Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.5.24

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Politics, process, personalities: ‘Sunburn’ tells you what you need to know — now.

Good Tuesday morning.

There are clear winners and losers in every Session, while others prove more elusive to pin down.

Once again, Florida Politics is assembling an (arguably) comprehensive look at who walked away from Sine Die 2024 victorious, who tanked and who landed somewhere between. Of course, lawmakers must pass one bill: Florida’s upcoming state budget.

Like last year, the 2024-2025 budget is stuffed with billions of dollars. It will undoubtedly create winners, but with that much funny money at lawmakers’ disposal, a snub is nothing short of a loss.

Winners and losers in the 2024 Session? We want to hear your take!

That said, we are asking you — our loyal Sunburn readers — for your input.

From lawmakers, newsmakers, state workers and budget writers to lobbyists, advocates and staff (and maybe a reporter or two), which person, group, or issue earned a coveted spot on the list of “Winners and Losers for the 2024 Legislative Session?”

We’ll have the obvious ones covered, so don’t worry about grading the Governor, House Speaker, Senate President or other top officials. A few off-the-beaten-path choices are certainly welcome.

Send your suggestions to [email protected] for consideration.


In the final days and hours of Session, the Legislature seems committed to banning currently legal hemp products.

Sen. Colleen Burton’s bill (SB 1698), which the House could take up if Speaker Paul Renner decided to make it happen before Sine Die, proposes a ban on currently commercially available and federally legal products, along with a cap on delta-9 THC, which could negatively affect the 487 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state.

Colleen Burton’s hemp bill faces a clock running down.

While Burton’s bill is supported by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, farmers, small-business owners and veterans have urged lawmakers to reconsider passing the proposed regulations.

Voters aren’t on Board either. As Florida Politics reported last week, fewer than one-third of Florida voters (32%) are in favor of the proposal, including just 45% of Republicans, 17% of Democrats and 36% of no-party voters.

The lack of support is in stark contrast to last Session, when lawmakers OK’d legislation to enhance consumer safety standards for hemp products that was supported by most stakeholders — including the industry — and passed unanimously.

What remains to be seen if Burton and Rep. Tommy Gregory can carry the bill across the finish line. With so much left to do and so little time left on the clock, there are doubts they can.


Ruth’s List Florida will host Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at its Miami gala later this Spring. The group announced Monday that Benson would serve as the keynote speaker for the group’s annual event May 18.

Ruth’s List Florida recruits, trains and otherwise helps elect Democratic pro-choice women to state and local offices. The Miami gala will include daytime workshops and sessions meant to provide educational training on the group’s mission. The evening gala will provide an opportunity to hear from women running for office and those already elected, like Benson.

“We are beyond excited to welcome Secretary of State Benson to Florida,” said Christina Diamond, Ruth’s List Florida CEO. “Michigan was able to repeal an abortion ban, pass a ballot initiative to put abortion access into the state constitution, and after many years of hard work has turned Michigan blue.”

Jocelyn Benson is the featured guest at the Ruth’s List Miami gala.

Diamond noted that Benson was the first Democratic woman elected Secretary of State in Michigan.

“Jocelyn Benson is a shining example of how important it is to have strong women in leadership at all levels of government,” she said.

Registration for those attending the event will open at 11 a.m. and run through 5 p.m. Training and panel sessions will run from noon until 5 p.m. The cocktail reception and gala dinner begins at 6 p.m. and will conclude at 10.

The event serves as a major fundraiser for the organization, with top sponsorship opportunities — the “Game Changer” status — set at $20,000. For that, sponsors will get a company name on bracelets worn by all gala guests, verbal recognition during the program, a full-page ad in the gala program, a premier table at the gala for eight people and entry for eight people to the VIP cocktail reception.

Other sponsorship opportunities include the “diamond” level, at $15,000, which comes with logos on paddles given to guests, verbal recognition during the program, a full-page ad, a premier gala table for eight and entry for four to the VIP cocktail reception.

The $10,000 platinum sponsorship includes a half-page ad, a premier table for eight, and entry for four to the VIP cocktail reception. Gold sponsorships for $5,500 include a quarter-page ad, a reserved preferred table for eight, and entry for two to the VIP cocktail reception.

Silver sponsorships are $2,500 and include a name and logo on the sponsor page in the program, a reserved half table for four at the gala and access for four to the pre-gala cocktail hour. Bronze-level sponsorships are $1,500 and include a name and logo on the sponsor page, two reserved seats at the gala and access for two to the pre-gala cocktail hour.


Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book will again host her charity’s annual trek from South Florida to the Panhandle this year to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.

Lauren’s Kids, the charity Book founded and runs to help victims of child sexual abuse, has hosted the annual Walk in My Shoes event since 2010.

This year’s walk will begin April 3 at the Southernmost Point of the U.S. in Key West and end April 27 in Panama City. The route features more than 20 stops along the way, and includes partnerships with Florida’s sexual assault treatment centers, children’s advocacy centers, child protection units, Bikers Against Child Abuse, local schools and others.

It’s scheduled to coincide with National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Time to lace up again for a worthy cause.

The event originally began as a 500-mile walk to the Florida Capitol, but it has grown substantially over the past decade with recent iterations featuring thousands of participants and new routes to honor the 42 million survivors in the U.S.

“We’re so excited to bring the Walk in My Shoes back to Florida’s highways and byways — walking 1,500 miles across the state to shine a light, shatter the stigma, and educate communities to keep kids safe,” Book said.

“One in three girls and one in five boys will suffer sexual abuse before graduating high school — and one in five children who touch a digital device will be sexually solicited online. The statistics are staggering, but the solution is clear: 95% of child sexual abuse IS preventable with education and awareness. That’s why we walk.”

The walk will also include stops at classrooms, where Book — a former educator — will teach lessons from her foundation’s Emmy Award-winning Safer, Smarter Kids and Safer, Smarter Teens personal safety and abuse prevention programs that are used nationwide to educate kids.


@craigtimes: The guy who had to resign from #Florida ethics Board because it conflicted with his new job as exec director of the Disney oversight Board has now been appointed by @GovRonDeSantis as Orange County elex supervisor.

@Mdixon55: Find you someone who loves you as much as Ron DeSantis loves Glen Gilzean

@LeaderBookFL: The torture, abuse, and killing of thousands of innocent young boys at the state-run Dozier School for Boys can never truly be made right, but today, the Florida Legislature took an important step by unlocking millions of dollars in restitution funds for surviving victims. It is only right for the State of Florida to pay for its failure to protect these children, now grown men, who will be living with the effects of the horrors they endured for the rest of their lives.

