Last Call for 2.20.24 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Gov. Ron DeSantis is no longer a presidential candidate, but he’s still spending time in South Carolina.

According to former supporter and campaign surrogate Rep. Josh Kimbrell, the Governor was in the Palmetto State this afternoon to pitch federal term limits to the South Carolina Legislature.

DeSantis’ appearance in the state comes just days before a South Carolina Primary between former President Donald Trump, whom he endorsed, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who he pointedly does not support.

During a recent cable news hit, DeSantis said Haley was playing to “very liberal Democrats” in Iowa, as he claimed to see at the caucuses.

DeSantis’ South Carolina trip comes at the height of Florida’s Legislative Session, and critics such as DeSantis Watch were quick to bash the second-term Governor for skipping town to hold “a taxpayer-funded news conference in South Carolina.” 

“Ron DeSantis failed as a presidential candidate, and now he is continuing to fail the people he was elected to govern while wasting taxpayer resources in order to fly the state’s private jet to South Carolina as he tries to remain relevant to a national audience that overwhelmingly rejected his anti-freedom agenda,” DeSantis Watch Communications Director Anders Croy said in a news release.

“Back home in Florida, working families and seniors are looking for solutions to the nation’s highest property and auto insurance premiums, out-of-control housing costs, and skyrocketing utility bills, but Ron DeSantis can’t give up the lost cause of his presidential ambitions long enough to even pretend to care about the issues that matter to his actual constituents.”

Bill Day’s Latest

Evening Reads

—”Donald Trump’s opponents view him (slightly) less negatively than they used to” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post

—”A nerve center for the right-wing rises in Washington” via Robert Draper of The New York Times

—“Swing state Republican parties are in chaos. That could matter in November.” via Monica Potts of FiveThirtyEight

—”Dozier victims ask how many years before Florida Legislature will provide compensation for their abuse?” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix

—”Christina Pushaw returns to Florida Governor’s office as Ron DeSantis reassembles team” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times

—”Living in an abortion ban state is bad for mental health” via Karen Landman of Vox

—”Actually, most bosses want you to take a sick day” via Sarah Green Carmichael of Bloomberg

—”The loneliness of Jodie Foster” via Jordan Kisner of The Atlantic

3 Questions

One in four Florida children will receive care at one of the state’s four specialty-licensed children’s hospitals — Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg; Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami; and Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville. Together, Florida’s Specialty Hospitals for Children ensures that every Florida child has access to the world-class, specialized care they need. Florida Politics spoke with Martha McGill, BSN, Central Florida Region President at Nemours Children’s Health, about their collaborative work and the opportunity to partner with the Florida Legislature to transform pediatric cancer care delivery in our state. 

FP: What is Florida’s Specialty Hospitals for Children focusing on to advance pediatric care in our state? 

McGill: There is a critical need for significant investment to elevate pediatric cancer care in the state of Florida, and we are collectively focused on this, as the health of so many children in our state will hinge on our ability to facilitate the care and resources they need. Florida is the third-largest state in terms of pediatric population and accounts for 6% of all new pediatric cancer cases in the United States. However, there isn’t a top-25 ranked pediatric cancer program in Florida, unlike peer states like Ohio, California, New York and Texas, each of which has four or more hospitals ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s 50 Best Children’s Hospitals for Cancer. 

As the four hospitals solely focused on investing in and providing pediatric care, we believe the children in our state deserve to have the very best care right here at home. To that end, we are striving to make Florida a leader in pediatric cancer treatment and research to ensure that no child ever has to leave our state for this care. In doing so, we can further elevate Florida’s national standing in pediatric cancer care by setting the standard for clinical excellence, patient outcomes, access to clinical trials, patient expertise and survivorship resources in our state. 

FP: How are you working to elevate pediatric cancer care in Florida?

McGill: As a collective, Florida’s specialty children’s hospitals are investing in four key areas — research, recruitment, program development and infrastructure/technology. As we focus on these critical pillars, there is also a tremendous opportunity for collaboration with the state of Florida to help bring our hospitals to the level of top-ranked pediatric cancer centers in other states.

