Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.5.24

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Good Wednesday morning.

Breaking late Tuesday — “Randolph Bracy claims Geraldine Thompson illegally lives outside her district” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Thompson was elected in 2022 to District 15 in west Orange County, but the county Property Appraiser’s office lists years of homestead exemptions, including 2023 and 2024, for a Windermere home in District 13 owned by her and husband, Emerson. “For the entirety of her Senate career, previously and currently, she has lived at this home that is [now] outside her district,” Bracy said Tuesday. ” … She can’t live in that house and represent that district by law.” Thompson said Tuesday she has been living for the past few years at her daughter’s home in Ocoee that’s within the Senate district, although she said her husband still resides at the Windermere house they purchased together in 1988.

Randolph Bracy blasts Geraldine Thompson for her residency issues.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is releasing its report on how lawmakers voted on a range of bills impacting Florida businesses.

The 2024 How They Voted report is a comprehensive review of what passed this Legislative Session, what didn’t and what remains unfinished business. The votes tracked in the report informed the Florida Chamber’s 2024 Legislative Report Card, released last month.

On the whole, lawmakers mostly voted in line with the Chamber’s interest. How They Voted — and the report card — take into account more than 5,700 Committee and floor votes. The average score among Florida’s 160 lawmakers was 87%. Senators were slightly more aligned with the Chamber, scoring an 89% average compared to the House at 86%.

Florida Chamber is keeping score.

When the Chamber released the 2024 Legislative Report Card, it awarded “Distinguished Advocate Awards” to 15 lawmakers. It re-upped its praise for the Distinguished Advocates upon How They Voted’s release, but it offered an extra nod to House Speaker Paul Renner by naming him as the Chamber’s 2024 “Most Valuable Legislator” for being a “steadfast and strategic ally who worked tirelessly to ensure passage of pro-jobs, Chamber-backed legislative priorities” this year and throughout his tenure leading the House.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as the 2024 Most Valuable Legislator by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, an organization that leads and unites the business community in Tallahassee and statewide to ensure the right things continue happening in Florida,” Renner said.

“The Florida Chamber has been a trusted ally of mine during my time in office and a fierce advocate for free enterprise in the state of Florida. Our work together has led to a more competitive Florida that has in many ways become a national model, and I am grateful for this recognition of our mutual efforts.”

Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson added, “Partners in our effort to secure Florida’s future like Speaker Paul Renner don’t come along every day. We’ve worked hand in hand on a number of issues, from lawsuit abuse reform to flattening fiscal cliffs to constitutional amendment reform to this year’s necessary effort to create further regulatory certainty for local businesses, which would not have happened without Paul’s leadership.”

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Samantha Greer is launching a new firm focused on strategic value creation through direct lobbying and capacity building.

Named SGC, Greer is starting the firm to help leaders and organizations “maximize impact through the identification of scalable and needle-moving opportunities.” Out of the gate, Greer’s firm will work with companies and organizations focused on strengthening Florida’s workforce and talent pipelines, preparing for Florida’s continued growth, and solving some of Florida’s most pressing challenges.

Congrats: Samantha Greer is launching her own lobby shop.

“Florida’s willingness to continually innovate and improve creates almost endless opportunities for thought-leaders and organizations,” Greer said. “So much of the struggle, however, lies in the process of knowing where to start and who to call. I have encountered too many leaders who are paralyzed by the many options or struggle to understand how to tap into the vast number of available resources.”

Greer’s résumé includes campaign work and four years working as the University of Florida’s Director of Government Relations, coinciding with the university’s climb to a Top 5 public university nationwide. Most recently, Greer worked as a lobbyist for one of the Top 10 firms in Florida, Corcoran Partners, where she helped some of America’s largest companies successfully navigate Florida’s legislative, executive and regulatory systems.

“Since the first day of our professional relationship, Samantha’s efforts to help guide Modii’s expansion into Florida have been immeasurable,” said Mark Frumar, President of Modii. “Her strategic insights, extensive network and knowledge of the local market have proven key to Modii’s growth and set us on the path toward even greater success. We anticipate working together for many years to come.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@YouGovAmerica: New post-verdict poll: 58% of Republicans say that someone who has been convicted of a felony should be allowed to become President 17% said so in April

Tweet, tweet:

@RepCarlos: We must never forget the horrors of the massacre at Tiananmen Square. The Communist Party of #China is murderous and evil — never doubt it one bit.

@CPAC: Congratulations Rep. Greg Steube on receiving the Award for Conservative Excellence from CPAC. CPAC is the home to the original Conservative Ratings and the GOLD STANDARD on keeping your elected leaders accountable.

@Kathleen4SWFL: Yesterday marked 2 months since John’s passing. It feels so great to be out and about w/ @GovRonDeSantis! w/o my Dad & John, my storm plan is definitely different this year. Tucker and I will be ready! Time to refresh your plan & stock up on tax-free hurricane essentials!

