Takeaways from Tallahassee — Tally goes orange and blue

Blue Tally Takeaways (5)
Valentine's Day at the Capitol is all about showing your love for the Gators.

Red and pink are the traditional Valentine’s Day colors, but this year the Capitol will be teeming with orange and blue.

Wednesday is Gator Day, the University of Florida’s once-a-Session chance to highlight its contributions to the state — and there are so many that one day seems hardly enough, let alone the 10 a.m.-to-2 p.m. block set aside for official festivities on the first three floors of the statehouse.

UF has long been a Top 10 public university according to U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, and it broke into the Top 5 a couple of years ago. Better still, The Wall Street Journal recently ranked it as the No. 1 public university nationwide.

The state’s flagship school, of course, has an athletic brand and mascot known worldwide. UF has scored three football titles and three Heisman trophies, and three out of four sports drinks sold worldwide bear the name Gatorade.

Presumably, the other quarter is consumed by Florida State fans, who jealously assert one of their guys came up with the formula first. (Perhaps if they drop that conspiracy, UF homers could stop reminding them that The School Out West was “The University of Florida at Tallahassee” before it was FSU.)

While UF’s gridiron success has waned over the past 15 years, it’s more than made up for it in other areas.

University of Florida faculty conducted a record $1.25 billion in research in fiscal year 2023, a nearly 15% increase over 2022 and up 80% over the past decade. The list of UF research accomplishments is immense — some great Gators developed the glaucoma drug Trusopt, the feline AIDS vaccine, the Sentricon termite control system, and more.

The fruits of UF research are in every home … literally. A UF MOCVD lab helped develop the blue LED, a Nobel-prize-winning invention without which no flat-screen TV would function.

In all kinds of weather, Gators all stick together. Image via UF.

The Gator Nation truly is everywhere, huh? Even the capital city. And especially Wednesday, when UF President Ben Sasse, UF Board of Trustees members, UF Alumni Association President Barbie Tilman, Head Football Coach Billy Napier, quarterback Graham Mertz and linebacker Shemar James will all be roaming the halls.

Expect plenty of orange and blue in Committees and in the chambers, too. Sen. Gayle Harrell will take a rare break from wearing red suits and instead don Gator colors with pride.

“Florida is absolutely the No. 1 university in the state of Florida. There is no doubt. And having been a student there, I can tell you it’s set me up for everything I’ve done in my life,” she told Florida Politics, adding, “Go Gators!”

Sen. Blaise Ingoglia will be repping, too. Although the Spring Hill Republican and self-described “die-hard Gator” did not attend, he wouldn’t be in the Sunshine State without the University of Florida.

“When I originally moved to Florida, it was with the intent of going to UF. Then I wound up starting my own business as a way to help build up the cash to go to UF and the businesses just took off. So, UF was sort of like my home, although it wasn’t my home,” he said.

It might be presumptuous for us to speak on behalf of the UF admissions department, but we will anyway: “It’s never too late to enroll, Senator.”

When you arrive at the Capitol Wednesday, expect to see displays and information tables from various UF academic units, research centers and institutes, and student-focused programs. There will also be a farmers-market-type experience on the plaza level, provided by UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

FYI, no matter what county you live in, IFAS has an office a few miles down the road and they do a great job working in tandem with the state’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services to keep Florida’s ag economy booming.

“As Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, I am proud to recognize the University of Florida for its outstanding contributions to the past, present, and future of agriculture in our state and around the world. UF and its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are on the cutting edge of agricultural research, innovation, and education, and have led the way with applying artificial intelligence to address the challenges and opportunities facing Florida’s farmers, ranchers, and growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson said.

“I look forward to continued collaboration with UF to develop the next generation of agricultural leaders, who will be equipped with world-class skills, knowledge, and tools to ensure Florida agriculture continues to produce the most healthy, affordable, and abundant food supply in the world.”

The celebration will conclude with a sponsored luncheon, provided by the UF Alumni Association. The UF Bookstore will be offering an assortment of Gator Gear for sale. Additionally, the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s mobile health unit will be on-site to provide free health checks.

