Last Call for 3.5.24 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

The Senate passed legislation, unanimously, making security funding for private Jewish day schools a recurring part of the state budget.

HB 1109, which now heads to the Governor’s desk, would direct the Florida Department of Education to establish a regular funding model for guards, cameras, fencing, impact windows, perimeter lighting and related security costs at Jewish schools.

On its own, the bill establishes no monetary commitment.

Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters, the measure’s sponsor in the Senate, noted that there has been a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents since the Oct. 7 attack on Western Israel by Palestinian Hamas terrorists. He also said doubling Jewish day school enrollment over the past five years necessitates a more reliable funding source.

The bill’s passage in the Senate was far less divisive than in the House, where six Democratic lawmakers voted “no” last month after sponsor Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, referred to comments Gainesville Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson made about the bill as “garbage.”

The House’s Tuesday agenda included controversial legislation (SB 1698) that would ban many currently legal hemp products for in-state production or sale. It appears the chamber is open to tinkering with the measure, which critics have warned will negatively affect about 500 growers and roughly 10,000 retail outlets in the state.

The late bid to appease industry stakeholders would increase the permissible amount of delta-9 THC in hemp extract to 5 mg a serving or 50 mg a container, up from 2 mg and 10 mg limits in the Senate bill. This change means the bill would have to return to the Senate if it passes the House.

Rep. Tommy Gregory, the House sponsor, said he’d prefer no psychoactive compounds in hemp, which is a biological impossibility. Still, in the interest of compromise with colleagues and meeting the concerns of stakeholders, he filed this amelioration.

The bill, if it passes, would be a boon to the medical marijuana industry, as it removes competition for market share the hemp sector provides with THC, HHC and other cannabinoids that interact with CB1 receptors.

The lower chamber also took up legislation to ban the sale of cultivated meat, rejecting amendments aimed at softening the ban. One, filed by Islamorada Republican Rep. Jim Mooney — and withdrawn ahead of the bill’s consideration — would have stripped language banning cultivated meat from the bill and instead imposed labeling requirements so anyone selling cultivated meat had to inform consumers of its origins.

The Senate has already passed its version of the FDACS agency bill with the cultivated meat ban still intact. The House has taken up the Senate version of the bill and expects to pass it on Wednesday.

Bill Day’s Latest

Evening Reads

—”Brighter economic mood isn’t translating into support for Joe Biden” via Ben Casselman and Lydia DePillis of The New York Times

—“The 50 craziest lines from Donald Trump’s Virginia speech” via Chris Cillizza of So What

—”How Trump’s base has changed, according to results from earlier primaries” via Dan Keating, Adrián Blanco and Derek Hawkins of The Washington Post

—“Nikki Haley’s fate on the line as Super Tuesday kicks off” via John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal

—“Four things to watch on Super Tuesday” via Amber Phillips of The Washington Post

—“The Supreme Court once again reveals the fraud of originalism” via Adam Serwer of The Atlantic

—“The Supreme Court is tilting 2024 in Trump’s favor, one decision at a time” via Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone

—“Republicans’ voter suppression obsession may end up helping … Democrats?” via Eric Levitz of Vox

—”Ron DeSantis will send troopers to Miami Beach, other cities during spring break” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald

—”Miami Beach is breaking up with Spring Break — or at least trying to” via David Fischer of The Associated Press

Quote of the Day

“Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.”

— Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying he has no plans to unsuspend his presidential campaign.

Put It on the Tab

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

DeSantis doesn’t need any more T-shirts — the surplus of campaign merch, we imagine, is probably being drip-fed into thrift stores as we speak. But now that he’s nixed rumors he’ll unsuspend his bid, how about a Hawaiian Shirt instead?

Lawmakers made clear that Florida stands with Israel. With the Jewish day school bill on its way to DeSantis, it’s time for Senators to say “cheers” and sip on an Israeli Summer.

The Senate and House are in a showdown over whether local governments can set wage preferences for contractors and subcontractors. Still, both chambers are serving up the same thing to workers who spend their days sweating in the Florida sun: Enjoy the Heat.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

Gators host Owls on the diamond

Fresh off a series win over rivals Miami in Coral Gables, the Florida Gators baseball team hosts another in-state opponent as Florida Atlantic comes to Gainesville (7 p.m., SEC Network+).

Florida (8-3) took two of three from the Hurricanes, winning the series for the ninth time in the last 10 years. The Gators are ranked fourth national by and sixth in the country by Baseball America.

FAU (6-5) began the season by dropping two of three to then-#6 Vanderbilt. The Owls also lost games to UCF and UNF in February. They are coming off a series win over Stonehill College that included a 20-run outburst in the finale on Sunday. That game was punctuated by a 15-run seventh inning that saw 18 batters come to the plate for FAU.

Florida will be a different test.

The Gators boast one of the top prospects in college baseball in Jac Caglianone. The two-way star has had success on the mound and at the plate. All Caglianone has done this year so far is to hit .478 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 46 at bats. On the mound, he has appeared in two games, winning one and holding the opposition to a .156 batting average. He is averaging two strikeouts per inning so far.

Against Miami on Sunday, Caglianone had three hits including a home run while throwing six shutout innings. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in the game. 

Also tonight:

7 p.m. — Florida Panthers @ New Jersey Devils

7 p.m. — Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Hornets

7 p.m. — NCAAM: Queens University Royals @ Stetson Hatters

7 p.m. — NCAAM: Alabama Crimson Tide @ Florida Gators

7 p.m. — NCAAM: Tulane Green Wage @ South Florida Bulls

7:30 p.m. — Detroit Pistons @ Miami Heat

8 p.m. — NCAAW: South Florida Bulls @ SMU Mustangs

8 p.m. — NCAAM: North Florida Ospreys @ Austin Peay Governors

9 p.m. — NCAAM: Florida State Seminoles @ Pittsburgh Panthers


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

Staff Reports


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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