Takeaways from Tallahassee — A bit out of the ordinary, but not late

Blue Tally Takeaways (2)
Turns out Parkinson's law is alive and well in the Sunshine State.

What happened this past week with the Florida Supreme Court was a bit out of the ordinary.

The court normally releases its opinions on Thursday promptly at 11 a.m., and this week, there was great anticipation that the justices would finally make decisions on whether to sign off on constitutional amendments dealing with the adult use of marijuana and access to abortion rights.

The two initiatives already have gathered enough signatures to make the November ballot. But before voters get their say the Supreme Court must conclude if the measures stick to a single subject and do not have misleading ballot titles and summaries.

When the appointed time came Thursday, however, the court put out a brief statement saying that no opinions were ready, which instantly brought a lot of speculation and bewilderment including from some of the proponents of the initiatives.

But nothing required the court to render its decision by this past Thursday. The constitution instead has an April 1 deadline, which happens to be next Monday. And late Thursday evening, the court said that’s exactly when the rulings will be released.

They’re coming down to the wire this year, but the Florida Supreme Court has ruled on ballot amendments later in the past.

This appears to be the first time since this deadline was put into law that the court has waited until the very end, although justices nearly came this close eight years ago.

The April 1 deadline has been in place for close to 20 years. It was part of a 2004 constitutional amendment proposed by the Florida Legislature to impose new restrictions on citizen initiatives. The measure — which was passed by more than 68% of voters — also put in a Feb. 1 deadline for amendment proponents to submit the required number of signatures to election officials.

Before the April 1 deadline was in place, there were instances of the court rendering decisions much closer to Election Day. (Example: The Supreme Court was asked in May 2003 to weigh in on an amendment dealing with slot machines in South Florida. The ruling didn’t come out until May 2004.)

Since the deadline was established, the court has traditionally rendered decisions on amendments weeks ahead of the April 1 deadline.

However, in 2016 the court delivered its decision on an initiative dealing with solar energy on March 31 — about four months after the issue was first sent to the court. (FWIW, March 31 fell on a Thursday, a normal opinion release date.)

Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel, and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

— Take 5 —

A magical agreement: Disney World and the state-controlled tourism oversight board reached a settlement, this week ending their litigation in state court. Under the terms of the settlement announced Wednesday, the development agreements and covenants approved by the Disney-controlled board before the state takeover are nulled. Meanwhile, Disney is appealing a Judge’s dismissal of its free speech federal lawsuit. Disney has accused officials of retaliation after the entertainment company spoke out against Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” legislation otherwise known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” In 2023, the state passed several laws that gave Gov. Ron DeSantis the power to appoint board members to Disney World’s government board and let state inspectors onto the monorail at the theme parks.

Unanimous decision: A federal court has ruled that the Legislature didn’t act with race as a motivating factor in approving Florida’s congressional map but that the same can’t be said for DeSantis. The unanimous decision came from a three-judge panel that included two Judges appointed by Republican Presidents and one appointed by a Democrat. The judges agreed it was impossible to find racial animus when Florida lawmakers deferred to DeSantis on a final map. But U.S. Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan, in a concurring opinion, said the same can’t be said about the Governor. Former President Barack Obama appointed Jordan. It’s unclear what paths lay ahead for challenging the map. Common Cause Florida, the lead plaintiff group challenging the map, said it’s carefully examining the ruling.

No social media for you: The Governor this week signed House Speaker Paul Renner’s priority legislation to prohibit children younger than 14 from joining social media in the state. Those who are 14 or 15 will need a parent’s consent before they join a platform. The new law (HB 3) also requires companies to delete the accounts of children who are under 14 or face the risk of getting sued. Under the new law, a minor could be awarded up to $10,000 in damages. Moreover, companies found to be in violation of the law would also be liable for up to $50,000 per violation, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.

Outta here: The Governor signed legislation that makes it easier for homeowners to remove squatters from a residence. HB 621 modernizes the process for homeowners to remove squatters, a process that the Governor described as “drawn out” at the bill signing ceremony in Orlando this week. The new law allows a homeowner to file a complaint with police showing they own the property, that the squatters aren’t related to them, and that there isn’t any ongoing litigation surrounding the property.

Turning up the heat: The bill passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, but SB 280 has a growing list of opponents who are gunning for a gubernatorial veto. The proposal, which passed the second to last day of the 2024 Session, gives the state more power to regulate short-term vacation rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo platforms. But a growing list of opponents, which includes Florida Realtors, have been inundating the Governor’s office with emails and phone calls requesting a veto. The bill exempts counties that passed local vacation rental ordinances before 2016. Only Flagler County, which passed its local ordinance regulating short-term vacation rentals in February 2015, meets the exemption criteria.