— DAYS UNTIL —

DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 9; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 11; CNN Presidential Debate — 22; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 24; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 25; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 28; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 29; Donald Trump’s felony sentencing — 36; Republican National Convention begins — 39; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 48; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 51; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 52; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 55; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 73; Florida Primary Election — 74; Democratic National Convention begins — 77; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 77; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 81; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 81; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 89; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 94; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 94; Vice Presidential Debate — 113; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 136; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 143; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 152; 2024 Presidential Election — 153; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 167; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 167; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 184; MLS Cup 2024 — 185; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 253; the 2025 Oscars — 271; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 273; 2025 Session ends — 333; ‘Moana’ premieres — 383; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 414; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 414; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 521; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 563; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 699; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 716; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 736; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 774; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 927; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,067; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,026; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,748.

— TOP STORY —

Florida would restore Donald Trump’s right to vote if conviction becomes problem, Ron DeSantis says” via Alexandra Glorioso of the Miami Herald — DeSantis said he’d make sure the state Board of Executive Clemency quickly restored that right for Trump if need be, something others have said DeSantis hasn’t always done for regular Florida felons.

“Former President Donald Trump hasn’t lost his voting rights in Florida. Rights are not removed in Florida where they haven’t yet been stripped in the convicting jurisdiction,” DeSantis tweeted. “That said, given the absurd nature of the New York prosecution of Trump, this would be an easy case to qualify for restoration of rights per the Florida Clemency Board, which I chair.”

Ron DeSantis and the Florida Clemency Board have Donald Trump’s back.

DeSantis added: “The bottom line is that Donald Trump’s vote this November will be one of millions that demonstrate Florida is now a solid Republican state!”

It would be legal for Florida’s Clemency Board to restore Trump’s right to vote in Florida regardless of what happens in any other state, according to a conflict-of-laws expert who spoke to the Herald/Times.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Florida Clemency Board may actually have something to address regarding Trump’s right to vote, as well as his other civil rights, such as the right to run for state office, the right to serve on a jury and the right to carry a gun.

If he is incarcerated in New York, he would be ineligible to vote in that state. And under Florida law he would therefore be ineligible to vote here. However, the state Clemency Board has broad authority to restore rights as it sees fit. Its rules are agreed upon by the Board itself, which is composed of the Governor and the three members of the Florida Cabinet, all of whom are Republican.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Moms for cannabis? Pro-marijuana ad says a legal market is a safer one” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new television ad boosting recreational marijuana is pushing for decriminalization as a matter of public health. The 20-second video, entitled “Fact,” features a woman speaking directly to the camera, acting as a Florida mom while offering legalized marijuana as a better path than leaving a black market in place. “Millions of Floridians use marijuana. It’s a fact,” she said. “Most Americans have access to legal marijuana that is regulated and tested for safety but not Florida.” Smart & Safe Florida, the committee behind Amendment 3, funded the ad and said it would air statewide across broadcast, cable, streaming, radio and digital platforms. The substantial media buy signals the message the group will lay out as voters weigh in on the issue in November.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

How Trump’s conviction helped Florida Republicans get ‘woke’ to social justice” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Reaction to Trump’s conviction last week has played out pretty predictably along party lines. But in Florida, there seems to have been an epiphany among leading Republicans. Suddenly everyone from the Governor on down is concerned, for instance, about the voting rights of convicted felons. Before last week, they were decidedly disinterested. So much so that rank-and-file Floridians had to mount a campaign to restore civil rights to former convicts — because the politicians refused to do so. And their newfound interest in the plight of the convicted isn’t limited to voting rights. Florida’s GOP leaders are also now suddenly worried about the potential of judicial bias and fairness of the jury selection process — things social justice advocates have been talking about for decades. What’s more, they’re talking about the potential for wrongful convictions — after ignoring the fact that Florida has wrongfully sentenced more people to death row than any other state in America.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Whitney Fox rounds up host of new support from Tampa Bay leaders in race for CD 13” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Fox has secured another nine endorsements from regional leaders as she seeks the Democratic nomination for Florida’s 13th Congressional District in hopes of taking on Republican incumbent Anna Paulina Luna in November. The endorsers include current and former elected officials on both sides of Tampa Bay serving in roles ranging from County Commissions and City Councils to School Boards and the Legislature. “I am deeply honored to receive such overwhelming support from our local leaders,” Fox said.

Whitney Fox is enjoying a new tranche of endorsements.

Ashley Moody joins chorus of GOP leaders endorsing Tom Leek” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Attorney General Moody is adding her voice to the list of officials backing Leek’s state Senate campaign. The Cabinet member is endorsing the state Representative’s bid to succeed state Sen. Travis Hutson in Senate District 7. “Tom Leek has been a principled leader and a true friend to law enforcement and first responders throughout his impactful service in Florida,” Moody said. “I am proud to endorse his candidacy for the Florida Senate.” Leek welcomed the support. “Thank you to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody for this incredible endorsement of my candidacy for the Florida Senate, and for her steadfast leadership in making our state a stronger, safer Florida,” he said.

Conservative Watch endorses Steve Shives for HD 27 — Conservative Watch USA, a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting and defending America’s Constitutional freedoms and liberties, is endorsing Shives in the race for House District 27. “After a thorough review of all the Republican candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring for House District 27, we have found that Steve Shives is undoubtedly the most conservative, pro-Trump, pro-business candidate in this race,” said Annie Marie Delgado, President of Conservative Watch USA. “He is just what Florida needs in our state Legislature, a regular guy with rock-solid traditional values and an unwavering commitment to fighting for freedom and common sense. Conservative Watch USA is pleased to endorse and support Steve Shives for State Representative in House District 27.” Shives is one of three Republicans competing to succeed term-limited Rep. Stan McClain.

