Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 1.4.24

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Good Thursday morning.

Please, take a moment for this special message from Michelle Schorsch:

While he may be best known as the driving force behind Florida Politics, SUNBURN and INFLUENCE Magazine, we’re most proud to call him a devoted husband, father and best friend.

Today, we celebrate Peter Schorsch on his birthday.

I normally take the lead on Peter’s birthday celebrations, but this year someone very special asked to help me with his birthday message: Ella Joyce. So, I’m turning over the top of Sunburn to her:

My mom always says I’m just like my Dad. I don’t like to give him the satisfaction of agreeing with my mom on that … which now that I think about it probably helps Mom’s case. But thinking about all of the nice things people say about my Dad, like how smart he is, how creative he is, how hard he works, and how dedicated he is to his family makes me very proud to be just like him.

I love my Dad because he’s nice and he’s fun to tease, especially about his obsession with Rafa, Cheladas and tennis. He knows how to take a joke (maybe better than he knows how to deliver one) and doesn’t get super mad at me when I take a joke too far. In fact, I’m often joking with him while he’s on the phone in the hot tub with you.

While most of you think of him first as the Florida Politics guy, he’s just huggie to me. He’s the very best Dad who only mildly complains about my horse show bills. He always puts my Mom and me first and doesn’t say no when we have crazy ideas. He knows a lot about a lot of random things, which comes in handy when we’re playing trivia on Disney Cruises. I love that my Dad isn’t afraid to be silly and crazy with me and dress up like Pluto or Remy or Travis Kelce.

So, I hope you’ll help make my Dad’s birthday as special as he’s made all of mine and that you join my Mom in raising a glass to celebrate his special day.

Happy birthday, Peter!

Happy birthday, Peter! All the best!


Breaking late Wednesday — “Donald Trump asks Supreme Court to keep him on Colorado ballot” via Adam Liptak of The New York Times — Trump asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to keep him on the Primary ballot in Colorado, appealing an explosive ruling from the state Supreme Court declaring him ineligible based on his efforts to overturn the 2020 Election that culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. That ruling, Trump’s lawyers wrote, marked “the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.” Trump’s appeal adds to the growing pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to act, given the number of challenges to Trump’s eligibility and the need for a nationwide resolution of the question as the Primaries approach.


Florida-based lobbying giant The Southern Group and one of the country’s leading economic development firms VisionFirst Advisors kicked off the new year with a bang.

The duo announced their strategic partnership in a move that pairs state and local lobbying efforts with economic development site selection and community strategy. Both client bases now benefit from a turnkey solution for expanding business throughout the country, and the Southeast where the lobbying firm has a commanding footprint.

“When we talk about growing influence, this is what we mean,” said Paul Bradshaw, Chair of The Southern Group. “It’s about more than just being a bigger, better lobbying shop — although we are doing that too. It’s about finding new business segments and partnerships to better serve an ever-expanding client base. Sometimes 1+1 equals 3.”

VisionFirst understands growing and scaling businesses. The Florida-based firm works in nearly every state and provides both site selection services and comprehensive strategic solutions, including marketing and communications as well as workforce intelligence for businesses considering expansion or relocation.

“This expands our footprint and our capacity,” said Gray Swoope, VisionFirst president and CEO. “Site selection and government relations frequently overlap — we will now have close and effective partners with whom we will work hand in hand to ensure our clients’ needs are met.”

To watch the video announcement, please click the image below:

Swoope founded VisionFirst Advisors almost 10 years ago, after having served for four years as the Secretary of Commerce for the State of Florida. His career in economic development spans decades and all levels of the profession. This partnership is the next evolution of VisionFirst, and his legacy in the economic development industry.

The Southern Group is the state’s largest lobbying firm, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary of influence and impact in Florida and beyond. The partnership is the next chapter in the firm’s expansion efforts, which has spanned the birth of TSG Advisors to a widening geographic footprint of its lobbying team to aggressive growth plans within its existing one.

“Relocating your company or expanding to a new state can be a complicated mix of site location, economic development strategy and government relations,” said Rachel Cone, Managing Partner and head of The Southern Group’s expansion efforts. “We are incredibly excited to partner with an organization of this caliber, as we grow in new and existing markets. And I am personally looking forward to working with Gray and his team once again.”

VisionFirst works with clients in both the private and public sectors. Private sector clients have included firms like Weyerhaeuser, the largest owner of timberland acreage worldwide, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee’s largest power provider.

On the public sector side, VisionFirst has worked with states like Illinois, Mississippi, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Florida to develop economic development plans that create jobs and attract investment to the state.


@TrumpWarRoom: Look at this grifter @ErinMPerrine trying to use her previous Trump association to get on TV. She chose to side with DeSanctimonious and nothing can ever wash that foul stench of shit off her. MAGA disowns her and anyone else that associates/works with her. TRAITOR!

@matthewjdowd: less than two weeks from Iowa caucus, and (Nikki) Haley and (Ron) DeSantis are further behind Trump than ever. Two new national polls out today and Trump has average lead of 52 points. In Iowa he is ahead by more than 30, and in NH by more than 20.

@FLSurgeonGen: I am calling for a halt to the use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

@MattGertz: It’s bad that this is what a Hail Mary pass in the GOP Presidential Primary looks like.

