Takeaways from Tallahassee — The torch is passed

Blue Tally Takeaways (3)
FSU celebrates its 16th president, Richard McCullough.

Passing the torch

Florida State University celebrated the inauguration of President Richard McCullough Friday.

McCullough became the university’s 16th president on Aug. 16, 2021. Before FSU, he spent decades in faculty and leadership at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities, created two companies, and held multiple patents.

Richard McCullough hugs his predecessor John Thrasher after receiving the ceremonial FSU President’s Medallion.

He was previously vice provost for research at Harvard University starting in 2012. Before that, he spent 22 years at Carnegie Mellon, where he began as an assistant professor in chemistry and eventually became the university’s vice president of research.

His ceremony was attended by FSU leadership, officials overseeing the State’s University system, and an audience full of people connected to the gannet and gold. Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey, Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Diann Williams-Cox, and County Commissioners Bill Proctor and Carolyn Cummings voted in favor of a $27 million Blueprint allocation to the university Thursday, were also in attendance.

Marshall Criser, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, said they could not have picked a better person to be FSU’s next president.

“We are behind you; we are ready, and go Noles,” Criser said.

Marshall Criser speaks during Richard McCullough’s inauguration.

Leadership from his previous universities was also in attendance. During the ceremony, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow and Carnegie Mellon President Emeritus Jared Cohon President spoke.

Bacow gifted McCullough a pen made from wood from a red oak tree on Harvard’s campus.

“May it inspire you as you write the next chapter in this community of scholars,” Bacow said.

Lawrence Bacow announces his gift to Richard McCullough.

During his remarks, McCullough talked about how he was a first-generation college student and how mentors in higher education helped him reach where he is today. He said FSU’s goal is to help students achieve their highest potential.

“Public universities are powerful drivers of social mobility,” McCullough said. “We at Florida State have a higher calling to give every student a fighting chance.”

Earlier in the day, McCullough hosted a panel discussion with faculty leaders at FSU, talking about his previous career and the future of higher education in America.

The panel included Harvard University Provost Alan Garber, Carnegie Mellon professor of Economics and Public Policy and Provost Emeritus Mark Kamlet, Editor-in-Chief of Science Family of Journals Holden Thorp and FSU’s VP for Research and professor of Classics Laurel Fulkerson and Dean of the College of Fine Arts James Frazier.

Panelists field questions from Richard McCullough about the future of higher education in America.

The education professionals discussed breakthroughs in biological science that allowed the COVID-19 vaccine to get developed quickly, the future of AI in diagnosis medical issues and solving scientific problems, and the importance of the humanities for communicating those developments, strengthening problem-solving skills, and developing interdisciplinary fields of study to push society further forward.

Thorp said the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines were developed is a sign of how far science has progressed, but that the lack of foresight that the pandemic would be turned into a political issue is a sign that social sciences and humanities are just as crucial for solving medical issues as the medical solutions themselves.

“We were really good with our pipettes but not very good at understanding the psychology of what was going to happen,” Thorp said.

___

Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel, and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Jason Delgado, Christine Jordan Sexton, Tristan Wood and the staff of Florida Politics.

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

House passes anti-woke, parental rights bills — The House on Thursday passed both the bill addressing “woke” corporate and classroom instruction (HB 7) and the bill limiting classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity (HB 1557). Democrats derided the pair of bills as hurtful to minority groups. But it’s not just Democrats who took a stand. Seven Republicans and one Democrat crossed party lines on HB 1557, which critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. And as the measure heads to the Senate, Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes says he would oppose the bill unless the bill is amended to limit classroom discussions on all “human sexuality.”

Senate confirms Joe Ladapo as Surgeon General — The Republican-controlled Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to confirm Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo despite complaints from Democrats that he was unqualified and a “rubber stamp” for Gov. Ron DeSantis and his COVID-19 policies. Democrats also complained that Ladapo lacked leadership skills, knew little about Florida, and did not appear ready to respond to potential future health emergencies. But Republicans pushed back against Democrats’ criticism and said Ladapo was highly qualified with a lengthy resume. While Senate leadership had criticized Ladapo for refusing to wear a mask around Sen. Tina Polsky despite her insistence, Sen. Aaron Bean urged Senators to look past the incident as a lapse in judgment.

