Sunburn for 3/26 - A morning read of what's hot in Florida politics - SaintPetersBlog

Sunburn for 3/26 – A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***Sunburn is sponsored by Tucker/Hall – one of Florida’s leading public affairs and public relations firms.***

2016 WATCH – MARCO RUBIO TO VISIT NEW HAMPSHIRE ON MAY 9 Full blog post here

U.S. Sen. Rubio plans to make his first trip to New Hampshire in nearly two years, hinting at what could be a run for the Republican presidential nomination, reports New Hampshire ABC affiliate WMUR.

Rubio will be a featured speaker at the annual Rockingham County Republican Committee fundraising dinner scheduled for May 9 in the southern New Hampshire city of New Castle.

The speech represents an excellent speaking engagement for Rubio; Rockingham County has the highest number of Republicans than any region of the state.

The last time Rubio was last in New Hampshire was 2012 while campaigning for Ovide Lamontange’s unsuccessful bid for governor, according to WMUR.

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DAVID JOLLY APPOINTED TO HOUSE TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE AND VETERANS’ AFFAIRS COMMITTEES

U.S. Rep. David Jolly was appointed as a new member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Jolly was appointed to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The FL-13 Veterans Advisory Council will hold periodic briefing meetings with Congressman Jolly in the district to advise on issues, programs and procedures impacting veterans. Among the top issues that have been raised in discussions with members of the Advisory Council to date are providing for the necessary resources for Bay Pines VA Medical Center and at other regional facilities, addressing systemic issues of case backlogs and the veterans claims process, and tackling homelessness among veterans.

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ENDORSES DENNIS ROSS IN CD 15 Full blog post here

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced today the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross in his Florida 15th Congressional District re-election effort.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Chamber praised the two-term Republican from Lakeland for his “consistent support of free enterprise and job creation. “

“Since coming to Washington, Dennis has been a consistent champion for small businesses because he understands that individuals, not the government, create jobs,” said Chamber Political Director Rob Engstrom.

GENERIC BALLOT DEADLOCKED

A new George Washington University Battleground Poll finds the generic congressional ballot tied between Republicans and Democrats at 43% each.

Among self-identified conservative Republicans 61% say they are not pleased with the direction of the party. Self-identified moderate or liberal Republicans have a 57% disapproval rating for their party’s direction.

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TOP SCOTT DONOR BLASTS CAMPAIGN’S PARANOIA via Alexander Burns of POLITICO

The finance co-chairman of Gov. Scott’s reelection campaign accused the Republican’s campaign manager last month of “insulting” behavior and declared in a private email that her “paranoia” was undermining Scott’s effort to win a second term.

… Fernandez complained bitterly that the Scott campaign was cutting him off from a governor he had committed to support. Fernandez noted that Sellers would not allow him to take home a copy of campaign survey questions and that a memo Fernandez wrote for the governor’s approval never reached Scott’s desk.

And Fernandez shared his blunt view that the reelection operation was months behind schedule, pointing a finger at Scott chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth for alienating top Republican stakeholders from the Scott effort.

… In his second alarm-ringing email … Fernandez recalled several occasions on which Sellers “sometimes in front of others … directly told me that ‘we need to be paranoid in the political world.’”

Fernandez comprehensively panned the condition of the Scott campaign, lamenting that well into the campaign season he has not been privy to the governor’s overarching strategy.

“The campaign execution of a rollout (based on financial statements) IS two or three months behind schedule,” Fernandez wrote. “Based on the financial data I saw Monday, we are 90 percent behind plan. I can only attribute that to the lack of experience within the ‘inner circle’ that I am not a part of.”

SCOTT CONSULTANT DEFENDS THE CAMPAIGN

Curt Anderson, one of the architects of Scott’s 2014 campaign, said in a phone call that Fernandez had an “honorary title” with the governor’s campaign, and described the reelection bid as a fully functioning “battleship.”

“This is a bunch of immaterial foolishness that has nothing to do with the Rick Scott campaign,” Anderson said. “It has nothing to do with the voters of Florida … [Scott’s reelection] is going to be one of the most impressive campaigns anyone has ever seen.”

