Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — August 14

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch (Peter@FloridaPolitics.com; @SaintPetersBlog) with Phil Ammann (Phil@FloridaPolitics.com; @PhilAmmann) and Ryan Ray (Ryan@FloridaPolitics.com; @RyanRay_Fla).

Fifteen years after losing the third closest presidential race in American history, Al Gore announced that he will help host the “Climate Reality Leadership Corps” training in September in Miami, just as supporters of Al Gore are talking about whether there is “a path financially and politically” for the former Vice President to run for President in 2016.

That’s the kind of day it was in Florida politics. A day that saw U.S. Rep Corrine Brown argue against changing the boundaries of her district because — her words — her very existence kept a lid on outbursts of violence in Sanford after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013A day that saw former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and Jeb Bush spar over the origin of a box of cigars. A day that saw several candidates for the United States Senate appear at a Palm Beach event billed as “Lobsterfest.”

That’s the kind of day it was. What does today hold in store? Certainly more mapmaking and redistricting. But it’s also a big day for Adams Streeters as the final second quarter lobbying compensation figures roll in and one of the state’s major political players rolls out several new hires.

FIRST IN SUNBURN — FLORIDA CHAMBER TAPS ANDREW WIGGINS FOR TOP POLITICAL ROLE, NAMES OTHER KEY STAFFERS Full story here

Andrew Wiggins has taken a new role as Senior Director of Campaigns and Elections for the Florida Chamber of Commerce … previously Deputy Director of Senate Campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida, Wiggins is joined by Andy GonzalezCarolyn Gosselin, and Drew Preston.

They are part of a renewed effort by the Chamber to boost voter education and employer mobilization efforts.

Wiggins’ departure from No. 2 at the RPOF is more than a high-profile staff change … followed that of Ashley Ross, the committee’s former finance director. Shuffling seats at the GOP comes at a pivotal moment for Florida Senate Republicans … whoever takes Wiggins’ place on the Senate Republican campaign committee will have his or her work cut out for them, particularly since recent RPOF fundraising numbers have been somewhat lackluster.

Wiggins and Gonzalez will join Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Strategy, to guide the Chamber’s efforts to elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates … Gosselin will become Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer … Preston, previously with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, will play a role in strategic employer engagement and mobilization.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said CEO Mark Wilson. “Adding the expertise of these four professionals to the Florida Chamber team will further strengthen our focus on making Florida more competitive …”

— INSIDE THE LINES —

HOUSE PANEL OKAYS CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT MAPS WITHOUT MOVING ANY LINES via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

Members of the Florida House’s redistricting panel on Thursday approved a new congressional district map without making any changes.

The 9-4 vote came after three hours of testimony and consideration of alternatives to change how lines are drawn around Leon and Palm Beach counties. As committee members explained their votes, they reiterated the same themes that have taken center stage among Republicans and Democrats during this special session.

Republican members cited reluctance to support this map — the third version of congressional lines drawn since the 2010 census — but expressed a feeling that their hands had been tied by the Supreme Court.

“I believe at my core that the Florida Supreme Court has grossly overstepped its boundaries and has violated the Florida Constitution,” House Republican Leader Dana Young said before voting for the map. “The Florida Supreme Court is forcing us, the Legislature, to decide between potentially violating them, the Florida Constitution, or potentially violatign the U.S. Constitutiton.”

Democrats, meanwhile, said the maps thrown out by justices were unconstitutional and drawn with partisan intent. Still, many of them voted against new maps drawn by House staff for a variety of reasons: because they remain partisan or don’t account for communities of minority voters to be well represented or didn’t involve public forums across the state.

JOSE OLIVA CONCEDES: BASE MAP MAY BE FINAL MAP via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times

While legislators may not like the map their staff has drafted, they’re likely to be stuck with it because the Florida Supreme Court gets “the final word.” … that was the conclusion of House Reapportionment Committee Chairman Jose Oliva … after the House passed its base map with no changes on a 9-4 vote … Florida Supreme Court “overreached,” when it imposed guidelines on how lawmakers should reconfigure eight of the 27 congressional districts it determined were flawed.