@CECatherman: “It’s a theoretical possibility, but the chances of it happening are probably substantially less than of you winning the Powerball lottery two weekends in a row,” said Thomas Unnasch, emeritus distinguished professor at @USFHealth

Tweet, tweet:

@Mdixon55: No sleep ‘til …. St. Pete


Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 5; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 5; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 5; CNN to host Iowa GOP Primary debates — 6; ‘Ted’ streams on Peacock — 7; ‘True Detective: Night Country’ streams on Max — 10; Iowa Republican Caucuses begin — 11; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 11; House District 35 Special Election — 12; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 13; ABC/WMUR’s New Hampshire debate — 14; first government-funding deadline — 15; CNN’s New Hampshire GOP Primary debate — 17; New Hampshire Primaries — 19; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 20; ‘Sexy Beast’ premieres on Paramount+ — 21; ‘Masters of the Air’ premieres on Apple TV+ — 22; federal campaign finance filing deadline — 27; Inter Miami CF 2024 season opener stand-alone — 28; second government-funding deadline — 29; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 30; ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ final season premieres on HBO — 31; Nevada Primaries — 33; Nevada Republican Presidential Caucus — 35; Super Bowl LVIII — 38; Ninth Annual Suits for Session begins — 47; South Carolina Republican Primary — 51; Michigan Democratic Primary — 54; James Madison Institute’s ‘Red, White and Bluegrass’ dinner — 55; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 57; Michigan/Idaho/Missouri GOP Primaries — 58; Netflix to stream “The Netflix Slam,” Rafael Nadal/Carlos Alcaraz faceoff — 59; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 60; Super Tuesday — 61; Last day of Regular Session, if Legislature completes work in 60 days — 64; 2024 Oscars — 66; Georgia Democratic Primary — 68; Arizona/Florida/Illinois/Kansas/Ohio Primaries — 75; James Madison Institute’s ‘2024 Naples Dinner’ with keynote speaker Laura Ingraham — 76; ‘3 Body Problem’ premieres on Netflix — 77; Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2024 season — 84; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 126; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 133; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 140; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 176; Republican National Convention begins — 193; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 202; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 204; Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 225; Democratic National Convention begins — 228; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 233; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 288; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 291; 2024 Presidential Election — 306; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 322; MLS Cup 2024 — 338; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 407; ‘Moana’ premieres — 540; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 568; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 673; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 673; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 715; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 848; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 864; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,079; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,219; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,178; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,900.


It’s 2024, and the candidates are campaigning at a furious pace” via Chris Cameron of The New York Times — The Republican hopefuls seeking to topple Trump for the party nomination have already spent tens of millions of dollars and months campaigning across Iowa. DeSantis has at least four events planned on Wednesday, and Vivek Ramaswamy, the wealthy entrepreneur running for office, is keeping up a breakneck pace while his poll numbers barely budge.

Trump, with polling leads that seem insurmountable, has faced considerably less pressure to crisscross the state. But even Trump is headed to Iowa for campaign events this week.

Eleven days left.

Haley has barnstormed Iowa and is battling DeSantis for second place. But she’ll be campaigning on Wednesday in New Hampshire, the next state to vote in the GOP nominating contest and one where she is pinning her hopes.

But they are all staring straight up at Trump, who has maintained daunting double-digit leads in polls in Iowa, despite the 91 felony charges against him and after two states have barred him from their Primary ballots after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

His campaign is seeking an overwhelming victory in Iowa to shut out his rivals before most Republicans get a chance to vote in the primaries. Haley and DeSantis, who remain far behind Trump in Iowa polls, look to be fiercely battling for second place.

Iowa is not a particularly valuable state to win in the presidential nomination process. Still, the state holds symbolic importance as the first votes cast in the nation. The results can point to signs of momentum, of which candidates are rising or falling as the contest moves to larger states.

Observers are watching closely: A strong performance from either candidate could put pressure on the other to drop out and allow a stronger anti-Trump coalition to emerge.


Ron DeSantis keeps getting asked: Why won’t he directly criticize Trump?” via Nicholas Nehamas of The New York Times — DeSantis takes questions from voters at every campaign stop, so he often faces variations of the same question, sometimes several times in a single day at different events scattered hundreds of miles apart. And he seems to be growing tired of one frequently asked question in particular: Why doesn’t he more directly attack Trump? It came up again Wednesday at a community center in Waukee, Iowa, where Christopher Garcia, a 75-year-old retired gas service technician, pressed DeSantis in a lengthy back-and-forth. DeSantis responded that, well, he does criticize Trump, who is leading the Republican presidential field by a wide margin.

People keep asking; when will Ron DeSantis speak badly about Trump?

Nikki Haley surpasses DeSantis in national GOP polling average” via Jared Gans of The Hill — Haley has surpassed DeSantis in FiveThirtyEight’s (538) national polling average for the first time in the 2024 campaign. This marks the first time in the 2024 Election that Haley has come in second in the pollster’s average; it also highlights her rise in the polls that has taken place over the last few months. Haley, who is also the former Governor of South Carolina, has been gaining momentum since August, with fuel from multiple strong Primary debate performances.

New Haley super PAC ad slams DeSantis as ‘mini-Trump’ — The pro-Haley crowd unleashed another volley as well. SFA Fund, the same PAC behind the China ad, rolled out another spot jabbing DeSantis for his “mini-Trump persona” — a continuation of the SFA narrative that the Governor’s strategy is to “out-Trump Donald Trump with a weak, phony personality and policy positions.” “Since the beginning of 2023, Ron DeSantis has done everything he can to out-Trump Trump as his campaign circles the gutter, and now it is clearer than ever that DeSantis is simply too weak to win. The only Republican candidate in the race who will retire Joe Biden and turn our country around is Nikki Haley,” SFA spokesperson Brittany Yanick said.

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

Haley’s campaign says she raised $24 million in fourth quarter” via Mario Parker of Bloomberg — Haley’s campaign said that she raised $24 million in the final three months of 2023 riding a wave of momentum in her bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Haley has $14.5 million in cash, her campaign said in a statement Wednesday. The fundraising haul is more than double the $11 million she raised in the third quarter. Haley’s effort gained steam on the strength of four solid debate performances. Her campaign is increasingly trying to cast the race for the GOP nomination as a two-person contest between Haley and Trump, who maintains a wide lead over the rest of the candidates in polls.

Happening today — NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns and The Des Moines Register chief political reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel will conduct a 30-minute sit-down in the Register newsroom with DeSantis as he makes his final pitch to Caucusgoers. More info here.

DeSantis still wants a ‘satellite caucus’ for Iowans in Florida” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — With less than two weeks before the Iowa caucuses that are pivotal to his presidential hopes, DeSantis is worried that his voters will be in his state rather than where he needs them Jan. 15. “I’ll run into folks, and some will say, ‘Yeah, I’m going down to Florida in January.’ I’m like, ‘Are you going before the 15th or after the 15th? Most of them are staying to caucus; not all are,” DeSantis said. “And then I say, ‘OK, are you going to fly back to caucus?’ And some say they will, some say, ‘Well, I’m going to have my neighbors go.’” “Look, we should have probably figured out a way to have a satellite caucus site down in Southwest Florida,” DeSantis added. “We probably would have some pretty good stuff.” The Iowa Republican Party clarified in November its lack of interest in an out-of-state caucus, and the Governor previously played off his pitch like it was a joke.