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Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel, and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Christine Jordan Sexton, Jesse Scheckner, and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

—Take 5 —

Abortion oral arguments — Some of the conservative Justices on the Florida Supreme Court this week sounded skeptical about blocking a proposed abortion rights amendment from the 2024 ballot. “It’s pretty obvious that this is a pretty aggressive, comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue,” Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz said, adding, “This doesn’t seem like this is trying to be deceptive.” Nearly a million voters signed petitions to get the amendment — which would protect abortion up to the point of viability — on the ballot. However, the high court has to review the amendment to ensure it sticks to a single subject and that the ballot summary is not misleading.

DeSantis yes on homeless sleeping ban — The Governor this week backed Sen. Jonathan Martin’s legislation (SB 1530) to ban counties and municipalities from permitting sleeping or camping on public property without explicit permission via temporary permits. Appearing in Miami Beach this week, DeSantis said the bill prevents Florida from becoming San Francisco. The Governor said the “homelessness and the drugs and the crime” have adversely impacted “law-abiding people,” not just in San Francisco but also in Los Angeles. “We’re not going to let any city turn into a San Francisco,” he vowed.

Abhorrent to everybody’? — Senate President Kathleen Passidomo isn’t a fan of SB 1122 or the behavior of some of its supporters. The bill prohibits local governments from dismantling monuments to Confederates, the Confederacy, and other historical markers. While the bill cleared the Senate Community Affairs Committee, Democrats on the panel walked out before the vote after some of the bill’s proponents this week said the measure was necessary to protect “White society” from a culture war.

Budget time — The House and Senate each passed budgets for the 2024-25 fiscal year and will soon start holding Conference Committees to iron out outstanding differences. Both House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Passidomo expressed optimism about reaching an agreement on the budget and ending the Session on time. Still, there are plenty of items where the two sides are not in agreement, including spending on teacher salaries, prisons and state worker retirement benefits.

Agreement on Live Healthy money — A leading House Republican this week said, as amended, the House’s Live Healthy proposal now matches up with the Senate’s version of the bill when it comes to Medicaid spending increases, graduate medical education and student loan programs. Following this week’s House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, HB 1549 bill sponsor Rep. Michael Grant told Florida Politics that the amendment made the overall funding level identical and that the spending amounts in the various programs also are identical. The agreement came right before the chambers voted out their respective spending plans for fiscal year 2024-25.

— Half-time score —

Midway through the 2024 Legislative Session, public affairs agency Moore has released its annual “Session on Social” rankings showing which lawmakers have the most traction on social media.

Though Democrats hold a superminority in both chambers, they remain a dominating force on X and Facebook.

Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando was the far-and-away No. 1, with a whopping 14.1 million impressions on X across 153 tweets. She likewise held the top spot on Facebook with 21,000-plus engagements on 347 posts.

Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon held a distant second place on X, with 4.9 million impressions, followed by Sen. Shevrin Jones, also a Democrat, at 1.3 million. No other lawmaker cracked seven figures on the site formerly known as Twitter. Rep. Chip LaMarca posted the GOP’s top showing with about 633,000 impressions.

If one sets aside Eskamani’s curve-breaking stats, the battle was closer on Meta’s premier platform. The No. 2 overall on Facebook was Republican Sen. Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills at 1,800 engagements, followed by Port Orange GOP Rep. Chase Tramont at 1,700 or so.

Rep. Rita Harris was the next-highest Democrat behind Eskamani with about 1,500 impressions.

— Surf safe —

The internet is full of people and phony businesses that love stealing money, but there are ways to keep your cash safer.

That’s the thrust behind Safer Internet Day, an awareness effort launched 21 years ago by the European Union. It was held Tuesday this year, but if you didn’t celebrate the day of, don’t worry, Attorney General Ashley Moody has a tip sheet that will get you up to speed on the core points.

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center data shows more than 42,000 Floridians lost a combined total of nearly $845 million to cybercrime in 2022. Many of those thefts could have been prevented with a little knowledge.

The internet can be a costly series of tubes if you don’t know what to look out for. Image via AP.

Moody’s office has prepared several “Scams at a Glance” resources that provide overviews of some of the most prevalent online scams and how to avoid them. Some topics in the back catalog: Identity Theft, Tech Support, E-Commerce Cons, and Cryptocurrency. There are plenty more, too.

