Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.3.22

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Good Friday morning.

Before we dive into the budget, a quick note about an old friend: Former Republican lawmaker John Legg hasfiled his paperwork to become Pasco County’s next Superintendent of Schools today, succeeding Kurt Browning in 2024.

“There is nothing more foundational to a child’s success than a great education and there is nothing more important to parents across Pasco County than ensuring that each and every child has access to a world-class, quality education,” Legg said.

Look for a full story later this morning on Florida Politics.

Happy birthday to one of my besties, top Democratic consultant and great Dad, Reggie Cardozo.

Signed. Sealed. Delivered (mostly).

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis approved the 2022-23 state budget, but not before slashing a whopping $3.1 billion in spending through line-item vetoes.

Nevertheless, the $109.9 billion budget is still the largest in state history — taking the crown from the current-year budget, which clocked in at $101.5 billion.

Florida’s new spending plan includes substantial increases in most budget silos, including a $1.7 billion bump in K-12 education spending, across-the-board raises for state employees, and $1 billion for the least-secretive October surprise in recent memory: a monthlong gas tax cut in the run-up to Election Day.

However, the veto list is a record-breaker, too. The amount of money excised by DeSantis this year more than doubles the $1.5 billion he vetoed when he signed the 2021-22 budget. It’s a factoid of which the Governor is aware.

“I have exercised my line-item veto authority for by far the largest number and amount of line-item vetoes in the history of the state. I broke my own record,” DeSantis said at a news conference in The Villages.

What got the ax? Dozens of local projects, ranging from about $13,000 to fix an HVAC leak at a Miami public radio station, to $600 million to build a Moffitt campus in Pasco County — a top priority for Senate President Wilton Simpson.

The largest single item to get the red pen was a fund meant to help state agencies absorb cost increases from inflation, which hit a 40-year high early this year and has hovered in that range since.

The House pitched $2 billion for the pot of money, briefly known as the “BIDEN Fund.” That was wrangled down to $1 billion during budget conferences, but the ultimate arbiter chose to fund it at the roundest of round numbers: $0.

Complete coverage of the 2022-23 budget signing and highlights from the veto list is here.

Ron DeSantis savored his line-item veto power. Image via AP.

‘Just the way it goes’: Ron DeSantis axes $3B from Legislature’s budget in front of Republican leaders” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — GOP leadership from the House and Senate stood at DeSantis’ side during a news conference in The Villages as he announced the record veto list. At times during the hourlong news conference, the Governor directly poked fun at them as they laughed and clapped, a continuation of the Legislature’s fealty to a Governor who has run roughshod over them as his reputation as a national Republican rock star and potential 2024 presidential candidate has grown. “They may not be clapping about that, but that’s just the way it goes,” DeSantis said of the possibility legislative leaders on stage were upset he vetoed their spending priorities.

Veto list: DeSantis detains $840M in prison construction” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has nixed lawmakers’ hopes to build a new prison and prison hospital, which would have cost $840 million. The first item called for $645 million to construct a new 4,500-bed correctional institution. The second item set aside $195 million for a 250-bed hospital unit to serve the medical needs of the state prison population, particularly elderly inmates. DeSantis, however, did not veto private prison funding, with upward of $200 million OK’d by lawmakers. When lawmakers were preparing the budget in late February and early March, the Senate’s lead justice budget negotiator, Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry said the funding was “critical.” … “We have some facilities that look like the Green Mile when you walk into them.”

Veto list: DeSantis axes $600M for Moffitt expansion” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis vetoed a proposal to spend $600 million to construct and develop a new Moffitt campus in Pasco County. Simpson championed the funding for Moffitt to construct and develop on land in Pasco County. DeSantis also eliminated from the budget $7.1 Million from the Moffitt Cancer Partnership School. In vetoing the funding, DeSantis noted that the budget for state Fiscal Year 2022-23 directs an added $37 million in cancer funding, bringing the state’s commitment to $100 million. The funding is directed to just three hospitals: Moffitt Cancer Center, University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and University of Florida Health Cancer Center.

DeSantis overrules lawmakers, rejects penalties for school mask mandates” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Along with billions in budget vetoes, DeSantis on Thursday rejected the Legislature’s approach to school recognition awards this year. Lawmakers used their budget implementing bill to penalize a dozen school districts that imposed mask mandates in fall 2021 against the rules and guidelines set forth by the DeSantis administration. They said the $200 million in funds for schools that meet grading benchmarks would be limited to those in districts that put parents first and followed the health department’s emergency orders on facial coverings.

Veto list: $65M in funding for Bernie McCabe Courthouse, 6th DCA courthouse slashed” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeSantis has cut funding for two proposed Tampa Bay courthouses — a sting for House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel, who have been pushing for the projects for the past few years. The vetoed items included $50 million for a 6th District Court of Appeal courthouse in Lakeland and $15 million set aside for the 2nd DCA Bernie McCabe Courthouse in Pinellas County. Plans for the new Lakeland courthouse came after lawmakers cleared legislation this year that would create a 6th DCA, headquartered in Lakeland, leaving room for the 2nd DCA courthouse in Pinellas County. The 2nd DCA Pinellas County Courthouse placement was initially contested in the 2021 Legislative Session between Sprowls and Stargel, two of the highest-ranking GOP leaders in the Legislature.

Veto list: Riverwalk, airport make the cut in Citrus County” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — More than $40 million worth of Citrus County projects were slashed from DeSantis’ 2022-23 budget, while other projects survived the knife. One that survived is $3 million for the City of Crystal River to complete its Riverwalk, a boardwalk along Kings Bay that’s been in the planning, development and construction process for more than a decade. DeSantis also allowed $7.1 million to extend the Crystal River Airport runway by 645 feet to accommodate larger corporate jets, a move that Citrus County officials say will provide an economic boost to the area. Two restoration projects, the Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes and Save Crystal River, were funded. However, the Homosassa River restoration project lost its $10 million funding.

Veto list: Plane plans grounded by DeSantis’ veto pen” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Plans to buy two new state airplanes crashed into DeSantis’ veto pen Thursday. While the Legislature this year budgeted $20 million for the Department of Emergency Services to buy two Embraer Phenom 300E aircraft, the state’s existing fleet will have to do for now. The state’s air inventory has loomed over state budget talks for more than a decade since former Gov. Rick Scott in 2011 sold two state planes to curb abuse. Scott relied on a private plane to travel the state. Following DeSantis’ election in 2018, the Governor initially used a plane obtained in drug seizures to travel. After a frightening episode where the plane was forced into an emergency landing, the state spent $15.5 million on a Cessna Citation Latitude the Governor uses now.

