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Sunburn for 6.23.17 — ‘Somebody’s going to emergency, somebody’s going to jail’

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


When one of Tallahassee’s top white-collar criminal defense attorneys won’t talk about a case, you know things are bad.

An assistant to Steve Andrews ‘no comment’ed on Thursday to Jim Rosica, our man in Tallahassee, when Rosica asked if the firm was representing any of those named in federal subpoenas made public earlier that day.

As the AP’s Gary Fineout first reported, “Federal authorities have launched an investigation into redevelopment deals that involve business owners and developers as well as an ally of (Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, now) running for governor.”

A Democratic consultant supporting Andrew Gillum’s campaign told POLITICO Florida, “I think he has to drop out.”

Still another person involved with the investigation told Rosica, “This is serious. Very serious. I’m sure that everyone named in those subpoenas has lawyered up. I won’t be surprised if charges are filed in the next few months.” (That individual asked not to be named.)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in north Florida and the FBI issued subpoenas to the city and its Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for “documents, records, bids, applications, or proposals,” as well as “emails, letters, and memoranda” and “copies of checks or wire transfers, or any payments.”

The list of those named in the records include many of Tallahassee’s movers and shakers: Adam Corey, the lobbyist/developer behind the city-financed Edison restaurant; and Paige Carter-Smith, CEO of the Downtown Improvement Authority (DIA) and a longtime ally of former Mayor and now City Commissioner Scott Maddox.

Maddox was not named in the subpoenas, though his former consulting firm, Governance Inc., was.

Others named in the subpoenas are Kim Rivers, now the CEO of Trulieve, a Florida medical marijuana treatment center; and J.T. Burnette, who among other projects helped develop the city’s former Radisson hotel into the tony Hotel Duval, now a Marriott property.  

Rivers is the DIA’s chair and Corey is the vice-chair, according to its website. Rivers also has been a “business partner” of Burnette in the Inkbridge “financial engineering” firm, according to a 2012 interview she gave 850 Business Magazine.

Inkbridge was named in the subpoenas, as was Hunter+Harp, where Rivers was once vice president, according to her LinkedIn page, and Burnette was a partner.

What are the feds looking for? No surprise, they weren’t talking Thursday.

Whatever it is, it’s not a good look for Gillum, the city’s mayor since 2014.

Over the last few months, he’s taken it on the chin with criticisms over last year’s Hurricane Hermine response, a sheriff’s inquiry into his political use of a city-owned email program, and accusations he exaggerated his gubernatorial campaign’s contributors.

One issue could be The Edison, “the product of a public/private partnership that received more than $2 million from the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency to renovate the three-story building, formerly used as the city’s power plant in the 1920s,” as the Tallahassee Democrat has reported.

“Local government watchdogs questioned relationships between Corey and restaurant investors,” the paper reported in April. Corey, who has denied any impropriety in that deal, also was campaign treasurer for Gillum’s mayoral run.

Still another source said Josh Doyle, a Tallahassee FBI agent soon to become the next executive director of The Florida Bar, had been “deeply involved” in the ongoing investigation, which “goes back about two years.” Doyle wasn’t in the office Thursday.

According to the subpoenas, FBI Special Agent Evan Hurley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz, both based in Tallahassee, are on the case.

A federal grand jury looking into the matter is scheduled to meet on July 11.

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“Rick Scott gets more time to respond to judicial appointments lawsuit” via Florida PoliticsThe Florida Supreme Court on Thursday granted Gov. Scott’s request for 14 extra days to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term. Scott general counsel Daniel Nordby filed the request Wednesday, asking to move the deadline to July 19. “Multiple extensions of time for the same filing are discouraged,” the court’s order says. “Absent extenuating circumstances, subsequent requests may be denied.” Nordby’s reasons for extension included the need for legal briefings on bills still on the governor’s desk (68 as of Thursday morning), and “official duties associated with Section and Committee meetings at the 2017 Annual Bar Convention,” meeting in Boca Raton this week.

“State announces Medicaid managed care bid date” via Florida Politics The Agency for Health Care Administration said Thursday it will post material for the next bidding for the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care (SMMC) program “on or around July 14.” That’s when the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) for the re-procurement will go live on the Florida Department of Management Services’ Vendor Bid System website. Companies who put in a proposal will be subject to a 72-hour blackout period, in which they can’t contact “any employee or officer of the executive or legislative branch concerning any aspect of this solicitation,” according to a state law.

Final rules set for House Speaker’s race voting” via Florida Politics – With just one week until freshman House Republicans are scheduled to vote for their leader, it appears lawmakers have agreed upon rules governing the election. According to a copy of the rules obtained by FloridaPolitics.com, members will not be allowed to abstain from the vote; discussion between members between the announcement of the eliminated candidate and the next vote will be prohibited; and “the vote count will not be disclosed under any circumstances prior to the final vote.” Unlike traditional Speaker’s races, the class has agreed to hold a vote by secret ballot. The election is being coordinated by Rep. Larry Metz, the chairman of the House Public Integrity and Ethics Committee, and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues.

Legislative leaders announce committee week schedule — Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran outlined the interim committee week schedule in memos to their respective members Thursday. The schedule, as it stands right now, includes one week in September, two weeks in October and November, and one in December. The first week of committee meetings begins on Sept. 12. Members will then return for meetings during the week of Oct. 9 and Oct. 23. They’ll be back in Tallahassee for meetings during the week of Nov.6, but both Negron and Corcoran note “meetings will conclude prior to the observance of the Veterans’ Day holiday” on Friday, Nov. 10. Members will be asked to return to the capital city for committee meetings during the week of Nov. 13. The only committee week scheduled in December is during the week of Dec. 4.

— “Is U.S. Term Limits coordinating a grassroots campaign against Jamie Grant?” via Florida Politics

Fix inequitable treatment between charter, traditional schools, George Gainer says” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – Gainer, a Panama City Republican, was expected to oppose HB 7069 in the state Senate’s final vote. He spoke against the imbalance of treatment between charter schools and traditional public schools during that debate, and said he wouldn’t take much more special favors for charters. In the end, he backed the bill but said he would take the issue under greater consideration going forward … without fixes, problems lie ahead … he remains “very much a fan of the governor,” however, he adds to Kelley’s warning that that if lawmakers don’t return next session to fix the inequitable treatment between charter and traditional schools “we’re all in trouble.”

“Absent any takers, Senate mural in limbo” via Florida Politics At least 10 museums or other institutions have declined an offer from the Florida Senate to donate its “Five Flags Mural“—now in storage—that formerly adorned the wall outside the chamber’s 5th floor public and press galleries in the Capitol. “Most cited the size of the mural and their limited capacity for storage as the reason why they could not accept it,” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta said Thursday. The nearly 40-year-old mural, installed during construction of the current 1978 Capitol building, is 10 feet by 16 feet. But it may not help that it also depicts a Confederate general and flag. Contention has been stoked recently across Florida, including Tampa and Orlando, and the South as cities debate and have begun removing Confederate statues and other memorials.


Gillum releases women’s contraception coverage plan” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gillum said in a statement Thursday he would push for statewide legislation that would require health insurance policies that cover prescriptions to include full coverage for any FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drug or device. Gillum’s proposal would prohibit insurers from imposing co-pays co-insurance fees or other costs for contraception. In announcing the plan, Gillum’s campaign noted that contraception drugs also can reduce risks of certain kinds of cancer, manage debilitating symptoms, and treat diseases. His plan would allow for exemptions for religious-based organizations, including hospitals and universities, similar to such an exemption in the Affordable Care Act. “As governor, I’m going to stand with women and ensure that neither the government nor their employer, stand between a woman and her doctor in making the critical health decisions that affect her life,” he said in a statement. “This is an essential part of providing better quality care and economic security and stability to more Floridians.”

Happening today: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is scheduled to speak during POLITICO Magazine’s “What Works” series, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m. at the Eden Roc, 4525 Collins Ave in Miami Beach. The program will feature a series of one-on-one interviews with mayors what they are doing to foster innovation, promote sustainable cities, and implement change in their region. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh are also scheduled to attend. The event is held in conjunction with the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting in Orlando.

— Bill Clinton coming to Miami Beach Saturday for mayors’ convention via Doug Hanks of the Miami Herald – A friend of Miami Beach Mayor Levine, who lobbied to bring the event to Miami Beach in 2017, Clinton will speak at the day’s luncheon at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. It is closed to the public. No details were released on Clinton’s speech, but he will be addressing mayors during a lunch with a theme of “city livability.”

Assignment editors: Adam Putnam will host an “Up & Adam” breakfast for supporters at 9 a.m. at The Club at Candler Hills, 8139 SW 90th Terrace Road in Ocala.

Scoop –Mike Miller looking at run for Congress in CD 7” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican state Rep. Mike Miller is considering running for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy next year. … “I’m strongly considering it. I think it would be an incredible honor, but if I do I want to make sure I do it for the right reasons,” Miller said. If he does, he could draw stiff Republican primary competition. State Sen. David Simmons from nearby Altamonte Springs has said he is 98 percent certain he would run for the seat, but he has not yet pulled the trigger.

Florida doctors back Pepi Diaz in SD 40 — The Florida Medical Association is throwing its support behind Jose Felix Diaz in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Rep. Diaz for Senate District 40. During his time in the Florida House, the FMA has worked closely with him on many important issues and our physicians have appreciated his unwavering support,” said Dr. Mike Patete, the president of the FMA PAC in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our work with him in the Senate and moving forward important healthcare legislation.”

Dennis Ross backs Ben Albritton in SD 26 — Rep. Dennis Ross announced Thursday he was endorsing Ben Albritton in his bid to replace Denise Grimsley in Senate District 26. “Ben Albritton is a committed and consistent conservative,” said Ross in a statement. “He has a track record of principled leadership in the Florida House, and his integrity and genuine concern for people have served his constituents well. I look forward to continuing working with him when he is in the Florida Senate.” Ross was first elected to Congress in 2010, after serving four terms in the Florida House. He is the vice chair of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee, and serves on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Congressman Dennis Ross is an outstanding public servant, and I am honored to have his support,” said Albritton. “Throughout his career at both the state and national levels, he has been a stalwart conservative, and I look forward to continuing to work together on policies to strengthen our area and our state.”

“Jay Fant touts endorsements from outside Northeast Florida” via Florida Politics — Seven legislators — Rep. Mike Miller of Orlando; Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs; Rep. Rene Plasencia of Titusville; Rep. Joe Gruters of Sarasota; Rep. Stan McClain of Belleview; Rep. Colleen Burton of Lakeland; and Rep. Julio Gonzalez of Venice — announced they were endorsing Fant in his bid to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2018. “I’m honored to have earned the support of these colleagues in the Florida House. I’ve worked alongside my fellow House members on legislation important to all Floridians, and I hope to continue working with them from the executive branch,” he said in a statement. “We have a vision for Florida consistent with our values that freedom comes first and that we have a duty to protect our citizens from too much government.”

Save the date:

Save the date: Democrat Emma Collum will host a Fourth of July Kick-Off fundraiser for her House District 93 campaign at 6 p.m. on June 30 at Funky Buddha, 1201 NE 38th Street in Oakland Park.

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Census: Latino growth fastest in exurbs of Orlando, Tampa” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – Among counties with more than 100,000 residents, St. Johns County near Jacksonville led the state in Latino population growth rate from July 2015 to July 2016. The county’s Latino population grew 7.5 percent, to almost 15,500 residents, in that period. Counties with the next-fastest Latino growth rates were in exurbs of Tampa and Orlando: Hernando, Lake, Polk and Pasco counties. These central Florida counties had Latino growth rates ranging from 6.5 percent to 7.2 percent. Miami-Dade continued to be the county with Florida’s largest Latino community – about 1.8 million residents, or two-thirds of the county’s overall population. Its Hispanic population increased by just less than 27,000 residents, or 1.5 percent, from 2015 to 2016.