Whatever happens in redistricting — In a never-before-seen move, the House is moving forward with a redistricting “product” rather than a congressional “map.” To address DeSantis’s veto threat and assuage concerns that the Governor’s proposed maps would be unconstitutional, the House Redistricting Committee voted 15-9 with a “primary” map to eliminate Florida’s 5th Congressional District, currently held by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. That map would replace CD 5 with a new district within Duval County that includes a high concentration of Black voters. To the chagrin of most Democrats (and a pair of Republicans), the plan consists of a secondary map if the courts toss out the primary map.

DeSantis signs COVID-19 claims bill — DeSantis signed a highly sought-after bill (SB 7014) to extend protections from COVID-19 liability lawsuits for nursing homes, hospitals and doctors. The current law that shields businesses and health care providers from COVID-19-related lawsuits was one of the first measures passed by the Legislature during the 2021 Session. However, those protections, including that a plaintiff must prove gross negligence or intentional misconduct, are set to expire at the end of March. The new bill extends protections for health care providers until June 1, 2023. The bill is a tacit acknowledgment that the pandemic remains an ongoing concern even as DeSantis and lawmakers have pushed policies to keep businesses and local governments from imposing mandates and lockdowns.

Immigration bills ready for chamber floors — In a rare move Wednesday, the Senate fast-tracked a bill (SB 1808) containing some of DeSantis’ priorities to crack down on illegal immigration. The bill bypassed its final committee, which Senate President Wilton Simpson told reporters was “so we could get it here a lot quicker … because we want to get it done.” On the House side, the bill (HB 1355) was also made ready for the floor this week after passing its final committee stop. While the Legislature is pushing forward with its versions, the bill doesn’t consider all five of DeSantis’ significant proposals for the “Biden border crisis.”

Tornado relief

DeSantis started a donation portal for Floridians impacted by tornadoes in Charlotte and Lee counties last month.

After the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s request for federal relief dollars, the agency and the Governor’s Office opened the portal at FloridaDisaster.org/Assistance. Survivors can also request assistance at the website.

“We cannot continue waiting on the federal government to provide relief to these Floridians,” DeSantis said. “After meeting with survivors last week, it’s clear they still need our help. We’ve helped community leaders launch this portal to expedite assistance for impacted residents, and we’re going to ensure they get help.”

Ron DeSantis isn’t waiting for federal tornado relief.

The State of Florida is partnering with the Charlotte Community Foundation to collect and disburse donations for disaster survivors. All donations made through the FloridaDisaster.org/Assistance portal are tax-deductible.

According to FEMA criteria, donations will be prioritized for survivors whose homes were assessed as being destroyed or sustaining significant damage. The state coordinates with Charlotte and Lee counties to connect survivors directly with the portal.

“These donations are going to directly provide assistance to our disaster survivors who need it most,” FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said. “The Division is working around the clock to connect disaster survivors with this vital resource, which will help them recover faster and begin to rebuild after experiencing extensive devastation.”

Blockchain blues

When DeSantis released his budget recommendations in December, he called for three pilot programs to help Florida embrace blockchain and cryptocurrency technology in some state transactions. But in the budgets passed by the House and Senate earlier this month, neither plan includes the crypto-friendly programs.

DeSantis’ recommended budget proposed $250,000 to create a program within the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to make vehicle titles available and transferable through blockchain technology.

Ron DeSantis welcomes crypto with open arms.

Another program would give $250,000 to the Agency for Health Care Administration to use blockchain technology to uncover Medicaid fraud and verify Medicaid transactions.

A third program would direct $200,000 to the Department of Financial Services to accept payments in cryptocurrency.

DeSantis’ office said last month that it still supported the DFS plan despite a major dip in the value of popular cryptocurrencies and their inherent volatility.

Those programs don’t appear in either the House or Senate budgets, which is usually not a good sign for its chances of making the final budget plan negotiated between the chambers.

Crime Stoppers nationwide

Attorney General Ashley Moody took a victory lap this week after Crime Stoppers USA announced plans to launch a nationwide hotline.

Moody, in October 2020, merged Florida’s multiple crime reporting hotlines into one — a model Crime Stoppers USA is now planning to adopt.

