Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 2.27.24

Sunburn Orange Tally (7)
Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Good Tuesday morning.

Attention, all hockey fans spending Session in Tallahassee: The place to be tonight is Miller’s Ale House.

RSA Consulting and the “Tampa Bay Lightning Caucus” are hosting a Tallahassee watch party for the Bolts vs. Flyers game.

The match starts at 7 p.m., but Team RSA and the Caucus will be set up at 722 Apalachee Parkway starting at 6:30 p.m.

Those looking to attend can shoot an email to [email protected].


Before you head over to watch hockey, why not stop by this fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Aaron Bean:


The Florida Democratic Party is launching a Take Back Local program aimed at helping local candidates secure election in competitive races across the state.

The program is targeting candidates that align with the party who are running in nonpartisan local elections. It’s beginning with seven targeted candidates in Pembroke Pines, Winter Garden, Boca Raton, Clearwater and Ocoee.

All of the supported candidates are on the ballot March 19. FDP’s program comes with grassroots and fundraising support.

“These races are nonpartisan, so it’s important for voters to know which candidates will fight for our values. And it’s our job as a party to provide the infrastructure Democratic candidates need to win — that’s how we will take back Florida. We are fielding candidates and contesting races everywhere and it starts at the local level,” said FDP Chair Nikki Fried.

FDP Director of Candidates and Campaigns Danielle Hawk added, “We have developed a rigorous review process to identify candidates and campaigns running in competitive local races across the state. We are prioritizing local races first because this is where we can make the most impact.”

The candidates include:

Maria Rodriguez for Pembroke Pines City Commission in District 3.

Karen McNeil for Winter Garden City Commission in District 3.

Andy Thomson for Boca Raton City Council, Seat D.

Yvette Drucker for Boca Raton City Council, Seat A.

Mark Bunker for re-election to Clearwater City Council, Seat 2.

Javante Scott for Clearwater City Council, Seat 3.

George Oliver III for Ocoee City Commission, District 4.

The new crop of Democrats in the FDP’s Take Back Local program — (from L-R) Top: Andy Thompson, George Oliver, Javante Scott; Middle: Maria Rodriguez, Mark Bunker, Karen McNeil; and Bottom: Yvette Drucker.


Here are a few other items on my radar:

👽 — Some people just want their aluminum foil hats: Building on research from several years ago indicating that some people are inclined to share conspiracy theories no matter which political party they hurt or benefit, political scientist Michael Bang Petersen asked more questions of test subjects meant to test the limits to their conspiracy-mongering. It led to a new name for this particular cohort — the “need for chaos” bunch bent on gaining status by destroying the established order. Grab your Jewish space laser and take a gander here.

🐭 — This guy thinks he can fix Disney: Jay Rasulo was part of the leadership effort in the early 2000s to build a theme park in China, and now he’s back as part of an activist investor’s campaign to install new Board leadership at Disney. It’s part of a back-and-forth that involves discomfort over Disney CEO Bob Iger and the current Disney Board of Directors, and existing leaders who reject his complaints. Read more here.

📣 — Marc Caputo called it: Speaking out through a column in Vanity Fair, veteran political journalist Amie Parnes recalls how Jimmy Finklestein wooed her to his startup news site, The Messenger, which went belly up in less than a year in spectacular fashion. But for those of us in Florida who know Caputo, it’s the brief mention of his interaction that piques interest. “There’s a first time for everything,” he said during a meeting in which Finklestein reminded that he had never failed. It’s a compelling read, even without Caputo’s mention.


@GovRonDeSantis: Does Big Tech have a right to censor or “deplatform” you for political speech it does not like? The U.S. Supreme Court will consider that question today in arguments involving laws enacted by FL and TX designed to protect individuals from political censorship.

@LeaderbookFL: I am grateful our concerns were heard. “Fetal personhood” — legally designating a fetus as a person with rights, including the right to life from the moment of conception — diminishes the rights of women and mothers, opening the door for further restriction on abortion and reproductive medicines like IVF. Thankfully, it appears personhood will not be the law of the land in our state.

@ShevrinJones: While Alabama’s recent Supreme Court ruling has gotten a lot of attention this past week, let’s be clear: this isn’t happening in a vacuum. Extreme bills aimed at chipping away at reproductive freedoms continue to move through legislatures across the country. Keep contacting your state lawmakers — these attacks on Floridians’ freedoms WILL NOT stand!

@DianneHartFL: There’s no place for disrespect on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives. The @FLBlkCaucus will not allow our members to be berated and mistreated. We are all duly elected members, all deserving of respect and civility in our pursuit to represent our constituents.

@AlCardenasFL_DC: When I read something like this my blood boils re the Speaker. Get back to D.C. and do your job. Let bill to assist our allies come to the floor for a vote. It’s true that (Vladimir) Putin has infiltrated the (Mike) Johnson-led House GOP members (including Johnson himself) but there are enough honorable members to join the Dems and pass this bill

Tweet, tweet:


James Madison Institute’s ‘Red, White and Bluegrass’ dinner — 1; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 3; Michigan/Idaho/Missouri GOP Primaries — 5; Netflix to stream “The Netflix Slam,” Rafael Nadal/Carlos Alcaraz faceoff — 5; Super Tuesday — 7; State of the Union address — 9; last day of Regular Session, if Legislature completes work in 60 days — 10; 2024 Oscars — 12; Georgia Democratic Primary — 15; Arizona/Florida/Illinois/Kansas/Ohio Primaries — 22; James Madison Institute’s ‘2024 Naples Dinner’ with keynote speaker Laura Ingraham — 23; ‘3 Body Problem’ premieres on Netflix — 23; Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial begins — 27; The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the mifepristone/abortion pill case — 28; Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2024 season — 30; March Madness Final Four (women’s) begins — 37; March Madness Final Four (men’s) — 40; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 44; The Masters begin — 45; Kentucky Derby — 68; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 73; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 80; French Open begins — 83; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 85; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 85; Monaco Grand Prix — 89; the 2024 World Cup begins — 105; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 123; Republican National Convention begins — 139; the 2024 World Cup ends — 143; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 148; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 150; Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 169; Democratic National Convention begins — 175; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 179; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 234; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 237; 2024 Presidential Election — 252; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 265; MLS Cup 2024 — 280; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 353; ‘Moana’ premieres — 483; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 514; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 514; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 619; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 661; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 798; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 814; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,025; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,165; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,124; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,846.