Save the date:

Bryan Beckman raises $20K in first week running for HD 58” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Beckman raised more than $20,000 in his first week as a candidate for House District 58, as he seeks to unseat Rep. Kim Berfield in the north-Pinellas district. While reports are not yet available to support the campaign’s fundraising announcement, the campaign says all contributions were made by individuals and argues that the grassroots fundraising contrasts with Berfield. “The support for my campaign since last week’s launch has been overwhelming,” Beckman said in a prepared statement. “My campaign is fueled by local, individual donors. Our current Representative takes huge sums of money from big corporation lobbyists and her friends in Tallahassee. This results in a skewed set of priorities that don’t address the needs of families. Voters are tired of it.”

Meanwhile …Joe Gruters quietly files for Chief Financial Officer in 2026” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Sen. Gruters has officially filed for Chief Financial Officer. The Sarasota Republican quietly filed paperwork May 30 to run for the statewide office, which isn’t up for election until 2026. He stressed that this election cycle, he’s focused on the presidential election. Gruters served as Florida Chair for Trump’s successful 2016 presidential campaign, and he has worked closely with the Mar-a-Lago businessman during his campaign to return to the White House this year. He currently serves as Florida’s Republican National Committee member. “First, I am committed to helping President Trump win in November and I appreciate the support he has given me to run for this position,” Gruters told Florida Politics.

— 2024 — PRESIDENTIAL —

DeSantis says he’ll keep raising money for Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics —Trump won’t need much help in Florida, — DeSantis said in Fort Myers, but he’s going to help with fundraising elsewhere. “I think it’s been reported we’ve been active in raising money. I think it’s important and we’re going to continue to do that,” DeSantis said. “I don’t think that in this state there’s going to be much of a campaign because we’re now a solid Republican state. We weren’t when I became Governor, but now we are. And so, I don’t think that the statewide races are competitive at all.” Indeed, in recent weeks, DeSantis has been fundraising for the former President, and hopes are that he can help Trump’s operation get a $10 million boost.

Ron DeSantis commits to passing the hat for Donald Trump.

Joe Biden weighs in on Trump verdict: ‘Folks’ … we’re in ‘uncharted territory’” via Myah Ward of POLITICO — Biden directly attacked Trump’s guilty verdict, calling the ex-President a “convicted felon.” The remarks amount to the President’s sharpest rebuke of his opponent’s legal troubles to date. “Folks — the campaign entered unchartered territory last week. For the first time in American history, a former President who is a convicted felon is now seeking the office of the presidency,” Biden said at a campaign reception in White Plains, New York, according to pool reports. “But as disturbing as that is, more damaging is the all-out assault Donald Trump is making on the American system of justice.”

Court stops taking ‘orchestrated’ complaints against Judge overseeing Trump documents case” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A federal appeals court has stopped accepting public complaints against U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, many seeking her recusal from the U.S. Government’s classified documents case against Trump, citing a flood of 1,000 filings in recent weeks that appear to be part of “an orchestrated campaign.” The court acted after a general order from Chief Judge William Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which is based in Atlanta and covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. A link entitled “Judicial Council Order In the Matter of Judicial Complaints Against Judge Aileen M. Cannon” appears on the court’s homepage.

— STATEWIDE —

April tax collections more than $400M above estimate” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Led by a surge in corporate income taxes, revenue collections for April came in $411.4 million above estimates. Net collections were $5.53 billion in April, which mostly reflects economic activity that occurred in March. In recent years, as inflation ratcheted up, sales taxes accounted for the boost in revenues, but in April, it was corporate income taxes that contributed most to the padding in the coffers. The state received $1.32 billion in corporate income taxes, nearly $330 million above the projections of state economists. Sales taxes came in at nearly $3.4 billion, about $6.5 million, or 0.2%, above the estimates. Although sales taxes ballooned as inflation soared, the inflation factor is still having an impact on the economy, even though collections haven’t continued to grow exponentially.

Can’t get no satisfaction: DeSantis spox rips Newsweek’s Mick Jagger coverage” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Zero journalistic integrity: got this email today. The article was already out. Newsweek’s standard operating procedure is to publish a story without comment, reach out, and then update later. So, all of the people who read the article when it first ran only get Newsweek’s leftist bias without any balance. Remember this when you read anything from Newsweek,” advised Bryan Griffin on X. Griffin posted an email to that effect from Billie Schwab Dunn, a pop culture reporter for Newsweek based in the United Kingdom, trying to get the Governor’s “thoughts on the shoutout” from Rolling Stones’ vocalist Jagger during Monday night’s concert in Orlando. The story was published before Griffin got the request for comment on Jagger’s allusion to the previous conflict between the Governor and The Walt Disney Co., however, which caused him to paint it black rather than offer the reporter an emotional rescue.

Mick Jagger raises the ire of DeSantis-world.

