Takeaways from Tallahassee — Suit up

Blue Tally Takeaways (5)
Suits for Session raked in two tons of gently used hope for up-and-coming professionals.

Suit up

Volunteer Florida’s 7th annual Suits for Session service project collected a ton of professional attire — make that almost 2 tons — for jobseekers statewide.

After collecting clothing and accessories from Tallahassee state agencies, the effort culminated with a day of donations in and around the Capitol on Feb. 23. The final tally was 5,144 items weighing in at 3,850 pounds.

“Thanks to Gov. Ron. DeSantis‘ leadership, Florida businesses are hiring, but there are members of our communities who need that one boost, or that one suit, to help them gain the confidence to seize those job opportunities,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Corey Simon. “Volunteer Florida is exceedingly proud to engage our state agency and legislative partners each year in service to our fellow Floridians striving to join the workforce.”

Corey Simon and Suits for Session collected nearly 2 tons of professional attire.

Slayter Bayliss, a partner at The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, donates to the drive annually, dropping off six suits in the Capitol rotunda this year. He recalls wearing hand-me-down suits from his father at the beginning of his career.

“I think we’ve all been in a situation where you show up at an event, and you’re not properly dressed,” he said. A suit or dress allows “job seekers the opportunity to dress like a CEO while interviewing for an entry-level job …. I hope people who get these suits are proud to put them on, and I hope they make them feel just a little bit better when they walk into the interview.”

AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute is one of this year’s recipients. Ron Boyce, executive director of the nonprofit that helps young adults in Florida’s county jails prepare to return to their communities, said that’s just what his organization hopes too.

“We often have an employer lined up to interview them within days of their release, and having a suit to wear to that interview would be a fantastic boost to their confidence,” he said. “We are letting these young people know that our state leaders care enough about them to, literally, give them the clothes off their back so they can have a leg-up in life.”

Other nonprofits throughout the state receiving donations this year include Bridges International and CareerSource Gulf Coast.

___

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:

15-week abortion ban heads to DeSantis — The Senate passed Republicans’ 15-week abortion ban (HB 5) with a near party-line vote late Thursday, a week after the House similarly passed it near party lines. On Friday, DeSantis told reporters he would sign the bill. “These are protections for babies that have heartbeats, that can feel pain, and this is very, very late,” DeSantis said. The Governor also noted that court cases on abortion should inform the bill’s legality before it takes effect July 1. Republicans firmly stated they believe they are doing the right thing. “I’d rather lose my next election than ever be wrong on this issue,” Sen. Danny Burgess said.

Budget conference begins, deadline approaches — Appropriations subcommittees began negotiating the House and Senate budget proposals this week, and the at-large committee is currently negotiating the bumped issues. The chambers are still split on education, health care, state worker raises and more. Before the conference, the House’s $105.3 billion version came in at $3.3 billion less than the Senate’s. This year, Florida is flush with money, making it a little easier to patch over disagreements. But with the extra cash comes high dollar priorities for President Wilton Simpson and Speaker Chris Sprowls. Lawmakers expect to finish negotiating the budget by Tuesday and ultimately pass a spending plan set to top $100 billion.

Redistricting is still happening — The entire Legislature approved a controversial redistricting plan in the face of DeSantis’ threatened veto. Shortly after the House passed two congressional maps in a 67-47 on Friday, the Senate passed the same cartography by a 24-15 vote near party lines. Lawmakers passed the unprecedented plan against the backdrop of a plainly worded threat from the Governor. “I will veto the congressional reapportionment plan currently being debated by the House. DOA,” DeSantis tweeted. On the legislative redistricting front, the Florida Supreme Court OK’d lawmakers’ maps passed last month. For the first time since that automatic review went into effect in 1968, no petitions were challenged against the maps.

LGBTQ instruction bill ready for final vote — Florida Republicans’ controversial parental rights legislation governing classroom instruction on LGBTQ matters (HB 1557) is headed to the Senate floor Monday. The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the bill this week as bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley told members the bill would prevent schools from “promoting certain worldviews on certain positions to children who are not ready to talk about sexual things.” On Thursday, Tallahassee-area students poured into the Capitol, taking part in a statewide student demonstration against the measure, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. “We say gay,” they chanted. “F**k DeSantis,” they chanted too, among other rally cries.