The Attorney General has a Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit, and though they’re hard at work, they’d prefer you not add to their caseload unnecessarily, so she’s urging Floridians to take these issues seriously.

“We are fighting cyber fraud on many fronts, but one of the best ways to stop crime online is to equip Floridians with the tools and resources needed to avoid falling prey. On Safer Internet Day, I am highlighting our ‘Scams at a Glance’ resources to help Floridians across our state stay safe online,” Moody said.

— Fire drill —

Whenever a holiday, cold weather or major sporting event comes around, you can count on Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis to don his State Fire Marshal hat.

In case you haven’t heard, Super Bowl LVIII — that’s 58 for non-Latin speakers — is this weekend, and more than a few Floridians will be breaking out their fryers, smokers and grills to prep some deliciously unhealthy food for friends (and loose acquaintances) to munch on while they feign interest in the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

Chips, dip, salsa, wings, beer and more are likely already on most shopping lists. Patronis would be delighted if you added a fire extinguisher or some 9-volt batteries for your smoke detector. At the very least, hit the test button and check your extinguisher’s “born on” date. They do expire, you know.

Fire extinguishers: The perfect complement to that tax-free gas stove you bought last year. Stock image via Adobe.

“As you cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs or the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVIII this Sunday, don’t let the big game party turn into a fire tragedy. Super Bowl parties are a great time to spend with family and friends, but the fun can go away ‘swiftly’ if a fire breaks out,” said Patronis, who has taken up for Taylor Swift fans on an occasion or two.

“Before your guests arrive, test your smoke detectors and treat them like a pregame warmup. Make sure you have an escape plan and practice it with your family like football drills to get everyone on the same page. Lastly, don’t fumble with grease fires! Use a lid to smother them and always have a fire extinguisher nearby when cooking or grilling out. By following a few fire safety tips, you can help ensure a fire won’t blitz your Super Bowl party.”

Other evergreen fire-safety tips: Kids and pets have a knack for knocking over anything that’s dangerous or expensive, so keep your eyes on them; don’t place highly flammable decorations next to heat sources; and don’t overload electrical outlets with a rat’s nest of extension cords.

To the last point, don’t be a cheapskate — a 10- or 12-gauge extension cord is only a few bucks more than the flimsy ones and they’re safer and last a lot longer, too.

— Instagram of the week —

—The week in appointments —

Florida Talent Development Council — DeSantis has appointed David Clark to the Florida Talent Development Council. Clark, of Havana, is the chief executive officer of MyGovGuide and the Managing Partner of Allegiant Strategies Group. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he previously served as DeSantis’ Deputy Chief of Staff and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Tallahassee Collegiate Academy. Clark earned his bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business management from Flagler College, his master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University and his MBA from Queen’s University.

— Deuces Live gets the nod —

Secretary of State Cord Byrd designated Deuces Live Main Street in St. Petersburg as the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for February 2024.

St. Petersburg’s 22nd Street, dubbed “The Deuces” traces its heritage back to 1868, when Black people first settled in the St. Petersburg area. In the 1930s, the community hosted entertainers such as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, and James Brown.

During its peak in the early 1960s, the community was home to 111 businesses, with estimates indicating that up to 75% of those businesses were Black-owned.

Construction of Interstate 275 in the 1970s blighted the once-thriving Black neighborhood.

Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy, were influential in The Deuces renaissance. The former owners of Chief’s Creole Café, the couple refocused their efforts on providing affordable housing for local essential workers.

The Florida Department of State is recognizing the Deuces Live revive. Image via DeucesLive.org.

The Deuces Live, Inc., the nonprofit organization reviving the historic neighborhood, has worked tirelessly in its revitalization efforts of the commercial corridor to create a vibrant community that attracts businesses and consumers while preserving its history and heritage. was accepted into the Florida Main Street program in 2001.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded Deuces Live with the 2020 “Our Town” grant. Phase 1 of the grant involved developing a new gateway signage to attract visitors to the area.

There have been 42 new net businesses opened within the district, adding 203 new net part-time and full-time jobs.

“The Deuces neighborhood today is a testament to the resiliency of its founding residents,” Byrd said. “The district’s long-standing traditions in food and entertainment, among others, form a solid historical foundation for the future of the community.”

