Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.16.22

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Your morning briefing of what you need to know in Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Speaker Chris Sprowls, who has gained national attention this week for his focus on fatherlessness, is holding a news conference today (1 p.m., Capitol Courtyard-facing steps of Florida Historic Capitol Museum) to shine a light on this issue and the House’s legislation that is meant to address it.

Chris Sprowls’ vision is drawing the national spotlight.

The Speaker points to the fact that one in four children live without a father figure in their home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and nearly every negative outcome plaguing so many of today’s youth has been linked to their lack of a present and intentional father. Studies conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative have shown that when children are raised in father-absent homes, they have a four-times greater risk of living in poverty and are twice as likely to drop out of high school. Six in 10 youth suicides come from fatherless homes. Fatherless boys are three times more likely to spend time behind bars. At the same time, children who have relationships with their fathers have critical positive outcomes in education, socioeconomic and development and future success. Children who have an involved father are twice as likely to go to college and 80% less likely to spend time in jail.

The event comes on the heels of legislation recently filed and on the House Floor today, HB 7065, that invests nearly $70 million to address the lack of involved fathers and resulting at-risk youths through several initiatives.

In addition to the Senate President, bill sponsor, Senators and House Dads who will be in attendance, the effort has attracted attention from many notable organizations who will also be at the event today, including Jack Brewer from the Federal Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, Jeffrey Ford from Man Up and Go, and Jason Hood from All Pro Dad.


Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio leads Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings in his bid for a third term, but all the ingredients for an upset are there if Demings can capitalize on them.

A new poll from Mason-Dixon showed Rubio with 49% support to Demings’ 42%. While Rubio’s lead falls outside of the margin of error, the pollster noted that “an incumbent running below 50% often leaves the door open for a challenger to significantly tighten a race under the right circumstances.”

Currently, both candidates enjoy strong support from their respective bases, with Rubio’s top-line lead largely coming from his 10-point advantage among the NPA crowd, 47% of whom say they’d vote to re-elect him.

Horserace: Marco Rubio polls well, will that be enough?

But his 95% name ID might mean some of that support is soft. Demings, currently known by about two-thirds of voters, will undoubtedly be similarly well-known on Election Day. Mason-Dixon says as the name ID gap shrinks, “independent voters must swing to Demings … absent that shift, Rubio will be re-elected.”

She faces an additional challenge: President Joe Biden.

Florida voters aren’t fans of the Commander in Chief. He holds a minus-15 approval rating overall. Independent voters are even less fond of him — just 33% said they approve of the job he’s done so far, while 61% disapprove.

“In order to flip Rubio’s seat, Demings needs Biden’s standing among state voters to significantly improve over the next eight months,” the polling memo reads. “It will be difficult for her to make the necessary gains among those who are unaffiliated as long as they remain hostile to the President.”

The Mason-Dixon poll was conducted Feb. 7-10. It has a sample size of 625 registered Florida voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 4%.


It’s “Wild Florida Wednesday” at the Florida Capitol.

The day will bring representatives from Conservation Florida, the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, and the Path of the Panther project to the Plaza Level, where they will showcase artwork by Paul Schulz and famed National Geographic photographer Carlton Ward Jr., who fought for years to secure wildlife habitats in the corridor.

At 5 p.m., Conservation Florida will host a “Wild Florida Reception on the 22nd floor of the Capitol to celebrate the passage of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act and Florida’s conservation legacy. State Laurel M. Lee, Sens. Jason Brodeur and Linda Stewart, as well as Reps. Kristen Arrington, Melony Bell, Kamia Brown, Dan Daley, Sam Killebrew, Josie Tomkow, and Keith Truenow are on tap to attend.

The Capitol celebrates photographer Carlton Ward Jr., a longtime environmental conservationist. Image via Carlton Ward Jr.

“The Wild Florida Reception marks an opportunity to celebrate both Florida’s rich conservation legacy and its promising future. Land conservation is a tool that protects the places we love, offers habitat and room to roam for our native species, cleans and stores our water, provides ample outdoor recreational opportunity, supports Florida’s family farms and ranches, conserves the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and safeguards our natural heritage, all while accounting for Florida’s future growth,” Conservation Florida CEO Traci Deen said.

“Florida has led the way in conservation efforts in the past and is leading the way again. We’re celebrating that together.”

Those looking to drop by can shoot an RSVP to [email protected].

When the reception wraps at 7 p.m., the groups will hold a screening of “Saving the Florida Wildlife Corridor,” a short documentary produced by the National Geographic Society and Florida Wild. As the first film since the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act passed, it provides a window into the Florida Wildlife Corridor and aims to help viewers understand why protecting it is vital to Florida’s future.

The event is open to the public, but those looking for a seat should RSVP.


@TheRickWilson: That was a Presidential speech from a President who takes the job of Presidenting seriously and doesn’t spend his life polishing Putin’s junk.

@JuddLegum: Facebook’s News Feed has a bunch of far-right propaganda masquerading as news. So they’ve renamed it “Feed” Problem solved!

@DaveWeigel: Enes Freedom tells me that he’s not going to speak at CPAC, as previously announced. “I need to figure out this NBA stuff first,” he says. “So I won’t be going to CPAC now.”

@TarynFenske: Caring for orphans is Christ-like. Encouraging mothers to send their children 1,000s of miles, risking death, kidnapping & trafficking, while creating orphans isn’t. Archbishop (Thomas) Wenski knows the consequences of unaccompanied minors crossing the border but leaves out those details.

@MDixon55: DeSantis giveth, and he taketh away. Held presser to praise tourism numbers and hospitality industry that helps attract tourists, but asks when they will stop making staff wear masks “When are they going to liberate you from the mask?” DeSantis says he asks restaurant servers

@LoriBerman: Governor DeSantis and House leadership want to defund some of Florida’s largest public school districts by $200 MILLION for not bending to their political will. I am disgusted, to say the least. And I don’t think parents will appreciate it either.

@SteveBousquet: FL House Speaker Chris Sprowls is criticizing Democrats for “leading questions” about a highly controversial 15-week abortion bill. You’re kidding, right, Chris? This is democracy at work. It’s a political body, the “people’s house,” not a courtroom. Put that Bar license away.

@NikkiFried: Do me a favor and thank/tag a @FLHouseDems or @FLSenateDems member fighting for us in the Florida Legislature. The amount of awfulness they are trying to stop right now is unbelievable. They deserve all the love and help we can give.

@Chris_Minor10: It’s #GatorDay at the Capitol. Perfect day to work from home.

Tweet, tweet:

@AEdwardsLevy: was willing to accept “big air” and “skeleton” but I must draw the line at “monobob”

@JeffPassan: Pitchers and catchers were supposed to report today.


Synapse Florida tech summit begins — 1; ‘The Walking Dead’ final season part two begins — 4; Daytona 500 — 4; Special Election for Jacksonville City Council At-Large Group 3 — 6; Suits For Session — 7; St. Pete Grand Prix — 9; CPAC begins — 11; Biden to give the State of the Union address — 13; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 16; Miami Film Festival begins — 16; the 2022 Players begins — 20; Sarasota County votes to renew the special 1-mill property tax for the school district — 20; House GOP retreat in Ponte Vedra Beach — 35; the third season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 35; season two of ‘Bridgerton’ begins — 37; The Oscars — 39; ‘Macbeth’ with Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga begin performances on Broadway — 41; Florida Chamber’s 2nd Annual Southeastern Leadership Conference on Safety, Health + Sustainability begins — 42; Grammys rescheduled in Las Vegas — 46; ‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 61; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 65; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 71; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 71; federal student loan payments will resume — 74; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 79; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 98; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 100; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 106; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 143; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 156; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 174; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 198; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 233; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 268; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 271; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 303; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 366; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 401; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 527; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 611; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 891.