Tweet, tweet:

@Jason_Garcia: A bit of budget intrigue: Florida lawmakers may be growing skeptical of Ron DeSantis’ attempt to turn New College of Florida into an explicitly conservative institution (and an easy landing spot for DeSantis administration allies in need of high-paying jobs) …

Tweet, tweet:


State of the Union address — 2; last day of Regular Session, if Legislature completes work in 60 days — 3; 2024 Oscars — 5; Georgia Democratic Primary — 8; Arizona/Florida/Illinois/Kansas/Ohio Primaries — 15; James Madison Institute’s ‘2024 Naples Dinner’ with keynote speaker Laura Ingraham — 16; ‘3 Body Problem’ premieres on Netflix — 16; Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial begins — 20; The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the mifepristone/abortion pill case — 21; Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2024 season — 23; March Madness Final Four (women’s) begins — 30; March Madness Final Four (men’s) — 33; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 37; The Masters begin — 38; Kentucky Derby — 61; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 66; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 73; French Open begins — 76; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 79; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 78; Monaco Grand Prix — 82; the 2024 World Cup begins — 98; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 116; Republican National Convention begins — 132; the 2024 World Cup ends — 136; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 141; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 143; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 162; Democratic National Convention begins — 168; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 172; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 227; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 230; 2024 Presidential Election — 245; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 258; MLS Cup 2024 — 273; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 346; ‘Moana’ premieres — 476; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 507; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 507; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 612; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 654; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 791; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 807; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,018; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,158; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,117; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,839.


Supreme Court rules Donald Trump stays on Colorado ballot” via Adam Liptak of The New York Times — The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states may not bar Trump from running for another term, rejecting a challenge to his eligibility that threatened to upend the presidential race by taking him off ballots around the nation.

Though the justices provided different reasons, the decision was unanimous. All the opinions focused on legal issues, and none took a position on whether Trump had engaged in insurrection.

Donald Trump takes a victory lap over his SCOTUS win.

All the justices agreed that individual states may not bar candidates for the presidency under a constitutional provision, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which forbids insurrectionists from holding office. Four justices would have left it at that.

But a five-justice majority, in an unsigned opinion, went on to say that Congress must act to give Section 3 force.

“The Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates,” the majority wrote, adding that detailed federal legislation was required to determine who was disqualified under the provision.

In a joint concurring opinion, the court’s three liberal members — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — expressed frustration at what they said was the majority’s needless overreach. They said it was meant to insulate the court and Trump “from future controversy.”

“The court today needed to resolve only a single question: whether an individual state may keep a presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot,” they wrote. “The majority resolves much more than the case before us.”

The glaring omissions and telling fractures in the Trump ballot ruling” via Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney, and Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — Just a few months ago, it looked like March 4 would be the first day of Trump’s criminal trial on federal charges of subverting the 2020 Election. Instead, he spent the day celebrating a legal victory that kept him on state ballots — and preparing for Super Tuesday when he’s expected to sew up the Republican nomination. The dramatic change in circumstances is largely the work of the Supreme Court. In an unsigned opinion Monday, the court threw cold water on states’ efforts to kick Trump off their 2024 ballots. And that ruling came on the heels of the court enabling months of delays in Trump’s federal election trial — delays that have ensured that the trial, once scheduled to begin March 4, almost certainly will not occur before this Fall.


Senate passes replacement for vetoed social media bill” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Senate has passed a replacement bill regulating social media use by minors. After a 30-5 vote, the measure now heads back to the House. Days after DeSantis vetoed legislation barring anyone under age 16 from most social media platforms, lawmakers brought new language to the floor giving more say to parents. Sen. Erin Grall filed an amendment to another House-passed bill (HB 3) that would allow 14- and 15-year-olds to have social media accounts with permission from a legal guardian. “We can’t stand by any longer and allow them, these companies, to own our children with this terrible content,” Grall said. The bill passed in the Senate with stronger support than the legislation (HB 1) nixed by DeSantis, which cleared the chamber on a 23-14 vote. Five Republican Senators had voted against that bill. No Republicans voted against the bill this time.

After a Ron DeSantis veto, lawmakers try again with a revamped social media ban.

Senate passes Everglades protection bill neglected in the House” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A Senate bill aimed at better protecting the Everglades from encroaching construction is heading to the House, where time may have run out for the legislation to pass this year. Senators voted unanimously for SB 1364, which would establish a protective buffer zone around the wetlands in Miami-Dade County. Projects and zoning changes could still happen within the area, but they would first have to undergo a coordinated state review by the Department of Environmental Protection to determine whether they would hurt Everglades restoration. If the answer is yes, the plan would have to be amended to eliminate those negative impacts. Sen. Alexis Calatayud ushered the legislation this year through three Committees, all of which uniformly supported the measure. On Monday, the bill received a 40-0 vote on the Senate floor.

Senate prepares homeless camping ban backed by Ron DeSantis for final vote” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The House has passed legislation banning the unhoused from sleeping in public, and the Senate has now positioned the bill for a vote, setting the stage for a DeSantis priority becoming law. The measure (HB 1365) would ban counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or public camping on public property without explicit permission, creating an unfunded mandate for these localities to round up the homeless and put them somewhere. Under the legislation, counties would be charged with setting up encampments that ban drugs and alcohol and include rehabilitative social services as a way of enforcing the prohibition against rough sleeping. The camps could only be in one place for 365 consecutive days.

House passes easement bill without rollback of China crackdown” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An easement bill has passed on the House floor, but it contains no provisions about Chinese real estate purchases. That leaves the legislation (HB 799) in a different place than its Senate companion, which had language added in Committee that would significantly revamp a China crackdown passed last year and touted by DeSantis as a national model. Rep. Will Robinson said he has not been a part of any talks on inserting language. But he wants the underlying bill on real estate rights to reach the Governor’s desk with language DeSantis will sign. The technical bill addresses inconsistencies in court rulings that undermined development agreements on easement rights.

House votes to ban IDs for undocumented immigrants” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Largely along party lines, legislators passed by an 81-32 vote HB 1451, a Rep. Kiyan Michael and Berny Jacques measure that bans “counties & municipalities, respectively, from accepting certain ID cards or documents that are knowingly issued to individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States as a form of identification.” Various South Florida jurisdictions have accepted such identification in recent years, though those initiatives stopped being funded last Summer. Ahead of the vote, Democrats attempted to knock down the legislation in structured debate, to no avail as usual. Rep. Anna Eskamani attested to the importance of “community IDs” elsewhere in the country, noting that people like Orange County Sheriff John Mina have spoken about the value of using these to connect undocumented immigrants with social services. She noted that these documents don’t allow people to vote or drive legally.

Kiyan Michael and Berny Jacques score a win for banning ID’s for undocumented immigrants.

New specialty license plates, including 1 honoring Jimmy Buffett, headed to Florida highways soon” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — With the House already approving legislation (HB 403), the measure will next move to DeSantis for his signature. The plates run a gamut, including one honoring Jimmy Buffett and his Singing for Change charity, which purports to “inspire personal growth, community integration and the enhanced awareness that collectively, people can bring about positive change.” SB 84, carried by Senate Democratic Leader Book, is on Tuesday’s Senate Special Order calendar. It would designate State Road A1A as “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway.” It would allocate $23,400 to the Florida Department of Transportation, with markers being installed by the end of August. Additionally, plates honoring the Aerospace Center for Excellence, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, United Service Organizations (USO), Recycle Florida Today Foundation, Captain Sandy Yawn, Cure Diabetes, Project Addiction: Reversing the Stigma and The Villages Charter School.