— Pay the attorneys —

Florida is contending with a spate of lawsuits, leading the House to include $15 million for litigation expenses in the budget it passed off the floor Thursday.

Some Democrats take issue with the amount and the need for it in the first place, as much of the expenses go toward defending laws they object to, including an election law restricting ballot boxes for mail votes; a ban on diversity, equity and inclusion programs in higher education; and a crackdown on Big Tech firms who boot candidates for office off their platforms, to name a few.

Pictured: A gesture you will never see from attorneys defending controversial state legislation.

The Senate budget is similar to the House’s when it comes to litigation expenses, but their version includes just $3 million for the Department of State, which oversees elections, while the House has $5 million.

During the debate on the spending plan, House Democrats also asked House Budget Chief Tom Leek how much will be set aside for lawsuits where Florida is the plaintiff.

Florida filed suit against the federal government last week, alleging the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services exceeded its authority in telling the state it couldn’t boot children off the Medicaid rolls if their parents don’t pay premiums for the children’s health insurance program.

Leek said litigation expenses are separated that way in the budget.

— Bipartisan love for Grall pregnancy bill? —

Since first getting elected in 2016, Sen. Erin Grall has worked to eliminate abortions in the state, securing passage of the six-week abortion ban in 2023 and the 15-week abortion ban in 2021.

Her positions on abortion have put her at odds with some other female lawmakers who support abortion rights. But her latest pregnancy-related bill, SB 1442, has many of those same members singing her praises instead.

The bill establishes the Florida State Maternity Housing Grant Program within the Department of Health (DOH) to provide approved living arrangements and resources to Florida’s women and families experiencing homelessness during the prenatal period. The program is designed to assist approved persons in achieving residency via an alternative living arrangement for a period not to exceed eight months. It includes a maximum of six weeks of postpartum care.

It’s not often that Democrats praise one of Erin Grall’s bills, but they are fawning over her latest effort.

According to the staff analysis, more than half the people experiencing homelessness in January 2023 were in four states: California (28%), New York (16%), Florida (5%), and Washington (4%).

Between 2022 and 2023 the number of homeless people in Florida grew by 4,797, ranking Florida third in the nation for increases in homelessness behind New York and California.

“Housing insecurity can lead to higher risk pregnancies and higher rates of adverse health outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weights. This grant program will help families stay on their feet during the pregnancy and have better health outcomes as a result,” Grall said when introducing the bill to the Senate Health Policy Committee this week.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood praised the bill as the type of innovative policy she said, “will help people get a hand up, help meet their medical needs, help meet their housing needs.”

Sen. Tracie Davis agreed with Osgood and went further.

“Sen. Grall, I always take the time to make the comments when we usually see something concerning pregnancy and pregnancy services from you,” Davis said. “And normally, we are on opposite sides of that spectrum. But I have to agree with and concur with my colleague, Sen. Osgood, about the type of bill you put in front of us today.”

— No rollback —

Is there any chance of going back to how things were before President Donald Trump lost the election? When it comes to Florida election law, the answer would appear a resounding “no” — at least for now.

The meetings for the House Ethics, Elections and Open Government Subcommittee are over for this Session, so there’s no chance that a bill (HB 1035) that would repeal various aspects of recent changes to election law can clear its first Committee hurdle.

Both the House bill and a similar one in the Senate (SB 1522) would have rolled back changes that created an election police force and shortened how long vote-by-mail requests are valid, to name a few. Those changes were passed as the specter of election fraud became a legislative focus following the electoral loss of you-know-who to President Joe Biden.

Only one legislative Democrat, Rep. Lisa Dunkley of west Broward County, did not sign on to the legislation or its companion in the Senate.

But Rep. Katherine Waldron, representing central Palm Beach County, was not surprised the bill got the cold shoulder — despite the underwhelming number of cases the election police have been able to prosecute and the legal snafus that followed the prosecutions, or the difficulty Supervisors of Elections are experiencing in renewing expired vote-by-mail requests. (Broward County now has 135,000 requests for absentee ballots for the 2024 election compared to the 420,000 requests that were on file previously.)

“The Republican agenda doesn’t appear to be about voters’

Sorry, voters, you still need to renew your VBM requests.

rights,” Waldron said. “We’re still dealing with culture war issues and Governor’s pay.”

