Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.
NEXTGEN CLIMATE RUNNING AD IN FLORIDA AGAINST REX TILLERSON’S NOMINATION via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The ad, “Protect America,” comes as Trump has been criticized for dismissing intelligence reports that found Russia conducted a campaign of cyber-attacks to interfere with U.S. elections, and previously suggested that he would lift sanctions against Russia. “Donald Trump has made his values clear — instead of working to support the American people, he’s nominating corporate and Wall Street insiders,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “Rex Tillerson has shown he puts corporate interests over American interests. The Senate must protect the public by rejecting his nomination.” Steyer is also blasting Tillerson on the environmental front, claiming that under his leadership, ExxonMobil had “one of the worst environmental records,” and is currently under investigation for lying about the dangers of climate change.
CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA BACKS BLAISE INGOGLIA FOR RPOF CHAIR via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – “During the last three years I have traveled tens of thousands of miles across our wonderful state and had the pleasure of spending time with so many dedicated members of our party,” Lopez-Cantera said. “More times, and in more counties than I can remember, our Chairman Blaise Ingoglia was there too. As a former State Committeeman for Miami-Dade I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a Chairman who travels the state spending time at local REC events all the while seeking input on building up our local parties, meeting with grassroots leaders and then putting those ideas into action.” CLC said he “couldn’t recall” a time during his 20 years involved in the RPOF in which a chairman had been so heavily involved in the process and in committing to turning the state red.
STORY YOU WON’T READ IN SUNBURN BECAUSE IT’S SO STUPID: “How the Breitbart/Trump wing of GOP and the world’s ugliest shirt are teaming up to unseat Fla. GOP Chairman” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
ANDREW GILLUM COY ON GOVERNOR’S RUN via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat – Downplaying talk of a potential 2018 gubernatorial run, Tallahassee Mayor Gillum said a lawsuit fighting the preemption of the state to set gun local laws would be a bad platform to make such an announcement … on the steps of the 1st District Court of Appeals, Gillum said the lawsuit, filed by the Second Amendment Foundation and Florida Open Carry, was “insider baseball” not a ploy to succeed Gov. Scott.
“I’ve heard that bandied about,” Gillum said to reporters of the chatter. “The truth is that if I were running for governor, this would be a bad strategy for a launch.” The lawsuit, which names Gillum, former Mayor John Marks and City Commissioners Nancy Miller and Gil Ziffer, is over the city commission’s refusal to repeal a ban on gunfire in a city park set forth in municipal ordinances approved in 1957 and 1988.
TOP OP-ED: GET RID OF THE STATE DEMS’ STALE, ELITIST LEADERSHIP PROCESS via Joshua Karp in the Miami Herald — Given the stakes, Florida Democrats should be passionately engaged in the election to pick their party’s next leader. But most of Florida’s nearly 5 million registered Democrats have no idea an election is happening. … Having helped set strategy for Florida Democrats during the past four years, I know the impact an energetic party chair can have. The current chair, my former boss Allison Tant, raised the bar for the job, traveling and fundraising tirelessly in support of Democratic candidates. But the election to replace Tant should embarrass every Democrat. The convoluted system governing Florida Democrats eliminates good candidates, encourages ridiculous loopholes and suppresses minority voices. … It is time for the Florida Democratic Party to reject the kingmakers, and throw the doors of this process open to a diverse group of Democrats.
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RICK SCOTT PROPOSES FREEZING FEES, BRIGHT FUTURES EXTENSION via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the News Service of Florida – Seeking to keep higher-education costs low and help more students graduate on time, Scott will outline an ambitious legislative agenda to cap student fees, eliminate sales taxes on textbook purchases and extend the Bright Futures scholarships to summer classes. “Florida students should have every opportunity to earn a degree in four years without graduating with mountains of debt,” Scott said in a statement. “While we have fought to make higher education more affordable by holding the line on undergraduate tuition, there is much more that can be done to help students.”
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Gov. Scott will highlight his proposed higher education legislative and budget proposals during a press conference at 9 a.m.at Hashrocket, 320 1st Street N. #711 in Jacksonville Beach.
