Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.23.24

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Who's up, down, in and out — your morning tip sheet on Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

President Joe Biden will appear in Tampa today, a week ahead of the state implementing a strict abortion ban six weeks into pregnancy. That’s no coincidence. Officials with Biden’s campaign reiterated that the new law makes Florida a battleground, regardless of solid GOP performance here in recent election cycles.

“We take Florida very seriously. The idea that Donald Trump has the state in the bag could not be further from the truth,” Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler told reporters in a press call. “He owns not only the state of abortion rights across the country, but he owns the restriction that we’re seeing play out in Florida. So yes, that means that there’s an opportunity for us.”

Joe Biden visits Tampa to remind Democrats that Florida is still in play.

Tyler said the entire trip aims to highlight Trump’s role in appointing the justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing state laws that now restrict 1 in 3 American women’s ability to obtain an abortion.

On the same call, Biden organizers from Arizona and Wisconsin discussed how abortion bans from the 1800s have impacted women in those states and moved more voters to Democrats. Officials expect a similar effect in Florida when its toughest restriction in modern history starts to be enforced May 1. And that means Florida’s 30 electoral votes could be up for grabs as the President seeks a path to 270 and re-election to a second term.

For the Republicans’ part, they welcome the chance to contrast Biden’s record with Trump’s.

“Any day that Joe Biden visits Florida is a great day for Florida Republicans,” said Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican up for re-election this year. “Floridians are abandoning Joe Biden and the Democrats in droves because their disastrous policies are destroying our country.

“That’s why Florida Republicans now have a nearly 900,000 voter registration lead. Floridians want freedom, safe communities and a thriving economy.”


The Associated Industries of Florida has finished grading lawmakers’ performance during the 2024 Legislative Session and is ready to name this year’s “Champions for Business.”

Champions this year include Senate President Kathleen Passidomo as well as Sens. Danny Burgess, Nick DiCeglie, Jay Trumbull and Clay Yarborough. The lower chamber’s pro-business champs include Reps. Jennifer Canady, Tiffany Esposito, Mike Giallombardo and Toby Overdorf.

“Fifty years ago, AIF was the first business group to provide a comprehensive report of the voting records of Florida legislators for employers in our state,” said AIF President and CEO Brewster Bevis.

AIF passes out grades for lawmakers and is ready to reveal the 2024 Champion for Business.

“Each year since, we have continued to compile this Voting Records report to provide the business community with a metric by which to determine if a legislator supports businesses with the power of their vote. And while these vote records are incredibly important, they only tell part of the story. As we work closely with legislators throughout each Session, we recognize there are equally important non-vote related actions that some take to support job creators that can be instrumental in helping get a priority issue addressed.”

AIF Vice President of Governmental Affairs Adam Basford outlined some of AIF’s wins this year, including liability protection in the cybersecurity realm and preemption on local heat and wage ordinances. This Session wasn’t all sunshine and roses, though.

“ … there were other key issues impacting Florida businesses that did not get the attention from the Legislature we felt was needed, such as litigation financing and caps on medical malpractice suits,” he said. “As we continue to work with lawmakers to improve the business climate in our state, AIF’s Voting Records report is an important tool that provides valuable insights into where they stood on these priority issues.”

The Champions weren’t the only lawmakers AIF graded — the annual score card examines how all Representatives and Senators voted on AIF’s policy priorities last Session. And there were a lot of votes.

AIF’s 2024 Voting Records are available for perusal online. Those looking for a politics-related rabbit hole can also check out the organization’s Voting Records Database, which includes 241,266 votes, 2,505 bills, and over 900 legislators from the last 50 years.


@BarackObama: Tonight, Jewish families around the world will begin the celebration of Passover with the traditional seder meal. Michelle and I loved the seders we held in the White House and the story of Passover — with its focus on resilience, redemption, and renewal in the face of persecution and uncertainty. Today it rings even more true. This Passover, let’s remember everyone who is unable to celebrate the holiday with their loved ones. And in a time when there’s been so much suffering and loss in Israel and Gaza, let’s reaffirm our commitment to the Jewish people, and people of all religions, who deserve to feel safe and secure wherever they live and practice their faith. Chag Sameach.