Board of Governors agrees on university performance-based funding” via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The State University System’s Board of Governors approved $245 million in state money for performance-based funding for universities. The University of Florida, who scored 95 points on the performance metrics, received the biggest portion of the pot — $55.1 million — followed by the University of South Florida and Florida State University … three universities did not qualify for new state performance funding in the budget year that starts July 1: Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida A&M University and the University of North Florida. The allocation of the state funding, which the Legislature increased by $20 million this year, is based on 10 measurements of performance by each of the 11 institutions, including a six-year graduation rate, salaries of recent graduates, retention of students and student costs.

Bob Buckhorn: It was Hillsborough, not Tampa, which voted to keep Confederate monument” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – “Confederate monument in Tampa will stay put” is the headline published on CNN’s website … Buckhorn sought to make sure everyone knows that it was the government of Hillsborough County – and not the city he runs – which made that controversial vote. “There is no honor in treason and there is no valor in enslaving people because of their race,” said the Mayor. “That statue represents the worst of humanity not the Tampa that we aspire to be. This decision doesn’t speak for our city and the people that I represent.” On social media day, angry citizens noted that all four commissioners who supported the proposal to maintain the monument – Stacy White, Victor Crist, Ken Hagan and Sandy Murman – are all running on the 2018 ballot, and they vowed retribution at the polls.

Designated player games return to Florida poker rooms” via Nick Sortal of the Miami Herald – … thanks to a change of heart by the state. The state formally gave approval in 2014 after card room operators persuaded them that the games were classified as poker, under the reasoning that patrons vied against a designated player, rather than the house. The Seminole Tribe, which like most casinos has Three-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold ’em in their table games pits — not in the poker room — argued that the racetrack casinos were infringing on the tribe’s exclusive rights to table games, and in December 2015 Gov. Scott ordered the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to withdraw its approval. The tribe also filed suit, and in November 2016, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared the racetrack’s version of the games “egregious example of the cardrooms’ attempt to evade the prohibition on banked card games,” and ruled that their existence carved into the tribe’s exclusivity. But after the Legislature failed to agree on terms for a comprehensive gambling bill this spring, or even new terms to the Seminoles’ compact, the card rooms are revving up their games, with state approval.

FCC proposes record fine for faking robocall numbers” via David McCabe of Axios – The FCC proposed a $120 million fine against a Florida man allegedly behind millions of robocalls that used faked numbers. It’s the largest fine the agency has ever proposed. The agency says Adrian Abromovich‘s “operation apparently made the spoofed calls in order to trick unsuspecting consumers into answering and listening to his advertising messages.” Spoofing is when a robocaller fakes the number the call is coming from so the called consumer will pick the phone up. The agency said that the “proposed fine is based on 80,000 spoofed calls that the Commission has verified.” The FCC decision was to lodge its allegations against Abromovich. Now he has a chance to respond, and then the process proceeds from there.

FLORIDA TODAY building for sale” via Wayne Price of FLORIDA TODAY – The expansive facility is located off U.S. 1 between Rockledge and Melbourne. When purchased, FLORIDA TODAY’s news and business operation will move to a yet-to-be identified space in Brevard County. There is no timetable for that move. “We will miss the rich history this home served for Gannett, USA TODAY and FLORIDA TODAY,” [FLORIDA TODAY President Jeff] Kiel said. “However, needs have changed from mixed-use manufacturing, warehousing and office operations to space that allows us to deploy more technology with open and collaborative space and specialized work areas. We believe this is critical to our continued success and growth.”


“Scott reappoints picks to State University System Board of Governors” via Florida Politics Gov. Scott announced the reappointment of Syd Kitson and Darlene Jordan to the Board of Governors of the State University System. The move comes after the Florida Senate, which must confirm Scott’s appointments, failed to do so during this year’s Legislative Session … Scott also appointed Alan Levine. His term runs concurrent with Kitson and Jordan, from Thursday to Jan. 6, 2024.

AppointedKymberlee Curry Smith to the Florida Elections Commission; Jason Robbins to the Workers’ Compensation Panel; Dr. Diana Worrall to the Florida Building Commission; Raja Shekhar Komuroji to the Board of Employee Leasing Companies and Ted Feaster to the Construction Industry Licensing Board (following the Florida Senate’s failure to consider him for confirmation before Sine Die).

“Personnel note: Amy Zubaly named new head of FMEA” via Florida PoliticsZubaly has now gone from interim to permanent executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA), and the first women to head the organization, according to a Thursday press release. The board of directors in January had tapped Zubaly, then deputy executive director of public affairs and strategic communications, to helm the association while it looked for a new leader … Now, Zubaly will continue “to manage the day-to-day operations of the association, handle member and board relations, oversee the association’s government affairs, communications and education functions and provide strategic planning.”

“Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers seeks to enter FAMU hazing case” via Florida Politics – The association, known as FACDL, asked the court for permission to file a friend of the court brief. The justices will consider an appeal from Dante Martin, convicted in the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Martin and Champion were both members of the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion, 26, succumbed to internal injuries after a brutal beating ritual with fists, mallets and drumsticks in a band bus that was parked outside a game in Orlando. Martin, now 30, was sentenced in 2015 to 6 years and 5 months in prison on felony manslaughter and hazing charges, according to the Department of Corrections website.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Tanya Jackson, Adams St. Advocates: Unisys Corporation


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James will discuss “GOPs stealth health care plan” with political analyst Dr. Lawrence A. Miller.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include Tampa Bay Times Deputy Managing Editor for Politics and Business Amy Hollyfield, Tampa Bay Times reporter Chris O’Donnell, attorneys Ron Christaldi and Brian Willis.

Former Congressman Ander Crenshaw will provide insight on This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on “food deserts,” getting nutritional food into areas where access to such food is limited, with David Overfield and Deepa Mathew from the Orange County Department of Health, and Lakeisha Hood from the Florida Department of Agriculture. Also, they will examine the Goldsboro area of Sanford (In Seminole County) and talk to people about what they have to do to put good food on the table.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Longwood Republican State Sen. David Simmons talked about the 2017 Legislative Session, budget deals, education funding, environmental policies and more. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim about the American Health Care Act.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will talk with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week, Justice will speak with former U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who represented Jacksonville in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. Also appearing is Florida TaxWatch president and CEO Dominic Calabro.

— ALOE —

At James Madison’s home, slaves’ lives matter as much as the man who owned them” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post – With the help of a $10 million gift from philanthropist David Rubenstein, the staff [at James Madison’s Montpelier, in Orange, Virginia] has devoted new attention and resources to that untold story. The result is a series of reconstructed dwellings in the South Yard and a new permanent exhibit, “The Mere Distinction of Colour,” on the basement floor of Montpelier. The new galleries, which opened June 5, do something radical: They treat the people who were enslaved at Montpelier as if their lives were as worthy of historical examination as that of the man who owned them. These displays at Montpelier provide ample evidence for visitors to consider as they reckon with the fact that the same James Madison who drafted the Bill of Rights also spent considerable time trying to track down a runaway slave named Anthony. (Madison’s own enslaved valet, John, went to his grave without telling Madison anything about Anthony’s whereabouts.)

Disney permit signals future work at Epcot” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel – A recently approved permit signals parking changes could be part of the work being planned at Epcot. The plan is to reconfigure an existing canal to “to provide a more contiguous area for possible future changes to parking capacity and back of house areas within Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center,” according to a staff report included with the permit. The project also includes creating two dry retention areas for water treatment at the park “where future construction is planned,” the report said. “It will be more Disney. It will be even more relevant than it is today,” said [Disney executive Bob] Chapek, who oversees the theme parks. “And, at the same time, it will stay true to our original vision. Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to come on Epcot.”

Ritz-Carlton isn’t all about hotels anymore. Now it’s launching a cruise line” via Chabeli Herrera of the Miami Herald – Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is launching a luxury cruising yacht line scheduled to hit the water in the fourth quarter of 2019 … Ritz-Carlton will enter a crowded field of luxury cruise lines. In doing so, it follows a path similar to Disney when it founded Disney Cruise Line in 1996. Ritz-Carlton, part of Marriott International, is planning to build three 298-passenger yachts for its new Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, to be based in Coconut Grove. The Yacht Collection is a venture created by maritime experts Douglas Prothero, who was the CEO and founder of the Canadian Maritime Group, and Lars Clasen, former president of Aida Cruises. Each ship will feature 149 balcony suites and two duplex penthouse suites.

Happy birthday belatedly to Drew Weatherford and Amy Young. Celebrating today is Rep. Bryan Avila. Celebrating this weekend is my friend Rich Newsome.

Sunburn for 6.22.17 — Postcard from the City Beautiful; Rick Scott vs. Conn; Corcoran PAC brings in the bucks; More endorsements for Ashley Moody; New Game of Thrones trailer drops

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Good morning from the City Beautiful. I’ve spent the last three days in Orlando presenting to two groups of hedge fund managers and analysts (all of whom were very interested in Sunshine State politics) as well as meeting with several elected officials and candidates.

I also spent time interviewing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King who may just be the most telegenic statewide candidate we’ve seen since Charlie Crist was a state Senator challenging Bob Graham. The up-and-comer did not win that race against one of the most storied names in modern Florida history, just as King is up against a formidable opponent who also has Graham as her last name. But like Crist circa 1998, the young man bears watching.

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The state’s leading LGBTQ-rights organization says Gov. Rick Scott went back on his word that he’d sign an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other state employees from discrimination.

Leaders of Equality Florida said they met with the governor’s staff days after last year’s Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, and were told staff “needed a few weeks” to draft the language. Nothing happened.

Now, the organization and the Florida Democratic Party are tired of waiting.

“In the wake of an unprecedented tragedy, Rick Scott made commitments to protect LGBTQ Floridians in the workplace so they can earn a living without fear of discrimination or losing their job,” FDP spokesperson Johanna Cervone said in a statement.

Connecticut tells Rick Scott to take his job (poaching tour) and “shove it.”

“Now Scott is breaking those promises. Rick Scott talks a big game about jobs, but doesn’t seem to care about LGBTQ Floridians trying to make a living.”

Added Hannah Willard, public policy director of Equality Florida: “It seems if there was ever a moment for him to issue an executive order, it was then, and by failing to do so, we now want to publicly hold him accountable for not taking meaningful action to protect LGBTQ people in Florida.”

An executive order wouldn’t go as far as The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, however.

That’s the bill that has come before the Legislature every year since 2010. It would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.

“Florida is a state that does not tolerate discrimination of any form,” Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone told FloridaPolitics.com.

“In accordance with federal guidelines, Florida state agencies do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and state employees should not be discriminated against in any way,” she added. “Our office will continue to review ways we can work to eliminate discrimination of any kind.”

Meantime, proposals filed with the Constitution Revision Commission, the body reviewing the state’s governing document, have several versions of general anti-discrimination language intended as amendments.

One proposal would prohibit discrimination “in housing, employment, or services based upon race, country of origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability …”

But given the overarching conservative makeup of that panel, and the fact that CRC Chair Carlos Beruff was appointed by and is closely aligned with Scott, a constitutional fix seems even less likely than a statutory one.

Connecticut newspaper to Scott: ‘go back to Florida and stay there’” via Katie Sanders of the Miami Herald — Scott told a small crowd in Norfolk, Connecticut, to “go ahead and give up … capitulate, and come to Florida and make it easier on yourselves,” and not stay in Connecticut with its higher income taxes and lack of palm trees. The Hartford Courant editorial board fired back in a feisty Wednesday editorial detailing Florida’s flaws and telling Scott to shove it: “Here’s some advice for Florida Gov. Rick Scott: Go back to Florida and stay there … With all due respect, Mr. Scott, no thanks. Promises of a better climate and pictures of palm trees are nice, but there’s more to a state than its shrubbery. Peel the lemon, and the truth is obvious: Florida can’t compare to Connecticut.”