Veto list: Central Florida loses Poinciana Parkway extension money, fire stations” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The veto list included eliminating $15 million allocated toward the long-awaited Poinciana Parkway extension. The Governor’s veto pen also axed fire stations, fire station rebuilds, and equipment in Clermont, Longwood, Winter Park and Mount Dora. The Governor also nixed money for cultural attractions in Maitland, Groveland and Daytona Beach; park planning in St. Cloud; a trail security system in Kissimmee; help for the struggling Little Wekiva River in Seminole County; and a downtown parking garage in Sanford. The Poinciana Parkway veto was the largest single item in Central Florida, hitting a traffic relief valve in the Poinciana region, which is exploding with growth in western Osceola and eastern Polk counties.

Veto list: No cash for community center in Hilliard” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor vetoed $5 million for a Nassau County community center that would have been a hurricane shelter. The appropriations request from Sen. Aaron Bean, a Republican from Fernandina Beach, stressed the dual-purpose request: a 10,000-square-foot multipurpose community center that would double as a hurricane shelter for the town’s 3,100 residents. A total of $5,144,800 would have gone to the project, all of it from nonrecurring funds. Hilliard was to own the facility once built, and it was expected to get heavy use with basketball and volleyball games. Additionally, non-sports events, including community meetings, family reunions, weddings, bridal showers, educational forums, and other types of meetings were contemplated for the completed space.

Veto list: Building deficiencies at public broadcasting stations will go unaddressed” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — $5 million in capital projects for public broadcasting stations around the state was nixed from the budget. The money was to remedy “building deficiencies” and “health and safety issues,” but ultimately, the Governor did not accede to the legislative will. The biggest single hit was to WUFT-TV in Gainesville/Ocala, with $1,242,000 axed for the ongoing upgrades of StormCenter infrastructure, work that benefits the statewide network of public broadcasting stations. The next biggest allocation, $741,830, was headed to WMNF of Tampa. That money was slated to replace an “end-of-life” HVAC system. The smallest appropriation, meanwhile, was stripped from the biggest market. Miami’s WDNA was slated to get $13,294 to replace a leaky HVAC air handler. The leaks will go on, however.

Veto list: Palm Beach Atlantic University loses $5M in state funding for business school” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Palm Beach Atlantic University will have to find a way to build its new home for its business school without $5 million in state money. The money was one of the casualties of DeSantis’ veto pen marking up the 2022-23 state budget, part of $3.1 billion worth of vetoes announced Thursday. Sen. Bobby Powell sponsored the one-time earmark for the 54-year-old Christian university in West Palm Beach. The funding request says the six-story, 100,000-square-foot building, slated for downtown West Palm Beach, is the first project planned for a new campus master plan.

Veto list: Haircut coming for Jacksonville University shark research” via Florida Politics — A $4.5 million appropriation for the OCEARCH Mayport Research and Operations Center was among the Northeast Florida items on the veto list, though other money escaped the pen. In a spending request carried by Zephyrhills Republican Sen. Danny Burgess, OCEARCH sought $4.5 million for planning, construction and more for the new facility at Mayport in Jacksonville, along the St. Johns River. The remaining $2.5 million, which is still in the budget, covers a new research vessel and a maintenance fund for data gathering, shark and marine mammal research, and marine mammal rescue. Additionally, the vessel would use dock facilities leased to Jacksonville University through $6 million matching funds from Jacksonville.

Veto list: DeSantis vetoes long-acting birth control funding again” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — An effort by Senate President Simpson to provide $2 million in the budget so low-income women can access long-acting reversible contraception was vetoed by DeSantis Thursday. Simpson, who identifies as a pro-life Republican, called LARC a “healthy part” of a pro-life agenda and said all women should be able to access it, regardless of income. It is the second time Simpson has included funding for long-acting reversible contraception in the budget. It is the second time DeSantis vetoed it. DeSantis first vetoed LARC funding from the current FY 21-22 state budget drafted during the 2021 Legislative Session, when the Florida Senate killed efforts to prevent women from having abortions due to fetal anomalies.

Read it and weep, folks. Image via AP.

Veto list: Leon funds largely preserved as county gets $1.8M in cuts” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis decided to veto three projects worth $1.8 million in Tallahassee and Leon County, but that represents a small fraction of the funds he did approve. The $1.8 million in cuts came Thursday as DeSantis signed the state budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins next month. From the $112.1 billion lawmakers wanted overall, they had allocated $1.5 billion across 112 projects in Leon County, including education and workforce projects and state government facilities. The largest Leon project DeSantis nixed was $1 million for Second Harvest of the Big Bend, a food bank that serves 11 counties.

Veto list: Redevelopment, walkability projects in Sarasota fall prey to cuts” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cape Coral won’t get millions in expected infrastructure improvements. And pedestrians will have to continue to find a way through ground-level traffic to cross the Tamiami Trail in Bradenton. DeSantis nixed $500,000 that would have supported The Bay redevelopment, a generational project redefining a cultural district downtown. DeSantis also slashed $400,000 that lawmakers set aside for Main Street improvements and another $700,000 similarly budgeted for St. Armands City. DeSantis also vetoed $500,000 for a Legacy Trail connection. “I was surprised those projects were vetoed,” said Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Sarasota Republican. “The city will continue with those projects, but it would have been helpful to receive state funding.”

Veto list: Broward County programs serving disabled, at-risk people, veterans slashed” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Broward County veterans, people with disabilities, and at-risk students were among those cut out of the budget as DeSantis wielded his veto pen Thursday. Among the Broward County casualties was $500,000 for a program called “Mentoring Tomorrow’s Leaders” for at-risk and homeless students with Broward County Public Schools. DeSantis also vetoed the Arc Broward’s $500,000 in funding, which would have paid for a generator to keep the nonprofit’s commercial kitchen humming during power outage emergencies. That such relatively minuscule items fell to the budget-slashing had Rep. Michael Gottlieb discouraged once again. These are not pet projects, he said.