DeSantis is not looking to start ‘his own show’ after guest hosting Hannity, office confirms” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis’ office debunked a report from the website “In Touch Weekly” alleging from an unnamed source that the Governor is “gunning for his own show” after guest-hosting Sean Hannity’s radio show. DeSantis filled in for Hannity on the radio show May 22. “Once again, I’m reminding everyone that unless you hear it from [DeSantis, Casey DeSantis, communications director Griffin, spokesperson Christina Pushaw] or me … it’s fake news,” said Jeremy Redfern, the Governor’s Press Secretary.

DeSantis says Florida is ready for Atlantic hurricane season, urges preparations” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis emphasized the importance of disaster preparedness during a news conference Tuesday as Florida’s hurricane season officially began the previous week. “So, we are gonna be prepared, we’ve put a lot of emphasis in the state on recovery, response. I know when [Hurricane] Ian came, millions and millions of people were restored power across the state within 48 hours,” DeSantis said. He added how the state doesn’t typically like to rely on the federal government for disaster relief resources, so they take it upon themselves to be prepared and ready for all scenarios.

—”DeSantis blasts Washington’s post-hurricane assistance” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida regulators to insurance companies: no more games on rates” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Insurance companies in Florida have consistently avoided scrutiny when seeking to raise rates by keeping proposals just below the threshold that would trigger a public hearing. These hearings are mandated when an insurer proposes a 15% rate hike or higher. Out of 134 rate requests since 2022, the most commonly sought increase? 14.9% Companies have also used a practice of piggybacking rate adjustments — first introducing a rate under 15% and then coming back again.

Florida insurers are using a simple trick to avoid publicly announcing big rate hikes” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — Florida regulators have a message for insurance companies: No more games when it comes to requesting rate increases. For years, insurance companies have routinely sought rate increases just shy of 15%, avoiding a public rate hearing required under state law. Sometimes the companies have followed up with additional, smaller rate increases, causing some homeowners to see their premiums go up 20% or more when their policies renew. The practice has helped some companies avoid potentially embarrassing public hearings, where regulators, the public and the state’s insurance consumer advocate can ask executives detailed questions about their proposed rate hikes. But Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation is signaling that such tactics are no longer tolerated. On Thursday, regulators held a public hearing for Deerfield Beach-based People’s Trust Insurance Co., which was seeking an overall 14.8% rate hike for about 38,000 policies that mostly cover vacant homes.

DeSantis hints next fiscal year’s state budget will be done ‘very soon’” via Jackie Llanos of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis expects to sign the state budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year into law very soon, he said during a news conference Tuesday morning. The Florida Legislature passed the $117.5 billion budget March 8, but hasn’t formally sent it to the Governor yet, although DeSantis aides have been studying the bill. The fiscal year starts July 1, and the Governor said spending would be “basically static” compared to $116.5 billion for the current fiscal year. “You’re gonna have a state budget done very soon. You guys are going to be happy. Well, not all our colleagues are going to be happy with everything. But, you know, you got to make choices,” DeSantis said during a hurricane preparedness news conference in Fort Myers. He referred to his authority to veto individual line items in the budget.

Small business, medical freedom and drug policy collide: Will DeSantis veto hemp bill?” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Miami Herald — Thousands of Floridians have called and written DeSantis’ office to urge him to veto a bill that they say would effectively neuter the state’s hemp market and make it harder for consumers to access products they need for their mental and physical health. DeSantis’ office, which has not formally received the bill from the Legislature, declined to comment on the Governor’s stance. But some opponents of the legislation say they’re hopeful their efforts will work. Paige Figi, the executive director of Coalition for Access Now, said while she knows the Governor isn’t a cannabis supporter, she believes he does support CBD health products and the people, including veterans and first responders, who use them.

Florida NIL deals approved for high school athletes: See the details of FHSAA’s new rules” via Clayton Freeman of The Florida Times-Union — The Florida High School Athletic Association voted Tuesday to permit Name, Image and Likeness deals for athletes, a move that could reshape the high school sports landscape statewide. The 13-member Board of Directors approved the measure by unanimous vote. Under the bill, which largely rewrites FHSAA Policy 9.9, the association will now permit high school students to earn money from their name, image and likeness, overcoming concerns that NIL could accelerate recruiting and exacerbate competitive imbalance. The measure takes effect in time for the 2024-25 season, meaning that some Sunshine State high school athletes could begin receiving NIL benefits in months.

Florida NIL deals are expanding to high school athletes.

UF survey: Consumer sentiment in May mixed as economy fluctuates” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Consumer confidence fell across Florida in May, according to a new monthly consumer sentiment survey published by the University of Florida (UF) Bureau of Business and Economic Research. Consumer sentiment dropped slightly last month, falling from a revised figure of 73.3 in April to 73.1 in May. “The decline in consumer sentiment was driven by Floridians’ perceptions of current economic conditions. Although inflation is not far above the Fed’s 2% target since peaking at 9.1% in 2022, progress against inflation has slowed down, demanding Floridians to make further adjustments to budgets and spending plans,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The latest figure also represents some turbulence in consumer confidence in Florida’s economy. April’s numbers were up from March, and that month saw an increase over February.

