Last Call for 4.15.24 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted a bill that would speed up charter school conversions during a Monday visit to Pensacola.

HB 1285 would streamline the process of converting “failed turnaround schools” to charter schools. Turnaround schools are traditional public schools that earn an “F” grade or consecutive “D” grades. Schools that fall under that definition are given a two-to-three-year period to improve to a “C.”

Under HB 1285, turnaround schools that fail to improve could more easily be converted to charter schools, which the Governor’s office said “enhances Florida’s top-ranked education system” by eliminating “lengthy and drawn-out negotiations between the incoming charter school and the school district, to ensure no student is trapped at a failing school in Florida.”

“Florida is number one in the nation for education, but there’s always more to be done,” DeSantis said in a news release. “We won’t stop working for Florida’s students and parents. HB 1285 codifies several great enhancements for education that will keep Florida No. 1.”

Notably, the legislation also aims to pare back book challenges by capping the number of content objections that can be filed by Floridians who do not have children in the school district at one per month. The bill does not cap objections for parents with school-age children in the district.

Since the state opened the door to content objections, numerous Florida school districts have made headlines for banning — at least temporarily — books ranging from a biography of MLB legend Roberto Clemente to some of William Shakespeare’s bawdier plays.

DeSantis championed the 2023 law making it easier to file content objections, but has derided the more quizzical bans as a “false narrative” and a “hoax.” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has echoed the Governor and said on Monday that removed books aren’t technically “banned” because they’re still available to adults.

DeSantis has not yet received the bill from the Legislature, but he is expected to quickly sign it when it hits his desk. The Governor’s office plans to continue messaging on the bill, promising that there would be “more to be announced tomorrow.”

Evening Reads

—“What the polls say about Donald Trump’s hush money trial” via Irena Li of FiveThirtyEight

—“The 33 wildest lines from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago news conference” via Chris Cillizza of So What

—”Hard numbers, hard spot for GOP on abortion” via Chris Stirewalt of The Dispatch

—“The RFK Jr. strategy clicks into focus” via John Hendrickson of The Atlantic

—”Mike Johnson nears big decision: Help Israel, Ukraine or both?” via Lindsay Wise and Natalie Andrews of The Wall Street Journal

—”A closer look at a slight shift in the polls” via Nate Cohn of The New York Times

—“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell credits ‘bipartisan’ support with $3.5M Q1” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—“Bill Helmich takes over as Florida GOP Interim Executive Director” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”They quit liberal public schools. Now they teach kids to be anti-‘woke.’” via Hannah Natanson of The Washington Post

—“Americans are paying billions to take drugs that don’t work” via Robert Langreth, Fiona Rutherford, and Tanaz Meghjani of Bloomberg

Quote of the Day

“For many, many decades, school was school. Then it seems like more recently it’s all become fodder for people to try to do the agenda.”

— Gov. Ron DeSantis, highlighting a bill that would, in part, restrict challenges to books in public school libraries.

Put It on the Tab

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

Gov. Ron DeSantis gets a can of Rewind for his take on how restrictive the book challenge law he championed is.

It’s Cassette Tapes all around for Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal, which effectively opened a loophole in the state’s long-standing two-party consent law for recording telephone conversations.

Help Bill Helmich celebrate his return to the Republican Party of Florida as Interim Executive Director by ordering him a Welcome Home.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

Milestones approaching for Tampa’s Kucherov

With two regular-season games remaining, the Tampa Bay Lightning don’t have to worry about earning a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That has already been clinched. But tonight’s matchup against Buffalo (7 p.m. ET, Bally Sports Florida) does have significance for one Lightning player in particular.

Right winger Nikita Kucherov leads the NHL in points with 141 entering tonight’s game. He is three points clear of Colorado’s Nathan McKinnon in the chase for the Art Ross Trophy. 

If Kucherov wins the honor, it would be the second time in his career that he has led the league in points and he would join Martin St. Louis as two-time winners of the Art Ross Trophy with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid has won the award the last three years and five of the past seven.

Kucherov’s first Art Ross Trophy came in 2019 when he scored 41 goals and posted 87 assists. He has another milestone to achieve this season as well. Kucherov sits two assists shy of 100. Only three men have reached the plateau: Wayne Gretzky (11 times), Mario Lemieux (once), and Bobby Orr (once). McDavid enters tonight’s game against San Jose with 99 assists, leading the league.

Also tonight:

6:50 p.m. — Los Angeles Angels @ Tampa Bay Rays

7 p.m. — Buffalo Sabres @ Tampa Bay Lightning


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

Staff Reports


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

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