“Texts show Scott’s influence over panel’s recommendations for FDOT chief” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – During the May 11 meeting, the Florida Transportation Commission — whose members are appointed by Scott — was ready to recommend three names. But the initial list of candidates did not include the Florida Department of Transportation chief of staff Mike Dew, the applicant Scott ultimately appointed secretary. “The gov office is texting me to wait till [next] week,” Trumbull texted toward the end of the meeting to Commissioner Beth Kigel. … It was clear that the governor’s influence was felt by members as they were discussing in the May 11 meeting when they should vote on their recommendations. In a text message to Trumbull, Commissioner John Browning said he was concerned that if the wrong decision was made, Scott would toss the recommendations and make the commission start over.

“Scott asks for extension in judicial appointments lawsuit” via Florida Politics — Scott asked the state Supreme Court for 14 extra days to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have the authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term. “This motion is supported by good cause and is not opposed by petitioners,” says the motion by Scott general counsel Daniel Nordby. It asks to extend the filing deadline to July 19. Among the reasons cited: Legal briefings on bills still on the governor’s desk and Scott’s lawyers’ “official duties associated with Section and Committee meetings at the 2017 Annual Bar Convention,” meeting in Boca Raton this week. Scott, a Naples Republican, has said he plans to name the replacements for the court’s liberal-leaning trio of Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince. They face mandatory retirement on the same day — Jan. 8, 2019 — that is Scott’s last in office as governor. The lawsuit by The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause says Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight.

Bill watch — Scott shot down two more bills Monday, bringing his total to six vetoes for 2017. The governor withheld his approval for SB 2512 on the Capitol Complex Advisory Council, and HB 5501 on “Economic Programs.” On the proposed Council, Scott said in a veto letter it would “add an unnecessary layer of red tape and bureaucracy.” On the economic programs bill, he said it was “made obsolete by House Bill 1A,” passed during the recent Special Session and funding development and tourism marketing. Sixty-eight bills remain on the governor’s desk.


In a letter to the Orlando Sentinel, Cissy Proctor — the head of Scott’s jobs division — took issue with a recent Scott Maxwell column saying Orlando’s wages “stink.” Proctor disagreed, saying Orlando wages are “higher than 60 percent of our nation’s metro areas.” Maxwell shot back, saying a comparison of “metro areas” wasn’t apples-to-apples. Proctor didn’t stick with similar sized communities or “even close,” he writes.

Key Points from Maxwell:

— “Rick Scott wants you to think he’s created a stellar economy. And employers who pay poverty-level wages don’t want to talk about that. But I’m not trying to spin. I just want to give you the honest numbers about wages. And the numbers show that Orlando wages stink.”

— “In a letter to the editor, Cissy Proctor — the head Gov. Rick Scott’s jobs division — took issue with a column I wrote last month about Orlando’s low wages. I said our wages stink. Proctor disagreed, claiming Orlando’s wages help families ‘flourish’ and are ‘higher than 60 percent of our nation’s metro areas.’ That sounds good, doesn’t it? Yet it also sounds completely at odds with everything this paper has ever reported. (‘Central Florida job metro area market is lowest-paying in country’ and ‘Orlando: No. 1 in tourism, dead last in wages’).”

— “The facts, however, are that Orlando is still where this newspaper has long reported. Our wages are A) Way below the national average; and B) Rock bottom compared to other major metros. (50 out of 50 in median wages; 47th or 48th out of 50 in average wages, depending on the survey.)”

Orlando low-wage jobs led Cissy Proctor — Rick Scott’s jobs division head — to spar with Scott Maxwell, who wrote in the Orlando Sentinel that the city’s wages “stink.”


“Scott remains tight-lipped about U.S. Senate bid” via Florida Politics — Scott remains tight-lipped about his 2018 plans, telling CNN he won’t make any decision about the U.S. Senate race until a later date. “I’ve always said the same thing: It’s 2017. The race is in 2018. I won’t make a decision until later,” said Scott during an interview with Erin Burnett on her show Erin Burnett OutFront. “Politicians seem to worry about their next job. I’ve got 570 days to go in this job. I’m trying to make Florida No. 1 for jobs, No. 1 for people being safe … and No. 1 for education.” Scott is widely believed to be considering a U.S. Senate run in 2018. Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has already said he plans to run for re-election.

Kirsten Gillibrand backs Gwen Graham for governor — The New York Democrat announced Tuesday she was endorsing Gwen Graham in her bid for governor. “I am proud to join thousands of others in supporting Gwen Graham, a strong progressive leader, for Governor of Florida. In the age of Trump, we need courageous leaders like Gwen who will always put people over politics and aren’t afraid to stand up to anybody to do what is right,” said Gillibrand in a statement. “For her strength and leadership skills, her fortitude and passion, I offer my strongest endorsement of Democrat Gwen Graham for Governor of Florida. Take it from me: with Gwen Graham as governor, Florida will have a champion for progressive values in the Governor’s office.” The endorsement comes on the heels of the annual Leadership Blue Gala. Graham said Gillibrand’s “support and the support of women from across the country who share our mission to turn Florida blue is humbling and drinking our campaign forward.”

New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand backs Gwen Graham for Governor.

Chris King brings home his ‘progressive entrepreneur’ campaign message” via Scott Powers of Florida PoliticsKing … sought to distance himself from both his Democratic challengers, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and former U.S. Rep. Graham, as well as the Republicans. It’s a continuation of the “progressive entrepreneur” theme King initiated when he kicked off his campaign in Orlando two months ago. King criticizes Florida Republicans for overseeing a drop in inflation-adjusted wages and benefits, or doing nothing about it, and for, he said, leading Florida to place at the bottom of the nation’s 10 most populous states in per capita income, productivity, gross domestic product, and mental health care services. … “You can be a progressive, and believe in equality, and opportunity, and fairness, and justice, and care for the neediest among us. You can also marry that to entrepreneurship, to integrity, and hard work, and discipline, and stewardship. When those things are brought together, I’ve found in business it was a magical formula,” King said. “In government, it can be a game-changer for the Democratic Party.”

Richard Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC pulls in $608,000 in first month — including $100k from Norm Braman” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The Braman gift, however, is telling as Corcoran is rumored to be using the PAC to position himself for higher office. Miami’s business leaders were in a serious tizzy in late April, when it appeared that Miami Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the House’s lead negotiator on a gambling bill, presented an offer to the Senate that indicated House leadership was prepared to overcome years of resistance and agree to authorize a new gaming facility in Miami-Dade. Braman joined health care executive Mike Fernandez, and Miami developer Armando Codina calling legislators enraged that they would move forward with the idea without understanding the impact it could have on the city, local businesses and the city’s successful economic boom. In less than a week, talks collapsed and the bill was declared dead. Corcoran’s report, posted on his Watchdog PAC site, indicates he raised another $183,000 in donations of between $100 and $1,000 before his much-publicized fundraisers hosted by Orlando trial attorney John Morgan at the home of another Orlando trial attorney, Zander Clem.

Assignment editors: Adam Putnam will host an “Up & Adam” breakfast with supporters at The Copper Monkey, 14209 West Newberry Road in Newberry.

Simone Marstiller takes herself out of Attorney General contention” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — Former appellate judge and Republican Marstiller said on Facebook she will not run for Attorney General in 2018. “NOT running for AG,” she posted Monday night. “Holding that office has been a dream of mine for a long time. But I’ve reluctantly concluded that running for the office just isn’t financially feasible for me. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you for encouraging me and pledging your support. I am blessed beyond measure to have people like you in my life. The adventure continues …” … Her name was first floated in a January post on The Capitolist by Brian Burgess, who included her among his picks to replace current Attorney General Pam Bondi amid rumors she was leaving to take a post in Trump‘s administration. Bondi is term-limited in 2018.

Former appellate judge and Republican Simone Marstiller bows out of Attorney General race.

Ashley Moody endorsed by three Tampa Bay-area state Senators — Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Sen. Tom Lee, and Sen. Dana Young have endorsed Moody in her race to replace Bondi in 2018, the Moody campaign announced Tuesday. “We are proud to have the support of three of our state’s most trusted Republican leaders. They are not just leaders in Tallahassee, but in their respective communities,” said Moody in a statement.” They are champions for the common sense, conservative principles that have helped make our state a great place to live, work, vacation, and retire. I’m extremely thankful for their support and I hope to work with them in the years to come to continue to make Florida safer and stronger.” Moody, a Hillsborough County Republican, faces Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant in the Republican primary to replace Bondi.

Hillsborough County leaders back Moody for AG — Rep. Jackie Toledo, Hillsborough County Doug Belden, and Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively announced they were endorsing Moody in the race to replace Bondi in 2018. Moody, a former Hillsborough circuit judge, said she was pleased to have their endorsements. “Doug works each and every day to save taxpayers money and make government more efficient and effective. He is recognized statewide as an outstanding Tax Collector and public servant. I’m so humbled to call him a friend and I thank him for his support,” she said in a statement. “The well-being of our children and the quality of their education are top priorities of Melissa Snively. As a mother, I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to our children and improving our public-school system. Representative Toledo’s passion for public service is apparent to each and every person she meets. Her commitment to her constituents and making our community and state a better place sets a shining example for all public servants. I’m thankful for her leadership in Tallahassee and for the support of all of these outstanding elected officials.”

Bernie Sanders isn’t backing Tim Canova in his second bid against Debbie Wasserman Schultz” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Canova announced he will challenge Wasserman Schultz again in 2018 despite a 14-point loss in the Democratic primary to the longtime congresswoman from Weston. But this time around, Sanders isn’t on board. “I have no idea about Tim Canova, I honestly don’t,” Sanders said when asked if he plans to support Canova’s second bid against Wasserman Schultz. “I know nothing about Tim Canova.” Sanders declined to answer whether he thinks Wasserman Schultz should face a primary challenge from a more liberal-leaning Democrat. The Canova campaign said the lack of support from Sanders doesn’t matter even though it could mean millions in contributions from supporters of the Vermont senator.

Tim Canova is not feeling the love from Bernie Sanders this time.

Florida Chamber endorses Jose Felix Diaz in SD 40 — The Florida Chamber of Commerce announced it was backing Diaz in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “Representative Jose Felix Diaz continues to put Florida families and businesses first, and has remained an advocate for free enterprise and job creation,” said Marian Johnson, the senior vice president of political strategy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The Florida Chamber is proud to endorse Representative Jose Felix Diaz for the Florida Senate.” Diaz faces former Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Lorenzo Palomares in the July special primary to replace Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal. “If you ask the residents of District 40 what their biggest issues are — the answer is clear — jobs and the economy. The Florida Chamber of Commerce represents the biggest job creators in Florida, and I am honored to have their support for my State Senate race,” said Diaz in a statement. “I am proud of my record in support of low taxes and a responsible regulatory environment that both promotes sustained economic growth and protects consumers.”

Republican rivals disagree on key issues in Miami Senate forum” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — State Rep. Diaz and attorney Lorenzo Palomares told about 100 people gathered at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus where they stand on key issues. Primary candidates tend to have few differences — but not in this case. On recently passed education legislation known as House Bill 7069: Diaz supports it, Palomares doesn’t. On a legislative deal to implement medical marijuana rules: Diaz supports it, Palomares doesn’t. On the future of transit in Miami-Dade County: Diaz envisions autonomous vehicles, Palomares wants to expand the Dolphin Expressway past the western edge of the Urban Development Boundary. … Notably absent from the nevertheless largely amicable discussion was former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who is locked in a bitter campaign chiefly against Diaz.