Immigration bill heads to DeSantis — The Senate has voted along party lines at 11 p.m. Thursday to pass legislation to further crack down on illegal immigration. The bill (SB 1808) includes some of DeSantis’ immigration priorities, and Democrats argued the proposal is a political move. Sen. Aaron Bean, the bill sponsor, hopes to send a message to President Joe Biden’s administration to follow federal law and curb the number of immigrants who he says are entering the country illegally. “We can’t sustain the numbers. We ask that you act,” Bean told Senators. “Maybe other states will join in, and we can all say enough because we all support the rule of law.”

Bonus sixth: Casey DeSantis is cancer-free — The Governor announced Thursday that First Lady DeSantis is cancer-free. “After going through both treatment and surgery for breast cancer, she is now considered cancer-free,” he said in a video statement. The DeSantises have primarily handled the bulk of treatment without publicity. However, the Governor has offered periodic updates on the First Lady’s cancer struggle in recent months, continuously extending hope that she would be “cancer-free” this year. “There are no words to express how truly blessed, grateful and humbled I am to hear the words ‘cancer-free,’” added First Lady DeSantis. “To those who are in the fight, know there is hope. Have faith and stay strong.”

Back the Blue

Attorney General Ashley Moody took a moment this week to recognize the third anniversary of the Black the Blue campaign.

The campaign, created in 2019, recognizes “heroic” Floridians and groups supporting law enforcement. Moody has presented 44 Black the Blue awards since the program’s launch.

“In Florida, we back our blue,” Moody said. “That is why, three years ago, I started a campaign designed to honor those who go above and beyond to help make sure Florida remains the most pro-law enforcement state in the nation.”

In 2019, 10-year-old Zechariah Cartledge of Winter Springs became the first Black the Blue recipient.

He pledged to honor officers killed in the line of duty by running a mile for each officer killed in 2018 — totaling 148 miles.

“Zechariah’s unique and passionate support for the law enforcement community is admirable,” Moody said at the time. “That is why he is the perfect first award recipient for our Back the Blue Campaign.”

Moody is encouraging the public to get involved in nominating someone. Information on the Back the Blue program is available online, where Floridians can nominate recipients and view past award winners.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Fraud watch

In recognition of Fraud Prevention Month, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis encouraged Floridians to be on the lookout for fraud and scams Thursday. He also discussed his advocacy for legislation this Session aimed at fighting fraud.

SB 1292/HB 749, sponsored by Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Chuck Clemons, increases penalties on unlicensed public adjusters, combats fraudulent telemarketing calls by requiring licensed warranty agencies to identify their full business name and license number immediately and forces big corporations to allow Floridians to cancel subscriptions easily.

Patronis said his advocacy for the bill continues his work against fraud.

“Every year as CFO, I’ve worked to protect Floridians and have made it my mission to empower and protect consumers. This Legislative Session is no different. I have been working with members and fighting to ensure our fraud prevention bill crosses the finish line,” Patronis said.

Jimmy Patronis wants you to stay alert for frauds and scams. Image via CFO’s Office.

He also recommended Floridians educate themselves on common scam tactics at FraudFreeFlorida.com, as well as provided these Federal Trade Commission tips on avoiding scams:

— Block unwanted calls and text messages. Take steps to block unwanted calls and filter unwanted text messages.

— Don’t give your personal or financial information in response to a request that you didn’t expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.

— Resist the pressure to act immediately. Legitimate businesses will give you time to decide. Anyone who pressures you is a scammer.

— Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.

— Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.

Instagram of the week

Stargel farewell

On top of a full schedule this week as the Senate Appropriations Committee Chair and passing the 15-week abortion ban, Sen. Kelli Stargel had to prepare for one of the portentous speeches of her legislative career.

After four years in the House and a decade in the Senate, the Lakeland Republican will be leaving the Legislature in November after being termed out. She stood at the front of the floor Friday to share her life story and thank her colleagues one more time.

Kelli Stargel says goodbye with a reminder that sometimes you have to play hardball.

She recalled when Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield gave members baseballs labeled with “Sometimes you have to play hardball.”