— Stay on guard —

IRS data reveals that in 2022 consumers lost $5.7 billion to tax scams and fraud.

In response, Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched a new educational series for consumers with tips to avoid pre-filing scams, tax debt relief scams and direct deposit refund scams.

In pre-filing tax schemes, scammers target taxpayers by first acquiring a victim’s name and SSN and then filing returns using the information. Between 2021 and 2022, the amount of fraudulent tax refunds identified by the IRS increased from about $16 million to more than $800 million, commonly occurring through pre-filing schemes.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually use unwanted gift cards to pay taxes? We can dream. Image via AP.

When taxpayers wait to file returns, it allows scammers more time to exploit potential victims.

Scammers can also claim to be a representative of a company offering to settle tax obligations for pennies on the dollar. These tax debt relief scams involve schemers who request upfront payments but then disappear.

With direct deposit refund scams, fraudsters posing as IRS agents call, text or email potential victims. The schemers allege that a mistake was made with the person’s tax return and that the money must be returned immediately, either via wire transfer or gift card.

“Scammers may look to exploit the stress many may feel when preparing their taxes to steal personal and financial information. It is crucial to stay on guard against potential schemes — so I am releasing this series to help Floridians avoid falling prey to fraudsters,” Moody said in a news release.

Report tax scams or other fraud to the Federal Trade Commission ReportFraud.FTC.gov.

The IRS also has online tools to help track tax refunds, including the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ webtool and the IRS2Go mobile app.

— Scrap it —

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and the top financial officers of 20 other states wrote to federal officials asking them to shut down a pilot program allowing citizens to file their tax returns directly with the government.

The Direct File program lets citizens file their federal taxes with the Internal Revenue Service without paying for a tax preparer or online aide, such as Turbo Tax. But the letter — addressed to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel — claims that the benefits are minimal, if any, and could hurt taxpayers.

We’re not sure the IRS has any ‘fans,’ per se. But if they do, Jimmy Patronis isn’t one of them. Image via Colin Hackley.

We urge you to terminate Direct File following the current pilot program, as Direct File will create challenges for taxpayers and state treasurers and the costs of Direct File far outweigh any potential benefits it may confer to taxpayers,” the letter states. “Regrettably, Direct File is a solution in search of a problem.”

Direct File is a pilot project available in 12 states, including Florida.

The letter notes that since the program only is available for federal taxes, users will falsely believe they’ve paid all of their taxes, when state taxes still have to be taken into account. Florida has no state income tax, however, so that aspect wouldn’t affect Sunshine State filers. The IRS’ Direct File website, though, tells potential users that it doesn’t accept state returns.

Another deficiency, according to the letter, is the lack of customer service to help people prepare and file their taxes.

But instead of addressing those issues by opening the program up to accept state taxes, give visible and constant reminders that it doesn’t cover state taxes and devoting more resources to help people prepare their taxes, the state officials recommend junking the program entirely. Other free tax preparation services exist, so a federal program isn’t needed, they argue.

— Firestarter —

The Florida Forest Service is on a hot streak.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson this week that the agency is on pace for a recording-setting 2023-24 prescribed fire season.

Prescribed fires help prevent wildfires by torching at-risk flora during parts of the year when the days are cool, the winds are predictable, and trees are in their dormant stage. Typically, that means December through March.

In the current fiscal year — which runs through June 30 — the Florida Forest Service has treated 164,915 acres of state forests with prescribed fire, eclipsing last fiscal year’s total of 131,628 acres.

Some men just want to watch the world burn … in a controlled, beneficial way. Image via FDACS.

“One of my goals as Commissioner of Agriculture is to grow the state’s use of prescribed fire as an effective tool to combat the dangers of wildfires in Florida,” Simpson said in a news release.

“This year, not only have we increased the acres treated in our state forests, but we have also begun to record new monthly highs. As we enter our state’s drier months, this will play an important part in protecting Florida homes and businesses in wildfire-prone areas.”

In February, the state logged 89,072 acres worth of prescribed burns, making it one of the Florida Forest Service’s busiest months ever and far above the five-year average of 54,621 acres for the month.

