Last Call for 5.19.22 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Ed. Note — Good evening; Sunburn will be taking the day off tomorrow. Don’t worry, the must-read rundown of what’s hot in Florida politics will return Monday morning. Until then, please check out the new Takeaways from Tallahassee — with Capitol Directions — hitting inboxes early Saturday morning. Thanks again for your support, and please, stay safe.


Happy early birthday to congressional candidate and good guy Rusty Roberts.


Florida’s First Couple took a two-pronged approach Thursday to combating substance abuse in the state, calling out fentanyl as a deadly development in the fight against controlled substances.

First Lady Casey DeSantis kicked off the day’s anti-drug show with a televised “The Facts. Your Future.” assembly at Tohopekaliga High School in Kissimmee. The First Lady launched “The Facts. Your Future.” in December 2019 to combat substance abuse among children, and the assembly marked the first time she took the campaign on the road.

“These drugs that these officers are seeing on the streets, they’re really scary,” the First Lady said. “The drug fentanyl, which only has to be the size of a grain of sand to be deadly, is pouring into our country and winding up in all different types of drugs. You might think you’re taking one thing, but if it’s laced with fentanyl, it could instantaneously kill you on the spot.”

Down the road in Lakeland later in the afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma as he signed legislation (HB 95) increasing penalties for trafficking in controlled substances, particularly fentanyl.

“You go to look at like certain street drugs that are considered, quote, not as lethal — if this fentanyl is in it, then all of a sudden, you’re looking at something that could take your life,” DeSantis said, speaking in Lakeland on Thursday. “If you’re out there, as kids, in particular, I would just say, the last thing you want to be doing is just ingesting or using any of these foreign substances. I’m not saying it was ever anything you wanted to do but compared to where we were like in the ’60s to now, this stuff is really, really problematic.”

Lemma, who had sat on stage with Casey DeSantis hours earlier, noted the First Couple was taking a holistic approach to the opioid epidemic.

“I know that sometimes people look at police officers and sheriffs and deputies, and say, ‘Well, are they sensationalizing?’” Lemma told the First Lady. “Look at the numbers. We’ve never experienced anything like this in our history like we’re experiencing right now.”

Evening Reads

—“Targeting fentanyl, Gov. Ron DeSantis signs controlled substances bill” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—“Florida lawmakers, too busy with culture wars, missed an actual crisis” via Lizette Alvarez of The Washington Post

—“Joe Biden’s moves on Cuba, Venezuela could hurt Dems with Hispanics” via Brett Samuels and Rafael Bernal of The Hill

—“Oklahoma Legislature passes bill banning almost all abortions” via Kate Zernike and Mitch Smith of The New York Times

—“Disturbing, even inaccurate, speech must be protected” via Thomas J. Balch of The Washington Post

—“‘He just has no clue’: Democrats continue criticism of Rick Scott’s ‘Rescue America’ plan” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

—“GOP directs culture war fury toward green investing trend” via Sam Metz of The Associated Press

—“Florida now warns publishers against ‘critical race theory’ in social studies books” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel

—“Contractors group sues property insurers, Florida regulators over changes to policies” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics

—“Census undercount likely cost Florida a U.S. House seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Emergency plane landing in Florida: Pilot who lost consciousness in mid-air suffered aortic tear” via Katherine Kokal of The Palm Beach Post

—“Your dog is not ready for you to return to the office” via John Leland of The New York Times

Quote of the Day

“It’s hard — same thing’s happening in colleges of education, (enrollment is) falling off. Probably a lot because of some of the controversy and turmoil now (in education). You know what? Pay them more. Damn it, they need to be paid more.”

— Former Florida State University President John Thrasher on the declining number of prospective teachers.

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