Republican rivals in Miami House race are still trying to out-Cuban each other” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald — Foreign policy is not the purview of state lawmakers. Nevertheless, on Friday, after Trump’s East Little Havana event, candidate Jose Mallea‘s campaign put out a robocall to House District 116 Republican voters touting Mallea’s support for Trump’s policy shift. “Mallea is a real Republican, Cuban-American, who wants to fight for a free Cuba,” the call said. “In contrast, his opponent, Daniel Perez, was a beneficiary of the Obama-Castro policy, going to Cuba on a luxury vacation to take his engagement photos.” … Meantime, Perez’s campaign was sending voters a letter, in English and Spanish, from Perez’s parents, vouching for their son’s Cuban roots. The family left Cuba in 1969, Guelcys and Eugenio Perez wrote in their “personal message,” which also said Perez’s uncle Antonio Perez “died fighting against the Castro regime.” “The truth is that Danny traveled to Cuba with his fiancee, Stephanie, to visit her sick uncle and her family,” they wrote. “Danny was NOT in Cuba as a tourist, as his opponent and The Miami Herald are attempting to falsely portray!!”

Four Republicans, one Democrat qualify to run in HD 44 special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — The Republicans who qualified are former Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski, who ran in a similar region last year in an unsuccessful, but close, bid for Orange County commissioner; John Newstreet, president and chief executive officer of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce; businessman Bruno Portigliatti, and urgent care physician Dr. Usha Jain. Businessman Paul Chandler is the Democrats’ candidate. Republicans may be looking ahead from this election. If a Republican wins, it’ll give that person a year’s head-start on campaigning, fundraising, and collecting IOUs for the prospect of becoming Speaker of the House for the freshmen class of representatives who’ll new voted into office in 2018.

— “Democrat Nuren Haider withdrawing from HD 44 special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

— “Republican HD 44 candidate John Newstreet fundraiser claims $20K” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising

Mark Lipton files to run in HD 79 — State records show Lipton has filed to run in House District 79 in 2018. Lipton filed the necessary paperwork to replace Rep. Matt Caldwell Monday. The North Fort Myers Democrat joins Republican Michelle Graham in the race to replace Caldwell, who can’t run again in 2018 because of term limits.

The Miami Beach mystery PAC is under state investigation” via Nicholas Nehamas, Joey Flechas and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — A public-corruption probe is underway into a controversial political group linked to Miami Beach commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco … At least one donor to the political action committee has been subpoenaed by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, according to a Miami Beach defense attorney representing the donor … The list of donors to People for Better Leaders is stocked with Miami Beach vendors, lobbyists and developers with business before the city. The PAC raised $200,000 in 2016. It’s not clear how many of the 23 individuals and corporations that gave to People for Better Leaders received subpoenas. In the Beach, a violation of the city’s ethics ordinance is not a criminal offense, carrying just a small fine. If a commissioner or candidate solicited donations or coordinated with someone else to solicit on their behalf, a fine of $500 per violation would be issued, according to the city code.

Miami Beach Commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco is linked to the mysterious PAC People for Better Leaders.

Former police chief Jane Castor tops early poll looking at 2019 Tampa mayor’s race” via Richard Danielson of the Tampa Bay Times — The automated telephone poll, commissioned by Tampa insurance executive Guy King and done by StPetePolls.org, surveyed 647 registered voters in Tampa. It had a 3.9 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level. When respondents were asked if the election were held today and were given six names to choose from, they responded: Castor, 37.3 percent. Unsure, 29.1 percent. City Council member Mike Suarez, 9.7 percent. Former state Rep. Ed Narain and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, 7.7 percent each. City Council member Harry Cohen, 6.2 percent. Architect Mickey Jacob, 2.3 percent. King said he commissioned the poll because, “I’ve seen the last few years how important having good leadership in the mayor’s office is, (and) I started wondering, when our current mayor is gone, who’s going to fill those shoes?”

“Major project at the Vinoy will require St. Pete voter approval” via Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — A portion of the $50 million renovation plan will need voter approval before construction can begin. Hotel owners announced its one-story parking garage with eight tennis courts on the roof will go before voters for a vote Nov. 7 alongside St. Petersburg mayoral and City Council candidates. If approved, the garage would be built immediately behind the hotel where eight existing tennis courts are located. A 1984 city charter requires construction on historic locations in downtown St. Pete to receive voter approval. The garage won’t require taxpayer funding and will not change the hotel’s overall footprint or impede on St. Pete’s waterfront park system. It will provide approximately 270 new parking spaces for hotel guests, guests of on-site events, Vinoy facility members and people dining at one of the hotel’s restaurants, which are open to nonmembers.

Rendering of one concept for the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club’s two-year, multi-phased renovation and redevelopment project.


“With no legislative action, Confederate statue remains in U.S. Capitol” via Florida Politics — The General abides. With lawmakers taking no action this year, a bronze statue of a Confederate general representing Florida shall remain indefinitely in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Two competing bills died this Legislative Session. One called for a likeness of educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune to replace the statue of Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith. Another proposed a statue of environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author of “The Everglades: River of Grass,” to take Smith’s place. “Next year, we expect movement in the House and we’ll pass it in the Senate,” said state Sen. Perry Thurston, who sponsored the Bethune measure. “I am encouraged we will get it done next year.”

David Simmons: We’re not done yet with HB 7069” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — At a panel discussion, with three Republican state representatives, held by the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, Simmons sharply criticized the “Schools of Hope” provisions in HB 7069, which he voted against, saying it is setting up underperforming public schools and their students to fail completely. “I don’t think the book is completely written yet on this bill you’ve probably all read about, House Bill 7069,” Simmons said. “It was the amalgamation of at least 20 different subject matter issues that the house put into a bill. Various of us voted against it even though there were a lot of good things in it.” In particular, Simmons charged the Schools of Hope program’s provision that requires schools with consecutive Ds or Fs to be shut down, move all the students to other schools, or create a “district-operated” charter school, which essentially could not be run by the district.

Joe Henderson: Dan Raulerson ‘certainly’ not backing down after saying everyone should be armed” via Florida Politics — Raulerson’s remarks came during a forum at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club in response to a question about how the (Alexandria, Virginia) shooting impacted Florida and the nation. I asked him if he would say the same thing now if he had it to do over again. I got a one-word answer. “Certainly.” Then I got a lot more words. Raulerson isn’t backing down from what said because, and this is important, he honestly believes it’s the right thing to do. “Here’s what I think people are misunderstanding,” he said. “I’m not suggesting we all walk around with 6-shooters in holsters and shoot everybody up. But had (Steve Scalise) not been on the ball field in Washington, there wouldn’t have been two police officers there with guns. He was the only one with a security detail. Without those officers, it would have been a massacre. This isn’t something I’m shying away from. We need to open our eyes and understand we live in a world that is vastly different from 15 years ago.”

Tag, you’re it: Latest state database ‘slowdown’ hinders motorists” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s fickle state-run driver database had more service interruptions Monday, and county tax collectors said they couldn’t give motorists the service they deserve as taxpayers. But the system was back in full working order Tuesday morning. Monday was the first day that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles migrated to a new cloud-based solution as part of a long-term modernization of its decades-old databases. The agency said “slowdowns” in its system affected only vehicle registrations. Driver’s licenses, license renewals and vehicle titles were not affected and police had full access to its data, spokeswoman Beth Frady said. Why were only tag services affected? “We’re trying to get to the bottom of that,” Frady said.

Visit Florida explains changes to local tourism groups” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Visit Florida is sending a message to the state’s local tourism-marketing organizations when it comes to the financial disclosure rules that are intended to make public tax dollars more transparent: Call your attorney. Last week, Visit Florida held a call with the other local organizations to brief them as best they could and answer questions. Agency spokesman Stephen Lawson said they believe local organizations that receive 50 percent or more of revenue from bed taxes and also work with Visit Florida for marketing purposes will be required to disclose how much they pay their board of directors. The new changes were intended to reveal what — if anything — board members were paid for serving the tourism organizations, said Fred Piccolo, spokesman for House Speaker Corcoran who pushed for more transparency at Visit Florida.


John Morgan ready to sue state over smokable pot” via Dara Kam of News Service Florida — “Great Scott!! I’ll be filing my lawsuit for smoke as soon as it goes into law. Independence Day 🇺🇸 #NoSmokeIsAJoke,” Morgan (@JohnMorganESQ) promised on Twitter … Morgan’s tweet references a quote from Scott, who pledged to sign into law a measure (SB 8A), passed by lawmakers during the special session that lays out the framework for the constitutional amendment, approved by more than 71 percent of voters in November. Morgan has vowed to sue over the issue of whether patients should be able to smoke the marijuana treatment. Despite Morgan’s threats, the proposal now awaiting Scott’s signature bans smoking of marijuana, but it does allow patients to vape marijuana products. In a recent interview, Morgan said that’s not good enough.

John Morgan doubles down on suing the state of Florida over smokable medical marijuana.

“Health Department getting started on medical marijuana rule-making” via Florida Politics — In the wake of the Special Session’s implementing bill, the Florida Department of Health is gearing up to make rules governing the use of medical marijuana. The Department published a “notice of proposed regulation” in the Florida Administrative Register. But the state still could face a lawsuit from Morgan, who backed the constitutional amendment on medical marijuana that passed in 2016 with 71 percent of the vote. He has said he will sue because lawmakers would not allow medical marijuana to be smoked. The implementing bill (SB 8-A) is pending Gov. Scott’s review, though he said he will sign it.

Lakeland scraps medical-marijuana dispensary rules” via Christopher Guinn of the Lakeland Ledger — Lakeland will scrap its medical-marijuana dispensary zoning ordinance in utero as the proposed language, which was slated for a vote July 5, contradicts rules created by the Florida Legislature in a special session. Under the rules approved by the Legislature and awaiting the governor’s signature, cities and municipalities are not able to limit the location of medical-marijuana dispensaries more strictly than they do for pharmacies. The Lakeland ordinance that was up for second of two required readings in front of the public would have prevented the clustering of medical-pot shops, set a minimum proximity to houses of worship and allow them in only two types of building zones. Under the state legislation, cities and counties will be able to ban medical-marijuana dispensaries, but even the commissioners preferring stricter restrictions have not voiced the idea.

Tampa’s Joe Redner wants to grow his own cannabis plants, says suit” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa’s outspoken strip club entrepreneur, Redner, wants to grow his own marijuana plants. So much so that he’s filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health, which under current rules bars Floridians from growing cannabis plants for their personal use, even those who are legally registered as medical marijuana patients. Redner, 77, is a registered patient in Florida and uses cannabis products to treat conditions related to his stage-four lung cancer. While he actively purchases cannabis oil products from local dispensaries, he says he wants the right to grow his own plants, according to the suit filed in Hillsborough County.

Tampa’s outspoken strip club entrepreneur Joe Redner is suing to grow his own medical marijuana.


South Florida’s trials and tribulations with sober homes was in the spotlight this week after Lizette Alvarez with The New York Times looked at the impact opioid addiction — and the state’s sober home system — was impacting Palm Beach County.

According to the report, Delray Beach paramedics responded to 748 overdose calls last year, 65 of which ended in fatalities. All in told, Palm Beach County dealt with 5,000 overdose calls last year.

But as The New York Times notes, “most of the young people who overdose in Delray Beach are not from here.” Instead, many are visitors who come to a community that has “long been hailed as a lifeline for substance abuse.”

The report notes that what many people find is a “crippled and dangerous system, fueled in the past three years by insurance fraud, abuse, minimal oversight and lax laws.” The result has been a “rapid proliferation of troubled treatment centers … and group homes where unknowing addicts, exploited for insurance money fall deeper into addiction.”

“We have these people sending us their children to get healthy,” said Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, who established a sober homes task force to combat the problem, “and they are leaving in ambulances and body bags.”

— “Haven for recovering addicts now profits from their relapses” via Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times

— The Palm Beach Post took a hard look at the addiction treatment and sober home industry with its series “Addiction Treatment: Inside the Gold Rush.”