“February’s total appears to be an agency record, at least going back to 2000,” said Florida Forest Service Director Rick Dolan. “Prescribed fire is an important tool that helps us reduce hazardous fuel buildups, significantly reducing the chances of catastrophic wildfires. That results in increased protection for Floridians, their homes, and the forest itself. This is important as we approach the peak of wildfire season.”

— Adding acreage —

More than 8,000 acres of agricultural land will be protected through the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Rural and Family Lands Protection Program.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson announced that the Governor and Cabinet this week approved the protection of 8,349 acres of working agricultural lands through cost-effective easements totaling more than $25 million.

The easements will prevent future land development on the acreage in the program in order to allow agricultural operations to continue fueling Florida’s economy and providing food, timber and other resources.

You’re not experiencing déjà vu, Wilton Simpson is just kinda good at securing conservation easements.

“Today’s approval to partner with Heart Bar Ranch and Rainey Pasture to preserve over 8,000 acres of productive agricultural land through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program is another huge win for the state of Florida,” Simpson said. “These rural land protection easements strengthen our food security through the protection of prime agricultural land, keep the protected property on the local tax rolls, and require every property owner to maintain the land and its natural resources according to state standards.”

Since its inception in 2001, the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program has preserved more than 120,000 acres of land.

The new areas include Heart Bar Ranch, a cattle, timber and wildlife management and seed operation in Osceola County. The area comprises more than 3,000 acres of native or semi-native habitat for wildlife and cattle crazing. It’s also home to Pine flatwoods, forested wetlands and herbaceous wetlands.

It also includes Rainey Pasture, a timber operation in Marion County with more than 5,000 acres in the Silver Springs Watershed.

— Instagram of the week —

—The week in appointments —

University of North Florida Board of Trustees — DeSantis appointed Jay Demetree to the UNF Board of Trustees. Demetree is the president and CEO of Demetree Brothers. Active in his community, he serves as a member of the Jacksonville University Board of Advisory, the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Advisory Board of Jacksonville. Demetree earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Georgia Tech.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District — DeSantis appointed Craig Mateer to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Mateer, of Orlando, is the founder of CCM Capital Group and was the founder and owner of Bags, Inc., which he sold to a publicly held company in 2018. He was named the 2014 “CEO of the Year” by the Orlando Business Journal. Mateer earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. Read more on Florida Politics.

— Dash of hope —

First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope Florida initiative keeps delivering checks.

The latest beneficiary: Wakulla Giving Hands. a Northwest Florida-based nonprofit that serves seniors, children and families in need.

The First Lady delivered the $20,000 gift, funded through private donations, in person during a food distribution event at the Wakulla County Senior Center.

“Thanks to the generosity of the private sector, we have the opportunity through the Hope Florida Fund to support nonprofits that are making a difference in their communities,” she said in a news release. “It was heartwarming to meet with Wakulla Giving Hands today and volunteer alongside them as they serve Florida seniors.”

Casey DeSantis keeps spreading hope (and donations) throughout the Sunshine State.

Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Michelle Branham added, “I’m thrilled we are recognizing the outstanding work of Wakulla Giving Hands. This hardworking and dedicated organization continues to champion, celebrate, and support our vibrant senior communities.”

Multiple state agencies, including FDEA, participate in the Hope Florida initiative, which broadly supports organizations that provide social work and other charitable services.

Much of the heavy lifting is done by “Hope Navigators,” who help individuals identify their unique and immediate needs, develop goals and make a plan to achieve them.

— Future’s so bright you gotta wear shades —

This week, Jones High School in Orange County was the stage for Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. and Lottery Secretary John F. Davis to highlight the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program and what students need to do to nab the scholarships.

More than 150 9th- and 10th grade students heard from the Tallahassee politicos who discussed the four different scholarship tiers (Florida Academic Scholarship, Florida Medallion Scholarship, Florida Gold Seal CAPE Scholarship, and Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholarship); the eligibility requirements for the various tiers; and the post-secondary education programs the scholarships can be used for.

The Bright Futures program has, indeed, granted many Florida kids the chance for a bright future. Or at least a college degree.

“Education provides the foundation for students to grow and achieve their greatest potential,” Diaz said. “I am proud of the work that Florida’s students, teachers, administrators and the Florida Bright Futures Program have done to promote higher education in our state, and I remain committed to making sure that our students are given every opportunity to excel and pursue their lifelong career aspirations.”

Jones High School was the third school that Diaz and Davis have visited to discuss the scholarships.

“The Florida Lottery recognizes the importance of education and the role it plays in equipping Florida’s youth,” Davis said. “We are proud to partner with the Florida Department of Education and pledge to help students recognize their fullest capabilities with access to a brighter future.”

