Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.13.22

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Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Good Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will celebrate one of life’s greatest milestones: 50 laps around the sun.

Patronis rang in the half-century celebration last weekend alongside family and friends at Captain Anderson’s, an award-winning seafood restaurant owned and operated by the Patronis family in Panama City.

A more intimate birthday celebration will continue, though, on Wednesday.

Happy birthday, Chief. Enjoy it; it’s a big one.

“On my birthday, I am most looking forward to spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and our two boys,” Patronis said. “They are the center of my world.”

A Florida State University graduate, Patronis was appointed CFO in 2017 and elected to a full term in 2018.

He is now seeking re-election in 2022, campaigning on a slew of issues, including consumer protections and financial stewardship.

“I love taking care of the customer, and I get to do that every single day that I am blessed to wake up as Florida’s CFO!” Patronis said in a statement.

Patronis shares birthdays with several well-known names, including Rev. Al Green, who, in 1972, topped the billboards with the hit track, “Let’s Stay Together.”

Patronis was born that year. At the time, Richard Nixon served as President of the United States; Pope Saint Paul VI led the Catholic Church.

While birthdays are often a time for reflection and celebration, Patronis remains steadfast, looking forward to another lap around the sun.

The best, he suggested, is yet to come.

“I feel great! I have an incredible family and a job that keeps me focused on what is the best way to serve families all across Florida,” Patronis said.

In the lead-up to Wednesday, Florida Politics gathered kind words shared by friends and leaders on both sides of the aisle. Here are their responses:

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott — Happy birthday, Jimmy! Proud to call you my friend and see you fighting hard for Florida families. Hope you have a great birthday and wish you, Katie and the boys another wonderful year.”

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — “Happy birthday, Jimmy! Although we sit on the other side of the aisle politically and the other side of the stadium at the FSU/UF game, it’s a pleasure working with you on behalf of the people of Florida!”

Attorney General Ashley Moody — “Happy Birthday to my fellow Cabinet member and our Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis! I hope you have a fabulous day and get to enjoy some quality time with your family. Thank you for working so hard for our State and helping us build a Stronger, Safer Florida.”

Sen. President Wilton Simpson — “Happy 50th Birthday CFO! A family man with a heart for our state and her people, one of the many insights Jimmy brings to state government is that of a legacy, family-run business — the kind of businesses that are the lifeblood of our great state. Best wishes for a great year ahead, my friend!”

House Speaker Chris Sprowls — “Happy birthday to my friend, Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis. Wishing you a blessed day with family and friends in the Florida sunshine.”

Sen. Jim Boyd — “Happy Birthday to the best CFO in America. Hope you have a wonderful day, my friend.”

Speaker-designate Paul Renner: “Wishing a very Happy Birthday to CFO Jimmy Patronis. Thanks for all you do, and welcome to the 50s!”

Rep. Sam Garrison — “Happy birthday CFO Patronis! Thanks for always fighting for Florida’s small businesses and the jobs they create.”

Rep. Chip LaMarca — “Happy birthday to you, Florida Man! You’re always selling Florida (and giving Floridians back millions in unclaimed property!) This is your day…enjoy! χαρούμενα γενέθλια

Mark Wilson, President & CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce. — “Happy Birthday, Jimmy! Welcome to a new decade, and hope it’s your best one yet.”

Marc Dunbar — “To the man with biggest heart in The Process, a toast to your birthday and many more ahead! All the best! Cheers from London!”

Fred Karlinsky — “Jimmy Patronis is an incredible friend to me and my wife, Autumn. He is also a tireless fighter for the Florida consumer. His experience in the restaurant industry taught him that. He is relentlessly fighting to crack down on insurance fraud driving up high prices. Happy birthday to our happy warrior. Keep up the good fight.”

Paul Mitchell, The Southern Group — “Here’s wishing a Happy 50th to a guy whose genuine compassion for others has made him an amazing public servant, who is seemingly on the clock 24/7. Thanks for ALL that you do, CFO!”

Happening tonight:


Abby Vail is now managing partner of Ballard Partners’ Tallahassee office, the firm announced Tuesday.