Oliva said that shifting that burden had gone too far, and violated the separation of powers doctrine, since many legislators in office today were not in office when the maps were passed … acknowledged that while lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are unhappy with the court’s ruling, they cannot defy it. He ruled a proposal by Rep. Mike Hill … out of order. Hill proposed rejecting the court ruling and adopting the current map that was ruled unconstitutional by the court.

CORRINE BROWN CITES TRAYVON MARTIN TO MAKE CASE FOR DISTRICT via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel

Protests in recent years over racial discrimination in policing turned violent in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, but not in Sanford. U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown says that’s because a member of their community – her – was “at the table,” and they felt they were being heard.

“We did not have Ferguson and we did not have Baltimore because they had a member in the room,” Brown said.

There were no outbursts of violence in Sanford after George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013. But violence has erupted sporadically in Ferguson, which lies just outside of St. Louis, and in Baltimore over unarmed black men were killed by police officers.

Both Ferguson and Baltimore, however, are represented by African-Americans, U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, Jr., and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

DAVE KERNER’S BID TO LEAVE LOIS FRANKEL AND TED DEUTCH’S DISTRICTS ALONE FALLS SHORT via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

A push to keep unchanged the districts now held by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch was rejected Thursday by the state House redistricting panel.

Rep. Dave Kerner who proposed the move, acknowledged it was a longshot in a Republican-led Legislature that appears intent on complying with last month’s state Supreme Court ruling, which called for changes to Districts 21, 22 and six other seats.

“But today was not the final day,” Kerner said, adding that he may still have a chance to revive the proposal next week on the House floor.

Also testifying in support of Kerner’s map was Palm Beach County Commissioner Steve Abrams, Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan and Palm Beach County Economic Council president Daniel Martell. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein and Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio planned to attend Thursday’s legislative hearings, but had travel delays.

House redistricting chair Jose Oliva, R-Miami, said he supported what Kerner was looking to do. But he cautioned that the state Supreme Court was intent on reconfiguring the Deutch and Frankel districts, along with others singled out as being drawn to help Florida Republicans retain power.

“Unfortunately, the court in its finding, said these districts needed to be redrawn,” Oliva said. “And the only reason is to make them more compact.”

TWO HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RESIDENTS COULD BE ELECTED TO CONGRESS UNDER NEW TOM LEE PLAN via Jeremy Wallace of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Lee said the county has been well represented over the years, but said there are enough people in eastern Hillsborough County that have like interests that they deserve to be in the same Congressional district represented by someone from the county. As it is now, Hillsborough County is split into four congressional districts, yet only one member is from Hillsborough: Rep. Kathy Castor. Other parts of Hillsborough have congressmen living in Polk County, Pinellas and even Okeechobee.

Under the plan he proposed this morning, the 15th Congressional District, now represented by Rep. Dennis Ross would become an almost completely Hillsborough County district that would cover Plant City, Brandon, Riverview and Sun City Center. It would also include a portion of Polk County.

Lee’s plan would push Rep. Tom Rooney out of Hillsborough County. Rooney’s 17th District includes Sun City Center and other southern sections of the county.

Lee’s plan would also reassemble Sarasota County into one congressional district, as State Sen. Nancy Detert proposed earlier. Sarasota is already wholly in the 16th Congressional District, covered by Rep. Vern Buchanan. But the Legislature’s first base redistricting map recommended splitting the county into two different districts. Detert objected saying it would water down the county’s voice in Washington.

DANIEL RUTH COLUMN: LEGISLATORS FORCED TO BEHAVE, CRYING ABOUT IT via the Tampa Bay Times

Ruth dishes up a column on the latest special session in Tallahassee … a dive into what Ruth describes as addled delusions, crybabies, and Lord Voldemort meeting Lance Armstrong. Here’s his take:

Here’s a simple question to ponder. Suppose you found yourself sitting next to a member of the Florida Legislature in a saloon. Would you feel comfortable leaving your bar change unattended within arm’s reach of one of our elected officials if nature suddenly called?

Scary thought, isn’t it?

