Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 3.8.24

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Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Good Friday morning.

The last day of the Legislative Session is finally here.

Lawmakers will convene at the Capitol this morning to give the final OK to the state budget and perform the ceremonial hankie drop that marks the end of Session.

Florida Politics has spent the past couple of weeks scouring the $115 billion budget, and you can count on us to continue combing through the GAA all the way through the veto process and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ eventual signing.

The clock is running down.

But today, the real story is who will win the bragging rights — and a $500 check for the charity of their choice — in this year’s edition of #CateSineDie.

For those who need a refresher, contestants guess what time the Legislature will adjourn Sine Die. This contest uses modified (almost reverse, really) “The Price is Right” rules, as in, once the clock ticks past a guess, you’re out of the running. The exact hankie drop time is determined by whatever the husband of Florida Politics’ Christine Sexton reports.

Kevin Cate, the political consultant/adman who has sponsored the contest since 2014, tells Florida Politics that this year, there were 54 entrants, and the average of all guesses was 5:39 p.m. Friday.

For those who guessed on the early side, don’t lose hope — Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told reporters Thursday that her guess was noon.

Here are some other Sine Die thoughts:

☠️ — 25 bills that died this Session: A team of Florida Politics reporters scoured bills this Session to figure out which ones didn’t make the cut. They identified 25 that died this Session — ranging from those that involved contentious issues like defamation suits and personhood and those that didn’t receive hearings for a variety of technical, procedural or just plain Committee Chair preference reasons. The reporters also took a look at which might rise from the dead next year. Check out the list here.

🎬 — Sine Die in Florida and beyond: Those involved in The Process in Florida know all about its color-focused Sine Die traditions that festively mark the end of Session, but states across the U.S. have their own traditions, from ugly ties in Idaho to conspicuously placed tomato seedlings in Mississippi. Take a look at the end-of-Session festivities celebrated beyond the Sunshine here.

👚— But how come pink?: Ever wonder why pink became synonymous with Florida’s Sine Die tradition? Wonder no more. It all dates back to the late lobbyist Marvin Arrington and always wore a pink sports coat on the last day of Session. He died in 2002, but his memory — and penchant for pink — lives on in Tally tradition. Read more about his lasting legacy here.


Looking for something to do before you skip town for some post-Session R&R? The Hayward House has your back.

The bistro recently rolled out a new brunch menu and now it’s enhancing the experience with the addition of live music.

Ready to leave town? First a stop at The Hayward House.

This Sunday, the brunch offering will feature the music stylings of Tim Russell, who will set up on the patio. For those unfamiliar with his music, just know that it pairs will with mimosas — and to that point, Hayward House will be offering 32 oz. carafes of the of the bubbly brunch beverage for $28.

The new brunch menu includes a little something for everyone. Fans of classic breakfast offerings can enjoy a breakfast sandwich with country sausage, eggs, American cheese and house aioli on a grilled croissant; health-conscious diners will love the BRULÉED Grapefruit; and those looking for the full brunch experience can dig into specialties such as chicken and waffles or huevos rancheros.

Hayward House welcomes walk-ins, though reservations are encouraged for those hoping to avoid a “Brunch Village” situation. Diners can reserve their slot online.


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@Fineout: Ahead of House Speaker @Paul_Renner farewell remarks House shows short film featuring James Bond theme & they gave him a watch like the one worn by Daniel Craig in No Time to Die. Side note — Goldfinger opens at Fontainebleau. Renner blocked bill to bring gambling to famed hotel

@Jason_Garcia: On Day 59 of the Florida Legislature’s 60-day Legislative Session, the Florida Senate is merging a bill that would block communities from providing heat-injury protections for outdoor workers, with another bill that would loosen the state’s child labor laws.

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@ZacJAnderson: Some personal news: I’ve joined the @USATODAY Politics Team as a campaign reporter covering (Donald) Trump and the Republicans. Please hit me up with story ideas and news tips at [email protected]

@Ehsan_Kassim: Personal news Friday is my last day at @TDOnline and @NoleSports. Starting Monday, I’ll be joining on as a Trending Sports Writer for @USATODAY/@usatodaysports.

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2024 Oscars — 2; Georgia Democratic Primary — 5; Arizona/Florida/Illinois/Kansas/Ohio Primaries — 12; James Madison Institute’s ‘2024 Naples Dinner’ with keynote speaker Laura Ingraham — 13; ‘3 Body Problem’ premieres on Netflix — 13; Trump’s New York hush money trial begins — 17; The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the mifepristone/abortion pill case — 18; Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2024 season — 20; March Madness Final Four (women’s) begins — 27; March Madness Final Four (men’s) — 30; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 34; The Masters begin — 35; Kentucky Derby — 58; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 63; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 71; French Open begins — 73; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 75; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 75; Monaco Grand Prix — 79; the 2024 World Cup begins — 95; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 113; Republican National Convention begins — 129; the 2024 World Cup ends — 133; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 138; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 140; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 159; Democratic National Convention begins — 165; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 169; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 224; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 227; 2024 Presidential Election — 242; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 255; MLS Cup 2024 — 270; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 343; ‘Moana’ premieres — 473; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 504; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 504; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 609; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 651; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 788; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 804; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,015; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,155; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,114; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,836.


Nearly a dozen of Ron DeSantis’ appointees fail to secure Senate confirmation” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The most significant exception was Tina Descovich, a Moms for Liberty co-founder appointed by DeSantis to the Ethics Commission. The Senate declined to confirm her based on a citizen complaint about her work with the parental rights group effectively served as lobbying. But DeSantis’ Office already indicated she will be reappointed, and her confirmation should return to the Senate next year.

That’s likely the situation for other nominees for positions who also failed to win an OK from the Senate this Session.

Tina Descovich may not have been confirmed, but she is not going anywhere.

“It is important to remember that appointments are made on an ongoing basis, so it is common that appointments are made and there is not ample time left to complete the confirmation process during the first Session,” said Katherine Betta, a Passidomo spokesperson. “That is why the process allows for two Sessions to complete the confirmation process.”

Those unconfirmed as Session wraps include another appointee to the Ethics Commission: Freddie Figgers. A former Vice Chair of Enterprise Florida, Figgers was appointed by DeSantis in July along with two other members: Ashley Lukis and Edwin Moore.