Investing in these key areas will help us attract top cancer physicians and scientists to lead groundbreaking clinical trials and expanded research activities, making way for Florida’s children to gain access to more and newer treatment options — including those at the leading edge of cancer research.

This is an endeavor that we are fully committed to, and funding from the Florida Legislature would help stem the tide in ways that will significantly and positively impact the quality and availability of pediatric cancer care in our state. 

FP: What makes Florida’s Specialty Hospitals for Children equipped to meet this challenge?

McGill: As a nurse by training, my entire thirty-five-year career in health care has exclusively focused on treating children in specialty-licensed facilities. I, like so many of my counterparts, have seen how trying it can be when children and their families face significant health challenges. I have also seen the difference that exceptional care, support and resources can make.

Our organizations are aligned in the mission to invest in and elevate care for children. Everything that we do — every investment, every innovation, every program — is focused on the health and well-being of children to ensure that every child can receive world-class, specialized care for their unique needs. Because of that, we are uniquely positioned to enhance pediatric cancer care and secure Florida’s place as a top-ranked state in pediatric research, innovation and treatment. 

When facing the most challenging diagnoses, Florida’s specialty children’s hospitals are parents’ first choice for treatment. Patients and families travel from all 67 Florida counties, multiple states and even abroad to seek the expert care we provide. Our four hospitals serve the majority of Florida’s children with inpatient admissions for complex cancer conditions or rare tumors, and we are wholly committed to building the best cancer programs to make Florida a world-class destination for pediatric cancer care.

We commend our legislative leaders for prioritizing Florida’s children and look forward to working with our state partners on this transformational endeavor to forever elevate pediatric cancer care and research.

Quote of the Day

“The fact that they’re trying to change it now and lump (Charlotte’s Web) in with all of this bad stuff, it’s terrifying to us. I don’t know what that means. Will we have to move again?”

— Parent Tracy Thaxton, on legislation seeking to cap delta-9 THC in oils.

Put It on the Tab

Look to your left, then look to your right. If you see one of these people at your happy hour haunt, flag down the bartender and put one of these on your tab. Recipes included, just in case the Cocktail Codex fell into the well.

We’re not sure what the Governor gets for making a late-February trip to South Carolina … a Charleston Fizz and Unexcused Absence both fit the bill.

Based on his bill, Sen. Jay Collins hates communism as much as the next guy, but he’d probably agree that Pink Lenin-ades are delicious.

Sorry, vapers. Legislation to clear Florida shelves of all but 23 vaping products — including all flavors but tobacco — is advancing. That means it’s last call for Vaportinis.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

Seminoles in danger of falling into third tier of ACC standings

If ever there was a game that served as a microcosm of a league it is tonight’s matchup between Florida State and Boston College in Tallahassee. This game (7 p.m. ET, ACC Network) may as well be the most average matchup in a most average year for the ACC.

Florida State (13-12; 7-7 in ACC) enters the game having lost six of their last eight after a stretch when they won seven of eight. That followed a four-game losing streak after the team started the season 4-1. The lack of consistency has been the hallmark of nearly every team in the ACC (save for North Carolina, Duke, and Virginia). Once the pinnacle of college basketball, the ACC has sagged to the mean among the largest conferences in the country.

Boston College (15-10; 6-8) is no different. The Eagles have yet to have a winning streak of more than two games in conference play. On the flip side, they have not had a three-game losing streak this season. If the trend continues, FSU should end Boston College’s brief two-game winning streak. 

Every ACC team plays in the conference tournament, but there are three tiers of teams. The top four receive byes through the first two rounds. Teams five through nine enter the second round, while teams 10-15 must play an extra game to advance. 

For Florida State, a win does less good than a loss does harm. A loss tonight puts them in danger of finishing in the league’s bottom tier. This season, no team outside the top three in the conference has shown any hint that they can win the five games it would take to win the tournament championship as a third-tier team.

Also tonight:

7 p.m. — NCAAM: UCF Knights @ West Virginia Mountaineers


Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson, with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.

Staff Reports

One comment

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