DeSantis reminds Iowans that Adam Putnam backers regretted their votes” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is in the stretch run of the 2024 Iowa campaign, and he’s continuing to tell that state’s voters that people who voted against him in previous nominating contests regretted it. “When I ran for Governor in 2018, I had a Republican Primary, a competitive Primary, you know, and I won and then became Governor. And I would always have people come up to me after I was Governor for a year or two. And they would say, ‘You know, I didn’t vote for you in the Primary and that was the worst vote I ever cast.’” DeSantis made the comments in Waukee, at an event hosted by the Never Back Down super PAC.

DeSantis now says Fox News is in the tank for Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — During remarks in Waukee, Iowa, DeSantis ripped Fox News for pushing “garbage” polls that show Trump leading the race by massive margins. “I know Fox News is going to say, oh, he’s winning this poll, he’s winning this poll. These polls are garbage,” DeSantis said at the event hosted by the Never Back Down super PAC. The Governor dealt with tougher process questions from the conservative network of late, even from friendly hosts. On Tuesday’s episode of “The Ingraham Angle,” DeSantis was confronted with the Real Clear Politics polling average in Iowa showing him more than 30 points down.

Joe Biden’s kicking off 2024 by delving into some of the country’s darkest moments” via Will Weissert and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — Biden is starting the campaign year by evoking the Revolutionary War to mark the third anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and visiting the South Carolina church where a White gunman massacred Black parishioners, seeking to present in the starkest possible terms an election he argues could determine the fate of American democracy. Biden will travel to near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where George Washington and the Continental Army spent a bleak Winter nearly 250 years ago. There, he’ll decry Trump for the riot. Two days later, the President will visit Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where nine people were shot and killed in a June 2015 White supremacist attack.

—“Biden knew Jimmy Carter was in trouble in 1979. Now he’s in the same boat.” via Annie Linskey of The Wall Street Journal

— MORE 2024 —

Kristi Noem lashes out at idea of Haley taking vice presidential spot on Trump ticket” via Julia Johnson of The Washington Examiner — Noem wasn’t shy in sharing her feelings about Haley as Trump’s possible running mate if he wins the Republican nomination, saying Tuesday it would be a mistake for him to choose her. “If he picked Nikki Haley, would that be a mistake?” Newsmax’s Eric Bolling asked the Governor, who endorsed Trump. “Yes,” she said. “If he picked her, I would tell him I disagreed with him,” Noem said. However, she said it wouldn’t deter her from supporting the ticket “because he’s still the President, and the President still makes the decisions.” The Governor explained some of her opposition to Haley, telling Bolling, “I just had a lot of disagreements with Nikki Haley over the years, and I just don’t know which Nikki Haley is going to show up every day.”

Kristi Noem has knives out for Nikki Haley.

Tom Emmer endorses Trump after speakership bid fiasco” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — All top five House GOP leaders are now backing Trump after Majority Whip Emmer endorsed the ex-President who helped tank his speakership bid last year. Emmer, who has also served as the House GOP campaign chief, said in a statement Wednesday morning that he backed Trump — a day after Majority Leader Steve Scalise publicly endorsed Trump. Speaker Mike Johnson announced he supported Trump shortly after the Louisianian was elected to lead the conference. “Democrats have made clear they will use every tool in their arsenal to try to keep Joe Biden and his failed policies in power. We cannot let them,” Emmer said in a statement.

RFK Jr. announces he is on the ballot in Utah” via Rebecca Davis O’Brien of The New York Times — Kennedy, who is running for President as an independent, will be on the ballot in Utah, his campaign announced on Wednesday at an event in Salt Lake City, capping a weekslong signature-gathering effort. Utah is the first state to give Kennedy a spot on its ballot, and he has a lengthy and expensive path ahead to his stated goal of getting on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He left the Democratic Party in October to pursue an independent bid for the White House. Kennedy, who will turn 70 this month, is the scion of American political royalty and an environmental lawyer who has gained prominence in recent years for his promotion of conspiracy theories, including unproven claims about widespread governmental corruption and danger from vaccines.

For polling, is the fifth time the charm in 2024?” via Florida Politics — Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And yet, for the fifth election in a row, Republicans are abandoning sanity and putting their faith in the same nonsense polling that has been wrong over, and over, and over again. To believe Trump is winning Republican voters by 40 percentage points is about as farcical as staying up all night waiting for Santa to come down the chimney. What worked in 2016 didn’t in 2020, and still won’t translate eight years later — despite the garbage polls claiming otherwise.


DeSantis points to Florida as minimum wage model, though he opposed ‘Fight for $15’ amendment” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is telling Iowans that there shouldn’t be national regulation of the minimum wage, pointing to Florida as an example. But back before Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment setting the stage for a $ 15-an-hour minimum by 2026, the Governor opposed it. The contrast between comments made by DeSantis as a presidential candidate and ones he made before launching a national run is worth noting. In Waukee on Thursday, DeSantis noted that “voters approved a minimum wage that’s higher than the federal minimum wage,” a move “that was controversial when it passed because people were concerned it could cost jobs.”

DeSantis touts the fight for $15, despite working against it.

‘Football’s changed’: DeSantis complains about college bowl opt-outs” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is speaking out about college football players who don’t participate in bowl games, questioning if they’re doing the “right thing.” DeSantis said “something” needed to be done about those student-athletes who chose to opt out in the wake of an in-state team’s disappointing performance during a recent game. “Football’s changed where you have, like, you get paid for name, image and likeness and stuff, which we supported in Florida. If people are going to make money off you, like, whatever. But now it’s like, they sit out the bowl games and they do all this other stuff and a lot of Florida State’s players didn’t even play. We’ve got to do something about that. I don’t know if that’s the right thing,” DeSantis said.