Ron DeSantis submits another heavily GOP-favored congressional map” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Governor’s map (P 0094), again submitted by counsel Ryan Newman, contains significant changes from a prior proposal. It’s also one that appears to strongly favor Republicans, with 20 districts supporting Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election compared to just eight carried by Biden, according to Redistricting & You. It retains the most controversial elements of the original draft, eliminating any district with a configuration similar to Florida’s 5th Congressional District. That seat, represented now by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, is considered by the Senate and House to be a protected minority seat. A configuration of the seat appears in all draft maps produced by either chamber of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Final offer? P 0094 is the latest congressional map from Ron DeSantis.

@NateMonroeTU: Like seriously, in 2014, a trial court uncovered an actual “conspiracy” to illegally manipulate redistricting — a plot that included the Legislature deleting nearly all the records it had on the process. Even *that* didn’t result in a map as bad as this one

Jacksonville activists warn ‘legal action’ if districts don’t change” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — The Jacksonville City Council redistricting plans faced their most serious threat of a lawsuit yet: Four local activist organizations have called on the Rules Committee to redraw the plans to avoid the “legal problems that would follow.” The letter from the ACLU Northeast Florida Chapter, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters and the Jacksonville NAACP decried what the organizations called an “intentional and unnecessary packing of Black voters.” The letter attached a detailed analysis that found Jacksonville’s Black residents deserve federal protections under the Voting Rights Act. Such an analysis is often the first step in preparing to file a lawsuit. Some experts have said the city’s redistricting plan might violate the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by packing Black voters.

Voting advocates call truce on legislative maps in Florida’s redistricting fight” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — After years of litigation and bitter opposition from the Republican-led Legislature, the coalition of voter advocacy groups that brought the state its redistricting standards have called a truce. FairDistricts Now, and its consortium of voting advocates, will not oppose the House and Senate redistricting maps passed by the Florida Legislature two weeks ago, setting the stage for the plans to serve as the political boundaries for the 120-member House and 40-member Senate for the next decade. “Something happened yesterday that has not ever happened before,’’ said Ellen Freidin, chief executive officer of FairDistricts Now, a nonpartisan organization that worked to pass the 2010 constitutional amendment to impose new redistricting standards in Florida.


‘Lying is a sin:’ DeSantis’ Press Secretary says Miami archbishop lied about Governor’s remarks” via Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — DeSantis’ office escalated the war of words on Tuesday with the leader of Florida’s Roman Catholic Church, saying Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski “lied” last week when he spoke against an executive action that targets shelters housing unaccompanied migrant youth. “Lying is a sin,” the Governor’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, wrote in a tweet. At the event, business and religious leaders along with immigration advocates opposed DeSantis’ immigration policies. Pushaw’s comments came on the same day that a Spanish-language ad blasting DeSantis for the shelter rule launched Tuesday on South Florida’s airwaves.

A battle of wills?

Governor’s Office worked to pressure Wilton Simpson on anti-union bill — DeSantis’ office pushed conservative groups to compel Simpson into advancing anti-union legislation, a move that included campaign-style ads in the Trilby Republican’s district. Matt Dixon of POLITICO reports that “roughly a half-dozen top DeSantis staffers” started calling groups that supported the bill, which, in part, bans collection of union dues directly from paychecks. Despite support from business groups and passing several times in the House, the proposal frequently died in the GOP-controlled Senate. One of the groups contacted, the conservative Club For Growth, spent $75,000 in ads in Simpson’s SD 10, asking people to urge him to “hear the bill now.” Scott Parkinson, the group’s vice president of governmental affairs, served as one of DeSantis’ congressional staffers.

DeSantis now backs taking $200 million from schools that mandated masks” via Skyler Swisher and Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis now supports a plan to withhold $200 million in funding from 12 school districts that mandated masks because of the pandemic, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. After discussions with state Rep. Randy Fine, who proposes the budget measure, DeSantis is on board, press secretary Christina Pushaw wrote. On Friday, DeSantis said he would not support the idea, drawing complaints from the school districts and Democrats. DeSantis remains committed to the idea of a private right of action for parents to sue if they think school mask mandates harmed their children, Pushaw said.

@JKennedyReports: Fla Senate not on board (yet). But outcome of two-against-one fights in Legislature are easy to predict

DeSantis opposes environmental budget that speeds up wetlands permitting — Facing DeSantis’ opposition, SB 2508 would allow quicker wetlands permitting and state land conservation programs, reports Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida. However, it would also allow utilities to make donations to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to take advantage of the speedier process. DeSantis bases his opposition, Ritchie reports, on that the bill is being “rammed through” the legislative process, risking the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The full Senate is scheduled to take up the state’s proposed budget and the accompanying budget conforming bills on Thursday.

Jimmy Patronis defends ‘organic’ legislative process on bill restricting LGBTQ discussions” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s Chief Financial Officer lauded the “organic” process in the Legislature Tuesday while discussing a controversial piece of legislation. During an appearance on the right-of-center One America News Network, Patronis was asked to weigh in on what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, legislation in Senate and House committees that could restrict discussions of gender issues in schools. SB 1834 and HB 1557, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley and Rep. Joe Harding, would prohibit schools from encouraging classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity that are not considered age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.

Senate nears vote rebuking Joe Biden admin for removing Colombian FARC rebels from terrorism list” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Florida Senate is one vote from formally opposing a move by Biden’s administration to remove the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) from the United States’ list of foreign terrorist organizations. The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously Monday for a resolution (SR 1064) by Sen. Ileana Garcia expressing the chamber’s commitment to Colombia and condemnation of FARC. On Nov. 30, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced his department was revoking the designation of FARC as a foreign terrorist organization and amending the designation of its leader and other groups.

Ileana Garcia presents a formal rebuke to Joe Biden.

Senate panel passes heightened lobbying restrictions despite process questions” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Senate is ready to consider legislation that would further restrict former officials from lobbying in the years after they leave public service. The House unanimously passed a pair of bills (HB 7001/HB 7003) on Thursday to implement 2018’s Amendment 12, which places business and lobbying restrictions on former lawmakers. Penalties under the measures would include fines up to $10,000 and forfeiting money earned from illegally lobbying. Violators could also receive public censure or reprimand. Senators do not have analogous bills to the House bills, filed by Rep. Traci Koster. But in a rare move, the Senate Rules Committee took up the House bills directly on Tuesday, preparing the bills for the full Senate’s consideration.

DeSantis orders flags at half-staff Wednesday to honor judge” via WTXL — The Governor’s Office added in a news release beginning Wednesday from sunrise to sunset that flags at the Florida Capitol, the Miami-Dade County Courthouse in Miami and the city of Miami fly at half-staff for retired 3rd District Court of Appeal Judge Mario P. Goderich. Goderich immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba in 1961 and became an American citizen eight years later. Goderich was appointed as Judge of Industrial Claims by then-Gov. Reubin Askew in 1975. In 1978, Goderich was appointed judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court. In 1990, he was elevated to the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

—TALLY 2 —

House committee approves bill seeking to differentiate unwanted sexual gestures and simple battery” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Legislation seeking to help police officers better identify perpetrators of unwanted sexual encounters is on to its final committee, after being approved in a unanimous vote Tuesday by the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill (HB 379), filed by Rep. Linda Chaney, would specify what constitutes a crime of lewd or lascivious molestation upon a person older than 16. Under current law, a person who commits an act of unwanted sexual touching on an individual over 16 would be charged with simple battery. This legislation would differentiate sexual crimes from simple battery.

Hands off: Linda Cheney’s bill would make unwanted touching a bigger crime.

Lawmakers are moving bills allowing non-emergency inpatient care to be delivered at home” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida hospitals would have the ability to use paramedics to offer inpatient services at patients’ homes under a bill that moved through the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday morning. The bill (SB 1222) is now ready for full Senate consideration. Sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, the bill is similar to its House counterpart (HB 937), which will next be heard by the House Health & Human Services Committee. The bills authorize certified paramedics working under the supervision of a physician to perform essential life support services, advanced life support services, and additional health care services to acute care at-home patients in non-emergency community settings.