@JaredEMoskowitz: I left my family today on the eve of Passover, to come to Columbia to spend time with Jewish students. I shouldn’t have to be here, but I want them to know that we see them, and we hear them and soon the Antisemites will hear from Congress.

@NYCMayor: I am horrified and disgusted with the antisemitism being spewed at and around the Columbia University campus. Hate has no place in our city, and I have instructed the NYPD to investigate any violation of law they receive a report about and will arrest anyone found to be breaking the law.

@MarcACaputo: Miami Democrats, fresh off racial tensions over the ouster of their Black County Chair, decide to have a vote on his election … on the last day of Passover 31 minutes before Shabbat

Tweet, tweet:

@MDixon55: There is an epidemic in this country of airport moving walkways not working


Florida Housing Summit ‘Blueprint for Better Outcomes’ begins — 8; Kentucky Derby — 11; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 17; ‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 24; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 25; French Open begins — 27; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 28; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 29; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 29; Monaco Grand Prix — 33; the 2024 World Cup begins — 49; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 54; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 66; Republican National Convention begins — 82; the 2024 World Cup ends — 86; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 91; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 93; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 94; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 115; Florida Primary Election — 119; Democratic National Convention begins — 119; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 123; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 136; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 136; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 178; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 181; 2024 Presidential Election — 196; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 209; MLS Cup 2024 — 224; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 294; the 2025 Oscars — 313; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 315; 2025 Session ends — 375; ‘Moana’ premieres — 425; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 456; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 458; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 563; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 605; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 742; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 758; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 969; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,109; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,068; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,790.


Joe Biden’s polls improve as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and third-party factor shifts” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — It’s been something approaching an article of faith on the left and in some corners of the media that Kennedy poses a spoiler threat to Biden’s re-election. It’s never been quite clear that’ll be the case, though, particularly given that Kennedy is much more popular among Republicans than Democrats.

RFK Jr. could siphon more votes from Donald Trump than Joe Biden.

And now, there are growing signs that Kennedy and his fellow third-party candidates might not cost Biden after all. Indeed, they — and particularly Kennedy — could actually pull more from Trump.

Two new high-quality polls since Sunday bear this out. The latest shows Biden at 51% and Trump at 48% in a national head-to-head contest.

But when you factor in third-party candidates Kennedy, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and independent Cornel West, Biden’s lead increases to five percentage points, larger than the poll’s 3.6-point margin of error.


Ron DeSantis calls for feds to deal with campus antisemitism in New York City” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s Governor told a crowd at West Palm Beach’s Cox Science Center and Aquarium that “what’s going on up there is disgraceful,” adding that Biden has “been very weak and basically allowing that to happen” through executive inaction. Protesters at Columbia University have delivered the worst of it of late, with calls to Jewish students to “go back to Poland” in what is a clear attempt to invoke the horrors of the Holocaust, which led to the systematic killing of 90% of Poland’s once-vibrant Jewish population. “They’re really targeting Jewish students,” DeSantis said. “It’s a hostile environment and violates the civil rights of those students and these universities.” DeSantis believes that foreign students should have their visas “canceled” and “be sent home,” while American students “violating the code of conduct” should be thrown out of schools.

Ron DeSantis says the feds should tackle antisemitism in NYC.

DeSantis announces $1.5B more toward Everglades, water improvement projects” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis plans to spend $1.5 billion more on Everglades restoration and water quality improvement in the coming fiscal year, bringing the total allocated since his election in 2019 to $6.5 billion. That’s the largest investment in Everglades-related projects in Florida history, even when adjusted for inflation, he said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said. “This is a big state. You’re talking about restoring the plumbing of the state to how God intended it, (which) requires a lot of things. These are really ambitious projects.” DeSantis’ spending plan for the coming fiscal year is part of a $3.5 billion, four-year plan to tackle Everglades restoration and water quality problems. The new round of funding, starting in July, would bring the state within $300 million of that goal with two years to spare.

Some migrants flown by DeSantis to Martha’s Vineyard qualify for victim visas, feds say” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Some of the 49 migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by the state of Florida are now able to legally work in the United States and have temporary protections from deportation because they are considered victims of a potential crime, their attorney says. The migrants are eligible for protection because they applied for a special kind of visa meant for crime victims who are helping law enforcement in the investigation of suspected criminal activity. They applied for what are known as U visas last year after they said they had been tricked into taking charter flights from San Antonio, Texas to the Massachusetts island with false promises of jobs and other aid, said Some of the 49 migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard by the state of Florida are now able to legally work in the United States and have temporary protections from deportation — because they are considered victims of a potential crime, says Rachel Self, an attorney for the migrants.

