Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.25.23

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Read all about it: Everything you need to know about the day in Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

Breaking this morning — “Joe Biden announces 2024 reelection bid: ‘Let’s finish this job’” via Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — President Biden formally announced he is running for reelection in 2024, asking voters to give him more time to “finish the job” he began when he was sworn in to office and to set aside their concerns about extending the run of America’s oldest President for another four years. Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a second term, is betting his first-term legislative achievements and more than 50 years of experience in Washington will count for more than concerns over his age.

Nearly nine years after FSU law professor Dan Markel was murdered in his home, Dan’s mother was recognized for her advocacy and actions since that terrible day.

On Monday, Ruth Markel was presented with the 2023 Agnes Furey Victim/Survivor of the Year Award, nominated by Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman, and Helene Potlock, the Victim Assistance Program Director for this judicial circuit.

Ruth Markel is honored as the 2023 Agnes Furey Victim/Survivor of the Year.

The award’s namesake, Agnes Furey, was a victim of domestic violence and had also lost a child to murder — her daughter and grandson were killed in 1998 by her daughter’s boyfriend. The Big Bend Victim Assistance Coalition created the award to honor Furey’s efforts in the community, particularly relating to criminal justice.

Both Furey and Ruth Markel found ways to use their personal tragedies to help others. And in Ruth’s case, the challenge of lengthy waits between arrests and trials has contributed to her resolve.

“Ruth epitomizes the idea that we must find a way to generate something positive out of enormous personal tragedy,” said Cappleman, “Ruth’s fierce advocacy for access to her beloved grandsons and her sheer determination to see all her son’s killers held accountable is an inspiration to us all.”

That very experience of separation from her grandchildren, however, became the Markel family’s next heartbreak. Immediately after the first set of arrests were made in 2016, and Dan Markel’s ex-wife and her family were publicly implicated in the crime, her former daughter-in-law cut ties between the Markels and their grandsons.

Ruth Markel tried to appeal to her former daughter-in-law directly and through attorneys, to no avail. So, she set out to change Florida law.

It took three years, and multiple iterations of bill drafts, but the “Markel Act” as it became known, won the support of former House Speaker Chris Sprowls in 2022; Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it that year.

The impact of the law extends well past this one family.

“The Markel Act has touched numerous others, opening doors for grieving families who want nothing more than to remain connected to one another,” the nomination states. “It took Ruth’s leadership, courage, networking and grit to transform her tragedy into something meaningful and helpful to others. Ruth Markel is the ultimate example of the purpose for which this award was created.”


Conservative grassroots organization Americans for Prosperity-Florida and its Hispanic outreach arm, the LIBRE Initiative-Florida, are bringing on former Rep. David Santiago as LIBRE-Florida’s new Strategic Director.

Santiago, a Republican, brings extensive legislative knowledge to the AFP-FL team following his years of service as an elected member of the Deltona City Commission and the state House.

AFP-FL touted Santiago’s reputation as a “dedicated” Representative known for his work with grassroots leaders and his fellow lawmakers on what the organization described as “transformational policies.”

Congrats to David Santiago as the new Strategic Director for LIBRE-Florida.

Santiago’s legislative product focused on the insurance industry, with priority bills tackling topics including workers’ comp, travel insurance, surplus lines insurance, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund, pharmacy benefit managers, car insurance, reinsurance, civil remedies, rate making, construction defects and condominium loss assessments.

In his post-legislative career, Santiago has worked for the law and lobbying firm Colodny Fass and held the top position at Floridians for Lawsuit Reform.

“We are excited to welcome David to our team to help us continue to fight for our legislative reforms on issues that matter the most to AFP-FL and Libre in Florida,” said Juan Martinezof the LIBRE Initiative. “His experience and talents will help us greatly and we are happy to welcome him.”

AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander added, “David’s extensive legislative experience, built during his four terms in the Florida Legislature, makes him exceptionally qualified for his new role with the LIBRE Initiative. I’m looking forward to working closely with him to achieve long-term goals focused on breaking barriers to freedom and individual success for all Floridians.”


Tweet, tweet:

@ShevrinJJones: @GovRonDeSantis took a 19-hour flight to Japan but couldn’t take a 1-hour & 50 min flight to Fort Lauderdale.

@BrendonLeslie: Ron DeSantis going to Japan on a trade mission isn’t a bad thing But it completely baffles me how he didn’t make a stop in Ft. Lauderdale to meet flood victims Yes, the administration is working very hard to get them back on their feet The optics suck

@RealCandaceO: I am positively shocked regarding Tucker Carlson. Greatest talent at Fox News.

@ChrisMZiegler: Tucker Carlson should launch his own network immediately. He is the single most important and effective voice in news. Let the pro-Freedom Champions rally and join him on the network.


DeSantis speaks at the Jerusalem Post and Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem ‘Celebrate the Faces of Israel’ event — 2; ‘White House Plumbers’ premieres — 6; 2023 Session Sine Die — 10; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 10; Florida Chamber 2023 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 14; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 23; ‘Fast X’ premieres — 23; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres at Cannes — 25; Florida Chamber 2023 Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit — 32; NBA Finals begin — 37; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 37; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 51; ‘Secret Invasion’ premieres on Disney+ — 57; Florida Chamber 2023 Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 63; ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ premieres — 65; ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One’ premieres — 80; Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 86; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 91; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 98; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 112; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 181; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 195; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 210; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 276; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 290; Georgia Democratic Primary — 295; Michigan Democratic Primary — 307; 2024 Oscars — 320; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 340; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 395; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 458; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 458; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 487; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 500; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 565; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 711; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 738; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 927.


Gov. Ron DeSantis begins world tour in Japan, plays down 2024 bid” via The Wall Street Journal — He’s big in Japan, or at least trying to be.

The Wall Street Journal reports that DeSantis got a welcome “worthy of an American political VIP” in Japan.

“Striding into the prime minister’s office holding the hand of his wife, Casey DeSantis, DeSantis held a roughly 40-minute meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida,” writes Peter Landers of The WSJ. “He said they discussed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s provocations and the Chinese Communist Party — the sort of issues Presidents worry about.”

Ron DeSantis gets a hero’s welcome in Japan.

DeSantis did not take questions about recent polling which show he is lagging former President Donald Trump. Although DeSantis’ numbers had dropped in recent weeks — and despite not yet declaring his candidacy — the Governor remains the most formidable candidate against Trump for the GOP nomination.