“I keep holding it in hopes that it’ll help, because I also believe there’s no crying baseball,” Stargel said, choking up.

Stargel, now one of the most influential politicians in the state, began her career afraid to speak in public. She cried in her first two-minute stump speech, she told members.

Stargel — whose husband, Judge John Stargel, has also led a political life — intended to be both a mother and a lawmaker. She planned her daughter’s wedding between her Primary and General elections, she told members.

However, she learned a stark lesson early on when her middle children were in a serious car accident as Session was starting.

“I realized at that point I couldn’t do both, and the mom that had always been home couldn’t be there for that,” Stargel said.

Stargel has led on school choice, Family Empowerment Scholarships, and other similar issues. She has also shepherded bills on controversial topics like abortion and parental rights.

“I believe it is the breakdown of the family that has caused so many of the problems that we have to deal with up here,” Stargel said.

In parting, she left a piece of advice for her colleagues on how to work with her friend and incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.

“You need to know your stuff, and you need to know why you’re doing that bill because she’s not going to put up with just doing a bill because ‘this lobbyist asked’ or ‘that person wants it,’” Stargel said. “She’s going to hold people accountable for that.”

Gibson goodbye

In her farewell address before the Senate on Thursday, Sen. Audrey Gibson apologized to environmental activists.

Gibson, who is completing two decades in the Legislature and her 11th Session as a Senator, said she read enough bill analyses to fill a few libraries. Those analyses, which she thanked committee staff for putting together, have helped her formulate the series of questions she routinely asks in committee.

“I’ve probably killed more trees than you can shake a branch at,” Gibson said.

Audrey Gibson has scanned more than a library’s worth of bill analysis.

Colleagues on both sides of the aisle said they revered the leadership of the Jacksonville Democrat, who served as Senate Minority Leader between 2018 and 2020. Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, also noted her influence, particularly within her hometown.

“Nothing happens in her town that she doesn’t know, and I can attest to that because she called me out several times to get out of her town if we were going to be raising money there,” Simpson said.

Fernandina Beach Republican Sen. Bean, whose district also includes part of Jacksonville, recalled one day when a lobbyist came to Bean for help on a Duval delegation bill. Gibson had concerns with the lobbyist’s bill, and the lobbyist had said that “under no circumstances could she kill the bill, under no circumstances would she kill the bill.”

“Brother, you said the wrong thing. Your bill is dead because the last thing you do is tell her you can’t do something,” Bean said. “Guess what. The bill was dead the next three years.”

Workhorse

Pace Republican Rep. Jayer Williamson is stepping away from politics into a new, perhaps more combative arena: Fortnite.

In a farewell speech on Tuesday, Williamson described the decision to leave as bittersweet. However, he is eager to share more time with family, including his two children — Brooks and Rylin.

“I’m excited to come home, Brooks, and play Fortnite with you,” Williamson said on the House floor. “We can crack some kids on Fortnite.”

Jayer Williamson is leaving to take up a little Fortnite.

Williamson, in January, announced he would not seek re-election in 2022. He decided to step out of the political arena after spending the holiday season reflecting, praying, and having conversations with his family.

In parting words, Williamson urged lawmakers to look within and determine why they’re in Tallahassee.

“What’s your why? Is it because you want to be a show horse, or you want to be a workhorse?” Williamson asked.

The Panhandle Republican had dreamed of serving in the House since childhood. He thanks legislative colleagues, saying they challenged him to become a better person.

“I can guarantee you that the man that is walking off this House floor in two weeks is better than the man that came here six years ago,” Williamson said.

Parting shot

Democratic Rep. Michael Grieco said his farewell Thursday to members of the Florida House.

In a roughly eight-minute speech, the Miami Beach lawmaker thanked his family and recognized several legislative colleagues serving alongside him, including House Speaker Sprowls.

“There are some people in this room who will be with me for the rest of my life,” he said.

Mike Grieco wants more thoughtfulness and less blind Party loyalty.

Grieco, who first won state office in 2018 after years on the Miami Beach City Commission, hopes to switch chambers and capture the newly redrawn Senate District 36 in November.

In a parting gesture, he gave constituents a “behind the curtain” perspective.