House panel approved bill granting first responders more time to file PTSD claims” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The state may soon provide first responders more time to file a workers’ compensation claim related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) under a bill advanced Tuesday by the Senate Rules Committee. State law requires first responders to file a claim no less than 90 days after the “manifestation” of PTSD. However, the proposal (SB 1066) would change the deadline to 90 days after a traumatic event or a diagnosis. Sen. Danny Burgess is the bill sponsor. He and proponents assert the current timeline is inadequate. The Senate Rules Committee agreed and unanimously approved the bill.

Space Florida decries lack of financing money in budget bills” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Both the Senate and House budget bills lack $6 million requested by Space Florida and the Governor for a financing fund, leading officials to plead for it Tuesday. Space Florida President Frank DiBello and the agency’s board chair, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, decried the lack of funding as damaging to current and future space business development efforts. The annual $6 million appropriation for Space Florida would be used to set up financing for aerospace companies agreeing to build in Florida, particularly on the Space Coast.

House inches closer to approving sixth appellate court” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida could soon gain a sixth appellate court district under budget bills being considered by the Senate and House. If approved, it would mark the first time a new appellate court was added in the state since 1979. House members discussed HB 7027 Tuesday, part of a slate of budget bills that would create the 6th District Court of Appeal in the Tampa area, and rearrange the district courts that make up the appellate courts in Jacksonville, Orlando and Southwest Florida. The bill sponsor, Rep. Tommy Gregory, said the change would make the court system more efficient and therefore generate more confidence and trust in the system. He noted 10,000 cases per year in 1979 when the last new DCA was added, compared to 20,000 today.

Should gas stations or utilities control electric vehicle charging?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — During Sunday’s Super Bowl, the nation’s auto industry sent the message that the future is in electric vehicles. That future comes with a catch; if you’re on a long drive, you’ll need to recharge your car’s battery. The issue gets to the heart of what is emerging as an electric vehicle charging war in the Florida Legislature: Should the state’s investor-owned utilities, FPL, Duke and Tampa Electric, own the charging stations, or should gas stations and charging manufacturers be allowed to compete? There are an estimated 58,000 electric vehicles in Florida and, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Florida has the third-largest electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in the country, behind California and New York.

Bill requiring American-made iron and steel in public works projects forges on” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Anthony Rodriguez ran into some resistance Monday while advocating for his proposal to require state and local governments in Florida to use American-made iron and steel exclusively. His bill (HB 619) still received more than enough support Tuesday from the House State administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee. If passed and signed by DeSantis, the bill would require taxpayer-funded public works to domestically source iron and steel products. The rule would apply to various governmental entities, including county and municipal governing boards, school districts, taxing districts, colleges and universities.

Joe Gruters’ beach smoking bill ready for Senate floor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Senate Rules Committee Tuesday advanced legislation (SB 224) that would give counties and cities the power to regulate smoking in public parks. The bill now moves forward for consideration by the full Senate. Sen. Gruters said in addition to restoring this power to local governments, allowing beaches to prohibit smoking would be a boon to tourism. He noted many localities, including his home county of Sarasota, attempted to enact local rules in the past. But a lawsuit by the ACLU resulted in a judge in 2017 tossing out all local bans on smoking on Florida beaches. Gruters said snuffing out smoking could be a boon for many beach economies. He noted that ranking sites award points to beaches that bar smoking.

Bill allowing swim-up bars at hotels, theme parks, entertainment venues floats ahead” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A bill allowing the construction and operation of aquatic bars serving food and beverages at hotels, theme parks and entertainment venues cleared its second-to-last House committee Monday with nary a splash of opposition. The House State Administration and Technology Committee unanimously OK’d a bill (HB 719) by Rep. David Smith to potentially invite a flood of swim-up bars across Florida. Swim-up bars are currently allowed in private residences, but state law prohibits them in public pools because food and beverages are not allowed there. Smith’s bill, to which Sen. Ed Hooper has filed a companion (SB 1044), would undo that prohibition of in-pool bars at public lodging establishments, theme parks and entertainment complexes.

Bills to fight stunt driving revs through Senate, House panels” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Legislation to crack down on “street takeovers” and stunt driving blew through House and Senate panels on Tuesday. State law already prohibits street takeovers and stunt driving as a dangerous activity alongside street racing. A pair of bills (SB 876/HB 399) would allow law enforcement to broaden their net to enforce banned sideshow activities, such as burnouts, doughnuts, drifting and wheelies. The proposal also increases penalties for impersonating an officer, including using flashing lights, from a noncriminal violation to a first-degree misdemeanor. Codifying the acts would allow police to use video evidence to enforce the law.


DeSantis, Ben Shapiro & Co. want to put my kid in the closet” via Tim Miller of The Bulwark — In Florida, DeSantis’ Republicans are plotting with an assist from Ben Shapiro and the conservative media set: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Part Deux: Scholastic boogaloo. If they are successful in Florida, they won’t let teachers or students to talk about “Bruno” (their loving, committed same-sex partner or LGBT family member) and the silence will be enforced by Florida Man. This is especially a concern in the most sensitive scenario: safety precautions when a student is struggling with questions about their own sexuality or identity. Conversations with mentors at school can be an important outlet. But a “Don’t Say Gay bill would make administrators especially reluctant to have staff engage for fear of legal reprisals. In short, they “want kids to be fearful.”

Outed: Why does Ben Shapiro want to keep LGBTQ people closeted? Image via AP.

Jimmy Patronis cheers advance of anti-fraud package — CFO Patronis praised the House State Administration & Technology Appropriation Subcommittee for advancing one of his legislative priorities on Tuesday. Among the bill’s (HB 749) many provisions is a new law requiring companies to let consumers cancel recurring subscriptions as easily as they sign up for them. I have made it my mission to empower and protect consumers, which is why this Legislative Session I’m fighting to force big corporations to allow Floridians to easily cancel subscriptions without forcing consumers to hop through a bunch of hoops,” he said, adding “ … the people of Florida are lucky to have someone like Rep. (Chuck) Clemons who’s got their backs when it comes to fighting fraud and holding big corporations accountable to consumers.”

AFP-FL, FRF back bill to expand vaccine access — Americans for Prosperity-Florida and the Florida Retail Federation this week endorsed legislation (SB 1892/HB 1209) that would allow pharmacy technicians to administer a broader range of vaccines. The groups said the proposal would boost vaccine access, particularly for Floridians in rural areas, while also providing much-needed relief for providers in hospitals and other care settings.“ To give more Floridians — especially those who are vulnerable — a greater shot at health and safety, we need as many qualified, dedicated health care professions as possible involved in the care they were trained to provide,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander. FRF president and CEO Scott Shalley added, “This legislation will support current efforts to expand health care in Florida through the hard work of Florida pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns.”

House panel lauded for advancing EV charging legislation — The House Committee on Tourism, Infrastructure & Energy advanced a bill (HB 737) Tuesday that would encourage private investment in the state’s electric vehicle charging network, earning praise from the Charge Ahead Partnership. Charge Ahead Partnership executive director Jay Smith said the bill’s passage “sent a strong message that the Sunshine State is ready to lead the country in allowing the free-market and private investment to bring EV chargers to more communities.” He added, “This is exciting news for Floridians who own an EV or are contemplating purchasing an EV but have hesitated doing so because of insecurities about where to charge.”

Florida’s faux no-fault fix: The saga continues” via Chris Tidball of Property Casualty 360 — Over the years, there have been many attempts to fix, sunset or even repeal Florida’s no-fault system. The result has consistently been the same: Florida remains the most fraud-prone state in the nation, with motorists paying some of the highest insurance premiums around. Last year, legislators finally succeeded, passing a bill to repeal PIP while mandating bodily injury coverage. The Governor vetoed this bill. Now we are into 2022, and the no-fault insurance repeal reemerges.