“The fact that the national Crime Stoppers program is adopting our statewide initiative is just another example of how Florida leads the nation in common-sense, innovative approaches to fighting crime,” Moody said. “We all play a role in the success of our state and nation. Our tool, **TIPS, will now allow communities across the country to assist law enforcement in fighting back against crime.”

The move, proponents say, will make it easier to report crimes anywhere in the nation. The call — which is always anonymous — will be routed to the office in the region where the call is made, all under one phone number.

“The opportunity to have **TIPS available across the United States gives all citizens quick and easy access to local Crime Stoppers,” said Crime Stoppers USA Executive Project Director Barb Bergin. “Anonymous tips help law enforcement solve and prevent crimes 24 hours a day in our country, with **TIPS the process will now be easier for all.”

In a video announcement, Orange County Sheriff John Mina joined other local law enforcement leaders calling for the public’s help.

We rely on members of the public to be our eyes and ears in their communities,” Mina said. “We continue to see crime decrease in Orange County, and we cannot do that ourselves — we need everyone to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities or knowledge of crime.”

To report tips anonymously about unsolved crimes, dial **TIPS. For emergencies, always dial 911.

To watch the alert, click on the image below:

Instagram of the week

Project Daring

Tallahassee Downtown has been named the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for February.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced the designation on Monday.

“I am happy to recognize Tallahassee Downtown as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month,” Lee said. “By hosting a variety of community events throughout the year and supporting public art projects, Tallahassee Downtown has created a sense of place as the heart of Florida’s Capital City.”

Downtown Tallahassee is this month’s Main Street Florida honoree.

Last year, Tallahassee received a “face-lift” with a large-scale mural titled “Project Daring,” located on Calhoun Street just north of Park Avenue.

Commissioned by the Junior League of Tallahassee and completed by local Tallahassee muralists Olivia Barattini and Savannah Salinas, Project Daring intends to highlight the past achievements of Florida women and inspire future leaders.

Commissioned by the Junior League of Tallahassee, the mural features Florida Women’s Hall of Fame inductees Zora Neale Hurston, Betty Mae Jumper and Marjorie Harris Carr.

Hurston, known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” was a Black author who portrayed racial struggles in the American South during the early 1900s. Jumper, also known as Potackee, was the first and so far, the only female chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Carr was an American scientist and environmental activist known for her conservation work in the Sunshine State.

Florida Main Street is part of the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources. The program revitalizes historic downtowns and encourages economic development through historic preservation.

Sentinel Landscape

Northwest Florida has been designated as a new “Sentinel Landscape,” a distinction issued by federal agencies to recognize sustainable land management practices around military installations.

The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership is a coalition of federal agencies, state and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. Among them is Enterprise Florida, which announced the designation.

“Enterprise Florida, the Florida Defense Alliance, and the Florida Defense Support Task Force were honored to have been team members in developing the proposal for this new Sentinel Landscape,” said Enterprise Florida President and CEO Marc Adler. “Under Gov. DeSantis’ leadership, we remain committed to working with Florida’s state agencies and federal government agencies to support specific projects to protect the many military bases, listed species, and precious lands and waterways across the Big Bend and Panhandle.”

Northwest Florida is the 10th designated sentinel landscape in the nation and joins Avon Park Air Force Range as the second in Florida.

The U.S. Agriculture, Defense, and Interior departments issue the designations. The three departments founded the Sentinel Landscape Program in 2013 through a legal agreement.

Florida Chief Resilience Officer Wesley Brooks said the designation would further the state’s efforts to sustain the military mission, rural economies, and Florida’s environment in partnership with our federal partners.

“The State of Florida is committed to national security and maintaining military readiness, including through a strong focus on the resilience of the inland and coastal communities that support critical defense installations across our state,” Brooks said.

To learn more about the program, click on the image below:

Know your dealer

A bill (SB 1076) that would ban the sale of kratom to Floridians under 21 years old cleared its final committee this week, setting it up for consideration by the full Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters, the bill would introduce a slew of regulations for the herbal extract, which has become a popular — and legal — recreational drug in recent years.

Kratom is a plant indigenous to Asia and the South Pacific in the same family as coffee. Like its cousin, many users grind it up, brew it and drink it. It even provides a stimulant effect.