“He also brought some state business with him to Tokyo,” Landers writes, “saying he was meeting with Japan’s two international carriers to urge the opening of direct flights between Japan and Florida.”

The trip to Japan is aimed to boost DeSantis’ name recognition abroad.

“Many Japanese responded with bafflement at the name,” writes Landers. “A Japanese reporter at the prime minister’s residence hastily scanned DeSantis’ Wikipedia page on his phone, commenting with surprise that the Governor was only 44 years old. Others remarked on (Casey) DeSantis, who didn’t say anything but stood out in a white pantsuit with a colorful floral print.”

Tweet, tweet:


—”Here are 6 things national media should know about Florida’s resign-to-run law” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Major GOP donor’s commitment to Ron DeSantis Is murkier than thought” via Maggie Haberman and Rebecca Davis O’Brien of The New York Times — Nearly six months ago, Kenneth Griffin, the Republican megadonor and hedge fund executive, seemed poised to be a powerful financial backer of Gov. DeSantis in his anticipated run for President. Griffin had given $5 million to DeSantis’s re-election effort, and told Politico “he has a tremendous record as Governor of Florida, and our country would be well served by him as President.” These days, Griffin is keeping his cards closer to the vest, and his intentions are harder to discern.

Inside the pro-DeSantis super PAC that could make or break his 2024 run” via Shelby Talcott of Semafor — There’s no DeSantis presidential campaign yet, but there is a Trump one and it’s attacking him daily. That makes “Never Back Down,” the top super PAC supporting his expected run, an especially crucial player and prompting intense scrutiny of their early ads and messaging. In a sign of their importance, the super PAC is bringing on one of DeSantis’ closest longtime friends as Chair: Former Nevada attorney general Adam Laxalt. The two roomed together while at Navy officer training, and DeSantis stumped for Laxalt in 2022 during his failed run for a Senate seat. He has already been helping the PAC unofficially for weeks now, a senior official said.

Donald Trump ad reminds DeSantis ‘how he got to where he is’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — With DeSantis half a world away, Trump’s new ad is a walk down Florida’s memory lane. The 60-second spot offers a reminder of how dependent DeSantis was on the former President’s pivotal endorsement in 2018 when he ran against Adam Putnam in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary. A narrator notes DeSantis was “struggling big time” against the former Agriculture Commissioner, “failing so bad he was losing by a staggering 17 points.” DeSantis’ voice cuts in at the 27-second mark, offering a thank you to Trump “for standing by me when it wasn’t necessarily the smart thing to do.”

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Some DeSantis allies feel growing urgency to launch 2024 bid” via Steve Peoples of The Seattle Times — Inside the Florida statehouse, DeSantis’ Republican allies say they’re working “at warp speed” to finish their legislative business. In South Carolina and Nevada, early-voting states that are critical in a Presidential Primary, his operatives are moving quickly to build out a political team that is essentially a campaign in waiting. And in Washington, his most vocal supporters are urging him to announce his White House intentions now. Just six months after a dominant re-election sent his national stock soaring, a palpable sense of urgency is growing among DeSantis’ allies as increasingly emboldened critics within his own party work to undermine his presidential campaign before it begins.

Lee Zeldin heaped praise on DeSantis during a recent event. On Monday, he endorsed Trump.” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — DeSantis campaigned alongside Republican gubernatorial candidate Zeldin in New York ahead of the 2022 Midterms, calling him an “important choice” on issues of crime and COVID-19 mitigation measures. But on Monday, Zeldin thanked DeSantis for his support by endorsing the person who would be his biggest GOP rival should he enter the 2024 Presidential Primary: Trump. “The GOP is filled with amazing talent to save our country from the failed policies of the (Joe) Biden admin,” Zeldin wrote on Twitter.

DeSantis warns Elon Musk: Don’t bring ‘woke employees’ if Twitter moves to Florida” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis reacted to the possibility of Twitter CEO Musk moving the social media giant’s headquarters to the Sunshine State. “You know, I don’t know, I mean, I know Elon and basically, what I would tell him is like, OK, if you’re going to move Twitter to Florida, are you bringing woke employees to Florida or are you bringing just your people,” he said to Benny Johnson. “If it’s just his people, then it may be good.” “And he did fire a lot of people at Twitter.” Florida has been an increasingly red state with DeSantis winning just under 60% of the popular vote in 2022.

DeSantis bets that Japanese businessmen care who the Chicago Mayor is” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis weighed in on a mayoral election in Illinois for the benefit of Japanese businessmen. During a roundtable discussion with Japanese business leaders from the Japanese Business Federation, DeSantis opined about the recent election of Brandon Johnson in Chicago. “As the Governor of Florida, I watch elections around the country in the United States because if they go one direction, I know more people are going to move to Florida in response to that. And we’ve seen that just most recently with Chicago and their Mayor election,” DeSantis said. Earlier this month, voters elected Johnson over Paul Vallas, the candidate preferred by the same police union that invited DeSantis to speak earlier this year.

Democrats slam DeSantis for taking trip around the world with work at home” via Steven Lemongello and Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Some Florida lawmakers say they are frustrated by DeSantis’ absence overseas as they come down the wire on the Legislative Session and while one of the state’s largest counties deals with a historic flood. “As a representative for the majority of the district impacted by this one in a thousand-year flood, I called out Gov. DeSantis to ask where he was with his white rain boots,” State Rep. Hillary Cassel said in Tallahassee on Monday. She said she received no response.


Paul Renner launches House Committee investigation into ‘gender-affirming care’ standard” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida’s Voice — Renner authorized a House Committee to investigate whether there was rigorous medical consideration in the endorsement of “gender-affirming care” standards for minors. The move comes as Florida Republicans are passing legislation to ban certain gender dysphoria treatments including sex reassignment surgeries and medications for minors. In a letter to Rep. Randy Fine, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee, Renner said the Committee is allowed to investigate “whether the integrity of the medical profession has been compromised by a radical gender ideology that stands to cause permanent physical and mental harm to children and adolescents.”

Paul Renner opens an investigation into ‘gender-affirming care’ standard.

DeSantis’ pharmacy bill moves to House floor despite cost concern” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A top priority of DeSantis cleared its last House Committee and is ready for the chamber floor. Despite concerns HB 1509 could increase health insurance costs in the commercial market, state group health plans and Medicaid the Committee unanimously approved the bill, which has broad support from hospitals, pharmacists and community pharmacies. The House bill is similar but identical to its Senate counterpart, SB 1550, negotiated by Sen. Jason Brodeur. The Senate passed that bill earlier this month. Though he ultimately voted for the measure, House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Fine expressed his worries about the bill and the impact it will have on health insurance costs moving forward.