And that explains why the House and Senate have been ordered by the state Supreme Court to conduct yet another special session, this time to redraw Florida’s hinky congressional districts simply because a conniving, duplicitous, scheming Legislature was deemed to be more untrustworthy than Lord Voldemort meets Lance Armstrong.

HOW REDISTRICTING SPECIAL SESSION COULD END IF THE FLORIDA HOUSE AND SENATE PASS DIFFERENT MAPS via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times

Could the special session on redistricting end in a House-Senate blowup like the regular session in April? Senate Democrats … raised the possibility that House leadership will pass the base congressional map drawn by legislative staff and then end the session three days early in an homage to their unanticipated early adjournment that ended the regular session. But House leaders say don’t hold your breath.

“I don’t think that would happen but that is a question of the presiding officers,” said Rep. Jose Oliva … . “As we saw in this last session, it’s always option.”

House Republican Leader Dana Young was even clearer in saying an early end to session isn’t in the cards.

“I don’t think there’s any concern about that happening … The plan that we have with the Senate was that the House would meet Monday-Tuesday, would pass whatever it is that we pass and then we would send it to the Senate for them to consider on Wednesday-Thursday, knowing that we may need to come back Friday.”

Still, even without an early end to session, it’s looking increasingly likely that disagreement between the House and Senate could flare again over congressional maps …

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— POLICY NOTES —

‘IN BRIEF,’ FOR 58 PAGES, HERE’S A CLOSE-UP LOOK AT FLORIDA’S BUDGET via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Everything you want to know about Florida’s new state budget is in an annual report, the Fiscal Analysis in Brief, published by the Legislature. “In brief,” it runs for 58 pages.

The report shows the budget’s bottom line, after subtracting … Scott’s line-item vetoes, is $78,396.5 billion. A few factoids: More than 70 percent of the entire budget is spent on education and health care. Medicaid costs alone are about 33 percent of the budget. The largest budget in state history was in fiscal 2005-06, when Jeb Bush was governor.

The report lists all one-time or nonrecurring appropriations, from $150,000 for Westcare Gulf Coast in St. Petersburg, a substance abuse and mental health provider, to $200,000 for hot meals for the elderly in Hialeah Gardens.

FLORIDA SUED FOR REFUSING TO ACKNOWLEDGE SAME-SEX COUPLES AS PARENTS ON BIRTH CERTIFICATES via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Although same-sex marriage has been the law of the land since the first week of 2015, a new lawsuit claims that the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics is still refusing to allow hospitals to list both same-sex parents on their baby’s birth certificate.

Three married same-sex couples, including one based in St. Petersburg, and … Equality Florida have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s refusal to issue them accurate birth certificates listing both spouses as parents of their children.

The lawsuit asks the court to order the Department of Health and the Bureau of Vital Statistics to stop violating the law by refusing to issue birth certificates that list both parents when a child is born to a married same-sex couples, just as the State of Florida does for children born to married different-sex spouses.

The three couples filing the suit are Debbie and Kari Chin of St. Petersburg, Yadira Arenas and Alma Vezquez of Winter Haven and Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello of Hollywood, who have the distinction of being first same-sex couple to be married in Florida. They wed in January.

JEFF BRANDES SAYS HE’S HAD ENOUGH, AND WILL PROPOSE LEGISLATION TO KILL THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY PTC via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Jeff Brandes says he’s mad as hell, and doesn’t want to take it anymore … will propose legislation next year that will attempt to eliminate the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. His statement comes a day after the controversial agency announced … they would continue to write tickets citing Uber and Lyft drivers in Hillsborough County.

“This is a perfect example of government run amok … Enough is enough. I’m drafting sweeping legislation to reform the PTC. It’s time our leaders stood up on behalf of our residents, tourists, and businesses to make sure Tampa Bay has the most robust network of transportation options available.”

This won’t be the first time that Brandes has attempted to kill the PTC, which regulates taxis, limos and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft … trying to get legislation through the Legislature in 2014, to no success.