“‘Personhood’ bill hits resistance amid IVF, abortion concerns” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — “I have requested that (SB 476) be temporarily postponed at this time,” said bill sponsor Sen. Erin Grall in a statement.

“It is my understanding this is the first time this issue has been considered by the Florida Legislature. Although I have worked diligently to respond to questions and concerns, I understand there is still work that needs to be done. It is important we get the policy right with an issue of this significance.”

Erin Grall backs off on her ‘personhood’ bill as Lauren Book cheers her on.

The House version of the bill (HB 651) is ready for a vote on the floor in that chamber, but the Senate would have to schedule a special Committee hearing to bring it to the floor.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates had long feared the bill would put doctors who perform abortions at risk of being sued. They also feared an amendment to the bill would grant “personhood” status to fetuses in civil liability cases, putting state law on a path for courts to interpret unborn children as full persons, thus banning abortions.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book said before the meeting she still had serious concerns about the personhood aspect of the bill, despite amendments from Grall attempting to protect women and doctors who perform legal abortions from being sued.

“This is a backdoor attempt at personhood,” Book told reporters ahead of the meeting. “Any time you start talking about personhood, IVF is on the table.”

—“Senator puts brakes on Florida’s ‘unborn child’ wrongful death bill” via Skyler Swisher of Florida Politics


Growing list of conservative groups rally behind Speaker’s top priority” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A coalition of conservative organizations and think tanks have started rallying around a social media ban for most children. That includes a parental rights group that spent years championing a Parents’ Bill of Rights. But divides still remain, even among more right-leaning groups. Parental Rights Florida recently launched a campaign encouraging supporters to reach out to Gov. Ron DeSantis and voice support for the bill. “I believe great effort was taken to thread the needle, and it will clearly stand as a new precedent with constitutional clarity, specifically regarding the platforms,” said Patti Sullivan, president of Parental Rights Florida.

Patti Sullivan of Parental Rights Florida is leading the conservative support for Florida’s proposed social media ban. Image via WPTV.

Controversial defamation bill dead in the Senate — again” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Senate will not consider a controversial defamation bill. For the second year in a row, the bill effectively hit a wall in the upper chamber despite signs of life in the House. With fewer than two weeks left in the Legislative Session, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s Office signaled there is no appetite for the bill. “No. No plans to take up HB 757,” Passidomo representative Katherine Betta said. That’s the House version carried by Rep. Alex Andrade.

Proposal to delete same-sex marriage ban from Florida Constitution dies without a hearing” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Bills that would have given Florida voters a chance to remove a ban on same-sex marriage from the Florida Constitution have died without a hearing this year. Technical snags due to inaction on the Senate side killed their viability, despite a last-minute push by the bills’ House sponsor to save them. One measure (HJR 167) would have called for a statewide referendum during the 2024 General Election proposing the repeal of language in the state constitution defining marriage as only being between one man and one woman. The other (HB 169) would effectuate HJR 167, upon voter approval, by deleting the definition from Florida Statutes.

School chaplain bill clears final Senate Committee, will head to floor” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A bill that would allow schools to have volunteer chaplains (SB 1044) advanced in the Senate Rules Committee, which will be the final stop for the GOP Sen. Erin Grall legislation before it hits the floor. The measure would “authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide supports, services, and programs to students as assigned by the District School Board or charter school Governing Board,” with Districts implementing the chaplain proposal at their discretion. Boards would have to determine to which programs and services chaplains would be assigned, would have to inform parents that chaplains be informed, and would have to get parental consent before chaplains interacted with students.

ACLU blasts ‘volunteer chaplains’ bill — The ACLU of Florida is amping up criticism of a proposal that would allow schools to have volunteer chaplains, which cleared the Senate Rules Committee on Monday and is now heading to the chamber floor. ACLU of Florida legislative director Kara Gross said, “Chaplains have no place in public schools. Student support services must be provided by trained, certified school professionals, not government-selected volunteer clergy. SB 1044 does not require volunteer chaplains to have any training, certification, or other professional credentials or qualifications relating to the provision of student support services. Additionally, it appears that anyone can hold themselves out as a volunteer ‘chaplain’ … Freedom of religion means that parents and faith communities — not government officials — have the right to direct their children’s religious education and development. Allowing chaplains in public schools would cross these well-established boundaries.”

Kara Gross raises the alarm over chaplains in public schools.

After twists and turns, County Commissioner term limit bill bound for Senate floor” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Blaise Ingoglia’s bill (SB 438) was advanced, with a series of temporary postponements in previous weeks and a number of tweaks, including a delete-all amendment. “Each non-charter county; each charter county whose charter does not impose term limits on County Commissioners as of July 1, 2024; and each charter county whose charter, as of July 1, 2024, imposes term limits longer than 8 consecutive years on County Commissioners shall hold a referendum election on Nov. 5, 2024,” the new language reads. Voters in non-charter counties would be asked if County Commissioners should be prohibited from serving longer than eight consecutive years.

Senate bill to strengthen Everglades protections heads to floor as House companion lags” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A proposal to better protect the Everglades from harmful development in Miami-Dade County is heading to the Senate floor, but slow movement by its House counterpart may again keep the legislation from passing. The bill (SB 1364), which breezed through the Senate Rules Committee with scant discussion, would require construction projects and zoning changes within 2 miles of the endangered wetlands to undergo a coordinated state review. If the Department of Environmental Protection then determines the plan will hurt Everglades restoration, the plan must be amended to eliminate those negative impacts. Sen. Alexis Calatayud, the bill’s sponsor, amended her measure Monday to ensure it applies only to Miami-Dade. An earlier version would have affected Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.