Biden administration asks Supreme Court to allow Border Patrol to cut Texas razor wire” via Jess Bravin and Elizabeth Findell of The Wall Street Journal — The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court Tuesday to reinstate federal authority over the international boundary between Mexico and Texas, after state officials won a lower court order blocking the U.S. Border Patrol from removing concertina wire Texas officers installed to deter migrants from crossing a 29-mile stretch of the Rio Grande. In court papers, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued that Congress had given the Border Patrol extensive power to enforce immigration law within 25 miles of the border, including the right to enter private property without a warrant. State governments, she wrote, have no power to displace federal authority the Constitution commits to Washington.

Joe Biden seeks to allow Border Patrol agents to cut Texas’ barbed wire on the Southern border.

Senate Democrats scoff at Biden’s Israel arms sale” via Alex Gangitano and Al Weaver of The Hill — Some of Biden’s top Senate allies are criticizing the administration’s moves on Israel, including the latest approval of arms sales to the military that bypassed Congress while also calling on Israelis to wind down months of intense fighting. Just before the new year, the Biden administration for a second time in a month approved a provision that would transfer weapons to the Israelis without congressional approval. But top U.S. officials for weeks have publicly called on Israel to ensure civilians remain out of harm’s way as the death toll in Gaza rises into the tens of thousands.

Biden appointee resigns over President’s handling of Gaza war” via Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — A political appointee at the Department of Education announced his resignation Wednesday over the President’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war, marking the second public departure over an issue that has deeply divided the Biden administration. Tariq Habash, a special assistant who focused primarily on student loan issues and had volunteered on Biden’s 2020 campaign, did not work on foreign policy matters. Yet his resignation is notable given that the administration, which has seen multiple dissent memos and open letters calling for the White House to rein in the Israeli government, has faced few resignations over the war.

Speaker Mike Johnson pushes GOP-only border bill while talks it impasse” via Billy House and Ellen M. Gilmer of Bloomberg — Prospects for a bipartisan deal on immigration dimmed as Johnson dug in on Republican legislation that Democrats argue goes too far in securing the U.S. border with Mexico. Johnson, who led a GOP delegation to the border earlier in the day, called the House bill the “necessary ingredient” to curb an influx of migrants that has had rippling effects across the country, including in northern cities. The trip to Eagle Pass, Texas, was intended to turn up the heat on Biden and Democrats for border-policy changes. Democrats widely oppose the bill, which would narrow asylum eligibility, require more migrants to be locked up in detention facilities, restart border wall construction, and gut funding for migrant processing.


High court sets date for abortion-rights amendment hearing — The Florida Supreme Court will hold oral arguments next month on whether an abortion rights amendment should be allowed on the 2024 ballot. The court announced this week that it had signed off on holding a Feb. 7 hearing on the measure that would ban Florida legislators from restricting abortion before about 24 weeks of pregnancy. The court is required to review citizen initiatives to make sure they are not misleading and stick to a single subject. Attorney General Ashley Moody wants the court to block the measure from the ballot. She and her attorneys have maintained that the abortion rights amendment could confuse voters because it bans abortion restrictions before viability. Supporters of the amendment contend Moody is opposing the measure for political reasons and that she is “distorting” the language.

Florida Surgeon General has safety concerns with COVID vaccines. FDA disagrees” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo is urging people to stop getting Pfizer’s and Moderna’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccines over DNA-related safety concerns, despite the FDA reiterating that its research shows the vaccines are safe and outweigh the serious health risks associated with COVID-19. Ladapo, who has previously expressed concerns over the safety and effectiveness of the COVID vaccines, is questioning whether the mRNA shots could possibly deliver DNA contaminants into human cells. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told Ladapo in a Dec. 14 letter that no SV40 proteins, a DNA virus, “are encoded for or are present in the vaccines” and that animal studies found “no evidence for genotoxicity from the vaccine.”

Joesph Ladapo continues to rail against COVID vaccines.

Florida Republicans troll Kamala Harris with slavery education bill” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Legislation filed in the Senate and House would put a partisan spin on teaching about one of America’s most brutal historical eras — and the bill title targets the current Vice President of the United States. The so-called Kamala Harris Truth in Slavery Teaching Act (SB 1192, HB 1139) contemplates “requiring instruction on the history of African Americans to include a comprehensive account of the sociopolitical circumstances surrounding slavery, including which political parties supported slavery by adopting pro-slavery tenets as part of their platform, etc.” Sponsors make it clear that the legislative intent would be to make it clear that Southern Democrats were key to promulgating human suffrage, with the Senate sponsor noting the Vice President’s own ironic inspiration for the bill.

Florida politicians may unleash the next generation of payday lenders” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — The earned wage access (EWA) industry appears to have three key goals: 1) To get EWA advances explicitly exempted from any existing lending laws and the consumer protections that come along with them; 2) To ensure EWA companies can charge unlimited fees on their loans; and 3) To allow them to charge those fees in opaque and often-misleading, ways — such as by soliciting “tips” that serve only to further pad a company’s profits. The Florida legislation — House Bill 1009, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf, and Senate Bill 1146, sponsored by Sen. Jay Trumbull — accomplishes all three goals for the industry. While many earned-wage access companies say that their service is available for free, the truth is that most borrowers usually end up paying fees — a lot of them.

Lawmakers propose steeper punishments for online child predators, push for automatic internet filters” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sen. Blaise Ingoglia is teaming up with two fellow Republicans in the House to crack down on internet predation and hold manufacturers of mobile devices more accountable for child safety. Ingoglia and his collaborators filed a pair of proposals to improve online protections for Florida minors. One measure focuses on punishment and adding guardrails. The other would create a funding source local police could tap for web-based sting operations. “These two bills will give law enforcement the tools they need in order to put online child predators behind bars for a long, long time,” Ingoglia said. “Keeping these lowlifes off the street and having them on the sex offender registry will help ensure our children are protected from the ever-present harms of social media platforms.”