However, unlike coffee, the plant also has effects similar to low-grade opioid painkillers. For that reason, the drug has caught the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which currently lists it as a “Drug of Concern.”

Joe Gruters has his eye on kratom.

Florida lawmakers have had their eyes on the herb for years, with some lawmakers pushing for an outright ban.

Gruters’ bill and the House companion, HB 1071 by Rep. Alex Andrade, wouldn’t go that far, but they would ensure that Floridians who snag a bag know what they’re getting into.

In addition to the minimum age provision, the bills would set up a series of quality-control regulations prohibiting kratom mixtures from containing certain additional ingredients, with a cap for others.

The House bill has not yet been heard in committee.

PBM on the move

Pharmacy benefit managers that don’t register with the state could face up to a $10,000 penalty under HB 357, which cleared the House with unanimous support Friday.

Filed by Rep. Jackie Toledo, HB 357‘s next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will hear the counterpart, SB 1476, on Monday.

Pharmacy benefit managers are responsible for managing the pharmacy benefits of about 270 million Americans. The bill’s staff analysis shows there are 66 PBMs registered in the state. Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and OptumRx have more than 89% combined market share.

Jackie Toledo is ready to slap big fines on PBMs who don’t play by the rules.

Toledo’s bill builds off the Florida Pharmacy Act, initially passed in 2014 and amended in 2018. The 2018 bill, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, required PBMs to register with the Office of Insurance Regulation by Jan. 1, 2019. That law did not provide for enforcement of the registration requirement.

The initial 2014 law established the rights that pharmacists are entitled to while being audited. Pharmacists are allowed under existing law to have seven days’ advance notice before any initial on-site audit can be conducted. Florida law precludes PBMs and insurers from conducting audits on claims submitted or settled more than 24 months from the audit date.

Not CPR, TCR

The Florida Legislature is inching closer to passing a requirement that 911 public safety operators complete telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation (TCR) training every two years.

A priority for the American Heart Association, the House passed HB 593 by Dana Trabulsy on Friday and sent the bill to the Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a similar proposal, SB 890, filed by Sen. Danny Burgess.

Danny Burgess and Dana Trabulsy team up to promote more specialized TCR training.

The bills amend state law to require public safety operators who take telephone calls and provide dispatch functions for emergency medical conditions to complete a cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation course tailored explicitly to telecommunications training.

According to the American Heart Association, there is no statewide standard requiring telephone CPR training and implementation in Florida. While some dispatch centers voluntarily give CPR instructions, a vast majority do not.

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin have passed similar legislation.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States annually. Access to CPR and defibrillation more than doubles a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest.

Seeking donors

Legislation to prevent life insurance companies from charging higher premiums for living organ donors has passed the House and nearly through the Senate.

The House on Thursday unanimously passed its bill (HB 1099) by Rep. Chris Latvala. That followed a unanimous vote Wednesday in the Senate Rules Committee to send the version by Sen. Janet Cruz (SB 1026) to the Senate floor.

Cruz told senators there are 4,276 Floridians on the kidney transplant waiting list while only 1,639 transplants were conducted last year. Moreover, 213 patients died while on the transplant waiting list.

Insurance companies should not discriminate against generous organ donors, say Chris Latvala and Janet Cruz.

Research physicians at LifeLink in Tampa say there is minimal risk for someone to donate an organ if given a clean bill of health, she added.

“Someone kind enough and generous enough to donate an organ should not be discriminated against for life insurance coverage,” Cruz said.

When it comes to enforcement, Cruz said officials would best be able to tell if insurance companies violate the law when someone goes to re-up their life insurance policy and see a change.

“We all know people that are waiting to receive organs,” Latvala told members. Many of those are loved ones.

“I hope each one of us mashes the green button in honor of those folks,” he continued.

Technical difficulties

Legislation (HB 1453) that would beef up Florida’s criminal penalties for stealing an individual’s sexually explicit pictures was dropped from the House Judiciary Committee agenda this week.

Rep. Joe Harding, the bill’s sponsor, told Florida Politics it was pulled for technical reasons: it is being reworked to match Sen. Lauren Book’s Senate version, SB 1798. He said the bill still has overwhelming legislator support and will return to the committee in the coming days.