Betta stressed that in the case of all unconfirmed nominees, excluding Descovich, the issue was that “packets were either not complete, or time expired prior to the appointee being heard in all Committees.”

That’s how all seven of DeSantis’ appointees to the Florida School for Competitive Academics Board of Trustees failed to be confirmed. The list includes Ethan Fieldman, Will Frazer, Thomas Grady, Michael Grego, Andrea Keiser, Bethany McAlister, and Jason Rosenberg. The newly created state school is expected to accept students starting in the 2024-25 academic year.

—“Lobbying concern stymies Moms for Liberty co-founder’s ethics panel confirmation — for now” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO


New state budget advancing as Florida Legislature prepares to end its Session for the year” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — Politics broke out on the floor of the Florida Senate Thursday as the chamber took up a $117.46 billion for the fiscal year that begins July 1, with Senators grousing about the Governor’s power over spending and what one Senator considered skullduggery. The Appropriations Act (HB 5001) is the only bill the Legislature absolutely has to pass during its 60-day Regular Session, which is scheduled to wrap up on Friday. That’s when both chambers will vote on its final passage. The House hadn’t introduced the bill, which represents a consensus by House and Senate negotiators, on the floor yet. Members of the Appropriations Committee and its various Subcommittees offered the document as providing historic advances in health care, prison conditions, environmental protection and more.

One last thing before the hankie drops — pass a budget.

Florida exempts some social media sites from new limits on teens; no one knows which ones” via Fresh Take Florida — The new ban on social media in Florida for young teens the Legislature rewrote and passed this week is so narrowly crafted that it’s not clear which popular online platforms might be covered — if any of them. The new version of the proposed law — rushed through by lawmakers with only days remaining in the Legislative Session — covers only social media platforms with 10% or more of daily active users who are younger than 16 and who spend an average of two hours or more on the service. Both conditions must be met, or the law doesn’t apply to that social media provider. Lawmakers haven’t identified which social media companies would be affected and which wouldn’t.

Florida backs away from voucher purchasing restrictions” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO —Instead of restricting state-funded scholarship spending to core subject areas as originally introduced, the bill that cleared the Legislature on Thursday only requires organizations that administer the vouchers to produce “handbooks” detailing what expenses are allowed and prohibited. The significant policy shift represents a change of heart by both the House and Senate after hearing from frustrated parents, particularly those choosing to homeschool, who argued the restrictions would micromanage how they choose to educate their children, cutting them off from valuable learning experiences in extracurricular activities. The change shifted the votes for dozens of Democrats who supported the original legislation but slammed the programs as a “racket” for allowing families to buy televisions, kayaks and trips to amusement parks on the state’s dime.

Florida passes legislation targeting ‘identity politics’ in teacher training programs” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — Senators passed a controversial measure expanding “anti-woke” policies pushed by DeSantis by targeting scores of teacher training programs at colleges and local schools across the state. By a 28-12 vote, the Senate put the final touches on FL HB1291 (24R), sending it to the Republican Governor for his consideration and likely approval. House lawmakers passed it 81-31 last week. The legislation builds on a 2023 law rebuking diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to dozens of teacher education programs at state universities, colleges and school districts by prohibiting them from “distort[ing] significant historical events” or teaching “identity politics” as they prepare educators and school leaders. Democrats in both chambers fiercely opposed the bill, saying it was a divisive idea that could result in teachers losing out on valuable lessons to help them instruct students from different backgrounds.

Lawmakers pass contentious bill allowing for chaplains in public schools” via Douglas Soule of USA Today Network — Florida lawmakers Thursday passed a bill allowing volunteer chaplains to provide support services for public K-12 students. Whether it opens the door to Satanists, those who practice Santería or even worship in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster remains to be seen. The legislation only needs DeSantis’ signature to become law. Supporters of the bill (HB 931) said it’s a win for school children, addressing concerns about youth mental health and the need for more school counselors. “I believe that sometimes the issue is with the soul and not of the mind, and that’s why I believe that this is a good option for our students in today’s day and age,” said Sen. Danny Burgess. The Senate approved the legislation by a 28-12 vote, with all against being Democrats.

Senate pairs heat exposure preemption, child labor bills” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — One day after sending HB 433 — which prevents local governments from requiring companies to provide shade and water breaks to outdoor workers — to the House, the Senate inserted the bill into HB 49, which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to work longer hours. Both bills have received vocal pushback from Democrats, but GOP leaders in the House and Senate have also failed to reach consensus on the measures in the waning days of the Session. The Senate has already pared back both bills from their original versions, and the language preferred by the House. The heat exposure preemption bill included a provision preempting cities and counties from requiring contractors and subcontractors to pay higher wages, but the Senate stripped that out before sending it back to the House. And the child labor bill originally allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to work at 5:30 a.m. and until 11 p.m. and go longer without breaks.

A bill to give Florida workers some shade is hooked to another proposal.

Government watchdogs would lose some teeth under bill headed to DeSantis” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Without citing specific examples, Florida lawmakers passed legislation on Thursday that would prohibit local watchdog Commissions from launching their own investigations into public corruption and ethics violations, arguing that some local cases have been “weaponized” for political gain. Under the proposed measure — which is now on its way to DeSantis’ desk — local ethics panels across the state would only be able to investigate misconduct by public officials if someone with personal knowledge of the wrongdoing is willing to identify themselves by name and file a complaint under oath. It is not entirely clear why lawmakers sought to make the change, but the provision impacting local ethics panels has worried officials in various jurisdictions, including Miami-Dade County, where the Ethics Commission has self-initiated ethics investigations that have led to the criminal indictments of elected officials such as ex-Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.


Business rent cut, bed tax restrictions snubbed in tax package” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Senate approved an amendment to HB 7073 which includes a slate of tax cut provisions aimed largely at reducing insurance premium taxes and sales taxes during specified sales tax holidays on select items. The bill provides credit to insurance companies that reduce premiums for homeowners. The provision is projected to save homeowners $417.5 million over two years. The amendment also left off House plans to require voters to approve local sales tax referendums every 10 years and to reapprove tourist development taxes, or bed taxes, which fund local tourism Marketing Boards, every six years.