— D. C. MATTERS —

Biden sets asylum limits as large numbers of migrants arrive at U.S.-Mexico border” via Syra Ortiz Blanes, Nora Gámez Torres, and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — Migrants who have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border after perilous journeys will now be less likely to be able to enter the country after the Biden administration announced a cap Tuesday on the number of undocumented migrants who can seek asylum at the border. The federal government will “close” the border to undocumented migrants seeking legal protection in the U.S. when immigration authorities register a daily average of 2,500 or more encounters at the border with Mexico and southern coastal states, like Florida, for a week. This means that while the cap is in place, any migrant trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border or arriving by boat or raft through the Florida Straits will be sent quickly back to Mexico or deported to their home countries unless they have prior authorization to present their asylum cases or fall under very limited exceptions. The asylum limits will be in place only for people who cross the border unlawfully, meaning those trying to cross the border without a visa and are undetected between ports of entry.

Joe Biden enacts limits on asylum-seekers.

Florida Democrats lie low on Biden plan to lift some Cuba sanctions” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix — The Biden administration’s announcement that it will relax financial sanctions against Cuba to boost entrepreneurship on the island has raised howls of outrage among Florida congressional Republicans — and a loud cone of silence among Democrats. The responses reflect how the momentum to re-establish ties between the U.S. and Cuba that climaxed when Barack Obama visited the island eight years ago has significantly cooled. The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it would allow independent private sector entrepreneurs who are Cuban nationals (known as “pymes,” from the Spanish “pequeña y mediana empresa”) to open, maintain, and remotely use U.S. bank accounts for the first time.

As busy hurricane season looms, FEMA warns it could run out of disaster cash” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — With a grim storm forecast ahead, the nation’s top disaster responders are in danger of running out of cash at the peak of hurricane season — again. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund is on pace to run dry by August. Without congressional action, that could leave Florida and other states staring at massive expenses and slower recovery efforts if a major storm hits. The chances for that are high ahead of what is predicted to be the busiest season on record. At a news conference at the National Hurricane Center last week, FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks said the agency would switch to prioritizing “lifesaving, life-sustaining work” if funding dwindles.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Daniella Levine Cava campaign reports $550K haul in two months before qualifying deadline” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Levine Cava has amassed more than $550,000 in the last two months toward her bid to keep her job as Mayor of Miami-Dade County, her campaign says. Combined with prior fundraising, she’s raised almost $4.6 million this election cycle to remain in office. Official fundraising numbers for April 1 to May 30 are due June 10. The qualifying deadline is the day after. Last week, Levine Cava qualified for the race by petition. It marked the second consecutive time she did so. She remains the only person to qualify for the Mayor’s race by petition in Miami-Dade history. “I am truly humbled by the incredible support we’ve received from our community,” she said in a statement.

Daniella Levine Cava is flexing her fundraising muscles.

James Reyes campaign reports $550K raised for Miami-Dade Sheriff bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Public Safety Chief Reyes has now raised more than $550,000 toward his bid to be the county’s first elected Sheriff since the 1960s, his campaign says. That includes $150,000 raised since April 1. Official fundraising reports from Reyes and 16 others running to be Miami-Dade’s top cop are due June 10. The qualifying deadline is June 14. “As we close another successful fundraising quarter, I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support our community continues to show,” Reyes said.

Miami-Dade prosecutors’ ‘deal with the devil’ threatens to topple murder convictions” via Brittany Wallman and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — Under a veil of secrecy, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office leaned on a confessed mass shooter for years, building cases using information he’d collected from jail in ways that experts called improper, and likely, unconstitutional. His involvement has already threatened at least two murder convictions. Prosecutors and police had William “Little Bill” Brown ask around about suspects and rumored crimes, the Miami Herald learned from jailhouse phone calls. Brown kept an eye on a key state witness. In manufactured jailhouse meetups, he obtained confessions and gathered intel on the defense strategy of accused criminals and gave it to law enforcement. He owed them.

Broward Schools under ethic czar’s eyes? Voters to decide in November” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward voters will decide in November whether their ethics watchdog’s duties should extend to the School Board. Broward County Commissioners agreed to add the question to the ballot for the presidential election. If voters agree, the School Board members, district employees, and the Superintendent will fall under the eye of the Broward Office of the Inspector General, which now investigates alleged fraud, mismanagement, and corruption by elected and appointed officials, employees, and contractors in the county and its 31 towns and cities. The Broward Inspector General’s Office is governed by a charter that was approved by voters through a 2010 ballot referendum.

Palm Beach County schools need to start later by 2026. Here are three plans to make it happen” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — A new state law requires later school start times for middle and high schoolers beginning in 2026. Palm Beach County school officials are wasting no time in planning for the overhaul to the school day. On Wednesday, the School Board will hear three different plans for adjusting start times to comply with the new law. The plans need to perfectly balance the requirement for middle school to start after 8 a.m. and high school to start after 8:30 a.m. with student busing needs, after-school activities, athletic practices and rush hour traffic patterns.

