Good Monday morning.
We’ll get to everything you need to know about the Special Session, but let’s start today with the first look at Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book’s re-election campaign’s second broadcast ad.
“Fighter” features Book explaining to her five-year-old girl-boy twins, Kennedy and Hudson, why she travels to Tallahassee to fight for strong public schools and access to affordable health care, while also working to keep kids safe.
“[I’m] a mom who fights for Broward families in the Legislature so our kids can have better schools and families can have access to health care,” Book says in the 30-second ad. “And, as a survivor of sexual assault, keeping kids safe is my life’s mission.”
Book is running for re-election in the new Senate District 35, where she faces former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief in the Democratic Primary.
Thus far, Book has dominated the fundraising race, with more than $2.8 million in the bank heading into May. She has also landed endorsements from most Senate Democrats and organizations like Ruth’s List Florida and the Broward County Police Benevolent Association.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@KyivIndependent:⚡️Zelenskyy: 700,000 soldiers defending Ukraine now. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised interview on May 21 that 700,000 defenders of Ukraine are fighting all across the country, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
—@AlCardenasFL_DC: Italy: mind your own business. It’s not your land; it’s not your country. You have taken the wrong side enough times during the past century. If you are not supportive of Ukraine’s sacrifice for freedom & defense of their independence, at least keep your mouth shut.
—@LukeJohnson: I think lockdowns, social distancing, remote working, school closures and COVID fear propaganda have impaired civil relationships. Two years of these profoundly anti-social restrictions have undermined our empathy toward others and made society less happy and angrier.
👇 watch this dangerous wacko and don’t look away. Part of the Communication problem Democrats have is a lack of understanding that the more people see this, the more likely they are to vote for Democrats. If this is the choice and it is, that’s a good thing, because it’s NUTS https://t.co/1VMFPLfDGr
— Steve Schmidt (@SteveSchmidtSES) May 22, 2022
—@MarcoRubio: Marco Rubio for Senate is in @ purgatory. Since a (Nancy) Pelosi puppet announced she was running against me, they have sent 66% of my emails to REGISTERED SUPPORTERS with @ to spam, and during the final weeks of finance quarters, it climbs to over 90%
—@Fineout: Past 2 wks @CharlieCrist put on defense. @NikkiFried hits Crist over answers on abortion & Canady SC appt. He responds with promise to do E/O on abortion rights if elected. Fried endorsed by Dem. Black Caucus of Fla. Crist camp notes long list of endorsements by Black officials.
Hanging on the walls of the House Member’s Lounge is a permanent reminder of Betty Reed and her legacy of service to Floridians. May she Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/gYcz85baBn
— Chris Sprowls (@ChrisSprowls) May 20, 2022
Florida Republican House candidate Anthony Sabatini holding up a Mickey Mouse head in front of Disney World. pic.twitter.com/lz9oiLpSi1
— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) May 22, 2022
—@MacStipanovich: Today is my father’s 100th birthday. Governor (Ron) DeSantis was kind enough to send him a congratulatory letter, noting that both of them were in the naval service (USMC and USN), although many wars apart. It was a generous gesture that I appreciate. cc: @ChristinaPushaw
— DAYS UNTIL —
2022 Florida Chamber Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 2; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 2; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 4; Hyundai Air and Sea Show National Salute to America’s Heroes, sponsored by the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association — 5; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 10; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 15; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 18; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 25; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 36; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 46; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 57; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 59; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 78; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 86; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 90; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 100; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 102; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 108; 2022 Emmys — 112; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 136; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 154; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 155; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 155; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 172; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 178; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 182; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 182; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 183; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 205; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 269; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 287; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 305; 2023 Session Sine Die — 347; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 347; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 375; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 431; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 515; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 676; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 795.
—SPECIAL SESSION —
“Florida lawmakers release sweeping property insurance bills days ahead of Special Session” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Lawmakers late Friday night released a sweeping property insurance reform package that, among other things, creates a new $2 billion reinsurance fund and makes controversial legal reforms long sought by the insurance industry.
Lawmakers will consider the two bills filed by the House and Senate next week as part of a special Legislative Session called by DeSantis to overhaul the state’s property insurance market, which has long faced structural problems but was not addressed by legislators during the Regular 2022 Legislative Session. The proposals, which appear to be agreed to by both chambers, are much wider ranging than legislation considered during Regular Session and make more significant changes than some industry analysts expected.
… One of the biggest provisions being proposed is a $2 billion Reinsurance to Assist Policyholders program that allows property insurance companies to get reimbursed for hurricane losses earlier than permitted under current law. If insurance companies take part in the program, they would be required to reduce policyholder rates by June 30, and if the money is not needed, it would be returned to the state’s general revenue fund.
… The bill making the biggest changes, S.B. 2D, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jim Boyd, an insurance agent, also makes several legal reforms that aim to crack down on legal costs and lawsuits that insurance companies have long said are the real driver of increased costs. It is one of the chief sticking points between the industry and trial attorneys, who argue reforms sought by insurers are simply designed to make it harder for consumers to sue.
The measure limits attorney fee multipliers, which allows for increased attorney fees in certain complex cases, such as in property insurance legal fights with “exceptional circumstances.” In addition, it no longer allows attorneys’ fees in Assignment of Benefits lawsuits, which are those involving cases when a homeowner signs benefits of a claim over to a contractor who then handles both repairs and the underlying claim. The proposal also makes it harder for a policyholder to win a property insurance “bad faith” lawsuit by requiring they prove the insurance company breached its contract. That’s a higher standard than is currently used.