Budget conference: Chambers agree to $10M for Flagler County land acquisition, conservation” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Flagler County’s conservation and land acquisition efforts are getting a $10 million bump from the state. Senate and House lawmakers have agreed on a one-time earmark to help create a flood plain on the county’s west side and preserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitats. That’s good news for Flagler environmentalists, especially since the clock is ticking on the Legislature’s budget conference. The $10 million apportionment fully satisfies matching appropriations requests Palm Coast Sen. Travis Hutson and Belleview Rep. Ryan Chamberlin, both Republicans, sought in November through matching funding requests. The money will go to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for the purchase of environmentally sensitive land in and around the Florida Wildlife Corridor, which includes Flagler’s 30-acre Bull Creek Campground.

Ryan Chamberlin gets an agreement from both chambers for $10M for Flagler County land acquisition.

Help is on the way for Jacksonville’s homeless vets” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rep. Wyman Duggan’s request for funds to help a Jacksonville organization dedicated to helping unhoused populations appears in line to get funding in next year’s budget. The House Supplemental Funding List shows $374,000 for the Five Star Veterans Center Homeless Housing and Reintegration Project, which as of now is Northeast Florida’s only housing community for disabled veterans and others who are struggling with reintegration to civilian society after their service has ended. Five Star, which began 12 years ago amid acute needs in Jacksonville’s veteran-heavy population, claims a “specific focus on veterans aged 22-55 suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Depression, Anxiety and other related mental health issues.” That designation would encompass many who have fought in the various Asian land wars of the last three decades, and the institution currently has 31 clients.

UF Health Jacksonville secures much-needed operational support” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville’s safety-net hospital and sole Level I trauma center is getting a lifeline from the Legislature. As the release of supplemental funding initiatives indicates, UF Health is slated for $10 million of operational support, courtesy of Renner. While this is one-time funding and won’t recur next year without robust lobbying, this is good news for a hospital that historically is underfunded, without a special tax or some other mechanism providing money directly. The appropriations request, carried by Sen. Clay Yarborough and Rep. John Snyder, frames the funding as being in support of “the indigent care mission in Jacksonville.”

MOSH money heads to Jacksonville for ‘Genesis Project’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The state of Florida will kick in on a high-profile and high-priority project to move the Jacksonville Museum of Science and History (MOSH) from the Southbank to the Northbank, in the city’s continued efforts to create attractions downtown. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Renner agreed in a supplemental funding list to release $5 million in total for the Museum of Science and History’s ambitious “Genesis Project.” The money will go along with other local and state funding to build a new museum in 2025 on the former Shipyards property, a 130,000-square-foot space that will include an aquifer exhibit, a water-quality bio lab and a private exhibit space. The museum itself offers similar aspirational promises, vowing to link “present-day Jacksonville to a dynamic vision of what is to come.”

Cape Coral secures $9M for Emergency Operations Center” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cape Coral took a beating from Hurricane Ian. But it just secured millions from the state to be better prepared for the next storm. Supplemental funds set aside in the House and Senate include a collective $9 million to expand an Emergency Operations Center in Southwest Florida’s most populous city. That fully covers a request filed this Legislative Session by Rep. Mike Giallombardo. He submitted a $9 million request from Cape Coral City Manager Paul Clinghan. The ask noted that the city isn’t just recovering from a historic storm but experiencing explosive growth.

Tampa General Hospital lands $2.7M for workforce housing project” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Tampa General Hospital is in line to get nearly $2.7 million for its workforce housing multifamily development. The Senate has included $2,696,867 for the project in its supplemental funding list, commonly referred to as sprinkle list. The House slotted $12.5 million in its original budget for the program, while the Senate included just $2.5 million. The Senate bump offer landed at $7.3 million, meaning the chambers have not agreed on funding levels. Even if the chambers agree to the House’s larger offer, the funding will still land well below what was requested. Sen. Jay Collins, whose district includes Tampa General Hospital, requested $25 million for the project.

Crystal River the big winner among Citrus County projects” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County’s projects were a mixed bag of success in the final state budget, with some getting no funding and two projects receiving their full ask. Crystal River City Hall received the county’s lone sprinkle boost of $5 million, on top of $5 million lawmakers had already approved. The City of Crystal River had requested $10 million to replace City Hall, which has not reopened since being flooded during Hurricane Idalia. Three projects were totally shut out: U.S. 41 widening, the Crystal River boat ramp and the Cross Florida Barge Canal boat ramp. Others received a fraction of their requests. Lawmakers agreed to $25.7 million in Citrus County projects.

—”$15M flows to FGCU for Lake O, regional water quality study” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”Last-minute earmark adds $10M more for Indiantown water treatment plant” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Space Florida successfully lands remainder of requested funding” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It looks like Space Florida leaders have a lot of reasons to feel over the moon this Session. The House placed an additional $5 million in operations costs for the economic development agency in its supplemental appropriations, affectionately known as the “sprinkle list.” That means lobbyists for Space Florida can call the mission for appropriations this Session a complete success. The agency had already secured $12.5 million in basic funding, meeting its state budget from the prior year and had secured $6 million for a new finance fund. The $5 million in additional operations was the last star needed to complete this year’s appropriations wish list. Space Florida is the leading economic development entity in the aerospace arena for Florida, a state with a strong claim as home to the space industry.

Senate ponies up for K9s for Warriors” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Senate supplemental funding list includes a seven-figure appropriation for a Northeast Florida charity connecting those who served the country with service dogs. K9s for Warriors is slated to get $1 million courtesy of Passidomo, who offered funding for what was originally a $3 million request carried by term-limited GOP Sen. Hutson. “Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors provides highly trained Service Dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. With the majority of dogs being rescues, this innovative program allows the K9/Warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery,” is how the group describes its mission.

Kathleen Passidomo does her part to help K9s for Warriors.

Private prisons lock down millions for salaries, contract extensions” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Several private prisons scored big in salary sprinkles. The Senate and House supplemental funding lists both budgeted significant dollars to cover correctional officer pay. Pay equity between guards at private prisons and those working directly for the Department of Corrections has been a sticking point for the House and Senate through the budget conference process. While the Senate has pushed in talks for more funding to catch salaries up to state workers, the House ultimately jumped in and agreed to chip in as much for the job at hand. The bulk will go to three facilities. The facilities run by The GEO Group — Blackwater River Correctional, Moore Haven Correctional and South Bay Correctional — will receive $1.6 million the Legislature for the sole purpose of raising correctional officer salaries “commensurate with salary increases for state correctional officers.”