“For the most part, we all get along,” Grieco said. “We all like each other. All of this is what I describe as professional wrestling. It’s a lot of show; it’s a lot of hyperbole. The votes are all pre-determined.”

He noted the Legislature is a mixed bag. Some lawmakers are millionaires, while others are struggling to get by.

He also wished lawmakers would lean more on conscience than Party.

“I wish once in a while we could get over the party politics and just focus on trying to help people,” Grieco added.

More than 20 Florida lawmakers have thrown their support behind Grieco’s bid to switch chambers. Grieco garnered a few laughs along the way.

“For me, this is not a farewell to all of you,” he said. “It’s a farewell to this room, and unlike some of the other speeches where they said they love all of you — I don’t love all of you, but I appreciate every one of you.“

Miya’s Law

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday to offer new protections for apartment dwellers.

Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart’s “Miya’s Law” (SB 898) is named after a young woman murdered in her Orange County apartment last September. The bill seeks to create new safeguards that might save others from the fate of Miya Marcano, who was believed to have been murdered by an apartment maintenance worker with a violent criminal background, an obsession with her, and a passkey that opened her apartment.

Linda Stewart has the backs of apartment dwellers.

“She was 19 years old and a college student in my district,” Stewart said. “She was tragically killed in her apartment after being stalked by this person. And unfortunately, a couple of days later, after they found her in the woods, he committed suicide.

“There wasn’t really any prosecution. I hope this gives Miya’s family closure,” Stewart said.

“Miya’s Law” would require apartment owners to conduct extensive criminal background checks on employees who could enter apartments. It also would institute rigorous controls, including logs, over passkeys to apartments. The law also would require apartment employees to give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering an apartment, up from the current requirement of at least 12 hours.

Meanwhile, the House bill (HB 577), sponsored by Democratic Rep. Robin Bartleman, is ready for the House floor.

Zero point zero

Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini sponsored 19 pieces of legislation this session. Not a single one made it to a house committee.

One of his bills, HB 29, would have designated U.S. 27 in Florida as “President Donald J. Trump Highway.” It never got a committee hearing in the House and never found a Senate companion.

Sabatini’s attempt to expand firearm carry and loosen gun control also was ignored.

Anthony Sabatini has a perfect score in Session — zero bills heard.

HB 6013 would have removed the state’s bump stock bans and 21-year-old restrictions on some firearms. HB 103 would have allowed open carry in the state. HB 6099 would have allowed concealed carry in the Florida Capitol building during legislative meetings.

Sabatini also sponsored legislation focused on the 2020 election and Capitol police. HB 99 would have required Gov. Ron DeSantis to appoint an independent third party to conduct a forensic audit of the 2020 general election. HB 133 would have prohibited state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the U.S. Capitol Police office or personnel in the state.

He also targeted medical access to transgender youth with HB 211. The bill would have made administering puberty blockers, hormone treatment, or gender confirmation surgery to minors a first-degree misdemeanor.

Give guidance

HB 229, legislation making school boards require public high school guidance counselors to advise students of all educational opportunities to them, passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support Wednesday.

The bill requires guidance counselors to inform their students about education opportunities available for them to gain skills in demand in the labor market and how to prepare to obtain postsecondary degrees in technical fields.

Randolph Bracy and Kristen Arrington think high schoolers should get a more complete picture of the opportunities they have.

Kissimmee Rep. Kristen Arrington, the bill’s sponsor, thanked the legislation’s Senate sponsor Sen. Randolph Bracy, Speaker Sprowls, and Committee Chairs Chris Latvala and Stan McClain for their support of the bill. The legislation also passed its stops in the Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee and Education and Employment Committee.

The bill was also co-sponsored by 20 Democratic Party representatives, including Rep. James Bush, Rep. Anna Eskamani, Rep. Allison Tant and more.

“This legislation will help our children prepare for a better future by letting them know of all the opportunities available to plan and prepare them for a more diversified economy and workforce,” Arrington said. “This bill will also provide notifications of these programs to parents and students in a language that they best understand.”

Homeless youth

HB 1577, legislation aimed at helping youth exiting foster care and who have experienced homelessness, passed the House with unanimous bipartisan support Wednesday.