… The Special Session legislation also allows insurance companies to create a separate deductible just for roofs that would cap at 2%. The Senate wanted a 2% deductible during the Regular Session, but the House said it would be too costly for low-income homeowners and did not agree to the proposal. The Special Session bill to be negotiated between the two chambers allows for an “opt-out” that was not part of the Regular Session legislation.
—”Legislature’s property insurance bills propose sweeping changes, including a reinsurance fund” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics
—“Legislators look to limit roof claims, attorney fees in property insurance Session” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times
Here are links to the four bills under consideration:
HB 0001D — “Property Insurance”
SB 0002D — “Property Insurance”
HB 0003D — “Roof Repair, Replacement, and Recovering Requirements”
SB 0004D — “Roof Repair, Replacement, and Recovering Requirements”
— The Senate convenes a Special Session to address problems with Florida’s property-insurance system, 9 a.m., Senate Chamber.
— The Senate Appropriations Committee meets to consider legislation to reform the state’s property-insurance system, 10:30 a.m., Room 412, Knott Building.
— The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets 15 minutes after the Appropriations Committee meeting, Room 412, Knott Building.
“When Florida’s property insurers fail, few ask why” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s Department of Financial Services does a financial “autopsy” on every insurance company that fails. But once finished, the reports are effectively shoved in a drawer. Few people, including top lawmakers, trade groups, and the state’s insurance consumer advocate, were aware of their existence before being contacted by a reporter. The reports aren’t even automatically sent to the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation. The oversight is another sign of dysfunction in Florida’s handling of the state’s property insurance crisis, said Sen. Jeff Brandes: “Part of the problem is these companies fail, and we don’t learn anything from them.” Financial autopsies aren’t usually released until years after a company fails.
“As climate sets ‘new normal,’ cost of property insurance will separate haves and have-nots” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — Lawmakers poised to act against soaring property-insurance rates may address allegations of insurance fraud and may lure jittery reinsurance companies back into Florida’s crippled marketplace. But one thing they can’t do is change the weather. “Insurers believe that due to climate change, this is the new normal. They’re finding that catastrophic and non-catastrophic weather events are increasing in severity every year,” said Paul Handerhan, president of the Federal Association for Insurance Reform.
—”Roofing scams put Florida’s property insurance market ‘on the verge of collapse’” via Jon Schuppe of Yahoo News
“Consumer advocates push accountability for bad actors, assistance for homeowners ahead of Special Session” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As lawmakers return to Tallahassee for a Special Session, consumer advocates hope for solutions that don’t drive people from homes. The consumer advocacy group Floridians for Honest Lending and insurance reform advocates Federal Association for Insurance Reform released a series of priorities ahead of the Special Session, which will focus on homeowners’ insurance regulations. The organizations posted an educational video on the issue and potential solutions. In it, Handerhan suggested there’s urgency for Florida-based insurance carriers. The short-term crisis could unfold fully in June and July, he said.
“Ron DeSantis vetoes bill increasing motor vehicle exemption in bankruptcy” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeSantis has vetoed legislation that would increase the maximum value of a motor vehicle that may be exempted from bankruptcy cases from $1,000 to $5,000. The measure (CS/HB 265), sponsored by the House Civil Justice & Property Rights Subcommittee and Rep. Mike Gottlieb, cleared both the House and Senate chambers in unanimous votes. The legislation would have raised the exemption value of a debtor’s interest in a motor vehicle from $1,000 to $5,000 in bankruptcy cases. In his transmittal letter announcing his veto of the bill, DeSantis stated that the increased exemption amount should apply to processes outside of bankruptcy, too, not to incentivize bankruptcy.
Jimmy Patronis celebrates fire investigator cancer treatment bill signing — CFO and State Fire Marshal Patronis praised the Governor for signing a bill (SB 838) that will provide fire investigators with the cancer treatment benefits currently provided to firefighters. “Florida’s firefighters and investigators never fail to answer the call and work to protect our homes, businesses, and communities at a moment’s notice. Thank you to Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing this bill into law and standing with our firefighting professionals,” he said. “It is critical that we provide these men and women the support they need if faced with a life-changing cancer diagnosis.” The CFO also thanked Rep. Michelle Salzman and Sen. Tom Wright for sponsoring the legislation during the 2022 Legislative Session.
“Bill clearing $7.5M for Orlando mother of three boys maimed in trooper crash on DeSantis’ desk” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A long-sought settlement for a woman whose children suffered permanent injuries in a gruesome crash with a state trooper south of Ocala now awaits approval from DeSantis, who received the authorizing bill Friday afternoon. The measure (SB 80), sponsored by Sen. Dennis Baxley, concerns Orlando woman Christeia Jones, whose three boys were no older than 7 when Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Raul Umana’s on-road lapse in judgment forever changed their lives. Jones stands to receive $7.5 million, which is significantly less than the sum initially contemplated in the legislation state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved in early March.
“Cord Byrd defends wife’s ‘passionate’ praise of Capitol rioters, other extreme elements” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s Secretary of State again defended his wife’s social media comments expressing support for the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters attempting to stop the certification of the last Presidential Election, Proud Boys, and other extreme elements on the far right. “I reject any notion that there’s anything untoward,” Byrd said about his wife’s comments, then blasting critics. The newly appointed Secretary of State explained away various incendiary comments made by Esther Byrd, a recent appointee to the Board of Education, as a function of her being a “strong, independent woman” and a patriot. After the Capitol riots, Mrs. Byrd offered a defense of those “peacefully protesting” the certification of the 2020 Presidential Election.