Senate Committee recommends multiple executive appointments” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice — Director of the Florida State Guard Mark A. Thieme was recommended by the Committee. DeSantis announced Thieme’s appointment in October 2023. For the Board of Governors of the State University System, the Committee recommended Ashley B. Barnett, Timothy M. Cerio, and Alan M. Levine. For the position of Florida Elections Commission Chair, the Committee recommended Chad Mizelle. Additionally, the Committee recommended John Martin Hayes, Richard F. Joyce and Kymberlee C. Smith for the Florida Elections Commission. For the Commission on Ethics, the Committee recommended Tina Descovich, Luis M. Fuste, and Ashley Lukis.

—“Moms for Liberty co-founder’s confirmation to Florida ethics post moves forward” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald

Suggesting Tina Descovich for a spot on the state’s Ethics Commission is raising eyebrows statewide. Image via AP.

Legislation to rein in illegal Chinese disposable vape market gains momentum” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Florida has an illegal disposable vape problem. Legislation moving through the Legislature aims to fix that and keep both consumers and retailers safe from these harmful products. SB 1006 by Sen. Keith Perry and HB 1007 by Rep. Toby Overdorf are gaining momentum in their respective chambers. Almost 95% of e-cigarettes, including illegal disposable vape products, come from Chinese manufacturers. They end up on smoke shop and convenience store shelves, and eventually into the hands of Florida’s youth. The Florida Retail Federation has reported that at least $363 million in illegal vape products were sold in Florida just last year, ranking Florida No. 1 in illegal vape sales. Florida sits at 20% above the national average in illegal vape sales, making up a whopping 58% of overall vape sales in the state.


Budget conference: Lawmakers agree to cut jobs program, settle on tourism marketing funding” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Jobs Growth Grant Fund, which provides grants to local governments and state colleges for transportation infrastructure and jobs training programs, will receive $42 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1, a $33 million cut from the current year. DeSantis had requested $100 million for the program. VISIT FLORIDA will receive $80 million next year. It’s the same funding level as the current year, but the money is recurring, a key aspect to provide stability for an agency that was threatened with being dissolved in budget battles dating back to 2017. The chambers also agreed to spend $4 million for litigation expenses at the Department of State, which oversees elections and is defending legal challenges to Florida election laws. The funding level is $1 million more than the Senate wanted and $1 million less than the House preferred.

Ron DeSantis throws VISIT FLORIDA a lifeline; lawmakers deliver.

House agrees to earmark for Cuban history teacher training in Miami-Dade” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A program in which Miami-Dade County public schoolteachers will learn how to better teach about Cuban history and Cuban Americans is receiving full funding this year after lawmakers quickly agreed on a spending plan. In its first response to unmatched Senate budget proposals, the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee approved spending $152,000 on the program, which Florida International University (FIU) will help administer. The Senate’s proposed budget (SB 2500) included an earmark for the program. The House package (HB 5001) did not. Subcommittee members agreed to the apportionment early Monday evening.

Budget conference: House agrees to full Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial funding” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — House budgeters agreed to double the state dollars they originally planned to spend this year on the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, apportioning $1.5 million to the 34-year-old Miami Beach landmark. That’s the full sum Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia and Rep. Vicki Lopez sought in matching appropriation requests. But until its PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee met on the matter Monday, the House had only earmarked $750,000 in its budget (HB 5001). The Senate budget (SB 2500), which lawmakers laid on the table earlier this month, included it all. According to Garcia’s request form, the funding will help pay for student, teacher and public engagement in Holocaust education events, including the communitywide Kristallnacht and Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations.

Budget conference: House meets Senate on Nick DiCeglie High School High Tech 2.0 via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sen. DiCeglie notched a win in the Higher Education Committee conference, with a House offer meeting his request for a higher education program that helps young adults transition from high school to postsecondary education. DiCeglie requested, and the House matched in its initial offer, $300,000 for High School High Tech 2.0, a program expansion to The Able Trust program that gives high school students with disabilities opportunities to explore jobs or postsecondary education options that lead into high-demand careers. The program, as it exists currently, connects youth to academic, career development and experiential resources to be better prepared for the workforce. It currently operates at 45 sites throughout the state.

Budget conference: House doubles ask for upgrades at Hotel Ponce de Leon to $35M” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — House lawmakers have increased the state money they’re seeking for structural remodeling at the historic Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine to $35 million. The House originally offered $17.5 million. The Senate hasn’t offered a cent yet but may match the House earmark or make a counteroffer. The new total House members issued is equal to the sum that Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Palm Coast and Rep. Cyndi Stevenson of St. Johns County sought in November through matching appropriation requests. If approved, the funds will go to Flagler College, the school for which the hotel’s original building and grounds have served as a centerpiece since 1968.

—“Budget conference: Funding found for Northeast Florida at-risk youth programs with historical Jaguars ties” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Budget conference: Legislature comes through with Lincolnville museum money” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics


Joe Gruters wants Sarasota’s water, cultural treasures receiving their fair share” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The veto pen landed hard on Sarasota last year, highlighting political schisms between Sen. Gruters and DeSantis. But Gruters continues to fight for water and road projects in his district. “I’m hopeful that Sarasota will have a fair chance at bringing home some of these project dollars,” the Sarasota Republican said. “I’m pushing very hard.” He’s fighting particularly hard for funding for improvements to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which provides both a public community asset and a valuable research center. Gruters is pursuing $2.8 million for shoreline restoration and protection for Historic Spanish Point, which Selby operates in Osprey. He also wants $1.8 million to provide hurricane-resilient glasshouses to safeguard Selby Gardens’ collection of orchids and bromeliads, regarded as the best scientifically significant collection of such plants in the world.

Joe Gruters hopes Sarasota projects don’t see the veto pen, unlike the last budget.