A Florida bill geared toward working teens is raising concerns” via Daylina Miller of WUSF — A bill filed in the Florida Legislature would expose teens to technical and skilled trade opportunities as an alternative to college and professional careers. The bill, however, could also expose them to more dangerous work conditions. Senate Bill 460 would allow teens ages 16 and 17 to work at heights over 6 feet if they earn a safety certificate and are supervised. It’s designed to give them an alternative to college and professional career paths. Holly Bullard, with the Florida Policy Institute — which is analyzing the bills — calls it a “poison bill.” “There’s no guarantee that the supervisor is actually going to be there the entire time while a person is on the ladder or on the roof,” Bullard said.

Florida’s economy could withstand potential economic slowdown in 2024, UCF economist says” via Ryan Lynch of the Orlando Business Journal — The U.S. economy may be headed for a slowdown in 2024, but Florida is prepared for it, according to a University of Central Florida economist. Sean Snaith in his Fall 2023 forecast UCF’s Institute for Economic Forecasting said that in the four-year period, the U.S. could see a slowdown starting in 2024. The director of the institute said one factor bringing that on is that over two years cost of living has outpaced wage growth and eroded some households’ spending power. There’s less pandemic-era stimulus funding left and some Americans are facing gaps in their budget. “The consumer that has been propped up before is going to show some fatigue and cut back on some spending here or there,” Snaith said. “That is largely going to keep economic growth smaller.”

The sked

9 a.m. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets to discuss tobacco taxes and money from a legal settlement with the tobacco industry. Room 117, Knott Building.

1:30 p.m. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets to examine gross-receipts tax and the communications services tax. Room 117, Knott Building.

Happening today — Reps. Kevin Chambliss and Hillary Cassel will hold an online town hall meeting to discuss issues affecting homeowners: 6:30 p.m. Zoom link here. Meeting ID: 91795642161. Code: 187747.


Happening Monday:


‘Floridians need an advocate’: Richard Gentry announces run for HD 27” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gentry announced he’s running for an open seat representing House District 27. The Republican promised a focus on affordable housing and growth management. “As more people relocate to our great state, we must find ways to grow smarter, make Florida more affordable and get government working for the people again,” Gentry said. The conservative lawyer is no stranger to Tallahassee. He served for two years as Florida Public Counsel, a Legislature-appointed position representing ratepayers before the Public Service Commission. He promised to bring the same conservative values to the House and to continue acting as a watchdog for the public’s pocketbook. “Now, more than ever, Floridians need an advocate to protect their purses as well as their values. I will be that conservative voice,” Gentry said.

Out of stock: Cup kerfuffle latest political break from the Christian, Bridget Ziegler brand” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Florida as of Tuesday sold mugs displaying a Christian Ziegler quote: “Stand with parents, not perverts.” But after images went viral, the merchandise disappeared from the party’s online shop. The change came weeks after a Spotify channel for the Leadership Institute deleted all episodes of its “Learn Right” podcast hosted by Bridget Ziegler. Amid salacious headlines about threesomes, voyeurism and rape allegations, the first casualty in a Sarasota casualty has been the Zieglers’ brand. “It’s simply a PR crisis for the party, which had to cut ties to the Zieglers because the negative publicity is too damaging,” said Carol Osborne, a University of South Florida professor and director of the Zimmerman Advertising Program there.

Some merch is poorly thought through.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

SEC accuses developer who had Miami Mayor on payroll of fleecing millions from investors” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — The SEC has frozen the bank accounts of a politically connected developer and accused him in a lawsuit of fleecing millions of dollars from dozens of investors in his South Florida real estate projects, as well as failing to pay more than $1 million in federal payroll taxes. The federal agency filed suit against former Location Ventures CEO Rishi Kapoor under seal in Miami on Dec. 27 and then quietly obtained a judge’s order freezing his bank accounts and properties to preserve his remaining assets to help pay back investors who sank tens of millions of dollars into residential projects. The order requires Kapoor to provide the court with a “sworn accounting” of all of his funds, assets and other property, which includes a $6 million waterfront home in Cocoplum already facing foreclosure.

Tourist mecca Miami Beach weighs a hotels moratorium” via Janetssy Lugo of Miami Today — Miami Beach is considering a moratorium on adding hotel rooms. A discussion headed to the City Commission’s Land Use and Sustainability Committee is to weigh the repeal of floor area ratio incentives for hotel developments, a cap on hotel rooms based on zoning districts, and a recently enacted New York model for addressing the limits on approvals for hotels. The City Commission approved a study researching the correct balance of residents and hospitality in Miami Beach in December 2021. “The reason why I commissioned this study is [because] I think that you hit a fine line when you cross over a certain amount of hotel rooms versus residential, and studies like this have been done in other communities. … I wanted to get this presentation and have a robust discussion. We might have to recommission this study,” said Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez. “I think it’s a very different Commission,” she said.

Kristen Rosen Gonzalez suggests another study on capping hotel rooms in Miami Beach.

Judge delays ruling on motion to dismiss charges against Palm Beach Central High principal” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Following a tense round of questioning, a Palm Beach County judge declined to rule on a motion to dismiss the case against the former principal of Palm Beach Central High School. Principal Darren Edgecomb was one of five staff members arrested in July on charges of failure to report the sexual abuse of a student at the school. He waited three days while he conducted his own investigation before reporting the allegations to the Department of Children and Families, according to court documents. Judge Scott Suskauer told attorneys during Wednesday’s motion hearing that he might rule on the motion during Thursday’s calendar call but that they should let him know if they’re prepared to begin a jury trial on Monday.

Jupiter marks new year by opening new $24.7M Town Hall building to residents” via Maya Washburn of the Palm Beach Post — Residents can now pay utility bills, meet with staff members or apply for permits at Jupiter’s new Town Hall. The new site stands just northwest of the old building at Jupiter’s municipal complex on Military Trail south of Indiantown Road. Built at a cost of $24.7 million, it has 42,000 square feet of space and is constructed to withstand Category 4 hurricane-force winds, which the old building was not, a town spokesperson said. The new building also includes a new community room, where some public meetings will be held, and an overflow room for Town Council meetings if the chambers become too packed.