— 2022 —
“Democratic Black Caucus endorses Nikki Fried for Governor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Democratic Black Caucus of Florida endorsed Fried for Governor. That could be a critical bit of support as Fried faces U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in a Democratic primary. “This endorsement means everything to me, my team, and our supporters fighting to beat Ron DeSantis,” said Fried. An official affiliate of the Florida Democratic Party, the caucus was formed in 1983 to amplify the voice of approximately 3 million Black Democratic voters registered to vote in Florida. The endorsement came through a vote at the caucus’ annual conference Sunday in Orlando. About 67% of votes went to Fried, while 25% went for Crist and 8% went for state Sen. Annette Taddeo.
“Charlie Crist announces abortion rights firewall order” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Crist‘s complicated political career, having been a Republican Governor before he became a Democratic Congressman, and his different stances on abortion have raised questions in recent weeks. He attempted to clarify by rolling out a proposed executive order barring state agencies from closing safely operating abortion clinics or cooperating with federal officials or other states seeking to prosecute women for having abortions. Crist cited a right to privacy guaranteed in the Florida Constitution, a right he says Republican lawmakers and DeSantis have not respected by passing a more restrictive abortion bill this year.
—“Crist turning up ‘happy warrior’ pitch” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics
“Rubio gets backing from top police union in race with Val Demings for law and order label” via Bianca Padró Ocasio — With about 10 police officers standing behind him, U.S. Sen. Rubio was endorsed Saturday by the state’s main police union, the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a group that represents about 30,000 cops statewide. It is the latest law enforcement group to back him in his re-election campaign, including endorsements from a group of 55 Florida sheriffs and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, against U.S. Rep. Demings. Demings has made efforts to emphasize her law enforcement background, rebuking the movement to defund the police and promoting bills to create federal funding programs for cops.
“Appeals court reinstates DeSantis’ congressional map” via The Associated Press — A new congressional map drawn by DeSantis’ staff that could diminish the state’s Black representation in Washington was reinstated by an appeals court Friday, a week after a lower court judge said the map was unconstitutional. The 1st District Court of appeals ruled Judge Layne Smith erred when he ordered a replacement map to be used for the 2022 Election. The latest order means DeSantis’ map is reinstated pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the map.
“Eric Lynn announces endorsements from Jim Davis, Pat Gerard for CD 13 campaign” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Lynn has announced three new endorsements from a slate of current and former elected officials after becoming the lone Democratic candidate in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. His endorsers include former Florida Congressman Jim Davis, Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard, and Belleair Bluffs Commissioner Joe Barkley. “Eric Lynn is a Pinellas native whose record of delivering results speaks for itself,” Davis said.
Ya think? — “Race for CD 15 could get costly” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Laurel Lee’s entry to the crowded Republican Primary for the northeast Hillsborough-based Congressional District 15 could turn into a fast, intense financial battle. Last week, a self-funding political newcomer, Jerry Torres, announced he’ll run for the seat using up to $15 million of his own money. But Lee also has a potential source for a seven-figure campaign, a political fund of about $2.3 million accumulated over a decade by her husband, former state Senate President Tom Lee.
“Lois Frankel’s campaign cash towers, but two Republicans best her in Q1 money added” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Frankel’s first quarter fundraising hit her personal best for this election cycle, with $173,589 raised, bringing her campaign kitty to $1.6 million. That’s more cash on hand than all eight of her Republican competitors’ have combined. As Frankel seeks her sixth term in Congress, though, two Republican competitors added more to their campaigns in the last quarter. Republican Jeffrey “Bongi” Buongiorno added $368,997 to his campaign, with 96% coming from his own pocket. And Martin Marks, who just filed for the seat in January, reported raising nearly $239,000 in his first-ever campaign report.
Evergreen — “Do Joe Biden policy moves on Cuba, Venezuela doom Democrats’ chances in Florida?” via Anthony Man of the Orlando Sentinel — President Biden’s changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba and Venezuela could have a big impact on those nations, but also elections in Florida. The policies in question, an opening up of economic and travel exchange with Cuba and a possible easing of sanctions on Venezuela, have riled many Florida politics in a way that few issues can. Writing on Twitter shortly after the Venezuela policy news broke this week, Fernand Amandi, a Florida-based pollster, was unsparing in his assessment of the one-two punch: “In case you had any doubts that Florida is no longer a priority state for Democrats.”
— MORE 2022 —
“Paul Renner endorses Alex Andrade re-election bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Renner announced he is backing Rep. Andrade as Andrade pursues a third term representing House District 2. Under new maps approved by the Legislature, the district covers portions of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and is centered on the coastal portion of Pensacola. “Alex Andrade is the leader Northwest Florida needs,” Renner said. “He is a strong conservative that honors the pro-military community he represents, he is a fierce advocate for life, and he will continue to be a champion for small businesses. I look forward to working with Rep. Andrade and to welcoming him back to Tallahassee to continue the good work he is doing for Florida’s Panhandle.”
—“Matt Gaetz supports Andrade re-election effort” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics
—”Juan Carlos Porras reaps $31K in first month of fundraising for HD 119” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics
“‘Stay Woke, Go Vote’ rally stirs spirited emotions, heartfelt pleas” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The takeaway messages were spirited, heartfelt, and hard-hitting at Saturday’s “Stay Woke, Go Vote” rally at Miramar City Hall. “Tallahassee is coming after you,” state Rep. Marie Woodson told the crowd. “Therefore, you need to also come after Tallahassee.” About a dozen elected officials made emotional pleas to constituents, young and old, at Saturday’s gathering to register to vote, double-check they’re still registered to vote, and, most importantly, vote. State Rep. Felecia Robinson said one purpose of Saturday’s gathering was to educate, motivate and mobilize.
