Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Independence Day Weekend brought to you by these lobbyists and political associations

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Whether it’s at the ballpark or the beach, setting off fireworks or firing up the grill, Floridians will celebrate the July 4th holiday in style.

The National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend $71.34 per household on average on food for barbecues. The organization — which has conducted its annual Independence Day survey since 2003 — estimates 65 percent of Americans plan to attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic this holiday weekend.

Hosting the barbecue this weekend? Then you better stock up on the essentials: Burgers, all-beef hot dogs, and veggies.

Since 1934, the Florida Cattlemen’s Association has been devoted to promoting and protecting the ability of cattlemen to produce and market their products. The state’s cattle industry is one the 15 largest in the country, so it’s no surprise they’ve invested in top lobbyists to protect their interests in the Florida Legislature.

The Florida Cattlemen’s Association enlisted the help of Sam Ard and Alexandra Lee Lucas at Ard Shirley & Rudolph. In the first quarter of 2016, the association paid between $1 and $9,999 for the firm’s services in lobbying the legislative branch. The organization paid the firm between $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services.

Need something to go with those burgers and all-beef hot dogs? Add some of Florida’s fresh produce to the menu. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, avocados, mangoes and mushrooms are just a few of the fruits and vegetables in season in July.

The state’s agriculture industry is one of the largest in the country, and in 2013, it ranked 18th in the nation for the number of farms.

The Florida Farm Bureau Federation is doing its part to try to grow the industry. The largest agricultural organization in the state, the Florida Farm Bureau aims to increase the income of farmers and ranchers, while improving the quality of rural life.

To do that, the Florida Farm Bureau has enlisted Frank Matthews at Hopping Green & Sams as to help with its legislative branch lobbying. The Farm Bureau also depends on Adam Basford, its director of state legislative affairs, and lobbyist Robert Pierce to advance its efforts.

No barbecue would be worth its weight in watermelon without a cooler full of beer.

Gov. Rick Scott in 2015 signed legislation to repeal the ban on 64-ounce growlers in Florida. It took years to “free the growler,” but the repeal came just as more and more craft breweries began popping up across the state.

The Florida Brewers Guild has been working on behalf of brewers across the state since 1996 to increase bottle size standards and foster growth of craft beer in Florida. In 2016, the guild tapped Joshua Aubuchon and Mark Delegal with Holland & Knight to help fight for their cause. The group paid the firm between $1 and $9,999 in the first quarter of 2016 for legislative branch services, and between $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services.

The Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents the state’s nearly two dozen independent beer distributors, is also invested in protecting its interests in Florida. The group tapped Michael J. Fischer with Redfish Consulting; Chip Case with Jefferson Monroe Consulting; and Rich Heffley and Kelly Horton with Heffley & Associates for legislative branch lobbying. All three firms were paid between $1 and $9,999 in the first quarter for legislative branch services.

Mitchell Rubin, the executive director of the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, is also registered to lobby on behalf of his organization.

If nothing says “America” like baseball, then plan on settling in for a baseball game this weekend. The Tampa Bay Rays are playing at home this weekend, while the Miami Marlins are away — playing a game at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on July 3.

Baseball isn’t just America’s pastime, it’s also big business in the Sunshine State. More than a dozen Major League Baseball teams — including the Marlins, Rays, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals — have made Florida its spring training home.

The Miami Marlins tapped Angela Dempsey, Fred Dickinson and Will McKinley with PooleMcKinley to work on their behalf. The team paid between $1 and $9,999 for legislative branch services and between $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services in the first quarter of 2016.

If you’re not a fan of baseball, consider spending the weekend on the water. You won’t be the only one. In Florida, boating is more than a pastime; it’s a lifestyle.

So it’s no surprise that the Boat Owners Association of the United States paid Bonnie Basham with Capital Ideas between $1 and $9,999 for legislative branch services and $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services in the first quarter of 2016.

The Boat Owners Association of the United States is a Virginia-based organization that has been advocating for the interests of recreational boaters since it was founded in 1966. The group is one of the nation’s largest organizations made up of recreational boat owners, and boasts more than 500,000 due-paying members.

No Fourth of July celebration would be complete with a patriotic display; we’re not talking about the U.S. Navy Blue Angels — although the Blue Angels are scheduled to participate in the popular Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 16.

No, we’re talking about fireworks.

Cities and counties across the state offer free fireworks displays to celebrate Independence Day. Some will be beach side; others will be held at parks or town centers. And some fireworks will be shot off from your neighbor’s backyard.

Lawmakers have tried to legalize some types fireworks for recreational use, but haven’t made much headway. That hasn’t stopped fireworks distributors from reaching out to state lawmakers about change.

Galaxy Fireworks, Inc., a Tampa-based retailer, tapped Erin Hellkamp and Guy Spearman with Spearman Management Inc. to advance its priorities. The company paid the firm between $10,000 and $19,999 for legislative branch services in the first quarter of 2016.

Shelton Fireworks, which has locations in Indiana, Missouri and Alabama, enlisted Richard Coates with Tidewater Consulting to advance its efforts in Florida. The company paid the firm between $1 and $9,999 for legislative branch services and between $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services in the first quarter of 2016.

And lest we forget the real reason for the holiday — to celebrate freedom and independence — let’s tip our hat to some of the organizations that do protect Floridians’ freedoms.

In 2015, the state passed the all-American Flag Act, which required all new flags flown by cities, counties and the state to purchase state and American flags made in the United States. The move was likely backed by the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, which represents the leading flag manufacturers in the United States.

The Flag Manufactures Association of America established a “Made in the U. S. A” certification program and continues to push for legislation that encourages people and governments to purchase flags made in the U.S.A.

Defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are also invested in the state.

Lockheed Martin enlisted Michael Huey, Ty Jackson, Jessica Love, and Todd Steibly with GrayRobinson to advocate on its behalf in Florida. The company paid the firm between $10,000 and $19,999 for legislative branch services and between $1 and $9,999 for executive branch services in the first quarter of 2016.

In Florida, Northrop Grumman has Jerry Sansom with JHS Consultants looking out for its interests. The company paid the firm between $1 and $9,999 for legislative services and between $1 and $9,999 for executive services in the first quarter of 2016. The company also has Rick Kendust, its state and local affairs manager, pushing for its priorities.

When it comes to freedom of the press, the Florida Press Association has President Dean Ridings, and lobbyists Kimberly Case, Samuel Morely, Steven Uhlfelder, and Karen Walker on its side.

And don’t forget to thank Barbara Petersen with the First Amendment Foundation and William Bunkley with the Florida Ethics and Religion Liberty Commission for their organizations work to fight for the freedom of speech, press and religion.

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