Veto list: $500k in Orlando LGBTQ-plus funding zapped from budget” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Lawmakers included $500,000 in funding to support an Orlando housing program for homeless LGBTQ-plus youth. DeSantis vetoed it. According to the Zebra Coalition’s website, the association assists young people facing homelessness, bullying, isolation from their families, and physical, sexual and drug abuse with individualized programs to guide them to recovery and stability. The veto coincides with an announcement from Florida Medicaid officials that the state will move to alter its existing Medicaid policy to specifically ban treatment for gender dysphoria. “Show me where you put (or don’t) your money and I’ll show you your priorities,” said Sen. Shevrin Jones a Democrat from Miami and a gay man.

Veto list: DeSantis axes $250K for teacher recruitment in Duval, Miami-Dade, Orange counties” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The now-nixed appropriation would have supplemented $250,000 in state dollars already set aside for a partnership between the Department of Education, public school districts and the nonprofit Teach for America (TFA). Another $250,000 was committed through “private support from individuals and major corporations,” according to a breakdown of the project filed with the House. According to the Florida Education Association, teacher shortages across the country have persisted for years, but the problem has grown worse amid the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the Sunshine State. The organization found that between August 2020 and 2021, vacancies increased by more than 67% to nearly 9,000 unfilled teaching and support staff.


@NikkiFried: Ron DeSantis just vetoed my concealed carry positions because he wants open carry. This is so dangerous and a warning to every Floridian, tourist, and business. Do NOT allow him another term.

@fineout: Here’s 1 interesting step @GovRonDeSantis is taking. He’s ordering DOE to ignore budget language that would restrict which districts could get school recognition grants. Lawmakers voted to deny the grants to districts that imposed mask mandates …

@AllisonTantFL: I am very disappointed to see the $1,000,000 for Second Harvest of the Big Bend on the Governor’s veto list. At a time when Floridians are experiencing tough times and an affordability crisis, vetoing funds to support food insecurity is wrong …

Tweet, tweet:

@SteveLemongello: Among DeSantis’ vetoes is cutting $1M that would have gone to a project called “July in November: The Story of the 1920 Election Day Riots,” aka the Ocoee Massacre

@mahoneysthename: DeSantis, at his budget-signing news conference, briefly mentions $$ for school safety and mental health initiatives then moves on. He hasn’t commented on the recent mass shootings, despite FL now being talked about as a possible model for its red flag law passed post-Parkland

@bruceritchie: FL Gov. DeSantis vetoes $350 million for Lake Okeechobee ASR wells — a @WiltonSimpson budget priority. Simpson stood DeSantis and spoke before the budget signing. DeSantis “did a great job of explaining the budget,” Simpson told The Villages audience.

@Mdixon55: .@GovRonDeSantis makes legislative leaders stand by his side as he absolutely tears their budget apart. $3.1 billion in total vetoes. That’s a move

Tweet, tweet:

@Jason_Garcia: “This has nothing to do with my campaign,” (Jason) Brodeur said about the thing that literally had to do with his campaign.

@wwbrown19: A big tip of the cap to Andrew Pantazi (@apantazi) and The Tributary (@TheJaxTrib) for breaking the news that Jacksonville’s soon-to-be-former Sheriff Mike Williams lived in a different county. Today’s “retirement” does not happen without Andrew’s dogged reporting.


California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 4; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 7; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 14; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 25; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 34; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 46; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 49; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 68; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 76; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 79; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 89; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 89; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 91; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 97; 2022 Emmys — 101; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 125; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 143; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 144; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 144; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 161; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 167; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 171; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 171; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 172; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 180; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 180; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 194; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 258; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 276; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 294; 2023 Session Sine Die — 336; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 336; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 364; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 420; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 504; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 665; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 784.


Florida Supreme Court locks in DeSantis-backed redistricting map” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — The Court — in a 4-1 divided ruling in which two Justices recused themselves — declined to wade into an ongoing legal dispute over the map. Voting and civil rights groups opposed to the GOP-approved redistricting map asked the state high court to block it in late May. They argue the redistricting maps violate Florida’s Fair Districts provisions or anti-gerrymandering amendments in the state constitution.

The state Supreme Court’s decision means an appeals court will decide the current legal challenge.

Ron DeSantis ran out the clock for a redistricting win. Image via AP.

The high court’s ruling comes just two weeks before candidates must qualify for this year’s elections, meaning that the legal challenge won’t be resolved in time for a different map to be in place for the 2022 elections. Florida’s primary is Aug. 23.

It also freezes in place, for now, a new congressional map for the nation’s third-largest state that will likely give Republicans a potential 20-8 advantage in a state where the GOP has only a slight voter registration advantage. This is another big blow to Democrats’ hopes of holding onto their majority in the U.S. House.

This new map also dismantles the North Florida congressional seat held by Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.

Supreme Court turns down challenge to voting map DeSantis drew” via Michael Wines of The New York Times — DeSantis contended that Lawson’s district was itself unconstitutional because it was drawn specifically to permit the election of a Black representative, taking in African American voters from across northern Florida who had little in common except their race. A lower court blocked the Republican map from taking effect last month, substituting a map drawn by a Harvard University redistricting expert. The state’s First District Court of Appeals later lifted that stay, saying the judge had exceeded his authority. “At this point, it seems hard to see congressional maps being upset for this November, especially given the Supreme Court’s repeated admonitions to federal courts to hold back on changes to election laws in the period close to the election,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine.


Tropical Storm watches issued in Florida for weather system in Gulf of Mexico” via Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida is the expected landing spot for the premiere storm of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season this weekend, but local meteorologists say Tampa Bay residents shouldn’t worry too much. That’s because the system, which forecasters Thursday said has a 90% chance of strengthening into Tropical Storm Alex, is relatively weak and will do little more than raise rain chances between Friday evening and Sunday, said Austen Flannery of the National Weather Service’s Ruskin office. On Thursday evening, the National Hurricane Center issued tropical storm watches that stretched from the Florida Keys north along the coast to Longboat Key, just south of the Tampa Bay area. Watches also were issued for portions of Cuba and southeast Florida.

Hurricane Season — it’s on. Image via NOAA.