Meanwhile … “‘Ghost’ candidate judge shields records to protect privacy of ex-lawmaker’s contacts” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — When state agents raided the home of former state Sen. Frank Artiles after he was indicted on felony charges for his role in Florida’s 2020 “ghost” candidate scheme, they left with a cache of data that included years of communications related to his work as a political consultant. Those emails, texts, and other messages Artiles exchanged with other political insiders could have spilled into the open, providing a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes workings of Florida politics as seen by the well-connected state lawmaker-turned-lobbyist.
Don’t overlook this — “Florida’s jobless rate falls to lowest level in two years” via The Associated Press — Florida’s unemployment rate dipped to 3% last month, with all 10 industries tracked in the state showing year over year job growth. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Florida hasn’t been this low since February 2020, before the new coronavirus started spreading in the U.S. In April, the state’s unemployment rate was down 2.1 percentage points from a year ago. Monroe County, whose boundaries include the Florida Keys, had the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 1.5%. Among industries, the largest year-over-year job growth was in leisure and hospitality, increasing by 14.3%. Nationwide, the U.S. jobless rate in April was 3.6%.
“Florida records nearly 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests has climbed to double-digits statewide over the past two weeks, while recorded deaths were up 17% and hospitalizations have also been climbing. There were 99,630 new coronavirus cases recorded over the last two weeks among Florida residents, bringing the cumulative total to 6,058,248. With 270 more fatalities on record, 74,330 Florida residents have died. The death total over the last two weeks reflects an increase from the 230 reported two weeks prior, but deaths can take several days or weeks to be reported. Many newly reported deaths are people who died before the last two weeks.
“New data shows South Florida is at high risk of COVID-19 transmission. There was an error” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — South Florida is actually at a high COVID-19 community transmission level and has been since at least Thursday. A data error on the CDC website misrepresented the current risk and has still not been completely worked out. The three largest counties in the state transitioning to a high-risk level means residents may have to alter their daily routines and activities as the CDC offers more stringent recommendations not to contract and spread the virus.
—”COVID-19 cases climbing in Leon County; hospitalizations remain low” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat
—“Lee Health has 80 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals. Is a new surge on the horizon?” via Liz Freeman of the Fort Myers News-Press
“Florida Department of Health and CDC investigating a monkey pox case in Broward County” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — A person has been isolated after a presumptive case of monkey pox was diagnosed, the Florida Department of Health in Broward County announced Sunday afternoon. Jeremy Redfern, a Florida Department of Health spokesperson at the state level, said the specimen taken from the person will be sent to the CDC for confirmation and this is the only presumed positive case in the state. “This case is related to international travel, and the person remains isolated,” the Health Department in Broward said. “At this time, DOH-Broward has not identified any additional cases.”
“NHC issues first tropical outlook area of 2022, watches disturbance over Gulf Coast” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — The National Hurricane Center on Sunday issued its first national tropical weather outlook area for the 2022 season. NHC is monitoring a system of disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the Gulf of Mexico that has a 10% chance of development within the next 48 hours, according to a 2 p.m. report. “Surface pressures remain high and environmental conditions do not appear favorable for significant development before this system moves inland over the central Gulf Coast in a day or so,” NHC specialist Philippe Papin said. Hurricane season officially starts on June 1.
Depressing — “The annihilation of Florida: An overlooked national tragedy” via Jeff VanderMeer of Current Affairs — Since development in Florida began in earnest in the 20th century, state leaders and developers have chosen a cruel, unsustainable legacy involving the nonstop slaughter of wildlife and the destruction of habitat, eliminating some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. Most of this harm was inflicted in the service of unlimited and poorly planned growth, sparked by greed and short-term profit. This murder of the natural world has accelerated in the last decade to depths unheard of. The process has been deliberate, often systemic, and conducted from on-high to down-low, with special interests flooding the state with dark money.
“First responders’ communication network gets big update” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Florida first responders can now access the most tech-advanced communications system available with a new partnership from L3Harris Technologies and FirstNet from AT&T, the result of a $451 million contract renewal approved by the Legislature last spring. The new system by L3Harris will combine its Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) with FirstNet, the only network built with and for America’s first responders. “This partnership with the State of Florida and FirstNet provides Florida’s first responders with the most technologically advanced communications system available,” said Nino DiCosmo, president of public safety and professional communications for L3Harris.
“Florida joins feds to target illegal caller ID spoofing and robocalls” via Jason Delgado of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ashley Moody on Thursday announced a new investigative partnership against illegal caller ID spoofing and robocalls with the Federal Communications Commission. The partnership, Moody explained, will allow Florida to access more resources. It will also enable broader communication between federal and state investigators. Caller ID spoofing is when a caller disguises themselves and provides a false caller ID. “The FCC and state leaders share a common enemy: robocall scammers targeting consumers and businesses around the country,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Biden’s approval dips to lowest of presidency” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — Biden’s approval rating dipped to the lowest point of his presidency in May, a new poll shows, with deepening pessimism emerging among members of his own Democratic Party. Only 39% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s performance as President, dipping from already negative ratings a month earlier. Overall, only about 2 in 10 adults say the U.S. is heading in the right direction, or the economy is good, both down from about 3 in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the President’s Party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April.