Kendrick Meek joins King & Spalding — The former Miami congressman has joined King & Spalding as a senior adviser in the government advocacy and public policy practice in Washington, D.C., the firm announced. Meek will focus on health care, homeland security, agriculture, and financial services sectors. “Congressman Meek has built a strong reputation as a bipartisan leader and is highly-regarded by his fellow lawmakers as a strategic negotiator and advocate for his constituents,” said Tom Spulak, chair of the firm’s Government Advocacy and Public Policy practice, in a statement. “Our clients will benefit from his insights and his deep experience as a legislator at the state and federal level.” Meek served in the U.S. House from 2002 until 2010, during which he served on the House Ways and Means Committee. He sponsored and passed legislation focused on tax, trade and health care issues. Meek did not run for re-election in 2010, choosing instead to run for U.S. Senate, where he came in third behind then-candidate Republican Marco Rubio and then-independent candidate Charlie Crist.

“Miami-Dade school district hired Ballard Partners at $108,000 a year” via The Miami Herald – At a meeting on Wednesday, the School Board approved a three-year contract — at $108,000 a year — with Ballard Partners to advocate for the district’s interests before Congress and several federal agencies. … It’s not unusual for a large school district to have a lobbyist at the federal level. The Broward County school district is represented by the firm Alcalde & Fay in Washington, D.C., and the Palm Beach County school district had a contract with a lobbying firm up until 2010.

New and renewed lobby registration

Angela Dempsey, PooleMcKinley: Gigamon

Matthew Leopold, Carlton Fields Jordan Burt: Resource Environmental Solutions

Lincoln Quinton, NorthPointe LLC: Sandata Technologies

William Rubin, Amy Bisceglia, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, Heather Turnbull, The Rubin Group: Our Children PSN of Florida

Jessica Janasiewicz, Corrine Mixon, Mixon & Associates: Matific USA

Danny Jordan, One Eighty Consulting: Centrify

Samuel Verghese, Don Yaeger, Jeanette Yeager, One Eighty Consulting: Dell Technologies

— ALOE —

That flaming sword in the new Game of Thrones trailer has an important purpose” via Megan McCluskey of Time magazine — Following his brief reappearance in Game of Thrones’ sixth season, Beric Dondarrion is set to make an epic return in the coming seven episodes. The leader of the Brotherhood without Banners — who has been repeatedly resurrected after being originally killed by the Mountain — was last seen successfully recruiting the Hound to travel north. Based on footage from Thrones’ new season seven trailer, it looks as if Beric will wield his famed flaming sword in a battle against the White Walkers. However, this sword — which he first used during the Hound’s season three trial by combat — isn’t just an intimidating weapon. It’s also an integral part of the legend of the One Who Was Promised, a prophesied savior in the religion of R’hllor who is the reincarnation of hero Azor Ahai. Click on the link below to watch the new trailer.

Uber will add a tipping option to its app” via Kia Kokalitcheva of Axios — The feature is first available in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston and to all U.S. drivers by the end of July 2017. Uber has notoriously resisted adding a tipping feature to its app since its beginning, even despite it being available via rival Lyft’s service. Last year, as part of a settlement proposal, Uber said that it would tweak its language in regard to tips to clarify to riders that while they’re not expected to tip, they can do so in cash or other means — though it still declined to add an in-app feature. In April, the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission said it will propose a new rule that would force credit-card only companies to add in-app tipping. However, Uber has been working on its tipping feature since before this development and is unrelated.

Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe files closure notice” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising — Grand Café plans to lay off all 193 employees when it closes its Disney Springs location Aug. 1 … The café is owned by Chicago-based Levy Restaurants. Some of the employees, who transferred from Levy’s Portobello Country Italian Trattoria, will return to Portobello, when it reopens after renovations are completed this fall. The remainder have been encouraged to apply at other Levy properties, including Paddlefish and Amway Center, according to Kristi House, regional director of employee relations at Levy. Disney Parks blog reported last month that a new Puck concept is planned for 2018 in the Town Center area of Disney’s shopping and dining complex.

Happy birthday to Rep. Chuck Clemons.


Sunburn for 6.20.17 — Georgia on our mind; DSCC smacks Rick Scott; New mailers in SD 40; Dale Swope takes helm at FJA; Happy b’day Matt Harringer

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

We love Florida politics, but today all eyes (including ours) will be on the special election to replace Rep. Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The race — which pits Democrat Jon Ossoff against Republican Karen Handel — is one of the most expensive House races in U.S. history, with the Associated Press reporting an estimated $50 million will be spent on the race.

It’s also one of the first big tests for President Donald Trump and the Republicans hold on Washington, D.C. A Republican has held the seat since 1979, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Price, who left the post to become Trump’s Health and Human Service Secretary. But as Nate Silver with FiveThirtyEight points out, the congressional district has changed a bit over the years.

Jon Ossoff greets thanks volunteers at a campaign office in Chamblee yesterday. Photo credit: Joe Raedle of Getty Images.

Silver points out that the district went for Mitt Romney by 23 percentage points in 2012, the same year then-President Barack Obama won by 4 points nationally, making it “27 points more Republican than the country as a whole.”  In 2016, however, it picked Trump over Hillary Clinton, by 1.5 points in an election where Clinton won by 2 points. As Silver notes that made the district “only 3 to 4 points more Republican than the national average.”

The race isn’t just a test for Republican, it’s also an early chance for Democrats to prove they can flip a district, especially going into the 2018 midterms. Ossoff, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, leads Handel 49 percent to 47 percent.

“Democrats sweat the details in Georgia special election” via Gabe Debenedetti of POLITICO – Democrats are closer than they ever could have imagined to winning a House seat in the Republican suburbs of Atlanta, and dealing a resounding blow to Trump. But they’re also gripped by anxiety about what happens if they fall short Tuesday. A loss in Georgia’s special election here could leave the party demoralized, with little to show for all the furious organizing, fundraising and spending in a handful of congressional special elections in the early months of the Trump administration.

– “A pro-Donald Trump group is using Barack Obama’s voice out of context in radio ad for Georgia’s special election” via Andrew Kaczynski of CNN

– “Early-vote turnout soars in Georgia special election via Scott Bland of POLITICO

– “High-stakes referendum on Donald Trump takes shape in a Georgia special election” via Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of The New York Times

– “The Dems’ new midterm challenge: replicate Jon Ossoff’s success” via Alex Roarty of McClatchy

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


DSCC releases new digital ad taking aim at Rick Scott health care” via Florida Politics — The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is once again targeting Gov. Rick Scott over his support of the Republican health care agenda. The committee announced Monday it was launching full-screen, Google takeover ads featuring new versions of a DSCC called “The Price” aimed at Scott’s support of the health care plan and its impact on Florida families. The ad, which the national Democratic organization says will reach targeted voters in Florida who make up key elements of the 2018 midterm electorate, is part of an ongoing six-figure digital ad buy. The 30-second spot features images of a man and woman selling their vehicle and jewelry, before appearing at the hospital bed of a child. At the end of the advertisement, the words “What will Rick Scott’s health care plan cost you?” flash across the screen. Click on the ad below to watch.

“Endorsement watch: Al Jacquet supports Andrew Gillum” via Florida PoliticsState Rep. Jacquet on Monday announced his support of Tallahassee Mayor Gillum for Democratic governor in 2018. “Andrew brings a fresh perspective, energetic spirit, and the bold leadership our state desperately needs in order to best address our economic issues,” said Jacquet, a Lantana Democrat. “It’s time to stand up to special interests whose only concern has been filling their own pockets.” Jacquet is an attorney who speaks four languages and has served as vice mayor of Delray Beach.

Assignment editors: Adam Putnam will take part in a small business roundtable at Molds Unlimited 7620 West 2nd Court in Hileah. The event opens to the media at 10:50 a.m., with media gaggle at 11 a.m. Media interested in attending should RSVP to amanda@adamputnam.com by 8 a.m.

Matt Caldwell releases video highlighting #2LaneTravels Work Days Tour — The North Fort Myers kicked off his kicked off #2LaneTravels Work Days at Key Largo Fisheries in Key Largo on Friday. The statewide tour is a chance for Caldwell to showcase the industries that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees. “The people who end up at top are the ones who started in the mail room,” he said in an interview after working skinning yellow tails and weighing shark carcasses. “For me, the same thing is true here, if I can do the best job I can … if I’m blessed to come out on top, I have to understand (the jobs).” … For Caldwell, the work days serve a dual purpose. While it helps it him better understand Florida, he’s also hopeful it will help Floridians better understand what the Agriculture Commissioner does. “When you go around and try to explain to people who aren’t farmers, I remind them of the show Dirty Jobs,’” he said. “Pretty much everything he does is what the Commissioner’s Office oversees.” Caldwell said he expects future work days to include working on cattle ranches, with timber crews, and in tire shops. Click on the image below to watch the ad.

Pinellas, Pasco sheriffs back Ashley Moody for AG — Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco announced this week they were backing the former Hillsborough  in her race to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2018. “We need to continue these aggressive, common-sense initiatives and there is no one better suited to do that than Ashley Moody,” said Gualtieri, who also praised Bondi’s work as attorney general in his statement. “She is a proven prosecutor and experienced leader in the legal community. She knows what it takes to protect our state and she has my full support.” Nocco said he was support Moody for “Attorney General because she shares my priorities and has the experience, knowledge, and determination to keep our state safe and support our law enforcement community and its quest to protect Floridians.”

Democrat Pam Keith to seek U.S. House seat of GOP’s Brian Mast” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – Keith, a former U.S. Navy and NextEra Energy attorney who impressed progressive activists with her 2016 U.S. Senate bid, will run for the Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast congressional seat held by freshman Rep. Mast. “He is a follower in Congress,” Keith said of Mast. “When his constituents were begging to talk to him and tell him why the vote to repeal Obamacare was a horrible idea … he wasn’t even willing to listen to them.” Trump carried District 18 with 53 percent of the vote, but Keith believes the president will be a liability for Mast. “Congress is supposed to be a check on the power of the executive branch and Congress is not doing that. We’ve not seen Brian Mast stand up to anything at this point,” Keith said.

New round of mailers target Alex Diaz de la Portilla in SD 40” via Florida Politics — Making A Better Tomorrow has released two more mailers in the Senate District 40 race. In one ad, the Venice-based political committee claims Diaz de la Portilla “is completely unfit to hold public office.” The mailer points to his failure to report hundreds of campaign contributions and personal financial strife, among other things, as reasons why the group says he is “unfit to lead.” A second mailer, which hit mailboxes last week, claims Diaz de la Portilla “has hurt Florida’s seniors.” The ad reads: “First Alex Diaz de la Portilla cut $2.5 million from programs benefiting Florida seniors, including home car for the elderly, community care and Alzheimer’s disease initiative programs. Then he turned around and cut funding to nursing homes. As if that’s not bad enough, Diaz de la Portilla cut Medicaid payments and imposed higher taxes on facilities that care for seniors.”

Jose Felix Diaz: I’ll return money from Miami developer under investigation ‘if they’re guilty’” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Republican candidate for Senate, is “closely” monitoring a federal affordable-housing investigation now examining the largest real estate developer in South Florida, the Related Group, which gave Diaz and his political committee $5,000 this month. “There was no way I could have known” about the investigation, said Diaz, who is running in the District 40 special election. The Miami Herald revealed the investigation on Thursday. The Feds are focusing on the Related Group and its involvement in a low-income apartment building for seniors in Miami’s Shenandoah neighborhood. … On June 6, Related Urban Development Group cut a $3,000 check to Diaz’s political committee, Rebuild Florida, according to the committee’s finance records. A day later, it gave $1,000 directly to Diaz, as did Fortune Urban Construction, Related Group’s wholly owned contractor. “If they’re guilty of any crime, obviously I will return” the money, Diaz said. “In our system, the premise is you’re innocent until you’re found guilty.”

Save the date: Jason Fischer will host a kick-off fundraiser for his 2018 campaign at 6 p.m., Monday at Acosta Corporate Headquarters, 6600 Corporate Center Parkway in Jacksonville. The event will be chaired by Rep. Paul Renner, former Ambassador John Rood, former Education Commissioner Jim Horne. The host committee, according to the invitation, includes Tim Baker, Marty Fiorentino, Mori Hosseini, and Brian Hughes. Special guests include Mayor Lenny Curry, Sens. Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley, and Travis Hutson, and Reps. Cord Byrd, Travis Cummings, Jay Fant, Bobby Payne, Cyndi Stevenson, and Clay Yarborough.