Delray Beach rolls out preliminary $100M long-term plan for bicyclists, pedestrians” via Jasmine Fernández of the Palm Beach Post — Delray Beach may soon become a much more walking and bicycling-friendly city. For the past two years, city leaders have been working on a plan to improve mobility for pedestrians and cyclists. The result was a proposed Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan presented to the city’s Planning and Zoning Board. Technical analyses and public input were the key components in the master planning process, said Vikas Jain of TYLin International, the engineering firm behind the plan. “It really boils down to creating a pedestrian bicycle network throughout the city, which is safe, convenient and connected,” Jain said. And it would aim to benefit residents of all ages and abilities, he added.

New suspensions and complaints concerning office surgery centers from Miami to Palm Beach” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — Eight licensed office surgery centers, spanning from Miami to Palm Beach, were hit in December with either suspensions or administrative complaints, which may end with suspension. Both the suspensions and the complaints come from the Florida Department of Health, although the time from violations to punitive actions can vary — some of the suspensions are based on inspections from 2021. Office surgery centers aren’t hospitals. If something goes very wrong, the facility has to be equipped to handle the situation until emergency medical services can arrive and get the patient to a nearby hospital where there’s a transfer agreement or the surgeon has staff privileges.

Margate calls for investigation into Police Chief’s text messages” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Margate’s Police Chief may be investigated for his alleged involvement in text messages that were considered “inappropriate.” Allegations first surfaced about a month ago, when a police officer claimed Chief Joseph Galaska had sent an inappropriate text but supplied no evidence, said Mayor Tommy Ruzzano. But when a copy surfaced, Commissioners acted, Ruzzano said. City officials offered no details on the contents, how many text messages were sent, or how many members in the police department are involved, citing the pending investigation. The City Commission recently agreed to allow the City Manager to hire an outside investigator to pursue the case.

Joseph Galaska faces backlash for inappropriate texts.

Fares are back for Miami-Dade transit riders, plus free Uber rides on scrapped routes” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The free rides have ended for most of Miami-Dade County’s buses and trains, leaving the transit system to see how many new passengers will stick around when required to pay the full $2.25 fare. Miami-Dade launched a seven-week fare holiday in mid-November to promote a new route map and schedule for its bus system, a redesign that launched the same day as the “Better Bus Network.” The fare waiver ended on Jan. 1, but ridership tallies for November and December aren’t yet available. “Anecdotally, I think it was a great way for new people to use and retry the system with the new routes and frequencies in place,” said Shaan Patel, a Board member at Transit Alliance Miami.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Altamonte Springs bans overnight camping in public places” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Altamonte Springs Commissioners unanimously voted to ban overnight camping on public property, such as sidewalks or government parking lots, as the Seminole County city joins local governments across the region struggling with how to deal with a growing number of homeless individuals. City officials said the camping ban was initially sparked by their frustration with a homeless man who would often set up bedding, grills and gym equipment on sidewalks along busy thoroughfares. Authorities, however, would not enforce the ban if the area’s homeless shelters are full for the night, according to the ordinance.

2 more Florida local officials resign over new financial disclosure law” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Two more City Council members resigned just before the new year citing a new state law mandating a more stringent financial disclosure form than in previous years. William O’Connor and Casandra Jones of Orange City say Form 6, which has been used by state and county elected officials in the past, asks questions too invasive to disclose publicly for them to continue to serve. O’Connor, first elected in 2016, is also a candidate for Mayor. He had not pulled out of that race as of Tuesday. He said in his resignation letter he had a “heavy heart and a bit of disgust in our Tallahassee legislators.”

William O’Connor and Casandra Jones are fed up.

Osceola Sheriff announces policy, personnel shake-ups following decision not to indict deputies in Jayden Baez killing” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Osceola County Sheriff Marcos López said he will make changes in policy and personnel in his department following a grand jury decision not to charge two deputies over the controversial killing of Jayden Baez in a Target parking lot. One policy change would be to limit the use of “boxing” — officers stationing their vehicles around a suspect’s vehicle to block its movement — only to incidents involving felony crimes. Deputies boxed Baez’s car and then shot him as he tried to drive away from the April 2022 encounter along with two companions who were said to have stolen $46 in pizza and Pokémon cards from Target, which would be a misdemeanor.

In activist battle, Disney reveals its own reinforcements ahead of shareholder meeting” via Georg Szalai of The Hollywood Reporter — In the latest turn in a pitched activist investor battle, Disney secured the backing of shareholder and Mason Morfit-led investment firm ValueAct Capital Management as CEO Bob Iger looks to fend off a challenge from an activist investor, a former Disney CFO and an ousted Marvel mogul. Disney and ValueAct have entered into a “confidentiality agreement that enables the company to provide information to the investment firm and consult with ValueAct on strategic matters, including through meetings with the Disney Board and management,” the company said. As part of the announcement of the arrangement, ValueAct also confirmed that it would support the Disney slate of nominees for the company’s Board of Directors at Disney’s upcoming annual shareholder meeting.

Volusia County development moratorium heads to County Council on Thursday” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — The first of two key hearings on a development moratorium that will affect the future of the proposed fuel terminal in Ormond Beach will be held on Thursday. The Volusia County Council will consider a development moratorium on land with a heavy industrial zoning designation. The moratorium affects 874 Hull Road where Belvedere Terminals plans to build a fuel storage and distribution facility. Most of the land at that site is zoned for heavy industrial. The County Council will take up the issue at Thursday’s regular meeting, which will begin at 9 a.m. at county government headquarters at 123 W. Indiana Ave. in DeLand.

Palm Bay’s Sacrifice Park gets county funding, even without requested economic impact study” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Palm Bay has received a Brevard County tourism grant of $250,000, toward the city’s planned Sacrifice Park memorial dedicated to first responders even though city officials did not provide an independent economic impact study that Commissioners had requested. Instead, the city changed its plan to one that it says is more tourism-oriented and asked for a tourism grant from the tourism marketing fund, which does not require an economic impact study. Palm Bay Deputy City Manager Juliet Misconi said the project will include either an event pavilion or an amphitheater where events could be held.


Bruce Bartlett, Chris Sprowls endorse Adam Ross for Pinellas Tax Collector” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Southeast Politics — Pinellas County State Attorney Bartlett and former House Speaker Sprowls are offering their support for Ross in his bid for Pinellas County Tax Collector. Ross is a former Assistant State Attorney for Pinellas and Pasco counties and now serves as Executive Director in the Office of the State Attorney. He is running to succeed current Tax Collector Charles Thomas, who announced just before Christmas that he would not seek re-election and immediately endorsed Ross as his preferred successor. With a new year underway, Ross is gathering support for his bid.