Since its introduction in 1997, the Florida Bright Futures Program has awarded more than 950,000 scholarships. Current seniors and students seeking state financial aid for the 2024-25 school year have until Aug. 31 to apply.

— Simply the best —

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Mark Glass this week congratulated the FDLE agents recognized for exceptional performance in 2023. From investigating cryptocurrency to rescuing human trafficking victims to crunching crime data, this year’s award recipients are exceptional. These members are leaders and problem solvers and they work hard every day to keep Florida safe.”

FDLE recognized some of its best and brightest this week.

Agents were recognized for their accomplishments, contributions to criminal justice, money-saving ideas and productivity. The following recognitions were made this week:

— Jose Perez Special Agent of the Year: William Porter, Resident Agent in Charge, Jacksonville Regional Operations Center (JROC), Gainesville Field Office.

— Jessie B. Dobson, Jr. Distinguished Member of the Year: Donald Osterhouse, Research and Statistics Consultant, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS).

— Forensic Scientist of the Year: Elyssa Trautmann, Crime Laboratory Analyst, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC).

— Distinguished Support Member of the Year: Erin Ostrowski, Forensic Technologist, Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC).

— Outstanding New Member: Elizabeth Pritchard, Senior Crime Intelligence Analyst Supervisor, Office of Statewide Investigations.

— Contribution to Criminal Justice: Cyber Fraud Analytical Support Team (Cyber FAST), Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC): Matthew Forrester, Christina Malley, Jason Mileshko, Gary Vilano, Mikaela Scanlon and Madison Tolson.

— Distinguished Team of the Year: Investigations and Forensic Science (IFS) Sworn Hiring Team: Lori Mizell, Melanie Walker, Lee Kuhn, Cassidy Geon and Erica Elliot.

— Excellence in Leadership: Ashley Pennington, Chief of Training, Criminal Justice Professionalism.

— Capitol Police Officer of the Year: Douglas Stribling, Capitol Police Investigator, Capitol Police.

— Commissioner’s Award: Zackary Hughes, Special Agent, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC).

— Lifetime Achievement: Mary Christofano, Senior Management Analyst Supervisor, Fort Myers Regional Operations Center (FMROC).

— Lifetime Achievement: Darren Esposito, Senior Crime Lab Analyst, Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center (TBROC).

— Lifetime Achievement: Karen Martin, Chief of Forensic Services, Tallahassee Regional Operations Center (TROC).

— Lifetime Achievement: Wayne Ryan, Application Systems Programmer III, Information Technology Services (ITS).

— Lifetime Achievement: Marta Strawser, Senior Crime Lab Analyst, Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC).

— Lifetime Achievement: Jillian White, Senior Crime Lab Analyst, Orlando Regional Operations Center (OROC).

— Lucky 13 —

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) held a graduation ceremony last week for the 13 troopers who completed the Lateral Recruit Class (LRC) at the FHP Academy.

The lateral recruits consisted of four members with previous military experience (Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force) and three who moved to Florida from out of state (Alabama, Wisconsin and Missouri).

“Florida is a state known for law and order,said Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Executive Director Dave Kerner. “Our Governor and the citizens of Florida have put their trust in our State Troopers because of our tireless efforts to keep us safe from harm.”

Congrats to the grads from LRC 18. Image via FLHSMV.

“Among today’s graduates, we have those with military backgrounds, law enforcement from other states, and current law enforcement joining the ranks of the Florida Highway Patrol, known as Florida’s Finest. We are confident through their training; they will serve with distinction and positively impact the lives of those they protect. We’re honored to welcome these new Troopers to this proud family.

LRC participants must have at least two years of prior law enforcement experience. Out-of-state certified officers are accepted after transferring their law enforcement certifications to Florida.

— Drop a line —

If you like fishing but hate licenses, clear your schedule next weekend.

This spring’s license-free fishing weekend is April 6 and 7, and everyone — residents and visitors alike — are invited to explore the many recreational freshwater fishing opportunities Florida has to offer, from serene lakes to winding rivers.

“Florida offers an experience seen nowhere else in the world through its abundant fishing opportunities,” said Tom Graef, FWC’s Director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. “License-free fishing weekends help residents and visitors alike connect with friends and family while enjoying the nature Florida has to offer.”

No license? That won’t be a problem next weekend.

Be aware, even though FWC is suspending licensure requirements, it’s not angling for anarchy — all other rules, such as seasons, bag and size limits apply. And, as they say, ignorance of the law excuses not, so it would be wise to read FWC’s quick-start guide and go from there.