Refugee Day at the Capitol — Rep. Marie Woodson, joining first-generation refugees and their families, will celebrate the contribution of refugees and share their stories with state lawmakers for their annual Florida Celebrates Refugee Day. The event will also feature cultural performances. 11:30 a.m., a news conference will be held in the 4th Floor Rotunda.

Abortion rights advocates march to the Capitol Wednesday — Abortion rights advocates from across the state will march to and around the Florida Capitol on Wednesday to mark their opposition to the proposed 15-week abortion ban (HB 5), which is expected to go before the full House that afternoon. In addition to #BansOffOurBodies banners and messaging, the group will be donned in shirts citing Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution: “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life.” The march will begin at the Florida People’s Advocacy Center at 1:30 p.m. Marchers will be joined by Planned Parenthood leaders and Rep. Anna Eskamani. The crowd will feature advocates from Tampa Bay, Orlando, Gainesville, Tallahassee and elsewhere.

— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 1950, from Sen. Jason Brodeur, to make changes to Florida’s Medicaid managed-care program, 10 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 364, from Sen. Bean, to make a series of changes related to specialty license plates, 10 a.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 1728, from Sen. Jim Boyd, to change the state’s property-insurance system and address issues such as coverage for roof-damage claims, 1 p.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 760, from Sen. Lori Berman, to boost laws against human trafficking, including addressing prostitution-related crimes, 1 p.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets to consider SB 268, from Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., to designate Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Day.” 1 p.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The House will convene for a floor Session, 2:30 p.m., House Chamber.


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

— House Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee meets, 8 a.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee meets, 8 a.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

— House Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee meets, 8 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

— House Finance and Facilities Subcommittee meets, 10:30 a.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

— House Government Operations Subcommittee meets, 10:30 a.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meets, 10:30 a.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee meets, 10:30 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jason Allison, Robert Hosay, Foley & Lardner: The Greentree Group, Maxim Healthcare Staffing Services

Al Balido, Anfield Consulting: Beach Towing Services, Charlotte County Airport Authority, City of Key Colony Beach, City of Punta Gorda

Lisa Henning, Timmins Consulting: National Association of College Stores

Warren Husband, James Daughton, Douglas Bell, Leslie Dughi, Allison Liby-Schoonover, Aimee Lyon, Andrew Palmer, Karl Rasmussen, Metz Husband & Daughton: Centene Corporation, Columbia County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Associated General Contractors Council, The Florida Bar Business Law Section, Protect America Now, UPS

Rob Johnson, The Mayernick Group: Verra Mobility

Andrew Kalel, Sunrise Consulting Group: AmeriHealth Caritas Health Plan, Citrus County Board of County Commissioners, Florida Bail Agents Association

Jonathan Kilman, Mario Bailey, Paul Lowell, Gerard O’Rourke, Converge Public Strategies: Solar Mosaic

Zachary Lombardo, Woodward Pires & Lombardo: City of Everglades City

Chris Lyon, Lewis Longman & Walker: Le Magnifique

Minnie Merritt: Nemours Foundation

Randy Osborne: Florida Eagle Forum

Larry Overton, James Card, Joel Overton, Larry J. Overton & Associates: CitiPACE Holding Company

Alan Pasetsky: Global Business Alliance

Chanel Prunier: Students for Life Action

Mark Sexton: Alachua County

Devon West: Broward County

Walter White: AAR Corp

Desinda Wood-Carper, DC Strategies: DEPA Service Partners, Town of Pembroke Park


Lentil soup; mixed garden salad and three dressings; potato salad; cucumber, tomato and feta salad; turkey BLT wraps; honey fried chicken; California melt; steamed broccoli; mac and cheese; cupcakes for dessert.


Radio ad targets DeSantis’ ‘disgusting’ comments on shelter for migrant children” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Spanish-language radio ads started to run Tuesday targeting DeSantis’ actions that will close homes that shelter unaccompanied migrant children. DeSantis said it was “quite frankly disgusting” to compare Cuban children who came to Miami 60 years ago with those coming to the United States from Central America and other locations south of the U.S. border now. A radio ad funded by a group called the American Business Immigration Coalition Action will be running, teeing off on DeSantis’ “disgusting” comment. The group called it a “six-figure buy” without elaborating further. “’Disgusting’ is that Gov. DeSantis is trying to benefit himself politically by attacking innocent immigrant children who are only seeking refuge, and to top it off, he did it in Miami, Florida’s own Ellis Island,” says the English translation of the ad.

NCH Healthcare System pays $5.5 million to settle allegations of improper donations to boost Medicaid payments” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — $5.5 million to the federal government to resolve allegations that it made improper donations to boost its share of Medicaid funding. The federal agency says NCH made the improper donations to two local governments, the Collier County School District, through free nursing and athletic training services and by paying certain “financial obligations” of Collier County government. The federal agency did not detail the financial obligations that it says NCH paid. NCH said that the settlement is not an “admission or liability,” and that the U.S. government didn’t concede that their claims are not well-founded.

Attorney: Indicted Joel Greenberg associate is terminally ill” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — One of the two associates of Greenberg charged with taking part in a multimillion-dollar real estate fraud scheme has advanced kidney cancer and likely has less than a year to live, his attorney told a federal judge Tuesday. “He has six to 12 months left to live, and that may be optimistic,” Orlando attorney Brian Phillips said to U.S. District Judge Anne Conway during a video teleconference regarding the trial status for James Adamczyk. Phillips added that Adamczyk received word Tuesday morning that he also has become infected with COVID-19. The attorney asked to delay the start of his client’s trial until this summer.

What’s in a name? UCF’s latest fiasco over misused naming rights money” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Back in 2018, the University of Central Florida went through a scandal for misspending millions of dollars on construction projects. The debacle cost the school its president, who resigned in early 2019. According to new documents, more problems from that era are still resurfacing years later. This time, a UCF investigation found a near fiasco over the basketball arena’s lucrative naming rights as well as a powerful organization within UCF meeting secretly and transferring money around to give the optics of better finances. The unnamed whistleblower criticized the investigation’s findings as “too little, too late,” coming more than two years after the person’s concerns were first reported.

Another black eye for UCF?

New U.S. sea rise projections are lower but still forecast grim future for Florida” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — As attention and urgency ramp up around the world over the looming dangers of climate change, a major new federal report released on Tuesday offers a surprising forecast: It actually reduces the amount of sea-level rise the world is expected to see as the Earth warms. For South Florida, the region with the most coastal real estate at risk, the sobering prediction is that the sea will continue to rise, about 11 inches by 2040, but the latest forecast is markedly less than atmospheric modeling runs produced just five years ago. That previous forecast called for 17 inches by 2040, a level likely to produce regular and damaging tidal flooding in low-lying areas from Key West to Palm Beach County and beyond.

Floridian Partners spins off Miami branch, now rebranded as Prodigy Public Affairs” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Floridian Partners, LLC announced it has formally spun off its Miami office. That Miami firm will now be rebranded as Prodigy Public Affairs, LLC. Floridian Partners had operated with partners in dual Tallahassee and Miami offices. Now, the Miami wing will serve as its own firm, run by partners Rodney Barreto and Brian May. Charles Dudley, who owns Floridian Partners alongside Jorge Chamizo, confirmed the move. “Rodney and Brian will continue their public affairs and consulting practice with their entire team in Miami as Prodigy,” Dudley said.


Florida COVID-19 update: Omicron surge continues to fade as positivity rate drops into single digits in parts of South Florida” via David Schutz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida’s fading omicron surge hit new lows as the state reported the seven-day average for new cases dipped below 9,000 and the testing positivity rate for much of South Florida dropped fell 10% for the first time since Dec. 19. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also fell on Monday to 5,316, down nearly 28% in a week and 55% from its peak during the omicron surge just over a month ago. There were 879 COVID-19-infected patients in intensive care units on Monday, a one-week drop of 23%. The hospital data combines patients admitted for COVID-19 with those admitted for reasons other than COVID-19 or who were infected after admission.