GREG STEUBE FILES LOW-THC CANNABIS BILL via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics

Sarasota state Rep. Greg Steube filed a bill Thursday that would expand the state’s low-THC medical cannabis regime.

The bill — HB 63 — contains several provisions that would substantially lower some barriers to entry for would-be medical cannabis growers and manufacturers, most notably a lack of limits on the number of manufacturers.

Under current law, only five vertically integrated licensees will legally be allowed to manufacture noneuphoric low-THC marijuana derivatives like Charlotte’s Web. They must have the capacity to grow some 40,000 plants and have an integrated supply chain from cultivation to distribution.

Steube’s bill would nix those requirements, as well as lower a bonding requirement from $5 million down to $2 million, which was a stumbling block for some medical pot hopefuls that expressed interest but did not submit applications.

Sources familiar with the state’s medical pot regime say the bill was crafted to meet the approval of state Rep. Cary Pigman, who chairs the House Health Quality subcommittee to which the bill will likely be referred.

FLORIDA WILDLIFE OFFICIALS: TIME TO RETHINK PANTHER PROTECTIONS via the Associated Press

Florida wildlife officials say the growth of Florida’s panther population in the past two decades should be enough for its designation as endangered to be reconsidered.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said … federal officials should rethink the criteria they’ve set for Florida officials about what it will take to get the panther off the federal Endangered Species list … some of those goals are impossible to reach, such as adding populations of panthers outside southwest Florida.

Florida’s panther population has been growing during the past 20 years and stands at around 180 adults … was listed as endangered in 1967 when the population was as low as 30 animals.

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— TRAIL MIX —

ARE THE POLLS SKEWED? via Steve Shepard of POLITICO 

Donald Trump is on top in Iowa, Ben Carson is on his heels, and Bernie Sanders has flown past Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. That’s the snapshot polls captured this week. It’s a far cry from the Bush-Clinton horse race that many had predicted going into the 2016 campaign season – and it belies conventional wisdom that predicted Trump’s demise after he attacked Fox News host Megyn Kellyafter last week’s GOP presidential debate.

The numbers have skeptics asking: Are these numbers the real deal?

Some Republicans have insisted for months that Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls vastly overstates his standing in the race because the polls are surveying people who – despite what they tell pollsters – won’t actually cast ballots in their state’s primary or caucus … argument reached a new crescendo … after a CNN/ORC poll showed the real estate magnate with a significant lead in Iowa, trailed by neurosurgeon Carson.

What nearly everyone can agree on is that Trump’s dominance in the polls is impressive … led the last 26 independent polls of national Republicans … Yet focusing on the polls released over the past five days – essentially just a few scattered data points – is where things get dicey … no national poll conducted by live interviewers has been released since the debate. Instead, most of the polling action was in the small states that vote first, Iowa and New Hampshire, where polling can be more volatile.

Campaign pollsters (say) … pollsters should either only call voters with past evidence of participating in primaries or caucuses — or they should tighten their questions to screen out more voters who tell pollsters they will vote but probably won’t.

JEB BUSH ON IRAQ: ‘MISSION WAS ACCOMPLISHED’ IN 2009 ON SECURITY via Sean Sullivan of the Washington Post

Jeb Bush vigorously defended some of the defining foreign policies and national security strategies implemented by his brother George W. Bush as president … casting in a positive light elements of the Iraq War, a conflict that haunted much of his tenure.

He notably used wording similar to the “Mission Accomplished” banner that hung behind the 43rd president as he gave a speech on an aircraft carrier in 2003. The speech was one of the biggest embarrassments of his administration, since the war went on for years after that.

“I’ve been critical and I think people have every right to be critical of decisions that were made … In 2009, Iraq was fragile but secure. It was mission was accomplished in the way that there was security there and it was because of the heroic efforts of the men and women in the United States military that it was so.”

Bush went further than just lauding the policy merits of the Iraq troop surge … commended his brother for not caving to the intense political opposition he faced at the time. “He had the courage to do something that is completely against the political grain …”

JESSE VENTURA ACCUSES JEB OF CUBAN CIGAR COVER-UP via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura … was “astounded” that Bush‘s campaign would deny a decades-old gift of Cuban cigars. The controversy centers on a box of Romeo y Julieta cigars Bush gave Ventura after a meeting of governors at the White House, where Ventura complained to then-president Bill Clinton about the “ridiculous” Cuban embargo and how it should be lifted.