Anderson said that Scott couldn’t be “held responsible for every bizarre email” a donor sends. “Yes, we have a renegade donor making news but that’s all this is.”

Anderson specifically defended Sellers as an up-and-coming political talent: “In a [business] dominated by men, Melissa Sellers is one of the most talented operatives there is. There is not one person that the Rick Scott campaign would trade her for.”

FORMER GOP REP. ANA RIVAS LOGAN BLASTS SCOTT STAFFERS FOR ANTI-HISPANIC REMARKS Full blog post here

Former Republican State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan and Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Annette Taddeo condemned alleged anti-Hispanic remarks coming from high-level Scott campaign staffers.

In a conference call with reporters, Logan faulted Rick Scott’s campaign staff for mocking Florida Hispanics “like school children.”

“That’s unacceptable from the people trying to elect a Governor in one of the most diverse states in the nation,” Logan said. “These anti-Hispanic comments are exactly the kind of comments that made up my mind to leave the Republican Party.”

Scott’s finance co-chair, billionaire Mike Fernandez, abruptly resigned his position last week, fueling suspicions that the departure was due to racism in Scott’s campaign staff.

“What is unbelievable to me is that instead of apologizing about these remarks and moving on,” Logan added, “Rick Scott hasn’t said a word! That’s not leadership.”

FACEBOOK STATUS OF THE DAY via Steve Schale: “This is not meant gratuitously, but my PR friends should use this Scott campaign mess as a case study. This should have been a one day story, but tomorrow its Day 6. In a 24 hour news cycle, you have to deal with bad news quickly and completely from the start. Media has a short attention span. Its not the bad news that kills you, its the drip…drip. Its why you deal with things, take your lumps and move on. Basic 101.”

TWEET, TWEET: @CharlieCrist: “If I were the head of the campaign… or Rick Scott, those people would have been fired already.”

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IN NEW WEB AD, SCOTT CONTINUES TO HIGHLIGHT MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CUTS via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

In a web ad, Gov. Scott’s camp focuses on rate cuts to a program that serves roughly one-third of Medicare enrollees.

Though he’s not mentioned in the ad, Scott’s campaign has tried to tether Crist to Obamacare, and use his support for the program against him. The latest version of that has been the rate cuts to “Medicare Advantage” that are built into the federal health care reform law.

The plan offers features above regular Medicare plans, like gym memberships. Rate cuts mean, among other things, benefit cuts for enrollees and political ammunition for Republicans.

“I was with the president about a month ago…and I ask him, you need to stop these cuts to Medicare Advantage to pay for Medicare,” Scott says in the video.

NAN RICH JUST KEEPS ON LETTING CRIST MAKE HER CASE FOR HER via Nancy Smith of Sunshine State News 

No wonder Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich looked so radiant entering The Moon in Tallahassee Monday night. Charlie Crist’s Democratness — if he ever had such a thing — is imploding like a cream puff with bad egg custard.

“Did you see Charlie on Sunday?” Rich asked me. I hadn’t, but it’s all on record. Appearing Sunday on “This Week in South Florida” with Michael Putney, Crist answered a question about this year’s proposed voucher program expansion by saying, “I don’t know if we should expand it at this point in time.”

Rich was incredulous. “By ‘this point in time,’ you know he means ‘in an election year.’ He wants it both ways and hopes nobody notices.”

Crist went on to note other cuts in public school funding that have occurred, but didn’t explain how Gov. Rick Scott’s voucher expansion is any different from Crist’s own voucher expansion four years ago.

“Charlie Crist and Rick Scott,” said Rich, “both the same Republicans.”

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MORNING MUST-READ: THE NURSING HOME INDUSTRY AND TRIAL LAWYERS MAKE STRANGE BEDFELLOWS Full blog post here

While it appears to be snowing in hell, and pundits like me are scratching our heads over the newest BFFs; the trial lawyers and nursing home owners, it might be worth considering the winners and losers of this awkward Match.com marriage.