“Biden bid to end border expulsions stopped by federal judge” via Ellen M Gilmer of Bloomberg — A Louisiana federal judge blocked the Biden administration on Friday from ending Title 42, a pandemic-related border restriction that allows for the immediate expulsion of asylum-seekers and other migrants. The preliminary injunction provides a more long-term stop to the administration’s plans while the lawsuit led by a multistate coalition of Republican attorneys general plays out, barring a successful appeal by the Biden administration. The border restriction had been set to be lifted on Monday.
“Biden’s moves on Cuba, Venezuela could hurt Dems with Hispanics” via Brett Samuels and Rafael Bernal of The Hill — The Biden administration this week eased some restrictive policies toward Cuba and Venezuela in a bid to increase relations with the isolated nations, a move that may further imperil Democrats’ chances to win over some Hispanic voters in Florida and elsewhere. Biden and Democrats struggled in Florida in the 2020 election. With Biden taking steps to engage with Cuba and Venezuela, those attacks are likely to return ahead of the midterms, potentially further alienating voters who have fled or have family in those countries. In a sign of how unpopular the policies may be among some voters, Rep. Demings, who is running against Rubio for his Senate seat in November, gave a cool reception to the Biden administration’s announcements.
—“Biden abandons Florida Dems in tough races to run a fool’s errand in Cuba, Venezuela” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald
“Why Biden hasn’t killed Donald Trump’s China tariffs and made imports cheaper” via David J. Lynch of The Washington Post — With the stroke of a White House pen, Biden could lower the cost of thousands of consumer and industrial products and strike a blow in the anti-inflation fight that he calls “his top domestic priority.” All he has to do is lift the tariffs on imported Chinese products that Trump imposed starting in 2018. Chinese products, for one thing, have not been among the main contributors to inflation. “Tariffs are sticky,” said Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council. “They’re easy to put up and really hard to bring down.”
“Biden’s protection from COVID-19: Few close contacts” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — The growing number of coronavirus cases within the White House and the President’s orbit have indirectly revealed that few people, including top advisers and family members, appear to spend more than 15 minutes with him. If the President comes into close contact with an infected person, he will need to spend the next 10 days wearing a well-fitted mask when around others. It’s not the optics that a President trying to move on from the pandemic wants to project.
“Salazar on Jan. 6 GOP subpoenas: Those ‘called and questioned should go say the truth” via Bianca Padro Ocasio of the Miami Herald —U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar appeared on Sunday to call on fellow Republicans who’ve been subpoenaed by Congress’ Jan. 6 investigative body to testify on what they know about what happened during the riot. During a recorded interview with NBC 6’s Jackie Nespral that aired on Sunday, Salazar responded to a question about the subpoenas to five GOP House members, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, saying that ‘no one is above the law.
Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy will visit the Little Wekiva River to tout $688,000 in federal funding she helped secure to restore the river.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump’s alarming GOP primary wins demand a serious response” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — Republicans are in a full-scale panic about Doug Mastriano, the right-wing extremist who won the GOP primary for Pennsylvania Governor this week. They fear that his active collaboration in Trump’s coup attempt, along with his crackpot views, might squander a big gubernatorial pickup opportunity in this crucial swing state. In a world where such GOP angst might be channeled in a constructive direction, it could result in reforms that render the antidemocratic implications of Mastriano’s victory less alarming. Chief among these is fixing the Electoral Count Act of 1887, or ECA.
—“DeSantis bests Trump in Wisconsin GOP straw poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“Lawyer says he dealt directly with Trump over Jan. 6 plans” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — The conservative lawyer John Eastman, the architect of a strategy to overturn the 2020 election, dealt directly with Trump and received handwritten notes from him as the men sought to keep Trump in power. Eastman did not release the contents of his communications with Trump and others in the White House and the Trump campaign, but he described them in general terms in a filing in his federal lawsuit in California against the House committee.
“Group chat linked to Roger Stone shows ties among Jan. 6 figures” via Alan Feuer of The New York Times — It was known as F.O.S., or Friends of Stone, and while its members shifted over time, they were a motley cast of characters. There were “Stop the Steal” organizers, right-wing influencers, Florida state legislative aides, and more than one failed candidate loyal to former Trump. At least three group chat members are now facing charges in connection with the riot at the Capitol in January 2021. Stone said that he did not control who was admitted to the group chat and noted that Stop the Steal activities were protected by the First Amendment.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“‘Either you die or you succeed’: Haiti’s northwest coast spawns migration tide to Florida” via Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Haitians seeking to escape the continuing cycle of violence, hunger and despair in their homeland come to Tortuga’s rocky seaside villages and coves and pay smugglers dearly for passage on dangerous, overloaded wooden sailboats that depart in the dead of night, attempting to avoid the watchful eyes of U.S. Coast Guard cutters and aircraft that patrol its mangrove-lined coastline. In the past eight months, Haitians have been leaving the island and nearby coastal areas on the mainland by the hundreds to reach the Keys. More than 600 Haitians have successfully made it into the U.S. mainland, where immigration judges will determine their fate.
“Broward 911 call center workers log so much OT because of understaffing that they can double their pay” via Eileen Kelly and Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County’s emergency 911 centers are so gravely understaffed that workers routinely log outlandishly long overtime shifts, enough extra work that many are doubling and tripling their regular pay, a review of payroll records revealed. In a recent six-month period, three communication operators hauled in six-figure payouts for jobs that, without overtime, would be in the $35,000 range. One communication worker puts in so many OT shifts that the person has been known to catch four-hour naps in a car before clocking back in for another shift.