WILL SECCOMBE OUT AS VISIT FLORIDA CEO, KEN LAWSON NAMED AS REPLACEMENT via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Even as board members praised Seccombe for his work in helping set state tourism records four years in a row, they voted 26-0 to fire him, a move they said will hopefully save the agency as the Florida Legislature threatens deep budget cuts. The board then, in a voice vote, approved as an immediate replacement Lawson, the former secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. While Lawson has no experience in tourism marketing, board members said he was a perfect fit because Gov. Scott already endorsed the move and that Lawson has experience in Tallahassee as a former agency head. “He knows the process,” Visit Florida chairman William Talbert III told board members.
WHY YOU READ SUNBURN: “Could Ken Lawson next be tapped to lead Visit Florida” via Peter Schorsch LAST WEEK.
SHOCKING – NATIONAL TRAVEL ASSOCIATION WARNS AGAINST CUTTING VISIT FLORIDA BUDGET via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida is making a huge mistake if it starts to slash its tourism marketing budget because of reactions to a few controversial deals, the head of the U.S. Travel Association says. Roger Dow, president and CEO of the association, told Visit Florida board members in Orlando that other states that have cut marketing budgets have paid the price and lost market share and revenues. “It takes a long time to come back,” Dow said just moments before the board of directors voted to terminate Seccombe‘s contract with hopes it will help stop state legislators from slashing Visit Florida’s funding. Dow said Pennsylvania is a prime example of a state that cut its budgets for tourism and has lost $600 million in state and local tax revenues generated by tourists. “You cut dollars, you lose share,” he said.
AUDIT UNCOVERS FLAWS IN STATE’S ACCOUNTING SYSTEM via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – An audit has found security flaws in the Department of Financial Services‘ antiquated FLAIR accounting system … (FLAIR stands for “Florida Accounting Information Resource Subsystem.”) The department is run by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater. Among those, “access privileges for some FLAIR and network users did not … restrict users to only those functions necessary for assigned job duties,” it said. Also, the department’s “procedures and processes for conducting periodic reviews of user access privileges need improvement,” and other “security controls … need improvement to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of Department data and IT resources,” the audit report said. Atwater spokeswoman Ashley Carr has previously said the department must process nearly $90 billion in payments every year, and FLAIR is no longer meeting that need.
CARLOS TRUJILLO CONTINUES PUSH FOR BELT TIGHTENING IN FIRST HOUSE BUDGET MEETING via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — The Miami Republican said that revenues coming into the state are not the problem, but rather cost drivers like health care that are quickly spiking and the Legislature approving a large amount of reoccurring spending in recent years as the economy improved. One of the biggest discussions in the formative weeks of the 2017 session – what Trujillo called a “buzzword” – is projects, or spending in the budget plan that members fight for in their home districts. Trujillo said they will get additional scrutiny from all members of the chamber. Trujillo presented the committee with two budget cutting scenarios, one that slices $1 billion in revenue, and another that would take $2.2 billion off the state budget’s top line. The larger budget cutting exercise would cut the health care area of the budget by $573 million, the largest individual cut.
CONTRACTORS MOUNT DEFENSE OF ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS AGREEMENTS via Michael Moline of Florida Politics – Home repair contractors lashed out against calls for a crackdown on assignment of benefits agreements during testimony before a key Senate committee … insisting such contracts protect homeowners and reputable remediation businesses. They argued instead for increased regulation of their industry, to put fly-by-night contractors out of business. “Would you please regulate us?” said Dave DeBlander of ProClean Restoration and Cleaning in Pensacola. “Regulate us like mold (remediation) is regulated. Get rid of those bad companies there in South Florida. Don’t ruin it for the whole state by messing with the AOB. The AOB protects the homeowner, and we can fix it just with that regulation.” The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has declared assignment of benefits reform its No. 1 priority in the Legislature this year.
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JOE NEGRON WILL RENEW PUSH TO END INSURANCE INDUSTRY’S JOBS CREDIT via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – Negron … will renew his effort to eliminate an industry sacred cow: a 15 percent tax credit on the salaries insurance companies pay to full-time employees in Florida. With Negron as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate four years ago voted to repeal the 30-year-old tax break and redirect the proceeds to lower car registration fees, which a few years earlier had risen dramatically to close a budget gap in 2009. The insurance industry, a major donor to the Republican Party, said the repeal of the 1987 tax credit would drive jobs out of state. The House flatly rejected the Senate’s idea and kept the tax credit on the books, where Negron is again targeting it for elimination. The Senate estimates that wiping out the tax credit is worth about $300 million a year in tax savings. “I think there’s a better way to deploy $300 million than to hand-pick one industry to subside their labor costs,” Negron told the Times/Herald.