‘Liberate your employees’: DeSantis floats no-mask ‘workers’ bill of rights’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis suggested that Floridians need a “workers’ bill of rights.” However, that bill of rights would be focused rather narrowly, with the Governor calling on hotels and convention centers to “liberate your employees from forced mask requirements.” “I hate to say it, but I think we need a workers’ bill of rights on some of this stuff,” the Governor said, so that people can “breathe freely.” DeSantis described his experience as a public speaker, observing the dichotomy between the unmasked audience “cavorting” and servers and bar staff forced to mask up by corporate. “I don’t think any of these resorts or restaurants should be making these servers wear masks,” DeSantis said. “They don’t want to wear them.”

Breathe free: Ron DeSantis wants hospitality workers to drop the masks.

Hillsborough hospitals to share $16.4 million in COVID-19 aid” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Three hospitals in Hillsborough County are poised to share $16.4 million in federal American Rescue Plan aid to expand COVID-19 treatment and mental health care. Proposed agreements with Tampa General Hospital, BayCare Health System’s St. Joseph’s Hospital-North and AdventHealth Carrollwood Hospital are scheduled to be considered Wednesday by Hillsborough County Commissioners. Florida ranks third highest in the nation for prevalence of mental illness, 12th highest for serious mental illness and second in the nation for suicidal ideation.

COVID-19 in Leon County: Cases, hospitalizations continue to dwindle; K-12 schools see 57% drop” via Christopher Cann and Mike Stucka of USA Today Network — Parallel to the statewide trend, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Leon County continue their weekslong decline. As of Monday afternoon, there were 111 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in Tallahassee hospitals. Medical staff at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare were treating 79 patients, of which 19 were vaccinated and 50% were “incidental cases,” meaning patients were hospitalized for other injuries or illnesses but tested positive for COVID-19. Capital Regional Medical Center had 32 COVID-19-positive patients. Most were unvaccinated.

Disney removes face mask requirement for vaccinated guests” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Starting Thursday, vaccinated guests visiting Walt Disney World will be able to go maskless at indoor locations at the resort, including attractions, shops and restaurants. Regardless of vaccination status, all visitors aged 2 or older still have to mask up inside the resort’s enclosed transportation, including the monorail, Skyliner and buses. The resort is still asking unvaccinated visitors to wear face coverings indoors. Disney announced the change to its mask requirements Tuesday, marking the first time it has updated its face-covering policy in nearly seven months.

—2022 —

As Marco Rubio’s Senate re-election campaign racks up millions, his failed 2016 presidential campaign still owes vendors more than $800,000” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — Rubio has for years cultivated a reputation as a debt maven. In September, he co-introduced a bill to “begin to rein in our mounting debt crisis.” A decade ago, Rubio told President Barack Obama that America was becoming a “deadbeat nation under his leadership.” Rubio, 50, knows a thing or two about debt and deadbeats. Six years after Florida’s senior senator folded his 2016 run for President, Rubio’s campaign still owes its vendors $827,657.12, federal election records show.

Payback: Marco Rubio still owes from 2016. Image via AP.

Charlie Crist slams DeSantis’ move to strip $200M from schools over masks — Under DeSantis, “Florida is only ‘free’ if people do what he says,” Crist said in a statement. “He’s taken this latest stunt too far by signaling he’ll back stripping $200 million from schools that opted to implement common-sense masking requirements to protect kids and teachers from COVID-19. It’s absolutely unconscionable. That’s not how democracies are supposed to work. Our parents, teachers, and students deserve better.”

Florida LGBTQ Democrats tackle turning a ‘terrifying’ year into election results” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus gathered for its first in-person conference since the pandemic began to address what members described as an increasingly hostile political climate to gay and transgender Floridians. “Last year was a brutal year in Tallahassee, and we didn’t think they could go any further, but this year they have,” Stephen Gaskill, president of the caucus, told attendees. The question top of mind for the caucus, and for Democrats running in 2022: how to turn voters’ anger over contentious bills into mobilization. Concern over Florida bills related to LGBTQ issues is not new. In 2021, many LGBTQ Floridians were outraged by a law banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ scholastic sports.

Fort Walton Beach native Bryan Jones aiming to be ‘serious’ GOP challenger to Matt Gaetz” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Jones, a U.S. Air Force Special Operations pilot and Fort Walton Beach native, said he is running because he believes Gaetz isn’t effectively serving Northwest Florida. “He’s no longer representing the best interest of the people here,” Jones said. “For me, it’s service-over-celebrity is the way I look at it. I’ve lived a life of public service, and I go to where I’m called.” Jones said he felt called to run and left a 14-year active career in the Air Force to run against Gaetz.

Palm Beach Republicans censure Mike Caruso over endorsement flap” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Endorsing a Democratic candidate in her Primary Election for a state House seat has landed one of Palm Beach County’s few Republican lawmakers in hot water with the county’s Republican Executive Committee. The organization voted to censure Rep. Mike Caruso at its meeting Wednesday for endorsing Katherine Waldron in her bid to replace term-limited Rep. Matt Willhite, representing House District 86. About 200 people were at the meeting and voted to censure via voice vote. Waldron is one of three Democrats running for the House district. One Republican, Saulis Banionis, has also filed for the seat.

David Richardson says he will resign from Miami Beach Commission for House run” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Miami Beach Commissioner Richardson says he plans to resign from his position to run for the Florida House this November. Richardson, a Democrat who served in the House for six years before being elected to the City Commission in 2019, announced Tuesday on Facebook that he will run in the newly redrawn House District 106, which includes Miami Beach and other coastal communities in Miami-Dade County. His Commission term ends in 2023. Richardson would need to resign from the Commission by Nov. 8 to comply with Florida’s resign-to-run law, according to City Attorney Rafael Paz. Richardson would need to submit a resignation letter before qualifying in June for the House seat, though it would not have to go into effect until November, Paz said.

Two election supervisors at federal trial doubt new law will interfere with General Election” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — Two county supervisors of elections, under questioning by attorneys for the state and the GOP, testified Monday that they don’t expect Florida’s new voting restrictions to materially change the way they administer elections. Christina White, the supervisor for heavily populated Miami-Dade County, said she plans to place ballot drop boxes for the November general election at 28 locations, the same number as during the last off-year general election in 2018; she offered 33 locations during the presidential-election cycle in 2020 when more voters participated, she said. Similarly, requirements in the voting law at question (SB 90), which the Legislature adopted last year at the urging of DeSantis, won’t require people already on file requesting mail-in ballots to reapply to vote in this year’s elections.

Brace for impact: The state’s new rules shouldn’t disrupt the upcoming elections, says Christina White.

Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene wants tax increase for teacher pay, arts, sports” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — One year since Duval County Public Schools’ sales-tax referendum went into effect, Jacksonville locals may be asked to vote on a ballot measure for a 1 mill property tax increase to benefit the school district. The district is experiencing a teacher shortage “crisis” and needs to improve the experiences it provides to students interested in arts and athletics programs, Superintendent Greene told School Board members Tuesday at a workshop meeting. In a 22-page packet, the district details how teacher vacancies are at an all-time high, currently totaling around 400, and how students’ experiences play an essential role in student retention rates. A 1 mill increase would generate an estimated $81.8 million per year.


Joe Biden HHS estimates $30B needed in new COVID-19 aid” via Alice Miranda Ollstein of POLITICO — The Biden health department needs at least $30 billion to keep its wide-ranging COVID-19 response work going, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told congressional appropriators in charge of crafting a supplemental pandemic funding package on Tuesday. Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican overseeing health funding in the upper chamber, said Becerra talked to him and other lawmakers and staff that morning about the administration’s hope that the funding could be part of the expected supplemental bill that rides alongside the 2022 omnibus lawmakers are currently crafting. The request comes amid Biden officials’ warnings that the administration is running low on money for its domestic COVID-19 response.