Clay Yarborough seeks big legislative bucks for Jacksonville colleges” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The bulk of the money, assuming it clears the appropriations process and the Governor’s ultimate discretion, would go to the University of North Florida (UNF). Yarborough seeks $40,242,365 for the UNF Student Support & Academic Building. Yarborough also wants $30,894,783 for the UNF Mathews Computer Science Building Renovation. Another $13,681,975 is sought for the Honors College Academic Addition for “a companion project to the new 521-bed Honors Residence Hall that will house Hicks Honors College students.” Yarborough also wants $10 million for the Jacksonville University-GROW FL Nurses program. Additionally, Yarborough wants $15 million in operating costs for UF Health, the city’s safety-net hospital.

Fentrice Driskell seeks funding for minority, underserved communities” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — House Democratic Leader Driskell requested a total of $27.2 million for local projects benefiting women, persons of color, and homeless and other at-risk individuals, most of it for security upgrades at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Driskell requested $25 million for security enhancements at Florida’s four HBCUs — Bethune Cookman University, Edward Waters University, Florida Memorial University and Florida A&M University. Driskell is also seeking $1.5 million for Tampa Hope Cottages, a shelter that offers both housing and wraparound services for clients, including mental health and substance use counseling, basic health and dental care, employment skills training and financial literacy courses.

Park projects, museum money among Wyman Duggan’s budget asks” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The biggest tranche of money the Westside Republican seeks: $43 million for the Jacksonville Shipyards West Park. The state money, should it materialize, would match $25 million in city funding for the park project to date and $10 million for the Riverwalk along the riverfront. The $43 million would address a construction shortfall. Duggan also seeks $20 million for Riverfront Plaza Park to match the $25 million already committed to the former Jacksonville Landing space in what the funding request calls “another step in activating the riverfront and laying the groundwork for smart and sustainable growth in Jacksonville.” Additionally, Duggan is looking for $5 million for the Museum of Science and History’s Genesis Project, to match $67 million in local and private money for the project.

Rita Harris fighting for social services, cultural priorities” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The appropriations fight is often where Democratic lawmakers have the most ability to make a difference in a Republican-dominated Legislature. Rep. Harris will spend the remaining days of Session fighting for social service providers in Central Florida. “Right now, people are struggling between trying to pay their rising property insurance and the fact that Florida is higher than the national average,” the Orlando Democrat said. “For many, social services are helping people make ends meet.” Her top priorities include budget requests for $200,000 to The Hispanic Federation and help for the Central Florida Diaper Bank.

—“Kiyan Michael carries big funding requests for Paul Renner’s district” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

David Smith seeks millions for Holocaust Museum, other Central Florida needs” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As the Session winds down, Rep. Smith will be fighting for several Central Florida funding projects. The biggest ask from the Winter Springs Republican this year would be $5 million for a new Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity. An endeavor of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida, the facility will be located in Downtown Orlando. A funding request from Talli Dippold, Holocaust Memorial CEO, states that construction should begin in 2024. Smith noted a lot of private support backing up the vision. As he seeks state dollars, he stressed, “Those funds are being matched by a local private donor.”

David Smith steps up for the Holocaust Museum.

Meet the people who help decide the largest area of the budget: Health and human services spending” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The conferees that will hammer out the health and human services spending for the Senate are: Sens. Gayle Harrell, Bryan Avila, Dennis Baxley, Book, Jason Brodeur, Danny Burgess, Colleen Burton, Tracie Davis, Garcia, Gruters, Darryl Rouson and Corey Simon. The House conferees for health care spending are Reps. Sam Garrison, Shane Abbott, Carolina Amesty, Robin Bartleman, Kimberly Berfield, Berny Jacques, Lauren Melo, Michele Rayner, Michelle Salzman, Allison Tant, Dana Trabulsy, Chase Tramont and Marie Woodson. The House and Senate often are at odds over Medicaid rate increases, and those issues typically are unable to be agreed to at the conferee level and are “bumped” to either the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs or often the House Speaker and Senate President. Many of those issues, though, already are agreed on, and funding is included in the Live Healthy proposals.

What will Polk get? Some funding requests are repeats of items that were vetoed last year” via Gary White of The Ledger — Polk County legislators are trying again to secure state funding for the creation of a Polk State College campus in Haines City. Matching requests from two lawmakers for $16.2 million highlight the dozens of appropriations for local projects sought by Polk County’s six legislators in the Session scheduled to end March 8. Leaders of the state House and Senate will decide which requests to include in their final budgets, and DeSantis has the power to veto individual appropriations before signing the budget. The $16.2 million requested for Polk State is the same amount the Legislature included for the project in last year’s budget, only to have DeSantis veto the allocation.


Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus want Rep. Randy Fine to publicly apologize for comments toward Rep. Yvonne Hinson. The group also has urged Speaker Renner to publicly address decay in decorum in the Florida House.

“We are being forced to operate in a chamber where the rules of decorum only apply to one party — a chamber where the Black legislators are constantly reduced to name calling and hostility for simply doing their jobs,” reads a statement issued from Caucus Chair Dianne Hart’s office.

The statement went out after debate over a bill to provide security funding for Jewish schools. Hinson, a Gainesville Democrat, incorrectly stated the bill directed $50 million for 100 schools. The bill provides $600,000.

Things get a little tense between Yvonne Hinson and Randy Fine.

But that prompted Fine to fire back on the floor. “I don’t know that these kids will be kept safe. Because they weren’t before I got here and with garbage like that,” he said, pointing at Hinson, “I don’t know that they will be after.”

Some members of the caucus felt it was important for a response to go out. Rep. Angie Nixon, a Jacksonville Democrat, saw Fine’s comment as part of “continual disrespect by him toward Black and Brown women.” Moreover, she was upset president officers did nothing to stop it.

“I was called combative by (Rep. Chuck) Clemons on the mic the day before by simply responding to a question with a question,” Nixon said, “and the next day he did this and Clemons said nothing.”

Rep. Felicia Robinson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, said it’s the pattern that prompted several members to seek a statement.

“This was not the first nor the only time disrespect has been distributed on the floor,” she said. “It’s never addressed. Everyone deserves respect. However, Rep. Hinson, living through the Jim Crow era being kicked and spat on we don’t believe in this day in time she should have to deal with being called garbage on the House floor.”