Tropical depression or storm ‘likely’ as South Florida braces for heavy rain, flash floods” via Cheryl McCloud and Rachael Thomas of the Naples Daily News — A tropical system — now known as Invest 91L — gathering strength near the Yucatán Peninsula may become the first tropical storm of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season as it heads toward Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center. If sustained winds strengthen to 39 mph, it will become Tropical Storm Alex, the first name on this year’s storm names list for the Atlantic basin. The system is “likely” to become a tropical depression or tropical storm as it moves northeast over the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico over the next day or two.

NHC issues tropical storm watch for Central, South Florida” via Joe Mario Pedersen of the Orlando Sentinel — A tropical storm watch has been issued for Florida’s Gulf Coast, Lake Okeechobee and the East Coast south of the Volusia/Brevard county line as the area prepares to see the first tropical storm of this season beginning as early as Saturday morning, according to the latest projected path from the National Hurricane Center. The NHC released its first official path prediction Thursday at 5 p.m. for a system entering the Gulf of Mexico from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The storm is currently just off the Yucatán Peninsula moving toward the north at 5 mph with sustained winds of 35 mph and higher gusts and an estimated minimum central pressure is 1003 mb.

Records identify UCLA boss who called Dr. Joseph Ladapo unfit for Florida Surgeon General” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — The same UCLA supervisor who gave her “enthusiastic support” to Dr. Ladapo when he applied for a professorship at the University of Florida College of Medicine last year also refused to recommend him for surgeon general three months later, public records show. Documents released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement four months after a public records request showed that Dr. Carol Mangione was the previously unnamed supervisor interviewed by state agents as part of Ladapo’s background check for his Senate confirmation hearings. Mangione, chief of the division of general internal medicine and health services research at UCLA Department of Medicine, penned a two-page letter of recommendation in September for Ladapo.

Red flag law, championed by Republicans, is taking guns from thousands of people” via CNN — Twice a week from her courtroom, Florida 13th Circuit Judge Denise Pomponio decides who in Hillsborough County can no longer be trusted with a gun. Passed in the wake of the horrific 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland high school, the state law provides police a path to ask a judge to temporarily bar dangerous individuals from possessing or purchasing a firearm. Since its creation, Florida judges have acted more than 8,000 times to keep guns out of the hands of people authorities considered a risk to themselves or others, according to data maintained by the Office of the State Courts Administrator.


Nikki Fried says permit processor veto endangers Floridians — Agriculture Commissioner Fried said DeSantis’ decision to scratch funding for more concealed carry weapons permit processors at FDACS is “compromising” Floridians’ safety. “My department requested, and the Florida Legislature provided, these additional positions so that we can continue to execute our work in a timely, and most importantly, thorough manner that helps keep concealed weapons out of the hands of thousands of ineligible applicants to better protect Floridians from dangerous individuals,” Fried said. “The fact that Gov. DeSantis vetoed this request is yet another example of his callous attitude toward gun violence …” According to an FDACS news release, it has processed 243,153 new and 70,604 renewal applications this fiscal year and has denied permits to 6,910 ineligible applicants, suspended 5,312 licenses for a disqualifying offense, and revoked 1,265 licenses while maintaining a faster turnaround than prior administrations.

FBHA cheers ‘record increase’ in mental health, substance use funding — The Florida Behavioral Health Association on Thursday thanked DeSantis for preserving funding for mental health and substance use disorder treatment in the 2022-23 state budget. FHBA praised the “unprecedented budget” for including a “record increase of $126 million in recurring general revenue and more than $50 million in one-time spend for community mental health and substance use disorder services.” FBHA President and CEO Melanie Brown-Woofter said, “Since entering office, Gov. DeSantis has always prioritized the mental well-being of all Floridians. The FBHA could not be more grateful to have a Governor who not only recognizes the importance of mental health and substance use disorders but also takes innovative steps forward to help community providers save lives and create stronger families and communities.”

Ron DeSantis gets kudos for his budget pen. Image via AP.

AFP-FL fist bumps Governor for record veto list — Baseball is America’s pastime. But killing public funding for stadiums is Americans for Prosperity-Florida’s. One target in the 2022 Session was a $35 million appropriation for a baseball training facility in Pasco County for the Tampa Bay Rays. On Thursday, the Governor — who played baseball at the college level and grew up in the Rays’ home turf — nixed it from the budget. AFP-FL said his decision was a grand slam. “Siphoning public dollars into a construction project for a professional baseball team is fiscally irresponsible and amounts to clear corporate welfare,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander. “We appreciate the Governor for using his line-item veto power to put a stop to this effort and protect Floridians and their hard-earned tax dollars from a gross misuse of public funds.”

FTW says Gov. DeSantis is an expert ‘turkey’ carver — The group behind the annual “budget turkey” gave the Governor high marks for judicious use of his veto pen. Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro lauded the Legislature and Governor for crafting the $109.9 billion budget but heaped on extra praise for DeSantis, who he said accepted the “mantle of fiscal responsibility” by vetoing a record $3.1 billion in spending. Overall, FTW named 166 “turkeys” this year, and DeSantis excised 71 of them. Calabro added, “When applying his line-item veto power, it’s indisputably clear that the Governor was also mindful of the $2 billion in member projects that Florida TaxWatch flagged, as he struck 228 of these projects worth $868.5 million.”

— 2022 —

DeSantis says Joe Biden should blame himself for approval numbers being ‘in the toilet’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In The Villages, DeSantis ridiculed Biden for his bad poll numbers, telling the Democratic incumbent he only has himself to blame. “You want to know why your approval numbers are in the toilet? Try looking in the mirror,” DeSantis said at a budget signing ceremony event where poll numbers historically aren’t the topic. The Governor lamented the “backdrop” created by “what’s going on in Washington,” referring to the President as a “fellow by the name of Brandon that people talk about.” He then referred to a news report documenting Biden’s disgruntlement over approval dips. “Biden is so frustrated that his approval ratings are in the toilet,” DeSantis related. “He can’t understand! He’s lashing out at his staff. He’s blaming other people. He’s blaming the media, even though he gets the most sycophantic media coverage that any President has ever gotten.”

To watch the news conference, click on the image below:

‘Yes, I will’: Charlie Crist says he’ll ban assault weapons by executive order on first day if elected Governor” via Dillon Burroughs of The Daily Wire — Crist said he will ban assault weapons by executive order on his first day in office if elected. Crist doubled down on his earlier interview statement in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “Yes, I will,” he wrote. “I’ll do it by executive order, Day One,” he previously said. In addition to his campaign promise to ban the sales of assault weapons, Crist has also advocated for expanded background checks for new gun owners. However, Crist could run into problems if he tries to ban assault gun sales by executive order. The move would also likely lead to legal battles from Second Amendment supporters who would view the executive order as a violation of the constitutional rights of Floridians.