We’re going to need a bigger budget. Image via AP.

Companies revert to more normal operations as COVID-19 wanes” via Anne D’Innocenzio of The Associated Press — For the first time in two years for many people, the American workplace is transforming into something that resembles pre-pandemic days. Tysons Foods said Tuesday it was ending mask requirements for its vaccinated workers in some facilities. Walmart and Amazon, the nation’s No. 1 and 2 largest private employers respectively, will no longer require fully vaccinated workers to don masks in stores or warehouses unless required under local or state laws. Tech companies like Microsoft and Facebook that had allowed employees to work fully remote are now setting mandatory dates to return to the office after a series of fits and starts.

What COVID-19 taught this mid-sized city about ending homelessness” via Joanne Kenen of POLITICO — At the start of 2020, right before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rockford, Illinois was poised to eliminate homelessness. That milestone resulted from more than five years of dedicated work to rethink how to tackle what often seems like an intractable problem, one that doesn’t just affect big cities like New York or Los Angeles. Like other mid-sized U.S. cities, Rockford had been dismayed by the numbers of the unhoused in its community. Now, with a heightened awareness of the health-housing nexus, and some federal funds available through pandemic recovery legislation, the city has sought to push ahead to end homelessness, not just among veterans, not just among those who are chronically homeless. What Rockford is really doing is ending “functional homelessness.” With support, diversion and preventive mechanisms in place.


Avocado prices could spike as U.S. suspends imports from Mexico” via Laura Reiley of The Washington Post — As Americans assembled their ingredients for Super Bowl guacamole over the weekend, troubling news emerged from the U.S. Agriculture Department: Avocado imports from Michoacán, Mexico, had been suspended. The import suspension comes as avocado prices hit record highs, 100% more expensive than they were a year ago, according to David Magaña, a senior analyst for RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working with Customs and Border Protection to allow avocados that were inspected and certified for export on or before Feb. 11 to continue to be imported.

Smashed: Be prepared to pay more for your guac.

Florida tourism tops pre-pandemic levels, DeSantis says” via Nathan Crooks of Bloomberg — DeSantis said Tuesday that tourism to the Sunshine State had topped pre-pandemic levels for the second quarter in a row, with 30.9 million visitors arriving from October through December. “In 2021, we had the most domestic visitation in the history of our state,” DeSantis said in a speech, noting that 118 million visitors came to Florida during the year from other parts of the country.


Vaccine scientists have been chasing variants. Now, they’re seeking a universal coronavirus vaccine.” via Carolyn Y. Johnson of The Washington Post — Volunteers are rolling up their sleeves to receive shots of experimental vaccines tailored to beat the omicron variant, just as the winter coronavirus surge begins to relent. By the time scientists know whether those rebooted vaccines are effective and safe, omicron is expected to be in the rearview mirror. Already, mask mandates are easing. People are beginning to talk about normalcy. By now, rebooting vaccines to match a new variant is becoming part of scientific muscle memory. Drug companies made vaccines to fight beta, delta and now omicron. None of those shots have been needed yet, but it is a short-term, shortsighted and unsustainable strategy to many scientists.

More Americans than ever enjoying outdoor health benefits. But racial inequities persist.” via Kyle Bagenstose of USA Today — Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 1 in 5 Americans began engaging in a new outdoor hobby, from birding to biking to backpacking, at least once a month. Prior studies showed a sharp uptick in outdoor activity early in the pandemic, including a crush of visitors at national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Last year, the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group, found 160 million Americans participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2020, an increase of 7 million from the year before and the largest one-year jump on record.


Biden has long-term inflation plan, but voter patience short” via Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden came into office with a plan to fix inflation, just not the particular inflationary problem that the country now faces. He believes that a cluster of companies controls too many industries, which reduces competition for both customers and workers. That leads to higher prices and lower wages in what the White House says is an average cost of $5,000 annually for U.S. families. Biden is now trying to remedy the situation with 72 distinct initiatives, everything from new rules for cellphone repairs to regulations on meatpacking to more merger reviews. Part of Biden’s dilemma is that reorienting a bureaucracy to promote competition takes time, and voters want to see inflation start dropping now.

Hurry up: Joe Biden has plans, but Americans are running out of patience. Image via AP.

White House, congressional Democrats eye pause of federal gas tax as prices remain high, election looms” via Tony Romm and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — The White House and top Democratic lawmakers are beginning to weigh a new push for a federal gas tax holiday, potentially pausing fees at the pump as part of a broader campaign to combat rising prices. The early deliberations come days after a group of vulnerable Senate Democrats introduced a bill that would suspend the gas tax of roughly 18 cents per gallon for the rest of the year, a measure Party lawmakers were expected to discuss at lunch Tuesday. For now, the White House has not offered any official, explicit endorsement of the policy. Behind the scenes, top aides have debated whether it would provide meaningful relief.


Rick Scott blocks post office reform in Senate, irking Chuck Schumer” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sen. Scott Monday night blocked a largely bipartisan U.S. Postal Service reform bill in the Senate, outraging Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and mystifying others. Scott did so when he objected to Schumer’s procedural move that would have pushed to the Senate Floor a House version of the bill that had been overwhelmingly approved by the U.S. House last week. But the version Schumer offered of the bill (House Resolution 3076) contained an error, which Schumer sought to dismiss as a “technical change.” Schumer attempted to use arcane Senate rules to get that bill to the Senate floor for a quick consent vote, with the understanding the technical change would be fixed later.

Anger: Rick Scott ‘mystifies’ the U.S. Senate. Image via AP.

One in four U.S. Democrats say their own Party failed to make use of its power” via Jason Lange of Reuters — One in four U.S. Democrats say their Party did not take full advantage of its grip on the White House and Congress last year, in a troubling sign for their voters’ enthusiasm in this year’s congressional elections. The finding echoes concerns raised by moderate Democratic members of Congress whose seats the Party will have to defend in the Nov. 8 election if it wants to keep its majorities. They said the Party had paid too much attention to its failures and not enough to successes like the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed in November. 28% of Democrats said their Party could not get things done last year because they were too busy fighting each other or lacked resolve. Forty-seven percent blamed Republicans for blocking Democratic efforts, and only 25% said the Party had accomplished most of its goals.


Report: Conspiracy theorists fuel bump in extremist killings” via Michael Kunzelman of The Associated Press — Newer strains of far-right movements fueled by conspiracy theories, misogyny and anti-vaccine proponents contributed to a modest rise in killings by domestic extremists in the United States last year. Killings by domestic extremists increased from 23 in 2020 to at least 29 last year, with right-wing extremists killing 26 of those people in 2021, the Anti-Defamation League said in a report. The ADL’s report says white supremacists, anti-government sovereign citizens, and other adherents of long-standing movements were responsible for most of the 19 deadly attacks it counted in 2021. The New York City-based organization’s list also included killings linked to newer right-wing movements that spread online during the coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s presidency.


Donald Trump really was spied on” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — Special Counsel John Durham continues to unravel the Trump-Russia “collusion” story, and his latest court disclosure contains startling information. The indictment revealed that Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who represented the Clinton campaign, worked with “Tech Executive-1,” identified as Rodney Joffe, formerly of Neustar Inc. The indictment says Joffe used his companies and researchers at a U.S. university to access internet data, which he used to gather information about Trump’s communications. Joffe was “exploit[ing]” his “access to non-public and/or proprietary internet data,” including “Internet traffic pertaining to … the Executive Office of the President of the United States (“EOP”).”

But her emails: It seems Hillary Clinton was spying on Donald Trump after all.

Rubio on Trump White House records probe: ‘It’s not a crime, I don’t believe’” via Rebecca Falconer of Axios — Rubio rejected suggestions Republicans aren’t expressing as much alarm over concerns about Trump’s handling of presidential records as they were over Hillary Clinton‘s private emails. “I don’t know what’s true and what’s not because they have made up so many stories about Donald Trump,” said Rubio. “Nowadays, in the mainstream media, you just need one source to smear Donald Trump, and maybe you don’t even need that … The documents that were in Mar-a-Lago by all accounts were turned over … if the process wasn’t followed there, then that there needs to be something that happens about that.”