“Since joining our firm in 2020, Abby has become an indispensable part of the Ballard Partners team in Tallahassee,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder. “She is the right person at the right time to lead our firm’s office in the state capital.”

Vail has over 15 years of government affairs experience in the legislative and executive branches. Her expertise encompasses all aspects of the financial services industry, including insurance, banking, consumer finance, securities and fintech, and the health care industry.

Congrats: Abby Vail takes a lead role on Team Ballard.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of the exceptionally talented team at Ballard Partners, and I am deeply honored to lead the firm’s office in Tallahassee,” Vail said.

Vail’s elevation comes after Carol Bracy announced she would be taking an extended leave of absence to care for her mother, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“All of us at the firm appreciate and respect Carol’s decision to care for her mom at this critical time,” Ballard said. “Her office will always be waiting for her when she is able to come home. Until then, we will all miss her.”

Bracy added, “The decision to stop doing what I love to do, with people I love working with, and for clients, I love working for was not an easy one. But for me and my family, it’s the right decision to make at this time.”


Capital City Consulting announced Wednesday that Joe Mongiovi is joining its team of government affairs consultants.

Mongiovi comes to the firm with experience working with tech manufacturing and solutions providers. He most recently worked for VMware, a leading global technology corporation.

Previously, he worked for SHI International, Florida State University, and state agencies, including the Department of Financial Services and the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles.

At Capital City Consulting, Mongiovi will advise clients in technology, procurement, contracts, and go-to-market strategy advocacy before Florida’s government, focusing on results-driven business and government solutions.

Capital City Consulting’s big get: Joe Mongiovi.

“Over the past 19 years, Capital City Consulting has been committed to delivering winning results for our clients, and we are looking forward to the unique perspective and invaluable experience Joe will bring to our growing team,” said Nick Iarossi, co-founder at Capital City Consulting.

Fellow co-founder Ron LaFace added, “Joe’s experience designing and implementing large technology projects brings a new dynamic to Capital City Consulting’s professional lobbying services. Joe’s background as an IT engineer and architect is a substantial differentiator from other Florida IT practices.”


@RyanStruyk: The United States is now reporting 515 coronavirus deaths per day, the lowest seven-day average since August 9, 2021, according to @CNN data from Johns Hopkins University.

@MarcEElias: Yes, we are closely watching Florida.👀

@TooMuchMe: One thing I can’t help but notice is that Gov. (Ron) DeSantis‘ team releases his public schedule after 6 p.m. for the day — meaning the transparency (the whole point) is retroactive, after the fact. By contrast, his gubernatorial challenger Charlie Crist is releasing it at about 9 a.m.

Tweet, tweet:

@GTConway: Question for everyone not named Matt Gaetz: Why do some people allow their Venmo transactions to be viewed by anyone other than who they’re transacting with? Honestly curious.

@APantazi: I just realized the Florida Special Redistricting Session falls next week (Tuesday through Friday), which means the entire Session will take place during Passover. The vice-chair of the House’s redistricting committee is Jewish.

@JaneCastor: Tampa Bay stands together in support of the Ukrainian people — their courage & resilience is an inspiration. @orlandomayor, @MayorKenWelch, and I have notified @POTUS that our region welcomes refugees and that we’re ready to work in unison with federal & local partners to help.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 5; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 9; ‘We Own This City’ premieres on HBO Max — 12; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 15; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 15; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 16; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 23; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 29; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 43; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 44; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 50; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 55; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 86; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 99; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 118; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 130; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 142; 2022 Emmys — 152; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 176; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 195; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 195; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 212; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 212; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 217; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 222; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 222; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 223; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 247; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 328; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 345; 2023 Session Sine Die — 387; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 471; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 555; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 835.


Gov. DeSantis says he wants ‘race-neutral’ congressional districts when new map is drawn” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — DeSantis confirmed Tuesday that the congressional redistricting map he is proposing will dismantle a congressional district designed to help Black voters living in the former plantation territories of North Florida. “I think that what they’ll produce will be something that will be acceptable to folks, and obviously we’d get my signature for proposing it,’’ he said at a bill-signing news conference in Miami. “It will, though, have North Florida drawn in a race-neutral manner.” DeSantis has called legislators back into a special session on redistricting next week to redraw Florida congressional districts, and on Monday, House and Senate leaders announced that, after successfully passing a legislative map that the court has approved, they will leave the map-drawing work on the congressional plan to the Governor.