Ventura … said the gift was ironic, since Bush supported the embargo. Bush’s presidential campaign denied the claim, saying the cigars weren’t from Cuba.

“The cigars were Dominican,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campell told POLITICO, echoing comments the campaign made to McClatchy, which first reported the story. Ventura told POLITICO that Bush’s campaign isn’t being honest.

“What happened to the truth? … They’re trying to say that he sent me a box of Dominicans? I’m astounded by that. Why would they send me a box of Dominican cigars when I could go buy them in any cigar shop?”

BUSH N.J. FUNDRAISER ATTRACTS CHRIS CHRISTIE SUPPORTERS via The Auditor/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

It’s a tricky business backing the home-state candidate when he’s one of 17 declared Republican presidential hopefuls. Just ask a few members of Gov. Chris Christie‘s presidential leadership team who were recently spotted at … Bush‘s New Jersey fundraiser.

Passaic County Republican Chairman John Traier and Monmouth County Republican Chairman Shaun Golden were among the folks who attended the one of Bush’s two fundraisers on Christie’s turf … Both local GOP leaders are part of Christie’s 200-member leadership team.

Traier told The Auditor he didn’t donate to Bush’s campaign and still supports Christie. Instead, he went to the event as someone’s guest, he said.

WHY WAS BUSH THE ONLY REPUBLICAN TO RECEIVE MONEY FROM A FIREFIGHTERS’ UNION? via Eric Garcia of the National Journal

While a major union for firefighters has donated largely to Democratic presidential candidates … one other candidate who they are open to looking at: Bush … a large chunk of the International Association of Fire Fighters’ political giving went to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supportive of Hillary Clinton, clocking in at $50,000, while also giving $5,000 to Hillary for America … gave $5,000 to Born Fighting PAC, which is supportive of former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and $5,000 to Webb’s exploratory committee. IAFF president Harold Schaitberger also said the union gave to Sen. Bernie Sanders‘s Senate campaign and his leadership PAC as well as to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. In 2014, IAFF FIREPAC gave the O’Malley-affiliated O’Say Can You See PAC $5,000.

IAFF had donated to Bush, and an FEC midyear report shows that IAFF FIREPAC had made a $5,000 contribution to Bush’s Right to Rise PAC.

TWEET, TWEET: @JebBushJr: Did some advance work for dad’s trip to Iowa – opened the Des Moines HQ & served some sweet corn! WATCH here

MARCO RUBIO WANTS PAPER TRAIL ON TRAFFICKING REPORT THAT UPGRADED CUBA’S STATUS via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

Marco Rubio … wants Secretary of State John Kerry to turn over the drafts of the report, the names of who in his department signed off and a copy of Cuba’s plan to combat trafficking — all because Rubio thinks the report was “politicized.”

“The decision to upgrade Cuba without substantial evidence of improvement is the worst form of politicization of an important anti-trafficking tool,” Rubio wrote Kerry … “Cuba is a human slave state.”

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Bush is speaking at the Iowa State Fair at 9:30 a.m. CST, while Rubio is speaking in New York.

RUBIO TO ADDRESS DETROIT ECONOMIC CLUB NEXT WEEK via the Associated Press

Rubio will address the Detroit Economic Club next week … It’s the Florida senator’s first visit to Michigan since he announced his candidacy. Rubio will speak Aug. 20 at the economic club’s luncheon in a hotel in downtown Detroit.

PATRICK MURPHY TAKES ON ALAN GRAYSON ON THE ISSUE OF HIS HEDGE FUNDS Full story here

Murphy is taking off the gloves in what is already an intense campaign between himself and Alan Grayson for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, which won’t take place for another year … Murphy issued a statement, challenging his Senate opponent on the issue of the hedge funds that he controls.