The bill includes the addition of liaisons for homeless youth at colleges and universities to support their specific needs and requires local school districts to provide an ID card for students experiencing homelessness that explains their rights, benefits, and contact information for their school liaison.

Hollywood Rep. Marie Woodson, the bill’s sponsor, said she learned while campaigning when she met people dealing with homelessness.

Marie Woodson is making sure homeless students don’t fall through the cracks.

“When I was campaigning, I met a college student who was living out of his car. I have since learned that the issue of homeless youth is far more widespread than I could have imagined,” Woodson said. “As a former county administrator, I also spent many years working with children in foster care and thus understand just how difficult the transition out of foster care is for these youth.”

She thanked the coalition of youth, schools, and service providers who helped pass the bill.

“HB 1577 puts the needs of youth exiting foster care and youth who experience homelessness first by providing them with access to services and tools that can help alleviate some of the barriers and obstacles they face,” Woodson said.

Dig it?

Secretary of State Laurel Lee has announced several upcoming public events in March to celebrate Florida Archaeology Month. The events highlight archaeologists’ legacy and ongoing work from the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research (BAR).

The events include:

— The Lake Munson Canoe, a prehistoric canoe discovered about 5 miles south of the Tallahassee Capitol building, will be displayed in the R.A. Gray Building on 500 S. Bronough St. for the entire month.

If you are going to get muddy, might as well be for a good cause.

— On March 12, BAR staff will be at the Grove Museum to celebrate the museum’s fifth anniversary. The free event will include programs about archaeology and excavations led by BAR, as well as family-friendly activities, entertainment and food trucks. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

— On March 18 and 19, BAR and other archaeological groups will open two excavation units on B. Calvin Jones Center for Archaeological Research campus, located at 1001 DeSoto Park Drive in Tallahassee. The public can visit the excavations between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

— On March 22, Ivor Mollenma, a BAR underwater archaeologist, will present information about his craft during a presentation that is part of the Museum of Florida History’s History at High Noon program series. The noon event will be held in the museum’s theater in the R.A. Gray Building.

From March 25-26, BAR and other groups are conducting ground-penetrating radar surveys at Mission San Luis in an area containing part of the Camino Real, a road dating back to Spanish colonialism that linked the site to St. Augustine. The public can attend and speak with archaeologists on-site about the project.

ID fraud

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has adopted Socure’s identity verification fraud prevention platform. The new partnership comes as Florida seeks to mitigate reports of mounting fraud and identity theft that affected over 156,000 citizens and lost consumers $331 million in 2021.

The DEO said it wanted a seamless identity verification solution for Florida’s small businesses and citizens seeking economic relief that protects their private information.

Matt Thompson, the general manager of public sector solutions for Socure, said the adoption is part of a movement in America away from manual reviews and outdated solutions.

“Socure is helping the Florida DEO innovate and advance its greater mission by allowing them to serve Florida residents in their time of need quickly, and protecting their benefits by keeping fraud out of the system,” Thompson said.

Matt Thompson works to shore up security in state agencies, keeping fraud out of the system.

The DEO assists in advancing Florida’s economy by administering state and federal programs and initiatives to help visitors, citizens, businesses, and communities. Socure’s verification process will ensure that legitimate Florida citizens will access these benefits without friction while preventing costly identity fraud, DEO told Florida Politics in a release.

“As state and local governments across the country grapple with fraud prevention, the DEO’s leadership with Socure marks a major milestone toward automated identity verification for government services,” Thompson said.

Never drive impaired

Throughout the month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will spearhead an impaired-driving awareness campaign to reduce impaired driving-related crashes and fatalities across the state.

The campaign, Never Drive Impaired, tackles the common misconceptions many have when it comes to impairment behind the wheel.

Trippy, man. Just don’t do it behind the wheel.

“Last year alone, impaired-driving crashes resulted in more than 800 deaths across our state,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry Rhodes. “Impaired drivers make many excuses for their decisions, but be under no illusion, the impacts are real and affect real people. Please, help keep our roads and loved ones safe by putting the keys away if you or someone you know is impaired.”

There were 442 alcohol-related crashes in Florida in March 2021, a 26% increase from the previous year. Of the crashes, 50 resulted in serious bodily injuries, and 43 proved fatal.