In historic move, St. Lucie deputies’ union endorsed Chief Richard Del Toro over Sheriff Keith Pearson” via Wicker Perlis of Treasure Coast Newspapers — For the first time in its two-decade history, the union representing St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office deputies has endorsed someone from outside the department’s ranks in a race against a sitting Sheriff. In front of more than 50 people gathered at Babalu’s Cuban Cafe, members of the St. Lucie County Deputies Association Executive Board presented Republican candidate and current Interim Port St. Lucie Police Chief Del Toro with the union’s endorsement. This comes on the heels of at least one similarly historic endorsement in this race. State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl, who hasn’t backed candidates in any previous races, also endorsed Del Toro.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Daytona Beach Police Chief slams Council member’s comments as ‘shameful’” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young harshly criticized District three Volusia Council member Danny Robins, a former Daytona Beach police officer, this morning over comments he made about the city. Young’s comments came during public comment at a Volusia County Council meeting, where anyone can speak for three minutes on a topic of their choice. “Your comments were shameful and embarrassing, and you should be grateful that I only have three minutes,” Young said. In May, the County Council discussed the possibility of expanding beach driving by reopening the driving area from Auditorium Boulevard to International Speedway Boulevard. Some blamed a loss of business activity nearby largely on the County Council removing beach driving in the area in 2000.

Jakari Young brings the heat to Volusia Council member Danny Robins.

Voting status of Palm Bay candidate convicted of murder is under review, Tim Bobanic says” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — The Brevard County Supervisor of Elections is looking into the voter registration status of a Palm Bay City Council candidate who was once convicted of murder. Michael Bruyette pleaded guilty in 1986 to second-degree murder in Massachusetts, after state prosecutors said he was involved in a murder-for-hire plot that led to the killing of a 30-year-old Chicopee, Massachusetts, man, according to state parole records. He served 23 years of a life sentence for the crimes, records show. Bruyette, who announced his candidacy in February, is one of six challengers running for Palm Bay Council Seat 3, currently held by Council member Randy Foster. Foster is running for re-election.

Key support emerges for Orange County rural growth-control vote” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — The up-again, down-again proposal to put an Orange County rural growth-control referendum on the November ballot may be headed toward an improbable victory, as county Mayor Jerry Demings said for the first time Tuesday he is “leaning toward doing something with a rural boundary.” The county Board’s final decision is probably weeks away, but Demings’ support lays out a path that would thwart state legislators and developers who tried to strangle the ballot proposal in its cradle through a preemption clause added to a commerce bill earlier this year. While Demings signaled his support of the issue, he said it may take time to resolve unsettled legal questions. “I want us to be right,” he said, saying he trusted County Attorney Jeffrey Newton to clarify the county’s authority to act. “In our zeal to take care of our community and follow the will of the people, we should not inadvertently harm ourselves in the long-term.” The Board has scheduled two workshops before voting in late July.

What DeSantis is reading? — “Ozempic may help fight kidney disease, study with Orlando researcher finds” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — As chronic kidney disease rises nationwide, a new study partially conducted in Orlando suggests weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy could be part of the solution. The pharmaceutical-industry-backed study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than 3,500 people with type two diabetes and kidney disease for an average of 3.4 years, including several in Orlando. One group was given weekly injections of semaglutide, the main ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, and another was given placebo injections. The double-blind clinical trial found that kidney disease progressed more slowly in those taking semaglutide compared with those taking a placebo. They were less likely to need dialysis or a transplant.

‘Loved, accepted and wanted’: Lakeland LGBTQ+ center focuses on health, wellness and community” via Staci DaSilva of WFLA — As Jason DeShazo walks around the Rose Dynasty Center, it is clear it is more than a building to him. It is the realization of a dream. “I don’t think there’s a day that’s gone by that I haven’t walked through the hallway and like literally freaked out and have this emotional thing of this is something I’ve dreamt about my whole life,” he said. “Loved, Accepted and Wanted” is the motto for the Rose Dynasty Center, the first physical location tied to DeShazo’s nonprofit organization, the Rose Dynasty Foundation. “Not only is it our first official building after being an organization for seven years but it’s Lakeland’s first LGBTQ+ center,” said DeShazo. He said a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community who live in Polk County travel to Orlando or Tampa for medical care and therapy. At the Rose Dynasty Center, there will be LGBTQ+-focused therapists and one day a week, a primary care provider.

— LOCAL: TB —

Top Tampa city staff members overseeing development resign” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — Mayor Jane Castor has lost two more top officials from her administration in an exodus hitting the city of Tampa in some of its most pressing areas of concern. Alis Drumgo, deputy administrator for development and economic opportunity, and Erica Moody, community redevelopment agency director, are both resigning. Drumgo has been in his position for two years and Moody just one. Their departures follow the April announcement that the city’s top staffer overseeing economic development, Nicole Travis, would be leaving the administration this Summer, too.

Erica Moody and Alis Drumgo are stepping down from the City of Tampa.

With pandemic funds exhausted, HART charts new course in latest budget” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Board of Directors overseeing Hillsborough County’s transit agency got its first full look Monday at the proposed fiscal 2025 budget, which notably doesn’t include any federal relief dollars for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Such an end was once thought to spell doom for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, with consultants predicting a fiscal cliff. HART, however, expects higher property tax revenue ($79.7 million in fiscal 2025) and a bump in standard federal operating grants ($20.7 million) to help plug the hole. Reserve contributions are also expected to be slashed from $18.5 million to $0. Operating reserves project to stand at $36.9 million on Oct. 1.