Spotted — Senate President and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Simpson on Fox Business News discussing food supply chain shortages and rising costs on Floridians. “’Just drive less’ is not a policy that gets affordable food from our farms to anyone’s table,” he said.

Ryan Morales pushing for legalized medical psychedelic drugs” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Morales vowed to push Florida to legalize “psychedelic” drugs for medicinal purposes, much like medical marijuana. Morales, who uses medical marijuana, said in an interview with Florida Politics he believes the emerging clinical research on psychedelics such as “magic mushrooms” shows powerful medicinal potential, especially with symptoms of mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder. “I want to make sure that we legalize psilocybin and psychedelics for medicinal use to help your police, your vets, and people who deal with traumatic incidents daily, like your EMTs as well,” Morales said.

‘This is not the time to play party games’: Ken Russell slams María Elvira Salazar on baby formula vote” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Salazar and other Republicans in Congress who last month voted against an emergency spending bill to address a national shortage of baby formula have much to answer for, Miami Commissioner Russell said. Russell, who is running to unseat Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, called out the freshman Congresswoman and her GOP peers Thursday for “playing the partisan game” with the well-being of our society’s most vulnerable members. “We need solutions right now, so babies get fed,” he said during a Zoom news conference. “This is not the time to play party games.” Salazar joined 191 fellow House Republicans, including 14 others who represent Florida, in voting against the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act on May 19, which would allot $28 million in emergency funds to the FDA.

— MORE 2022 —

Chris Latvala adds backing from Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for Pinellas Commission run” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri is endorsing state Rep. Latvala in his campaign for the District 5 seat on the Pinellas County Commission. Gualtieri is recognized as one of the most influential leaders in Tampa Bay politics. The Republican Sheriff is known in local, state and national circles among policymakers and law enforcement leaders alike and has served in the role since 2011. The Sheriff’s statewide reputation only grew after selecting him to chair the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, formed to increase school safety after the Parkland school shooting. There, he worked with Latvala on developing new safety protocols.

Pasco school superintendent Kurt Browning won’t seek fourth term in 2024” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — One of Pasco County’s longest-serving public officials has announced his plans to call it a career at the end of his current term. Browning, who won a third term in 2020, said Thursday he wouldn’t put his name on another ballot. He’s held public office since 1980, when he first won the Supervisor of Election post at age 22, including time spent as Florida Secretary of State under Govs. Crist and Rick Scott. He resigned from Scott’s administration to run for the superintendent job. Pasco County is the largest school district in the nation to have an elected chief executive.

Four is enough for Kurt Browning.

How the Proud Boys gripped the Miami-Dade Republican Party” via Alan Feuer and Patricia Mazzei of The Seattle Times — The concerted effort by the Proud Boys to join the leadership of the party and, in some cases, run for local office has destabilized and dramatically reshaped the Miami-Dade Republican Party that former Gov. Jeb Bush and others built into a powerhouse nearly four decades ago, transforming it from an archetype of the strait-laced establishment to an organization roiled by internal conflict as it wrestles with forces pulling it to the hard right. The conflict is pivotal for Republicans nationally, as primary voters weigh whether to wrench the party from its extremist elements or more fully embrace them. Proud Boys started showing up at school board meetings to protest coronavirus mask mandates and the teaching of an anti-racist curriculum.


Biden calls for Congress to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines” via John Wagner and Eugene Scott of The Washington Post — Today, Biden called for banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in a prime-time address to the nation from the White House in which he asked, “For God’s sake, how much more carnage are willing to accept?” Biden said that if assault weapons can’t be banned, the age to purchase such weapons should be 21. Biden also called for red-flag laws, a repeal of the liability shield for gun manufacturers and a “safe-storage” law. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Thursday night for a package of tougher gun restrictions in the aftermath of the recent mass shootings. The vote was 25 to 19, with all Republicans opposing the legislation. The bill could pass the House next week but is not expected to advance in the Senate.

Joe Biden makes a bold move to curb gun violence. Image via AP.

‘Why are we doing this?’ WH aides frustrated over scripted Biden” via Callie Patteson of the New York Post — Biden administration staffers are playing the blame game as the President’s poll numbers continue to plummet, with some aides growing increasingly exasperated at the rehearsed, stilted nature of his events. With Biden’s disapproval rating topping 50% in survey after survey and Democrats facing big losses in the fall midterm elections, CNN reported that staffer frustration has increased as traditional Presidential set pieces get covered less and less often by the media. “You are thinking, why are we doing this?” one source said. Part of the problem is Biden’s old-fashioned way of thinking about the President’s relationship with the press and public. “His view is, if he can just explain to people what’s going on and why, that people will understand.”

As Senators seek common ground on guns, ‘red flag’ laws become a focus” via Christopher Dean Hopkins and Kelsey Snell of NPR — In what might be characterized as an exercise in the art of the possible, a bipartisan group of Senators led by John Cornyn and Chris Murphy have spent the past few days focused on a limited set of new policies targeting gun violence. They’re still in the earliest brainstorming phases, but three broad areas are showing promise: incentivizing states to pass red flag laws, updates to school safety protocols, and possibly some narrow changes to background checks. Another Senator in those discussions, Richard Blumenthal, said convincing more states to pass “red flag” measures could make a real difference. The laws on the books in 19 states so far let authorities take guns from people at substantial risk of harming themselves or others.

Greg Steube flaunts firearm collection at House hearing on gun reform” via Danika Fears of the Daily Beast — Steube had a few bizarre props on hand during Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control bills: his own collection of guns. The Republican launched into his own show-and-tell, displaying several handguns that he claimed would essentially be “banned” under the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” which targets high-capacity magazines. “Right here in front of me, I have a Sig Sauer P226,” he said. “It comes with a 21-round magazine. This gun would be banned.” Steube, at one point, held up a gun he claimed to use “every single day” to protect his family, insisting that it too would be banned. “I hope the gun is not loaded,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee remarked. “I’m at my house. I can do whatever I want with my guns,” Steube shot back.

Dude, really?