Inside plans for a new $208 million Florida Agriculture office complex” via James Call of USA Today Network — The Florida Legislature is spending $80 million in next year’s state budget as part of an overall $208 million plan to build a new headquarters for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee. The department will relocate nearly 1,000 office workers out of downtown Tallahassee to a new building 5 miles away on state-owned land at the department’s Conner Complex, near the corner of Capital Circle Northeast and Conner Boulevard. That’s where about a third of FDACS’ over 1,200 Tallahassee employees currently have offices. The rest are scattered in buildings around town. About 400 are officed on or near the Capitol Complex in the Mayo and Holland buildings. The rest are in offices along Apalachee Parkway and the Southwood Office Complex, records show.

FDACS is looking to move.

State budget boosts Polk State College campus, road projects in Polk County” via Gary White of Lakeland Ledger — Polk County received much, though certainly not all, that local lawmakers requested in the $117.5 billion budget the Legislature released. Lawmakers are expected to approve the budget legislation for Fiscal Year 2024-25 on Friday, following a mandatory 72-hour delay. At that point, legislators and potential beneficiaries in Polk County will wait to see which budget items survive Gov. DeSantis’ veto pen. The most prominent local allocation is $8.1 million to Polk State College to promote construction of its Northeast Ridge campus in Haines City. That is half the amount requested by Sen. Colleen Burton, a Lakeland Republican, and Rep. Josie Tomkow, a Polk City Republican.


Lawmakers pass Citizens surplus lines take out bill, more data reporting for insurers” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Senate passed SB 7028, which includes $200 million for the My Safe Florida Home program, after Senators agreed to a $100 million boost to the program made by the House. The program provides matching grants to homeowners looking to harden their homes against storms. Other parts of the bill prioritize applicants by age and income, with low-income homeowners older than 60 given the first shot at the funds. The House also passed HB 1503, which allows lightly regulated surplus lines insurers to take over secondary homes in Citizens. The companies must be A-rated by the AM Best ratings agency and OIR must approve the take-out plan. The House agreed to a change made by the Senate to ensure homesteaded properties won’t be eligible to be taken out by surplus lines companies.

Lawmakers pass ‘no-go’ zone around first responders despite transparency concerns” via Douglas Soule of USA Today Network — Before House lawmakers pushed through a bill creating a 25-foot “no-go” zone around first responders such as police, its sponsor reassured worried lawmakers that it wasn’t a done deal and there would be a “better” version. There wasn’t. The measure passed the Senate as-is Thursday, with no changes to address the fears from a number of Black Democratic lawmakers that it would be used to prevent their constituents from documenting police brutality. The bill now heads straight to DeSantis. “Your constituents, the people who elected you to be in these chairs, are dying by the hands of those sworn to protect them,” said Rep. Angie Nixon before Wednesday’s vote. “The ability of citizens to document and witness events as they unfold is a crucial aspect of our democratic society.”

Angie Nixon is no fan of a no-go zone for LEOs.

Lawmakers pass contentious bill allowing for chaplains in public schools” via Douglas Soule of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida lawmakers Thursday passed a bill allowing volunteer chaplains to provide support services for public K-12 students. Whether it opens the door to Satanists, those who practice Santería or even worship in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster remains to be seen. The legislation only needs DeSantis’ signature to become law. Supporters of the bill (HB 931) said it’s a win for school children, addressing concerns about youth mental health and the need for more school counselors. “I believe that sometimes the issue is with the soul and not of the mind, and that’s why I believe that this is a good option for our students in today’s day and age,” said Sen. Danny Burgess. The Senate approved the legislation by a 28-12 vote, with all against being Democrats.

Legislature OKs bill requiring DNA samples from all Florida inmates” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — An untold number of unsolved crimes in the Sunshine State could finally have answers through legislation heading to DeSantis’ desk. HB 533, which lawmakers passed unanimously, will require that any inmate who doesn’t already have DNA in the state’s database provide a sample by Sept. 30. The bill itself would add just one paragraph to Florida Statutes. But it could make a big difference for the state’s criminal justice system, according to Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, its Senate sponsor. State law already requires many individuals arrested or convicted of certain offenses to submit DNA samples, including those charged with sexual assault, indecent exposure, murder, robbery, kidnapping, battery, burglary, felony firearm violations and theft.

DeSantis expected to sign truck-towing reforms” via John Gallagher of Freight Waves — House Bill 179, sponsored by Republicans in the Florida House and Senate, was approved unanimously by the two chambers last week. The reforms have been a multiyear effort and a priority for the Florida Trucking Association, the group stated in a press release. The new law, if signed, will revise provisions relating to: Towing and storing of trucks, including requiring counties to establish maximum rates for certain cleanup and disposal. Excluding or failing to designate certain wrecker operators. Authorizing fees. Requirements regarding removal of vehicles. Requirements for liens, notices of lien, sale, notices of sale and types of payment. Requiring towing operators to accept and maintain certain documents, rate sheets and invoices. Criminal penalties for noncompliance.


2024 version of ‘eyeball wars’ going down to the wire” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — In another round of “eyeball wars,” the Senate is refusing to budge on a top priority of Passidomo that deals with health care providers and who can use the titles “physician” and “doctor.” The Senate has refused to go along with an amendment the House tagged on SB 1112, a priority bill for Passidomo, whose late father was an ophthalmologist. In refusing to concur with the amendment, the Senate sent the bill back to the House for consideration. With the 2024 Session set to end Friday, the future of the bill is up in the air. The House earlier this week amended the bill to allow optometrists to use the term “optometric physician” in their public advertisements, a move that SB 1112 sponsor Sen. Gayle Harrell criticized on Thursday.

Kathleen Passidomo advocates a law clarifying who has the right to call themselves ‘doctor.’

Legislature passes bill to close beaches, warn swimmers of beach water quality violations” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO — The House and Senate this week voted unanimously to pass the bill, FL HB165 (24R), after some legislators this week recounted horror stories about people becoming sick from contaminated waterways. Sen. Harrell said Thursday during Senate floor debate she had a friend who fell off a dock and wound up suffering health problems. “She received such a virulent infection that she almost lost her arm because of it,” Harrell said. “It’s very important for people to know what is going on in our waters.” Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman said a resident of her district was contaminated by Vibrio vulnificus, a type of water-borne bacteria. “She received plastic surgery and is still recovering,” the legislator said Monday during House floor debate. The bill requires the Florida Department of Health to close beaches if necessary to protect public health.