“Jeb Bush urges removal of ‘toxicity’ from politics in speech to Broward business leaders” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Former Gov. Bush, who now heads a private investment firm based in Coral Gables, appeared before the midyear meeting of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance on Friday and urged a halt to toxic politics in America. Bush said both major political parties are obliged to call out elected officials who use bullying and vulgarities to get ahead. He did not name Trump. But he said today’s political dialogue on TV and social media is tough to consume. Vulgarity, he said, may draw bigger followings on Twitter, but “that is not a strength, that’s a sign of weakness.” He said voters should “penalize” those who are vulgar and toxic.
“Scot Peterson sleeps at night” via Eric Barton of Men’s Health — I ask him if he thinks he could have stopped Nikolas Cruz that day had he entered the 1200 Building. He says, “I go to bed every night knowing I did the best I could with the information I had, which was nothing.” That’s been the subject of much debate, of course. But it’s what he tells himself, because it’s the kind of thing people need to tell themselves because the most basic truth is that Peterson didn’t save anyone. There were plenty of reasons Cruz ended up at Stoneman Douglas that day. Maybe he couldn’t have saved them all. Maybe he’s not a coward; maybe he is. There’s one thing he definitely is not: a victim.
“Miami man loses $6 million home, freedom in $115 million scam involving baby formula” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — A 7,700-sq. ft., four-bedroom, four-bathroom house, and three units of an Aventura office building are the list of losses for a Golden Beach man after a massive commercial fraud involving infant formula, eye-care products, and other regulated products by the FDA. Johnny Grobman won’t need the home for the next decade and a half. He’ll be serving at least 85% of an 18-year, four-month sentence handed down Friday after his convictions on conspiracy charges to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Betty Reed, longtime Tampa legislator and community advocate, dies at 81” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Reed, a longtime state representative and community advocate who pushed for more resources for Black mothers, better schools, and more mentorship in Hillsborough County and beyond, died Friday. She was 81 years old. Born to a family of 12 children in a small Georgia community, she moved to Florida in her early 20s and settled in Tampa, where she raised her five children as a stay-at-home mother. She cared deeply about helping those around her and had a dogged determination to get things done, said those who knew her.
“Controversial UCF professor fired amid racism controversy wins job back” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — A controversial University of Central Florida professor who came under fire two years ago for tweets that many students described as racist and was fired last year has won his job back after an independent arbitrator determined the school’s action violated its contract with the faculty union. Charles Negy, an associate professor in the psychology department, will get his job back with back pay and benefits. UCF terminated Negy early last year after a university investigation found he created a “hostile” classroom environment, deterred students from filing complaints about his classroom conduct, failed to report that a student said in 2014 she had been sexually assaulted by one of his teaching assistants and provided false information during the probe.
Happening today — Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper will hear opening arguments in a case to determine the constitutionality of a proposal to change how Pinellas County elects County Commissioners, 9 a.m., Leon County Courthouse, 301 South Monroe St.
Happening today — Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford will participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking to expand Tampa’s Cambridge Christian School, 12:15 p.m., Cambridge Christian School, 6101 North Habana Ave.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Racist photo leads to punishment for Martin Co. students” via The Associated Press — A half-dozen Florida students posed for a photo outside a middle school while holding large letters that spelled out a racial slur, school officials said. The school will follow its code of student conduct in responding to the pupils’ action, Martin County School District Superintendent John Millay said. He explained that state and federal laws prevent the district from identifying the students or releasing any other specific information about possible punishment. No school personnel were involved, the statement added. “We are deeply aware of the hurt and pain this photograph has caused our community, especially our Black American residents and students,” Millay said. “This incident is in complete opposition to our values and the ideals that we instill in our students.”
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“Corrine Brown’s long descent reaches a final, tragic end” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Brown gets to keep her federal pension, earned during her 24 years in Congress; agreed to pay about $90,000 in restitution, which was far less than her original sentence; and won’t have to see another day inside a federal prison cell. But Brown, the loquacious political maestro who built an infamous Northeast Florida electoral machine feared by Jacksonville Republicans — who often groveled to seek her public blessing — walked out the federal courthouse a significantly diminished figure, owing to the tremendous weight of the charges against her and the more than two years of time she had already served in a federal prison in Central Florida. That Brown pleaded at all is evidence enough that the pressure on her had only increased. After her indictment six years ago, the former Congresswoman, in characteristic style, lashed out at federal prosecutors and the FBI and vowed, “On my tombstone, it will not say felon.”
“Jacksonville City Council will vote on reimbursing city employees’ travel for abortions” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council will enter the fierce battle over abortion access when it decides on council member Reggie Gaffney‘s proposal for covering up to $4,000 of travel costs for city employees obtaining abortions in other states if such service is not available within 100 miles of their homes. Gaffney, who is running for a state Senate seat, will ask fellow council members to fast-track a vote on the bill because of the “uncertainty in federal and state law as to reproductive rights at this time,” the legislation says. The U.S. Supreme Court could announce a decision this year on overturning a constitutional right to an abortion, putting the matter into the hands of state legislatures on whether to ban abortions in a state or enact other restrictions.
“Could the Pensacola Confederate monument come back? Federal ruling may make it possible.” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola may face the prospect of having to restore the Confederate monument after a federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling that cleared the way for the city to remove the monument in 2020. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Monday that the federal court did not have jurisdiction over the case when it ruled the groups that sued the city to block the removal of the monument lacked standing to file a lawsuit. The result of the ruling means the legal battle will have to play out in state court.