Sprinkle list: South Florida gets 4.5% cut of last-minute budget earmarks” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The House and Senate have released their respective “sprinkle lists” for the coming budget, and they combined for a healthy sum: $650 million that lawmakers can say they delivered last-minute for local projects. Of that total, Miami-Dade Broward and Palm Beach counties can look forward to receiving about $30 million — a roughly 4.5% cut. The sprinkle list, as its name suggests, is an assortment of supplemental funding initiatives the Legislature compiles as budgeting processes near closing to provide typically small apportionments (compared to other earmarks) to regional projects. As was the case in years prior, the preponderance of sprinkle set-asides this year can be separated into education, infrastructure and a third pot of miscellaneous items.

Sprinkle list: Pinellas Ark Innovation Center in line for $1M” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Senate has included in its supplemental funding $1 million for the Ark Innovation Center at Pinellas County Schools. The “sprinkle list” funding is half what Republican Sen. Nick DiCeglie requested, but more than the $700,000 included in the main budget — the Senate’s original offer, which the House accepted. The Ark Education Innovation Center will expose students to various technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, energy storage, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, space exploration, DNA sequencing, blockchain, next-gen internet and more. “These and other technologies are greatly impacting the world and the jobs Florida students will train in and seek employment,” the request reads.

Sprinkle list: Senate pumps $15M into Naples stormwater project” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Senate will pipe $15 million toward a Naples stormwater project. Funding comes from Senate Supplemental Funding, affectionately known as the “sprinkle list,” and will fulfill a major funding priority of Senate President Passidomo. The Naples Republican this year put in a request for the Naples Gulf of Mexico Beach Stormwater Outfall Pipe Removal & Water Quality Project. She notably only sought $10 million for the effort but will bring home even more. The project contributes to a Department of Environmental Protection effort to remove all stormwater pipes feeding into Naples’ beaches. “The City has designed and already permitted a project that improves water quality, flood protection and the City’s resiliency to climate change,” reads a request filed by Passidomo.


Dozier compensation bill heads to DeSantis — A bill that would compensate survivors of abuse at the Dozier and Okeechobee schools is now ready for the Governor’s signature. The bill sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Darryl Rouson sets aside $20 million for the victims. “The victims of abuse at the Dozier and Okeechobee schools have endured years of pain and suffering, waiting for the justice they deserve for atrocities by the state of Florida. Today, their perseverance has paid off. The Legislature stands with them not only with our apologies — but with action. Through this compensation program, we affirm our commitment to recognizing the pain, courage and resilience of survivors; offering them the closure and dignity they have been denied for far too long.”

Kudos to Darryl Rouson for his $20M for Dozier victims.

Florida poised to bar citizen oversight Boards from probing police misconduct” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida lawmakers are poised to bar civilian police oversight Boards in Orlando and elsewhere in the Sunshine State from investigating complaints of officer misconduct. The change will remove a vital layer of review that helps to build community trust in law enforcement, said Caila Coleman, a former member of Orlando’s Board. “Whoever offered this bill wants people to forget what happened to George Floyd,” said Coleman, who served on the Board from 2016 to 2021. “Now you are trying to get rid of the transparency of the police department. That does nothing but cause mistrust among citizens. What are you trying to hide?”

Road closed for proposed red light camera ban in Florida Constitution” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Legislation calling for a voter-approved amendment to the Florida Constitution banning red light cameras died without a hearing — again. GOP lawmakers this year ignored related resolutions (SJR 2042, HJ 805) calling for a statewide ballot question on amending the constitution to prohibit “traffic infraction detectors” from recording motorists who fail to stop at stop signs or signals. Sen. Ileana Garcia and Rep. David Borrero carried the measures, which differed slightly. While Borrero’s bill aimed to end red light camera use statewide without exception, Garcia’s version would have allowed them in school speed zones — a new enforcement policy DeSantis approved in June. Neither got any play. DiCeglie and Rep. Fiona McFarland, who chaired the bills’ first Committee stops, declined to schedule either for a hearing.


Are Florida Republicans breaking from DeSantis? Divide grows as GOP ‘wish list’ fades” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — Republican supermajorities in the Florida House and Senate are poised to deal a political setback to an unlikely target: The Florida Republican Party. With lawmakers hurtling toward a scheduled Friday finish to the 2024 Session, most of the 10 items included in the state GOP’s legislative wish list already have been declared dead or look destined to fall short of clearing both chambers. For some, it’s a sign that many fellow Republicans are rejecting DeSantis’ trademark “war on woke” after it didn’t provide much traction for him during his failed bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Others say it points to deep-seated political divisions within the party’s ranks at both the state and national level, which could foretell wholesale losses in November’s elections. “If the party does not start reforming itself from within, the voters are going to make that conversion for us,” said Rep. Spencer Roach.

There seems to be daylight between DeSantis and Republican lawmakers.

Lauren Book lauds passage of Dozier and Okeechobee schools compensation bill — Senate Democratic Leader Book cheered the Senate’s passage of a bill that creates a compensation program for Dozier and Okeechobee School abuse survivors. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk. “The torture, abuse, and killing of thousands of innocent young boys at the state-run Dozier School for Boys can never truly be made right, but today, the Florida Legislature took an important step by unlocking millions of dollars in restitution funds for surviving victims,” Book said. “It is only right for the State of Florida to pay for its failure to protect these children, now grown men, who will be living with the effects of the horrors they endured for the rest of their lives.”

Fears over redevelopment bill unfounded, AIF says” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — HB 789, sponsored by Rep. Toby Overdorf, specifies that companies involved in redeveloping contaminated that comply with all state environmental standards, meet cleanup targets and receive all necessary permits, they may not be sued lands may not be sued under a strict liability statute. Critics have contended that would benefit bad actors. The Friends of the Everglades has described the provision as “a backdoor way to protect polluters from being held accountable.” But the Associated Industries of Florida said the bill would alleviate the concerns held by companies that redevelop blighted lands in the wake of a 2019 court decision that reversed prior interpretations of the Water Quality Assurance Act.

AFP praises Legislature for career education bill — Americans for Prosperity-Florida is praising lawmakers for passing HB 917. “The Florida Legislature has once again shown its commitment to supporting our future workforce by expanding safe, meaningful on-the-job training opportunities for high school students. Our residential needs have never been greater as hundreds of thousands of Americans flock to the Sunshine State each year — and as the need for housing continues to rise, so too does the demand for skilled construction workers,” APF-Florida State Director Skylar Zander said. “Students who wish to pursue careers in construction will now be able to gain hands-on experience in one of Florida’s top industries and we applaud Sen. Simon, Rep. Snyder, and the entire Legislature for this good bill. We look forward to Gov. DeSantis signing this workforce initiative into law.”


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

10:30 a.m. The House holds a floor Sesson. House Chambers.