Genetic genealogy grant bill clears Legislature, paving the way to solve cold cases, assaults and more” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Senate has cleared legislation aimed at increasing law enforcement capabilities to solve crimes by identifying human remains through genetic genealogy. The bill (SB 678) heads next to the Governor for his signature. If signed, it would establish a grant program within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to help state and local agencies or medical examiner’s offices access advanced forensic technology techniques. The bill aims to address Florida’s backlog of 19,000 cold cases, 75% of which have DNA evidence awaiting further analysis. The program would also help agencies identify at least some of the 904 unidentified human cases — 99% of the cases are suitable for forensic genetic genealogy testing. There are also more than 1,000 unsolved sexual assaults in Florida, whose investigations could also benefit.

House sends bear killing bill to Governor as sponsor warns wildlife officials will be watching” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO — Bill supporters continued to warn that people need to be able to protect themselves from a growing bear threat in North Florida. “The bears come back and come back and come back,” Rep. Allison Tant, who backs the bill, said during House floor debate. But some environmentalists and other Democrats have argued that people should do more to discourage bears from seeking food near their homes, including using bear-proof garbage containers. The House voted 83-29 vote to pass the bill, FL HB87 (24R). Under the House bill, a person can shoot a bear if they feel it is threatening themselves, a child or a pet or is causing substantial damage to their home. The shooter must notify the state within 24 hours of killing a bear and turn over the animal to wildlife officials.

Bills requiring Florida labs to offer test dogs, cats for adoption die without a hearing” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Maybe next year will be luckier for some of Florida’s most unfortunate Fidos and Fluffys. Legislation requiring facilities in the Sunshine State that conduct animal tests to offer viable cats and dogs up for adoption — rather than killing them — went unheard this Session and died from neglect. The substantively identical bills (SB 368, HB 1201), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Rep. Joel Rudman, were narrowly tailored and substantively identical. Either would have mandated that cosmetics labs and similar facilities skip euthanizing felines and canines if they pose no health or safety risk. They would instead have had to offer the animals to adoption organizations while being shielded from civil liability, provided they acted “in good faith concerning the health and condition of the dog or cat.”

LaVon Bracy Davis, Diane Hart ‘disappointed’ harassment-free zone bill — Democratic Reps. Bracy Davis and Hart said they were disappointed that the Legislature OK’d a bill that would enable police, firefighters and paramedics to establish a harassment-free zone around themselves while working in public. The Representatives said, if the bill becomes law, it will limit the rights of citizens to film the actions of police officers and thereby their ability to hold them accountable. We live in a society rife with historical injustices against Black people by the police, and camera phones have continuously protected minority communities from their stories being twisted and diminished. I presented an amendment to this bill on the floor that would have protected the right to film police officers while maintaining their protection against harassment, which was not even considered,” Bracy Davis said.

ACLU condemns ‘volunteer chaplains’ bill — The ACLU of Florida is harshly criticizing a bill approved by the Legislature that would allow chaplains in public schools. The group was joined by a nationwide, interfaith effort to push back against the Florida bill and similar legislation elsewhere, calling them “unconstitutional efforts to impose religion on public school students.” ACLU of Florida Legislative Director and Senior Policy Counsel Kara Gross said, “Allowing chaplains to provide counseling and other support services in public schools would violate students’ and families’ religious-freedom rights by exposing all public-school students to the risk of chaplains evangelizing them or imposing religion on them throughout their school day. … The First Amendment protects the right of all students to attend public schools without the risk of religious indoctrination by government-approved chaplains. We urge the Governor to veto this bill immediately.”

Kara Gross bristles at the idea of chaplains in public schools.

Florida Healthy Alternatives Association blasts ‘devastating’ hemp bill — The Florida Healthy Alternatives Association lambasted lawmakers for sending a bill to the Governor that would impose new restrictions on hemp products, calling it a “misguided and dangerous bill that would effectively regulate the industrial hemp industry out of existence in the state of Florida.” JD McCormick, the Chair of the American Healthy Alternatives Association, said the organizations were “disappointed that the Legislature saw fit not to work with this growing industry to find appropriate solutions to their concerns. … Should this legislation go into effect, thousands of jobs will be erased, along with the multi-billion-dollar economic impact that the hemp and CBD industries have in Florida.”

PEN America bashes bill targeting college-level teacher prep programs — Pro-free speech group PEN America is criticizing legislation on its way to the Governor that would “muzzle” professors, curriculum, and classroom discussion of issues such as race and gender while denying diversity as key in teacher training. “HB 1291 is nothing but an educational gag order that muzzles professors on ideas and concepts at both public and private universities, jeopardizing the integrity of higher education and the quality of K-12 instruction,” PEN America Florida Director Katie Blankenship said. “Under this bill, professors would be prohibited from teaching future K-12 teachers anything related to ‘systemic racism’ or ‘identity politics’ — terms that the bill itself fails to define. They would also be prohibited from teaching about ‘systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege’ and even acknowledging their existence in America. We should not be restricting education, especially on issues that impact Floridians and the history of our communities.”

Public power loves infrastructure protection bill — The Florida Municipal Electric Association is cheering the passage of legislation (HB 275/SB 340) that would enhance criminal penalties for people convicted of intentionally attacking critical utility infrastructure. “Across the nation, physical and cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure assets, including electric substations, potable water utilities and natural gas facilities, have been on the rise,” FMEA Executive Director Amy Zubaly said, praising sponsors Rep. Jennifer Canady and Sen. Clay Yarborough. “… This is a much-needed step toward protecting Floridians by ensuring that our electric grid, drinking supply, and means of moving residents and visitors throughout the state are not interrupted by intentional acts of destruction.”