Lauren Book and Joe Harding temporarily pull a deepfake ban for a technical reason. It will be back very soon.

The legislation bars someone from willfully and maliciously promoting sexually explicit deepfake images without the victim’s consent. That act would be a third-degree felony.

The measure also makes it a third-degree felony when someone “knowingly and unlawfully obtains a sexually explicit image of an identifiable person with the intent to promote such image.”

Individuals would also be able to sue for up to $10,000 in civil damages for those offenses.

Too broad

The controversial parental rights legislation (HB 1557) that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in the House Thursday primarily with Republicans supporting it in lock-step and Democrats opposing it after an emotional debate, including pleas from LGBTQ legislators.

Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca of Lighthouse Point was one of the seven lawmakers who crossed party lines to vote against the parental rights bill, with four of them being from South Florida. One Democrat from Miami, Rep. James Bush III, crossed party lines to vote with the Republicans.

Crisscross: Chip LaMarca and James Bush both cross the aisle for ‘Don’t Say Gay.’

LaMarca said he was frustrated to hear that some of the examples of school policies that prompted the introduction of the bill that prohibits discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation came out of the Broward County School District, but he said that he couldn’t agree with the bill’s wording.

“It’s just too broad,” he said. “And it’s not something that I thought we really wanted to do right now.”

He said that redistricting would shave off the LGBTQ-friendly parts of his district. And it wasn’t that he was swayed by Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith’s plea not to erase him by voting for the bill.

“Look, I trust teachers, and I communicate with teachers back at home,” he said, noting that he’s still in touch with his third grade teacher.

It doesn’t surprise LaMarca that the nays on the bill from the Republican side came chiefly from South Florida — he sees the area’s greater diversity from the regions north of Interstate 4 being represented there, he said. He doesn’t believe that the bill would have the effects that its opponents argued, but opposing it is consistent with his voting record throughout his 16 years of public service, he said.

“It’s knowing people that this would affect,” LaMarca added.

Truckin’

This week, the Florida Department of Corrections and Career Source Florida highlighted the graduation of roughly 30 newly licensed commercial truck drivers.

The graduates, returning citizens, earned their licenses through the Florida Helping Inmates Realize Employment Success (HIRES) program.

The state-sponsored program provides pre-release career training to inmates in various fields — construction, heavy equipment operation and electrical work, among others.

“The Florida HIRES CDL training program is creating a pipeline of talent to keep the supply chain moving and providing in-demand skills to individuals in the justice system that will help them provide for themselves and their families upon release,” said Michelle Dennard, CareerSource Florida President and CEO.

Celebrating Florida’s newest class of truck drivers, which gives former inmates another chance.

More than 350 incarcerated individuals have graduated from the program since 2019. Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon described the program as a benefit to employers, inmates and families,

“Most inmates in our custody will one day be released, and while they are in our custody, there is a tremendous benefit for inmates, staff, and communities when good vocational learning opportunities are made available,” Dixon said.

Thomas Cramer is among a handful of the program’s graduates. Inmates are generally 60-180 days away from full release when joining the program.

“For more than 20 years, I reflected on my future and what I would be able to do as a returning citizen and could not be more grateful for the opportunity that was given to me by the Florida Department of Corrections and Florida HIRES to start again,” Cramer said.

The program is being implemented or in development at six FDC institutions.

New prez

Alexandra Mandado has been selected as the next president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, the organization’s board of directors announced this week.

Mandado currently serves as PPSENFL’s Chief Development Officer, a position she has held for the past 15 years. She succeeds longtime president and CEO Lillian Tamayo, who recently announced her retirement.

“Alex is committed to ensuring we evolve side by side with our communities, meeting our changing needs and ensuring that Planned Parenthood will always be here for the patients who rely on us,” Tamayo said. “As a Latina, mother, and daughter of Cuban and Chilean immigrants, Alex is committed to centering racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in our work and mission. I have every confidence she will continue to build and grow our affiliate for years to come.”

Congratulations to Alexandra Mandado for her new gig at Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida.