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


Federal appeals court blocks Florida’s ‘Stop WOKE Act’ rules for businesses” via Brooke Migdon of The Hill — A federal appeals court ruled unanimously Monday to block a Florida law preventing businesses from requiring employees to attend workplace trainings that promote diversity and inclusion, affirming a temporary injunction issued by a lower court. “This is not the first era in which Americans have held widely divergent views on important areas of morality, ethics, law and public policy,” a three-judge panel for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in Monday’s decision. “And it is not the first time that these disagreements have seemed so important and their airing so dangerous, that something had to be done. But now, as before, the First Amendment keeps the government from putting its thumb on the scale.”

Courts deliver a legal smackdown to DeSantis’ ‘Stop WOKE Act.’

Principals face punishment over ‘illegal’ book removals. Critics cry foul.” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Saying Florida’s schoolbook challenge rules were being hijacked for political purposes, DeSantis called for changes to the model in mid-February. Two weeks later, the Department of Education unveiled its proposal to tackle part of the problem that DeSantis identified. It would penalize principals who allow books to be removed from student access “without legal cause.” Outside observers who have paid close attention to the state’s efforts to make book objections easier contended the recommended rule would not resolve the situation that DeSantis spoke about. Rather, they argued, the rule would muddy the water further, as it does not offer any added clarity as to what a school may not keep on its shelves.

Gas prices climb 3 cents as Summer blend enters market” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida gas prices hit $3.34 per gallon Sunday, 3 cents higher than the state average a week prior and 3 cents shy of this year’s highest price point. Mark Jenkins, representative for AAA, said in a statement that gas prices will likely grow even costlier this week or next due to market and production shifts. “Gasoline futures shot up 30 cents late last week. That’s an indicator that Summer blend gasoline has moved into the market,” he said. “Drivers should expect a jump at the pump, but how much remains to be seen.” Oil refineries switch from producing winter blend gas to Summer blend between March and April, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency, to cut down on smog. The difference in the blends is based on Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), which measures the volatility of petroleum products.

Lobster catch dips to lowest level since 2009” via The Associated Press — America’s lobster fishing business dipped in catch while grappling with challenges including a changing ocean environment and new rules designed to protect rare whales. The lobster industry, based mostly in Maine, has had an unprecedented decade in terms of the volume and value of the lobsters brought to the docks. But members of the industry have also said they face existential threats from proposed rules intended to protect the North Atlantic right whale and climate change that is influencing where lobsters can be trapped. Maine fishermen’s catch in 2023 fell more than 5% from the year that preceded it and the total of 93.7 million pounds of lobsters caught was the lowest figure since 2009, according to data released Friday by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The figure tracks with the up-and-down year lobster fishermen experienced, said Dave Cousens a fishermen based out of Criehaven island and a former president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.

— 2024 —

Super Tuesday’s dominance highlights how presidential selection process can exclude many U.S. voters” via Gary Fields of The Associated Press — As an independent, Christian Miller can’t vote in Pennsylvania’s closed Presidential Primary in April. He said it wouldn’t matter even if he could. “You’re not really voting for anything,” said Miller, who left the Democratic Party in 2022. “Every election I’ve ever seen, the candidates have been decided by the time they get to Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania is a crucial presidential swing state and the fifth most populous in the country. And yet holding a Primary so much later than other states mean its voters often have little say in choosing the presidential contenders. It’s the same for voters in much of the rest of the country.

—“Early voting begins in Florida’s GOP Primary Election” via WTSP

Florida’s Primary is here!

Is No Labels about to face-plant?” via Daniel Lippman and Shia Kapos of POLITICO — Donors to No Labels are starting to fear that the third-party group missed its window for launching a much-hyped presidential bid and are questioning whether to make future financial commitments to the organization. Those fears have intensified after two high-profile No Labels candidate targets — former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat — passed on the chance to run for President, and as the party’s planned April presidential nominating convention approaches without a clear ticket in place. “No Labels just missed one heck of an opportunity to potentially be viable, and now I don’t know that they can be viable,” said Jim Teague, the CEO of a Texas oil and gas company.

Joe Biden’s last campaign” via Evan Osnos of The New Yorker — For decades, there was a lightness about Biden — a springy, mischievous energy that was hard not to like, even if it allowed some people to classify him as a lightweight. For better and worse, he is a more solemn figure now. His voice is thin and clotted, and his gestures have slowed, but, in our conversation, his mind seemed unchanged. He never bungled a name or a date. At one point, he pulled out a white notecard inscribed with some of Trump’s most alarming comments: his threat to terminate the Constitution, his casual talk of being a dictator on “Day One,” his description of immigrants as “poisoning the blood of our country.”


Biden must focus on issues that matter most in State of the Union” via Cory Andrews in the Fort Myers News-Press — With President Biden’s State of the Union address next week, this is a critical time for the President to prove to the nation his administration is zeroed in on the issues that matter most to Floridians and families across the country. As the president of Lee County’s Florida Young Democrats, I do support President Biden and am actively working to help get him re-elected come November. However, I find myself concerned that the White House is getting sidetracked with niche issues rather than the big picture. As an example, interest groups are lobbying the White House to ban menthol cigarettes, and lately this topic has received more media and attention than health care affordability or common-sense gun reform. Why?

Joe Biden must keep his eyes on the prize.

Congress releases six funding bills ahead of Friday shutdown deadline” via Mariana Alfaro and Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post — Congressional appropriators on Sunday released half a dozen bills that, if passed this week, would keep six agencies funded for the rest of the fiscal year after months of turmoil and blockades led by conservative Republicans seeking severe cuts to federal spending. The package totals about $460 billion, a better-late-than-never agreement reached among congressional leaders after months of delays, negotiations and stopgap measures that took the government to the brink of a shutdown multiple times since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1. Republicans said Sunday that they hope to limit total nondefense spending in fiscal year 2024 to about $704 billion, $40 billion less than fiscal year 2023.

House GOP still plans to call Hunter Biden to testify publicly as support for impeachment wanes” via Ryan Nobles, Rebecca Kaplan and Sarah Fitzpatrick of NBC News — The House Republicans running the impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden still plan to call Hunter Biden to testify in a public hearing, although sources familiar with their planning say the two sides haven’t engaged on setting a date. Hunter Biden initially balked at appearing before the Committee behind closed doors and insisted the hearing be held publicly. But after Republicans voted to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry and amid threats of a contempt of Congress vote, lawyers for the President’s son agreed to arrange his testimony. Despite mixed reviews of the effectiveness of the closed-door deposition, the Committee Chairs continue to publicly support conducting the public hearing in the near future.


Jeff Brandes backs Mike Harting for St. Pete City Council” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Former Sen. Brandes is endorsing Mike Harting in his bid for St. Petersburg City Council, District 3. Brandes’ endorsement lends conservative credibility to Harting’s campaign, while also offering support from someone known for his independent streak. “He’s an independent thinker with experience as a small-business owner and community leader, which will allow him to bring valuable new insights to the City Council,” Brandes said of Harting. “Mike will protect opportunities for current and future generations in our great city, and he has my full support.” Harting, now registered to vote with no party affiliation, was formerly registered as a Republican. His wife, Leigh Harting, remains registered to the GOP, according to the latest information from L2 Data.