How Miami Beach traffic stops led drivers to online pitches for Donald Trump 2024 merchandise” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In Miami Beach, getting pulled over by city police didn’t just mean a ticket for some drivers. Officers also handed them an invitation to check out a website selling Trump 2024 merchandise. A city police flier in circulation until last week explaining how to resolve minor traffic tickets online dropped a crucial hyphen for a Miami-Dade County courts website, steering drivers away from a bland judicial portal and to an online store selling flags, videos and caps celebrating Trump and his potential third run for the White House. The flier has both the wrong and the correct address for the county court site, each in different parts of the instructional information.


Elsa caused $1 billion in damage amid Florida landfall and beyond, NHC says” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — New information on Hurricane Elsa spun into formation last week, seven months after the first hurricane of the 2021 season took form. The National Hurricane Center released its findings on the Category 1 hurricane that made landfall July 7 in the United States along Florida’s big bend as a tropical storm. The 2021 storm was notable to meteorologists for many reasons, including its longevity. Elsa lasted eight days as a named storm, the most named storm days for an Atlantic storm forming in July since 2008′s Bertha.

Tampa Mayor’s police chief pick gets pushback from some” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — Standing before a row of news cameras last week, Mary O’Connor said her first priority as Tampa’s police chief will be to connect with city residents to take a “team approach” to preventing and fighting crime. But O’Connor has some work to win over some skeptics, including some City Council members who must vote to confirm her. Mayor Jane Castor’s decision to choose O’Connor has puzzled and disappointed members of some key constituencies. Members of the city’s Hispanic community wonder why Castor would forgo the chance to pick interim police Chief Ruben “Butch” Delgado, a well-liked product of West Tampa whose appointment would help address a dearth of Hispanic city department heads.

Pushback: Some are not impressed with Jane Castor’s police chief pick. Image via YouTube.

Jacksonville Mayor: Curbside recycling returning April 4” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Mayor Lenny Curry announced Tuesday that curbside recycling will return on April 4. The city suspended pickup up recycling in early October to catch up on picking up yard debris and regular household garage. Yard debris had sat in front of homes for weeks in some neighborhoods. “The reason for the temporary suspension was to allow our contractors and city crews to respond to labor challenges and reduce the number of missed collections,” Curry said in a tweet. “We’ve seen notable progress, and therefore, we are prepared to resume services.” Staffing shortages made it difficult to fully operate all the routes for collecting garbage, recycling and yard debris.

Mysterious Tallahassee organization donates $100,000 in Sarasota County’s single-member districts referendum” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota County Commissioners are currently elected solely by the citizens of the district in which they live — a system commonly called single-member districts — after county voters in 2018 overwhelmingly agreed to switch to that election method. But Sun Coast Alliance, a Tallahassee-based political action committee, is pushing for this system to be replaced with one in which Commissioners are elected by voters countywide. The PAC’s views match those of the Sarasota County Commissioners, who voted in December to hold a special county charter referendum in a bid to overturn that single-member district system. The referendum is on the ballot for March 8.

The hit on a Miami TSA officer was likely bankrolled by a PPP loan, new records show” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — The hitman hired to murder a Miami federal airport officer was paid using a federal payroll protection loan intended to help small businesses during the pandemic. The accused mastermind of the plot, Jasmine Martinez, received a $15,000 PPP loan, which she claimed was to keep her single-employee beauty salon afloat last April. She then withdrew over $10,000 of that in the days leading up to the murder. On May 3, 2021, the accused hitman, an ex-con named Javon Carter, ran up to U.S. Transportation Security Administration officer Le’Shonte Jones as she walked into her South Miami-Dade apartment, shooting her multiple times.

Not so fast: Miami-Dade Commissioner blocks last-minute try for a ‘Kindness Day’” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — In Miami-Dade County government, celebrating kind acts can be hard. On Tuesday, Commissioner René Garcia used a parliamentary privilege to block legislation that appeared to lack controversy: Declaring Feb. 17 “Random Acts of Kindness Day in Miami-Dade County.” The problem? The resolution by Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz got added to the agenda within four business days of Tuesday’s meeting, making it a late item under the board’s rules. Any Commissioner can invoke “four-day rule” privileges and delay a vote on a late item until the next regular meeting. “I’m for process and transparency,” Garcia said in an interview. “There’s no reason why it has to be late.”

City drafts cruise ship regulatory ordinance” via Elliott Weld of Keys News — The City of Key West has published a draft ordinance that will put some restrictions on cruise ship activity in the city. They include banning ships dumping sewage or other refuse into city waters, requiring that vessels participate in “green marine” environmental certification, and establishing a city-funded coral restoration program.

Play by the rules: Key West is thinking of putting restrictions on cruise ships. Image via Safer Cleaner Ships.

SeaWorld effort to buy Cedar Fair falls short” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — SeaWorld Entertainment unsuccessfully tried to buy Cedar Fair parks and doesn’t expect to reach a deal. “In response to inquiries from various stakeholders, we confirm that our offer to acquire Cedar Fair was rejected,” the company said in a short news release. “Unfortunately, we do not see a path to a transaction.” Bloomberg had reported SeaWorld offered $3.4 billion — or about $60 per share — to buy Ohio-based Cedar Park which operates 11 parks across the country including Cedar Point and Kings Island in Ohio as well as Knott’s Berry Farm in California and Michigan’s Adventure. Cedar Fair previously said it would review SeaWorld’s unsolicited offer. After weathering the pandemic, SeaWorld has made it clear it’s looking to grow.

Leon Democratic Executive Committee asks Blueprint board members to return cash from FSU-connected donors” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The steering committee for the Leon Democratic Executive Committee voted 8-2 Monday to pass a resolution asking local elected officials sitting on the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency Board to return and stop accepting campaign contributions from supporters connected to Florida State University. The board, which contains Leon County and Tallahassee City Commissioners, is one step away from finalizing a $27 million allocation to FSU to help fund Doak S. Campbell Stadium repairs. The resolution was sparked after reports one board member received more than $20,000 from donors connected to FSU in January, ahead of the last vote on the issue later this month.

Four FSU online graduate programs listed in Top 25 by U.S. News & World Report rankings” via Mariah Wiggs of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University’s concerted effort to grow its graduate school program enrollment has been given an additional boost by U.S. News & World Report. Surpassing over 1,200 programs surveyed by the respected publication, four online programs at FSU are now listed in the Top 25 online graduate programs in the country. Of the four, two ranked in the Top 10. The College of Communication and Information’s online graduate program in information technology ranked No. 6 overall and No. 3 among public institutions. The College of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s online master’s degree in criminal justice ranked No. 6 nationally, two places higher than the previous year, and placed No. 5 among public universities.


The unbearable lightness of Biden” via Joseph Epstein of The Wall Street Journal — Something central is missing from Biden’s speeches, the same thing that is missing from the man. It’s gravitas — that dignity, seriousness and convincing solemnity that powerful public utterances carry. In his political career he has always seemed less a public servant than an operator, less a president than a backroom politician. One of Biden’s problems is that we don’t know what he truly believes. Because Biden seems so without solid principles, so without clear policies, so unpresidential, the U.S. feels sadly leaderless.


