Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.12.24

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Your morning review of the issues, players and stories driving the day in Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Not sure where or when, but Gov. Ron DeSantis will sign the 2024-25 budget today. I think.


Typically, when legislation is pushed by deep-pocketed, large corporate interests, it becomes law. However, during the 2024 Legislative Session, two major bills were stopped or dramatically improved thanks to the efforts of a team of lobbyists who generally stay under the radar.

This year, the team at Anfield Consulting took on two giants — Big Tobacco and Big Marijuana — and chalked up two giant wins for its underdog clients.

“We knew we were on the right side of both of these issues,” said Anfield Partner Rosanna Catalano. “We did what we always do — we kept our heads down and did the hard work. We met individually with every legislator and decision-maker involved and made sure they understood the devastating effect these bills would have on real people in Florida.”

This Session, David took on two Goliaths — and won.

“If these bills passed as originally envisioned by the corporations pushing them, they would have wiped out hundreds of small businesses that provide good jobs for Florida families and taken a huge bite out of our state’s economy. The bills also would have deprived thousands of Floridians of the right to choose products upon which they rely to address a variety of health and wellness concerns. I am proud that our team and the teams of other lobbying firms we work with on these issues were able to educate the Governor and legislature on the real-world impacts of these bills and am supremely grateful that they ultimately put people ahead of politics and chose to do the right thing.”

As originally filed, the vaping bill (HB 1007) would have prohibited nearly all vape products Floridians use as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. After much negotiating and revisions, the final bill protects legitimate products but still achieves the legislators’ goal of cracking down on bad actors and those who sell to minors.

The bill related to hemp products (SB 1698), which DeSantis vetoed recently, would have prohibited hundreds of legal products derived from hemp that Floridians use to address a number of health concerns, including seizures, PTSD and chronic pain. The prohibition of these products would have forced many to resort to using marijuana, opioids and other harmful, addictive medications.

With offices in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, Anfield Consulting is one of Florida’s premier boutique lobbying firms. It specializes in environmental resources, health care, business regulation and municipal government representation.


🗳 — HD 60 is a battleground, and Ed Montanari might be the guy for a flip: Voter registration data shows a clear trend in Florida House District 60, anchored in St. Pete: Democrats’ advantage is shrinking and, come Election Day, maybe statistically irrelevant if trends hold. That’s why the race between current St. Pete City Council member Montanari and incumbent Rep. Lindsay Cross is such an important race to watch. Neither has an easy path to victory, but both have one. Read more here.


@MattGaetz: The Hunter Biden gun conviction is kinda dumb tbh.

@RepThomasMassie: Hunter might deserve to be in jail for something, but purchasing a gun is not it. There are millions of marijuana users who own guns in this country, and none of them should be in jail for purchasing or possessing a firearm against current laws.

@ScottJenningsKY: The most important thing about the Hunter trial is the laptop was proven real. Joe Biden, his campaign, & dozens of Democratic luminaries & media outlets were willing to lie about it and/or censor it despite knowing it was real. The amount of credibility burned is staggering.

@MarcACaputo: I wonder how much more coverage there would be in the U.S. media if Russian warships equipped with hypersonic missiles were bound for a hostile nation on an island 90 miles from New York’s shores?

@Jason_Garcia: The DeSantis administration launched an immigration enforcement action that turned out to be more publicity stunt than serious policy — and it gave a no-bid contract to a politically plugged-in vendor as part of it. Weird how that keeps happening.

@AGAshleyMoody: While artificial intelligence has tremendous upside, it also can be used by bad actors to exploit citizens, including our most vulnerable — children. As technology improves, law enforcement must also adapt to advancements and changes. I, along with my colleagues, am proud to support the Child Exploitation and Artificial Intelligence Expert Commission Act of 2024 to protect children.

@officiallyjhart: Today is my last day at the Florida Senate. I will always be grateful for my Senate family. Thank you to those legislators and staffers who believed in me! See you after Basic Military Training! Next up, the Lackland Air Force Base!


DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 2; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 4; CNN Presidential Debate — 15; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 17; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 18; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 21; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 22; Donald Trump’s felony sentencing — 29; Republican National Convention begins — 32; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 41; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 44; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 45; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 48; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 66; Florida Primary Election — 67; Democratic National Convention begins — 69; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 70; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 74; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 74; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 82; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 87; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 87; Vice Presidential Debate — 106; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 129; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 136; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 145; 2024 Presidential Election — 146; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 160; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 160; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 177; MLS Cup 2024 — 178; College Football Playoff begins — 191; Fiesta Bowl — 202; Peach, Rose & Sugar Bowls — 203; Orange Bowl — 211; Sugar Bowl — 213; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 247; the 2025 Oscars — 265; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 267; 2025 Session ends — 327; ‘Moana’ premieres — 377; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 407; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 407; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 514; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 556; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 692; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 709; FIFA World Cup 26™ final — 729; FIFA World Cup 26™ final match — 767; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 920; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,060; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,019; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,741.


Federal judge rules unconstitutional Florida’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — “Transgender opponents are, of course, free to hold their beliefs. But they are not free to discriminate against transgender individuals just for being transgender,” U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s decision read.

This ruling in Doe v. Ladapo prohibits enforcement of some parts of a 2023 Florida law that added several restrictions to adults receiving cross-sex hormone therapy and blocked puberty blockers and hormone therapy for teenagers under 18. The suit was brought by several parents of children whose gender identity did not align with their biological sex, as well as a transgender man.

A judge struck down a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

The judge wrote that the law showed “bias of the kind sometimes directed at racial or ethnic minorities or women but also a belief that transgenders should not exist at all — or should not be allowed to pursue their transgender identities.”

He called out discriminatory language used by legislators such as Rep. Webster Barnaby, who called transgender people “mutants” and “demons” at a Committee hearing for a related bill.

One of the plaintiffs in the case said the ruling was good news for her child.

“This ruling means I won’t have to watch my daughter needlessly suffer because I can’t get her the care she needs. Seeing Susan’s fear about this ban has been one of the hardest experiences we’ve endured as parents. All we’ve wanted is to take that fear away and help her continue to be the happy, confident child she is now,” said one of the plaintiffs in a statement. She stayed anonymous in order to protect her and her child’s privacy.

Her daughter, referred to as Susan Doe, has lived as a girl since kindergarten but had not started taking medical treatment because she hadn’t reached puberty.

Shevrin Jones weighs in on gender-affirming care ruling — Jones, a veteran member of the Legislature and Florida’s first-ever openly LGBTQ+ state Senator, released remarks following the ruling on gender-affirming health care. “This ruling is a major victory for Floridians,” Jones said. “Today lifts a huge burden for the LGBTQ+ community, our families, friends, and neighbors who know that discrimination of any kind is not acceptable — despite Gov. DeSantis and his extremist allies’ attempts to strip people of their fundamental rights and freedoms.” Jones, who represents parts of Miami-Dade County, has long been an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and currently serves as Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Ron DeSantis creates ‘Freedom Fund’ to target abortion, weed amendments and help GOP” via Eric Daugherty of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis chief of staff James Uthmeier has launched the Florida Freedom Fund, a new political fundraising committee that will help Republicans and target left-wing efforts this election cycle. “As Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to lead our great state, the Florida Freedom Fund will champion issues and candidates committed to preserving Floridians’ freedom,” said DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske in a statement to Florida’s Voice. “From up and down-ballot races to critical amendments, we’re steadfast in our mission to keep Florida free.” Uthmeier also served as DeSantis’ 2024 Presidential Campaign Manager. The new committee has no fundraising to report yet and was founded on May 24. DeSantis had recently vowed to fundraise not only for Trump but other “down-ballot” Republicans and to fight Democratic causes — two major ones, including the pro-abortion constitutional amendment initiative and the recreational marijuana legalization initiative.

Ron DeSantis launches a committee to fight the proposed abortion and marijuana amendments.

— 2024 DOWN-BALLOT —

Robyn Hattaway backs out of SD 19 race, leaving clearer GOP path for Randy Fine” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Hattaway won’t run for the Senate District 19 seat, but will instead vie for a House seat in 2026. The move all but assures that Rep. Fine will win the GOP nomination in the SD 19 race. “It has become clear that there is not a viable path for me to serve in the state Senate this year,” said Hattaway, a lawyer and former Port Canaveral Commissioner, in a prepared statement. Instead, she’ll run for the House District 31 seat, which covers northern Brevard County, including Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island. The seat is currently held by Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, who will be term-limited in 2026, provided he wins re-election this year.

Robyn Hattaway steps aside in the SD 19 race, leaving a clearer GOP path for Randy Fine.

—“Before returning to Senate, Tracie Davis must dispatch a Primary challenger” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

‘No one has worked harder’: Senate leadership endorses Erin Grall for another term” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — After two years serving in the Senate, Sen. Grall has earned the full backing of leadership. The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC) announced that Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and every Senator in line for the gavel are endorsing Grall for another four-year term representing Senate District 29. Passidomo released a joint statement with Senate President-designate Ben Albritton and Sens. Jim Boyd and Jay Trumball backing Grall’s re-election. So long as Republicans retain a majority, Albritton, Boyd and Trumball are slated to serve as Senate Presidents starting after elections, respectively, in 2024, 2026 and 2028.

Alan Grayson withdraws from U.S. Senate race, files in SD 25” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Grayson has ended his U.S. Senate candidacy and will run for a Florida Senate seat instead. The Orlando Democrat enters an already competitive Democratic Primary in Senate District 25, assuming he qualifies before noon on Friday. State Rep. Kristen Arrington, a Kissimmee Democrat, and Carmen Torres, a community leader and wife to outgoing state Sen. Victor Torres, have already qualified in the Democratic Primary. “I want to continue my work for that district to get good things done,” said Grayson, who represented Orange and Osceola counties during his time in Congress. The Orlando Democrat was first elected to a term in the U.S. House in 2008, unseating Republican U.S. Rep. Ric Keller, before being defeated in 2010 by now-Republican U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster.


—”No open Primary in HD 14, as write-in files opposite Kim Daniels” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Kiyan Michael on track to face Democrat Rachel Grage in HD 16 General Election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Two years ago, Michael was powered into the House on the strength of a DeSantis endorsement that helped her win a competitive Primary. This time around, the Beaches Republican is facing no Primary and is looking forward to November. Thus far in the early going, Michael has the advantage over likely General Election opponent Grage, with nearly $19,000 cash on hand through May. But Grage is putting up more of a fight than many other Democrats, raising more than $20,000 thus far this cycle, with more than $10,000 cash on hand. The district has roughly 142,000 registered voters, and nearly half of them are Republicans, so it may be party composition that ultimately carries the day. But Grage isn’t going down without a fight, if her early fundraising tells a story.

Rachel Grage is emerging as a formidable challenge to Kiyan Michaels. Image via Rachel Grage.

Rick Scott endorses Nick Primrose in HD 18 — Primrose’s former boss is backing him as he seeks a House seat. “Nick is a hard worker and I know he will do a great job representing Northeast Florida,” Scott said. “He was an important part of my Senate campaign team in 2018 and he had a leading role when my race went to a recount. In the Governor’s office, I worked with him for many years and appreciate all he did to help us in our efforts to make Florida the best place for jobs. I know he will fight for strong conservative policies in the state Legislature.” Primrose served as Deputy General Counsel when Scott was Governor and later served as an attorney for DeSantis.

Debbie Mayfield rapidly adds $117K for HD 32 bid” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Mayfield rapidly raised more than $92,000 since announcing a run for the House. The Rockledge Republican also chipped in a $25,000 candidate loan on top of that. The term-limited state Senator in late April filed to run in House District 32. In her first month of fundraising, she collected more than $68,000 in donations in addition to the candidate loan. The Mayfield-chaired Conservatives For Good Government political committee raised another $24,000 in outside donations. Along with interest accrued by the long-standing committee, the account reported north of $37,000 in new fundraising over April and May. The bottom line: The committee closed the period with nearly $1.1 million in cash on hand. That’s money in Mayfield’s control on top of nearly $62,000 that her candidate campaign has in the bank.

Happening tonight:

Daisy Morales calls Rita Harris ‘ineffective’ in HD 44 rematch” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Morales is attacking her opponent, incumbent Harris, calling Harris “ineffective” as the two Democrats go head-to-head again for the House District 44 seat in the August Primary. “She has delivered a pile of dead bills each Legislative Session. Zero bills passed,” Morales said in a news release. Harris’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. HD 44 represents Orange County, including Lake Nona, the Orlando International Airport, as well as SeaWorld and Universal theme parks. Morales was first elected to the House in 2020. However, when she ran for re-election in 2022, she didn’t have the support of some fellow Democrats. Some voiced concerns about her track record in Tallahassee of siding with Republicans on some legislation, and about her campaign finances, the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time.

Jennifer Kincart Jonsson adds more than $225K in first report for HD 49 bidKincart Jonsson, a businessperson running as a Republican in House District 49, raised more than $210,000 via her campaign account from April 1 to May 31. She added another $14,500 through her political committee. “This truly is a homegrown movement of conservative neighbors, community leaders, and local men and women who want to see a champion for our community in Tallahassee,” Kincart Jonsson said. “I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received in such a short time.” She is competing against Heather McArthur and Shawn Curtis McDonough for the GOP nomination in the race to replace Rep. Melony Bell.

Boo! Does Miami have another ghost candidate?” via Alex DeLuca and Naomi Feinstein of the Miami New Times — Last week, a mysterious candidate entered the Florida House of Representatives District 106 race against incumbent State Rep. Fabián Basabe. On Thursday, June 7, Maureen Saunders Scott filed to enter the race as a No Party Affiliation (NPA) candidate. Records show the 63-year-old doesn’t live in District 106 — which covers the barrier island communities of Miami Beach, Sunny Isles, and Bay Harbor Islands — but in a town house near Jacksonville, nearly 300 miles away. In the November election, she will face Basabe, Republican attorney Melinda Almonte, and former Florida Democratic state Rep. Joe Saunders, who filed to run against Basabe in May 2023 as the freshman legislator made headlines for breaking campaign promises and getting mixed up in tabloid-worthy antics. Scant other information about Scott is publicly available. There appears to be no trace of her online or on social media.


Joe Biden has a 53 in 100 chance of beating Donald Trump, but that could changeFiveThirtyEight has published its 2024 Presidential Election forecast, which builds on its General Election polling averages by looking not just at who leads the race right now, but at the range of possibilities for November. As of today, Biden has the edge, with 53 in 100 odds of winning on Election Day. What that number might look like tomorrow is anyone’s guess, so FiveThirtyEight recommends bookmarking its interactive prediction to check back often. We sure will be.

Joe Biden is surging, but a lot can happen.

DNC announces grants to build down-ballot infrastructure” via Patrick Svitek of The Washington Post — The Democratic National Committee announced Monday it is sending nearly $2 million in grants to state parties to help build down-ballot infrastructure in a presidential election year. The grants are targeted at some specific races — including the Senate race in Maryland — as well as certain key constituencies, such as Native American voters in South Dakota. “As we work hand and hand with the Biden-Harris campaign to hold the White House, we’re investing now to build infrastructure and win big up and down the ballot because we know the stakes couldn’t be higher,” DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said. The $1.8 million in grants span at least 11 states, most of which are not expected to be competitive in the White House race. But the grants continue Harrison’s commitment to a “50-state strategy” that he pledged when he took over the DNC in 2021.


DeSantis spends millions on Florida Keys base preparing for migrant surge that hasn’t come” via Ana Ceballos and Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — For more than a year, pilots and boat captains have come and gone from a small grid of air-conditioned trailers in the Florida Keys, running missions on the water and in the sky in search of Cubans and Haitian migrants desperate enough to cross the Straits of Florida. At a cost of about $20 million and counting, the makeshift base camp has become one of the more expensive initiatives in the Governor’s campaign to keep undocumented immigrants out of the state. But a closer look raises questions about whether the site — run by a politically connected disaster-management contractor — was established to address a problem that dissipated almost as soon as the generators began to run.

Ron DeSantis’ expensive base camp is still waiting for the expected wave of migrants.

Conservationists amp up the intensity in calling on DeSantis to veto bear-shooting bill” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — Among the bills that DeSantis will soon have to act on is a measure that would allow people to kill bears in self-defense, and conservation and environmental groups in Florida are urging their members to ask the Governor to veto it. The bill (HB 87), dubbed the “Self Defense Act,” says that an individual would not be subject to any administrative, civil, or criminal penalty for killing a bear if that person “reasonably believed” it was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to themselves or another person, their pets, or their “dwelling.”

Report: Revision to ‘Live Local Act’ reduces stock of affordable/workforce housing in Florida” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix — Now data accumulated by LandTech, which provides site sourcing technology for developers, suggest that new amendments to the Live Local Act will mean a 22% reduction in sites available to affordable housing developers from what was originally proposed for the state’s five biggest metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) — Jacksonville, South Florida, Sarasota/Bradenton, Orlando-Kissimmee and the Tampa Bay Area. The report says that with passage of the new legislation, there are now 6.6 billion fewer square feet of land available for this kind of development. Some 30.2 billion square feet of potential affordable housing development in the state’s five biggest MSAs would have been available under the original legislation.

Judge blocks financial disclosure law opposed by many elected city officials” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A federal Judge has stopped the enforcement of a Florida law that requires elected municipal officials to publicly reveal detailed information about their net worth. More than 170 elected officials in Florida filed a lawsuit in federal court Feb. 15, saying “Form 6” was a First Amendment issue. U.S. District Judge Melissa Damian filed the 33-page temporary injunction in federal court, ruling that the law “impermissibly compels content-based speech in violation of the First Amendment.” That’s because the First Amendment gives freedom over what people can say. “Plaintiffs thus allege (the state law) violates the First Amendment and causes irreparable injury,” the judge wrote.


Biden to host Juneteenth concert at White House” via The Washington Post — Biden is scheduled to host a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday night ahead of next week’s federal holiday. Performers include Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. Biden signed bipartisan legislation in 2021 establishing Juneteenth as the nation’s 11th federal holiday.

The White House is preparing a huge Juneteenth celebration.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Are Democrats still strong enough in Miami-Dade for Daniella Levine Cava to win in August?” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Levine Cava has no competition from the left this Summer as the first-term Democrat faces a field of Republican challengers in the election for Miami-Dade County Mayor. But her party’s shrinking base in Miami-Dade makes it harder for Levine Cava to secure the decisive win she wants in August. No Democrat signed up to challenge Levine Cava before Tuesday’s noon filing deadline, leaving her to face a mostly Republican field of opponents who have raised only a fraction of the nearly $4.9 million secured by the incumbent Mayor from donors through March 31, the date of the latest full set of campaign-finance reports in the race for all of the candidates.

Levine Cava re-election campaign releases new bilingual ads” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Levine Cava is hitting TV and digital media again with a new pair of bilingual ads supporting her re-election effort. Her campaign said it spent five figures on the ad buys. The 30-second spots will run on English- and Spanish-language broadcast networks in the county and on social media platforms. They depict Levine Cava, Miami-Dade’s first woman Mayor and the first Jewish person to hold the job, as a uniter with a record of delivering for residents. In doing so, they throw shade at — but do not name — three Republicans who hope to unseat her this year: Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid, ex-Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger and social media influencer Alex Otaola. “As Mayor, I am committed to building a Miami-Dade that works for everyone; I am proud to lead with compassion and deliver with action — investing in our small businesses, families, workers, and our precious natural resources,” Levine Cava said in a statement. “Together, we will continue to move Miami-Dade forward with vision, integrity, and results.”

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

James Reyes, Rosie Cordero-Stutz lead fundraising for Miami-Dade Sheriff in April-May period” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Chief of Public Safety Reyes, a Democrat, and Assistant Miami-Dade Police Director Cordero-Stutz led their respective Primary races in the April-May fundraising period for the Miami-Dade Sheriff’s race. Reyes topped the now-15-person field with more than $150,000 amassed between his campaign account and political committee, Miami-Dade Safe & Secure. Cordero-Stutz was right behind him with $147,000 collected through her campaign directly and through her PC, Citizens for a Safer Community. Both candidates drew a mixture of individual, business and political donations. “I am deeply grateful for every person that has gotten involved and powered our campaign to this point,” Reyes said in a statement Tuesday. “Together, we’re working to build a Sheriff’s Office that earns community trust, fights public corruption, and — above all else — prioritizes the safety of our residents, seniors and families.”

Alina García, Juan Carlos “J.C.” Planas qualify for Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. García, a Republican, and former Rep. Planas, a Democrat, have qualified for the race to be Miami-Dade’s next Supervisor of Elections (SOE). Each paid $13,149 to qualify on Monday when they and three others seeking the SOE job also turned in campaign finance reports for the April-May period. García outraised Planas significantly in the two-month span, adding more than $102,000 to her campaign account and political committee, Florida Always First. Planas, meanwhile, raised close to $7,000 through his account and PC. Democratic political consultant Willis Howard outpaced Planas with an $18,600 haul of which $15,000 was self-loaned. Democrat Arnie Weiss, a digital media entrepreneur, added $1,200 between May 24 and the end of the month. Republican lawyer Megan Pearl raised the same sum but dropped out of the race late last month after Trump endorsed García.

With zero ballots cast, three Miami-Dade Commissioners get four more years in office” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Three Miami-Dade County Commissioners won re-election to new four-year terms after a filing deadline passed with nobody signing up to challenge them. Automatically re-elected at noon were: Oliver Gilbert, the Board’s current Chair and the District 1 Commissioner; Eileen Higgins, the District 5 Commissioner; and Kionne McGhee, the District 9 Commissioner. Gilbert, 51, and McGhee, 46, were both elected in 2020 when the county’s two-term limit kicked in and forced the first wave of exits from the 13-seat Board. Gilbert represents a district in northern Miami-Dade that includes Miami Gardens. McGhee represents an area in South Miami-Dade that includes parts of Homestead and the neighborhoods of Goulds and Perrine.

Oliver Gilbert, Eileen Higgins and Kionne McGhee notched automatic wins.

Should a condo and park replace Jungle Island? Question could go to November’s ballot” via Tess Riski and Rebecca San Juan of the Miami Herald — Six years after Miami residents approved a plan to build an eco-adventures resort on the site of the theme park known as Jungle Island, a new proposal to redevelop a portion of the city-owned land could go before voters in the Fall. Terra, a Coconut Grove-based real estate developer, and ESJ Capital Partners, an Aventura investment firm, have proposed building a condo tower and public park that would replace the 18-acre Jungle Island that exists today. That plan is slated to go before the City Commission in July, according to a city spokesperson. If the Commission approves the proposal, it will then go before Miami voters on the November ballot. The project must go to referendum because of the location on Watson Island, which is city-owned, waterfront land.

‘Challenges our authority’: School Board in Indian River bans book about book bans” via Douglas Soule of the USA Today Network-Florida — School officials in Florida have banned a book about book banning. The Indian River County School Board voted to remove “Ban This Book” by Alan Gratz from its shelves in a meeting last month, overruling its own district book-review Committee’s decision to keep it. The children’s novel follows a fictional fourth grader who creates a secret banned books locker library after her School Board pulled a multitude of titles off the shelves. Indian River County School Board members said they disliked how it referenced other books that had been removed from schools and accused it of “teaching rebellion of School Board authority,” as described in the formal motion to oust it.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Buddy Dyer, Regina Hill endorse Travaris McCurdy in hotly contested Orlando City Council race” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — McCurdy’s bid for a seat on the City Council is getting a late-hour lift. Orlando Mayor Dyer threw his political might behind McCurdy, and soon after, suspended Commissioner Hill did as well in a Facebook post and later confirmed her endorsement in a text message. McCurdy is facing off against Shaniqua “Shan” Rose in the runoff — with the winner serving as the Interim District 5 Commissioner through the end of the term in 2025. However, Hill, who was suspended from the seat by DeSantis in April, could return to the post before then if felony charges filed against her are resolved in her favor.

Buddy Dyer gives his stamp of approval to Travaris McCurdy.

Cabinet votes on buying Central Florida warehouse for hurricane supplies” via Gordon Byrd of WFLA — The state Cabinet is set to vote Wednesday morning on buying a warehouse in central Florida to serve as a hurricane supply hub. The more than 400-thousand-square-foot warehouse along I-4 near Auburndale would be used to store and move supplies during a hurricane or other emergencies. The building would be retrofitted with docks, cold storage, and space for trailers, command centers, and other disaster equipment, as well as offices and workstations for a hundred people and a training center for the state division of emergency management. State lawmakers have approved up to 75 million to buy the property and up to 116 million for the project overall.

Osceola Commissioners delay vote on massive impact fee hike” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — Osceola County Commissioners balked at approving a controversial proposal to more than double the fees levied on new development, expressing concerns the hike will undermine efforts to construct more affordable housing. The proposal to increase so-called “impact fees” is intended to generate desperately needed money for transportation and fire safety projects. But confronting angry developers and housing advocates, Commissioners chose to delay consideration of the issue for another month while they study ways to ease the cost for certain types of construction. “We have to find a way to pay for roads,” Commissioner Viviana Janer said at the meeting. “We hear this from residents all the time. But we also need affordable housing.”

Seminole to place penny sales tax question before voters in November” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Without discussion, Seminole Commissioners agreed to place a referendum on the November ballot asking voters if the county’s penny sales tax should be extended another decade. For nearly the past 10 years, Seminole has tacked on an extra cent to the state sales tax of 6 cents per dollar on most purchases. That extra penny approved by voters in May 2014 is set to expire on Dec. 31. During the past year Commissioners have said it’s time to ask voters if it should stay in place another decade. The revenue — which amounts to about $85 million a year — is split with the county, School District and Seminole’s seven cities.

Brevard School Board gives OK to trained staff carrying guns after promising no vote this week” via Finch Walker of Florida Today — Moments before the School Board voted to approve it, a hotly contested move that will allow arming of Brevard Public Schools staff was added to the Board’s agenda. The memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, had been discussed since October and was available on the Board’s agenda before the weekend. However, on Monday, it was pulled from the agenda, with Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource Services Ryan Dufrain telling Florida Today that it was being amended by BSCO. He later said that it would not receive a vote until a future meeting.

‘Now I kind of understand how Walt Disney did it’: Inside the Mai-Kai Restaurant’s $15 million face-lift — and when it reopens” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Nearly four years after the Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show closed, the rum-soaked landmark is finally expected to reopen this Summer, newly garnished with Orlando theme-park magic. Over the past year, a crew composed of Universal Orlando and Disney designers — call them an Ocean’s Eleven of Imagineers — have brought every nook, lamp, and bamboo panel of this Oakland Park tiki time capsule back to its original glory while adding a fresh raft of design upgrades. The $15 million Mai-Kai face-lift is on target to soft-open this September, with a grand opening set for some time in October, developer Bill Fuller told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.


Suzy Lopez grows war chest to $580K as Andrew Warren fights to get his job back” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County State Attorney Lopez has raised more than $580,000 for her race in the 13th Judicial Circuit, as she seeks election to the position after being appointed by DeSantis in 2022. That includes nearly $364,000 raised to her campaign account since launching her bid 11 months ago and another $211,000 raised to her affiliated political committee, Friends of Suzy Lopez. Her most recent fundraising includes more than $75,000 raised via her campaign account from April 1 through the end of May and more than $26,000 added to her committee in the same span. Lopez, a Republican, does not face a Primary opponent. She’ll face whoever wins the Democratic Primary — either Warren or Elizabeth Martinez Strauss — in the November General Election.

Suzy Lopez’s war chest is getting larger.

How close is St. Petersburg to its clean energy promise? It doesn’t know.” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg made history in 2016 when it became the first city in Florida to commit to switching to clean energy, citing the threat rising seas pose to a place surrounded by water on three sides. Three years later, it had produced a detailed plan with an ambitious goal: Homes, businesses and all other infrastructure within city limits would be completely powered by renewable energy by 2035. But five years after that plan was adopted, the city doesn’t know whether it’s on track because it doesn’t have data on where its electricity comes from. Based on limited information officials recently received from Duke Energy, though, the city is using more energy than at any point in at least the last decade — pushing it further behind an intermediary goal that the city reduces energy use.

Brightline expansion to Tampa included in regional call for support” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Two transportation Boards spanning the “super-region” of Tampa Bay and Orlando will consider a resolution on June 14 that urges the state to bring expanded passenger rail service to Interstate 4. Citing rapid population growth, the resolution says Brightline’s new passenger line and increased Amtrak service should be accommodated along the gridlocked corridor. “The issues of traffic congestion, travel time reliability, safety and jobs access are at a critical breaking point in the I-4 corridor. … The expansion of regional passenger rail between the Atlantic coast, metro Orlando and Tampa Bay will complement our continuing multi-[Metropolitan Planning Organization] and multidistrict regional collaboration efforts to ensure productive traffic flow and safe, reliable travel along the I-4 corridor,” the resolution says.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Judge rules JWB must face trial over alleged use of algorithms against Black renters” via Charlie McGee of The Tributary — A federal judge allowed a lawsuit to move forward with its accusations that one of Northeast Florida’s largest landlords used faulty algorithms to discriminate against Black renters, giving the green light for a jury trial that could set precedents for civil rights law. In an order issued last week, U.S. District Judge Wendy Berger denied Jacksonville Wealth Builders’ motion to dismiss. JWB Property Management LLC, which rents out and manages thousands of homes in Duval County, and JWB Real Estate Capital LLC, which owns those properties, are being sued by four Jacksonville residents. Those plaintiffs are seeking to represent a larger class of Black rental applicants denied leases by JWB in recent years.

One of NE Florida’s largest landlords is using algorithms to discriminate against Blacks.

Low-barrier homeless shelter won’t happen without business support, Mayor says” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola will not be opening a low-barrier homeless shelter unless the business community steps up to provide funding along with local governments, Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves said. Reeves made the comments Tuesday after the city received a report estimating the annual operating cost of a low-barrier shelter in Pensacola will be between $2.19 million and $3.47 million. “This is an issue for all of us as a community,” Reeves said. “It’s not solely the government’s job to be able to try to reduce homelessness and provide positive outcomes.” Jon DeCarmine, executive director of GRACE Marketplace in Gainesville, a low-barrier shelter that has succeeded in reducing homelessness in that community, put together the report for the city.


Collier Board votes to condemn Florida abortion amendment” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — The Collier County Commission unanimously passed a resolution against Amendment 4 on the Nov. 5 ballot in Florida on abortion. The resolution says the ballot language is vague, deceptive and overbroad, and would allow abortion up to birth, eliminate parental consent for minors, and allow health care providers not medically licensed to perform abortions. Commissioners said their decisions on the resolution are based on wanting local voters to get educated about the amendment implications, to promote adoption, and to make their “moral compass” known to constituents. The Board listened to the views of a dozen speakers, some of whom gained more than the allotted three minutes from others who conceded their time to speak.

Collier County weighs in on Amendment 4.

Sarasota County Commission slashes child care help; Sheriff’s eviction program at risk” via Saundra Amrhein of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Early learning advocates are scrambling to help hundreds of working families who will lose their child care subsidies this Fall after the Sarasota County Commission voted to defund a highly ranked program. In its 4-1 decision last week during a budget hearing, the County Commission overrode the advice of its own advisory council and slashed $510,000 in county funds for the Early Learning Coalition’s School Readiness Program. The move will also result in the loss of $510,000 in state matching funds — for a total loss of more than $1 million in early learning and child care support to low-income and working-class households in the upcoming fiscal year.

Punta Gorda City Council balks at idea of town hall meetings” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Punta Gorda Sun — Punta Gorda City Council member Melissa Lockhart pitched what she considered a simple proposal at a recent meeting. But, after a Board discussion, she said it became too complicated. She wanted the city to bring back an old tradition of holding town hall meetings. Lockhart said former City Manager Howard Kunick held town hall meetings. At them, Punta Gorda staff members made presentations, and the City Council members listened to the public. In 2007, Kunick tackled issues like economic development, annexation, housing and the city’s quality of life. Lockhart said town hall meetings can educate residents. With social media more prevalent today than years ago, there’s misinformation circulating, she said.


With heat rising, climate progress is at grave risk in the 2024 Election” via Kathy Castor for Newsweek — For my neighbors, the impacts of the climate crisis are all too real — record heat, property damage, rising costs. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring exorbitant property insurance increases, brutal temperatures, climate-fueled hurricanes and flooding. My neighbors want solutions to cut costs and cut pollution.

Thankfully, under Biden’s leadership, we have made historic progress over the last few years — and even the last few weeks — to lower costs and tackle the climate crisis. While there is much more that needs to be done, clean energy investments championed by Biden and Democrats in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are lighting the way forward.

Progress in Washington rarely is made with a single wave of a magic wand; rather, it takes years of dedicated policy work to advance solutions. Biden and Democrats have been hammering out a plan since 2018, laying the groundwork for the strongest climate record in history. It’s important for Americans to understand how much climate progress we’ve made to recognize what’s at stake in this next election.

Just a few weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized rules limiting carbon pollution from existing coal and new gas power plants. Combined with the incentives in the IRA, they will transform our power sector quickly, reducing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 75% below 2005 levels by 2035, and by more than 83% by 2040.


What the Hunter Biden conviction does and does not mean” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — In terms of House Republican investigators’ longtime quest to show that Biden’s shady foreign business deals financially benefited his father, the answer is pretty much nothing. Biden’s gun problem was never a main focus of the House investigation. It jumped onto the radar screen last year in part because the Department of Justice tried to sneak through a sweetheart deal that would have given Biden immunity on the gun charges and who knows what else. The only thing that stopped it was the skepticism of federal Judge Maryellen Noreika. When the proposed deal fell apart, the gun charge was the result. Biden also faces indictment on tax charges in California. In any event, the verdict in Wilmington doesn’t advance the ball in the investigation into Biden’s family finances.

DeSantis’ selective war on unions is about the future of public education” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — DeSantis declared open war on the state’s largest public employees union, United Teachers of Dade, a hyperbolic, tactical offensive in the administration’s broader efforts to transform Florida public education into a decentralized network of charters and private schools and to tilt the curriculum in a decidedly conservative direction. During a winding news conference in Hialeah that was slated to be about teacher pay raises, DeSantis cast United Teachers of Dade and teachers unions more generally as outdated, corrupt organizations that indoctrinate children and fail to represent the best interests of teachers. Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez called union leaders “activists that double as union hacks” who bully their members, and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said the unions should “stop focusing their energy … on woke ideology (and) on protecting pornographic materials.”


— ALOE —

Florida has a beach sand shortage. Are your beer bottles part of the solution?” via Ashley Miznazi of the Miami Herald — Florida’s coastal counties spend millions trucking in sand to preserve the eroding beachfront. But what if a cheaper possible solution could be found in the garbage and recycling bins of bars or even in that six-pack of Miller Lite you brought home the other night? Glass is made from sand, so what about doing the reverse? Paola Barranco thinks such a new source of soft, precious stuff could be an attractive, environmentally friendly option in a state with a shortage of quality beach sand. The company she co-founded, Glass for Life, is still small, but Barranco has big ideas and hopes. Her company operates out of a small warehouse in The Hammocks neighborhood in Southwest Miami, so far using just one professional glass pulverizer no bigger than an office copy machine. The machine is simple to use. It has a hole you stick the bottles in, a series of powerful hammers and grinders, and a spout that spews out the resulting sand.

Sand makes glass for beer bottles. Can the reverse hold true?

‘Miami! We finally won!’: This chef was just named among the best in the country” via Connie Ogle of The Washington Post — Valerie Chang, the Peruvian-born chef whose restaurant Maty’s in Midtown Miami has earned national praise, won a James Beard Award on Monday. Chang won the category of Best Chef: South. At the ceremony in Chicago, an enthusiastic Chang thanked her parents, who emigrated to the U.S. from Peru. “I love you, Peru!” she said. She also gave a shoutout to Miami, which has suffered from a James Beard Award drought for its chefs and restaurants. Former Miami Herald food editor Carlos Frias earned James Beard Awards for writing in 2018 and 2022. “I can’t believe I’m standing here,” Chang said. “Miami! We finally won! We got something for Miami.”


Happy birthday to Sally Bradshaw, Hialeah Mayor Esteban “Steve” Bovo, former Rep. Neil Combee, Husein Cumber, Rep. Kim Daniels, Matt Lettelleir of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, Margie Menzel, Rick Minor, and Matt Wolking.


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.

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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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