Mike Harting gets a major conservative endorsement.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Can Trump finally win Miami-Dade County? An early poll highlights Democratic worries” via Douglas Hanks and Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — Democrats in Miami-Dade County face the kind of unsettling possibility they hoped had died with the DeSantis presidential campaign: Biden losing a county that’s gone blue by a comfortable margin since the 1980s, and dragging local Democrats down with him. A November poll by the re-election effort for Democratic Mayor Daniella Levine Cava spelled out how much the landscape had shifted since Trump lost Miami-Dade by 7 points to Biden in 2020. The phone and text survey of 500 likely voters by EMC Research found Biden the choice of just 35% of the respondents, compared to 46% for Trump.

Leader of the Miami-Dade Democrats is suspended by Florida Party Chair” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — With elections for local, state and federal posts just months away, Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried is suspending the head of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, according to party officials. Fried called Robert Dempster, who’s helmed the county party since 2021, to ask for his resignation. Dempster declined to step down, according to party officials, prompting Fried to suspend him from the job. The decision came just over a month after Florida Democratic Party officials sent a letter to Dempster notifying him that the Miami-Dade party was out of compliance with the state party’s rules and bylaws.

Robert Dempster
Robert Dempster gets dumped for Democratic Party mismanagement.

Palm Beach County Democratic Party leader suspended by state chief amid 2024 election year.” via Stephany Matat of the Palm Beach Post — After more than a year of divisive conflicts between Palm Beach County Democratic leaders and key volunteers, state party chief Fried has suspended Mindy Koch from her position as Chair of the local party’s ruling Board. The suspension marks the first time a state party leader has initiated the process of removing an elected county party Chair from the helm. As of Monday afternoon, Fried wrote in a statement, Vice Chair Sean Rourk is in charge of the Palm Beach County party’s Governing Board, the Democratic Executive Committee, pending the election of a new leader.

Riviera Council member’s appeal to participate in election denied; is Supreme Court next step?” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — A Florida appeals court denied a request from Riviera Beach Council member Julia Botel that it reconsider a ruling disqualifying her from seeking a third term. Botel said she would appeal to the state Supreme Court, though her would-be opponent, Glen Spiritis, said his attorney told him that the court does not have jurisdiction over such cases. Without comment, the 4th District Court of Appeal denied Botel’s request for a rehearing, letting stand a decision it made that Botel had paid her campaign filing fee with a cashier’s check and not one drawn from a campaign account, as is required by state law.

Brightline could open new Stuart station in 2026, two years sooner than expected.” via Keith Burbank of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The worst-kept secret in town finally came out into the open: Brightline will build its next station in downtown Stuart. And it may be open in 2026, two years earlier than originally estimated, officials said. “We are very excited that Stuart will be the hub for our Brightline station,” Brian Kronberg, Brightline senior vice president for development, told a crowd of about 50 people, mostly VIPs, gathered at the future station site, 500 Southeast Flagler Ave. The $60 million station — a collaboration among the city of Stuart, Martin County and the railroad — will cost the city and county $45 million, with Brightline covering the remainder of the costs.

After JetBlue and Spirit part ways, South Florida retains its ‘hometown’ airline, but what’s next?” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Say what you will about the merits or downsides of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines muscling up as a merged airline to compete against the U.S. aviation industry’s “Big 4” players of American, Delta, Southwest and United. The decision by Miramar-based Spirit and JetBlue of New York, both predominant carriers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, to terminate their $3.8 billion merger deal means there still will be two sizable discount airlines, not one, serving the Broward County airport, most likely maintaining high traffic levels generated by travelers looking to fly on the cheap.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis appoints Disney district chief Glen Gilzean as Orange Elections Supervisor” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Gov. DeSantis appointed Gilzean, the administrator of the district overseeing Walt Disney World, to succeed Bill Cowles as Orange County Election Supervisor. Gilzean, a Republican and former president and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League was appointed by DeSantis last year to oversee the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District after the state’s takeover of the formerly Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District. Gilzean makes $400,000 in that position. The Orange Supervisor’s salary is $205,000. Gilzean’s appointment lasts only until the winner of the election in November takes office in January 2025. Gilzean is currently not listed as a candidate.

Glen Gilzean gets yet another new gig.

Apopka voters to choose among 4 candidates for 2 Council seats” via Tayeba Hussein of the Orlando Sentinel — With two City Council seats up for election in Apopka, issues like deteriorating roadways, services for people experiencing homelessness and approaches to economic growth have been hot topics among the four candidates. For Seat 4, incumbent Nick Nesta is up for re-election and will be facing Eric Mock once again after defeating Mock in 2022. Vying for Seat 3 are first-time candidates Nadia Anderson and Darryl Richardson. Incumbent Kyle Becker announced in February that he will not be running for re-election and that he and his family are moving out of Apopka. With a population nearing 60,000, Apopka is Orange County’s second-largest city.

Osceola Sheriff apologizes after posting photo of dead body on Instagram” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — The office of Osceola County Sheriff Marcos López issued an apology after a photo of a dead body was posted to the Sheriff’s Instagram page, prompting an online uproar over the weekend. The photo, which the Orlando Sentinel received but will not publish, was of a body wearing a green top and blue jeans lying beneath a mound of brush, and appeared to have been posted to López’s Instagram page along with images of a community event for seniors hosted by the Sheriff. The photo was posted a day after the corpse of 13-year-old Madeline Soto was found in rural St. Cloud by Osceola County Sheriff’s Office search teams.

Is someone breaking pelicans’ wings in Brevard? Rehab euthanizes 39 pelicans since Feb. 19” via Jim Waymer of Florida Today — Animal-care officials suspect someone might be breaking brown pelican wings in Brevard County and elsewhere in Florida. It’s uncertain at this point, but the nonprofit Florida Wildlife Hospital in Palm Shores has received 42 injured pelicans since Feb. 19, and all but three pelicans had wing injuries so severe that they had to be euthanized. “That type of a fracture, it’s not treatable,” said Tracy Frampton, Executive Director of the nonprofit Florida Wildlife Hospital in Palm Shores. All pelicans had similar fractures and no other trauma, Frampton added, so she suspects it’s unlikely they got tangled in something such as a fishing line or a fishing net. There would be more bruising, she added, and the injuries are very focused.


Pasco panel votes to restrict LGBTQ+ book of essays to high schools” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — A Committee of teachers and parents has partially upheld a Pasco County mom’s objection to a book of essays by LGBTQ+ authors, saying it does not belong in district middle schools but declining to remove it from the district altogether. The panel on Monday recommended allowing “The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves” in high schools, where members said the material would be more age appropriate. No high schools currently own the book. Lea Mitchell, the district’s Leading and Learning director, said the recommendation would be placed in purchasing guidelines in case any school decides it wants the title in the future.