And the loser is: Well, according to the Miami Herald and the lobbyists for the nursing home industry, this bill is aimed at one lawyer, one law firm: Jim Wilkes of Tampa-based Wilkes & McHugh, P.A. (The firm has won numerous seven, eight and (yes!) nine figure verdicts against the large corporate owners.)

And the winners are: Of course David Ramba, who is the architect of the deal. But also those nursing home owners who have suffered the wrath of Wilkes’ legal and investigatory prowess stand as clear winners. And due to some coins tossed to the trial lawyers association (FJA), the lower value lawsuits will now be easier to set up and more likely to settle. In the end, it will be the big advertiser, high-volume, kinds of suits that are likely to flourish. While Wilkes may spend years working up a case, some law firms move them quickly and often for far fewer dollars.

But wait a minute…

The FJA is snubbing Wilkes in favor of the big advertisers, i.e. Morgan & Morgan? Admittedly and almost without dispute, yes.

… Who would send such a toxic bill to Rick Scott’s desk? (As if the Governor doesn’t have enough troubles already.)

The Senate sponsor of the you-will-see-this-in-a-Charlie-Crist-commercial-bill is none other than Rick Scott’s campaign chairman, Senator John Thrasher.

So in the end, the real winners may be Charlie Crist and his actual boss, Mr. For the People himself.

AFTER MARION HAMMER MET WITH GOV’S OFFICE, NATIONAL GUARD CHANGED POSITION ON STALLED GUN BILL via Matt Dixon of PoliticalFixFlorida.com

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer was unhappy, which is no small thing in the halls of the state Capitol.

The angst of one of Tallahassee’s most powerful lobbyists is the sort of force that can change laws and end political careers.

Take, for instance, Senate Bill 296.

Terrence Gorman, general counsel for the Department of Military Affairs and a staff attorney for the Florida National Guard stationed in St. Augustine, had just given testimony during a Senate committee hearing critical of a bill Hammer supports.

The negative comments led Hammer to lean back in her chair and tell Mike Prendergast, head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, that he’s on her (expletive) list, a comment Hammer confirms she made. Gorman isn’t under Prendergast’s department, so the anger was misplaced.

The testimony sent Hammer scurrying to the governor’s office and quickly led to a letter by the Florida National Guard distancing itself from its own attorney’s remarks.

BILL WOULD MOVE UP START OF 2016 SESSION via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

The 2016 legislative session would begin the second Tuesday in January under a measure (SB 72) that was scaled back by a Senate committee Tuesday.

The bill initially proposed moving up the start of the 60-day session from March in all even-numbered years. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, in a 5-3 party-line vote, approved an amendment that limited the change to 2016.

Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores, the sponsor of the bill, said the change would allow future lawmakers to decide “what is best for them.”

The Legislature is required to start the session in March in odd-numbered years and has the option to alter the start in even-numbered years.

The amendment separates the Senate bill from a House proposal (HB 9), which calls for an early start in all even-numbered years. That bill could go before the full House as early as Wednesday.

IMMIGRATION REFORM ACTIVISTS AT ODDS ON DEMOCRAT MANEUVER TO BRING BILL TO THE HOUSE FLOOR via John Lantigua of the Palm Beach Post

With immigration reform legislation blocked by the GOP leadership in the U.S. House, Democrats are trying a legislative maneuver to bring to the floor HR 15, a bill that resembles the comprehensive reform legislation passed by the Senate last June.

The maneuver is called a “discharge petition” and it is a way to go around the committee process and bring a bill directly to the floor. The GOP controls the House Judiciary Committee and that is where immigration legislation is stuck.

The problem for the minority Democrats is that they control 199 seats while Republicans hold 233 and it is doubtful they will attract enough GOP members to make it work. In fact, they may not attract any because even Republicans in favor of immigration reform won’t anger their leadership by voting for the petition.

Without much chance of success, what Democrats may be trying to accomplish is to demonstrate to their Latino supporters that it is, in fact, the Republicans who are blocking immigration reform. Republicans have said they are wary of passing immigration legislation because they don’t trust President Barack Obama to enforce parts of any law he doesn’t like. That position has angered some reform activists.