FWC’s website can also show you where to go for freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, or how to find a boat ramp or pier near you.

If you enjoy your foray into fishing, then plan ahead for the next license-free weekend June 8 and 9.

— Pasco TC Gives —

Pasco TC Gives, the non-profitable charitable arm of the Pasco County Tax Collector’s office run by Tax Collector Mike Fasano, has donated $2,500 to Suncoast of the YMCA to provide swim lessons and water safety training to those who would otherwise not have access to classes teaching kids lifesaving lessons.

“The YMCA of the Suncoast will be able to provide ‘Safety Around Water’ training to 50 children who lack the means to pay for these lessons on their own,” Fasano said. “In a state that is abundant with water, whether the Gulf of Mexico, rivers or backyard swimming pools, the importance of water safety cannot be overstated. It is vital that our children be taught how to swim and otherwise keep themselves free from water-related danger.”

Mike Fasano keeps finding ways to give back to the Pasco community. Image via Pasco TC Gives.

Fasano and his office presented the check this week at YMCA’s Trinity location to brand director Michael Whitten.

Pasco TC Gives raises funds to support local charities through its primary program, “Charity of the Month.” Charitable donations come largely from Tax Collector customers interested in supporting local causes.

Since its inception, the program has provided more than $40,000 to Pasco Schools ABC Funds to provide assistance to students in need; holiday meals for more than 600 families; $22,000 for the Humane Society of Pasco County; $31,000 to Lauren’s Kids child sexual abuse educational awareness program; $35,000 for the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, $13,000 for One Community Now’s Hungerwalk; $28,000 to Cindy’s Pets; $38,000 to CARES; $20,000 to the Special Olympics Pasco; $13,000 to Fostering Change; and more than $110,000 in smaller donations to some one dozen small nonprofits.

— Looking ahead —

To some, Monday is April Fools’ Day. To others, including the folks at Florida TaxWatch, it’s National Census Day.

The nonprofit government watchdog is observing the annual awareness day with the release of a new report, 2020 Census: How Florida Counties Compare.

As the title implies, the report analyzes 2020 Census participation in each of Florida’s 67 counties. It found a wide variance in response rates, ranging from 30.5% in Dixie County to 72% in Seminole County. The statewide rate, meanwhile, clocked in at 62.9%, which is a couple of points below the national rate of 65.2%.

Be truthful, Florida … are you really happy with 62.9%? Image via AP.

“Submitting a decennial census survey is an important civic duty. The population insights the census survey provides help inform the work of Florida’s businesses, community leaders, and policymakers while also ensuring our state — the fastest-growing in the nation — receives its fair share of federal representation and funding,” said Jeff Kottkamp, the acting President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.

“Unfortunately, Florida has a history of census undercounts, which peaked in 2020 and cost us greatly. While the 2030 Census is still six years away, Florida TaxWatch offers this report as a resource for Florida’s counties, allowing them to better understand where they rank in terms of census participation and initiate efforts to improve both their individual showing and our overall performance in the next count.”

Obviously, Florida has room for improvement. Thankfully, the state has a few years to prepare. Some of the top recommendations for stakeholders looking to improve their county’s score: Visit the Florida TaxWatch Census Institute; encourage employers to share census information with employees and customers; encourage involvement by government officials; and invest in grassroots efforts to develop community-level plans that will support a complete census count.


Responding to the Governor’s signing of legislation (HB 3) into law this week, the ACLU blasted the new law for raising “significant constitutional concerns.”

“HB 3 is a government censorship law aimed at ensuring that youth do not have access to information and resources that the governor does not want them to access,” ACLU of Florida Legislative Director Kara Gross wrote in a statement following the bill signing.

“HB 3 raises significant constitutional concerns because it intrudes on the free speech rights of adults and minors. The internet, including social media platforms, contains vast amounts of constitutionally protected speech for both adults and minors. This government censorship law places unnecessary barriers between adult users and their constitutional right to speak online,” she continued.

So, what are we calling this one? Don’t Say Doomscroll?

The new law prohibits those younger than 14 from having social media accounts, regardless of whether their parents are willing to give permission. Gross said it was a “complete disregard for parental rights,” a nod to the Governor’s emphasis on parental rights in education that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” and argue affords parental rights only to some parents but not others.