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

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


Brian Ballard, Abigail Vail, Ballard Partners: Fortune Brands Innovations

Douglas Bell, Metz Husband & Daughton: bluebird bio

Marti Coley, PinPoint Results: Hardee County Industrial Development Authority

Stephen McCall: Firefly Aerospace

Christian Minor, Converge Public Strategies: Supernal


ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Former Sen. Jeff Brandes of the Florida Policy Project; Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders; and Lindsay Barto, co-founder of The Long Hairs, to talk about The Great Cut — a nationwide event to get people to cut their hair and donate it to children with medical hair loss.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A look at transportation issues, congestion relief, and environmental impacts as the final segment of the Wekiva Parkway opens to motorists. Joining Walker are Commissioner Lee Constantine, District 3, Seminole County Commission; and Rebekah Arthur, president/CEO, Seminole County Chamber of Commerce.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete and Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: The weekly Sunday show is launching as a joint weeknight show airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore speaks with POLITICO’s Kimberly Leonard.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Sen. Rick Scott, CFO Jimmy Patronis and Ken Babby, owner of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.


Airbnb is sued in Florida for listing property in Cuba confiscated by Fidel Castro decades ago” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — A Florida physician is suing Airbnb, claiming the vacation rental company unlawfully profited from listing on its website a property that Castro’s government confiscated without paying compensation to his family decades ago, in what appears to be the first lawsuit alleging “trafficking” involving the business use of a residential property on the island. The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Florida’s federal Middle District, headquartered in Orlando, argues that Airbnb profited from advertising a rental in a six-apartment building in a leafy area in the Havana neighborhood of Marianao that was originally owned by members of the Parreño family, including Alberto Parreño. In 1970, the Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission certified Parreño’s claim to one-third of the land and building, valued at $547,365.24 at the time Parreño, an American citizen, died in 1972. Javier Garcia-Bengochea, his cousin and the estate’s administrator, filed the lawsuit.

Government seized property in Cuba is popping up on Airbnb.

An early fall: Florida housing sales drop in February compared to 2023” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Most of the largest counties in Florida saw yet another rough month for home sales in February as signed contracts on the sales of houses dropped in many areas. The “Elliman Report” showed faltering housing sales among most large market areas in the Sunshine State. “Newly signed contracts for single families (homes) and condos continued to decline year over year,” the report concluded. But the analysis noted that single-family homes selling for more than $800,000 did show a bump in signed contracts for agreed sales in February compared to a year ago. The report concluded that the Florida housing market is generally starting to lean more in favor of buyers after several years of a seller’s market.

— 2024 —

DeSantis criticizes Nikki Haley for not endorsing Donald Trump: ‘You signed the pledge’” via Timothy Nerozzi of Fox News — DeSantis made the remarks during an appearance on Newsmax’s “The Balance,” citing the pledge signed by Republican Primary candidates promising to endorse the party’s eventual nominee. “I signed the pledge, and you signed the pledge saying that you’re gonna not take your ball and go home,” DeSantis told Newsmax’s Eric Bolling in an interview. “And so, I honored the pledge, and she’s gonna have to make a decision about whether she wants to or not.” The Governor continued, “But the idea that somehow circumstances have changed… I think we all knew what we were doing when we did that, and you’ve got to make a judgment about whether that’s meaningful to you. And so, for me, I tell people, you know, if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.”

Save the date:


Feisty Joe Biden is on full display” via Will Weissert of The Associated Press — The President has been especially energetic throughout his speech, offering one verbal attack after another on Republicans with gusto and even throwing in an occasional “Hell” for emphasis. Biden engaged in several call and release instances as well, responding to Republicans who booed and hissed about the bipartisan Senate border package that has stalled, “Oh, you don’t like that bill, do you?” He continued to spar saying, “Look at the facts,” and, “I know you can read.” Biden even elicited bipartisan cries from lawmakers who yelled, “No!” when Biden asked, “Folks at home, does anyone think the tax code is fair?”

Joe Biden brings some fire to the State of the Union. Image via AP.

Biden takes on Trump and Republicans in feisty State of the Union speech” via Jeff Mason, Gabriella Borter and Idrees Ali of Reuters — In his last State of the Union address before the election, Biden charged Trump, his Republican challenger, with burying the truth about the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol assault, bowing to Russian President Vladimir Putin and torpedoing a bill to tighten restrictions at the U.S. border with Mexico. The President also drew a contrast with Trump over abortion rights and the economy, and he directed several barbs at Republican lawmakers in the chamber with off-the-cuff banter that appeared designed to assuage concerns about his age and mental acuity.

—“Katie Britt, youngest ever GOP woman elected to the U.S. Senate, delivers rebuttal to Biden’s State of the Union” via Clare Foran and Kaanita Iyer of CNN


‘What was she thinking?’ Florida Democratic Party blasted — and praised — for suspending Palm Beach County Party Chair” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The dramatic move by state Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried to suspend three of the state’s county Democratic Chairs, including Mindy Koch in Palm Beach County, has generated an angry reaction from some local veteran party activists — and some high-level praise of Fried for taking decisive action. The tone of the criticism and the nature of the support illustrate the stakes for a party that is attempting to rebuild itself. Also clear: the divisions and infighting Fried said she was acting to staunch have continued to flow. Turmoil continues in the Palm Beach County Democratic Party with just eight months until critical elections.

Nikki Fried makes a bold move by suspending Mindy Koch.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

‘A call to action:’ Broward approves plan for new affordable housing” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County Commissioners adopted a 10-year master plan to tackle affordable housing woes by allocating money for new construction, and allow for more density for new development near rail corridors. The Commission voted to spend more money on the affordable housing problem, a move that will raise more than $8 million to get developers incentives to build. “It’s trying to bring everybody together to share the burden of the housing catastrophe,” said Mayor Nan Rich. “This is a call to action.” There is an estimated shortage of nearly 73,000 affordable houses in Broward, and another 74,000-unit gap of rental apartments.

Army Corps will continue Lake O releases despite algae found in St. Lucie River” via Katie Delk of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Lake Okeechobee discharges have not sparked toxic algae blooms in the St. Lucie River yet, but Treasure Coast scientists, residents and business owners are worried about the impending possibility. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection found algae in water samples taken Feb. 29, but no toxins. Tests did not determine whether the algae are the type that can be toxic. However, conditions are right for a “major algae bloom” and the risk of it being toxic will increase as the water temperature increases into Summer, said Mark Perry, a scientist and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart.

Despite the appearance of algae, the Lake O discharges continue.