FHCA blasts Biden administration nursing home mandate — The Florida Health Care Association said it strongly opposes the final nursing home staffing mandate announced by the Biden administration on Monday. The new rule is the first-ever minimum staffing requirement at the federal level and, among other things, requires a registered nurse be on the premises 24 hours a day, every day. “At a time when Florida’s long-term care profession is working tirelessly to overcome the labor challenges, this impossible and unfunded mandate will make it harder to recruit long-term care workers and ensure Florida seniors have access to the specialized and person-centered services they need,” said FHCA CEO Emmett Reed.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Rick Scott officially has a Primary challenger” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Melbourne lawyer Keith Gross will be attempting to make his case to GOP registrants that they can do better than their current Senator. It remains to be seen how seriously Scott, a former two-term Governor first elected in 2018, will take the challenge from the unheralded and underfunded Gross. The most recent poll of the General Election shows the Senator above 50% against likely Democratic nominee Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, and both Scott’s and Mucarsel-Powell’s messaging is more suited to a General Election than a contested Primary.

Keith Gross emerges as a Primary threat to Rick Scott.

Stanley Campbell qualifies for Senate race, setting up Democratic Primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — There will be a Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate in Florida. Business owner Campbell, among other Democrats, has qualified as a candidate for the federal office. Campbell closed the first quarter of 2024 with nearly $772,000 cash-on-hand, one of just two Democratic candidates in the race with more than six figures in the bank. He paid a qualifying fee of $10,440 to make the ballot. The Eagle Force Associates founder still has a good bit less funding than former U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell, who wrapped March with some $2.75 million in the bank.

Mixed results so far for felons accused of illegally voting in 2020” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Their arrests were announced with great fanfare — 20 convicted felons who finished serving their time were arrested in the Summer of 2022, accused of illegally casting ballots in the 2020 Election. Today most of those cases have been resolved, though a handful are still being fought in state and appeals courts. Last month the 4th District Court of Appeal took up a Broward County man’s case after a local judge dismissed it on jurisdictional grounds; the case was brought by the Office of the Statewide Prosecutor, which is supposed to handle crimes that are committed in more than one jurisdiction. Five similar cases are waiting to be resolved across the state, all with lawyers making the same argument.


Marist Poll shows Biden leading Donald Trump among ‘definite voters’ — A new poll conducted by Marist shows Biden leading Trump 51%-48% among registered voters nationally, including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate. Biden breaks to a six-point, 53%-47%, lead among voters who say they definitely plan to vote in November. The two men are also now tied at 49% among independents, a demo that Trump led by seven points in Marist’s prior poll. In addition to the head-to-head measure, Marist asked voters about a multicandidate field that included Kennedy, West and Stein. In that scenario, Biden leads Trump 43%-38% with RFK Jr. in a distant third place with 14% support.

New polling gives Joe Biden an advantage among ‘definite voters.’


L.J. Holloway to make another run for Congress” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Holloway has qualified with the Division of Elections to run in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. She will take on the man who defeated her by more than 20 points two years ago in the General Election: Fernandina Beach’s Aaron Bean. “Given Bean’s record coupled with Reproductive Rights (Amendment 4) and The decriminalization of Marijuana (Amendment 4) on the ballot more people are engaged and I am hopeful that people like me who keep their pulse on the people and want to Defend our Democracy will VOTE L.J. Holloway for a better day,” Holloway said in a text message Monday.

L.J. Holloway takes another shot at a Congressional seat.

Rick Wells latest Sheriff to endorse Vern Buchanan for re-election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Manatee County Sheriff Wells is throwing his support behind U.S. Rep. Buchanan’s re-election campaign. “Congressman Vern Buchanan is a fierce defender of local law enforcement and a fighter for the people of Manatee County,” Wells said. “I fully endorse his re-election campaign and look forward to working with him in the years ahead to keep our community safe.” Wells came days after Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister also endorsed the incumbent. That means every Sheriff protecting Florida’s 16th Congressional District has now lined up behind Buchanan.