Still, the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. LeVon Bracy Davis held a rally this week to declare what these recent election law changes are really about: Suppressing votes, particularly those of Black and Brown voters.

“Why silence voices that demand to be heard? Why build a wall of division and separation?” she asked in front of a microphone with dozens holding signs and applauding behind her. “Why don’t you want Florida to be a voter-friendly state? Why are you scared? Are you afraid that when we vote with no intimidation or suppression tactics, that we will have the power to reshape the present landscape and the future of Florida because you know that when we vote, we win?”

Although the official bill text doesn’t say it, Bracy Davis said she’s naming her bill after Harry T. And Harriette Moore, largely regarded as martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement, who were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1951 when Florida had the most Black voters of any other Southern state.

She’ll be back with the bill that also makes Election Day a holiday and allows people to register to vote that day, also.

“There’s a whole community of potential voters who want to vote but they are afraid for their life and their liberty to vote,” Bracy Davis said.

— Drum roll, please —

What bills have garnered the most interest among some of the state’s lobbying elite?

A pair of proposals (SB 472/HB 569) to double the state’s sovereign immunity caps to $400,000 per individual and $600,000 per incident. In doing so the bill increases costs for local governments and government agencies, including hospitals.

That, says House bill sponsor Fiona McFarland, makes the bill untenable for the cities and counties.

“I don’t think there is any universe in which they support the bill,” McFarland told Florida Politics. “Quietly they’ve admitted that this is a pretty good deal.”

Fiona McFarland’s sovereign immunity proposal is the most tracked bill of Session. Photo via Florida House.

To get paid an amount above the cap, the Legislature must approve a claims bill, usually a contentious, and heavily lobbied, practice. The bills come at a time when Lawmakers are considering 10 claims bills in each chamber. One bill (HB 6007), which would pay $6.3 million to a woman injured in a 2019 motorcycle crash with a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy, awaits a vote on the House floor. Another (HB 6017) clearing $1.5 million to a Pasco County man who suffered permanent brain damage in a school bus collision received its first Committee hearing after more than a decade of going ignored.

McFarland’s bill has cleared two of its three Committees and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. The companion, filed by Sen. Jason Brodeur, cleared its first panel and has been referred to the Senate Appropriations and Senate Rules Committees.

The bills also abolish home venue privilege, thereby allowing a claimant to bring a suit against the state, its agency, or a subdivision thereof in the claimant’s home county, the county where the action accrued, or the county in which the property in litigation is located.

The other top 5 tracked bills on LobbyTools’ List of Top 20 Tagged Bills by Subscribers are Passidomo’s Live Healthy bills (SB 7016/SB 7018) and HB 433, regarding employment regulations.

And if you feel like you’ve been working hard, you have. According to LobbyTools, there had been 1,478 votes taken by the midway point of the Legislative Session. There were 1,205 amendments filed.

— Busted —

Fraud problems? Better call Saul!

Inspectors with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a paid petition circulator for petition fraud in Sumter, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties and an arrest warrant was issued for a second petition circulator.

George Edward Andrews III, 30, of Dade City, was arrested and booked into the Hernando County Jail on 10 felony counts each of criminal use of personal identification information, including signing another person’s name or a fictitious name to a petition.

An arrest warrant is also active for Jamie L. Johnson, 47, of Dade City. She is facing 10 felony counts each of criminal use of personal identification information and signing another person’s name or a fictitious name to a petition.

Don’t forge these. It’s a felony.

The investigation was launched after the suspects submitted 133 invalid constitutional amendment petitions in multiple counties across Florida.

The arrests were the result of an investigation led by FDLE’s Election Crime Unit (ECU) working with the Florida Department of State Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) and with assistance from local election supervisors.

FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said, “Our FDLE inspectors will investigate every allegation of voter fraud because our elections must remain free from those willing to commit fraud at the expense of all voters.”

Secretary of State Byrd added, “Florida’s Constitution is a sacred document and there is a lawful method by which voters can make amendments. However, when criminals seek to circumvent that process fraudulently, this is an affront to Floridians and the sanctity of our laws, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that Floridians and our Constitution are protected.”

— Job well done —

The 4th Annual Emergency Management Day at the Capitol was attended by some of the state’s biggest politicos, including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Passidomo and Sen. Corey Simon.