Fourth Republican, Bruno Portigliatti, qualifies for HD 44 special election” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising —  Portigliatti, of Orlando, is chief executive officer of Excellence Senior Living, a developer of luxury assisted living facilities for seniors, and executive vice president of Florida Christian University, a global online university. He also helps manage real estate enterprises for his family’s Portigliatti Group LLC. He joins Kissimmee chamber of commerce chief John Newstreet, former Winter Garden Commissioner Bobby Olszewski, and emergency and urgent care physician Dr. Usha Jain as having qualified for the Republican primary ballot. The other three qualified by petition earlier this month. Qualification closes at noon Tuesday for the special election, set to replace former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, who resigned to take a judicial appointment.

Daniel Perez takes double-digit lead over Jose Mallea in HD 116 poll” via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News — Political newcomer Daniel Perez is leading his GOP primary opponents by double-digit numbers in the race to replace Jose Felix Diaz in Florida’s 116th House District. According to a poll released Monday, voters would select lawyer Daniel Perez over Miami-Dade Republican Jose Mallea by a 24 percent margin, with 37 percent saying they support Perez while 13 percent would vote for Mallea. When voters were given both positive and negative statements about the two candidates, including their personal backgrounds, issue positions and list of endorsements, Mallea’s lead decreased while Perez’s lead increased to 50 percent.


Assignment editors: Gov. Scott is expected to speak during the New York State Republican Gala at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, 811 Seventh Ave. in New York. Lara Trump is also scheduled to attend.

Bill watch – Gov. Scott was presented on Monday with all enrolled bills from the 2017-A Special Session, LobbyTools reported. He has until Tuesday, July 4, to sign them, veto them or let them become law without his signature. The bills are SB 8-A, which implements the state’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana; SB 6-A, which tweaks public records law related to cannabis users’ caregivers’ information; HB 3A, which boosts public education funding; and HB 1A, which funds tourism marketing and economic development.

“Judge reverses himself, decides ‘pre-reveal’ machines are slots” via Florida PoliticsIn a stunning reversal, a Tallahassee judge on Monday decided he had gotten it “wrong the first time around” and decided that games known as “pre-reveal” are in fact illegal slot machines. Circuit Judge John Cooper, however, was quick to say his change of mind was not influenced by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, but rather by further argument on how pre-reveal, or “no chance,” games actually play. The Tribe’s lawyer had said that allowing the machines, which look and play like slots, violates their exclusive right to offer slot machines outside South Florida, imperiling the state’s cut of the Tribe’s gambling revenue. “That’s a political issue,” Cooper said.

“State tells court to deny Gretna’s request for rehearing” via Florida Politics – Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office told the state Supreme Court on Monday to turn down a request from a North Florida racetrack in a case over whether pari-mutuels can add slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them. Last month, the court unanimously ruled against Gretna Racing, meaning that gambling facilities in Gadsden County and in seven other counties that passed referendums allowing slots will not be able to offer them. The court’s unanimous decision found that “nothing in (state gambling law) grants any authority to regulate slot machine gaming to any county.” The state’s response called Gretna’s arguments for rehearing “improper and meritless.”

State health insurance examined – The Office of Economic and Demographic Research will discuss state employee health insurance at a meeting starting 9 a.m. in Room 117 of the Knott Building.


Rick Scott tries to lure ‘upset’ Connecticut firms” via Susan Haigh of The Associated Press – Scott met with community and business leaders in Norwalk. Scott’s visit comes as health insurer Aetna Inc. considers relocating its longtime headquarters from Hartford. Scott says he would “love every company in Connecticut” to think about moving to Florida, where he says taxes and regulations have been cut since he first took office. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s spokeswoman says “it’s no wonder” Scott would look to Connecticut and be “envious” of its’ high quality of life, good schools and skilled workforce.

Richard Corcoran to Hillsborough schools: Stop blaming the Legislature while you waste money” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times – As it attempts to put its financial house in order, the Hillsborough County School District is being made a poster child for runaway public school spending. The accuser: Corcoran, a driving force behind this year’s sweeping public education bill. His message: The bill (HB 7069) is not why district officials are struggling to pay their expenses. Rather, Corcoran told the Tampa Bay Times, “it’s their bloat, inefficiency and gross over-spending. Their problem is their mismanagement.” But Corcoran insisted that politics had nothing to do with his remarks. “It’s not over how they’re treating me, it’s absolutely over their gross mismanagement,” he said.

Former Miami administrator’s suspicious land deal under state investigation” via David Ovalle, David Smiley and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald – As a former Miami city official, politically connected construction consultant Ola Aluko boasts years of experience putting together complex development deals and handling millions in government grants. But in one small land deal that turned a six-figure profit, Aluko’s role was curiously obscured. A few years back, he bought a small tract of vacant land in Overtown for $39,000, creating a shell company to do it. Six months later, the shell company filed paperwork installing a new manager — a 23-year-old Miami woman. The next day, the company flipped the parcel for $150,000. The new buyer? St. John Community Development Corporation, a venerated Miami nonprofit — whose president happens to be Aluko. Today, St. John is pursuing a tax-subsidized affordable housing project on the site.

Uber driver cited $250 in Miami for not speaking English” via The Associated Press – Miami-Dade officials say Carmen Hechavarria received a ticket after dropping off passengers at the Miami International Airport. A county ordinance says drivers of ride-hailing apps must be able to communicate in English. Uber spokesman Javi Correoso said the app allows people to communicate even if they don’t speak English. It is how foreign-language speakers and deaf drivers can sign up … 54-year-old Hechavarria was fined after she couldn’t understand when an officer greeted her … Hechavarria speaks Spanish.


Little Marco Rubio shrinks down to Donald Trump’s size” via Richard Cohen of The Washington Post – The pliable Republican senator from Florida and the deranged president of the United States now get along. It was only a bit more than a year ago that they were hurling verbal spitballs at one another … It is refreshing, in an aerosol sort of way, to have that squabble behind us and the room fumigated. Only Trump remains, spewing resentful tweets from somewhere in the White House. I could say that it is a good and wholesome thing to return to yesteryear, when the day’s rancorous politics ended with bourbon and branch and the camaraderie that comes from acknowledging that the real enemy is not across the aisle, but the American people. They can vote you out. But with Trump, there is no going back to the old ways. Just as “Macbeth doth murder sleep,” so has Trump broken Washington.

Rick Scott’s double-whammy against public education in Florida” via the Palm Beach Post editorial board – Nice work, Governor … Scott vetoed most of the policy initiatives sought by Senate President Negron in hopes of catapulting Florida campuses into the nation’s top tier of public universities. That included expansions of the Bright Futures merit-scholarship program and funds to attract world-class professors and researchers and reward top-performing medical, business and law programs. Scott did this because he thought the universities were benefiting at the expense of the 28 state colleges. It’s true that the state colleges fared badly in Tallahassee this spring. But the way to fix those shortcomings is to address them next year — not punish universities for the advances they managed to make. Since when it is wise to throw out the baby with the bathwater? More galling is Scott’s embrace of House Bill 7069, which was rightly reviled by school boards, superintendents, classroom teachers and parents throughout the state. With Scott’s signature, $140 million of public money will be set aside to subsidize privately owned charter schools that can set up near struggling traditional public schools and call them “Schools of Hope.”

Joe Henderson: Corcoran did more than change Florida education, whipped teachers union too” via Florida Politics – Alex Sink made a point that Democrats may finally have a cause to rally around in this state. She referred to HB 7069 (or, as I like to call it, “The Let’s Bust the Teachers’ Union Act”) pushed through by House Speaker Corcoran and signed into law by Gov. Scott. It is the biggest push yet by the Legislature to expand private charter schools with money from the public education budget. I won’t say Corcoran doesn’t care about public education. I won’t even say charter schools don’t have some benefit. But I will say that if you peel back the layers of how we got here, the Republican victory dance is as much about the whipping they inflicted on the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association, as it was the expansion of charters. This was Corcoran showing the union who is boss.

Joe Negron got played — Florida public schools pay price” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board – Negron so badly wanted his top priority this year that he failed to do what citizens expect of the Legislature’s upper chamber: stop bad things from happening … sometimes, doing the right thing means being willing to sacrifice your pet project. But after securing his first priority of the session — a new reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee — Negron fiercely sought his second: a sweeping higher education bill meant to help certain state universities attain “elite” status, while putting community colleges back in their place … HB 7069 was a tough sell in the more-measured Senate. But to secure his pet priority, Negron pushed it through. So, it was something of a stunner this week when the governor vetoed Negron’s priority, and signed Corcoran’s bad bill. In fact, it was a whiplash moment in the topsy turvy world of Florida politics.


“Art Graham, Ron Brisé seek reappointment to Public Service Commission” via Florida Politics – The Nominating Council for the commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities, announced Monday it was “accepting applications to fill two vacancies.” Those refer to the seats now held by Commissioners Graham and Brisé, whose terms are up at the end of the year. A spokeswoman for the commission later said that both men “notified the Nominating Council, as required by law, that they are both seeking reappointment.” The next terms start Jan. 2, 2018. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The pay is $131,036 per year.

Personnel note: Dale Swope named president of Florida Justice Association” via Florida PoliticsTampa attorney Swope has been named the 58th president of the Florida Justice Association, the group announced in a press release Monday. Swope took the presidency at the Association’s 2017 Annual Conference in St. Pete Beach last week. The group is the only statewide professional association dedicated to trial attorneys and their clients in the state. “I’m honored my colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead the Florida Justice Association at this consequential time for civil justice in our state and country,” Swope said after being sworn in.

New and renewed lobby registrations

Leslie Dughi, Greenberg Traurig: Vertical Bridge Holdings

Rob Fields, Suskey Consulting: Docusign, Inc.

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: AmDev International

David Shepp, Southern Strategy Group: PuppySpot Group, LLC

— ALOE —

Skateboarders planning ‘rogue’ mission to build concrete ramp in Havana” via Howard Altman of the Tampa Bay Times – Organizers say the plan is to convert an unused drainage ditch on the outskirts of Havana into a skate park with a mini ramp. The effort, they say, does not include seeking approval from authorities in the communist nation. “We are renegades,” said Michelle Box, executive director of Skatepark of Tampa and its associated charity, Boards for Bros. … the Tampa contingent is joining a campaign spearheaded by a Miami skateboarding charity that has been distributing skateboards in Cuba since 2009 … to coincide with international Go Skateboarding Day. “It’s being celebrated around the world,” said Box … “It’s a day to throw down the laptops and skate all day. That’s the impetus and reason and timing for this.” The mission will last 10 days.

Universal plans two hotels on former Wet ‘n Wild site” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Two hotels with 4,000 rooms, three pools and a parking garage will fill the 36-acre former home of Wet ‘n Wild. The plans will be considered by Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board before heading to Orlando City Council members for review July 10 and July 24. City documents provide a first glimpse of the development that sits a mile and a half east of the theme park on I-Drive. Universal has requested the property be rezoned from AC-3 (commercial) to a planned unit development. They also need a waiver to allow the parking garage to front on I-Drive. Current zoning requires parking garages be built on the back of developments in the Metropolitan Activity Center, which has the highest intensity of development outside of downtown Orlando. If approved, city staff has recommended the garage be screened and designed so it doesn’t look like a parking structure.

Website ranks Orlando as best U.S. place for video gamers” via The Associated Press – WalletHub said Orlando’s number of video game stores per-capita and its number of arcades helped push it to the top of the list for the 100 largest cities in the nation. Other cities in the top 5 rankings were Seattle, Austin, New York and Atlanta. The website also considered the share of residents owning smartphones, the number of annual comic book or sci-fi conventions and internet quality.