“FHP Troopers will be out in force this Spring Break protecting the public from impaired drivers, so use good judgment and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” said FHP Director Gene Spaulding. “Before you take your first drink, plan ahead and make sure you have a designated driver or service. We want you to make it home safely without needlessly endangering others.”

Voter registration

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley notified voters his office is mailing letters to 13,000 voters over the next several weeks to update critical voter identification information.

“By gathering this information now, my office can continue to provide voters with the outstanding voter services they expect from the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office,” Earley said.

The office is sending the letter to voters whose voter registration records do not include a Florida driver’s license number, state ID card number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Since 2006, voters must provide that information when registering to vote. Many voters who registered before 2006 are missing this information from their records. A recent change in Florida law requires election offices to verify one of these numbers before updating voter addresses or processing Vote-by-Mail ballot requests.

Mark Earley wants mail-in-voters’ ducks in a row. Image via Tallahassee Democrat.

He said the easiest way to update the registration is through the state’s registration website, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov. Voters can also complete the form enclosed with the letter and return it using an included postage-paid envelope.

“I understand that some voters may be concerned about receiving a letter requesting sensitive information,” he said. “Voters are welcome to contact my office to confirm that these letters are genuine.”

Voters with questions are encouraged to contact the Elections Office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 850-606-8683

Power pros

The Florida Municipal Electric Association honored the winners of the Florida Lineman Competition and recipients of the FMEA Safety Awards during an awards ceremony held last weekend.

The banquet concluded the 2022 Florida Lineman Competition, which saw electric lineworkers from across the state work in teams to show off their skills.

Competitors took on various challenges such as replacing cross-arms and insulators on utility poles, changing out transformers, and completing a simulation of rescuing injured lineworkers.

Congrats to the folks who work overtime to keep your lights on.

Teams earn points based on how quickly they completed tasks and lost points if they skirted safety standards or proper work practices. Journeyman teams, which include at least one lineworker who has been in the industry for five years or more, are made up of three lineworkers. Apprentices, or lineworkers in training, competed individually.

The 2022 Overall Journeyman Team Winners’ Cup went to Mike Harper, Lance Rivenbark and Jonathan Hermann of Talquin Electric Cooperative. Winning the Overall Apprentice Award was Matt Coakley from OUC. This year, 20 journeyman linemen teams (totaling 65 journeyman competitors), 72 apprentices, and 43 judges from 11 utilities participated.

FMEA also recognized member utilities with Safety Awards last weekend. Utilities are placed into categories based on their total worker hours and rewarded for the most incident-free records. The incidence rate used to judge utilities was based on the number of work-related reportable injuries or illnesses compared to the total number of worker hours during 2021, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A total of 17 utilities received a Safety Award. Winners included the cities of Alachua, Blountstown, Chattahoochee, Green Cove Springs, Mount Dora, Newberry, Tallahassee and the town of Havana. Also on the list were Beaches Energy Services, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Keys Energy Services, Lakeland Electric, the New Smyrna Beach Utilities Commission and Ocala Electric Utility. Orlando Utilities Commission and JEA received special recognitions.

Shamrock Scurry

Shamrock Scurry, a 5k race and mile-long fun run fundraiser for Killearn United Methodist Church, returned to in-person Saturday morning.

Last year, COVID-19 forced the event to be virtual. Runners traversed the Killearn Estates neighborhood and the Killearn Country Club golf course.

Let’s hope for a spectacular day to race.

“We’re happy that we can actually be on our campus,” said race co-director Connie Clarke. “We’re being very careful, cautious, but we are live this year. So, we’re excited about that.”

Over 200 church volunteers staffed the event. The money raised will go toward KUMC missions, like its food bank, the Madison Youth Ranch, and Meals on Wheels for homebound seniors.

“This is a significant event for missions, but it also is a great event for our community,” Clarke said.

— Capitol Directions —

Ron DeSantis — Down — Did his parents not let him go on the fifth grade safety patrol trip, or is he just this petty?

Ron DeSantis, Part 2 — Crossways — Does dunking on teenagers make him a bully? Yes. Does it also make him the Zion Williamson of the GOP Primary? Yes.