Worried about a tropical storm? A deluge is coming to Miami and the Keys — no matter what” via Howard Cohen, Michelle Marchante and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Are you ready for a lot of rain? South Florida better get ready. Regardless of the behavior of a tropical disturbance — remnants of Pacific Hurricane Agatha — that could turn into Alex, the first storm of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the message is the same. “The main message is that regardless of whether this disturbance becomes a named system or not, the impact across South Florida remains the same: the main concern is the influx of moisture to the area and the heavy rainfall that will be accompanying whether it’s a named system or not. It doesn’t really matter,” said Larry Kelly, a meteorologist in Miami’s National Weather Service.

Flooding in Miami — resistance is futile. Image via Miami Herald.

Water levels being dropped in South Florida canals ahead of incoming tropical weather” via Ian Margol and Chris Gothner of WPLG Local 10 News — The South Florida Water Management District is actively trying to drop water levels in canals across Broward and Miami-Dade counties in preparation for a tropical system expected to bring heavy rainfall to the area. Some stations use pumps to physically move water at all times of the day, but most of the area’s flood management system uses gravity. Water flows from higher elevations in the western parts of the counties and then goes downhill to the Atlantic Ocean in the east. Officials said that since high tide just passed, most gates are down, so saltwater from the ocean doesn’t flow back into the canals.

‘A totally different culture’: Broward schools are finally getting security right, state safety leader says” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For years, the Broward School District faced stinging criticism that it failed to quickly address school safety needs, despite being ground zero for a school massacre. But with new leadership, that reputation appears to be changing. That could be good news for parents who, in the wake of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, question whether Broward schools are any safer than they were four years ago when 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has spent four years investigating issues related to the Parkland tragedy, said Broward is now poised to be a model for dealing with school safety.

‘Real estate is on fire’: South Florida property valuations soar — but so could taxes” via Andres Viglucci, Rebecca San Juan and Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Propelled by scorching demand, rising prices and a torrent of new construction, South Florida’s property values have escalated steeply, providing a boon to owners of homes and commercial and industrial real estate — but also raising the prospect of big tax hikes and a deeper housing affordability crunch. Preliminary estimates of taxable property values released on Wednesday by Miami-Dade and Broward counties show valuations for all types of property rose more than 10% overall in both counties as of the end of 2021 compared to the previous year. That’s faster than values had risen in many years. In Miami-Dade, property values increased at an overall annual rate not seen in 15 years.

Juneteenth events in Broward and Palm Beach ready to celebrate freedom” via Natalya Jones of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Although Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday last year, it is actually the longest-standing African American holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the United States ending slavery on June 19, 1865, when federal troops came to Galveston, Texas, to not only free those enslaved but to regulate the Lone Star state. Their arrival was two and a half years following the Emancipation Proclamation. To celebrate this historical significance, here are some events in Broward and Palm Beach counties observing Juneteenth.


Why did Gulfport Police take weeks to arrest Pinellas politician’s son?” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — At around 1:45 a.m. on April 23, Adam M. Peters allegedly punched someone so hard at a Gulfport bar that the man had to have surgery to repair a broken nose and orbital socket. That day, Gulfport police issued a probable cause affidavit to arrest Peters, the son of Pinellas County Commissioner and former state representative Kathleen Peters, on felony aggravated battery. When one month passed with no arrest, the alleged victim, Kyle Harris, wondered if he’d ever get accountability. Harris is facing $10,000 in medical bills so far. He said he’s been unable to work his automotive services technician job as he recovers.

Hillsborough targets housing, pickleball with U.S. rescue dollars” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County’s allocations of American Rescue Plan dollars began with potholes and is winding down with pickleball. On Thursday, County Commissioners authorized spending $34 million of the overall $285.9 million it received from the federal government via the relief effort signed by Biden in March 2021. In three unanimous votes, Commissioners agreed to spend $24 million on affordable housing, nearly $7 million at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and $3 million on 36 new outdoor pickleball courts at six county parks.

Pickleball gets a bailout with COVID-19 rescue funds.

Rocket launch schedule: Upcoming Florida launches and landings” via Emre Kelly and Jamie Groh of Florida Today — The latest rocket launch schedule for Florida’s Space Coast, which includes Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Active launch providers are SpaceX and United Launch Alliance. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Egyptian satellite operator NileSat’s 301 spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to a geostationary orbit. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the company’s 25th mission under contract from NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.


Steube seeks federal funding for Winchester” via Barbara Richardson of Sun Englewood — After opening the May 24 Sarasota County Commission meeting with the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, Commission Chair Alan Maio dispensed with the usual agenda to allow a “special guest” to address the Commissioners. Steube, whose new congressional district includes all of Sarasota County, stepped to the microphone to update the County Commission on several topics. Among them, a $1 million appropriations earmark for widening Winchester Boulevard in Sarasota County. Public Works Director Spencer Anderson explained the county planned to use any federal dollars received for the Englewood Interstate Connector (Winchester and River Road collectively) as “it would be much easier to apply on that project.”

Lee County Sheriff announced 52 arrests linked to meth, fentanyl and cocaine” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno announced Thursday the arrests of 52 Lee County residents and the confiscation of more than pounds worth of drugs. The arrests are part of an operation dubbed “Operation Double Booked.” Marceno announced the arrests linked to drug operations on two Lee County streets. During the operation, they seized almost 1 kilo of cocaine, over 1 kilo of meth, and half a kilo of fentanyl. A kilo is roughly equivalent to 2.2 pounds. “This equals lives being saved and over $100,000 in drugs lost,” Marceno said. Marceno also announced eight active warrants out of Lee County. “Combined, they have over 800 arrests,” Marceno said.

Carmine Marceno touts a big drug bust.

In the know: World’s largest landlord at it again in SWFL, The Forum complex part of deal” via Phil Fernandez of the Fort Myers News-Press — The world’s largest landlord is at it again in Southwest Florida. Through its affiliates, Blackstone Group sold more than 900,000 square feet of its holdings in The Forum complex off Colonial Boulevard and I-75 in Fort Myers to hedge fund veterans Farallon Capital Management, according to public records. The mega spot features several national brands like Home Depot and Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as mom and pops and other fronts. In recent years, values had been on a bit of a slide for some traditional centers, a few of which were at least partly redeveloped for other uses, such as a section of Magnolia Square off Pine Ridge Road in Naples.