Happy birthday belatedly to people whom I don’t often agree with but are very good at their jobs: Brian Hughes and Mary Ellen Klas. Celebrating today is Matt Harringer, our friend Todd JoskoEd Miyagishima, and top fundraiser Ieva Smidt.

Sunburn for 6.19.17 — Speaker’s race insights; Richard Corcoran takes on the world; Fla. Dems being Fla. Dems; Ryan Duffy to U.S. Sugar; Loving Old Florida

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

Joe Biden and 1300 Democratic activists gathered in Hollywood this past weekend to plot how to end a 20-year string of Republican governors in 2018. Marco Rubio has been omnipresent on television screens since Friday when Donald Trump announced that he’s “cancelling” Barack Obama’s policy toward Cuba. And Richard Corcoran continues to make the case for this past legislative session being “the most transformative and transparent in the Legislature’s history.” But even with all of this happening, the most-trafficked story on FloridaPolitics.com is the one we published Friday afternoon.


The first-term state Representative currently commands a majority of his 26 colleague’s votes, after Melbourne’s Randy Fine put aside his own bid to be Speaker on Friday and decided to take on the role of kingmaker.

To reach the conclusion about the state of the race, FloridaPolitics.com interviewed no less than 18 members of the freshman class, as well as reviewed a cache of member-to-member emails and text messages provided to the media organization by several different members.

In addition to picking up Fine, Jason Fischer now says he is firmly in Renner camp.

Supporters of Jamie Grant, Renner’s chief rival for the Speaker’s post, dispute this count and contend that neither candidate has the support of a majority of the class. They add that Grant actually has more definitive votes in his pocket than Renner.

Representative Randy Fine talks during the Health Quality subcommittee meetings in the House Office building at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee.

— Both sides concede Bob Rommel is in Renner’s column. That’s 13 very likely votes for Renner.

— In addition to his solid 9, Grant is counting on the support of Erin Grall once she is eliminated on the first or second ballot.

— POLITICO’s Matt Dixon, who is also closely following the Speaker’s race, says he has the same whip count.

— This leaves Thad Altman, Byron Donalds (after he is eliminated on the first or second ballot), Mel Ponder, and Cyndi Stevenson as the deciding votes. Fine thinks he can bring Altman over to Renner and Renner’s team is confident Stevenson is now with them.

— Since our story Friday, we’ve heard some rumblings that Rick Roth is not happy being put into any candidate’s column.

— Grant is far from ready to give up. In fact, he probably think he still has the votes to win. He’s also planning to work the next two weeks to win over undecided voters.

— Two smart questions: 1) Will members listed in the FP article as supporting Renner get cold feet? 2) Will current House leadership, said to favor Grant, intercede on his behalf and with who?

— More interesting reads about the Speaker’s race:

>>>”Tempers flaring as Speaker’s race barrels to conclusion” via Florida Politics

>>>”Randy Fine explains to colleagues why he dropped out of Speaker’s race” via Florida Politics

>>>“Why Does James Grant believe he’s above the Law?” via Nick Tomboulides for Sunshine State News

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


With the Special Session in the rearview mirror and House Speaker Corcoran’s top priority now signed into law, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau takes a look a closer look at the Land O’Lakes Republican, and his actions during the 2017  Session.

In her story, Klas writes that Corcoran would likely win the part as “the most interesting man in Tallahassee.” … Corcoran said he was motivated by “principle, always principle,” and thought the 2017 Session “was the most transformative and transparent in the Legislature’s history.”

But as Klas notes many of the policy measures pushed by Corcoran appeared to be contradictory. He pushed new budget rules prohibiting last-minute insertion of projects into the budget, but left a “loophole that allowed Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron to force the approval of 15 so-called ‘conforming bills’ that had not been reviewed, screed or approved by any committee in its entitery or by both chambers.”

— He also suggested rules prohibiting members of House leadership from campaigning for higher office while in the House, then created his own new political committee, which he might use for a statewide run for governor. And after he pushed the House to strip funding from Enterprise Florida, then helped orchestrate a way to rescue the program that Klas describes as “a way the legislatively inexperienced governor had rarely seen.”

— Money quote from someone who knows the pressures of being Speaker: “Richard is capable of fighting on multiple fronts simultaneously,” said Tom Feeney, who Corcoran worked for as a legal counsel. “But he’s enough of a strategist that when some of those battles played out, he was constantly adjusting his priorities based on his best opportunity.”

Corcoran: Legislators represent people better than local governments” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – “If you are a special interest or you are somebody that wants to curry favor, it is generally much more difficult in a comparative scale to get something through in the state government that would affect the state than it is the local government,” the Pasco County Republican told about 100 people gathered for the weekly Cafe con Tampa breakfast in South Tampa. “To get something through on a local level you have to win over seven or five people. To get something through in Tallahassee, you’ve got to get something through one chamber with 120 people, something through another chamber that has 40 people, and then you have an executive with veto power. The greater input from more and more people, as our founders thought, that scrutiny allows there to end up being a better and better product.”

Open-government group seeks lawmakers’ text messages” via Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel – The First Amendment Foundation sent a letter to House Speaker Corcoran and Senate President Negron asking them to produce text messages sent by lawmakers. The texts were first requested by Matt Dixon. “It is incumbent on each government official — in this case, each legislator subject to the request — to make a search for responsive records on his or her personal device,” FAF president Barbara Petersen wrote. State law requires text messages discussing government business to be available to the public whether they are sent on a government-issued cellphone or personal device.

Pasco County Republican Richard Corcoran spoke to more than 100 people gathered for the weekly Cafe con Tampa breakfast in South Tampa.


“Rick Scott asked to respond to judicial appointments lawsuit” via Florida PoliticsThe Florida Supreme Court has asked Gov. Scott to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term. The court on Friday gave Scott till July 5 to file a response, with the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause having a July 17 deadline to reply to Scott’s filing … Scott, a Naples Republican, has said he plans to name the replacements for the court’s liberal-leaning trio of Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince. They face mandatory retirement on the same day—Jan. 8, 2019—that is Scott’s last in office as governor … The (lawsuit) says Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will hold a press conference to discuss his economic development mission to Connecticut at 11 a.m. at the Norwalk Inn & Conference Center, 99 East Ave. in Norwalk, Conn.

Gradebook podcast: Sen. Jack Latvala explains what happened with HB 7069” via Jeffrey S. Solochek with the Tampa Bay TimesLatvala usually gets a warm reception at Florida School Boards Association events. On Friday, the Pinellas County Republican faced some chilliness over HB 7069, the major education bill that some said he didn’t do enough to stop as Appropriations chairman. … These days in the Legislature, Latvala said, there are “a dwindling number of people who care about public schools,

Tampa Bay lawmakers express regrets over legislative session” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times – State Sen. Darryl Rouson told the Tampa Tiger Bay Club forum he was “bringing home apologies that we cost you $70,000 a day in a special session to do what we should have done in the first regular session.’ … “As a citizen, I’m embarrassed about the performance of our Legislature over the last three or four years,” said Rep. Dan Raulerson. “I think everybody’s upset.” … State Sen. Tom Lee said the Legislature’s failure to handle the marijuana bill properly was because of influential special interests who “locked the process up.”… “This didn’t turn out to be about the patients. It turned out to be about the licensees who were going to win,” he said. “That’s just the process that we’re in right now, and I apologize for that.”

– “After shifting alliances, dark clouds await in the next legislative session” via Dan Sweeney of the South Florida Sun Sentinel

Carlos Trujillo got last-minute budget language OK’d to punish Miami developer” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The Florida Housing Finance Corporation board, appointed by Gov. Scott, voted in March to ban Pinnacle Housing Group from seeking state funds for two years. That was after federal prosecutors said a company affiliate inflated costs related to projects funded through the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus package, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The company signed a deferred prosecution agreement, was fined $1 million and returned $4.2 million in funds … The FHFC board voted 4-2 for the two-year ban, while the staff had recommended a five-year ban and a halt in funding for “pipeline projects” — meaning those projects already given early approval. Trujillo agreed the punishment was not strong enough, so he asked for language to be placed in the state budget to overrule the board vote.

Dan Raulerson: All legislators should be armed” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times – A pro-gun rights Tampa Bay area state legislator, commenting on the Virginia shooting at a congressional baseball practice, said in a forum the shooting shows people should carry guns in public – even at swimming pools or playing softball. “Each one of those congressmen should be carrying a weapon,” responded state Rep. Dan Raulerson. “We all should be carrying a weapon.” He didn’t respond to comments from the crowd that it would be difficult to carry a gun while playing softball. Reactions of the legislators at the forum displayed partisan reactions to the shooting – Democrats saying it showed the need for tighter gun laws and Republicans saying it shows more people need to carry guns.


Driving the day –Florida Democrats erupt as Stephen Bittel apologizes for racially-tinged comments” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – The comments were directed at Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, who is black, and members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. They came during a heated exchange before a keynote speech by Joe Biden at the Leadership Blue Gala … It started because the Secret Service needed to tweak the event to accommodate Biden’s schedule. Because of the change, Bittel allowed event planners to skip a feature to recognize state House and Senate Democrats. That change of plans, however, was not relayed to the elected officials … stuck waiting to go onstage. “I was calm until I was shit-talked,” Braynon said. “I just said that I did not think that Joe Biden was going to leave if we allowed for 10 minutes to give recognition to our members onstage … I was dismissed.” The exchange between the two was calm until, Braynon said, Democratic state Sen. Lauren Book relayed to him that Bittel was blaming the escalating situation on him and the black caucus. “He said I’m acting like a 3-year-old. He said the black caucus members were acting like 3-year-olds and childish,” Braynon said. “I was visibly upset. Others were visibly upset.”

’We are better than this,’ impassioned Biden tells Florida Democrats” via Patricia Mazzei and Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald – Without ever mentioning President Donald Trump, Biden rejected the new president’s rhetoric and assured Democrats there is a way for them to recover their political standing. “The state the nation is today will not be sustained by the American people,” Biden said. “We are better than this.” At times funny, at times so serious he was whispering, Biden spoke to Democratic activists in Hollywood for more than 50 minutes, sounding like a potential candidate for president in 2020 — or at least like one the party’s most impassioned messengers for 2018. Biden began by making a case for the re-election of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who will likely face his biggest challenger yet next year in Republican Gov. Scott. “No one, no one, no one has ever questioned his word when he’s given it, and no one, no one that I’ve met in my entire time in the Senate and eight years as vice president doesn’t respect Bill for his moral courage and his physical courage,” Biden said. “Bill, I’ll come back to Florida as many times as you want — to campaign for you or against you, whichever helps more.”

Leading Democratic candidates for Florida governor agree on big issues” via George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post – It was literally a love fest when the three leading Democratic candidates for Florida governor — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and businessman Chris King — got together for a forum. Gillum, Graham and King agreed on expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, restoring voting rights to ex-felons, banning fracking, spending more money on public education and placing less emphasis on high-stakes testing. Beyond all the agreement and good feelings, each candidate contended that he or she is best positioned to win the governorship in 2018 after five straight victories by Republicans.

SHOT: “Andrew Gillum looks like Democrats’ best hope for governor, but will email scandal hurt him?” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

CHASER:It’s unclear how Adam Smith decided Andrew Gillum is Florida Democrats’ ‘best hope’” via Florida Politics

Phil Levine laying low in gubernatorial race” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – The Miami Beach Mayor isn’t officially running for anything (right now), so he’s on a different wavelength than his would-be Democratic competitors. “I’m still thinking, I’m still exploring,” he said right before the official festivities at the FDP’s Leadership Blue Gala. Of course, the question might be how well Levine might be received in a Democratic forum, considering he talked openly in Tampa last month of running as an independent. On Saturday, he was trotting out what has become his adopted title — Radical Centrist. “We’ll see where my product sells best,” is all he would say when asked if he was serious about going the indie route.