Fine declined to comment. The Speaker’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Of note — Senate 50th Day Rule — last day for regularly scheduled Committee meetings. Senate Rule 2.9(2).

Happening today — As part of Children’s Week at the Capitol: Children’s Day news conference: 9:15 a.m., Capitol Main Steps; Storybook Village and Legislator Lane: 10 a.m., Capitol North and South Plaza; and a screening of the film musical “Speak Life End Bullying”: 6:30 p.m., followed by a VIP reception with leaders and dignitaries discussing teen mental health and bullying solutions, Challenger Learning Center, 200 S Duval St, Tallahassee.

9 a.m. Senate Appropriations Committee meets. Room 110, Senate Office Building.

9 a.m. Senate Fiscal Policy Committee meets. Room 412, Knott Building.

10 a.m. The House holds a floor Session. House Chambers.

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

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


Farm Share, Florida’s largest independent nonprofit food bank, is partnering with No Kid Hungry, a national campaign by Share Our Strength aiming to end hunger and poverty.

The organizations announced the partnership as part of this year’s Children’s Week at the Capitol. Their joint event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and will feature activities to raise awareness of food insecurity and provide immediate relief.

It will include a Farm Share truck in the Capitol Courtyard offering free breakfast, drinks, snacks and an engaging photo booth experience.

Farm Share will be a big presence at this year’s Children’s Week at the Capitol.

Farm Share said food insecurity has been rising alongside food prices, and now affects one in six Floridians. Additionally, one in five children nationwide — more than 13 million — are food insecure. Many of these children miss meals as their families are forced to choose between buying groceries and paying other essential bills.

“The daily struggle with hunger faced by too many children in Florida is a profound crisis, demanding our relentless and dedicated effort to bring it to an end. Each meal we provide marks progress toward a future in which every child can be free of uncertainty about the next meal,” said Stephen Shelley, CEO of Farm Share.

No Kid Hungry Florida Director Sky Beard added, “Right now, we all have a neighbor, co-worker, or friend that’s passing up on fruits and veggies at the grocery store or skipping meals to make sure their kids get the nutrition they need to learn and grow. This week is an important time to remind decision-makers about their impact on Florida’s future and to celebrate great partners like Farm Share who work tirelessly to feed kids. When it comes to feeding kids, we know it takes the entire community and we hope to work together to ensure no kid goes hungry.”


State police officials say Governor’s staff targeted them over flight records” via Lawrence Mower of the Times/Herald — DeSantis’ top aides stopped the release of public records about his taxpayer-funded plane travel and retaliated against state police employees who disagreed with the decision, according to two former officials in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In a sworn statement entered in court last week, former department Chief of Staff Shane Desguin alleges DeSantis officials stopped the release of about 600 records that would have revealed who traveled with the Governor on the state plane and where it went. The department denied the release citing a new state law shielding the Governor’s travel records, according to court records. But Desguin, who was involved in crafting the legislation, said the Governor’s Office misinterpreted the law, which was intended to shield records that jeopardized the safety of the Governor or his family.

Ron DeSantis exacts retribution over ‘private’ flight records.

Ron DeSantis is awarding more than $6 million to Hurricane Idalia-impacted communities” via Adrian Andrews of WFSU — DeSantis says additional funding will hopefully get Floridians back on their feet after Hurricane Idalia destroyed parts of the Big Bend. Six months have gone by since Hurricane Idalia wrought havoc along Florida’s Big Bend. The storm made its landfall with winds reaching 120 mph, ripping through homes and businesses. To assist in recovery efforts, DeSantis announced on Friday that he plans to send $6.3 million to the communities impacted. “The award will accelerate the recovery process for Floridians who lost their homes or experienced severe damage from the storm,” said DeSantis.

Florida seeks to extend name, image and likeness policy to high school” via Matt Baker of The Tampa Bay Times — The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) is set to discuss a proposal that would allow the state’s prep athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness, or NIL. One wrinkle guards against the fear that allowing name, image and likeness would lead to even more transfers as players try to find deals — or are encouraged by others to find them. Under this draft, a player who transfers high schools in-season can’t secure an NIL deal that season unless an exemption is granted by the FHSAA, the state’s chief governing body for prep sports.


Measles outbreak: 2 more children infected; case list increases to 8 in Broward” via Samiar Nefzi and Andrea Torres of WPLG Local 10 News — Two children are the newest measles patients in Broward County. The spread of the highly contagious airborne virus increased the total cases from six to eight in Broward. According to the Department of Health, the two new patients are a child younger than five years old, and a child between the ages of five to nine years old. “We are living through a disease that was eradicated in the early 2000s,” Luisa Murcia said. During This Week In South Florida, Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert with Florida International University, said the effectiveness of vaccines caused people to forget how dangerous measles can be.

A measles outbreak in Broward County is spreading.

Measles reaches Central Florida as Polk County resident contracts virus” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Measles has arrived in Central Florida, with the disease infecting a Polk County resident age 20-24, the first Florida adult infected with the highly contagious disease this year. It’s unclear exactly when and how that person, whose gender wasn’t revealed, contracted the virus. The case was reported to the Florida Department of Health on Saturday, according to data from Merlin, Florida’s web-based reportable disease surveillance system. The Florida Department of Health referenced a “travel-related case in Central Florida” in a Friday advisory to health care providers but provided no other details.

FDP: WebMD more trustworthy than ‘quack’ Surgeon General — The Florida Democratic Party is blasting the state Surgeon General for issuing guidance contrary to accepted medical practices following a measles outbreak in South Florida. “Once again, Joseph Ladapo is putting his personal politics at the forefront of a major public health issue,” FDP Chair Fried said. “The guidance he’s issued to Broward County parents flies in the face of public health standards and puts the health and well-being of Florida’s children at risk. It’s not too much to ask for Florida’s Surgeon General to follow standard medical practice — unfortunately, Ron’s political appointee seems to only work with his anti-vax agenda in mind. His actions continue to be a disgrace to doctors everywhere, and Florida families might be better off searching WebMD than listening to politicized ‘advice’ from this quack.”