Naples City Council rejects appeal of final site plan for Four Seasons Resort” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — A disgruntled city resident has lost his appeal of a final site plan for a Four Seasons Resort in Naples. After a hearing Wednesday, Naples City Council upheld the Design Review Board’s favorable decision on a revised plan. In the same unanimous vote, Council denied the appeal. Gregory Myers filed his appeal in April but didn’t include an explanation. He has fought the new resort and residential development, dubbed Naples Beach Club, on multiple fronts, including bringing several lawsuits over it. Some of his cases are still pending.

‘Relentlessly … pursue justice’: Firm vows to sue Artis-Naples over musician vax mandate” via Harriet Howard Heithaus of the Naples Daily News — A law firm known for its high-profile religious cases has presented Artis — Naples with an ultimatum: Rescind its imminent dismissal of three unvaccinated Naples Philharmonic musicians or be sued. Liberty Counsel last week released a letter dated May 16 that was sent to both Artis-Naples and Quarles and Brady, the arts organization’s law firm, demanding, among other things, that it immediately allow the employees to return to their previous level and pay, “subject to reasonable periodic testing requirements.” The employer must pay for those tests under Florida statutes.


Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams stepping down amid residency problem” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Williams is resigning his office effective June 10 in the wake of questions about his move to Nassau County, a violation of the city charter. The charter says that if “the Sheriff should die, resign, or remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office, or be removed from office, the office of sheriff shall become vacant.” Williams moved his home out of the county, bringing the question into play. Williams would have been termed out in a year anyway, but his Thursday decision to resign came after days of controversy over a move the second-term Republican made last year. It also came after City Council President Sam Newby solicited an opinion by Thursday from General Counsel Jason Teal on whether Williams effectively vacated the office.

Mike Williams buckles. Image via A.G. Gancarski

Pensacola abortion clinic says order to close was ‘overreach,’ plans to appeal” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola’s abortion clinic plans to appeal the emergency state order that shut it down last week. Attorney Julie Gallagher with the Tallahassee law firm of Grossman, Furlow and Bayo represents the American Family Planning clinic on Village Oaks Drive. Gallagher told the News Journal she would file an appeal to the Agency for Healthcare Administration’s emergency order as soon as Monday. The ACHA ordered the clinic to close its doors on May 21 after the agency said the clinic did not report the hospitalization of three women within the required 10 days. The agency also alleged the three women required major medical intervention at the hospital to survive their second-trimester abortions.

On target: New $1.3 million gun range building approved for Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office” via Drew Dixon for The Florida Times-Union — A new building is going to be added to the gun range compound for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. According to the recently approved building permit, a 6,750-square-foot metal structure will be erected at 4727 Lannie Road in the northwest area of the city. Construction is estimated at $1.3 million and will be handled by Auld & White Constructors LLC.

Fines continue for stalled Washington Square redevelopment” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The developer behind the derailed Washington Square redevelopment is facing more than $54,000 in code enforcement fines stemming from expired building permits and failure to maintain the site. While several construction workers were recently spotted at the site, there appear to be no immediate signs of resuming redevelopment work which fanned promises of a Loews Hotel, office space and a parking garage. Construction came to a screeching and ended Dec. 31, 2019. For three years, what followed was a string of legal spats with the city over easement allowances, liens and lawsuits from unpaid vendors and code enforcement violations.

Motion seeks to ease ‘case management nightmare’ and bring Walton customary use case to trial” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — A motion has been filed in Walton County’s slow-moving customary use case that asks Judge David Green to, in essence, get on with it already. In a motion filed May 26, attorney David Smolker requested that “in the interest of convenience, efficiency, fairness and judicial economy” Green order Walton County to present its case for a declaration of public use so he can rule on it before undertaking any further litigation. The motion notes that the county has claimed customary use exists on the dry white sand at more than 1,200 private beachfront properties, and its attorneys say they can provide evidence to prove that humanity has recreated on the county’s beaches for thousands of years.

Back to the 1920s: Plans for Martin Theatre’s rebirth include a restaurant and speak-easy” via Ebonee Burrell of The Panama City News Herald — Hurricane Michael delivered a devastating blow to the Martin Theatre in downtown Panama City in 2018, but the historic entertainment venue is being primed for a spectacular comeback. City officials, engineers and community members met last week to present an updated plan for the theater and discuss the interior renovation. Plans call for adding the Tennessee House restaurant and The Ritz speak-easy bar and lounge and transforming the movie theater into a theater for the arts. The Tennessee House will take over the Martin’s former “green room” while The Ritz will occupy the former Downtown Improvement Board building next door to the Martin on the north side.

FDOT picks contractor for new Brooks Bridge. Here’s when it will open, how much it will cost” via Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Florida Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday selected Superior Construction Co. Southeast to replace the old Brooks Bridge with a much larger bridge over the Santa Rosa Sound between downtown Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island. The Jacksonville-based firm will be paid a little more than $171 million in state funds in its design/build contract. Over the next year, the company will create final designs for the new bridge, with construction likely starting in the summer of 2023, FDOT District 3 spokesman Ian Satter said. The duration of the overall project from final design to the completion of construction is 1,810 days, or about five years, Satter said.

‘Losing a piece of us’: Hundreds attend memorial for educator and County Commissioner Jimbo Jackson” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A line of more than 700 well-wishers flowed into Downtown Community Church Thursday morning to pay their respects to Jackson. They used words like “honorable,” “devoted” and “integrity” to describe Jackson, who spent his life working to better the western Leon County community of Fort Braden before his death Saturday at age 55 from complications with long COVID-19. His family accepted tearful hugs from hundreds of people who came to memorialize a man who spent his career looking after and helping those most in need.


This is how far Republicans will go to subvert the will of the voters” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Medicaid expansion is popular among South Dakotans, who are on the cusp of approving it this year by a ballot initiative, the same tool used to overcome Republican lawmakers’ obstruction in six other states. So, Republicans in the South Dakota legislature came up with a novel solution: They are moving to enshrine minority rule in the state constitution. Worse, they are attempting to force through their constitutional amendment imposing minority rule by holding the vote on a day when only hard-core Republican voters are expected at the polls. Because almost all the contested Primaries next week are on the Republican side, this essentially stacks the vote so that Democrats and independent voters won’t cast ballots.