Alternative congressional maps for Florida must be filed in federal court Monday” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A judge in a federal-court case says any alternative congressional maps plaintiffs want to be considered must come in by Monday. That’s a day before a Special Session begins where the Florida Legislature expects to pass a new map. Meanwhile, a trial has been set for May 12 and 13 to determine if any map produced through the normal legislative process is legally acceptable, assuming one even emerges. DeSantis vetoed a plan approved by the Legislature during the Regular Session. Florida remains one of just three states where political boundaries are not yet approved for the 2022 midterms. U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan laid out a timeline for the federal proceedings.

Tick tock: Ron DeSantis is coming upon a hard deadline to submit congressional maps for legal approval. Image via Governor’s Office.

Ron DeSantis isn’t racist. He just doesn’t want Black voters picking candidates.” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — For three decades, Jacksonville has been represented in Congress by one Democrat and one Republican: A bipartisan delegation befitting the city’s purplish hue, and one that guaranteed no matter the election cycle Jacksonville had a seat at the table with the party in power. That even balance was struck because one of those two districts was drawn specifically to ensure the city’s numerous Black voters had the ability to elect the candidate of their choice — a corrective to decades of intentional efforts to dilute the Black vote. DeSantis wants to eviscerate Congressional District 5 — currently held by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson — and replace it with a district that would perform as a reliable Republican one. Black residents in the core city, who make up roughly a third of the population and have been afforded the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice to Congress for decades, would suddenly find themselves powerless in a district that includes deeply conservative, majority-white bedroom and beach communities in Nassau and Clay counties.

— 2022 —

Donald Trump faces tough decision on DeSantis endorsement” via Max Greenwood of The Hill — Trump is facing a dilemma: when — or even whether — to endorse the 2022 re-election bid of Gov. DeSantis, one of his biggest potential rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Since leaving Washington last year, Trump has issued a long, if not sporadic, list of endorsements that includes other prospective presidential hopefuls like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina. But absent from that list so far is DeSantis, a steadfast Trump ally and rising conservative political star who is seen as a front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nod, especially if Trump decides against another run for the White House.

Tweet, tweet:

—”José Oliva headlining DeSantis fundraiser at health care exec’s Fisher Island home” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Nikki Fried campaigns on policy of lower costs, higher standards — Fried’s Lower Costs, Higher Standards policy tour brought her to Palm Beach, near the Palm Beach County Government building, where the Palm Beach County Commission considered a $200 million bond to create over 20,000 affordable housing units over 10 years. Fried says: “When I’m Governor, I will direct the Attorney General to target predatory landlords who increase rents well beyond the rate of inflation and put an end to this price gouging.” Fried’s Lower Costs, Higher Standards Plan: Declares a housing state of emergency; expands the Homestead Exemption to $100K; promises an immediate veto of any attempts to raid Florida’s Affordable Housing funds; and creates ways to preserve current multifamily units.

Fried says she’s not dropping out of Governor’s race to run for Congress” via Anthony Man of the Sun-Sentinel — Asked in a telephone interview about the chatter among some in Broward political circles, she burst out laughing, and emphatically said it’s not true. Fried … was living in Broward before she ran for Agriculture Commissioner, the job she currently holds, in 2018. The congressional district — mostly in Broward plus part of Palm Beach County — is represented by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will open up this year because the incumbent announced on Feb. 28 he isn’t running for re-election. … Fried said she’s never considered it and said supporters of one of the other Democratic gubernatorial candidates are responsible for spreading the notion. ‘That is an absolute, made-up rumor by the Charlie Crist campaign because that’s what they were hoping for,’ she said. Some Crist supporters have been open in their desire for Fried to bow out of the primary, but the congressional rumor had circulated recently beyond his camp.