“This law is not narrowly tailored to achieve the stated interest of protecting youth from harm. If our lawmakers truly cared about the well-being of our children, they would be prioritizing expanding Medicaid access to struggling families, increasing school psychologists, ensuring access to affordable housing for families, and protecting families with minor children from facing eviction,” Gross wrote.

The ACLU of Florida isn’t the only group to speak out against the new law. Khara Boender, the state policy director for the Computer and Communications Industry Association, also blasted the law as an infringement on parents’ rights in an op-ed penned for Florida Politics.

— This is Seminole country —

Florida State University and five Northwest Florida state colleges have signed a memorandum of understanding committing to working together to provide educational support to Northwest Florida’s growing high-tech industries.

FSU President Richard McCullough signed an MOU with Tallahassee Community College Jim Murdaugh, Chipola College Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Bonnie Smith, Gulf Coast State College President Glen McDonald, Northwest Florida State College President Devin Stephenson, and Pensacola State College President Ed Meadows to provide educational support for high-tech fields.

Richard McCollough met with his state college peers for an MOU signing this week.

The MOU comes after The Triumph Gulf Coast Board voted in November for FSU’s proposed $98.4 million Institute for Strategic Partnership, Innovation, Research and Education. The project also includes funds to grow the number of engineering graduates in Panama City and dollars dedicated to STEM outreach activities in the eight-county area Triumph serves.

FSU is also partnering with Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and The St. Joe Company to establish a facility in Panama City Beach. This facility will include a medical office building scheduled to be completed in 2024. This building will ultimately house TMH Physician Partners — Primary Care, Tallahassee Memorial Urgent Care Center, an ambulatory surgery center, cardiology, and orthopedic services.

The MOU outlines an agreement that FSU will work with the other colleges, as they are eligible, on InSPIRE, FSU Health and other programs to grow and retain the needed regional skilled workforce to establish Northwest Florida as a global hub for aerospace, advanced manufacturing, and health care. Representatives of each institution will meet no less than three times each year to discuss potential projects, work together on funding and collaborate on other areas of interest.

— Capitol Directions —

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — In hindsight, the butterbeer purchase was top-shelf trolling.

Ron DeSantis, Cord Byrd — Up arrow — We’re just happy we won’t have another mid-decade Redistricting Session.

Jimmy Patronis — Up arrow — He deserves a T-R-E-A-T for helping those pups find forever homes.

Disney — Crossways arrow — Kind of like the sequel trilogy, we’re glad the court drama is over but we’re not sure whether it was worth the time or the money.

Lawson Huck Gonzalez — Up arrow — The Mouse isn’t invincible after all.

Craig Mateer — Crossways arrow — Disney isn’t going anywhere in January 2027, so we don’t envy the three-year tightrope walk ahead of him.

Dep’t of Emergency Management — Up arrow — Kevin Guthrie & Co. have Air Florida firing on all cylinders.

Chris Spencer — Up arrow — He’s now the Commodore … of the SBA.

Paul Renner — Up arrow — At first, we weren’t sold on HB 3, but having someone else to blame for not letting our kids on TikTok has us turned around.

Joe Gruters — Double up arrow — Remember what happened the last time Trump pre-endorsed in a Cabinet race?

Randy Fine — Up arrow — Now that Disney v. DeSantis is done, he can go back to the happiest place on Earth.

Tom Leek — Up arrow — That’s Sen. Leek, if SD 7’s four local sheriffs have anything to say about it.

Tommy Gregory — Fingers crossed — The state House is pretty much a pipeline to a college presidency these days, isn’t it?

Max Goodman — $ — Speaking of Gruters, Gregory, etc., there are few consultants better positioned in Sarasota region to take advantage of the churn.

Chip LaMarca — Up arrow — Sip, sip, hooray!

Mindy Koch — Up arrow — The Sun-Sentinel said it best: She’s unsinkable.

Alix Miller — Up arrow — She notched another win for Florida Trucking with the Governor signing the predatory towing bill into law.

Anthony Sabatini — Down arrow — The only way his bridge collapse tweet could be worse is if he posted it wearing his serape and straw hat.

Citizens Insurance — Down arrow — So, how much longer until those new insurance laws start showing some results?

Broward schools — Down arrow — The charters will accept cash, travelers’ checks and most major credit cards.

FAU — Down arrow — If they pre-bought any nitrous, we’d be happy to take it off their hands.

New College — Up arrow — The Mighty Banyans scored another chunk of cash.

Tutor.com — Down arrow — More like Tutor.cn.

Your TCC sweatshirt — Down arrow — Maybe some hipsters will buy it at a vintage market in a few years.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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