Pasco Schools backs up an LGBTQ+ book ban.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

‘An exciting year’: City of Tallahassee celebrates 200th birthday with community” via Alicia Devine of Tallahassee Democrat — What a 200 years it’s been. With a celebration held in front of City Hall Monday afternoon, the community gathered to wish a “happy birthday” to the place they call home. “This is an exciting year of celebration for our city,” Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said while addressing the crowd of about 250. “As we move through Tallahassee, this bicentennial year, I urge each and every one of you to take a second to celebrate our 200 years of excellence and all that’s been accomplished and while we also embrace the next 100 years, as we set the foundation for future generations,” “Ambitious from the Beginning” is the theme for the yearlong Bicentennial observance. The event featured live music from the Raa Middle School Steel Band and Florida A&M jazz band, as well as historians Althemese Barnes and Doug Smith.

Tallahassee celebrates a bicentennial.

JEA trial: Bankers had concerns about rapidly moving privatization effort and bonus plan” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Two investment bankers on Monday told jurors in the trial against JEA’s former CEO and CFO that they were concerned about the rapidly moving process to finalize a deal to privatize the city-owned utility in 2019, an aggressive timeline that appeared based on fears that public opposition was building against the idea. The bankers also had worries about an incentive plan the executives asked the JEA Board of Directors to approve that could have paid out tens of millions of dollars in the event the utility and a private company reached a deal. On top of other concerns, Jason Gredell, an executive director with JP Morgan, who helped JEA’s ex-leaders on the privatization project, said it was unlike anything he’d seen before in a public agency.

Emmitt Smith ‘utterly disgusted’ by UF eliminating DEI positions” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Smith said he’s upset with the decision, given that the elimination of DEI leaves it to the Provost to “raise money for the University and continue to advance the academic studies and programs.” “We cannot believe and trust that a team of leaders all made up of the same background will make the right decision when it comes to equality and diversity. History has proven that’s not the case,” Smith said. “Instead of showing courage and leadership, we continue to fail based on systemic issues and with this decision, UF has conformed to the political pressures of today’s time,” Smith continued, adding that those who “stay on the sidelines and say nothing” are “complicit in supporting systemic issues.”

Goodbye, DEI: UF students react to elimination of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion positions” via Lillian Lawson of The Gainesville Sun — Amiya Gupta, a fourth-year engineering major, said she wasn’t surprised due to the political climate in Florida over the last few years but is disappointed in the university’s decision. Gupta said she’s seeing professors begin to search for jobs elsewhere, including in the engineering department. Gupta wants to pursue grad school and said she has spoken to students in the doctoral application process who say UF has good research but that they don’t want to attend because of the politics. “I think that UF is going to have a big struggle with brain drain and people going to other areas, simply because they don’t feel like there’s support from the university,” she said.

Federal judge won’t order Special Elections for racially gerrymandered Duval School Board seats” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard won’t order the City of Jacksonville to hold Special Elections this year for two racially gerrymandered Duval School Board seats, allowing the members elected in those districts to remain in office until their regular election in 2026. School Board Members Darryl Willie and Charlotte Joyce, from the districts identified as racially gerrymandered, will keep their positions without a new election this year. The Friday ruling marks the conclusion of a yearslong battle that saw hundreds of residents protest City Council and School Board district maps that segregated voters on the basis of race. Howard previously struck down those maps, and when the City Council tried again to pass new ones, Judge Howard wrote that “the City’s effort to do so was hamstrung by its failure to address Jacksonville’s thirty-year history of racial gerrymandering.”

‘Big, big deal’: JU law school gets provisional accreditation, letting grads take Bar exams” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — About a year and a half after classes began, Jacksonville University’s College of Law has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association, the school said Monday. The approval means graduates will be able to take Bar exams required to practice law and can be considered for clerkships or other jobs requiring a degree from an accredited school. “This is a very important, if not crucial, milestone that we have achieved,” law school Dean Nicholas Allard said. “It’s a big, big deal.”

Jacksonville University’s Law School gets some big news.

60% of sea turtle hatchlings get turned around by city lights. Here’s Escambia’s solution” via Mollye Barrows of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County recently updated and approved its ordinance regarding the use of artificial lights at night on local beaches. While Pensacola Beach won’t see major changes, this is the first-time home and business owners on Perdido Key will have to abide by lighting rules aimed at protecting coastal wildlife. Bright, artificial lights at night are disorienting to hatchling sea turtles who rely on the light of the moon and stars to make their way to back to the sea. The glow from streetlights, buildings and even electronics like televisions can disrupt their natural navigation skills. “The last couple of years we’ve averaged about 30 nests on county beaches, and we know about 60% of those nests disorient every year,” said Samantha Pitts, environmental program manager for Escambia County’s Natural Resources Management Department.

9-foot great white shark pings off Panama City, Florida coast just in time for Spring Break” via Kim Luciani of USA Today Network — There’s a 9-foot 7-inch visitor in Florida Panhandle waters, just in time for Spring Break. A great white shark nicknamed Keji and tagged by the research group OCEARCH pinged off the Panama City coast Saturday at 10:44 p.m. Scientists placed a satellite tag on the shark’s dorsal fin during its 2021 expedition in Canada. The tag sends location information to trackers when it breaks the surface of the water. Keji has been hanging around Florida since November. His tracked pings show him southeast of St. Augustine on Nov. 30, near the Florida Keys on Dec. 13 off Marco Island’s coast on Feb. 4 and Feb. 16. He also swam to the Florida Panhandle in early 2023 and wintered around the Sunshine State in 2021 and 2022.


Lee Health going private? Talks continue among public hospital leaders” Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Will Lee Health go private? Lee Health could forge partnerships with university-based hospitals if it changes from a publicly run system to a private nonprofit entity. That could help with recruiting physicians and addressing ongoing shortages, according to consultants. The partnerships would provide an avenue for physicians to have sovereign immunity protection against large medical malpractice claims, according to consultants with Kaufman Hall. Lee Health leaders met in a workshop to continue assessing the consultants’ report on potentially converting from a public system to a private nonprofit system. The Board started looking last year at making the change. The 10-member publicly elected Board has until June 20 to decide if it wants to pursue a conversion.

Lee Health may be going private.

Lakewood Ranch will expand in 2024 and beyond. Here’s what to expect.” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — William Russell started at the Sarasota Housing Authority about a month after the organization was placed in federal receivership in 2005. At the time, the authority — founded in 1938 as one of the first public housing agencies in Florida — had not created any new public housing units since 1978. The units it did have were old, lacking central air conditioning and in drastic need of replacement. Federal regulators found the agency troubled “in several aspects, including financial, physical condition, and management,” according to the housing agency’s website. Those failures led the authority on a path that has resulted in the construction of several new projects near the Newtown area, including an 84-unit development called Cypress Square.

Brown water near the coast: Lake O releases ongoing, could last until May” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lake Okeechobee waters continue to blast out of the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, and coastal Southwest Florida waters are starting to look like chocolate milk. Aerial images from volunteers with Calusa Waterkeeper show a stark contrast between the Gulf of Mexico waters and the billions of gallons of tainted freshwater coming from the lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically holds Friday media calls when large-scale releases are conducted, but the agency did not have any such meeting on March 1 and doesn’t plan to hold a press meeting until March 29. Army Corps officials were unable to say exactly what flow rates will be to the west coast over the next week.