“Tallahassee federal courthouse on path to be named for trailblazing Black judge after GOP lawmakers initially balked” via James Call of USA Today Network — Efforts to name the federal courthouse in Tallahassee after Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, Florida’s first Black Florida Supreme Court Justice, were derailed last month when House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, objected because of a Hatchett ruling on school prayer. U.S. Rep. Al Lawson got the proposal back on track Wednesday when he reintroduced and debated the measure on the House floor. Dunn flipped his vote to a yes, and the measure by Florida GOP Sens. Rubio and Rick Scott cleared the House on a 230-191 tally, with nine other Republicans joining Democrats to honor Hatchett.
“Local judge ordered to pay $30,000 fine, face reprimand after intervening in son’s arrests” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Supreme Court has ordered Circuit Judge Barbara Hobbs, who is accused of getting involved after her son’s attempted murder arrest in Tallahassee, to pay a $30,000 fine in addition to an unpaid 60-day suspension and a public reprimand. The order comes after she conceded to multiple charges last year and a hearing committee recommended that she be publicly reprimanded, suspended from office without pay for 60 days, and compelled to attend an employee management program. While the state Supreme Court agreed that Hobbs’ initially recommended punishment was insufficient, they did not believe her charges warranted removal. So, they added a $30,000 fine.
“Another tiny red snapper season announced for South Atlantic” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The silver lining for Southeastern saltwater anglers is that at least there is a red snapper season at all. But the revelation on Friday of another tiny snapper season, two days for recreational fishers in 2022, won’t be received well. When the council that manages Southeastern federal fisheries met two months ago, anglers expected around three days, which also wasn’t good enough. “To me, the three-day season, it just doesn’t work for the average recreational angler, and there are so many,” said Davy Hite, a championship freshwater fisher who fishes saltwater recreationally. He said if the weather was bad or circumstances didn’t line up perfectly, a lot of fishers can’t get out on the water for these mini-seasons. Then there’s the safety problem, which several people addressed at the SAFMC meeting.
— TOP OPINION —
“My lunch with President Biden” via Thomas Friedman of The New York Times — Biden invited me for lunch at the White House last Monday. But it was all off the record — so I can’t tell you anything he said.
For all you knuckleheads on Fox who say that Biden can’t put two sentences together, here’s a news flash: He just put NATO together, Europe together and the whole Western alliance together — stretching from Canada up to Finland and all the way to Japan — to help Ukraine protect its fledgling democracy from Vladimir Putin’s fascist assault.
Alas, though, I left our lunch with a full stomach but a heavy heart.
Biden didn’t say it in so many words, but he didn’t have to. I could hear it between the lines: He’s worried that while he has reunited the West, he may not be able to reunite America.
But with every passing day, every mass shooting, every racist dog whistle, every defund-the-police initiative, every nation-sundering Supreme Court ruling, every speaker run off a campus, every bogus claim of election fraud, I wonder if he can bring us back together. I wonder if it’s too late.
— OPINIONS —
“Hillary Clinton did it” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The Russia-Trump collusion narrative of 2016 and beyond was a dirty trick for the ages, and now we know it came from the top, Clinton. That was the testimony Friday by 2016 Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook in federal court, and while this news is hardly a surprise, it’s still bracing to find her fingerprints on the political weapon. Mook testified as a witness in special counsel John Durham’s trial of Michael Sussmann, the lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. In September 2016, Sussmann took claims of a secret Trump connection to Russia’s Alfa Bank to the FBI and said he wasn’t acting on behalf of any client. Prosecutors say he was working for the Clinton campaign.
“Democrats, the midterm jinx is not inevitable” via Robert Kuttner for The New York Times — In November, the Democrats are widely expected to lose the House and probably also the Senate. Large defeats are the norm for a new President’s first midterm. A harbinger is a President’s approval rating, and Biden’s stands at a lackluster 41.1%. But standard political history may not be a good guide to 2022. The Democrats are facing long odds, but there are several reasons this could be an unusual political year. For starters, Trump is just as likely to hobble Republicans as he is to energize them. A Democratic effort reminiscent of grassroots groups in 2017 is beginning to gear up. Trump’s own behavior is exposing all the latent fissures in the contradictory coalition that narrowly elected him.
“Some abortion opponents make economic arguments. They’re in for a fight.” via Peter Coy of The New York Times — If you believe abortion is murder, its economic consequences are beside the point. Morality trumps all. Still, many opponents of abortion make economic arguments along with legal and moral ones, asserting, for instance, that access to abortion has not improved or has even hurt the economic prospects of women. These abortion opponents seem to be trying to win over the ambivalent middle: people who are not enthusiastic about abortion but also worry that restricting it will have harmful social effects. Since abortion opponents have chosen to engage on the battlefield of economics, it’s fair to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their case from the point of view of economics, quite apart from the question of whether abortion is right or wrong on moral grounds.
“Property insurance: A call for courage” via Jeff Brandes for Jax Daily Record — Gov. DeSantis’ proclamation in April calling for a Special Legislative Session on Florida’s homeowners’ insurance market to begin next week was a significant first step in the right direction for Floridians and the state’s economy. He chose strong language to identify and describe the priorities we, as Florida legislators, must address on behalf of all Floridians. This is the biggest economic challenge in the state’s history. Property insurance affects everyone: homeowners, commercial owners, renters, resort guests, farmers, etc. But because of a highly coordinated network of a few lawyers and contractors, they have helped shape and used current laws to their advantage to make it impossible for insurance companies to offer reliable and affordable coverage.
“Scammers are gaming the system, driving up cost of property insurance in Florida” via Tom Fabricio of the Miami Herald — Although the real estate market is hot across Florida, the complex home-insurance market is on the verge of collapse. In the past five years, eight property and casualty companies have gone insolvent, with three liquidated in 2022. Many companies are leaving the state; others are drastically cutting policies or tightening eligibility requirements. However, this fragile market is not solely a result of storm damage … it is man-made, too. The most crucial part of this crisis is contending with out-of-control litigation.