What the census undercount did to Florida’s clout and cash” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — A lot of Floridians went missing in the 2020 census, which is costing the Sunshine State at least one seat in Congress and untold billions of federal dollars. About 750,600 Floridians were not counted in 2020. That’s a lot of missing people, more than the combined population of Tampa and St. Petersburg. In being undercounted by the populations of entire states, Florida is failing to get its due, in clout and in federal cash, everything that is based on head counts, from Medicare to highway money. We now will have 28 representatives in Congress, but we should have 29. A full and complete count would also have ensured Florida got its fair share of the annual distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding.

New condo safety law reflects well on lawmakers” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It was the rarest of moments in Florida: The Legislature did something that almost certainly will improve life in this state. We refer to the condominium safety bill (SB 4D) that lawmakers passed unanimously during last week’s Special Session and was signed into law by DeSantis. Property insurance got top billing, but legislative leaders added this late as unfinished business from the Regular Session. Republicans squandered weeks of precious legislative time on legally dubious solutions to the imaginary problem while they delayed response to the catastrophic collapse last June of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside.

If politicians think gun carnage is acceptable, they should just admit it” via Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post — There have been 233 “mass shootings” involving four or more victims so far this year. If you think such carnage is acceptable, then come out and say so. If you claim you want to end or even just mitigate this orgy of death, you have to deal with the fact that the one common thread in mass shootings is guns. It’s not mental health or school security, which are the two subjects Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is willing to discuss. There is already broad consensus on the steps we need to take. A poll found that 81% of U.S. adults favored universal background checks for purchasing guns, including in private sales and at gun shows, 66% favored creating a federal database to track all gun purchases, 64% favored banning high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, and 63% favored banning “assault-style weapons.” None of these popular, lifesaving measures is ruled out by the Constitution.

There is way more Biden can do to lower prices” via Ro Khanna for The New York Times — Biden recently outlined his ideas to address inflation. I support the President’s efforts, but we need a bolder vision and faster action. Biden should convene an emergency task force empowered to lower prices and address shortages. We need an all-out mobilization, not just a few ad hoc initiatives reacting to headlines. The task force should include relevant cabinet members. The most urgent goal of this task force would be to lower and stabilize short-term prices of volatile goods like food and fuel.

Florida vindicated of accusation it was manipulating COVID-19 data” via The Washington Times editorial board — This week the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Inspector General determined that allegations a state employee was ordered to manipulate state COVID-19 data were “unfounded,” and “unsubstantiated” with “insufficient evidence.” The inspector general’s 27-page report focuses on claims made by former Florida Department of Health employee Rebekah Jones, whose two-year employment as a geographic information system analyst came to an end after her superiors determined she was making unauthorized public disclosures about the state’s handling of data entry on the COVID-19 dashboard she helped create. The finding vindicates DeSantis who initially endured harsh criticism from the media when Jones’ so-called whistleblower claims first came to light.


Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Off because of French Open on NBC.

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: State Attorney Andrew Warren and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A preview of the Special Olympics USA Games that are being held this week in Central Florida. Joining Walker are Spectrum News 13 sports reporter Luke Hetrick, and Just Right Living Coach Joe Luther.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at how Florida is preparing for Hurricane Season with new legislation and how the state expects to manage issues like supply chain disruptions and increasing gas prices.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis will discuss the state’s readiness as Hurricane Season begins, and what led to the property insurance crisis in Florida.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Attorney Sean Pittman and Dr. Temple Robinson.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Rick Mullaney, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director; Mike Itani, supports a recent bill signed by DeSantis increasing penalties in the opioid fight; and Patti Brigham, board president of Prevent Gun Violence Florida.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Gubernatorial candidate Crist.

— ALOE —

George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic come to Eatonville’s Zora! Festival this weekend” via Shelton Hull of Orlando Weekly — The 33rd annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts goes big this weekend with the two-day Outdoor Festival of the Arts, featuring a headlining performance by music legend Clinton and his band, Parliament-Funkadelic, which helped inculcate the values of Afrofuturism in American culture during their 1970s heyday and beyond. Similar themes of Afrofuturism were featured throughout this year’s Zora! Festival during the ongoing celebration in historic Eatonville. Fantastical as some of the content may be, the origins of the genre are deadly serious. Black Americans were isolated more or less completely from their ancestral history, family legacies, tribal dialects, etc., pretty much through the late 1800s. After the end of slavery, piecing together the shattered fragments of this lost history was on the agenda, but true freedom remained elusive until the 1960s.

Party down with George Clinton this weekend.

Pensacola chef Edward Lordman to compete on Food Network’s Beachside Brawl this month” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — Chef Lordman is bringing the heat on Food Network’s latest cooking competition, Beachside Brawl, premiering June 19 at 9 p.m. The six-week series will recruit chefs from all around the country to settle the debate of which coast does summer food best: the East Coast versus the West. Each team of four will be given a renowned chef as a mentor and team captain: Chef Tiffani Faison for the East Coast and chef Brooke Williamson representing the West Coast. Beachside Brawl, hosted by chef Antonia Lofaso, will give chefs the opportunity to showcase their region’s signature dishes, according to a statement by Food Network. This could look like everything from West Coast fish tacos to East Coast lobster rolls, and everything in between.

Sugar farmers to be featured on episode of Mike Rowe’s ‘How America Works’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — An upcoming episode of “How America Works” will spotlight Florida sugar farmers as they grow, harvest, and process sugar cane at U.S. Sugar facilities. “Like many rural towns in America, Clewiston provides the muscle for ensuring staples of our food supply like sugar are affordably and widely available on store shelves, in restaurants, and in some of the many favorite foods American families consume daily,” Rowe said in a statement promoting the show. “This episode will provide viewers with an up-close and personal look at the hard and oftentimes complicated work that goes into producing your food every day.” Rowe’s show airs through the Fox Business Network. Rowe has made a name for himself with his “Dirty Jobs” show and other productions looking to highlight blue-collar work across the country. The U.S. Sugar episode will first air on Monday, June 13 at 8 p.m.


Celebrating today are Robert Agrusa, president and CEO of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, former journalist George Bennett (now with Florida Power & Light), and political consultant Mark Proctor. Celebrating over the weekend are Jason Attermann, former AHCA Secretary Holly Benson, lobbyist Julie Haines Fess, and Rebecca Romero of Strategic Digital Services.


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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