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be joined by an epidemiologist to discuss safety measures schools and parents should consider in response to the measles outbreak in Broward County: 10 a.m., Office of Rep. Schultz, City of Sunrise Utilities Administration Building, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 777 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Sunrise.

— 2024 —

Donald Trump and his favorite fundraising platform both face donor problems” via Brian Schwartz of CNBC — Every so often, Matthew Hurtt receives concerning emails. The subject lines are each slightly different: “Stop charging my account,” “Urgent!” and “Donation not approved,” but the people who send them all want the same thing: to halt the Republican political contribution platform WinRed from making any more automatic, recurring withdrawals from their accounts. Hurtt is Chair of the Virginia-based Arlington County Republican Committee and says he’s reviewed a “few dozen” of these types of emails since the 2020 Election. When WinRed processes a contribution to a Republican campaign, the charge shows up on the donor’s credit card or bank statement as a payment to “WINRED, Arlington VA,” according to a statement provided by Hurtt and reviewed by CNBC. As a result, people often mistakenly believe their money went to the Arlington County Republican Party, he said.

Why do MAGAtinos back Trump, even as he backs Vladimir Putin over their patrias?” via Tim Padgett of the Orlando Sentinel — Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar is just the latest to give Trump a gushing endorsement on social media (including a post on X, the Elon Musk-owned Russian appeasement platform formerly known as Twitter). In it, she checks off all the scourges she claims we didn’t have during Trump’s first administration, including “weak foreign policy.” Salazar, though, conveniently forgot to put an asterisk there that says: that is, if you define Trump’s weak-in-the-knees treatment of Russian gangster-tyrant Putin as strong foreign policy. And hats off to Trump’s GOP Primary opponent Nikki Haley for that spot-on description of Trump’s bootlicking esteem for Putin, which he displayed again this week by not decrying the death — which was perhaps state homicide — of jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

Farmers line up behind Rick Scott re-election — A bundle of agriculture groups and ag-focused politicians are backing U.S. Sen. Scott for re-election. The set includes Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Jay Collins and U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee as well as the Florida Farm Bureau, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Forestry Association and the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association, among others. “In Florida, we lead the way when it comes to agriculture — a critical industry that provides good-paying jobs to hundreds of thousands of Floridians and fuels our state economy,” Scott said. “In recent years, our great farmers, ranchers, and growers have faced numerous hardships, from citrus greening to natural disasters, and it’s imperative that we continue to do everything we can to ensure they have the resources they need to succeed.”

Wilton Simpson and farmers line up behind Rick Scott’s re-election.


Matt Gaetz, Donald Trump Jr. to hold town hall in Pensacola” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Trump Jr. and U.S. Rep. Gaetz will hold a town hall together in Pensacola Tuesday. PublicSquare announced it will host an event at Palafox Wharf Waterfront. The event shows an increasingly close alliance between the Fort Walton Beach Republican and the Trump family. Gaetz has been a loyal supporter of former President Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But it also comes as rumors grow Gaetz could run for Governor in 2026. While he dismissed such talk just last week, he did so while criticizing a proposal to end winner-takes-all Primaries in state races. The town hall will take place a day before members of Congress are expected to return to Washington. If lawmakers cannot reach a deal on the budget, a federal shutdown could take place as soon as Friday.

Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump Jr. take it to the people in Pensacola.

Cory Mills blames Chuck Schumer for encroaching partial shutdown” via Grayson Bakich of The Floridian — A partial government shutdown grows closer as House Republicans and Senate Democrats continue to butt heads over budgeting. Rep. Mills recently appeared on Fox and Friends First, where he blamed Senate Majority Leader Schumer for not taking up bills passed by the House, saying this was “the Schumer Shutdown.” Host Carley Shimkus asked if any deal had been reached between the House and Senate, as the projected shutdown is expected at the end of the week. Rep. Mills answered no, reiterating that his “priority is going to be the same. It is going to be: secure the border and make sure we are looking at our economics, and that has not been addressed in any way.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Florida Democrats push three South Florida candidates in ‘nonpartisan’ city elections” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Florida Democratic Party highlighted three South Florida candidates on Monday, saying victories in their nonpartisan city elections next month would help the party with its long-term objective of making a political comeback in the state. State Democratic Chair Fried highlighted a total of seven races statewide that the party said were kicking off its Take Back Local program that would provide “support to flip” City Council and Commission seats across the state. “These races are nonpartisan, so it’s important for voters to know which candidates will fight for our values, and it’s our job as a party to provide the infrastructure democratic candidates need to win — that’s how we will take back Florida. We are fielding candidates and contesting races everywhere and it starts at the local level,” Fried said in a statement.

Nikki Fried drills down to local races to turn blue.

Janitors who clean South Florida’s offices, many of them immigrants, fight for higher wages” via Syra Ortiz Blanes of the Miami Herald — On a recent evening, scores of janitors donned matching purple shirts as they marched across downtown Miami shortly after voting for their union leadership to call a strike if necessary. They held up posters in Spanish and English over their heads, asking for “justice” and “fair pay.” Some of the workers held white roses as they protested across the business district where many of them clean offices. A mariachi band accompanied the protesters, representing the fighting spirit of the South Florida cleaners in song, and sometimes serenading in forceful language.

Brightline will build new station in Stuart” via Keith Burbank and Wicker Perlis of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Brightline will build its Treasure Coast station in Stuart. City officials were notified that Stuart had won the competition for the new station. It will be located downtown, near the Martin County Courthouse. City Manager Mike Mortell informed city employees. “We’re very excited about it,” city spokesperson Misti Guertin said of Brightline’s decision, which Mortell received verbally from the railroad. Brightline has not yet announced the new site. A formal kickoff is expected to be held at 8 a.m. on March 11 at the site to be developed on Southeast Flagler Avenue.