FANTASY SPORTS BILL FILED AGAIN IN LEGISLATURE via Florida Politics – A bill to exempt fantasy sports play from state gambling regulation has again been filed in the Florida Legislature. State Rep. Jason Brodeur … filed (HB 149) … The bill would clarify that fantasy contests “reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants” and are not games of chance – and thus potentially illegal gambling. The legislation specifically includes games based on “athletes in the case of sports events.” It doesn’t yet have a Senate companion. It would exempt “fantasy contests” from regulation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees gambling in the state.
SENATE READIES THIS YEAR’S GAMBLING BILL via Florida Politics – “Based on conservations with Sen. (Bill) Galvano, President (Joe) Negron anticipates having a bill ready to be heard during the second committee week in January,” Katie Betta said in an email. “Based on that timetable, President Negron felt that it would be more productive to cancel the workshop scheduled for this week and instead schedule a hearing when the bill is available later this month.” Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has been hammering out a deal with state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the Miami-Dade Republican who’s the House’s point man on gambling. House Speaker Corcoran has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass … it’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”
WHAT ALLISON CARVAJAL IS READING – GREG STEUBE FILES FIREWORKS LEGALIZATION BILL via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Steube’s bill would repeal the prohibition on selling fireworks to the general public. It also would remove requirements for testing and approval of sparklers and relieve those who make and sell sparklers from having to register with the state. Although you can buy fireworks in the state, they’re not actually legal here. Retail sales are allowed only because of a 60-year-old loophole in the law, the only known one of its kind in the country. It allows “fireworks … to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.”
HAPPENING TODAY – COMMITTEE MEETINGS TO WATCH — The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will discuss several issues, including the death-penalty sentencing system, during a meeting at 9 a.m. in 404 House Office Building; while the House Health Quality Subcommittee will hear presentations about medical marijuana during its 9 a.m. meeting in Mashburn Hall. Also at 9 a.m., the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a meeting in Reed Hall. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a presentation on Lake Okeechobee discharges during its meeting at 10 a.m. in 301 Senate Office Building. The Senate Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to discuss future transportation funding trends during its 10 a.m. meeting in 110 Senate Office building. The House Careers & Competition Subcommittee will discuss economic incentive programs during a meeting at 1 p.m. in 212 Knott; while the House Government Operations & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a 1 p.m. meeting in Morris Hall. Also happening at 1 p.m.: The House Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee will get a report on red light cameras during its meeting in Reed Hall. The House will continue a jam-packed day at 3:30 p.m. with a House Health Innovation Subcommittee panel discussion about the certificate of need program in Mashburn Hall. The House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a panel discussion about “assignment of benefits” during a 3:30 p.m. meeting in 404 House Office Building; while the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee will get an overview of its base budget during a meeting at the same time in Morris Hall. The House Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee will receive an overview of the role of the federal and state government in environmental regulation during a 3:30 p.m. meeting in 12 House Office Building.
HAPPENING TODAY – FLORIDA RECYCLING DAY AT THE CAPITOL — Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Jon Steverson will hold a press conference at 9:30 a.m. on the Plaza Level of the Florida Capitol to present the “Recycling Recognition Awards” to Desoto Trail Elementary School, Northrop Grumman, and Skanska. He’ll be joined by Kim Brunson, recycling and waste Manager at Publix Super Markets and the chair of the Florida Recycling Partnership. The Florida Recycling Partnership and other non-profit organizations will have displays focused on recycling set up on the Plaza Level from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
GOVERNOR’S CLUB WEDNESDAY BUFFET MENU – Wednesday’s menu offers a Pacific Northwest flair: Washington State Salmon bisque; Washington trio apple salad; spinach pear salad; seasonal green salad; Oregon herb-rubbed tri-tip beef; California drunken chicken; potatoes & wild mushroom au gratin; lime asparagus; broccoli & cauliflower au beurre, and finishing with peach cobbler.
ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Chris Sprowls will hold a joint press conference to discuss the introduction of ridesharing legislation at 1 p.m. on the 4th Floor Capitol Rotunda in front of the Senate Chamber.