—”Fried promises Broward County faithful she will fight to win” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Marco Rubio stumps with Tallahassee Young Republicans — Rubio held a campaign event with Young Republicans, grassroots organizers, and local supporters in Tallahassee. “Twenty years ago, 15 years ago, a lot of politics was ideological. Left vs. right, conservative vs. liberal. And that’s still true in many respects. But it’s increasingly become insanity vs. common sense on issue after issue,” Rubio said. “We need to be a country that makes things again. We need to be a country that protects its intellectual property. We need to be a country that takes seriously China’s ambitions to displace us on the global stage.”

Marco Rubio presses the flesh.

Tracie Davis narrows fundraising deficit versus Reggie Gaffney in Senate race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rep. Davis was finally allowed to resume fundraising after the Legislative Session ended last month, and even with a limited number of days available in March, she made up ground against her main opponent in the state Senate District 5 race. Davis, who currently represents House District 13 in Jacksonville, raised more than $31,000 in March. She now has more than $68,000 in her campaign account and more than $171,000 in the Together We Stand political committee. Among the donors last month was an unusual name for Democratic primaries: Karen Carlucci, the wife of Republican City Councilman Matt Carlucci, donated $500.

Joy Goff-Marcil opens Senate bid with $17K fundraising month” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Goff-Marcil opened her challenge to Sen. Jason Brodeur in the new Senate District 10 by raising $17,648 for her campaign in March. The first-month amount reported by Goff-Marcil, posted this week by the Division of Elections, might be modest for many Senate races. Yet it represents the most significant monthly haul she has ever managed, counting her successful 2018 and 2020 House campaigns and her now-abandoned 2022 re-election bid through February. The Sanford Republican seeking re-election, Brodeur reported collecting only $2,525 in March. However, he has never had problems raising large amounts of money for campaigns and sits on more than $100,000.

HD 14 Democrats continue to struggle for fundraising traction” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Momentum has been slow for Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis and Mincy Pollock, a previous City Council candidate now trying to go to Tallahassee. Dennis raised just $4,200 last month, all in hard money. He did not receive any contributions to his committee, Forward Progress. He finished the month in the red, spending nearly $5,700, and he has a little more than $50,000 on hand. Leading Dennis donors for the month include the Dragon’s Vape Shop, which donated a maximum of $1,000 to his campaign. Former Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel also contributed to Dennis’ effort. Dennis will benefit from the backing of both Rep. Angie Nixon and the outgoing HD 13 Representative, friend, and ally, Rep. Tracie Davis.

Jacksonville’s Jessica Baker nears $450K on hand for HD 17 campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Republican Baker continued her strong fundraising in March as she seeks the party’s nomination in a new Southside Jacksonville district. Baker, running in House District 17, has about $445,000 on hand between her campaign account and her political committee, Friends of Jessica Baker. She raised $18,550 in March between the two accounts. Notable contributors last month included three accounts linked with state Sen. Travis Hutson. March offered more evidence, were it needed, of establishment coalescence behind Baker, currently an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 7th Judicial Circuit, which is just south of Duval County. Another Republican, political newcomer Jordan Wells, has been a filed candidate since December 2021 but has yet to report fundraising.

Republican Chase Tramont brings in $65K for HD 30 run” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican Port Orange City Council member Tramont has reported a haul of $65,000 in campaign contributions during March in his run for the House District 30 seat. That one-month collection reflected strong support from Tallahassee, with dozens of $1,000 checks coming from Tallahassee committees and interests. March’s fundraising success came after an impressive debut month of fundraising in February, which reflected strong local support. HD 30 is without an incumbent as it was carved out of portions of three other districts, represented by Republican Reps. Webster Barnaby, Elizabeth Fetterhoff and Rene Plasencia. None of them live in the new district. HD 30 appears to have a solid Republican lean, based on the results of the past two General Elections. There are no Democrats filed yet to run there.

Democrat Sarah Henry enters HD 38 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A third Democrat, Henry, has filed to run in the newly drawn House District 38, suggesting how attractive the southern Seminole County district has become to Democrats. Henry, of Altamonte Springs, is a project manager for a national nonprofit, MED-Project, which works for the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals. As newly redrawn, HD 38 stretches across southern Seminole, taking in most of Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Fern Park and part of Winter Springs. Republican Rep. David Smith of Winter Springs is running there for another term in the House. Democrats Mark Caruso and Ed Measom have also filed there, as has Republican Drake Wuertz. Based on the past few General Elections results, HD 38 appears to have a slight Democratic lean.