In his statement, Murphy lists four questions for the public to digest, with his own commentary attached … Did Grayson finally disclose his position as hedge fund manager of the Grayson Fund, LP as required by congressional ethics rules? … What are the underlying assets of the Grayson Fund, LP? … How much money will Grayson report having earned from the more than $5 million in the Grayson Fund, LP? … Will he ensure the public can actually read his financial disclosure, or will he once again fill out the financial disclosure forms in almost unreadable handwriting?

Grayson has not been shy on attacking Murphy … he slammed the Jupiter representative after a congressional tracking website claimed the Murphy was one of the least effective members of Congress.

ALAN GRAYSON’S FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE: IT’S IN THE MAIL via Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Grayson‘s financial disclosure for this year is in the mail … Or so he promised.

… The Orlando Democrat … would meet the deadline for disclosing all of his financial interests, but it likely will be several days before anyone can read about it. Grayson’s personal finances, as detailed in previous years’ required disclosure filings, have been the subject of  sharp criticism by his opponent … Patrick Murphy … and charges brought formal ethics complaints filed by supporters of Murphy.

Grayson has maintained that there was nothing incorrect, improperly reported or improperly omitted from previous filings … as he did last year, he delayed filing this year’s forms. They were due May 15, and he sought and received a 90-day extension, which expires Thursday.

“I’m mailing it today … My duty is to have it postmarked today. It will be postmarked today.”

MURPHY TO SPEAK BEFORE NASSAU COUNTY DEMOCRATS

Murphy will be the keynote speaker at the Nassau County Democratic Party “Low Country Boil.” The U.S. Senate candidate joins Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant, U.S. Senate candidate Pam Keith and Jacksonville state Sen. Audrey Gibson. Event begins 6:30 p.m.at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club, 2800 Bill Melton Road in Fernandina Beach.

DAVID JOLLY REITERATES OPPOSITION TO CLOSING DOWN GITMO via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

Jolly came out against the Obama administration’s latest attempt to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and transfer detainees to U.S. mainland prisons.

“The closing of Gitmo would only embolden the enemies of freedom who wish to do us harm … At a time when terrorism continues to spread throughout the world, we must remain resolved to defeat it.”

Jolly introduced legislation this year that would prohibit any attempt by the president to relinquish custody of U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to Cuba without congressional approval … the House approved Jolly’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill prohibiting any federal money from being used to relinquish the base.

BRIAN MAST GOES NATIONAL EVEN AS NEW GOP CHALLENGER EMERGES IN CD 18 via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News

Republican congressional hopeful Brian Mast is going national even as another candidate entered the crowded primary field to replace U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy … Mast, a combat veteran who was wounded during his service in Afghanistan, took to Glenn Beck’s radio show this week to weigh in on President Barack Obama’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program and the need to reform veterans’ health care.

“The Iran deal is an absolutely horrible deal … If this deal goes through, then absolutely President Obama is going to have blood on his hands for funding the largest state’s sponsor of terrorism. I was a bomb technician, as I told you … The VA is basically a perfect model for what government-run health care looks like. You can ask any veteran of however generations past, ‘tell me experience about being serviced by the VA,” and that’s exactly what Obamacare is going to look like to every other American out there that falls under the need of this …

Another candidate joined the crowded primary field this week: farmer Rick Roth who has been active with the Florida Farm Bureau Federation, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida.

ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: UNITED FOR CARE STATEWIDE PETITION DRIVE

United for Care staff and volunteers will meet at several courthouses across Florida from 12 to 1 p.m. to gather petitions and inform the public about the proposed constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in Florida.

Central and South Florida locations include the Miami-Dade County Courthouse, 73 W Flagler St.; Orange County Courthouse, 425 N Orange Ave in Orlando; Lake County Courthouse, 550 W Main St. in Tavares. Broward County Courthouse, 201 SE 6th St. in Fort Lauderdale; Osceola County Courthouse, 2 Courthouse Sq. in Kissimmee.

North Florida locations are the Florida Capitol, 400 S Monroe St. in Tallahassee; and the Alachua County Civil Justice Center, 201 E University Ave. in Gainesville.

Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida locations include the Pinellas County Justice Center, 14250 49th St. N in Clearwater; West Pasco Judicial Center, 7530 Little Rd. in New Port Richey; Polk County Courthouse, 255 N Broadway Ave. in Bartow; Collier County Court House, 3315 Tamiami Trl. E in Naples; Citrus County Courthouse, 110 N Apopka Ave. #101 in Inverness; and the Hillsborough County Courthouse, 401 N Jefferson St. in Tampa.

FLORIDIANS FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY LATEST GROUP TO ENDORSE SMART SOLAR AMENDMENT via Florida Politics

Floridians for Government Accountability … is throwing its support behind the solar energy ballot initiative by Consumers for Smart Solar … and oppose a “consumer unfriendly” initiative put forth by Floridians for Solar Choice.

“Ballot initiative language must be clear and easy for voters to understand,” said Floridians for Government Accountability Chair Jim Hart. “That’s why we are happy to support the consumer-friendly amendment put forth by Consumers for Smart Solar … We encourage everyone to review the ‘smart’ amendment that we believe benefits Florida consumers.”

“Unfortunately, the language of the ‘Shady Solar Amendment’ is vague and misleading and could lead to increased utility costs or higher taxes for Floridians,” Hart said. “We support the expansion of solar power, but not at the expense of adequate consumer protections. We want to make sure voters clearly understand possible changes to the state constitution.”

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CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS GENERAL REVENUE TAX PROJECTIONS 

The Revenue Estimating Conference meets to review tax projections for the state’s general revenue, which funds operations such as education and prisons. Legislators use these projections when crafting the Florida Budget. Meeting begins 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.

DEADLINE FOR LOBBYISTS TO SUBMIT COMPENSATION REPORTS

PREVIOUS REPORTINGAdams & ReeseAdams Street AdvocatesAnfieldLouis BetzRonald L. BookBuchanan Ingersoll & RooneyCapital City ConsultingThe Fiorentino GroupFloridian PartnersGomez BarkerGunster Yoakley & StewartHeffley & AssociatesJefferson MonroeThe Mayernick GroupWilliam J. PeeblesPooleMcKinleyRSA ConsultingSuskey Consulting

LOBBYIST’S QUESTIONING OF FLORIDA LOTTERY CONTRACTS SPARKS MORE QUESTIONS — ABOUT THE LOBBYIST Full story here

A Florida lobbyist’s effort to raise concerns about a multimillion- dollar contract with the Florida Lottery is sparking more questions — not about the contract, but about the role the lobbyist may have played in the original bid process … a contract with the Florida Lottery that is at least worth $300 million over the next 10 years is now in dispute. This contract includes the machines used to issue tickets for games such as Powerball and Mega Millions as well as the instant ticket vending machines …

Vying for this contract are three power-players in the gaming technology industry: the incumbent, GTECH, as well as Premier Lotteries Florida and Scientific Games International.

Dan Russell … former general counsel of the Florida Lottery and now a special counsel with the Jones Walker law firm, was identified … as one of three lobbyists who raised concerns with the Governor’s Office about a second nine-figure bid before the Lottery. By law, Russell should be prohibited from working with Scientific Games, especially on this existing contract, because he was involved in the process of reviewing each proposal prior to and during the reissuing of bids for that contract.

And if Russell played a role — any role — in the resetting of this bid process that would be especially troubling.

NEW LOBBYING REGISTRATIONS

Alan Suskey, Suskey Consulting: Eckerd College

***Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, LLC, is a full-service consulting firm located just steps from the Capitol. The firm specializes in the development and implementation of successful advocacy strategies highly personalized for each client. Team Liberty is comprised of professionals with a track record of successful coalition-building, grassroots efforts and team coordination. The combination of a strong commitment to clients and practical government and private sector experience is why Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profits alike choose Liberty Partners of Tallahassee.***