Why is Interstate 75 traffic so bad in Manatee County? Upgrades are coming, FDOT says” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — For anyone who’s hit the brakes and wondered about the chronically slow-moving traffic — and who hasn’t? — on Interstate 75 through Manatee County, there are reasons. Chief among them, population growth. In 2022, about 319,000 people moved to Florida, making it the fastest-growing state in the country. From that influx, about 30,000 have been moving annually to Manatee-Sarasota in recent years. They move to existing neighborhoods in Bradenton and Palmetto, and new neighborhoods in the Parrish-North River area, Lakewood Ranch and elsewhere. Plus, there are the winter residents, the snowbirds and other visitors drawn to Manatee County beaches. The Florida Department of Transportation has several projects and studies underway focused on easing the congestion.


Legislature in Florida seems to be devoted to eviscerating ethics laws” via Lonnie Groot for the Florida Ethics Institute — In the 1970s, Florida Supreme Court justices were popularly elected. But a number of scandals threatened to topple the Court until public outrage led to profound reforms and fundamental changes in the way supreme justices were seated.

Those scandals led to the resignations of two Supreme Court Justices and to the constitutional amendment providing for merit selection and retention of Florida appellate judges. One Justice abruptly retired after being filmed on an expensive junket to Las Vegas, it was disclosed that two other Justices tried to fix cases in lower courts on behalf of campaign supporters and a fourth justice destroyed illegal evidence by shredding his copy of a document and flushing it down a toilet in his Supreme Court chambers.

Outside of the judicial branch, cabinet officials were indicted and embroiled in ethical issues and State legislative and local officials operated in the dark with their finances and activities hidden from the public.

Lessons from the past may not always ward off doom, but they can provide insights into the present and even into the future. A clarion call has been sounded to all Floridians to demand ethical government and strong ethics laws.

Do we want government in the sunshine, or will we accept darkness in the halls of government with ethics merely being a thing to be scoffed at by those in power?


This Supreme Court decision on the Colorado ballot is a death threat to the 14th Amendment” via Charles Pierce of Esquire — There is the unmistakable aroma of chickenshit to this ruling. An unsigned ruling with no dissents? Sonia? Elena? Ketanji? Hello? Is anybody there? Is this thing on? Testing — one, two? Hello? This lines up neatly with Bush v. Gore on the roster of ring-and-run Supreme Court decisions regarding election law. The latter specifically rejected its value as precedent. And this decision is an anonymous death threat aimed at the 14th Amendment. The Court’s wariness of patchwork state laws concerning individual rights seems rather selective. In addition, this Court’s decision extensively states as fundamental its decision in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, in which it ruled that states could not erect additional barriers to candidates for federal office.

We all thought women’s rights were a done deal. We thought wrong.” via Diane Roberts of Florida Phoenix — Christopher Rufo, the man behind the destruction of Florida’s once-renowned honors college, says women in higher education cause “all sorts of cultural problems,” turning universities into “social justice ghettos.” Trust those girls to insist on learning about social justice. Whatever happened to getting that all-important MRS degree? Back when New College was nationally ranked and celebrated for its creative approach to learning, enrollment was two-thirds women. Rufo’s response to New College’s success? Admit lots of men instead. Shut down gender studies and lower academic requirements so a critical mass of jocks can get in. More Kens, fewer Barbies. A campus full of dudes will help run off those woke professor wimmin who agree with suffragist and writer Rebecca West, famous for saying, “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”

JJ Coombs: A plea for conservatives to act conservatively” via Florida Politics — It seems like the medical marijuana industry wants to grab as big a market share of any and all cannabis products as possible before Florida voters have a chance to approve recreational marijuana, and the hemp industry is paying the price. These large medical marijuana companies are already able to sell hemp products — but as they say, the best way to beat the competition is to eliminate the competition. The worst part is that some respected elected officials are doing their bidding. The Legislature still has time to stand with Florida’s hemp industry and the majority of Florida voters who are against the hemp product bans in the proposed legislation. Now is the time to do the right thing for the Florida workers.

Local consumer advocate: Race to lead energy innovation powered by natural gas in Florida” via Kevin Doyle for The Florida Times-Union — While the benefits of natural gas are felt nationwide, it is vital in Florida where we are prone to extreme weather conditions. Natural gas keeps critical infrastructure up and running during power outages. Hospitals, first responders and other essential services depend on natural gas to care for those who can’t go without power. Natural gas provides reliability, particularly in meeting baseload power demands. Unlike solar energy, which is dependent on weather conditions and daylight hours, natural gas can consistently generate power, providing a stable and continuous energy supply. This reliability is crucial for maintaining a steady power grid and ensuring uninterrupted energy access, especially during periods of high demand.

William Mattox All hybrids are not the same; Florida’s education policies need to reflect this” via Florida Politics — In recent years, a growing number of families have sought out hybrid learning plans in which students spend some learning time with a paid instructor and some learning time at home with a parent. These hybrid education plans come in all shapes and sizes. And they each have much to commend. Still, they don’t all belong in the same category. Because some operate like traditional schools (in which teachers direct students’ education) and some more closely resemble homeschools (in which parents curate their child’s curriculum). Florida’s K-12 scholarship programs currently cover only parent-curated forms of hybrid education.


— ALOE —

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ on Disney+: Exclusive trailer reveal” via Carson Blackwelder of Good Morning America — It was announced in early February that Swift’s blockbuster concert film would make its streaming debut on Disney+ and would include a few surprises for fans, too. The Disney+ version of the film — “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (Taylor’s Version)” — will show the concert in its entirety for the first time as well as include the song “cardigan,” plus four additional acoustic songs not featured in either the previous theatrical or VOD versions. “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” hit the big screen at AMC movie theaters across the country in October, becoming an instant smash. It grossed more than $260 million at the global box office, making it the top-selling concert film of all time.

To watch the trailer, please click the image below:

Stink-free beaches: Masses of seaweed likely won’t reach Florida until May, researchers say’” via Bill Kearny of the Orlando Sentinel — It looks as if Florida won’t see much — if any — stinky seaweed washing up on its beaches until late April or May, according to the University of South Florida’s monthly sargassum report. That’s a drastic difference from last Spring, when beaches and shorelines in the Keys and across much of South Florida were cloaked in thick clumps of acrid, decomposing sargassum in early March. Holding your nose and hopping over piles of dead sargassum while visiting South Florida beaches has become much more common since 2011, when the algal blooms out in the Atlantic shifted south, closer to the equator, where they found warm water and nutrients. The spike has been dubbed the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, a massive, sometimes 5,000-mile-wide bloom that has begun to form near the equator each Spring and drift our way.


Best wishes to County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay. Also celebrating today are Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin and David Lawrence Jr.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

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