Greenacres election: What you need to know about the race for Mayor, City Council” via Valentina Palm of the Palm Beach Post — Two longtime residents with years of experience in public service are vying to become the next Mayor of Greenacres. Former City Council and School Board member Charles “Chuck” Shaw and former City Council member Jonathan Pearce are competing to replace Mayor Joel Flores, who is running for the Palm Beach County Commission. Two other seats in the Greenacres City Council will be on the ballot on March 19. Residents will vote to keep incumbents John Tharp and Paula Bousquet or elect newcomers Edward Ayala and Fule Dogic, respectively. The elected officials will be tasked with the challenge of bringing new housing and commercial projects to a mostly built-out city of 43,000 people and redeveloping vacant and aging shopping plazas.

Wellington election: What you need to know about the races for Mayor, Village Council” via Valentina Palm of the Palm Beach Post — A two-term Wellington Village Council member is facing a resident making his second run for public office in the race for the village Mayor’s seat. Vice Mayor Michael Napoleone is competing against Bart Novack, a frequent critic of village governance, to replace longtime Mayor Anne Gerwig, who is leaving office because of term limits and is running for the House. Three of the five seats on the Wellington Council are up for grabs in the March 19 election as term limits also require Napoleone and Michael Drahos to leave their Council seats. Village residents will see a total of 11 candidates on their ballots.

7 Lauderdale-by-the-Sea candidates compete for Commission seats” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Seven candidates are vying for three Town Commission spots that are open in the March 19 election in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Running for the Mayor’s seat are Commissioners Edmund Malkoon and Buz Oldaker, as well as political newcomer Ann Marchetti. Seeking Commission Seat 3 in District 1 are Howard Goldberg and John Graziano. Vying for Seat 4 in District 2 are Kenneth Brenner and Richard DeNapoli. Many candidates have said they support making some changes for beach safety after a girl’s death in the sand last month, favoring different initiatives moving forward. Some have said they’re waiting for the outcome of investigations before deciding on that issue.

Miami-Dade County moves to evict Miami Seaquarium, gives park until April to vacate” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County gave the Miami Seaquarium weeks to vacate its government-owned campus after a string of federal inspection reports alleged poor care of animals there. The notice terminating the Seaquarium’s county lease moves Miami-Dade dramatically closer to ejecting the Seaquarium from its home of nearly 70 years in a rapid escalation of the confrontation between Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and the company that took over the for-profit operation in 2022. In a letter from the Mayor’s office, Miami-Dade ordered the Seaquarium to surrender its waterfront property by April 21.

Miami Seaquarium gets its walking papers.

UFC delivered record-setting $47.7M economic impact for Miami In 2023” — This Saturday, March 9, UFC returns to Miami for a second consecutive year, as the Kaseya Center hosts UFC 299: O’MALLEY vs. VERA 2. The event will take place with the support of the Miami Downtown Development Authority and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. UFC 299 represents a tremendous economic opportunity to the Miami area, as demonstrated by a study conducted by research firm Applied Analysis and released today by UFC. Last April’s UFC 287: PEREIRA vs ADESANYA 2, which marked UFC’s return to Miami for the first time in almost 20 years, generated $47.7 million in economic impact for the Miami metropolitan area, according to the study.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Bill limiting rural growth controls in Orange County heads to Governor” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida is just a Governor’s signature away from blocking a possible ballot initiative to curtail development in rural portions of Orange County. The House voted by a 104-9 margin to send SB 1420 to DeSantis, with local Reps. LaVon Bracy-Davis, Anna Eskamani, Johanna López, and Susan Plasencia were among the few votes in opposition. Last week, the Senate pushed it through with a 38-1 vote, with Sen. Geraldine Thompson, an Orlando Democrat, the lone dissenting vote. The local push to ask voters to approve a so-called rural boundary in lands in east and west Orange was studied for six months by a Subcommittee and hadn’t yet been approved by County Commissioners to be placed on the ballot.

Geraldine Thompson was the sole no vote for a bill limiting rural growth.

Amid rising cases, Orange County jail screens inmates for syphilis” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Faced with rising syphilis cases, health care providers are testing some of the people who may need screening the most: inmates. In April, the Orange County jail began testing inmates for syphilis upon admission hoping to reach people who might otherwise go undiagnosed. So far, the program has tested more than 1,400 people for syphilis — 981 male, 473 female — and diagnosed 17 new cases, said Dr. Gregorie Constant-Peter, medical director for the Corrections Health Services Department. After testing positive, people can receive treatment at the jail or through community partners. “The ability to care for the whole person that is with us, whether it’s for any (sexually transmitted disease), including syphilis, is really big,” Constant-Peter said.

Sanford group launches drive to oust City Commissioner” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — A group of Sanford residents have launched an effort to remove City Commissioner Kerry Wiggins from office, asserting he’s been “neglectful” of the need to bring affordable housing into the mostly low-income, historic Black community of Goldsboro. “We’re not radical guys,” said James Davis, Chair of the Concerned Citizens Task Force, which kicked off the recall petition drive. “We’re just concerned about housing in our area. … And Commissioner Wiggins has been neglectful in his duties as a Commissioner regarding that.” Since announcing their intentions at a meeting last month, Davis and other group members have been collecting the required 1,006 signatures from registered voters within the city’s District 2.

Volusia County Council considers cutting, changing Advisory Boards” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Several Advisory Boards for the Volusia County Council are facing changes or possible elimination, and one is now tasked with focusing on a big part of the county’s flooding concerns. The Volusia County Council took up discussion on the county’s Advisory Boards this week and gave direction about several. The Council voted 7-0 to have staff bring back a proposal to have a special magistrate handle code enforcement case instead of the Code Enforcement Board, which votes on matters involving County Code violations. The county has had trouble with getting volunteers for the Code Enforcement Board, District 5 Council member David Santiago said.

David Santiago is finding it hard finding municipal volunteers.

Volusia residents would drive on the beach free under new proposal, visitors would pay more” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Volusia County residents could soon pay nothing to drive and park on county beaches under a new proposal that would also bring sharp cost increases to visitors. The proposed changes are part of a larger parking system overhaul. The County Council voted unanimously this week to find firms to run the new parking system and agreed on a proposed list of fees, but the plans must come back for a final vote. The changes include adding a paid parking system for county off-beach parking lots with a mobile payment system and license plate recognition technology to help with enforcement.