“‘Nobody delivered.’ Lawmakers shamelessly failed to help condo owners after Surfside” via the Miami Herald editorial board — The announcement in the Surfside condo-collapse litigation this month came as a surprise: Less than a year after the June 24 tragedy, relatives of the victims and survivors had reached a settlement that will pay them nearly $1 billion. But the speed at which this settlement was reached, offering some measure of relief for those affected, is remarkable. It’s that speed and determination that should jolt the conscience of every Florida legislator and DeSantis, who have yet to do anything to make condo dwellers safer after the collapse. With almost a year to do the work and full control of the House, Senate and Governor’s Office, Florida’s Republican lawmakers still have failed to pass a single piece of state legislation addressing the catastrophe.
“Miami Mayor should be in the hot seat for not revealing who paid for his pricy Heat seat” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Miami’s telegenic crypto-Mayor, Francis Suarez, who has seemingly never met a spotlight he didn’t embrace, was in his glory Tuesday night, courtside during the first Miami Heat playoff game in a spot usually reserved for celebrities. It’s a bad look in a town struggling with affordability while the crypto world he has relentlessly promoted is tanking. There’s the issue of whether the seat was a gift and, if so, from whom. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how a $20,000 courtside seat could make a Mayor feel awfully warmhearted toward the giver.
“From the Miami Mayor’s office to the White House? Why not?” via George F. Will of The Washington Post — The Mayor of the nation’s most progressing and least progressive large city says “a confluence of macro factors” explains both attributes. In a city where most were born elsewhere, Suarez is the first Mayor who was born here. Approximately 47,000 residential units will be built in the next 36 months. The homicide rate, down 15% in a year, is the lowest since 1957. Despite an inviting climate, Miami has its lowest homelessness rate since 2013. Miami’s mayoral elections are nonpartisan, but Suarez, re-elected last year with 79% of the vote, is a registered Republican.
— ALOE —
It’s Top Gun Week — “Hollywood’s last real movie star” via Nicole Sperling of The New York Times — A global movie star is someone whose name is the draw. They have broad appeal, transcending language, international borders, and generational differences. They are the kind of stars, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, that box office blockbusters were built around for decades. And they are the kind of stars who no longer really exist. Yet there is Tom Cruise, trundling along as if the world hasn’t changed at all. The actor still commands first-dollar gross, which means that in addition to a significant upfront fee, he receives a percentage of the box office gross from the moment the film hits theaters.
“Cruise praises Val Kilmer” via Aaron Perine of Comic Book — Cruise had some thoughtful words about Kilmer. In the sequel to the first film, Iceman is back, and producers are teasing some emotional moments with Maverick. Cruise talked to Metro about working with his old friend again. The star reiterated his admiration for Kilmer and said that it was “incredibly unique.” The Iceman actor has been adamant about his desire to be in the follow-up before it was announced.
“This boy’s name is growing very popular. And a new movie could be the reason” via Grace Altenhofen of the Des Moines Register — Maverick is the sixth most popular baby boys name in Iowa this year — and one generation’s ‘need for speed’ may be the reason. “My husband and I are 80s babies, and we were at dinner one night when I was early on in my pregnancy and we were talking about baby names,” Tiffany Fox of Grimes said. Maverick has been in the top 100 most popular Iowa boy’s names since 2015.
“‘Top Gun: Maverick’ on streaming instead of theaters? ‘Never,’ says Jerry Bruckheimer” via Richard Trenholm of CNET — Bruckheimer is the king of Hollywood blockbusters. “Every time I do a sequel,” Bruckheimer says, “they ask me, ‘How about Top Gun?'” There wasn’t ever any question of the already finished film being released through the movie studio’s streaming service Paramount Plus after the pandemic closed movie theaters. “It was always gonna be on the big screen,” Bruckheimer says. “That’s where you see this movie.”
“Florida faces a big summer of travel and tourism. The ‘people had to come,’ DeSantis says” via Brooke Baitinger and Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida is experiencing yet another boom in tourism well into May this year, with the slow days of summer long gone, industry experts say. DeSantis said the state had seen record-breaking tourism numbers: Florida had 36 million visitors between January and March this year, a 14% increase over the fourth quarter of 2021. It’s also the third consecutive quarter that Florida has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Despite a rising number of COVID-19 cases, including a projected surge this summer, travelers have been eager to enjoy time with their friends and family.
Speaking of travel … “Post-pandemic, Airbnb brings boost to Florida’s rural counties too” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — People aren’t just staying in Airbnbs in the Miami hot spots or at Disney World. The company said Thursday a growing number of people are opting to visit the rural parts of the state. In some of the least populated parts of Florida, the Airbnb hosts earned more than $100 million in 2021. Rural stays are another way tourism and travel have changed in the pandemic. Airbnb released data that showed some of the counties’ hosts earned several thousands of dollars on the booking platform last year, while for others, tourism was a big enough force to generate millions. For instance, hosts in Franklin County earned $5 million for offering places to stay in the county located along the Gulf of Mexico and has a population of fewer than 15,000 people.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to the always kind Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Kevin Reilly, and Caleb Spencer. Belated happy birthday wishes to Sam Ard, ace Republican consultant James Blair, former House Speaker Tom Feeney, now at GrayRobinson, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Jordan Raynor, and Jillian Lane Wyant, who works in Matt Gaetz’s office.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.