FIRST IN SUNBURN – RIDE-SHARE LEGISLATION TO FOCUS ON RIDER SAFETY, CONSUMER PROTECTIONS — Expected to be filed today, the legislation will focus on three main components: riders’ safety, minimum insurance standards and consumer protections. The legislation is expected to include language requiring transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, to conduct criminal background checks, disqualify drivers in the national sex offender registry, create zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies, and require TNCs to obtain and review driving record reports. The legislation is also expected to include language requiring a TNC to purchase primary insurance coverage and clarify responsibilities among insurers. When it comes to consumer protections, the bills are expected to include provisions requiring TNCs to provide riders with an electronic receipt that includes origin of trip, the total time of trip, the distance of trip, and the fare paid. It also will codify rules requiring TNCs to adopt nondiscrimination policies.
RICHARD CORCORAN SHOULD TELL LOBBYISTS FOR HILLSBOROUGH PTC THEY’RE NOT WELCOME via Florida Politics – If Corcoran truly believes local governments using taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists is a “disgrace,” he can do more than require those who represent public entities or tax-supported entities to disclose their contracts. He could tell these lobbyists they’re not welcome in the Florida House if they’re there on behalf of a city or county or sheriff or college or school district or airport or seaport, etc. Of course, he’s not ready to do that … But Corcoran could make an example out of one or two of the local entities who truly should not be using taxpayer dollars to lobby the Legislature. In fact, he could start with giving the hand to those who represent the embattled Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission. The commission pays $120,000 annually to Corcoran & Johnston to represent it before the Legislature. Michael Corcoran, one of the principals of the firm, is the brother of Speaker Corcoran … even though the PTC has escaped a criminal investigation into how its executive director conspired with taxi cab companies to issue tickets Uber and Lyft drivers operating outside of PTC regulations governing for-hire transportation, the commission’s days are numbered. Still, Corcoran should make an example of it.
MORNING MUST-READ – SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MANAGERS CRITICIZE GROUP’S EVERGLADES RESERVOIR REPORT via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The South Florida Water Management District is challenging an environmental group’s study that supports building an Everglades water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. Senate President Joe Negron has proposed that the state and federal governments split the $2.4 billion cost of a reservoir to divert Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal estuaries. But in a Jan. 9 letter, the district’s Alkintunde O. Owsina, bureau chief of hydrology and hydraulics, said that plan laid out by the foundation report is misleading and is based on “irresponsible science” … “Releasing a report in this form is a misrepresentation of facts,” Owsina wrote. The letter comes in advance of a hearing [today] before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and Natural Resources on harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges and Everglades restoration.
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CLEMSON GRAD KATIE EDWARDS CONGRATULATES ALMA MATER ON 2017 WIN — Rep. Edwards congratulated Clemson University for its win over the University of Alabama in the 2017 College Football National Championship in Tampa on Monday. The victory marked Clemson’s first football national championship since 1981. “Congratulations to Head Coach Dabo Swinney, the student athletes on the team, and the entire Clemson University family on last night’s rousing victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship game,” she said in a statement. “After 36 years, I couldn’t be more excited that the Tigers have reclaimed their rightful place on top of the college football world. I also want to congratulate Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the city of Tampa for putting on an incredibly successful week of celebrations that showcased Florida’s place as a leader for tourism and special events nationwide. Solid Orange!” Edwards graduated from Clemson University in 2002 with a bachelors’ in agriculture and applied economics.
WHAT JIM ROSICA IS READING – ‘YOU MIGHT AS WELL GET GOING’: LATE NEWSROOM START TIMES HAVE GONE THE WAY OF DRINK CARTS AND PRIVATE OFFICES via Lucia Moses of DIGIDAY.com – Staffers of The Boston Globe learned last week that as part of a newsroom reinvention, most of them would be expected to start work at 9 a.m. The memo from editor Brian McGrory read, in part: “We’ll be looking, soon, to get much of the room started earlier in the day, and impose rolling deadlines on enterprise stories through the day, to assure that we have a flow of fresh stories when people are most likely to read them. Still too many stories are posted on the site in the evening, because we’ve followed old-school print deadlines. That’s got to stop … Foreign as this might seem, it is very doable.” The need for the reassurance shows how, however far they’ve come, traditional newsrooms are still adapting to meet the demands of the web without neglecting a print product that in all likelihood is still the revenue driver of the organization. Born-digital media outlets never had to think about the constraints of print. “Welcome to the modern era, Boston Globe,” chortled Nicholas Carlson, editor-in-chief of Insider, Business Insider’s general-news spinoff.