In Winter Park, voters face choice for Mayor, Commission seat” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — With its current Mayor stepping aside, Winter Park voters will choose his replacement this month, as well as fill a vacated seat on the City Commission. Two candidates have filed for Mayor, including Sheila DeCiccio, a current Commissioner, who had to resign her seat to enter the race. Three candidates threw their hats in the ring to replace her, as a representative of the tony city north of Orlando. Michael Cameron, a first-time candidate, joins her on the mayoral ballot. Jason Johnson, Craig Russell and Stockton Reeves are squaring off for Seat 2 on the Commission. In Winter Park, day-to-day operations are handled by the City Manager, though elected officials set the agenda and priorities of the city.


Scientologists stole Clearwater Council member’s campaign signs, police say” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Two Church of Scientology members admitted to Clearwater Police that in one night they took some 25 campaign signs promoting City Council member Mark Bunker, who is running for re-election. Officers questioned the men after a doorbell camera captured one of them driving a white pickup truck on Palmetto Street after midnight on Feb. 11 while the other jumped out and took a Bunker sign from a yard. The two men, who are in their 30s, told police they were members of Scientology. One said he learned on social media that Bunker “was an anti-Scientologist” and took offense, so he convinced his friend to drive throughout the city to steal signs together, according to an incident report.

A dangerous precedent: Voting rights group slams ‘short-sighted’ decision to slash Hillsborough election budget” via The Associated Press — Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to cut the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office budget by $200,000, despite the agency’s budget having already been approved. Commissioner Josh Wostal called for the reduction, citing “a historic and unexpected 11.5% drop in active registered voters” in 2024. But a voting rights group isn’t buying the rationale. “This sizable cut to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections budget sets a dangerous precedent for elections in Florida if county officials can arbitrarily slash necessary funding whenever they want,” said Brad Ashwell, the Florida State Director for the group All Voting is Local.

Josh Wostal is looking to give the Hillsborough Elections Office a haircut.

Tampa fire chief ordered police called on a local journalist asking for records” via Mark Katches of the Tampa Bay Times — Sunshine Week may be a contrived event, much like First Responder Wellness Week, National Siblings Day or National Donut Day. It’s a weeklong opportunity beginning Sunday to note the importance of public records and open government. It also can be a chance to call out those who try to keep the public in the dark. A couple of weeks ago, Tampa Bay Times reporter Justin Garcia showed up, as any individual can do, to the downtown headquarters of the Tampa Fire Rescue Department. He was interested in paperwork pertaining to a firefighter who had been terminated. A department employee in the third-floor lobby claimed that access to public records doesn’t work that way. There is an online portal where Justin needed to make his request, she told him. But he also apparently knew the ins and outs of Florida’s records law better than the gatekeepers of those documents.

‘There’s nothing left in there:’ $100M missing from St. Pete trust fund company for people with special needs” via Brittany Muller of WFLA — A Tampa Bay area father who counted on a local nonprofit to handle a trust fund designed for his daughter’s long-term care feels duped. He turned to 8 On Your Side, saying all of his daughter’s money went missing and he’s not the only one. The man who founded the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration is now accused of taking and not repaying $100 million. The center said the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing was necessary because the center’s new leadership discovered that two years ago $100 million of trust fund dollars for people with special needs disappeared. The center turned to a Tampa law firm to investigate. The firm discovered the money was paid out through a loan from 2009-2020 to Boston Finance Group, a company controlled by the center’s founder, Leo Govoni. The loan was to be re-paid in full no later than Jan. 1, 2017, but the center said despite that deadline, Boston Finance Group continued to draw funds.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Donna Deegan’s Chief of Staff says questions about consultant are ‘political shenanigans’” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Council members questioned how a consultant working on a city grant-writing contract got a city-issued badge for entry to City Hall and a cubicle in the Mayor staff’s office without going through a background check since he had a misdemeanor conviction in 1989. The questions about Steven Dare brought a sharp response from Mayor Deegan’s Chief of Staff Darnell Smith, who said Council members are trying to seize on anything they think will “slow her down” by trying to embarrass her. “Whatever you’re looking for, it doesn’t exist,” Smith said at a meeting of the Council’s Finance Committee. “We simply want to do good work, and we’re asking you for your support and collaboration to do that good work. And please stop these shenanigans. They don’t serve us well.”

Darnell Smith is fed up with the ‘political shenanigans.’


Bradenton school employee pushed 7-year-old to the ground while he was tied, police say” via Michael Moore Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — A Manatee County school employee accused of tying up a 7-year-old non-verbal student also pushed him to the ground while he was restrained, police say. According to the Bradenton Police Department, teacher’s aide Hydalmy Ortiz, 41, was arrested on Feb. 22 after investigators reviewed surveillance footage that showed her watching the student while he was tied up, holding the rope and pushing him, “causing him to fall on the ground,” according to a police report. The child’s family is considering legal action against the School District, which could result in a payout of up to $200,000, an attorney said.

Former software exec files to run for District 2 Sarasota Commission seat against Liz Alpert” via Christian Casale of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — So far, only one Sarasota resident has filed to challenge Mayor Alpert for re-election: Former software executive Ron Kashden, who recently announced his candidacy to represent District 2 in a campaign he said will try to unite Sarasota’s diverse voting blocs against what he said has been an unresponsive City Commission. Kashden said he’s eased into community involvement since he moved to Sarasota in 2011. The former CEO of a New York-based software company has also been involved with the Sarasota Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations, a local advocacy group, and served as the secretary of the Laurel Park Neighborhood Association.

Ron Kashden wants to make the Sarasota Commission more community involved.

Case against Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro ‘exceptionally closed’” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — The case against a Collier County elected official accusing him of battery has been closed, authorities say. Collier County Commissioner LoCastro, 57, of Marco Island, was charged with one count of battery. According to a Marco Island police report, police received the sworn complaint transmittal from the State Attorney’s Office, 16th Judicial Circuit, in Monroe County. The report says Assistant State Attorney Nick Gastesi denied the detective’s request for one count of battery domestic violence. According to the report, Gastesi “advised that if further evidence is developed,” to resubmit for further consideration. Police said the case is considered closed.