DEM Executive Director Kevin Guthrie also was joined by Secretary of Commerce Alex Kelly and Major General John D. Haas.

“When it comes to preparing and responding to emergencies, their efforts have made Florida a model for the rest of the nation and other states are looking to us as an example of strong leadership and proven results,” said Nuñez. She also thanked the state’s emergency management personnel for their tireless service.

The theme for this year’s event was “Moving Florida Forward” which provided an opportunity for emergency management officials from around Florida to gather in Tallahassee to discuss priorities for the upcoming year and connect with their local legislators.

Kevin Guthrie and DEM earned plenty of praise during their day at the Capitol. Image via Colin Hackley.

Meanwhile, there was time for DEM to be lauded for its past efforts.

“The DEM response teams were on the ground almost immediately after landfall, working tirelessly to provide critical support to families and businesses across Southwest Florida,” Passidomo said of DEM’s Hurricane Ian response. “I am immensely grateful for their work to help my community, and so many others, rebuild from our most devastating natural disasters. Director Guthrie and his dedicated team of professionals are the gold standard in emergency management — we truly are lucky to have them here in Florida.”

And Simon praised DEM’s work following Hurricane Idalia: “When Hurricane Idalia devastated portions of the Big Bend last fall, state and local emergency responders were with us every step of the way. We are fighting back. We are rebuilding. And, thanks to the dedication of our emergency management personnel and the resilience of the hardworking people of the Big Bend we will have a complete recovery and come back stronger than ever.”

DEM has distributed more than $9.25 billion in critical disaster recovery funding for communities impacted by recent disasters. Over $6 billion in public assistance; more than $1.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act; more than $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act; more than $320 million toward the Citrus industry; and $250 million to the timber industry.

— Loud bridge, troubled waters —

Call it a show-and-tell-time in the Florida Senate.

Right before Senators gaveled into Session on Thursday, there was a multimedia — and can we say quite loud (It goes to 11) — extravaganza in the Senate chambers.

For roughly five minutes, black-and-white photographs of Senators walking on the bridge between the Capitol and the Knott Building flashed on the giant screen at the front of the chamber.

As Huey Lewis would say, it was ‘too darn loud.’ Image via Adobe.

Meanwhile, the speakers in the chamber blasted the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the title track from Simon & Garfunkel’s fifth and final album (which won 5 Grammys, BTW but who’s counting, Jay-Z?)

And it turns out there are some pretty good acoustics in the Capitol, with the presentation leaving Senate employees and more than one lobbyist commenting on the volume even if it was blaring out the angelic voice of Art Garfunkel.

Anyway, do you get the connection? Pictures about a bridge linked to a song about a bridge …

Some of the pictures showed Senators looking serious as they were trudging back from the Knott Building, which holds one of the largest committee rooms in the Capitol Complex. But other Senators — we’re looking at you Sens. Ben Albritton, Shev Jones, Corey Simon and President Passidomo — hammed it up a bit for the cameras.

— Rest in peace —

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Fink will be memorialized during a private funeral service, which includes line-of-duty death honors, held at Christ Fellowship Church in Port St. Lucie on Monday morning.

Fink was killed early Feb. 2 in a crash with a semitractor-trailer. Fink attempted to follow a fleeing vehicle and turned into an oncoming truck, the driver of which also was killed. The driver of the fleeing vehicle has since been arrested and booked on several charges, including two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of felony murder.

Zachary Fink will receive full line-of-duty death honors during a Monday morning service.

The service, which begins at 11 a.m., will be livestreamed and available to watch on the Trooper Zachary Fink FLHSMV Website Memorial Page or by visiting the Christ Fellowship Church website.

There will be no graveside service or viewing. After the Memorial Service, there will be a private Law Enforcement escort for Trooper Fink’s family to their respective residences.

A South Florida nonprofit, Bleeding Blue, is selling “challenge coins” in Fink’s honor and donating all proceeds to his family. The organization was founded by a Miami-Dade Police detective and helps raise funds for injured officers and the families of fallen officers.

— Akerman desk dedication —

The namesake for one of America’s largest law firms, Akerman, will be honored in a university desk dedication Thursday in Orlando.