Sarah Henry throws her hat in the ring.

Vennia Francois pulls in mayoral endorsements in crowded HD 45 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Francois has received the endorsements of 10 local leaders as she competes in a crowded field, her campaign announced Tuesday. Francois, a Windermere lawyer who was a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, has received the endorsements of Edgewood Mayor John Dowless, Belle Isle Mayor Nick Fouraker, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson, Winter Garden Mayor John Rees and former Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn. She also received the endorsements of Winter Garden Commissioners Lisa Bennett and Mark Maciel, as well as Windermere Council members Tony Davit and Loren “Andy” Williams. Windermere and part of Winter Garden are in the newly drawn district. The other cities, all western or southern suburbs of Orlando, are not.

Fiona McFarland holds nearly $190K in cash on hand in HD 73” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — With the Legislative Session wrapped, Sarasota Republican Rep. McFarland raised another $2,500 at the end of March. But a political committee under her control cashed a $50,000 check. In total, the first-term lawmaker tallied $115,049 in contributions through her official campaign account. The $2,500 in new donations came from just three sources, with $1,000 coming from Ramba Law Group and another $1,000 from Ramba Consulting Group. Lawyer Alfred Saikali also donated $500. Additionally, the political committee Friends of Sarasota, chaired by Venice accountant Eric Robinson and associated with McFarland’s campaign, reported money from a lone source. Priceworks Capital, a Belle Isle-based real estate corporation, sent a $50,000 check.

Election officials warn of deadlines as qualifying for judicial, state attorney races nears” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The qualifying period for judicial races and select races for state attorney and public defender races is two weeks away, and state election officials are urging candidates to start getting their paperwork in now. The Department of State, which oversees elections, accepts qualifying papers submitted during the 14 days before the qualifying period begins — noon on April 25. “With the 2022 elections quickly approaching, I encourage all candidates who plan to run for office to take advantage of the 14 days or file the appropriate qualifying documents as early as possible in the qualifying period,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee said in a released statement.


Florida ranks No. 6 in COVID-19 education success survey, report says” via Sam Sachs of WFLA News Channel 8 — When it comes to how each state fared for educational outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic, some states performed better than others. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with Florida in sixth place overall. The NBER is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research organization established in 1920. The NBER study ranked states by measuring their unemployment levels, gross domestic product, economic average scores, percentage of in-person schooling done, age and metabolic health adjusted for how many COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 residents, and other census details. In the top 10 states for grading, Montana and South Dakota had the highest number of deaths per 100,000 due to COVID-19.

In the days of COVID-19, Florida students held up fairly well. Image via WFLA.

Judge tosses challenge to Florida’s abortion waiting period” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Women will have to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion under a ruling by a Florida judge in a nearly seven-year battle over the waiting period. Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey in Tallahassee tossed out a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Gainesville women’s clinic, saying other medical procedures have similar waiting periods and other important decisions like getting married, getting divorced, and buying a gun have longer waiting periods. “Twenty-four hours is the minimum time needed to sleep on such an important decision,” Judge Dempsey wrote. The waiting period immediately goes into effect. The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the decision.

Providers still waiting for state to deliver $1.2B in supplemental Medicaid funds” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — To bolster the state’s home- and community-based services network, the DeSantis administration late last summer agreed to tap into $1.2 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds. The state hasn’t distributed supplemental funds more than six months later, and providers don’t know when to expect the payments. They also don’t know how much to expect because the state did not finalize the distribution formula it was going to use to disburse the funds. Attain Inc. took out two small-business loans since September, when the state announced it received approval from the federal government to use the funds, said Craig Cook, executive director of the not-for-profit agency.