After testy exchange, Senate panel votes to confirm State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and others” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ picks for his health and human services agencies cleared their final Committee stop on Monday, with State Surgeon General Ladapo facing nearly an hour of intense back-and-forth questioning from skeptical Democrats. The final vote was 6-3 to recommend Ladapo with all three Democrats on the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee voting in opposition.

A problem? Election bill puts onus on voters — not the state — to find out if they can vote” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Ever since the Florida Legislature required felons to pay court fees after completing their sentences, voting rights groups have requested that the state provide an accessible system for those “returning citizens” to determine their eligibility to vote. Instead, an election bill this Session that runs nearly 100 pages includes a provision to make voters responsible for determining if they can go to the polls. In other words, it’s not the state’s job, which makes it more difficult for felons and other voters who are unclear about their eligibility. That said, in a Senate Committee meeting Thursday, Secretary of State Cord Byrd said that he wants a central system to be in place for voters.

Senate agrees to dismantle Enterprise Florida” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — As Gov. DeSantis greeted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Florida lawmakers were moving to phase out the agency that helped organize and pay for the trip. The Senate agreed to eliminate $12 million funding for Enterprise Florida and took steps to remove the program from state laws by Oct. 1, while moving some of its functions into the Department of Economic Opportunity. Enterprise Florida is a public-private agency tasked with vetting incentive deals to encourage businesses to relocate or expand in the state.

Budget conference: House revises school funding plan” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The House has narrowed its plan to rework Florida’s main funding formula for K-12 schools as part of formal budget talks with the Senate, but the chambers remain divided on other areas of the education budget, including a DeSantis-backed plan to boost retention pay for university professors. The House budget approved earlier this month (HB 5001) included a plan to fold some categories of dedicated spending within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP), the state’s main public school funding formula, into the base budget. But in an offer to the Senate on Monday, the House removed funding for school safety and mental health programs from the plan.

Budget conference: House gives DeSantis jobs grant money, sticks to defunding economic development programs” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Conference Committee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development is kicking off formal negotiations between the House and Senate, and the House made a significant move in agreeing to fund the Job Growth Grant Fund at $75 million, as the Senate prefers. The Monday morning meeting was the first conference meeting as the chambers seek to work out differences in their respective spending plans. DeSantis originally requested $100 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund, but the House’s initial budget only included $25 million.

Budget conference: Senate resists House move for $1.4M to boost Capitol area security” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — After Tallahassee law enforcement responded to a series of assaults in the downtown area near the Capitol last month, lawmakers sought an expanded security presence around the Capitol building and nearby areas. Now, the issue is coming to a head as part of budget negotiations between the House and Senate. In the latest Senate offer in the criminal justice system, the chamber refused to include money to increase the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s budget for more police officers to patrol the area surrounding the Capitol, known as the Capitol Complex. The House is seeking $1.4 million and nine new officers.

Senate advances $15M for New College along with slate of trustees” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A slate of trustees for New College of Florida advanced in the Senate. The confirmations moved forward the same day budget legislation negotiators agreed to give the school another $15 million. That comes despite continued controversy and reported enrollment troubles at the Sarasota school. Higher Education Appropriations Committees for the House and Senate both have agreed to budget $15 million for operational enhancements at New College. That’s an amount DeSantis said he wanted as he named a slate of new trustees to the school. Sen. Keith Perry last month controversially said the school had “mediocre” standings and the money should raise the caliber of education.

Keith Perry believes that more money for New College will help raise its standing.

Budget conference: More than $140M still separate Senate, House spending on prison education, health programs” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Senate continues to seek more than $140 million more for improving the health and education of Florida inmates. The most recent budget offer from the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee includes substantially more for services to those residing in Florida’s prison system. The “Contracted Inmate Health Services” section remains one of the biggest points of difference between the budgets right now. The Senate budgets $107 million for these services, all of that out of recurring general revenue. In contrast, the House budget provides nothing.

Budget conference: Health care spending bumped by hundreds of millions” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Republican leaders are agreeing to increase the amount of money the state will spend on health and human services programs in the coming year. Headed into the conference process, the Senate had proposed spending $14.83 billion in general revenue in its spending bill (SB 2500) to fund programs that help the poor, elderly and disabled, as well as other health care programs. The House had proposed spending $14.68 billion in its spending bill (HB 5001).

Budget conference: Lawmakers bump pay rates for medical, mental health providers working in juvenile justice” via Florida Politics — Legislators have agreed to spend an additional $17.2 million to bump the pay rates for contracted Department of Juvenile Justice providers that offer direct care, support, medical and mental health services within the Department’s residential programs. The funds will increase pay rates to an average of $19 an hour for contracted staff at secure and nonsecure facilities. In agreeing to the $17.2 million increase, the chambers are providing the same level of funding DeSantis pushed for in his proposed legislative budget request.

House panel gives thumbs-up to assisting Apalachicola, Brevard areas of critical state concern” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Two places of natural beauty and biodiversity in Florida are getting special attention as areas of critical state concern (ACSC): Apalachicola Bay, which could be in line for millions of dollars in remediation funding, and the Brevard County barrier island area, which could officially receive the critical area designation. Legislation affecting both areas passed out of the House Infrastructure Strategies Committee this week and are on path toward consideration by the full House. The Apalachicola Bay area has held the critical state concern label for nearly 40 years. HB 407 would provide for the Department of Environmental Protection to spend up to $5 million a year for four years.

Budget conference: SWEAT equity for Nassau, Clay counties” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The House and Senate have aligned on a proposal to help at-risk youth in Nassau and Clay counties. The Conference Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice is slotting $110,000 for the Nassau County Youth Alternative to Secured Detention (S.W.E.A.T.) program. The Clay County program will get $250,000 for its own initiative. This youth intervention program meets the targeted needs of Clay and Nassau County youth by “providing effective diversion and intervention programs which include redirection of youth through community service, mentoring and academic assistance to prevent juvenile delinquency,” the requests assert.