Alexander Akerman Jr., whose surname graces 24 offices in the United States, including six in Florida, will have a desk christened for him at the Florida A&M University College of Law. The school and Apopka Historical Society have invited the public to attend the desk naming, which comes in recognition of Akerman’s civil rights work.

Alexander Akerman Jr. also served in the Florida House from 1947 through 1948. Image via Florida Memory/Public Domain.

Akerman worked with future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, then the special counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and other NAACP lawyers representing the Groveland Four, a quartet of young Black men accused of rape in Lake County in 1949.

The case stretched over several years, during which there was a race riot, multiple murders, two trials, a Supreme Court reversal and the assassination of a Florida civil rights leader. Gov. Ron DeSantis posthumously pardoned the four men on Nov. 22, 2021.

Akerman also represented Virgil Hawkins and others during an attempted integration at the University of Florida College of Law, which led to the creation of Florida A&M’s law school. The ceremony is at 5:30 p.m. in the college’s ceremonial moot courtroom.

— Capitol Directions —

Kathleen Passidomo & Paul Renner — Football — They’re letting all of us sleep past noon Monday, so party hard for the Super Bowl.

Wilton Simpson — Up arrow — We saw the Ag. Commish at the Florida State Fair Governor’s Luncheon and we couldn’t help but think how gubernatorial he looks.

Christian Ziegler — Down arrow — Marsy wants nothing to do with your three-way.

Jenn Bradley — Up arrow — She won’t call a fig a trough, nor a spade a shovel.

Jason Brodeur, Alex Andrade — Down arrow — We’d write our honest thoughts on the defamation bill, but then Harlan Ellison’s estate could sue us for plagiarism.

Jonathan Martin — Down arrow — It sounds harsh, but you are the company you keep.

Sam Garrison — Up arrow — We can debate the merits of the homelessness bill, but there’s no debating the future Speaker’s caring eloquence in discussing the issue.

Traci Koster, Allison Tant — Up arrow — It’s been a four-year journey, but supportive decision-making is closing in on the finish line.

Chip LaMarca, Kelly Skidmore — Up arrow — These Reps care about Florida’s “Blue Economy” so much, they’re willing to go purple.

J.J. Holmes — Up arrow — He’s been on the waitlist for years, but once he showed up in Tallahassee, things started getting done.

Sal Nuzzo — Up arrow — JMI is going to miss him, but he’ll be just down the street.

City of TLH — Down arrow — Start digging through the couch cushions.

Leon Co. TDC — Up arrow — Is it just us, or are there more out-of-towners in Tally than in the pre-COVID days? The bed-tax bump must be nice.

Equality Florida — Up arrow — Let those flags fly.

Fast & The Furious — Down arrow — Vin Diesel can say ‘it’s about family,’ but Jason Pizzo isn’t buying it.

Leaf blowers — Down arrow — Jason Brodeur seems like the kind of neighbor who revs his two-stroke Schröder at 7 a.m.

Nebuchadnezzars — Up arrow — We’re cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to drink with him and his bros Salmanazar and Balthazar. One committee stop left.

Baptist Health Care — Down arrow — They’re being ‘intentional about the redevelopment’ … intentional about not paying for it.

People First — Down arrow — Can Florida please get an HR system designed after floppy disks were deprecated?

4-H — Up arrow — Approps lobbyists take note: Having 1,000 well-behaved kids invade the Capitol is a winning strategy.

FCDI — Up arrow — Their day at the Capitol was awesome. Change my mind.

Manatees — Up arrow — Never scare us like that again!

Your Netflix bill — Up arrow — Paging Rep. McClain! Paging Rep. McClain! We have an idea for the tax cut package!

Barbara Sharief — Down arrow — ‘It’s not the journey, it’s the friends you lose along the way.’

David O’ Keefe, Jeremy Matlow — Down arrow — When livestreaming goes wrong.

Anheuser-Busch — Up arrow — Nothing says ‘Super Bowl Sunday’ like Clydesdales and the Bud Light Genie.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


One comment

  • Defund florida

    February 11, 2024 at 10:52 am

    Dangerous Monroe St; sketchy Frenchtown; uncomfortable Capitol Circle.

    Tallahassee.

Comments are closed.


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