Jeannine Polk announces Punta Gorda City Council run” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Punta Gorda Sun — Longtime Punta Gorda resident Polk announced she’s running for the City Council District 1 seat. The retired Charlotte County teacher said she wasn’t interested in politics until she became District 3 Council Member Debi Lux’s Campaign Manager during her campaign last year. Lux was elected in November. “A group of us were hashing out Fishermen’s Village and we were getting nowhere,” said Polk, 57. “We were being stonewalled by the City Council. We weren’t being listened to.” Like Lux, Polk has issues with the city’s land development regulations and the comprehensive plan. Polk claims public input wasn’t incorporated into the plan.


Why we wear pink on Sine Die” via David Ramba for Florida Politics — Marvin Arrington loved The Process and bringing us all together. The gregarious lobbyist loved cooking for us at his house, or anyone else’s who would put up with him making a total mess in their kitchen.

He brought legislators and lobbyists to the table together to learn more about each other’s families, their children and their issues. To Marvin, lobbyists were not only experts in their field but an essential part of The Process.

Because of these conversations, better legislation was an outcome for all sides. After dinner, even if we disagreed on the legislation, we knew each other’s intent and could still be cordial and respectful in our discussions.

The pink jacket originated when a young insurance lobbyist named Robert Hawken embarked on a trip to the Florida Derby. He accidentally ripped his pants getting out of the plane.

The crowd of lobbyists, which included Marvin and Paul Sanford, stopped by Jacks for Slacks to get Hawkes some new britches. While there, a few pink jackets were purchased for The Derby. Once back in Tallahassee, Marvin occasionally felt spry enough to wear his jacket to the Capitol to advocate for his clients.

According to former Speaker James Harold Thompson, “Anyone that was man enough to wear pink at his age was man enough for us to listen to.”

On March 19, 2002, Marvin was driving to his office and suffered a heart attack pulling into his parking garage at Highpoint Center.

In the most stressful of times, with bills on the line and budget negotiations in gear, we all had to stop and lean on each other. Even more heartbreaking than losing Marvin at the young age of 43 was that he left behind his wife, Lynn, and two young children, Reynolds and Maggie.


Protect Homestead Air Reserve Base to secure America’s future” via Sen. Marco Rubio for the Miami Herald — We sometimes take our national security for granted. This is a testament to the ability of our armed forces to deter and destroy threats. But they cannot do their job when policymakers undermine or complicate their mission. To keep our country safe, we must protect the U.S. military’s ability to respond to threats in our hemisphere. This means protecting Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB). Located in Homestead, this base was established during World War II to serve as a training facility and logistics hub. Despite its designation as an air “reserve” base, it plays a commanding role in our regional security. To prevent disruptive commercial activity in the area, which also threatens Everglades restoration, I secured a four-year prohibition on civilian aviation at the base in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. As the world grows more dangerous, the need to protect HARB from intrusive development remains strong.

Armando J. Ibarra: Liberal overreach threatens to derail Kids Online Safety Act” via Florida Politics — Bipartisan support for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is at risk due to last-minute changes pushed by liberal activists that would undermine parental rights and centralize the power to censor in a Washington bureaucracy with little accountability to the American people. This liberal overreach threatens to alienate conservatives and moderates alike and doom the bill before it even hits the Senate floor. This controversial new language in KOSA would favor federal oversight by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rather than the nuanced enforcement of state attorneys general (AGs) that had previously been KOSA’s intended enforcement mechanism. KOSA’s original language, which gave state AGs enforcement power, made perfect sense because their proximity to their communities would allow them to adeptly navigate the complex balance between regulation, privacy, and innovation.

Sadly, NIL is about to ruin high school football in Florida” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — The death knell came at a Florida High School Athletic Association meeting where a proposal was introduced that would allow high school student-athletes to get paid for their name, image, and likeness (NIL). This proposal is nothing more than just a formality because it is fully expected that Florida will join more than 30 other states that will allow high school students to receive NIL deals (cash for playing football, basketball, etc.). Once NIL passes and the top prep players start getting paid in Florida, they will actually be making more than the state pays high school coaches. In fact, it’s entirely possible that a 5-star high school wide receiver will make more money than his high school teachers and principal. Can you imagine the rumpled old high school coach showing up for practice in his beat-up old Ford Fiesta while the high school quarterback pulls up beside him in his brand-new 2024 Tesla SUV?


— ALOE —

TSA unveils first self-screening security lane at Las Vegas airport” via Andrea Sachs of The Washington Post — The Transportation Security Administration unveiled the country’s first self-service screening system at Harry Reid International Airport. Starting on Monday, PreCheck passengers can participate in the pilot program designed to modernize checkpoints and give travelers more autonomy. During the morning demonstration at the Las Vegas airport, TSA officials compared the new program to self-checkout lanes at the supermarket. Instead of TSA officers ushering passengers through the two-step process, travelers will scan their own bags and themselves. This will allow them to set their own pace and minimize their interactions with TSA employees. The agency’s staff members will still check IDs and oversee secondary screenings of bags and pat-downs of passengers suspected of carrying banned items.

PreCheck lanes are getting streamlined. Image via TSA.

South Florida pizzerias to sell ‘Paul Giamatti Pie’ for one day only in Plantation, Delray Beach” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Giamatti — who, again, is as fussy as pizza lovers come — said so on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in late February, when the New Haven, Connecticut, native proclaimed that his favorite pizza pie comes from his hometown. Specifically, it’s the White Clam apizza with bacon from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. To celebrate its shoutout on national television, Frank Pepe locations nationwide (including those in Delray Beach and Plantation) will rechristen its White Clam apizza with bacon the “Paul Giamatti Pie” for one day only: Sunday, March 10. The medium-sized “Paul Giamatti Pie,” which Frank Pepe’s is also calling a “Holdover” pie, will cost $25.


Best wishes to former Rep. Michael Bileca, Lance Block, former St. Pete mayoral candidate Pete Boland, Meagan Moser, and our friend, the supersmart Ryan Smith.


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

    March 8, 2024 at 9:59 am

    While I appreciated Biden calling out this SCOTUS for their Roe v Wade nonsense, I was disappointed he didn’t call them out for pretending to take Trump’s “absolute immunity” claim seriously.

    Biden should have said “Since the President has absolute immunity, and since the SCOTUS is corrupt without recourse and since justices serve for life, reckon I can keel all a’ y’all and then appoint some new justices since I have the Senate”

    That would have been priceless.

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.

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