Budget conference: House and Senate agree to $20M for law enforcement signing bonuses” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The House and the Senate agree that signing bonuses designed to lure more law enforcement to the Sunshine State should be funded at an amount level with last year: $20 million. That’s $10 million less than DeSantis proposed. The money will help fund $5,000 bonuses to each recruit who signs on to protect and serve. It also pays the taxes on the bonus, so the newly minted officer gets the full $5,000, in addition to other perks. The signing bonus program was approved during last year’s Regular Session when DeSantis vowed to build the “strongest law enforcement recruitment and support initiative in the nation.”

Crackdown on immigration moves ahead — without DeSantis priority” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — Republicans in the Legislature are moving ahead with another of DeSantis’ top issues, new, tough sanctions on undocumented migrants in Florida. But so far it still lacks a ban on in-state tuition for children of these immigrants, a provision the Governor is continuing to demand, as the Legislature enters its scheduled closing two weeks. DeSantis is widely expected to announce his campaign soon for the GOP presidential nomination and unveiled his sweeping immigration plan at a February event in Jacksonville where he spoke from a podium bearing a sign, “Biden’s Border Crisis.”

Lawmakers back off immigration penalties that worried religious leaders” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — State lawmakers rewrote language Monday in a sweeping immigration bill that religious leaders said could have subjected them to felony charges if they transported people living in the country illegally to church or Sunday school. A Florida House panel advanced a revised bill that no longer makes it a felony crime to knowingly transport someone without legal status within Florida. “If it’s within the state of Florida, they are not held liable to any wrongdoing,” said Rep. Kiyan Michael, the bill’s sponsor. Sister Ann Kendrick, who founded the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka that helps Central Florida’s immigrant families, was among those calling for lawmakers to reconsider the bill.

Kiyan Michael is looking to lift sanctions on transporting people without legal status in Florida.

What Chris Sprowls is reading — “Budget conference: Senate, House at odds over $9M courthouse expenditure” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — In January, judges implored lawmakers to earmark an extra $9 million for the construction of a new Bernie McCabe 2nd District Court of Appeal building in St. Petersburg. A Monday comparison of proposed 2023-24 spending by the Senate and House shows that while members of the Legislature’s lower chamber heeded that request in full, the Senate isn’t offering it a cent. Florida lawmakers are deliberating over how to spend about $115 billion in the next fiscal year. The chambers agree on myriad set-asides, including $75 million for the Job Growth Grant Fund and $20 million for the “eradication” of fentanyl statewide.

Disney World monorails could be opened up to state inspections under new amendment” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — An amendment that allows the state to inspect Disney World’s monorail system has been slipped into a Senate transportation bill. The amendment comes after DeSantis warned he was going to push for more state oversight of Disney World after he accused Disney and its old Reedy Creek governing board of passing agreements to remove power from the incoming state-appointed board.

Budget conference: Which fire stations secure state funding and will end up hosed?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Everyone wants fire trucks coming when their house catches fire. But the House and Senate have disagreements over which firehouses need to be hosed down in state dollars. The chambers both have agreed to budget $375,000 for building repair and maintenance for a State Arson Laboratory. There’s also good news for the Gilchrist County Fire Station, with appropriators agreeing to send more than $777,000 in funding. But the chambers have major disagreements over fire spending otherwise. The Senate wants to give $6 million to LaBelle, in Hendry County, to harden a fire station and buy a new ladder truck. That small community notably was in the path of Hurricane Ian last year.

House offers almost $6M for FHP driving range” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The House’s infrastructure budget now includes funding for a driving range at Florida Highway Patrol’s academy. A budget offer Monday morning includes $5.85 million for the trooper training ground. The funding is part of a Highway Safety silo in the budget, and the House and Senate remain some millions apart. But the offer Monday from the House Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee brings the chambers close together. The chambers do agree on more than $5.78 million in special projects under the maintenance and repair umbrella of highway safety but have disagreed on some particulars.

—“Budget conference: Money slotted to fight human trafficking in NE Florida” via Florida Politics

Budget conference: Nassau County looks for deal on Piney Island resiliency” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Nassau County Manager Taco Pope called the resiliency and development mitigation project for Piney Island and the Amelia River the county’s top priority in securing funds from the state. Whether the county gets that money is now in the hands of legislative budget conferees. The House placed $1 million for it in that chamber’s budget bill, but the Senate didn’t do so in its bill or in its first offer.

Budget conference: Camp Deep Pond gets $400K float” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Good news for at-risk youth in one of the most crime-plagued cities in the state. House and Senate Budget Committees have agreed to slot $400,000 for the Camp Deep Pond initiative, which the Local Funding Initiative Request notes will make a big difference for Jacksonville youth via the Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Florida. “Several years ago, we created Camp Deep Pond from 63 acres of land that was gifted to us in Hilliard, Florida, where we take thousands of inner-city youth out of their violent neighborhoods in Jacksonville’s Urban Core and into the woods to experience the outdoors in a way that most never have before,” the request reads.

—”Budget conference: House, Senate agree on Baker County courthouse generator funding” via Florida Politics

—“Budget conference: Legislators agree on Amelia Island Trail study” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—“Budget conference: Legislature paves the way for Hilliard Road project” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Senate, House agree on funding new Alachua Co. magnet school” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Senate and the House committees charged with funding education agree on the math for a school that aims to nurture the state’s academic superstars. Budget worksheets show the House and the Senate agreed the Florida School for Competitive Academics should get about $44 million. It would be a public magnet school in Alachua County aiming to produce students who win academic competitions in all areas of study, especially science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Sen. Keith Perry, representing Levy and Marion counties in addition to parts of Alachua County, introduced the legislation.

Budget conference: Lawmakers at odds over $25M in coral reef spending” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — When it comes to reef spending in the next fiscal budget, Florida lawmakers almost don’t agree at all. Some $25 million in spending on protecting and restoring reefs, both natural and artificial, is up for debate among members of the Senate and House. That includes $10 million in nonrecurring funds the Senate wants to give the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation to maintain and improve an artificial fishing reef within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The House has not agreed to that earmark, a comparison of the chambers’ budget proposals shows, but it has concurred with the Senate on $600,000 in related spending for the construction of a new artificial reef. Both chambers similarly agreed on a $650,000 set-aside for general reef protections in Monroe County.