First in Sunburn — “EMILY’s List backs three incumbent House Democrats” via Florida Politics — EMILY’s List is endorsing three Democratic pro-choice women for re-election to the Florida House. The endorsements are for Allison Tant (HD 9), Lindsay Cross (HD 60) and Katherine Waldron (HD 93). EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, working to elect Democratic pro-choice women across the country with the goal of fighting for their rights and communities. “With the blatant attacks on reproductive rights and abortion access in Florida, it is essential that Reps. Allison Tant, Lindsay Cross and Katherine Waldron remain in the Florida state House,” EMILY’s List President Jessica Mackler said in a statement. “We need these pro-choice champions in office now more than ever, and EMILY’s List is proud to support them.” EMILY’s List previously endorsed Tant in 2020, Cross in 2018 and 2022, and Waldron in 2022.

Happening tonight:

— LOCAL: S. FL —

South Florida sees gains in relocating tech workers to the region, but are they enough to fill the demand?” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida’s got tech talent. But are there enough professionals to go around for the startups, existing companies and public agencies to keep their customers happy? Last week, San Francisco-based SignalFire released a survey of 18 U.S. metropolitan areas that showed New York leading the nation in attracting relocating technology workers in 2023. The Big Apple’s net gain: 3.5%. San Francisco was last, with a 3.7% net decline. The “Miami-Fort Lauderdale” area came in fifth with a fractional net gain in a survey that tracked the movement of workers among 10 of the country’s largest technology firms by market capitalization. Amazon, Alphabet and Meta were among them, along with various large privately held companies.

Attempt to remove Judge in suspended Miami-Dade Commissioner’s corruption trial denied” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — A motion by defense attorneys to have the Judge tossed in the public corruption trial of a suspended Miami-Dade Commissioner was denied by the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal. In a brief, single-paragraph opinion late last week, the three-member appellate court panel called the motion by attorneys representing Joe Martinez “legally insufficient.” Still, the legal procedure by the defense could set the trial back several months — or it could begin as soon as May 2. The earlier start date is dependent on a plea agreement that could halt an upcoming trial.

Attorneys representing Joe Martinez are asking the judge to step aside.

Miami-Dade serves Seaquarium with eviction notice” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County moved forward on its promise to evict the Miami Seaquarium, sending a notice of eviction to the attraction’s parent company, the Dolphin Company. In a joint statement, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Commissioner Raquel Regalado said it is their hope that the company voluntarily vacates but that the county is prepared to pursue the eviction in court if necessary. That latest development comes after the Miami Seaquarium on Friday filed suit against Miami-Dade County to block the eviction from its waterfront home since the 1950s.

Plantation Mayor goes on medical leave, and Council President takes the reins” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Plantation Mayor Nick Sortal is temporarily out of City Hall for medical reasons, so Council President Tim Fadgen will fill in for him. In an email to Council members Monday, Chief Administrative Officer Jason Nunemaker said Sortal is out under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act focusing on his health. Sortal issued a statement about being on leave: “To treat a series of injuries, I was prescribed a pain medication under my physician’s care. Realizing that reliance on pain medication is not a long-term solution, I decided to stop taking it and I had a reaction to an alternate medication. As a result, I chose a medical treatment that will require me to take a temporary leave of absence.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

As Supreme Court hears homeless case, scores rally in downtown Orlando” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Arresting people who have no other place to sleep than on sidewalks or public spaces ultimately makes the homeless problem worse. “It’s about housing, not handcuffs,” said U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost while surrounded by roughly 100 other people in front of the Federal Courthouse. “Criminalizing homelessness not only does not help solve the problem, but it makes it more difficult for that person. And then it makes it more difficult for our community.” Frost and other rally participants spoke as the U.S. Supreme Court listened to arguments on whether homeless people can be banned from sleeping outside, even when local shelters are full.

Maxwell Frost takes a stand on the homeless case to be heard by SCOTUS.