Experts disagree on how to manage Florida’s massive growth” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Chamber of Commerce predicts Florida’s population will hit 26 million by 2030, an increase of more than 3.5 million residents. And as the people pour in, so, too, does their money. But as competition for housing grows and more pressure is put on schools, the environment and infrastructure, some experts worry that sprawling development will lead to more crowded classrooms, roads, and polluted waterways. How should the growth of Florida be managed? And who should shape the future of the state? These questions sit at the heart of the Florida 2030 Blueprint, a research project by the Chamber meant to guide Florida’s development over the next decade. The blueprint calls on businesses, local governments, and private organizations to tackle 39 goals from job training to environmental protection.


Gov. DeSantis signs bill expanding financial aid to foster children, parents, caregivers” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis stopped in Miami Tuesday morning to sign legislation (SB 7034) that will provide a $200 monthly subsidy to foster parents and other caregivers of preschool children to help cover child care and early learning costs and increase stipends for relatives and nonrelatives who house and raise children to the same level as those given to licensed foster parents. Florida provides tuition waivers at state colleges, universities, and workforce education programs for many foster youths. The new law, effective July 1, broadens those exemptions by expanding tuition and fee waivers to children who were in the shelter care system, out-of-home care, or were adopted after being in state care.

Ron DeSantis throws a lifeline to foster children, parents, and caregivers.

Hotly-debated education bills left out in analysis on Florida lawmaker ‘grades’ for 2022 Session” via Danielle Brown of Florida Phoenix — Republicans largely got good grades — As and Bs — in an analysis on education policies in the 2022 Legislative Session. The analysis was from the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a nonprofit founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush. While the analysis used a wide range of education policies, there were three notable absences: HB 7, HB 1557 and HB 1467. They were widely publicized, and critics believed those bills would create a chilling effect in Florida classrooms. HB 7 is about how race can or cannot be discussed in classrooms and workplaces; HB 1557 known as “Don’t Say Gay,” restricts certain classroom instruction on LGBTQ topics; HB 1467 could lead to removing certain books from school libraries.


Joe Biden’s team is divided over new talks about oil with Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela” via Michael Wilner and Antonio Maria Delgado of McClatchy — Divisions within the Biden administration over whether to continue talks with President Maduro in Venezuela have deepened since a senior U.S. delegation met with him in Caracas last month. The March 5 meeting resulted in the freedom of two U.S. citizens from Venezuelan custody — and raised the prospect of U.S. sanctions relief on Venezuela’s oil sector. Administration officials insist that negotiations over the freedom of two Americans were kept separate from initial talks over Venezuelan oil. At the time, the White House said it intended to continue its engagement with the regime. But an outcry from both Democrats and Republican lawmakers in Washington over a potential deal with Maduro forced the White House to put the brakes on any future talks.

The White House is divided over oil talks with Nicolás Maduro.

Stephanie Murphy ‘heartbroken’ by Ukrainian refugees at border with Poland” via Chloe Folmar of The Hill — Rep. Murphy said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the scene of Ukrainian refugees flowing across the Polish border during a bipartisan trip to visit allies in the region. ‘As a refugee, and a mother of two young kids, I’m just heartbroken by what I’ve witnessed,’ Murphy said in a video. ‘I’m also amazed by the resilience of the Ukrainian people and inspired by their strength.’ The congressional delegation is at the Poland-Ukraine border meeting with American and European officials responding to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.”

This sucks — “House GOP, banding together, kills bid to honor pioneering Black judge” via Annie Karni of The New York Times — A bill to name a federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Justice Joseph W. Hatchett, the first Black man to serve on the Florida Supreme Court — sponsored by the state’s two Republican Senators and backed unanimously by its 27 House members — was set to pass the House last month and become law with broad bipartisan support. But in a last-minute flurry, Republicans abruptly pulled their backing with no explanation and ultimately killed the measure, leaving its fate unclear, many of its champions livid and some of its newfound opponents professing ignorance about what had happened. Asked what made him vote against a measure he co-sponsored, Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan was brief and blunt: “I don’t know.”


Nassau Commissioners give OK to new County Attorney contract” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Before Denise May could officially take the interim tag off her title of County Attorney, she was in the position of once again listening to Nassau County Commissioners discuss her possible future dismissal. She came to the job as the Assistant County Attorney, a job which had added importance when the 4th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office issued a memo alleging former County Attorney Mike Mullin broke public records laws. Mullin formerly worked for Rayonier and was key in its strategy regarding what has become the Wildlight development. Rayonier and its subsidiary Raydient sued Mullin and Nassau County, accusing him of working for the county specifically to take advantage of his inside knowledge of the project.