Budget conference: Deal done on FWC dollars targeting pythons, gap on invasive species” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Legislators made the decision and tapped money that will be moving forward for continued action against pythons, but the House and Senate are $2 million apart on funding targeting other invasive species. The House specified four full-time equivalent jobs for invasive species work, with more than $2.6 million coming out of trust funds for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Senate, in its budget bill and its first offer, denoted $641,581 for the effort. FWC Chair Rodney Barreto made the feeling of the Commission clear last year following the debate on the captive species rule.

FWC Chair Rodney Barreto makes it clear the Commission’s stance on invasive species.

Forget cars, green hydrogen will supercharge crops” via Bianca Nogrady of WIRED — The Yuri Project — a joint venture between global fertilizer giant Yara, utilities company Engie, and investment and trading company Mitsui & Co. — is producing green hydrogen that’s combined with nitrogen to create ammonia for fertilizer production. Given the long-running conversation about hydrogen-fueled vehicles, fertilizer probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about green hydrogen. But in the past few years, the discussion around the fuel has shifted and broadened as more industries see this zero-carbon fuel’s potential to decarbonize carbon-intensive industrial processes and sectors. Another industry with a keen interest in green hydrogen is freight transport. “If we can start decarbonizing that through hydrogen that’s a great application,” says Steven Percy, a senior research fellow in the Victorian Hydrogen Hub at Swinburne University in Melbourne.

Budget conference: Dade City charter school to get $14M for high school construction” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A new charter high school that would serve 450 students in Dade City is slated to get $14 million. Sen. Danny Burgess is sponsoring the request to construct a high school for students at Academy at the Farm, which currently serves students in preschool through eighth grade. The appropriation wasn’t originally slotted in the House budget, but it’s in the House’s first offer. This year’s appropriation will come on top of the $11.9 million that the school received last year in state funding at Burgess’ request, so the nonrecurring general revenue support for this school will reach nearly $26 million this year.

Budget conference: House, Senate $2M apart on Farm Share” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Millions of state dollars will go to facilitate the work of Florida’s largest independent food bank, but exactly how many of those dollars is still in question. As conferees meet on the budget, the House set aside $2.5 million for Farm Share, while the Senate upped its appropriation from $4 million in the budget bill to $4.5 million in its first offer. Rep. Fine and Sen. Ed Hooper filed appropriation project requests with a $5 million ask. “It is estimated that 40% of the food produced in the United States goes uneaten and approximately one-fifth of Floridians are food insecure, including 1 million children,” according to the House’s staff analysis.


State Rep. Jim Mooney’s fiancée recovering following a serious crash” via Jim McCarthy of Keys Weekly — State Rep. Mooney’s fiancée, Charity Rebl, is on a long path to recovery after she was involved in a serious crash in Islamorada last week. Rebl, a local real estate agent, remains hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. She’s being treated for a number of broken bones after a tractor-trailer collided with her vehicle in Islamorada. Mooney, who was in Tallahassee for the Legislative Session, left the capital in order to be by his fiancée’s side. Rebl was being treated in the intensive care unit since arriving at the hospital. Mooney said she left the ICU on April 17.

Godspeed to Jim Mooney’s fiancée, Charity Rebl.

Look Ahead America slams Senate elections package — Conservative advocacy group Look Ahead America is coming out in opposition to a wide-ranging elections package (SB 7050) being pushed by Senate Republicans. LAA, which works to register voters, said the bill “takes power away from the Office of Election Crimes and Security” and would undermine the strength of election crime cases. “If FL SB 7050 were in place in 2021, then I would not have been able to send the Florida clerks vital information that led to the conviction of Emily Jessop Bowers on three counts of double voting. On its face, this bill is undemocratic as it undermines the power of American and Floridian citizens to restore election integrity,” said LAA Director of Research Ian Camacho.

Former state Rep. Jackie Toledo drops lawsuit against Fred Piccolo” via Jim Rosica of City & State FL — Former state Rep. Toledo has dropped her lawsuit against her one-time campaign manager, Piccolo, who also has been a representative for DeSantis and former House Speaker Richard Corcoran. Hillsborough Circuit Civil court records show that Toledo, a Tampa Republican who served in the Florida House from 2016 to 2022, on Friday filed a “notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice,” meaning she cannot refile her suit for intentional infliction of emotional address. The filing gave no reasons for the withdrawal but did say “each party (agrees) to bear their own attorney’s fees, costs and disbursements.”

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Laura Boehmer, Seth McKeel, Mike Moore, The Southern Group: West Pasco Youth Soccer Association

Lisette Carbajal: Capital One Services

Kristen Casimir: Salesforce

Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig: Lions Group NYC

Todd Lewis, Pereira Reyes Consulting: Florida Onsite Wastewater Association, Latin Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization

Adrian Lukis, Ballard Partners: Broward County Sheriff’s Office

Joseph Mongiovi, Capital City Consulting: Cushman & Wakefield of Florida

Sharon Smoley, Central Florida Public Affairs: Central Florida Expressway Authority

Advertisement— LEG. SKED —

Assignment editors — Lauren’s Kids returns with the “42 Hours for the 42 Million” advocacy walk at the Florida Capitol — today through Thursday, April 27 — during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month & National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This 42+ hour continuous walk event will bring advocates, survivors, and state leaders together to honor the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. Kickoff news conference with Lauren’s Kids Founder and CEO Sen. Lauren Book and Jennifer Dritt of the Florida Council Against Sexual Abuse: 9:15 a.m., Plaza Level Rotunda.

Lauren Book returns with the “42 Hours for the 42 Million” advocacy walk.

— Senate 50th Day Rule: Last day for regularly scheduled Senate Committee meetings.

— The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider more than a dozen bills, including measures that would require DHSMV to contract with a nonprofit for a motorcycle safety education program (SB 838) and that would help preserve Black cemeteries (SB 430): 10 a.m., Room 110 Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee has more than 60 bills on its agenda, including legislation (SB 588) that would allow local governments to set up camera enforcement systems for school zones: 10 a.m., Room 412, Knott Building.

— The House holds a floor Session: 10 a.m., House Chambers.

— The House Rules Committee meets: 6:15 p.m. Room 404, House Office Building.

— The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets: 6:15 p.m., Room 401, Senate Office Building.


Senate Committee OK’s conservatives to state Board of Education” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Two archconservatives who have been sitting on the Board of Education for a year are advancing through their state Senate confirmation hearings. Members of the Ethics and Elections Committee gave their OK to Esther Byrd of Neptune Beach, who has supported Q-Anon and Jan. 6 insurrectionists in the past, and Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, a Miami radiologist who has spoken out forcefully against trans care for children. Lawmakers advanced the nominees without a detailed hearing, as part of a swath of 30 appointees at the front of the crowded agenda.