LAWMAKERS TAKE AIM AT HILLSBOROUGH TRANSPO BOARD via Mike Salinero of the Tampa Tribune

Sen. Jeff Brandes has opened up several fronts in his battle to diminish the authority Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission.

Brandes has filed amendments that would limit the power of county governments to set minimum fares for limousine services or drivers. The amendments are aimed at the Hillsborough’s Public Transportation Commission, which Brandes blames for blocking hired-car service Uber from doing business in the county.

One of the amendments has been included in an agriculture bill. The other amendment will be heard Wednesday before the Senate Transportation Committee.

Brandes also joined state Rep. James Grant in filing companion bills that would move limousine regulation from local governments to the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

NURSE PRACTITIONERS COULD GET MORE DRUG PRESCRIBING POWER

A Senate committee Tuesday narrowly approved a bill that would allow advanced-registered nurse practitioners to prescribe controlled substances — but major differences remain between the Senate and House about expanded powers for the highly trained nurses. The Senate Health Policy Committee voted 5-4 to approve the bill, sponsored by Sen. Denise Grimsley.

The House wants to give broad new authority to nurse practitioners, removing a requirement that they work under the supervision of physicians. But the Senate bill is more limited, keeping in place the physician-supervision requirement. Nurse practitioners can already prescribe many types of drugs but not controlled substances. A key part of the Senate bill would give nurse practitioners that power.

“It (the current requirement) is frustrating,” said Laurie Grissman, a nurse practitioner from Stuart. “It is a barrier to care, and it is hurting our patients.” Grimsley said such power is important in rural areas such as Glades County, which has few health-care providers.

“I want to tell you where the need is, and it is right in my backyard,” said Grimsley, who lives in nearby Highlands County. But Sen. Eleanor Sobel raised concerns about nurse practitioners prescribing controlled substances and working without physician supervision. “If you want to be a nurse practitioner with an independent practice, you need to go to medical school,” said Sobel, whose husband is a dermatologist.

The nurse practitioner issue has touched off widespread lobbying during this year’s session. Nursing organizations, the managed-care industry, hospitals and major business groups want nurse practitioners to received expanded powers, while physician groups such as the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association are fighting the proposals.

>>>STATEMENT FROM SAFETY NET HOSPITAL ALLIANCE OF FLORIDA REGARDING HOUSE AND SENATE ACTION TO GRANDFATHER IN HCA TRAUMA CENTERS

“The Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida is disappointed in both the House and Senate committees’ votes this week that effectively continue the push to approve the disputed HCA trauma centers, including the now shut down Orange Park Trauma Center, which were approved under an invalid Department of Health rule.

“Despite the complexity of the bills, both HB 7113 and SB 1276 were the last bills to be heard in both committee meetings, limiting patient and expert testimony, and the thorough debate these bills rightly deserved. “

“If these bills are passed, the Legislature’s decision will be the equivalent of giving someone their driver’s license back, despite a court decision to revoke that individual’s driving privileges due to violations.”

SPEAKER WEATHERFORD’S “MASSIVE EXPANSION” OF SCHOOL CHOICE FACES DOUBLE-TROUBLE via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

The Florida Senate dealt Speaker Will Weatherford another setback, dramatically scaling-back legislation aimed at fostering the growth of more charter schools in the state.

The action by the Senate Education Committee came only days after senators withdrew plans to consider a bill eventually doubling the 60,000 students now receiving taxpayer-funded private school vouchers in Florida.

Weatherford promised a “massive expansion” of school choice by lawmakers this spring. But with lawmakers nearing the midpoint of the two-month session, the choice push has gotten beat back – at the hands of fellow Republicans in the Senate.

“This is a plan that is just not yet ready for prime time,” said Education Committee Chairman John Legg who said that he is a “charter fan.”

The legislation backed by charter advocates would have required school districts statewide to use a standard contract that would apply to all charter school governing boards. Districts also would be required to make available under-used buildings and classrooms for lease to charter operators.