Volusia’s former Superintendent says district’s ‘inherited’ debt is a ‘misrepresentation’” via Mary Ellen Ritter of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — At a recent Board meeting, Volusia County Schools Superintendent Carmen Balgobin explained that teachers would be displaced next year because she “inherited” debt and financial issues when she was hired in July 2022. But former Superintendent Scott Fritz told The News-Journal that Balgobin’s claim was a “misrepresentation” and an “easy out,” adding that she was likely “under a lot of pressure.” “Quite honestly,” he said, “As deputy Superintendent … she had control over those dollars. She was responsible for those dollars.” The district’s CFO said Balgobin has been working to fix the issue since she was named Superintendent.

Renaming Casselberry post office to honor famed aviator Joe Kittinger passes first hurdle” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — The U.S. post office in Casselberry is on its way toward being renamed in honor of the late U.S. Air Force Col. Kittinger, a famed aviator considered the world’s first astronaut. A Seminole County resident, Kittinger died Dec. 9, 2022. He was 94. U.S. Rep. Cory Mills, a New Smyrna Beach Republican, proposed legislation to have the facility at 109 Live Oaks Blvd. permanently honor Kittinger. The House Oversight Committee passed the bill on April 10. It now heads to the full House for a vote. “That would be awesome,” his son Mark Kittinger, of Longwood, said after hearing the news. “I think he would just love that. He would be tickled to death.”


Recognizing racist past, Tampa will create Reconciliation Committee” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — More than three years after the Tampa City Council formally apologized for the city’s racist past, the body unanimously approved the formation of a Committee tasked with examining and addressing persistent inequities in Florida’s third-largest city. The 13-member Race Reconciliation Committee will make policy recommendations to “address our economic and racial divide,” according to the resolution passed Thursday, which now heads to Mayor Jane Castor for her signature. The Committee will probe five topics: affordable housing, development, youth empowerment, residents returning from prison and ignored history.

Tampa leaders forward a resolution to Jane Castor on examining the city’s inequality.

Florida Polytechnic president choice raises questions about its mission” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland has grand aspirations to become the MIT of the south. So, when the time came for the school to choose its next president, some trustees saw it as an opportunity to make a mark. One of the top candidates came from the highly regarded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The other leading choice came from Northwest Florida State College. The narrowly divided Board went with the latter, who was the only finalist without a STEM background. The decision sparked an immediate backlash. “It is no longer an honor to serve on the Board of Trustees of Florida Polytechnic University, so I resign, effective immediately,” trustee David B. Williams wrote in a letter to the school. Read more from the Lakeland Ledger.

Pasco County Commissioner Gary Bradford dies” via Rachel Tucker of WFLA — Pasco County Commissioner Bradford has died, county officials announced Monday. Bradford was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2022. In a statement, County Administrator Mike Carballa said Bradford continued to represent Pasco County at events and meetings while undergoing cancer treatment. “His loss leaves a significant void in our organization and in our community,” Carballa said. Carballa urged county employees to “come together as a team to support one another and honor Commissioner Bradford’s memory.” “Please keep Commissioner Bradford’s family and loved ones in your thoughts during this difficult time,” Carballa said.

Groundbreakings this week to launch 110 new affordable housing units in St. Pete” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Two groundbreakings this week will officially kick off construction on 110 new affordable housing units in St. Petersburg. On Tuesday, elected officials from St. Pete and Pinellas County will be on hand to break ground on the Bayou Court Apartments, located at 4201 6th St. S. The site will be home to 60 affordable units. Then on Friday, officials will also be on hand for a groundbreaking of Innovare, a downtown complex set to open in St. Pete’s Innovation District, located at 850 5th Ave. S. There, 50 affordable units are planned. The Tuesday groundbreaking will be at 10:30 a.m., and the Friday event at 10 a.m. Bayou Court Apartments will be located next to Lakewood Elementary School and will offer first dibs to local school and city employees. Units will also be available to individuals and families earning between 50% and 120% of the area median income.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Leon County Supervisor of Elections offering free vote-by-mail postage in 2024” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Voters in Leon County won’t have to worry about finding a stamp for their mail ballots anymore. Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley announced Monday that his office will pick up the tab for vote-by-mail postage, starting with the Aug. 20 primary. “In furtherance of our mission to provide outstanding voter services, I want to remove barriers to voting and ensure all eligible voters can cast their ballot,” Earley said. “I would like to thank the Leon County Commission for funding this important program in service to our voters.

Mark Earley says Leon County vote-by-mail ballots will not need postage.