CONTEXT FLORIDA: CONGRESSIONAL DARTBOARD, INFANT MORTALITY AND BLEEDING FREELY

On Context Florida: Bob Sparks says the dartboard known as the draft Florida congressional district maps is receiving the kind of comments and attacks one might expect. Some are happy, but others fall into the range of sad and outraged. In the end, few new faces are likely to join the Congressional Club in 2017. The infant mortality rate — defined as the death of an infant in the first year of life per 1,000 births — is what Marc Yacht calls a bellwether statistic.  A nation’s quality of health care as well as the overall wellbeing of citizens can be deduced from this statistic. On average, 6.9 Florida babies will die per 1,000 in the first year of life.  Afro-Americans suffer a 10.5 death rate and white non-Hispanic 5.2.  The U.S. rate for deaths is 6.1 overall — 5.0 for white non-Hispanics and 11.2 for Afro-Americans. Catherine Durkin Robinson asks why enlightened, educated American women feel ashamed when we menstruate. Runner Kiran Gandhi took bravery to a completely new level. The night before she ran the London Marathon, her first, Gandhi got her period. She had a choice to make – use a tampon and deal with the uncomfortable clogged-up feeling or bleed freely. Gandhi chose to bleed.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

ON THIS WEEK’S EDITION OF THE ROTUNDA

Trimmel Gomes’ newest episode of The Rotunda tracks the redistricting special session as U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown argue and files suit against the proposed maps claiming they would disenfranchise black voters. Gomes talks with state Sen. Darren Soto about special session and his run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Alan Grayson.

Wondering why Donald Trump is leading so much in the polls? Rich Ramos, former executive director of the Republican Party of Broward County and chairman of the Tallahassee based consulting firm Ramous & Spark Group, weights in with a pretty good theory about polling data that’s keeping Trump on top.

The Rotunda podcast is available every Friday via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud. Subscribers receive free automatic downloads of episodes to their devices. Follow on @RotundaPodcast for daily updates.

WEEKEND TV

Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: BA correspondent Duhane Lindo visits Bradenton’s “Visible Men Academy,” a charter school for local African American boys.

Facing Florida with Mike Vasilinda: A retrospective on iconic Florida Gov. Leroy Collins.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: GOP  consultant Chris Ingram, Democratic consultant Vic DiMaio, Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times and investigative reporter Mike Deeson.

On Point with Shannon Ogden on WFCN in Jacksonville: Redistricting update, Dr. Steve Baker on the Voting Rights Act and local guitar maker Haul Burger.

Political Connections on Tampa Bay’s BayNews 9: Anchor Al Reuchel and political reporter Troy Kinsey on 2015 Special Session B.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Congressional candidate Sen. Darren Soto, plus analysts Michelle Ertel and Jeremiah Jaspon and a Politifact update on a claim by former Gov. Jeb Bush about Barack Obama’s tax policies.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennslyvania, Duva Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland and former Lt. Gov. and WJXT political analyst Jennifer Carroll.

FACEBOOK CONFIRMS LIVE BROADCASTING WILL SOON OPEN TO JOURNALISTS AND VERIFIED PROFILES via Josh Constine of TechCrunch

Facebook plans to open up its Periscope livestreaming competitor to more than just celebrities. In replies to requests from Verified Pages about when they’d get access to the VIP-only Facebook app Mentions that houses Facebook Live … “In the future, Mentions will be available to verified Profiles” … it plans to roll Mentions out to verified Profiles soon … rolled out Facebook Live on Aug. 5, but it was only available to celebrities.

The expansion brings Facebook Live broadcasting one step closer to universal access … turn the platform into a tool for spontaneous journalism, the way Periscope has started to become. And since people with verified profiles won’t have to worry about the huge businesses built up around them … Lester Holt is one of the launch partners for Facebook Live and is so far the only journalist …

TWITTER FINALLY DROPS THE 140-CHARACTER LIMIT FROM DIRECT MESSAGES via Casey Newton of The Verge 

Twitter’s 140-character limit is going away, at least for the private messages you send on the service. As promised, the company said … it will now allow messages of up to 10,000 characters in its mobile apps, desktop apps, and the web. … Removing the 140-character cap on messages [also will] make it easier for businesses to conduct customer service over DMs. “We want to make sure you can really fluidly move between public and private …”

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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.