WEDNESDAY LEGISLATIVE AGENDA INCLUDES FLOOD INSURANCE, WARNING SHOTS, BUDGETS AND RED LIGHT CAMERAS Full blog post here

Both chambers of the legislature have morning sessions on Wednesday; the Senate will vote on the private flood insurance marketplace proposed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, a controversial bill limiting lawsuits in the cases of nursing home abuses and decriminalizing the firing of a “warning shot” in the state’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.

Senate committees will also consider moving the responsibility for choosing textbooks from the state to local school boards, as well as the repeal of Florida’s Red Light Camera laws.

On the House side, budgets are on the agenda, in addition to hammering out details on various sales-tax holidays, as part of a package of tax reductions. Another committee will work on a measure to the U.S. congress urging them to abolish all taxes on income and enact a national retail sales tax.

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DAVID BECKHAM PRESSES THE FLESH, TALLAHASSEE STYLE via the Orlando Sentinel

The world’s most famous soccer celebrity descended on Florida’s quaint political seat of power Tuesday to impress upon policymakers that the Sunshine State is ready for big-league soccer.

David Beckham, the recently retired former Manchester United and LA Galaxy star, visited with Gov. Rick Scott, and House and Senate leaders to make the case for tax subsidies for the Major League Soccer stadium his investment group hopes to build in bay-front Miami.

Lawmakers this session are debating an incentive package which could open the door for planned MLS franchises in both Orlando and Miami to qualify for $2 million annually to help build their stadiums.

Although he was briefly mobbed by legislative assistants in the Capitol parking garage, Beckham’s trip to the Capitol was otherwise kept tightly controlled. He met with Speaker Weatherford, incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican pushing for subsidies for the Orlando MLS team, and other lawmakers who rushed to pose for pictures with him.

But Beckham said he received no promises. He also plans to be back to Tallahassee later in the session, when the bill will likely be decided in the final days.

THE BECKHAM SELFIE TWEETS h/t to George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post

Great meeting with David Beckham today. #selfiepic.twitter.com/c4oBJeFki3 — @FLGovScott

It was great to see David Beckham in the Capitol today during a surprise drop in. #justanotherdayintheoffice pic.twitter.com/ZSDhbSe6oC — @willweatherford

Just bumped into David Beckham in the Governor’s office. That was unexpected. — @DaneEagle

It was great to spend some time with David Beckham at the Capitol today!pic.twitter.com/gduZFXaqxk — @RepDougHolder

In November, I will vote for every Florida politician that doesn’t have a selfie with David Beckham. Both of them. — @BillyCorben

BREAKING: I did not see David Beckham at the Capitol. — @gnewburn

EARLY NOMINATION FOR WINNER OF THE WEEK IN FLORIDA POLITICS: Brian Ballard, for pulling off the lobbying coup of the 2014 session by bringing global star Beckham to South Georgia.

SPEAKING OF SOCCER …. SEN. LATVALA GIVES ST. PETE SOCCER BOOSTERS A KICK IN THE GRASS Full blog post here

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AG COMMISSIONER PUTNAM TO RALLY STUDENTS AT THE CAPITOL via James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune

Putnam will address a rally for higher education on Wednesday, according to a media advisory sent by his office.

At the rally, sponsored by the Florida Student Association, Putnam will again call for the tax rate on businesses’ electricity bills to be cut in half.

He wants the remaining tax money to go toward K-12, college and university construction projects instead of into the general revenue pot.

The tax cut would save Florida businesses a total of about $225 million per year, Putnam says.

The tax cut has to be approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor. A Senate bill has received a unanimous vote already, but the House version has not had a hearing.

The rally is at 1 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Capitol.

APPOINTED: J. Layne Smith, Paul Zacks, and Priscilla Jackson to the Florida State Retirement Commission.

FLORIDA CONSUMER CONFIDENCE RETURNS TO POST-RECESSION HIGH via John Dunn of the University of Florida

Consumer confidence among Floridians rose three points this month to 81, tying a post-recession high last reached in May and June of last year, according to a new University of Florida  survey.