What Will Weatherford is reading — USF approves new construction deal for on-campus football stadium” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The University of South Florida Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a deal with a group of construction firms to build an approximately $340 million on-campus football stadium. Manhattan Construction Co. will lead the project alongside H.J. Russell & Co. and DuCon LLC. USF terminated the original design-build agreement with Barton Malow last year. The new construction manager at risk deal is structured so that USF retains any cost savings or unspent contingency. A final price will only be determined after the team of companies completes 75% of construction documents — meaning the guaranteed maximum price could exceed $340 million.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver urges Jacksonville City Council to approve stadium deal” via Demetrius Harvey of The Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville continue to work toward a $1.4 billion deal to renovate EverBank Stadium. On Tuesday, former Jaguars owner and team founder Wayne Weaver released a statement supporting the proposed agreement and urged the Jacksonville City Council to approve the agreement “for the betterment of us all.” “The much-needed renovations to the stadium will keep the team in our city for generations to come, by providing more shade, better food choices, and an upgraded entertainment venue that will now be able to attract premiere events,” Weaver said. Weaver was the Jaguars’ first owner, ushering in an NFL team to the City of Jacksonville in 1993. He owned the team until 2011 when current Jaguars owner Shad Khan bought the franchise for $770 million.

Wayne Weaver urges Jacksonville City Council to approve the Jaguars stadium deal.

Has Taylor Swift’s ‘Florida!!!’ boosted tourism? We asked Destin.” via Gabrielle Calise of the Tampa Bay Times — For six weeks in a row, Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” has dominated the top spot on the Billboard 200. And across TikTok and Instagram Reels, its song “Florida!!!” continues to serve as the soundtrack for montages of our state’s beaches, theme parks and fantasy. The track, co-starring singer Florence Welch, serves as Swift’s anthem to escapism.

Tallahassee foodie news: Five new Jack in the Box restaurants coming to capital” via Kyla A Sanford of the Tallahassee Democrat — If adding a Del Taco to the capital wasn’t enough to satisfy your cravings, the chain’s parent company — Jack in the Box Inc. — is coming to town with five of its own iconic burger restaurants. Jack in the Box, which will be open 24 hours, will offer its popular specialty burgers, as well as tacos, chicken sandwiches, milkshakes, breakfasts, late-night snacking options and value-menu deals. In a news release, the California-based company said it was expanding in Florida, with 15 franchises in Orlando and Tallahassee on the list.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota families reveal the devastating toll of fentanyl in new documentary” via Cathy Carter of Health News Florida — America’s fentanyl crisis isn’t letting up as drug cartels continue to flood communities with the deadly opioid. A new documentary, “The Fentanyl Project,” reveals the impact the synthetic drug has had in Sarasota County. The film, which premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival, focuses on two local families dealing with the unexpected loss of a child and sibling after taking pills they did not know were laced with fentanyl. KT Curran, the film’s director, recently spoke with WUSF’s Cathy Carter.

The Fentanyl Project takes a hard look at the opioid crisis in Sarasota.

Neighbors raise concern as Sarasota Hospital Board member flies upside-down American flag” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Woodland Park home of a conservative member of the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, Victor Rohe, displayed the American flag upside down on May 31, one day after Trump was convicted on 34 counts of fraud by a New York jury. Two neighbors reached out to the Herald-Tribune to voice their concern, though neither wanted to be quoted. Rohe’s house displayed the flag outside his home in a fashion originally used by sailors to signify a state of distress. It has since been removed. Rohe did not respond to an email and two voice messages asking to confirm whether the upside-down American Flag was displayed in protest of the ruling in Trump’s case.

Sarasota County EDC facing loss of more than 25% of budget” via Bob Mudge of the Venice Gondolier — The Economic Development Corp. (EDC) of Sarasota County stands to lose more than $475,000 of its proposed $1.8 million Fiscal Year 2024-25 budget after the County Commission voted 3-2 to begin the process to repeal the county’s local business tax. The EDC is the county’s economic development organization. Formerly called an occupational license fee, the tax has been in place for more than 30 years, with the revenue designated for economic development. The money makes up about 40% of the EDC’s annual public revenue, which includes more than $460,000 from the county’s municipalities, assessed on a per capita basis, and $125,000 in tourist development tax funds to promote film and creative arts.

DeSantis awards $7.5M to Lee County for shrimp dock rebuild” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Nearly two years after Hurricane Ian bashed into Southwest Florida, the area is continuing to recover. DeSantis is pitching in with $7.5 million to rebuild and refurbish the shrimp dock at San Carlos Maritime Park in Fort Myers. The structure is important not just for commercial fishing but to help in emergency situations after a storm, DeSantis said. “This dual-purpose facility serves as an emergency operations site to launch barges and provide a place for shrimp barges to dock,” DeSantis said during a news event at a Home Depot in Fort Myers. “If it’s needed for disaster response it’s going to be able to serve that purpose as well.” The money comes from the Job Growth Grant Fund, a pot of money controlled by DeSantis used for job training and infrastructure projects throughout the state.