Will Denise May ditch the ‘interim?’

Rob Bradley’s pipeline project nears final permit stage — St. Johns River Water Management District officials are expecting the final permits for a planned $48 million water pipeline in Clay County, a priority of former state Sen. Bradley. Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reports that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit on April 1 for the project, which will move water about 20 miles from a St. Johns River tributary to Camp Blanding to support proper lake levels in the Keystone Heights region. The district expects to receive a federal permit by the end of the month from the Army Corps of Engineers. “I just want to cut a ribbon and see dirt moved,” Bradley said.

Hopes high for Amelia Island sea turtle nesting success” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Fill in those holes in the beach and turn out beachfront lights — another sea turtle nesting season is upon us. On Amelia Island, volunteers work with state officials to handle nesting season work between the state parks on either end of the island. “We are a group of volunteers who collect data. That’s our job; we’re data collectors,” said Mary Duffy of Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch to a crowded Peck Center auditorium Monday night in Fernandina Beach. Sea Turtle Watch’s walking begins May 1 and runs through August 31, though actual nesting can go beyond that time, and hatchlings will emerge from nests as late as November.


Hillsborough Superintendent pitches referendum on new school property tax” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County School Superintendent Addison Davis recommended that the School Board ask voters to consider a special property tax that would mostly be used for employee pay. He proposed a tax of $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value, which would raise $126 million a year. Sixteen percent of the proceeds would go to charter schools, while 84% would be earmarked for district schools. Three-quarters of the district share would be used for employees. In addition to raises, there would be more positions to ensure arts and physical education instruction beginning in kindergarten and programs such as band and orchestra in the older grades.

Addison Davis is giving his elevator pitch on a new school tax.


After Surfside collapse, Miami-Dade drafts reforms that fall short of recommendations” via Ben Conarck and Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — After a catastrophic partial building collapse in Surfside left 98 dead and a community traumatized, Florida’s lawmakers were tasked with finding a legislative solution to long-simmering issues of lax inspections, poor upkeep and sloppy enforcement of 40-year structural recertifications, all seen as factors that may have contributed to the tragedy at Champlain Towers South. But in the end, state lawmakers agreed on nothing, leaving it up to South Florida’s patchwork of overlapping government agencies to forge a path ahead. The most substantial package of reforms, which would reshape the way buildings are inspected and regulated in Miami-Dade County, gets its first public hearing on Wednesday.

There seems to be considerable foot-dragging over condo inspection reform after the Surfside collapse. Image via AP.

‘Hometown dream come true’: Palm Beach Gardens appoints Chelsea Reed as Mayor” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post — Reed, who grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, has been appointed Mayor of the city for the next year, according to a unanimous vote by the City Council Thursday evening. Reed has been a city council member since 2020 and served as the Vice Mayor last year. Instead of asking voters to elect a Mayor separately from Town Council members, Palm Beach Gardens tends to rotate its mayoral appointment. Former Mayor Rachelle Litt nominated Reed on Thursday, saying she “has been at my side the entire year learning (and) absorbing as much as she could … knowing that one day it would be her turn and she would need to be ready.”


First responders are human. We must take care of their mental health and well-being” via Anna Courie for the Miami Herald — Public safety service comes with great personal sacrifice, and many first responders silently carry the burden. People don’t call 911 because they’re having a good day. And those experiences, the images that stay rooted in the mind, take a toll. Compared to the general population, first responders experience higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress, burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. In law enforcement, one study found a more than 20-year difference in life expectancy compared to the average American male. It’s also estimated that 20% to 25% of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress. These staggering statistics are just a few of the reasons why public safety agencies are focusing more on first-responder health and wellness.