Consumers’ overall opinion that their personal resources are better now than a year ago rose 10 points to 73, the highest level since August 2007, shortly after the Great Recession began. Expectations of being better off financially a year from now also increased, rising six points to 82. Confidence in the nation’s economy for the coming year increased five points to 84, while trust in its performance over the next five years remained unchanged at 79.

Only one of the five survey components declined. Respondents’ verdict on whether now is a good time to buy major household items fell four points to 86.

There are other signs of an improving Florida economy. Florida’s 6.1 percent unemployment rate in January dropped two-tenths a percent from December, which was four-tenths a percent lower than the national 6.4 percent rate. Meanwhile, both Florida’s labor force and the number of employed grew during the same period.

FLORIDA TAXWATCH: REVISITING SCHOOL CLASS-SIZE LAWS COULD SAVE STATE $10 BILLION Full blog post here

Government watchdog group Florida TaxWatch issued a new report saying that revisiting the class-size reduction law for grades four through 12 could save taxpayers billions of dollars.

The report — Taking A Fresh Look At Florida’s Class Size Limits — was sponsored by the non-profit, non-partisan research institute. It concludes that investing in other educational practices could produce higher student achievement, rather than reducing class size.

The move away from class-size reductions could save Floridians as much as $10 billion over 10 years.

They also argue that savings from the changes be reinvested directly into the classroom to raise student achievement, teacher development and classroom resources. Since the 2002 Constitutional Amendment to reduce class sizes, Florida taxpayers spent $27 billion to comply with the law, including capital facilities and operating costs.

Citing studies that show no benefit for smaller class sizes in pre-kindergarten through grade 3, TaxWatch notes that reducing class size for students in grades 4-12 does not increase student achievement. Smaller class sizes do not influence teaching methods, and teacher inexperience often works against the benefits of smaller classes.

HISPANIC STUDENTS IN FLORIDA LEAD NATION IN ACHIEVEMENT, BUT FEW KNOW IT Full blog post here

In 1998, Florida’s Hispanic students scored 25 points below the average for white students. Statistically speaking, back then, Hispanic students in Florida fell through the proverbial cracks. That’s when Florida embraced higher standards and increased accountability.  These comprehensive reforms have since dispelled some of the greatest education myths of all time — in this case, the myth that you can’t close an achievement gap simply by (gasp!) expecting that students could.

Over the past 15 years, Hispanic students in Florida have achieved the once unthinkable. Florida eliminated the gap between Hispanic and white students taking and successfully completing AP courses and exams. In fact, in 2013, Hispanic student performance on AP exams exceeded those of their peers. While Hispanic students made up 25 percent of the 2013 graduating class, they accounted for nearly 28 percent of AP exam takers and 31 percent of those who earned a score of 3 or higher.

The increase in the percent of Hispanic students graduating from high school within four years has exceeded that of students as a whole. In 4th grade math, Hispanic students’ average score was among the highest in the nation, and no other states had significantly higher average reading scale scores than Florida’s Hispanic 8th grade students.

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JUDITHANNE MCLAUCHLAN TAKES A SLAP AT TALLAHASSEE IN HER FIRST WEB AD via Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing Tampa

Saying “Tallahassee’s got it all wrong,” and “Jeff Brandes is part of the problem,” SD 22 Democratic candidate Judithanne McLauchlan released a web video on Tuesday that got a bit biographical before getting in a slam at her GOP opponent.

The race is certainly the most appealing from the perspective that it presents two solid candidates in a relatively swing-district, as SD 22 encompasses parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough County, and the seat was held by a Democrat (Charlie Justice) from 2006-2010, before Republicans have won the past two elections (In the case of 2012, Democrats didn’t even field a candidate despite the relatively competitive landscape).

Currently Brandes is working on the people’s business in Tallahassee, but he has promised to respond when “the time is right” as he told CL back in January. With his considerable financial resources, no doubt everybody will know it when he goes on air, or have you forgotten his ads about going to take “Tallahassee to the woodshed,” which some thought ironic, as the state capitol has been controlled by Republicans for a decade and a half now.