Members of the Ethics and Elections Committee gave thumbs-up to Esther Byrd.

Florida school district bans dozens of books based on proposed bill” via Judd Legum of Popular Information — In a spreadsheet from the Clay County school district listing the status of challenged books, 55 titles were categorized as “Pending Legislative Update.” A spokesperson for Clay County schools, Terri Dennis, told Popular Information that the “district is monitoring the current Legislative Session and stands prepared to comply with any statutory updates.” Dennis confirmed that these titles are not being made available to students. In other words, the school district is anticipating new legal restrictions and is withholding titles even though they do not run afoul of current law. Among books no longer available to students in Clay County because of this action are critically-acclaimed and award-winning novels, including A Fault In Our Stars, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Story of a Girl.

Behind the scenes of Florida’s efforts to purge schools of books deemed improper” via Fresh Take Florida — With a scanner like ones used at grocery stores plugged into her computer, Paula Stephens spent her 30-minute planning period scanning two boxes of books from her classroom library. Those two green boxes had roughly 55 books, and her first-grade classroom at Eisenhower Elementary has about 40 more boxes. Two paper markers labeled “Done” indicate the beginning of this cumbersome process. Hundreds of books organized by reading level remain in bins on her shelves, waiting to be scanned. “I don’t think people truly understand how many books are in our classroom libraries. Especially when they’re younger, they go through so many books,” Stephens said.

Hidden violence: Elder abuse was already hard to track — then pandemic made it harder” via Fresh Take Florida — Violence against the elderly was already hard to track. Then the pandemic made it harder. Amy Thomas wasn’t new to social work. She had been helping vulnerable children and adults for more than 20 years when she started working at Elder Options, a Gainesville-based nonprofit designated by the government to serve elders in 16 north-central Florida counties. What was new to Thomas was the COVID-19 pandemic, which began right as she took her position as the organization’s director of community care coordination in early 2020. The organization realized how important its services would become, she said. For elders, quarantine behind closed doors — often out of sight — came with its own dangers, especially abuse.

Florida gas prices surge 15 cents, hit new 2023 high” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida gasoline prices rose across most of the state last week amid historic flooding in South Florida that led to widespread gas outages, requiring fuel supplies to be reallocated from other regions. While those outages have now mostly been resolved, motorists by Sunday paid $3.72 per gallon, 15 cents more than the week prior and a new 2023 high. The flooding began more than a week ago and prevented fuel trucks from accessing gasoline terminals at Port Everglades, which normally provides about 40% of Florida’s fuel and the majority of gas allocated to filling stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach.


Black Floridians named to presidential advisory panel” via City & State Florida — Two people with connections to Florida politics have been named to a federal panel that advises Biden on African American issues. The White House last week announced 21 names to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans. Among them are Vincent Evans, executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus and Fedrick “Fed” Ingram, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Evans, a Florida A&M graduate, started in politics as a page for then-state lawmaker Al Lawson before becoming an aide to Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and serving on Lawson’s staff when Lawson was a member of Congress representing north Florida.

Fedrick “Fed” Ingram earns a seat on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.


Proud Boys saw themselves as ‘Trump’s army,’ U.S. says in trial closings” via Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman of The Washington Post — The far-right Proud Boys believed they were soldiers waging war under the direction of Trump when they violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors said in closing arguments at the seditious conspiracy trial of five group leaders. “These defendants saw themselves as Donald Trump’s army, fighting to keep their preferred leader in power,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Mulroe told jurors. “A fighting force lined up behind Donald Trump and ready to commit violence on his behalf.”

The far-right Proud Boys say they were fighting the good fight for Donald Trump.

— 2024 —

Joe Biden’s campaign team begins taking shape” via Christopher Cadelago and Sam Stein of POLITICO — Biden is eyeing longtime Democratic operative Michael Tyler for the role of communications director on his 2024 campaign. Tyler has held numerous high-ranking positions within the Democratic Party in addition to working at various groups within the progressive advocacy ecosystem. He recently helped the city of Atlanta with its unsuccessful bid for the Democratic National Convention in addition to working on Sen. Cory Booker’s 2020 presidential campaign and as chief of staff for the Democratic National Committee.

Biden expected to tap Julie Rodriguez to run 2024 campaign” via The Associated Press — Biden is expected to tap Rodriguez, a senior White House adviser, to manage his re-election campaign. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Rodriguez’s appointment has not been finalized and Biden has yet to formally launch his re-election campaign. CBS News was first to report that Biden has decided to pick Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a longtime Democratic Party activist, also worked in Barack Obama’s White House. She’s the granddaughter of labor leader Cesar Chavez and labor activist Helen Fabela Chávez. Growing up in California she was active in campaigns, picket lines, boycotts, marches and union meetings.

Julie Rodriguez will serve as Joe Biden’s campaign manager for 2024.

AOC suggests DeSantis would be the ‘weaker’ 2024 GOP nominee: ‘That base belongs to Trump’” via Aubrie Spady of Fox News — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, said she thinks that DeSantis is “weaker” than Trump, as polls show DeSantis faring better than Trump against Biden in a hypothetical 2024 matchup. MSNBC’s Jen Psaki asked the congresswoman if Trump winning the GOP nomination would be the Democrats’ best chance at securing the White House next cycle. While AOC has been an outspoken critic of Trump, the progressive suggested DeSantis is “weaker.”

Trump leads DeSantis 55%-to-22% in new Harvard-Harris Poll” via Charlotte Hazard of Just the News — A new survey released Friday shows Trump leading possible challenger DeSantis, 55% to 22%, for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Seven percent of respondents said they would support former Vice President Mike Pence, while 4% said they would vote for former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Broward homeowner fires 3 shots at grocery delivery driver who pulled into the wrong driveway” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Southwest Ranches homeowner fired three shots at an unarmed teenager who pulled into the wrong driveway while trying to deliver groceries. Antonio Caccavale, 43, told police that he fired at the driver of a gray Honda Civic that ran over his right foot while trespassing on his property on April 15. The Honda driver, Waldes Thomas, 19, accused the homeowner of being the aggressor, pulling a gun on him when all he wanted to do was deliver groceries to a nearby address. Davie police investigators could not determine whether either man committed a crime, but they didn’t share their findings with prosecutors, who learned about the incident six days later from news reporters seeking a comment.