More big names are lining up behind Adam Ross.

Nick DiCeglie backs Chris Scherer for Pinellas County Commission” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Southeast Politics — Sen. DiCeglie is endorsing Chris Scherer for Pinellas County Commission. Scherer is running for the open Pinellas County Commission in District 1 seat. Incumbent Janet Long, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election. Scherer is a Republican, while Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy is running as a Democrat. “Chris Scherer understands that more government is never the solution when it comes to the prosperity of our families and businesses,” DiCeglie said.

Revamped Ringling Circus returns to Tampa: Here’s what to expect” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut down in 2017, a victim of changing entertainment tastes and years of protests by animal-rights groups. But now owner Feld Entertainment, based in a sprawling Ellenton headquarters in Manatee County, has resurrected and revamped the iconic show with a new animal-free tour that arrives at Tampa’s Amalie Arena for a three-day run Jan. 5-7. It features aerial acts, a new take on clowns and no performing animals — except for a robot dog named Bailey. “We’ve spent several years now thinking and imagining what could be possible,” CEO Juliette Feld Grossman announced at a preview of the new version of the circus this Fall at the 600,000-square-foot Feld Entertainment complex.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Council President says general counsel’s legal advice on monument erodes trust” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council members grilled city General Counsel Michael Fackler about his legal advice that Mayor Donna Deegan could use private fundraising for removing Confederate statues from Springfield Park, an opinion that President Ron Salem challenged repeatedly and said makes it harder to trust the Office of General Counsel. Fackler, who was confirmed by the City Council as general counsel on Dec. 12, said he stands behind his legal guidance that Deegan did not need City Council approval for removing two statues last week from the Confederate monument. The Office of General Counsel acts as a law firm for the entire consolidated government of Jacksonville, so it is one of the most powerful positions in the city when it comes to giving legal guidance.

Michael Fackler gives legal backup for removing the last Confederate statue in Jacksonville.

Donna Deegan outfoxed and outshined City Council on confederate monument question” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — In dismantling Jacksonville’s last remaining confederate monument, and doing so without input from the City Council, Deegan relied on a potent and controversial tool that has been a cornerstone of executive power in the city for decades: the Office of General Counsel. Counsel Fackler blessed Deegan’s move to unilaterally take down the confederate monument in Springfield Park using private money, ending years of stalemate as the City Council failed to hold a final vote either endorsing or ending the statue’s presence.

Stanley Sims sues city of Tallahassee, claims First Amendment violations” via Arianna Otero of the Tallahassee Democrat — Persistent City Hall critic Sims has sued the city of Tallahassee, saying officials there, including City Manager Reese Goad, have violated his First Amendment rights. His lawsuit, filed last month in Leon Circuit Civil court, seeks “monetary damages, declaratory judgment and legal, equitable and injunctive relief.” The complaint lists over 30 specific instances, including an email sent by Goad to city employees in 2020, telling them they should not communicate directly or interact with Sims. It also says Goad once banned him from City Hall before saying he could come in but only for “public meetings.” Indeed, the complaint says he once had a “good relationship” with city employees, especially since his wife worked there, but that the relationship began to sour once Goad was appointed in 2018.

Two-story Bayou Chico ‘monstrosity’ secured at boat repair dock days before removal deadline” via Mollye Barrows of the Pensacola News Journal — A two-story floating structure that has been an eyesore and a safety concern to property and business owners on Bayou Chico for months has a temporary home. It’s now secured at Bell Marine Services. Crews at the boat repair shop on Bayou Chico helped the owner move and moor the “monstrosity,” as neighbors call it, days ahead of a county deadline to remove the homemade shanty. The owner of the vessel was cited by Escambia County Code Enforcement under a new ordinance that Commissioners passed in September that prohibits anchoring, mooring or otherwise affixing a floating structure upon, or to, county waters. In December, a county magistrate ordered the owner to remove it from Bayou Chico by Jan. 5.

Gulfarium welcomes dolphins to the new Dolphin Oasis ahead of Spring opening” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — After two years of construction, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are currently acclimating to the new 2.2-acre, 1.042-million-gallon exhibit known as the Dolphin Oasis at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park on Okaloosa Island. “Our staff and longtime supporters are thrilled to see Dolphin Oasis come to fruition,” said Gulfarium Senior Vice President Patrick Berry in a news release. “We have been working on this expansion for many years, and witnessing our dolphins acclimate in their new home is better than we ever could have imagined. We cannot wait to welcome guests to Dolphin Oasis soon.”


Officials in Manatee County resign in response to new Florida financial disclosure law” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Two of Manatee County’s elected officials have resigned from office in response to a new law that requires more stringent financial reporting for city government leaders. Senate Bill 774, titled “Ethics Requirements for Public Officials,” passed during the 2023 Legislative Session, requiring city officials to complete Form 6 — the same form that elected county and state officials have been required to complete for several decades. Previously, elected city officials were subject to less comprehensive disclosure requirements than state and county elected officials and were not required to disclose their net worth.

More casualties from the new municipal finance reporting rules.

GET ANOTHER JOB: Lee GOP gives its two cents on Cape Council stipend” via Colton Chavez of Fox 4 — There’s more pushback against a decision Cape Coral City Council members made in December to give themselves an additional $40,000 and the Mayor $60,000 more per year. First, a petition circulated demanding the Council reverse it. Now the Republican Party of Lee County is asking for the same. “The residents of Cape Coral get to decide on the salary for the City Council members and the Mayor,” said Michael Thompson, Chair of the Lee Republican Executive Committee.They don’t get to make that decision unilaterally.” Council member Tom Hayden said the raises in a growing city. “The stipend now allows me to devote … pretty much all my time to Council duties,” he said.