In a news release, PPSENFL said no one knows the inner workings of PPSENFL better than Mandado, who, as a key senior staffer, has worked alongside Tamayo on strategic planning, affiliate growth, and managing a robust philanthropy department.

“It is my great honor to have been selected to serve in this critical role,” Mandado said. “I was a patient at Planned Parenthood in my teens. And I’ve helped raise resources for many years now to ensure our health care providers can continue serving Florida’s diverse population. I have been committed to Planned Parenthood my whole life. I am ready now to assume this leadership role to guide us through the challenges ahead. We will always be here for our patients and our communities, no matter what.”

Ship to shelf

A shipload of Florida port officials will be in California this weekend to tout Sunshine State seaports.

The delegation includes leaders from the Florida Ports Council, JAXPORT, Port Everglades, PortMiami, Port Tampa Bay, and Port Manatee.

They will attend the TPM22 conference in Long Beach, California, highlighting Florida’s seaport vessel capabilities, equipment capacity, and 24/7 supply chain efficiencies. The end goal is to bring more container ships to Florida ports.

“We’re going to put ourselves front and center into the battleground,” said Jonathan Daniels, Florida Ports Council chair and Port Everglades CEO. “As shippers look to avoid congestion, Florida has developed the efficiencies to serve as a long-term solution to move cargo, and this is the message we look forward to sharing with shipping lines.”

Jonathan Daniels is touting Florida’s ports as a crucial link in the supply chain.

The Florida Ports Council credits the Governor and Legislature for putting them in the position for success — it has spent the past several months spreading the word on recent investments in seaport infrastructure.

The efforts have already borne fruit. According to FPC, the state has broken cargo container records, seen new shipping lines calling on Florida ports, and has successfully shifted cargo that would typically call on West Coast ports to the Sunshine State.

“Florida is open for business, and we’re connecting commerce from ship to shelf,” said FPC President and CEO Michael Rubin. “We’re changing the mindset of shipping lines and continuing to encourage them to shift from older, congested West Coast trade routes, to Florida seaports.”

Survivors Speak

Hundreds of crime survivors and families of murdered Floridians rallied in the Capitol on Tuesday to expand support for crime victims and make communities safer.

During the annual Survivors Speak Florida event, hosted by Crime Survivors of Safety and Justice, families held photos of murdered loved ones while advocating for safety reforms.

While Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice member Helenda Davis said she was fortunate to have an employer that gave her time off when her son was murdered, not everyone is extended that courtesy.

Crime victims want Florida to be safe for everyone.

“When my son was killed, it devastated our family,” Davis said. “Funeral plans were delayed by the police investigation. We were forced to move for our safety and to help my terrified teenage daughter heal.”

Among CSSJ’s legislative priorities for this Session were SB 1306 and HB 949, filed by Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones and Democratic Rep. Kevin Chambliss, which would have created three days of unpaid leave to the families of homicide victims. Neither bill received a hearing.

The second pair of bills (SB 1138/HB 611), filed by Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell and Republican Rep. Michelle Salzman, also didn’t get a hearing. However, CSSJ says the measures would have built on successful probation reforms to encourage rehabilitation, increase public safety and save taxpayer dollars.

However, one set of legislation (SB 1302/HB 1259), which would ensure arrest records that don’t lead to convictions are sealed at the county level, is moving. The bills, filed by Republican Sen. Burgess and Republican Rep. Spencer Roach, are both in their final committee stops.

“We just don’t have hopes — we have demands,” Chambliss said. “The state of Florida is supposed to be free for everybody, and free to be safe. We do not have safety in our communities. We are not prioritizing it. That should be our main priority, because it’s not just safety for us — it’s safety for our children.”

Supply shortage

A global helium supply shortage has hit the U.S., and now it’s affecting operations of the National Weather Services in Tallahassee.

The agency revealed Friday it would reduce its weather balloon launches from twice daily to once per day, starting Tuesday.

Deflated: A helium shortage means fewer weather balloon launches.

The release said it wouldn’t affect NWS’ ability to warn of dangerous storms, and if severe conditions develop, it can launch more balloons if needed.

The balloons gather data for forecast models used by meteorologists and other scientists to predict storms and other weather phenomena.

Innovation investment

Florida State University is putting $5.6 million down to bring a 40,000-square-foot business incubator to Innovation Park.