Can Indian River County School Board member Brian Barefoot rescind his resignation?” via Colleen Wixon of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Can School Board member Barefoot rescind his resignation? Barefoot resigned from the School Board, saying he was moving out of the district to which he was elected. But he never checked the district boundary maps. “Talk about a monumental screw-up,” he said. By Thursday afternoon, Barefoot was trying to withdraw his resignation, which likely had yet to be received by the Governor’s Office. He’s sent letters, emails and faxes to state elections and appointment officials, trying to fix the mistake. “I’ve done everything I can,” Barefoot said, adding that one state employee told him not to worry about it. “There’s still a degree of uncertainty.”

Anne Slesnick, mother of former Coral Gables Mayor and community matriarch, dies at 101” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — What life lesson and impact have you on a family and community when you live a good life to the age of 101 and pass peacefully surrounded by those whom you have helped mold? For Anne Leidel Slesnick — mother to attorney and former Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick, mother-in-law to his late wife, Gables Commissioner Jeannett Slesnick, and Southern matriarch to the greater Coral Gables community, the lesson is one of love and honor. Slesnick died Friday at her Gables home with family at her side. She was 101.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Bomb threat at Orlando International Airport prompts traffic block at Terminal B” via Amanda Rabines of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando police are responding to a bomb threat at Orlando International Airport. Around 5:30 p.m., the police department received a call regarding a bomb threat at 9400 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard. Angela Starke, a spokesperson for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said law enforcement partners are currently investigating “a call.” “Traffic to Terminal B is being impacted and we are asking people to please follow instructions from on-site airport personnel,” she said in an email response to the Sentinel.

Orlando International Airport faces a bomb threat.

‘Fraudulent’ bank sale to Seminole County may net Joel Greenberg associate more prison time” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — As federal prosecutors and a defense attorney argued in an Orlando courtroom last week about how much time a convicted Greenberg associate should spend in prison, new details emerged of a shady real estate scheme by the former Tax Collector and his friends that federal investigators say bilked Seminole County out of $262,000. That deal may now play a key role in how much time former Greenberg consultant Michael Shirley serves in prison. “This was a straw purchase, for-profit scheme,” said Nevada Gump, an investigator with the U.S. Secret Service, as he testified at Shirley’s sentencing hearing. Shirley, who was found guilty last July on fraud charges, is likely to be sentenced this week.

Deltona Mayor issues proclamation making March 13 L. Ron Hubbard Day then rescinds it” via Mark Harper and Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — After facing criticism, Deltona Mayor Santiago Avila Jr. said he is rescinding his proclamation marking March 13 as “L. Ron Hubbard Day.” “After careful consideration and in alignment with my commitment to honor individuals who have positively impacted our community, I am announcing the rescinding of the proclamation of L. Ron Hubbard,” Avila wrote in a post on X. “It was never my intention to recognize Mr. Hubbard, and moving forward, I will implement new Proclamation Guidelines to ensure that our proclamations reflect the values and priorities of the citizens of Deltona.” The Mayor added that he is “committed to recognizing those who have positively impacted Deltona and contributed to its growth and prosperity.”

Community members raise concerns about Volusia County Schools’ recently approved rezoning” via Mary Ellen Ritter of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Following the Volusia County School Board’s unanimous rezoning approval, community members are concerned that the plan to keep some students closer to home will result in resegregating schools. The new plan will send more than 1,700 elementary and middle school students to new schools in August to help alleviate overcrowding in eight facilities. “The rezoning is based on all school-age children in the zone boundary,” said Danielle Johnson, Volusia’s Director of Community Information. “We’re not handpicking out students and saying, ‘We want you to go here,’” she said. “It’s based on their address.”


Donald Bowens lands all-star endorsements in St. Pete City Council bid” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — City Council member Copley Gerdes, former City Council members Darden Rice, Jeff Danner and Frank Peterman, former NBA player Marreese Speights, and former NFL wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr. are all lending their names in support of Bowens’ bid. “Donald Bowens represents the next generation of leadership in our community. He has the passion and the ability to serve well on the City Council,” said Peterman, who served on the City Council in the late ’90s. Bowens is running for the seat currently held by John Muhammad, who was appointed in late 2022 after former District 7 Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman came under scrutiny for violating residency requirements after moving out of her district. Muhammad is not seeking election to the seat.

Donald Bowens is boasting some high-profile endorsements. Image via Donald Bowens.

Hernando School Board removes 2 of 3 challenged books” via Vincent F. Safuto of Suncoast News — Two books were removed from Hernando County schools on Feb. 20, amid accusations that all three books challenged should be removed. “Fade” by Lisa McMann was removed on a 3-2 vote despite a 3-2 vote by the book evaluation Committee that it be kept. School Board Chair Linda Prescott and Board members Mark Johnson and Shannon Rodriguez voted “no” on keeping the book, while Board members Kay Hatch and Gus Guadagnino voted to keep the book. “All the Things We Do in the Dark” by Saundra Mitchell was recommended for removal, and the vote of the School Board to remove it was 5-0.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

JEA trial: Utility specialist saw potential conflicts, insider information in bonus plan” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Federal prosecutors on Monday began zeroing in on some of the critical pieces of their case against former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and CFO Ryan Wannemacher: allegations that the two men siloed or cut out advisers and blew off city auditors when secretly conspiring to pocket money while privatizing the city-owned electric, water and sewer utility they led throughout 2019. Defense attorneys tried to muddy that narrative with cross-examination that at times delved into abstraction as they cross-examined witnesses over interweaving timelines and highly technical accounting terms and parsed the specific meaning of words in utility records. Prosecutors plan to call the former auditor, Kyle Billy, and at least one other employee in the office, Jeff Rodda, this week for more testimony.

Federal prosecutors grill Aaron Zahn.

Tallahassee Chamber Economic Forecast: City lacks a common vision, early education focus” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Annual Economic Forecast for Leon County shows areas of concern as Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson delivered a reality check for business leaders. At 49%, less than half of Leon County’s kindergarten students are considered ready for kindergarten. “If someone asked me what’s the single most important thing we should all just stop and focus on, it’s early learning,” said Wilson, adding the Florida Chamber is driving attention toward it. “Here’s the irony in this: It’s not going to do a damn thing for your company’s profits this year or next or the year after that … If we fix early learning, we fix 1,000 other things.” … “Why isn’t this on the front page of the Tallahassee Democrat?” Wilson said. “It’s not a number we should be afraid of. It’s a number that should motivate all of us.”