Fort Myers workers call for removal of City Manager and Assistant City Manager” via WINK News — City employees sent an open letter to Council members imploring them to remove the City Manager Marty Lawing and Assistant City Manager John Lege immediately. The letter accuses the City Manager and the Assistant City Manager of creating an environment of “Fear and retaliation.” They warn the City Council that “morale is at the lowest it’s ever been in the city.” Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said he read the letter and disagreed with it. “I went back, and I started reviewing the City Manager’s evaluation from last year, “he said. “And they’re good. There’s nothing that supports what’s been said in that letter … And I was really taken aback by those accusations.”

Collier County planners to consider residential development with affordable housing” via J. Kyle Foster of the Naples Daily News — A proposed multifamily rental community off Immokalee Road would have a minimum of 650-square-foot homes with 30% of the 305 units reserved for affordable housing. The property is adjacent to a charter school and LaMorada community to the west, the Ventana Pointe residential project to the east and the Calusa Pines Golf Club to the south, according to planning records. On Thursday, the Collier County Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss a proposed rezoning of the property to Planned Unit Development from Agriculture and an amendment to the Future Land Use Element to create an overlay district to allow for the multifamily community.

Southwest Florida braces for population surge as Lee County nears 1 million residents” via Zuri Hoffman of NBC 2 — Data from The University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research and the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the county gained over 200,000 residents in just 13 years. By the end of the next year, projections indicate that the population could surpass 900,000, with the 1 million mark on the horizon for 2030.

Accused bomb maker appears in Lee County court” via WINK News — Lee County man Michael Maree is being held on $100,000 bond for possibly making or possessing a bomb. He appeared in court Wednesday for one count of possessing, making or attempting to make a destructive device. The State also explained to the court that there was an ongoing investigation on Maree for a homicide related to a drug overdose in his own backyard.

Nonprofit complete purchase of 4 lots for Florida scrub-jay habitat in Charlotte County” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Environmental Conservancy of North Port was successful in raising funds to buy four lots in the Harbour Heights area of Charlotte County for preservation as habitat for the Florida scrub-jay. The nonprofit closed on the $17,050 purchase on Dec. 29, covering the cost of buying Lots 17 and 18 in Middle Terrace for $8,775 and Lots 20 and 2 off Dumont Drive for $8,275. All the funds were raised through private donations, including one $10,000 donation and a $3,000 donation from Sarasota County residents; $1,000 donations from residents from Matlacha in Lee County and Deep Creek, as well as $500 donations from people in Sarasota County and Port Charlotte.


DeSantis: Immigrants are overwhelming us; I will control the border” via the Des Moines Register — The crisis is with the millions of illegal aliens pouring into our country, overwhelming local jurisdictions and escaping accountability. And without the ability to control our border, we lose our sovereignty as a nation.

This crisis has reached unprecedented levels under Biden, who has failed to fulfill his constitutional oath to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Biden would not have been able to get away with letting in 8 million illegal aliens if we had a border wall — something Trump promised but failed to deliver.

On Day One of my presidency, I will declare a national emergency and shut down all illegal entries. Phony asylum claims aimed at bypassing proper immigration processes will no longer be entertained. I will end the abuse of parole authority being used to usher in thousands of illegal immigrants monthly. And I will fully empower Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport those with no legitimate right to be here.

I will build the wall and I will make Mexico pay for it. Here’s how I’ll get this done: Charge fees on remittances that foreign nationals working in the U.S. send abroad. We will collect those fees — totaling billions of dollars a year — and use them to finance the wall.

In addition, I will ensure that states have the authority to enforce immigration laws — something that will serve as a force multiplier for our efforts.

Finally, we will deport the millions of migrants released into every corner of this nation by empowering our ICE agents, streamlining the court process, and adamantly insisting our existing immigration laws are followed.


This is how I will end Biden’s border disaster on Day One” via Donald Trump for the Des Moines Register — The most urgent task facing the next President is to end Biden’s nation-wrecking nightmare on our southern border. I am the only candidate who will stop this invasion and I will do it on Day One. Under the Trump administration, we had the most secure border in U.S. history. We ended catch-and-release and removed over 1 million illegal aliens in my first term. I negotiated unprecedented agreements with Central American nations and brokered “Remain in Mexico” to stop the flow of migrants to our border. I also got the Mexican government to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the border free of charge. Every step of the way, we fought obstructionist left-wing judges and radical Democrat activists who tried to stop us — and we won.

The resignation of Harvard’s president is a chance for schools to learn” via The Washington Post editorial board — In a less turbulent time, the ouster under pressure of an Ivy League college president would have been a major story. In the current political and cultural maelstrom, the resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay feels even bigger than that. The proximate cause of Ms. Gay’s downfall appears to have been mounting academic plagiarism allegations against her. Like last month’s resignation of Gay’s counterpart Liz Magill at the University of Pennsylvania, her departure is nothing to celebrate. Harvard’s failing, and that of its peer institutions can be summarized in a single word: inconsistency.

Florida’s conservation easements are helping to preserve rural lands” via Artis Henderson of Gulfshore Business — Conservation easements are a good deal for the state of Florida. They help maximize the state’s conservation footprint while keeping the maintenance costs with the landowners. They partner with agencies to protect Florida’s natural resources and water quality. In a perfect world, the state would simply buy more conservation lands outright. But the limiting factor is money: There’s never enough of it. In order for Florida to achieve its conservation goals — including preserving habitats where endangered species live — it needs a mix of both public and private lands. That’s where conservation easements come in.


— ALOE —

Naked, pot-smoking drifter found dead on killer whale at SeaWorld | A Weirdlando tale from 1999” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — “Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back” That’s a headline that’s sure to grab attention, and it did back in July 1999 when it ran at the top of an Orlando Sentinel front page. A 27-year-old man described as a marijuana-smoking drifter hid in SeaWorld until it closed and decided to go swimming with the largest killer whale in captivity, a 22-footer named Tilikum. A park employee found the man, whose identity wasn’t immediately known, dead, naked and draped over the back of a whale named Tillikum early in the morning of July 8, 1999. The man’s swimming suit was found in the whale’s tank, and it was later determined to have been pulled off along with some of the man’s anatomy by Tilikum.

A blast from the past.


Happy birthday to my birthday twins Razi Amador Fink, David Geller, Sandy Mortham, Mary Caroline Mica, Erin Moffet and Sydney Ridley of The Southern Group.


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.

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