Maybe Biden should personally listen to Parkland’s dad plea for more gun control” via the Miami Herald editorial board — While our attention drifted elsewhere in the four years since a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed 17 people, Manuel Oliver recaptured it, starkly reminding us that the pain of losing a child does not ease. Oliver, whose son Joaquin, was gunned down and murdered along with 16 other students and faculty members on Valentine’s Day 2018, staged a dramatic protest Monday, the fourth anniversary of the tragedy. Maybe Biden should listen and give Oliver his meeting. Or this: First lady Jill Biden can meet with the grieving father Oliver when she visits Miami this week

Nearly $20 billion for Florida Infrastructure: The untold story” via Chris Hand for — In Florida, that local focus is where the Biden administration could do more in its efforts to tout a major infrastructure accomplishment that eluded previous Presidents — an achievement that will send Florida more than $19 billion to pay for roads, bridges, airports, transit, broadband, clean water, and other needs. Though Biden signed the Act — the White House has not maximized opportunities to communicate directly with Florida communities about the positive impacts of its $19 billion investment. The result has been a news vacuum that elected officials who opposed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure initiative have filled. Are these messaging efforts cynical? Yes. Disingenuous? Just ask PolitiFact. The administration was not there to tell its positive story, so others told a different story.

Anti-vaxx hypocrisy? DeSantis just keeps on trucking” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Last week, as truckers protested cross-border COVID-19 mandates, the Governor added his support. He vowed to investigate GoFundMe after the website diverted nearly $10 million in donations away from the self-described “Freedom Convoy.” In a tweet, DeSantis called it “fraud for @gofundme to commandeer … donations sent to support truckers and give it to causes of their own choosing.” He vowed to work with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody “to investigate these deceptive practices.” DeSantis said GoFundMe should refund the money. Moody, who takes her salary from Florida taxpayers but her marching orders from the Republican Party, surely would have been happy to involve her office. GoFundMe, however, has decided to issue refunds.

A tenuous balance: Supporting students while pushing their learning recovery” via Ileana Najarro of Education Week — At C.W. Ruckel Middle School in Niceville, so many kids were using their cellphones in class, that administrators loosened up their policy of confiscating them. Students had become heavily dependent on devices to help find answers quickly, a side effect of months of remote learning, and were expressing frustration when they had to wrestle with a question or problem on their own, said Steve Chambers, a social studies teacher. The individual anecdotes of frustration, stress, distraction, and anxiety students are experiencing this school year add up to a large, complicated reality of social-emotional and mental health needs that teachers must acknowledge and help address, at the same time that they must move children forward academically. It’s a difficult balance to strike.

The attempt to stifle Florida’s booming solar industry is an attack on consumers” via Dave Sillman and Sarah Matthes Edwards for the Tampa Bay Times — Solar is already the cheapest new source of electricity, which is why the solar industry is booming in Florida, across the nation and around the globe. The economic and social benefits of solar adoption, both direct and indirect, are profound and getting better every year as costs continue to decline and industry learning curves improve. Yet the Florida Legislature is considering bills this session, SB 1024 and companion HB 741, that we believe are an attack on our state’s solar industry and our rights as consumers to invest in cheaper electricity via rooftop solar. These bills propose changes to net metering that would dramatically lower the fair market rate solar customers now receive.

The Legislature is moving condo safety in the right direction” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Florida lawmakers are moving quickly to prevent another deadly condo collapse. Legislation in the House and Senate would subject older condominium buildings in Florida to regular inspection, with the House measure going further to help ensure that structural problems are actually addressed. These are essential starting points in improving safety for millions of residents. A federally appointed team of engineering experts is investigating what caused the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium. While understanding the science behind the tragedy is critical, the collapse also exposed dangerous gaps in how condominiums in Florida are managed and maintained. The House and Senate legislation would toughen that requirement and apply it statewide.

Kathy Colangelo: Surplus lines — a safety valve, not a substitute” via Florida Politics — As supply and demand for insurance ebbs and flows, a type of insurance known as “surplus lines” serves as a critical safety valve. During a hardening marketplace, when the coverage is too high or too risky for what traditional carriers are willing to embrace, it is not uncommon to see surplus lines filling in the gaps. The surplus lines industry is positioned to tailor coverage for unique risks and help consumers with challenging or hard-to-write circumstances. This is largely due to being regulated differently than traditional insurers. While surplus lines serve as an important piece in the overall insurance market puzzle, they are not a true substitute for a healthy domestic market.


The House learns of the Governor’s change-of-heart on holding back money to schools who kept mandating masks — on Twitter — in the middle of a floor Session.

Also on today’s Sunrise:

— Abortion rights activists get ready to march on the Capitol. Sunrise talks with Planned Parenthood organizers.

— Wild Florida Wednesday is here. It’s not what you think. Sunrise also talks with Conservation Florida about the event promoting wildlife and lands preservation.

— The legislator may make swim-up bars at hotels and such legal. Who knew they weren’t?

To listen, click on the image below:


‘Finally, I’m an Olympic medalist’: Ocala’s Joey Mantia wins bronze in team speedskate” via Paul Newberry of The Associated Press — Norway won its second straight Olympic gold medal in men’s team pursuit speedskating, and the Japanese women were headed for another gold as well Tuesday until one of their skaters crashed on the final turn. The stunning fall by Nana Takagi, who was at the back of a three-skater train and appeared to simply lose her balance, handed the women’s team pursuit gold to Canada. “Coming across the line, I just couldn’t believe it,” said Valerie Maltais. Added teammate Isabelle Weidemann, “We are still thinking, is this real?”

Go for gold: Team USA gets a pleasant surprise. Image via AP

Meet the ‘quirky’ goalie with the paleo diet and weird glasses who might lead Team USA to gold” via Greg Wyshynski of ESPN — Team USA goalie Strauss Mann understands how he’s perceived by others. He’ll spend five hours in the kitchen, preparing meals to maintain his strict paleo diet. He wears blue-light-blocking glasses on the bus to get a better night’s sleep. The 23-year-old goaltender is known to seek out coaches that can help with certain aspects of his game, exemplified by last summer’s sessions with a specialist that focused on opening his hips to improve his post-to-post mobility. “I’m OK with being a little bit different,” he told ESPN. “Maybe that makes people label me a certain way.”

— ALOE —

64th annual Daytona 500 sells out less than a week before race” via Brenda Argueta of Click Orlando — The Daytona International Speedway will see a sold-out crowd this weekend for the 64th annual Daytona 500. Sunday’s race is “a complete sellout,” according to the speedway. Speedway officials said in June 2021 the “anticipation” for the race and events is high following a year with limited capacity, masks, and social distancing guidelines in place.

Drunken, naked brawl breaks out at Disney World in wild scene” via Alexandra Steigrad of The New York Post — A “Jerry Springer”-style brawl broke out at Disney World between a pair of drunken, naked sisters, culminating in the duo tussling in the bushes after one slipped on the other’s vomit. The newly revealed, late October incident “reads like the plot of an episode of ‘The Jersey Shore,’” and is the latest in a series of headline-grabbing dust-ups at the Orlando theme park. The ill-fated evening started out with the sisters, tourists from New Jersey, grabbing dinner at Disney Springs at a steakhouse and then hitting an Irish pub for drinks. When the sisters, ages 29 and 31, were ready to go back to their hotel off the resort property, their phone died, and a Disney security guard helped them call an Uber. The Uber driver refused to take them, saying they were too drunk, so the security guard called a taxi.

And you think mask-wearing sets people off? Nothing works quite like alcohol. Image via AP.

A Vegas touch: Isle Casino Pompano Park to be rebranded as Harrah’s this fall” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Owner Caesars Entertainment announced the move Tuesday as it joined with its development partner The Cordish Cos., in the groundbreaking for a casino expansion project and the construction of a climate controlled-garage that will ensure that patrons won’t get rained on or overcome by subtropical heat on those hot South Florida summer days. Both companies are engaging in a years-long remake of Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park, designed as a city-within-a-city that boasts a hotel, office campus, several thousand apartment units, and a cinema, shops and restaurants. Toward the end of the 2020s, Caesars and Cordish will have supplanted the decades-old casino and harness racetrack with a 100,000-square-foot gambling area.


Best wishes to U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack, U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, state Rep. Dan Daley, our dear friend BillieAnne Gay, former Orlando Sentinel scribe Mike Griffin, St. Pete lawyer Ian Leavengood, and Lina Rojas of Florida State University.


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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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