‘Shocked, excited, happy’: Atlantic Coast High principal named Florida’s principal of year” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Bringing an accolade to Duval County, Atlantic Coast High School Principal Michael George has been named Florida’s principal of the year, state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.’s office said Monday. “School leadership plays a pivotal role in the success and future of our students, teachers and state,” Diaz said in an announcement singling out George and others for exceptional performance. A two-decade veteran educator, George said he took the recognition on behalf of his school’s staff and students and the community around them. “I’m shocked. I’m excited. I’m happy,” he’d said in comments late last week, when the state recognition was first shared with people at his A-graded school, where 95.3% of students graduated as of last year. George, photographed when he became Duval County schools’ principal of the year in November, has been named Florida’s principal of the year.

I-10 construction project at U.S. 29 will last until 2030” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola area commuters who use Interstate 10 in Escambia County can expect construction delays for the rest of the decade. The Florida Department of Transportation has begun work on two major projects at Exit 10 and Exit 5. The first is a massive $236 million project to build a redesigned Exit 10 interchange that will eliminate the left-hand merges of the current on-ramps and make I-10 six lanes with three lanes in each direction. Construction on the project is expected to be completed in the Summer of 2030. “What we’re trying to do is modernize that interchange, making it safer and more efficient,” FDOT spokesperson Ian Satter said.

UF, Gainesville leaders discuss RTS negotiations, say they will reach deal before June 30” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — University of Florida administrators and Gainesville leaders met to discuss ongoing negotiations related to the Regional Transit System. The discussions come after UF received backlash from students and community members for its proposal that showed the university reducing its funding of RTS by 50%. Earlier in April, city leaders announced at a news conference that half its RTS budget is at risk of being lost if UF were to move forward with a proposal to scale back its prepaid bus fare program. The program, responsible for nearly $13.7 million of RTS’ $28 million budget this year, may be greatly reduced at the beginning of July.

The Oyster “Plan”: what happens when Apalachicola Bay reopens?” via Rob Diaz De Villegas of WFSU — In January 2026, we might see oyster boats working in Apalachicola Bay for the first time in five years. Might. Oyster bars will have had five years to reestablish themselves, to build reef structures without oyster tongs tugging at them. Will that be enough time for the reefs to fully regrow and once more sustain a fishery? And, if not, will the harvest resume anyway? During the closure, researchers, government agency representatives, nonprofits, and community members have been working to ensure that when the bay opens, it can stay open and productive in a way it hasn’t been since the fishery crashed in 2012. After years of experiments and discussion, they now have “The Plan.” “What it is is a list of options and recommendations to government entities that have a consensus of stakeholder agreement,” says Dr. Sandra Brooke. Dr. Brooke is a senior researcher at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory.


Despite GOP outcry, Sarasota 211 made no referrals to Planned Parenthood last year” via Christian Casale of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Despite recent, blistering attacks by the Sarasota County Commission against the 211 help line for having Planned Parenthood as a potential service provider, the 211 phone information hotline made no referrals to the organization last year. A spokesperson for United Way Suncoast told the Herald-Tribune that of the 13,791 referrals to callers made in Sarasota County during the 2022-23 fiscal year, none were to Planned Parenthood. The 211 service is designed to connect people with community resources, a spokesperson said. Just because a resource is listed does not mean all callers will meet the qualifications and criteria to receive various services, ranging from rental assistance to child care subsidies or health services.

Despite GOP concerns, Sarasota’s 211 helpline made no referrals to Planned Parenthood in 2023.

North Port to look at fiscal options for proposed police facility” via Daniel Finton of the North Port Sun — The North Port City Commission will discuss funding options for a potential new police headquarters facility at 1 p.m. Tuesday at a special meeting. The City Commission previously approved the next steps for a $122 million project. Earlier this month, it approved $4 million from general funds to go toward a design plan. Financial options for the project are being discussed. Surtaxes, property taxes, land parcel sales and the selling of the current North Port Police Station have all been discussed in the past. Surtax discussions on potential project delays from fiscal years 2030-2034 and 2035-2039 are also being discussed. Commissioners recently shared a list of those that may be removed with the North Port Area Chamber of Commerce.


School chaplains law crosses a sacred line in Florida” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida becomes the second state to follow Texas down this rathole.