DeSantis is setting aside $7.5M for shoring up the Lee County shrimp docks.

DeSoto County becoming a destination for tourists” via Jess Orlando of The Arcadian — DeSoto County may just seem like farmland, but tourists near and far are showing interest in the rural jewels hidden away in places like Arcadia. Since December 2023, the county has had a consistent increase in Tourism Development Revenues, commonly known as “bed tax revenues,” according to DeSoto County Tourism. For March 2024, collection reports for the quarter are listed at $21,016, which tracks ahead of the previous year of $20,772. Tourism Development Revenues are part of the “Local Option Tourist Development Act.”

FEMA flood insurance discount one step closer to possible renewal for Lee County homeowners” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee County had until June 10 to turn in all property information and supporting documentation to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in its quest to have its recently slashed homeowner flood insurance discount restored. County Manager Dave Harner told Commissioners that his team had met that deadline, putting them one step closer to a renewed discount for Lee homeowners. “As of yesterday, we completed and turned in all our documentation,” Harner said. “We had just over 400 properties’ information provided to FEMA; as of yesterday, all 414 were provided. We also provided (a) narrative of compliance, supporting documentation and an executive summary.”

— TOP OPINION —

Marco Rubio diminished the suffering of Cuban prisoners with Trump comparison” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Rubio was among a long line of Republicans who, after Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts, shouted the party line that the U.S. legal system was weaponized against Trump to impact the November presidential elections.

We get that Rubio is a possible vice-presidential candidate. But leave the suffering and tragedy of the Cuban people, the horrors of the aftermath of the Revolution — and the reason Ernesto “Che” Guevara is so despised by exiles — out of it, Senator. Don’t use it to appease Trump.

Here’s what Rubio said on Hannity:

“This is a quintessential show trial. This is what you see in communist countries. This is what I grew up having people in the [Cuban exile] community tell me about. It happened in the days after the Castro revolution. Obviously, those led to executions. This, on the other hand, is an effort to interfere in an election. “

Invoking such a loaded term as “show trial” and directly comparing our legal process to Cuba’s needlessly undermines public faith in the integrity of our justice system.

Rubio represents many of the views of the conservative branch of Miami’s Cuban exile community, especially their anti-communist stance, but he lost his way here.

Rubio should apologize to the community and to every political prisoner thrown in a Cuban prison for trivializing the injustice they suffered. To compare that to the conviction of a former President found guilty of taking part in a scheme to pay off a porn star is an insult.

As an elected leader, Rubio has a responsibility to choose his words carefully. Ill-considered comparisons only undermine faith in the rule of law.

Just ask any Cuban exiled in Miami.

— OPINIONS —

Trump’s conviction is our last wake-up call. Vote like your future depends on it” via Marsha Blackburn for the Daily Caller — Today, every American should be frightened by this enormous escalation of the left’s two tiers of justice. They have abandoned the rule of law and shredded the Constitution in a desperate attempt to keep President Trump out of the White House. What happened at the Manhattan courthouse is what you’d expect to see in places like Russia, China and North Korea — not the United States of America. The Democrat Party is now the party of corruption and authoritarianism. And while the Biden campaign celebrated and cheered, our democratic republic transformed into a banana republic. This is our final wake-up call. With Biden in the White House, concerned parents are considered domestic terrorists, Catholics are referred to as “violent extremists” and hardworking small businesses are subject to the wrath of an ever-growing IRS.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, Disney World’s new ride, faces early delays” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Disney World’s new ride this week. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the water log ride that replaced Splash Mountain, has reportedly been delayed and shut down early with issues during cast member previews. Some people were stuck in line for more than three hours waiting for the ride to reopen so they could be among the first to ride it, according to social media posts and Walt Disney World News Today, a blog that covers news at the parks. Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the ride will be ready when it officially opens June 28 to the general public. Water rides can be notoriously difficult to run. Add in high-tech audio-animatronics, lots of sensors and technology — all exposed to water — and problems can arise. Disney is getting the kinks out for the refitted, new ride before it needs to be running regularly at the world’s busiest theme park.

Disney is ironing out the kinks in Tiana’s Bayou Adventure.

Publix announces new, limited-time ice cream flavors for the Summer” via Nathaniel Rodriguez of WFLA — It’s hot as all get out in the state of Florida, so what better way to cool off than some ice cream? Well, Publix has announced seven new limited-time ice cream flavors, along with one returning flavor for the Summer season. To promote the new ice cream flavors, the Publix ice cream truck will be traveling across several states to allow people to enjoy the ice cream, games, music, and a photo booth. The ice cream flavors will be available in a half-gallon size at any store until Aug. 30.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

So many great politicos are celebrating including Brad Burleson of Ballard Partners, Kevin Cleary of Allegiant Strategies Group, Jose Fuentes, Jeff Hendry, Matthew Hunter, former Rep. Ricardo Rangel, Seth McKeel of Southern Strategy Group, former Rep. Amanda Murphy, and Heidi Otway of SalterMitchell.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.


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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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