National college professors group sanctions New College: ‘politically motivated takeover’” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The governing body of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) voted to sanction New College of Florida for “substantial noncompliance” with academic governance standards, the organization announced in a news release. A sanction from the AAUP serves to inform professors and others of poor working conditions at higher education institutions, according to the organization’s sanction list. In a 32-page December report titled “Political Interference and Academic Freedom in Florida’s Public Higher Education System,” the AAUP outlines an “unprecedented politically motivated takeover of New College of Florida,” and the imposition of an “aggressively ideological agenda, marked by a complete departure from shared governance,” according to the organization.

College professors are blasting New College’s ‘poor working conditions.’

Hurricane Ian effect: Southwest Florida saw fewer visitors in 2023” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Southwest Florida saw fewer visitors in 2023. Visitor numbers dropped noticeably over the year, in both Lee and Collier counties. While the slowdown is blamed on myriad factors, Hurricane Ian is a major one, at least in Lee, as the county is still recovering from the storm’s direct and devastating blow in September 2022. “The decline in tourism metrics in Lee County is largely due to a significant loss of hotel rooms and vacation rentals in coastal areas,” said Tamara Pigott, the county’s Tourism Director, in a statement. At last count, 3,431 of the county’s nearly 14,500 hotel rooms remained offline. Based on that calculation about 76.5% of them are open (including new ones built since Ian).

Lynching marker honors 6 victims who were killed in Sarasota-Manatee County by mobs” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Three Kuumba drummers ushered more than 300 people from the Universalist Unitarian Church of Sarasota with their West-African instruments to the lynching marker that recognized six known Sarasota-Manatee County lynchings. Since 2018, community leaders have been working to get a physical commemoration of Sarasota-Manatee’s six documented lynching victims. The marker was initially discussed to be placed in the historically Black neighborhood of Newtown, but some residents were hesitant to support having a daily reminder of the harsh reality of violence that many African Americans have faced. In Manatee and Sarasota County, the legacy of lynching and racial injustice has left an unforgettable impact on the Black community.


Florida charter school bill, dead for now, could have harmed School Districts” via Robert F. Sanchez in the Miami Herald — Of great concern this year was a bill (HB 109) that until recently was advancing in the House. It would’ve added Florida’s 400+ municipalities to the list of entities that may convert existing public schools to charter schools, but unfortunately, that’s not all it would have done. Dead for now, the bill is supported by powerful special interests and may well emerge again next year, so it deserves further scrutiny. Under this bill, city officials could’ve engineered a series of votes by parents to take over any or all of a School District’s facilities within their municipal boundaries and convert them into charter schools.


Biscayne Bay live aboard boaters should be aware of misguided bill” via David Kennedy of the Miami Herald — In the serene waters of Biscayne Bay, a storm is brewing in the form of proposed state legislation aimed at restricting overnight anchoring. While the intent of Senate Bill 192 and House Bill 437 may seem noble — to address concerns about the impact of transient or live-aboard boaters — the focus on limiting anchorage overlooks the true menace lurking beneath the surface: derelict abandoned vessels. At the heart of the matter lies a fundamental misunderstanding. By targeting overnight anchoring, lawmakers risk penalizing responsible boaters while sidestepping the root cause of the problem. Derelict boats, those abandoned relics of maritime neglect, pose a far greater threat to the bay’s ecosystem and safety than the transient vessels seeking temporary respite along its shores.


— ALOE —

Florida gas prices fall after setting new 2024 high” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Gas prices in Florida hit a new 2024 high, climbing to $3.37 per gallon by midweek before sinking 6 cents through Sunday. By Monday morning, the average statewide price per gallon was $3.30 — 4 cents more than the national average. The peak price last year was $3.85 per gallon. Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for AAA, attributed the recent price hikes to rising oil prices as refineries slow production to conduct seasonal maintenance. “Florida’s gas prices are likely to face continued upward pressure through the next month,” he said, “as the presence of Winter residents and Spring Breakers contributes to strong fuel demand.”

Florida’s Siesta Beach one of the best in the world” via Michael Costeines of Florida’s Voice — Conducted by TripAdvisor, Siesta Beach was listed as the ninth best beach, making it one of two U.S. beaches inside the top 10. The study reviewed analysis of “high volume of above-and-beyond reviews and opinions” from the TripAdvisor community for its findings. “Whether you want to relax or fill your day with activities, Siesta Beach delivers,” TripAdvisor said. “Kick back on the white sand, go swimming in the clear water, play some outdoor sports, or simply admire the sunset — it’s up to you.” According to the list, Siesta Beach received 4.5 “stars” based on 8,500 reviews. The beach is located on Florida’s southwest Gulf Coast near Sarasota.

Siesta Beach is among the best of the best.

Disney shake-up: Sean Bailey leaving studio as David Greenbaum takes over live-action film production” via Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — Bailey, the producer turned executive who has overseen Walt Disney Studios’ live-action division for almost 15 years, is exiting the studio. In his place, Greenbaum, who ran Searchlight Pictures with Matthew Greenfield, will take over in a newly created role of president, Disney live action and 20th Century Studios. Greenbaum will report to Disney Entertainment Co-Chair Alan Bergman. Steve Asbell continues to oversee 20th Century Studios as president while Greenfield takes sole oversight of Searchlight as president.


Celebrating today is our fellow Nole Ryan Duffy of U.S. Sugar (of whom we are still very jealous that he recently saw Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds in Mexico), our dear friend, former Rep. and now Pinellas Commissioner Kathleen Peters, as well as former St. Pete City Council member Bill Dudley, Logan McFaddin, our former colleague Mitch Perry, and Kathleen Rohrer.


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.

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 28, 2024 at 8:24 am

    While Kara Gross is technically correct that chaplains have no place in public schools, those types do have their usual place in schools and it’s the locker room showers during the middle of each class period when nobody else is in there.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn