Drew Wilson - 6/32 - SaintPetersBlog

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

City to hold public meeting on Tangerine Plaza

The city of St. Petersburg will host a meeting Feb. 23 to talk with the public about the Tangerine Plaza development.

The “Tangerine Plaza Community Conversation” will start at 6 pm and be held in the community room of the St. Petersburg College Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Midtown Center at 1300 22nd Street South.

Topics addressed in the meeting include what the greatest need is for the community surrounding Tangerine Plaza, the history of the plaza’s development and how the property can serve the community’s needs in the future.

The midtown shopping center has been in dire straits for years, and anchor store Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market announced last month it would shutter its doors in March, leaving area residents without a grocery store.

The meeting will have city staff in attendance and is open to all interested parties. For more information on the meeting, contact St. Petersburg Director of Education and Community Engagement Leah McRae at (727) 893-7174 or Leah.McRae@stpete.org.

Bill to fix vote-by-mail rules clears first committee

A bill that would allow Florida voters to fix signatures on vote-by-mail ballots cleared its first House committee Thursday.

HB 105, sponsored by Tampa Democrat Janet Cruz, would change the process for when signatures on ballots don’t match up to the signature on file with local supervisors of elections.

Current law gives voters the opportunity to correct their ballot if they forget to sign it, but the same courtesy isn’t extended to mismatched signatures.

Bill cosponsor and Dania Beach Democrat Evan Jenne said ailments such as Parkinson’s disease or vision loss can cause signatures to change rapidly, and HB 109 would protect the rights of increasing number of voters who mail in ballots.

The bill would give supervisors of elections leeway to decide how they want to contact voters, whether it be through mail or email, door knocking or phone calls.

HB 105 cleared the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee with a unanimous vote and now heads to the House Government Accountability Committee. A similar bill in the Senate, SB 544 by Democratic Sen. Oscar Braynon, has yet to be heard in committee.

Service industry helps Florida boost 14.4K new jobs in Nov.

Florida added 14,400 new private-sector jobs in November according to employment data released by payroll company ADP.

According to the ADP Regional Employment Report, the bulk of Florida’s new jobs were in the service industry, which added 12,200 jobs, while goods-producing industries added 2,200.

Professional and business services saw the biggest gain at 4,100 jobs, followed by mining and construction at 1,900, manufacturing at 300 and trade, transportation and utilities at 100.

The November numbers show a 1,400-job dip compared to October, when the state added 15,800 jobs, and are far below the 20,500 jobs added in the Sunshine State in November 2015.

Still, Florida posted the third-highest job gain among the states tracked by ADP. California, which added 29,000 jobs, and Texas, which added 26,300, took the two top spots.

Regionally, the 17 states making up the South added the most jobs at 89,000. Western states added 60,000 jobs, followed by the Midwest with 35,000 and the Northeast with 32,000.

The ADP Regional Employment Report is produced using data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as the payroll company’s in-house data. The next report, covering December, will be released Jan. 11.

House approves Kathy Castor bill promoting concrete masonry, manufacturing jobs

The U.S. House passed a bill sponsored by Democratic Florida Rep. Kathy Castor Wednesday that would boost construction jobs and help develop better building materials.

“Local manufacturers and many across Florida worked diligently with me to boost jobs in the concrete masonry industry through this legislation. If signed into law, businesses will have the ability to pool resources for research and to develop safer, more durable, and more efficient products which would be a boon for building construction,” Castor said. “This bill supports an industry made up of primarily small, local businesses that create local jobs in the competitive construction market.”

The House voted 355-38 in favor of Castor’s bill, which she called a “win for jobs and our local manufacturers. The bill would put a one penny assessment on all concrete blocks sold, to fund research, education, and promotional programs for concrete manufacturers.

“Buildings made of structurally strong materials, such as concrete block, are vital to reduce the impacts of property insurance losses as the climate changes and Florida experiences more extreme weather events,” the CD 14 Democrat said. “Producers also will be able to develop durable, energy-efficient and affordable products that are better able to withstand volatile weather conditions in their particular regions, such as seismic events in the West or extreme weather in the Southeast.”

The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate.

Bill Galvano committee brings in over $360K in five days

Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano’s political committee pulled in more than $360,000 between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, giving the future Senate president plenty of ammo to help his fellow Republican senators win re-election.

“Innovate Florida” kicked off the three-day fundraising spree with a $100,000 check from Cuban-American billionaire Miguel Fernandez Oct. 31, followed by a $12,500 haul Nov. 1 and $160,500 Nov. 2.

The Nov. 2 report shows $25,000 apiece coming in from the Associated Industries of Florida’s political committees The Voice of Florida Business, Floridians’ United for Our Children, and Floridians for a Stronger Democracy.

Galvano’s PAC also collected a $50,000 check from the Florida Prosperity Fund, a committee run by AIF VP of Political Operations Ryan Tyson.

According to the report, Innovate Florida had more than $1.2 million on hand heading into the final stretch of the election season.

With Galvano having already secured re-election for himself in Senate District 21, most of the new funds will likely be used to help out in some of the more hotly contested Senate races this cycle.

Among the top targets for both parties are the SD 8 contest between Republican Rep. Keith Perry and former Democratic Sen. Rod Smith, the SD 18 race between Republican Rep. Dana Young and Democratic attorney Bob Buesing, the battle between Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez in SD 37, and Republican Rep. Frank Artiles run against Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard in SD 40.

Despite the fundraising flurry, Innovate Florida did not report any spending over the three-day stretch, though the PAC has dumped $425,000 into the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee since the start of the 2016 election cycle.

That committee, which has only reported its financials through Aug. 25, has raised $16.6 million this cycle and had nearly $10 million of that money on hand.

Charlie Crist nets another $7K from lobbyists, Morgan & Morgan employees

Former Gov. Charlie Crist reported another $7,000 in contributions in a new FEC filing Tuesday, including checks from a pair of Morgan & Morgan employees.

The donor roll included attorneys Adam Brum and Keith Carter of Morgan & Morgan, who gave $1,500 and $1,000, respectively. Crist took a job at Morgan & Morgan after his lone term as Florida governor ended in 2011.

Also in the filing were Tallahassee lobbyist Jeff Sharkey and Nicholas Herbach of Index Management Services, who each gave $1,000, as well as the American Federation of Government Employees PAC, which gave $2,500.

Crist is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who also filed a notice with the FEC Tuesday to report a $1,000 contribution from a PAC tied to Florida East Coast Industries.

Through Oct. 19 Jolly had brought in about $1.9 million and had about $160,000 of that money on hand, while Crist had raised about $1.5 million through Oct. 19 and had about $170,000 in his campaign account.

Since those reports, the candidates have been neck-and-neck, with each of them turning in new notices to the FEC on a daily basis.

Dana Young campaign hits door-knock milestone in SD 18 race

Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young announced Wednesday her campaign has knocked on the doors of more than 85,000 voters within Senate District 18.

“I am truly excited to announce this milestone, which underscores our campaign’s dedication since Day 1,” Young said. “By meeting and listening to voters in our district, I have had the opportunity to share my platform and positive changes I have helped enact while in the Florida House of Representatives, as well as hear their concerns for our community. In the days left leading up to the election, I look forward to continuing to meet with as many voters as I can, demonstrating why I am the best candidate to represent Florida Senate District 18.”

Young, who currently holds the District 60 seat in the House, is running against Democrat Bob Buesing and a pair of NPA candidates in SD 18, which covers Northwest Hillsborough County.

The third-term representative also touted endorsements from more than a dozen organizations in the release, including from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Tampa area police and firefighter organizations.

Young is by far the leader in fundraising in the district with more than $2.3 million in total fundraising across her campaign and political committee. Her closest competitor is Buesing, who had raised a little under of $450,000 for his campaign through Oct. 21.

SD 18 has slightly more registered Democrats than Republicans, and was narrowly carried by President Barack Obama four years ago.

Solar Amendment 1 committee takes in another $3.5M, now at $25M raised

The committee backing Amendment 1 took in $3.5 million in contributions last week, including another $3 million from utility companies.

Consumers for Smart Solar received $2 million from Florida Power & Light, $1 million from Duke Energy, and $250,000 each from conservative retirement group the 60 Plus Association and from a group called “Let’s Preserve the American Dream.”

Consumers has now raised more than $25 million this cycle, with more than $20 million of that money coming from the state’s biggest utility companies.

Consumers didn’t report any spending during the week of Oct. 22 through Oct. 28, and shows more than $4.6 million on hand one week out from Election Day.

The utility-backed amendment would add to the Florida Constitution the right for residents to own or lease solar panels, though residents already have that right.

The amendment would also prevent consumers who don’t use solar power from having to subsidize backup electrical grid access for those who do, a measure some environmental groups say will jack up prices for solar power.

A poll from St. Leo University, released Sept. 30, found 84 percent support for the amendment, while a Sept. 26 poll from the Florida Chamber Political Institute found 66 percent of Florida voters would vote for the proposal.

Constitutional amendments in Florida must have 60 percent support to pass.

Anheuser-Busch says ‘This water’s for you’

ab2690_l7_2_ab_water_3d3Anheuser-Busch announced Friday it would deliver more than 450,000 cans of drinking water to communities around Florida dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

“We are humbled to be able to help out our neighbors in urgent times like this,” said Craig Tomeo, senior general manager of Anheuser-Busch’s Jacksonville Brewery. “Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help right now.”

The company said Deerfield Beach, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce, Orlando, Melbourne, and Daytona Beach would get shipments from their Cartersville, Georgia brewery.

So far in 2016, Anheuser-Busch has delivered more than a million cans of drinking water in the wake of natural disasters, including the historic flooding in southern Louisiana earlier this year, and also has contributed $1 million to the Red Cross as part that organization’s Annual Disaster Giving Program.

Hurricane Matthew is the first major hurricane to hit Florida in a decade. The storm began tracking along the state’s east coast Thursday, causing an estimated 1 million Florida residents to lose power as of Friday afternoon.

The storm has moved north and remained about 50 miles east of Florida’s coast and is expected to continue along the Georgia and South Carolina coastlines this weekend before making an eastward turn into the Atlantic.

Retailers expect Halloween to break records, $8.4B in sales

Halloween is expected to set records this year with more than $8.4 billion in retail sales, according to a new survey from the National Retail Federation.

NRF estimates more than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate the holiday and will spend an average of $83 each on costumes, candy, decorations, and greeting cards. The numbers are a big jump over 2015, when Americans spent about $74 each — or $6.9 billion total.

“More families are making a bigger deal out of Halloween each year, with consistent increases in per-consumer spending, which should make for frighteningly good sales figures for retailers this month,” said FRF President and CEO Randy Miller. “We fully expect Florida’s Halloween sales to meet or exceed the national numbers thanks to sustained positive economic indicators and a healthy state economy.”

The most important pickup for Halloween is candy, which 94 percent of shoppers say is on their list this year. About two-thirds of consumers said they would buy a new costume, which should put $3.1 billion into retailer’s hands, while 70 percent said they planned to buy some spooky decorations.

NRF found 71 percent of respondents planned to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, while a little under half plan to decorate, dress up or carve a pumpkin. A third said they would spend the night partying, while one-in-six said they planned to dress up their pets.

About half those surveyed plan to get their shopping done at discount stores such as Target or Wal-Mart, while a third plan to go to a specialty Halloween store, and a quarter plan to shop at a grocery store. A fifth of respondents also said they will do at least part of their holiday shopping online.

The NRF survey was conducted between Sept. 6-13 and received responses from 6,791 consumers. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percent.

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