It’s as wrong to throw public school doors open to “volunteer” religious proselytizers as if the state were paying teachers to convert students or drill them for their first communions and Bat Mitzvahs.

Children who want religious activity at school are free to organize it on their own time. But the state must keep its hands off and keep outsiders out.

“Soul prep” belongs with their families and whatever churches, synagogues and mosques they choose to attend or not.

With this extremely misguided new law, House Bill 931, the Legislature and DeSantis have created a drastic situation for Florida School Boards and students. The Boards will be under relentless pressure to allow chaplains in their schools.

All of Florida’s School Boards should say no, as firmly and as soon as possible.

Unlike the Texas law, the invitation is open-ended.

It falls to the school Boards now to find the courage, conscience and respect for the Constitution that so shamefully eluded the Governor and the 25 Senators and 89 House members — all but four of them Republican — who voted for the bill.

For a Harvard-educated lawyer, DeSantis showed a striking ignorance of the law’s facial unconstitutionality. He said it’s not a problem because of the parental consent requirement. But the Constitution of the United States has never been subject to parental consent.

Everyone involved will be term-limited out of Tallahassee before the harmful effects of HB 931 play out. It should be repealed at the first opportunity, which won’t be soon considering what Florida’s Legislature has become.


Dogs are our greatest creation. And we might be theirs.” via Tommy Tomlinson of The Washington Post — The dog is humankind’s greatest invention. The wheel, the light bulb, concrete — all amazing. Top of the line. But nothing in human creation has been as essential and adaptable as the countless descendants of the ancient gray wolf. How did we do it? I spent three years following the traveling carnival of American dog shows — like a Grateful Dead tour with Milk Bones — in search of the answer. My journey culminated in the dog world’s most prestigious event: the Westminster Dog Show. Show dogs are bred from the purest stock, culled from litters at just a few weeks old, trained with the dedication of Olympic gymnasts — and groomed like supermodels. They’d be unrecognizable to their ancient kin — and to ours.


— ALOE —

Florida gas prices hit new 2024 high” via Florida Politics — Gas prices in Florida shot up 13 cents early last week to reach a new 2024 high of $3.64 per gallon by Wednesday before falling 6 cents through the weekend. By Sunday, the state average was $3.58 per gallon — 2 cents more than a month ago, but 14 cents less than the same time last year. Last year’s high was $3.85 per gallon. Mark Jenkins, spokesperson for AAA — The Auto Club Group, attributed the price uptick in recent weeks to volatility in the oil market. Oil prices account for roughly half the price of gas, and throughout the first quarter of the year, oil prices averaged around $75 per barrel. Since mid-March, however, the price of oil climbed to nearly $84 per barrel while the state average gas prices remained above $3.50 per gallon.

Meta introduces new feature to curb ‘sextortion,’ protect teens” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Meta is taking steps to prevent potential “sextorters” from finding and interacting with teens on Instagram and plans to introduce a new nudity protection feature to detect when images sent or received in Instagram Direct Messenger contain nudity. Here’s how this feature will work: After detecting nudity in the image, the platform will automatically blur nude images with a warning screen and remind users of the potential risks of sharing sensitive images. There will also be a message encouraging the user not to feel pressure to respond, with an option to block the sender and report the chat. Instagram will show a notification to adults encouraging them to turn this feature on and the feature will be turned on by default for teens under 18.

‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ trailer brings Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman together as frenemies” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — For Reynolds, the latest Deadpool & Wolverine trailer is a chance for audiences to see two marquee characters together, a pairing that “took seven years and a lot of begging” to get Jackman to return as Wolverine. Ahead of the new trailer, Reynolds shared the post-credits scene from Deadpool 2, which showed Deadpool traveling through time to “clean up the timelines” — which included rectifying some mistakes from Reynolds’ own filmography. Among them was X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), which starred Jackman and featured Reynolds as Wade Wilson. The film was widely panned, in particular for a climax that included Wade Wilson with his mouth sewn shut — a particularly affront to comic book fans given that Wilson is known for being such a talkative character.

To watch the trailer, please click the image below:


Best wishes to our man, Drew Wilson, Sen. Randolph Bracy, Katie Crofoot, Director of Partnership Engagement at Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Laura Lenhart, vice president of Government Affairs at Port Tampa Bay and Kenneth Pratt of the Florida Bankers Association.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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