SEAN SHAW TO HOLD FUNDRAISER IN TALLAHASSEE WEDNESDAY

Attorney Sean Shaw hosts a fundraising reception on Wednesday to support his bid for the State House. The event begins 5:30 p.m. at 210 S. Monroe St. in Tallahassee.

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BACKED BY ORLANDO LAWMAKER, BAIL BOND COMPANY LOBBIES FOR TAX CUT via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

With the help of an Orlando lawmaker, a local bail bonds company is lobbying the Florida Legislature for a new tax break.

The company, Accredited Surety and Casualty Company Inc. of Orlando, wants lawmakers to slash the effective tax rate it and other bail underwriters pay in Florida insurance-premium taxes from more than 20 percent to less than 2 percent.

Accredited and other boosters say the move would make it easier for it and other Florida-based bail underwriters to grow and compete around the country. They also say it would make Florida more attractive to out-of-state insurers thinking about moving their headquarters.

The change would cost Florida taxpayers approximately $700,000 a year, according to state economists.

The House version of the tax cut (HB 939), scheduled for a hearing in the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee, is sponsored by Orlando Democratic Rep. Linda Stewart, a former Orange County commissioner. Stewart said the bill was brought to her by Accredited Surety President Deborah Jallad, whose family has long been active in Orange County politics.

It is the rare Democrat-backed bill advancing through the House, where Republicans hold a large majority. For instance, it is the only bill sponsored by a Democratic lawmaker to get a hearing so far this session by the House Finance & Tax Subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Ritch Workman. It’s also the only one of the six bills Stewart is sponsoring this year that has received a single hearing.

ELECTION LAW JOURNAL TACKLES LOBBYINGvia POLITICO Influence

The Election Law Journal – a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal that covers election law, policy and administration – has a special lobbying and campaign finance issue out. All content is available for free for a short period of time. Papers include “The Forgotten Law of Lobbying,” “A Public Finance Model for Lobbying: Lobbying, Campaign Finance, and the Privatization of Democracy,” “Can Tax Deductions for Lobbying Expenses Promote Transparency?” and others. Papers are available here, free for the next two weeks.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

SMITH, BRYAN & MYERS LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS

Smith, Bryan & Myers (SBM) announced it has launched a new website and expanded its social media presence across the digital universe.

 “We are excited to debut our new website and increase our social media presence that will further demonstrate our diverse team’s ability to deliver effective government relations consulting for our clients across all platforms both traditional and new,” said Matt Bryan, president of SBM since 1994. “At SBM, we are proud of our client successes and look forward to sharing those successes across the digital universe and establishing new access points for our current and prospective audiences.”

To connect with SBM via its new website and social media platforms,visit: website – SmithBryanandMyers.com | SBMFlorida.com; Facebook – FB.com/SBMFlorida; Twitter – @SBMFlorida;  LinkedIn Company page – Smith Bryan & Myers.

P.S. A tip of the hat to Bascom Communications & Consulting, particularly Kristen Bridges, for her work on the SBM project. And to think, Team Bascom just got done with the David Jolly campaign, then pivoted to work like this!

CONTEXT FLORIDA: TUITION FOR DREAMERS, WILSON & OBAMA, PAC ATTACKS AND THE VALUE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

On Context Florida: DREAMers, the children of undocumented immigrants, should be entitled to in-state tuition, says Daniel Tilson. Woodrow Wilson faced the same type of opposition in creating the League of Nations that Barack Obama is enduring today, writes Martin Dyckman. Floridians should prepare for the fall elections preceded by a flood of PAC-paid attack ads, warns former State Sen. John Grant. By law, these committees cannot campaign directly for or against a candidate, but they are free to disseminate information, which means they are free to “trash” opponents. According to Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, there are four kinds of value in higher education, says Ed Moore: raising the probability that you’ll have a comfortable and secure lifestyle; institutional accountability; the economic value of universities’ research; and assessing the cost of getting a college education.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Florida League of Cities’ C. Scott Dudley.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.
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