Army Corps delays LOSOM for another federal agency’s input five years into the process” via Ed Killer of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual, LOSOM for short. You probably remember where you were the first time you heard the term. It’s going to be the document that gives the Army Corps of Engineers a working blueprint for how to manage the waters of Lake Okeechobee for the foreseeable future. That is, if the Corps can ever get it to the finish line. This process has been going on so long, we’ve had a pandemic start, run its course and end — or, has it? — in the meantime. LOSOM, however; well, who knows when we will ever see it go into effect? Never mind moving the goal posts, the Corps keeps moving the end zone.

LOSOM is on hold during an interagency turf war.

Delray Beach whistleblower settles water contamination lawsuit for $818,500” via Jasmine Fernandez of the Palm Beach Post — About two years into her job as a wastewater inspector, Christine Ferrigan said she had realized just how contaminated the water was in Delray Beach. After being repeatedly ignored by her supervisors, she went to the state, she said. Then, in January 2022, her position was abruptly eliminated. This month, the city reached a settlement to pay $818,500 to resolve Ferrigan’s whistleblower lawsuit in which she claimed to have been fired for her reports. The City Commission approved the settlement at a recent meeting. Shockingly, it was the second time in less than 10 years that Ferrigan has picked up a sizable settlement from a city after alleging she was fired.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Who are the 3 out-of-state men accused of threatening Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood?” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The arrest of a Connecticut man last week brings the total number of men accused of threatening to kill Volusia Sheriff Chitwood to three. The suspects are from different states and each is facing a criminal charge for online posts in which they threatened to murder the Sheriff, according to authorities. Chitwood and his family have been the target of threats and harassment since the Sheriff spoke out against White supremacists and neo-Nazi hate groups when they came to Volusia County seeking attention.

Three men now stand accused of threatening the life of Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood.

2 more enter race for South Brevard House seat currently held by Randy Fine” via Tyler Vazwuez of Florida Today — As the next election draws closer and a high-profile seat in the House is slated to open without an incumbent, more candidates are filing to represent House District 33 in next year’s race. Erika Orriss, a Republican from Satellite Beach, and Grover Bentley, a Palm Bay Libertarian, filed this past week in hopes of winning the seat currently held by Rep. Fine, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits. The two join Democrat Anthony Yantz and Republicans Logan Luse and Chandler Langevin, who filed to run earlier this year in a race that could feature a three-way Republican Primary and a three-way General Election to represent the South Brevard district.

—“Palm Bay Republican hoping to succeed Fine in HD 33 faces DUI charge” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today

New affordable housing program provides pathway to a home in Osceola County” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — An initiative that paves the way to affordable homeownership with fewer income restrictions has its first two families participating, Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry announced. Pathway to Housing is a new affordable housing program run by the Salvation Army of Osceola County that will provide one year of rent payments in order to allow participants to save for a down payment. The Salvation Army and Housing 4 All, an affordable housing nonprofit partnering with the initiative, will match the savings for the down payment to purchase a home in Osceola County. The program includes financial literacy training, homebuyer courses and credit education courses.

Universal’s theme park plans unaffected by CEO’s exit, company says” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell’s departure from Comcast on Sunday for “inappropriate conduct” will not affect ongoing and upcoming theme park projects, a company official said. The NBCUniversal spokesperson, who refused to be identified, said Shell’s senior team will report to Comcast President Mike Cavanagh. Comcast and Cavanagh could face questions about the transition during Comcast’s first quarter earnings call on Thursday. Shell was often the public face of NBCUniversal’s theme park projects as head of the media and entertainment division since January 2020.

Disney World’s ‘Fantasmic’ continues despite dragon fire at Disneyland show” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The show will go on for “Fantasmic,” the nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, despite a fire that damaged the Maleficent dragon character at a similar show at Disneyland over the weekend. The blaze occurred during a “Fantasmic” performance in Anaheim, California, late Saturday evening. The outdoor theater was evacuated as the 45-foot robotic dragon burned. No injuries to park employees or visitors were reported. Usually performed twice nightly, the show is not on Disneyland’s schedule again until Friday evening. But the Hollywood Studios “Fantasmic” at Orlando’s Disney World went on as scheduled Sunday evening. The company said the Maleficent structure is different on each coast, so the incident will not impact production at Walt Disney World.


Tampa voters to decide between Janet Cruz, Lynn Hurtak in contentious Tampa City Council battle” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Tampa voters will cast the final votes on Tuesday in a race that has been particularly bloody for a local City Council contest. On the ballot are appointed incumbent Hurtak and former state Sen. Cruz. While the race is nonpartisan and the candidates’ political affiliations won’t appear on the ballot, both are Democrats. And while the two share some similar policy stances — both are pro-reproductive choice and both reject the overtly conservative politics streaming down from Tallahassee — progressives have lined up behind Hurtak while Cruz has drawn more moderate and establishment support. The race has boiled down to one main issue — a person, really. And that person isn’t even on the ballot.

Voters will now be asked to choose between Lynn Hurtak and Janet Cruz.

Showdown in the Big Guava: A look at Tampa’s runoff elections” via Tristan Wood of City & State Florida

Hillsborough nixes gopher tortoise safeguards. Board didn’t say why.” via C.T. Bowen of the Tamp Bay Times — Hillsborough County Commissioners have rejected extra protections for gopher tortoises, a threatened species in the state of Florida. But, they didn’t publicly say why. They also offered no explanation for killing a proposal to encourage builders to add more affordable housing to their projects. Both proposals died Thursday night after hearings on amending the county’s land plan. Nobody from the public commented. The opposition had made its position known ahead of time. Land use attorney Jake Cremer of Stearns Weaver Miller emailed Commissioners earlier Thursday, saying he had several clients concerned about the proposed changes.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Officials refuse to answer questions in JSO public strip-search case” via Nichole Manna of the Tributary — Despite public outcry over the case of a Black man who was stripped by Jacksonville sheriff’s officers on a public road, the agencies responsible for his prosecution have yet to answer a slew of questions raised by The Tributary’s reporting last week. Ronnie Reed was strip-searched by Sheriff’s officers on a public road in September during a drug bust operation. Despite officers not finding drugs or drug money on him, the State Attorney’s Office is scheduled to take Reed to trial in mid-May on a charge of selling cocaine. The State Attorney’s Office cited the pending trial, while the Sheriff’s Office cited an open internal investigation.