I worry we’ll soon forget about Ukraine” via George Packer of The Atlantic — In this country, Ukraine has done what nothing else — no election or insurrection, no pandemic, no environmental catastrophe — could do: show the difference between right and wrong, heroism and barbarism, truth and lies, with such clarity that most Americans are in agreement. When Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to Congress, Kevin McCarthy and Maxine Waters, who detest each other, sat side by side as if the bipartisanship of the Cold War were back. Americans support the administration’s policies of imposing sanctions and providing arms. The war has transformed even the American media: Turn on CNN, and you’ll be reminded that the network has excellent reporters. Yet I worry that we’ll soon forget about Ukraine. It’s far away, and Americans have famously short attention spans.

Vladimir Putin wants to break NATO. Republicans want to help him.” via William Saletan of The Bulwark — Putin scored two significant victories this week. One was in France, where Marine Le Pen, a Putin sympathizer, finished a close second to Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s French presidential election. The other was in the United States, where 63 House Republicans, nearly a third of the GOP conference, voted against a resolution of support for NATO. Putin may be losing ground in Ukraine, but he’s gaining ground in the U.S. Congress. The “Putin wing” of the House GOP — useful idiots such as Madison Cawthorn and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who openly spout Russian propaganda — is only a tiny fraction of the Kremlin’s target audience in Congress. They’re joined by a larger crowd of Ukraine bashers, hard-core isolationists, and right-wingers who say we shouldn’t worry about anyone else’s borders until we “secure” our own. Together, that adds up to more than 20 lawmakers.

Legislators handed Gov. DeSantis more power on redistricting. That’s dangerous.” via the Miami Herald editorial board — What happened to check-and-balance government, designed to stop any one branch from seizing too much control? What happened to the separation of powers? Florida has already mostly been under one-party rule, with the Governor and Legislature in Republican hands. Are we now turning into a state of one-man rule? Announced Monday, the decision to let the Governor come up with the maps is an unprecedented move that seems to run directly counter to the role of the Legislature. In this case, it looks like it’ll come down to the courts to function as a check on the power of the executive branch. That’s a critically important role of a functioning democracy. And it’s a role Florida lawmakers just discarded and walked away from.

DeSantis, GOP failed big test on public schools” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Last fall, DeSantis promised to help public education, not hurt it. He broke that promise. Seven months ago, DeSantis claimed that he would end high-stakes school tests. Last month, he signed SB 1048, the vehicle to supposedly overhaul the system. In fact, nothing important will change. A standardized test still will determine promotion from third grade and graduation from high school. Test scores still will determine school grades, which will resume in 2023-24 under the new tests. Those grades will continue to determine everything from teacher bonuses to home prices. Florida has had four Republican Governors since the testing obsession began. Not one has had children who took the FCAT or its successors.

— ALOE —

Florida officials warn not to touch fuzzy caterpillars making annual appearance” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida can be dangerous in many ways, but from mid-April to early May, health officials warn people in the state to avoid touching a fuzzy caterpillar. The white-marked tussock moth caterpillar can cause skin irritation if handled. It has been reported to cause issues at Florida day care centers and elementary schools in the state in the past, according to a report from Donald W. Hall and Lyle Buss with the Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida. Touching the cocoons can cause irritation as well. It’s one of three tussock moth species found in Florida, with the most common being the fir tussock moth caterpillar.

Don’t touch, OK? Image via National Park Service.

HBO released a trailer for a police miniseries based in Baltimore written by The Wire’s David Simon and starring multiple cast members from The Wire, which no surprise looks INCREDIBLE” via Barstool Sports — Usually, when you see something like this, it’s a couple of mamalukes who were kinda, sorta involved with the show instead of being the straws the stirred the drink. However, I decided to get my McNulty on by opening a small bottle of Jame-o and do some deep detective work about the show. David Simon? CHECK. Ed Burns? CHECK. Nina K. Noble? CHECK. A show based on real-life events on the Baltimore streets from a Baltimore Sun reporter? CHECK. Yup, I’d say we have another motherfucking hit on our hands in a show that somehow premieres in less than two weeks, along with Herc, Landsman, Dookie, Poot, Donut and any other cast members from The Wire that I missed.


Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, Reps. Sam Killebrew and John Snyder, Chris Chaney of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners, Doug Cook, former head of the Agency for Health Care Administration, Nick Iacovella, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications for Coalition for a Prosperous America, and political consultant Todd Pressman.


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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