Casey DeSantis — Up — She kicked cancer’s butt.

Casey DeSantis — Up — And the ‘Casey DeSantis cancer research fund will help a lot of others do the same.

Job Growth Grand Fund — Down — DeSantis wanted a lot of zeros, but he’ll have to settle for one.

Richard Corcoran, Manny Diaz — Up — They promised to repeal FSA. They’re delivering.

House & Senate mapmakers — Up — Drama-free cartography … for state legislative districts, at least.

Al Lawson — Down — Look, you were a great match, and if the Governor had 27 roses to hand out, he’d totally give you one.

Planned Parenthood, Ruth’s List — Crossways — They lost the battle this Session, but the GOP gave them a fundraising script that’ll last for a decade.

The Kids — Up — You know what … they’re alright.

Aaron Bean — Up — The immigration crackdown bill is performative, petty and pointless. But he threaded the needle carrying it.

Jeff Brandes — Up — He couldn’t blunt the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, but he proved what it’s really about.

Jeff Brandes — Up — College president searches will get all the intrigue of finding a new ball coach with none of the excitement. Thank you, Senator.

Gary Farmer — Up — His abortion bill filibuster was as good a redemption arc as Boromir’s … and just as doomed.

Joe Gruters — Up — Cigarette butts are gross, and they make awful sandcastle rebar.

Ed Hooper — Up — He’s VISIT FLORIDA’s knight in shining armor.

Joe Harding — Up — He carries a lot of red meat, but his work on the cyberterror bill proves he can work across the aisle, too.

Patt Maney — Crossways — He crafted a solid Baker Act bill, but just like a sheet cake behind the glass, it’s for display purposes only.

Spencer Roach — Down — If you want him overrule Alachua County voters, you’re going to have to find a way to fit a cruise ship in Newnan’s Lake.

Acronyms — Down — BIDEN Fund? GTFO with that BS.

Breast milk — Up — It’s apparently liquid gold. We’ll take Sen. Bean’s word for it.

Churches — Up — God operates on the Waffle House Index, so sayeth the Legislature.

Communism — Down — Schools finally have a reason to take their Red Dawn CEDs out of mothballs.

Data privacy — Crossways — The cost of privacy is a Boomerbook lawsuit mill on every corner.

Gun control — Down — In Florida, gun control is just another way to say trigger finger.

Mall cops — Up — They won’t even have to step foot in the mall to get their plastic badge.

Podcasting — Up — The House Speaker is about to debut “Read, White, & Blue.” Like, subscribe, and hit the bell.

Publix — Up — Take a penny, leave a few hundred million pennies.

Seagrass — Up — Manatees say, “get off our lawn,” the Legislature listens.

Sh*tty husbands — Up — Now with more deadbeat!

Sovereign immunity — Down — Claims bills are here to stay.

Trump — Down — It’s not that the Legislature is against naming a highway after the ex-POTUS, it’s that Rep. Blackface, R-Notice Me Senpai, is carrying the bill.

Veterans — Up — Operation New Uniform is getting a $500K salute in the Legislature. That’ll help a lot of vets land new jobs.

Views — Up — We look forward to the day when we won’t have to Photoshop ghost ships out of our vacation pictures.

DOC — Down — Working at a jail is a get-out-of-jail-free card. Even if you drink at work and kill someone on your way home.

FHCA/FJA — Up — They’re getting some much-needed relief from the nursing home staffing crunch.

Jacqui Peters — Up — Press Ctrl+F to pay respects.

Jeff Porter — Up — Did any of you have a GOP-Trial Lawyer alliance on your 2022 Session bingo card?

Strawberry shortcake — Up — Is it too late for a Lactaid amendment?

Tallahassee Democrat — Down — It’s basically 247Sports with a sprinkle of Session news … and Jeffrey Schweers is taking the sprinkle with him when he leaves next week.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend — Up — Every kid deserves a midnight fridge raid.

Alligators — Down — They already sleep with one eye open. Time to try two.

Goliath Grouper — Down — They’re back on the menu.

Manatees — Down — We hope you want a gritty reboot of The Last Unicorn without a happy ending, because that’s what you’re getting.

Staff Reports



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