Andrew Gillum trial Day Six: ‘Frozen’ funds and ‘he’s not doing this for free’” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The public corruption trial of Gillum and Sharon Lettman-Hicks entered its second week and sixth day on Monday at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee. The government called an adviser to billionaire Gillum donor Donald Sussman and the person who managed the Mayor’s Campaign to Defend Local Solutions. Sussman agreed to give to Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign, but he didn’t want the donations public in part because he served on the board of EMILY’s List, which was supporting one of his opponents, Gwen Graham. Sussman also donated to Graham personally.

One Andrew Gillum donor wanted to keep it on the down low.


Manatee County toils over leadership, pursues Jon Mast for Interim Administrator role” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Commissioners remain at odds over the decision to bring Mast in as Interim Manatee County Administrator and continue to toil over the direction of county leadership after they reappointed Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge back to his Chair role. Van Ostenbridge was voted out of the Chair role in a split 4-3 decision Tuesday in favor of District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh — who was absent from Thursday’s meeting when the Board reversed that decision. “At the last meeting, I made a vote which I have since, upon further reflection, come to believe was not in the best interest of the county,” Commissioner Amanda Ballard said when she made the motion to reinstate Van Ostenbridge as Chair.

The return of Kevin Van Ostenbridge is not in the ‘best interests’ of Manatee County, says a colleague.

Trial for East Naples man charged in Jan. 6 mob begins Wednesday without jury” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — More than two years after an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, the trial for an East Naples man accused of rioting is set to begin this week with relaxed restrictions. A video aired during the June 9 hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee, one of a number that have been aired, appeared to show Christopher Worrell, 52, and others accused of storming the building, attacking police officers, breaking building windows and wreaking other damage. The trial starts Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington, D.C. Worrell pleaded not guilty to all the original charges. He faces 19 counts.

Hurricane Ian recovery efforts still underway, Lee Health clinic reopens in Dunbar” via Erica Van Buren of the Fort Myers News-Press — About 50 Lee Health staff, residents and city officials gathered to celebrate the opening of the new Lee Community Healthcare’s Dunbar medical office. The Dunbar clinic, located at 3637 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the plaza with Next Level Church, will offer primary health care including family medicine as well as behavioral and mental health services for both children and adults. The medical office, which opens its doors to seeing patients on Tuesday at 7 a.m., will be made up of three doctors, one nurse practitioner, one psychologist, with a total of about 25 staff members in all.


Tucker’s successor will be worse” via David Graham of The Atlantic — More details about why Carlson is leaving will surely emerge soon.

Though he was connected to the Dominion lawsuit, as well as to other defamation cases against the company, a more serious offender was Maria Bartiromo, who remains at Fox (at least for now). Carlson is also implicated in a lawsuit by Abby Grossberg, a former Fox producer who has claimed that she experienced an appalling work environment while working on Carlson’s show.

The Washington Post reported that Carlson’s messages criticizing Fox’s top leadership “played a role in his departure,” and his political ambitions and his penchant for dishing to reporters could easily have created tensions with bosses.

Any rising conservative TV star would love to grab for the crown Carlson has doffed, or that’s been taken from him.

The audience, influence, and money involved make it irresistible, but his career arc illustrates the hazards.

To remain on top at Fox, hosts have to be ready to continually ratchet up their rhetoric, because the network’s business model depends on continual audience outrage. But audiences eventually become inured and require new and more extreme input. Providing that is a challenging and soul-leaching job — and someone will be delighted to have it.


State lawmakers have no business seeking to eliminate our local live-wage policy” via Luis Andre Gazitua of the Miami Herald — As a former senior adviser to a Miami-Dade County Mayor and an attorney and lobbyist representing businesses in competitive procurements at the county, I strongly oppose Amendment House Bill 917, state minimum wage. This amendment would eliminate the ability of Florida counties and city governments to set wages through a living wage. This would have severe implications for businesses’ competitiveness in government contracts. A living wage is a localized base hourly rate sufficient for workers to meet their basic needs without relying on government assistance or charitable organizations, while servicing publicly funded government contracts.

Credit cards work, so why are Florida lawmakers going after them?” via Stephen Moore of Fox News — Florida’s legislature is getting close to passing a bill exempting sales taxes from interchange fees. The evidence shows that when caps have been imposed on some types of credit/debit cards, the result has not been lower prices for shoppers. In some cases, they put limits on who can have a credit card — which hurts lower-income cardholders. Florida’s bill is a mess with a labyrinth of complex rules that may become a template for other states. The card companies would face penalties of $1,000 for each violation. Smaller retailers with fewer transactions would be far more negatively impacted than a Walmart or a Staples. And for what? The amount of money that merchants would save from this measure is trivial. Two percent of an 8% sales tax is a few pennies on a $100 transaction.

Emmett Reed: Investments in nursing centers mean quality care for Florida’s most vulnerable” via Florida Politics — As Florida lawmakers prepare to finalize the next state budget, they should keep in mind the measurable advances in quality taking place at Florida nursing centers and just how critical a stable workforce is to seeing those quality metrics continue to improve. Data available on the Florida Health Care Association’s Long Term Care Quality Dashboard demonstrates how long-term care providers in the Sunshine State continue to deliver exceptional care, despite the nursing workforce shortage. FHCA has been advocating for several solutions this Session to bolster our workforce, including our nurses, and ensure that Florida’s seniors and people with disabilities continue to receive the high-quality care they expect and need.



— ALOE —

Central Florida Animal Reserve provides haven for big cats” via Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel — This haven for big cats is Central Florida Animal Reserve, a nonprofit dedicated to the care and conservation of lions, tigers, leopards and cougars. The sanctuary called Brevard County home for more than 20 years before moving to its current location in 2017. Visitors can book a range of tours depending on interest level. This is not a contact experience, but guests can get within feet of these big cats — separated by a fence, of course. During a walking tour, people can learn about the types of enrichment these big cats receive and see examples of their strength, such as a bowling ball that bears deep marks from claws and teeth. After all, a Bengal tiger’s jaw can bite with a force of more than 1,000 pounds per square inch.

Big cats have a home in Central Florida.


Celebrating today are Kristin Lamb, Greg Langowski, Brian Lowack, Megan Roach Michalski, former state Rep. David Richardson, former state Rep. Larry Smith, and Susan Smith.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, 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.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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