The North Florida Innovation Labs will help young companies co-locate in an established research park with other innovators to develop products in new and expanding businesses.

“Universities are economic engines,” President McCullough said. “This partnership with the city and Innovation Park will enhance our existing research operations while building new partnerships and creating new jobs.”

Investment in universities is the fuel for major economic drivers, said Richard McCullough.

FSU said the funding for NFIL comes from the FSU Research Foundation and includes a $2.6 million gift and $3 million in loans, complements a $12.4 million federal grant and $2.8 million from Blueprint’s Office of Economic Vitality.

“Continued investments toward efforts that generate jobs and attract talent to Tallahassee will benefit the whole community,” Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said.

“This investment from Florida State University complements the city’s investment, via Blueprint’s Office of Economic Vitality, and will help us maintain our competitive position as a vibrant community with a strong local economy.”

Capitol Directions

Ron DeSantis — Up — Polls say the Governor election will be a bigger blowout than the Tide vs. the Buckeyes.

Ron DeSantis — Up — The Cabinet won’t rubber-stamp his nominees, but the Legislature will.

Joseph Ladapo — Up — Scoreboard.

Christina Pushaw — Down — Democracy … who needs it?

Being woke — Crossways — Keep hitting the snooze button until 2026.

Critics of #DontSayGay — Down — I’m gonna break with my traditional allies and say they have misread this legislation and exaggerated its impact. It’s not a good bill, but it’s not world-ending.

Ben Albritton — Up — He just earned a lifetime pass to every agritourism operation in the state.

Travis Hutson — Up — The elections bill isn’t great, but it would have been worse if he let the lunatics get their hands on it.

Annette Taddeo — Up — Her amendment to the voting bill was solid, and it made the grade.

Manny Diaz — Down — If his reaccreditation bill is a preview of how he’d act as Ed. Commissioner … well, no thanks.

Kelli Stargel — Up — Not even a future Senate President could make her budge on the abortion bill.

Keith Perry — Crossways — He’s a leader in criminal justice reform. But we’re not sure locking up kids longer is a “reform.”

Darryl Rouson — Up — Peer specialists are key to substance abuse recovery. Every lawmaker agrees.

Juan Barquin — Down — There’s a middle ground between being “woke” and being in a coma.

Randy Fine — Up — The Legislature’s equivalent of Eminem’s “Without Me” just settled another feud.

Randy Fine — Crossways — He backed down after looking to scare Florida’s virtual schooling system. Does he need to screw with everything?

Dianne Hart — Up — Her bill brings much-needed clarity to the parole process.

Chip LaMarca — Up — At least one Republican isn’t afraid to say ‘Gay.’

Patt Maney — Up — The Baker Act is due for an update. He might just get it done.

Scott Plakon — Up — Holodomor Remembrance Day kinda falls under the “Victims of Communism” umbrella, but Ukraine deserves some extra love right now.

Florida kids — Down — Visit the doctor while you can. Medicaid is about to drop you.

Columbia — Crossways — They dropped FARC from their terrorism list, but at least they aren’t moving backward on abortion rights.

Crypto — Down — We’ll take dollars, thanks.

Florida Dental Association — Up — Medicaid dental care is a done deal.

Florida Health Care Association — Up — Another year without fear of COVID-19 lawsuits.

Alachua Co. Commission — Down — “Springs County” fizzled on the home front, but its spirit lives on in Tallahassee.

Broadband — Down — Sorry, rural Florida, you’ll need to keep your landlines a little longer.

Cigars — Up — Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes it’s beach litter. But at least they’re biodegradable.

Grandparents — Up — Don’t buy those Disney tickets just yet, but the prospects are good for the ‘Markel’ visitation bill.

The Southern Group — Up — Fourpeat? Quadpeat? Whatever you call it, they continued their streak as the No. 1 firm in Florida.

Marc Dunbar — Crossways — The House plan would kick him off the Citizens Property Insurance board. The Senate’s wouldn’t. Guess which one he prefers.

Joseph Dorn — Down — OG and BD are such buzzkills.

Doak Campbell Stadium — Up — It’ll be hard to call it Joke Shamble after $20 million in upgrades.

Staff Reports



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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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




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