political reality.

  • Angry

    February 2, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Surprised you could get off your knees from servicing the Governor long enough to type that. How are the knee pads holding up?

    • Tom

      February 2, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      How’s banging your sister you pud scum bag?

Comments are closed.


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.

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