Florida Democrats announce new vehicle to try to get more of them elected to state Senate” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Incoming Senate Minority Leader Jeff Clemens announced the creation of a new campaign to help get more Democrats elected to the Florida Senate in 2018 and beyond. “Flip Florida Blue” will set out initially to invest resources to win the special election in Miami-Dade’s Senate District 40 seat formerly held by Hialeah Republican Frank Artiles … The next goal is ambitious: Clemens says there are 6-7 targeted Senate Districts in the 2018 cycle they hope to flip, adding to the current roster of 15 Democrats … One of them will undoubtedly be SD 18, which could see a rematch between GOP incumbent Dana Young and Democrat Bob Buesing. Last fall, Young won the race by seven points, with independent Joe Redner getting 9 percent. Redner said that if Buesing mounts a campaign in 2018, he will not run for the seat.

– “Alex Sink: Anger over HB 7069 could be Dems winning issue in 2018” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics


Don Gaetz: And now, the next governor of Florida…” via the Pensacola News-Journal – It is expected that Adam Putnam will be the winner of the 2018 Republican primary for governor. Many of those taking this same bet think Gwen Graham has the inside lane for the Democratic nomination. But if conventional politics takes a holiday next year in Florida … gubernatorial politics could be a knockdown drag out between extremes, not a contest among the presumed. The upside of Adam Putnam is his downside. It’s his turn, which may not be to his advantage. Remember, it was Bill Gunter’s turn, Buddy MacKay’s turn, Bill McCollum’s turn, Alex Sink’s turn et al. Putnam’s been in the gubernatorial waiting room for 15 years. Putnam’s two very likely GOP rivals, State House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senator Jack Latvala, will hit refresh on Putnam’s voting record every morning. Can hits below the waterline, even from lesser-financed opponents you don’t take seriously, make a difference? Ask Jeb Bush. Is Putnam fated to stumble? Hardly. Is he a cinch? Hardly.

First on #FlaPol – Julia Gill Woodward to manage Gwen Graham’s gubernatorial campaign – Woodward is taking over the reins of Graham’s gubernatorial campaign. Woodward has a long history with the former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee, serving both on her 2014 congressional campaign and working as her chief of staff. “As a ninth-generation Floridian, Julia Woodward knows this state as well as anyone,” said Graham in a statement. “In 2014, she guided our team to victory in one of the most competitive races in the entire country. I’m confident, under her leadership, we will be ready to defeat any Republican and turn Florida blue.”

Graham picks up Nan Rich’s endorsement” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Gwen Graham has the integrity and ideas, the leadership qualities and real-life experiences to end the Republicans’ nearly two-decade hold on the governor’s office and put Florida on a progressive path forward,” Rich stated in a news release … “Gwen is the only Democrat for governor who has run against a Republican and won. Gwen is the only candidate for governor who has worked on the front lines of our public school system. She has been an advocate for women and children — and while in Congress she returned more than $2.5 million to seniors, veterans and families. Gwen is the only candidate for governor with a vision and actual plans to protect our environment and build an economy that works for everyone,” Rich added.

Gillum campaign takes heat for use of Charlie Crist’s email list of donors” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida Gillum is being accused by some Democrats of using the email fundraising list compiled by Crist without permission, a claim that brings more unwanted attention to the rookie statewide candidate’s campaign. “My understanding is that that may have occurred,” Crist said. “I’m not sure how, but I’ve heard that.” He added that people have reached out to him to inform him that Gillum has been using his donor list. “They seemed more angry about it than I am,” said Crist, who was elected last fall to Congress. Of the campaign’s roughly 5,300 total contributions, more than 800 are donors who also gave to the Crist campaign … A vast majority of those were very small-dollar donors, a very good indication they gave to the campaign as the result of a fundraising email. It’s not uncommon for campaigns to trade or swap fundraising email lists with other campaigns, but Crist said he has not heard from the Gillum team about using his list.

Tweet, tweet:

Baxter Troutman opens iGrow PC to fund Agriculture Commissioner bid — State records show Troutman launched iGrow PC, a state political committee. He filed a statement of solicitation with the Division of Elections on June 14, two days after he filed to run for the statewide seat. POLITICO Florida first reported the creation of Troutman’s political committee. Troutman filed the necessary paperwork to run for Agriculture Commissioner on June 12, and opened his campaign account with a personal contribution of $2.5 million.

Tom Rooney backs Ben Albritton for Florida Senate — The Okeechobee Republican announced he was throwing his support behind Albritton in his race to replace Sen. Denise Grimsley in Senate District 26. “Ben Albritton is a tireless and dedicated servant leader committed to strengthening our communities,” said Rooney. “I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Ben on issues important to our region, and I am confident he will continue the tradition of excellent representation Denise Grimsley has provided.” 

Jim Boyd stockpiling cash for likely 2020 Senate bid” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Campaign finance reports reveal that Boyd’s political action committee has raised $109,511 since the beginning of the year, and now has $177,932 in cash on hand. Boyd is interested in the state Senate seat currently held by Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will become Senate president next year. Galvano won’t leave office until 2020, but getting started early and building up a big war chest could help Boyd scare off potential challengers.

Qualifying starts in HD 44 — A two-day qualifying period in the special election to replace former Rep. Eric Eisnaugle in House District 44 starts on Monday and runs through noon on Tuesday. Eisnaugle, an Orlando Republican, resigned to become a judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal. A special primary has been scheduled for Aug. 15, with a special election on Oct. 10. Republicans Usha Jain, John David Newstreet, Bobby Olszewski, and Bruno Portigliatti; and Democrats Paul Jason Chandler and Nuren Durre Haider have filed to run.

Happening today – SD 40 candidates’ debate — The Women’s Republican Club of Miami Federated is scheduled to host a debate for the Republicans running in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. Republicans Jose Felix Diaz, Alex Diaz de la Portilla, and Lorenzo Palomares are running for the seat. The debate kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus, Building R, 11011 S.W. 104th St. in Miami.


On CNN’s “State of The Union,” Jake Tapper asked Rubio how he would react if Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller and/or U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein:

“Well, first of all, that’s not going to happen. I don’t believe it’s going to happen. And here’s what I would say. The best thing that could happen for the president, and the country, is a full and credible investigation. I really, truly believe that.

“If we want to put all this behind us, let’s find out what happened, let’s put it out there, and let’s not undermine the credibility of the investigation.

“And so, my view on it is that’s the best thing that could happen for the president and for the country, and I believe ultimately that’s what will happen, irrespective of all the other stuff that’s going on out there.”

Rubio said about the same thing to John Dickerson of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” when asked about Trump calling the investigations a “witch hunt.”

“Well, I know he feels very strongly about it. My advice to the president is what I communicated publicly. The way I’ve tried to communicate to everyone on this issue. And that is this. It is in the best interest of the president and the country to have a full investigation.”

Later, Rubio talked with Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” about circumstantial evidence of a link between the Russia investigation and possibly softening sanctions.

“I could understand how some people would make that argument. I could also tell you though that I personally believe that at the core of the resistance is not the president. And I don’t think the president himself has a problem with additional sanctions on Russia.

“I think the concern actually comes from the State Department and for the following reason: they argue that they are trying to get the Russians to be more cooperative on a number of fronts and that this could set us back.”

Rubio cautions against rushing health care in Senate” via Hanna Trudo of POLITICORubio cautioned against fashioning health care legislation “behind closed doors” in the Senate and rushing it to the floor for a vote. “The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote on the floor,” the Florida Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” … “Every camera in the world’s going to have to see what’s in it,” he said. Rubio was responding to remarks from his colleague, Sen. Ron Johnson, who took issue with the clunky process of moving a health care proposal in the Senate. Rubio added that while he doesn’t take issue with the ongoing meetings about new health care legislation, the final version “cannot be rushed to the floor” … “Ultimately,” he said, “we’re all going to see what’s in it.”


If you read one thing –A mother’s death, a botched inquiry and a Sheriff at war” via Walt Bogdanich of The New York TimesRusty Rodgers did not fit everyone’s image of a law enforcement officer, particularly in deeply conservative northeast Florida … in January 2011, came the call that would upend his life. Go to St. Augustine, he was told, to reinvestigate the death of 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell, shot while packing to leave her deputy sheriff boyfriend, Jeremy Banks. The fatal bullet came from his service weapon. Agent Rodgers had been summoned here twice before to answer questions about cases involving the St. Johns County sheriff, David B. Shoar … with crucial evidence missing or unexamined, Agent Rodgers had to make sense of the mess. And that meant possibly antagonizing one of Florida’s most powerful sheriffs. A mercurial leader, unctuous one moment, bitingly critical the next, Sheriff Shoar didn’t countenance challenges to his authority. He had resisted the O’Connell family’s demands for an outside review of the case for nearly five months. When the sheriff finally agreed, his office had one requirement — that Agent Rodgers, and only Agent Rodgers, conduct the investigation. It took the agent only two weeks to find evidence that fundamentally changed the complexion of the case. “I realized I’m dealing with a whole different set of facts, quite truthfully malice and wickedness,” he told state officials … His answer was a scathingly personal yearslong attack on Agent Rodgers — a campaign that put the outsize powers of a small-town sheriff on full display and ultimately swept up nearly everyone in its path.

Hack attacks highlight vulnerability of Florida schools to cyber crooks” via Kyra Gurney of the Miami Herald – Two months before the U.S. presidential election, international hackers slipped into the computer systems of at least four Florida school district networks in the hopes of stealing the personal data of hundreds of thousands of students. They infected the systems with malware … that turned off the logs recording who accessed the systems, according to United Data Technologies, the Doral-based cybersecurity company that investigated the incidents. For three months, the hackers probed the systems, mapping them out and testing their defenses. At one point, they even posted photos of someone dressed as an ISIS fighter on two school district websites. They weren’t just looking for the names of kids and valuable Social Security numbers … The hackers were also searching for some way to slip into other sensitive government systems, including state voting systems.

’Grayest’ state ranks 46 for long-term health care” via Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post – the state with a higher shareholder residents ranks among the worst at meeting their needs for long-term care, a new scorecard says. Senior advocacy group AARP said Florida has slipped to 46th among the states in a study that measures factors such as the cost of private nursing-home care as a percentage of annual household income, the number of private long-term care insurance policies in effect [among others].

“Lawyers to face off in hearing over ‘pre-reveal’ games” via Florida PoliticsLawyers for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and companies behind what are known as “pre-reveal” games—a name they apparently disdain—will appear Monday afternoon in a Tallahassee courtroom. Circuit Judge John Cooper agreed to hear argument on why he should reconsider his previous ruling that the stand-alone consoles aren’t illegal slot machines … The machines—offered mostly at bars and taverns—look and play like a slot machine, Cooper had reasoned, but don’t fit the legal definition of gambling because the player always knows whether he or she is a winner or loser. The Tribe has countered that Cooper’s decision “upends the Compact,” the 2010 agreement between the Tribe and the state for exclusive rights to offer certain gambling in return for a cut of the revenue. (It) believes the machines are slots, which violates its exclusivity. That could cost the state “multi-billions of dollars” by entitling the Tribe to stop paying the state a cut of its gambling revenue.

Long-awaited accreditation for Florida Poly marks school as ‘serious and legitimate’” via Claire McNeill of the Tampa Bay Times – In being granted initial regional accreditation to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Poly can assure current and future students it has the proper credentials to award quality degrees. “Accreditation signals to prospective students and faculty that we are serious and legitimate contenders in the world of higher education,” President Randy K. Avent said in a news release, calling the milestone “the biggest yet” for the college. Accreditation also allows students to get federal financial aid, such as student loans and need-based Pell Grants, and opens the door to federal research funding.


Carol Bowen: Florida construction marketplace healthier thanks to new legislation” for Florida Politics – The Associated Builders and Contractors … are pleased to report that new legislation will now strengthen competition and reduce abusive litigation in Florida’s multibillion commercial and public construction markets. We also want to thank Gov. Scott for his support of these two pro-business, pro-consumer bills. With the help of Rep. Jayer Williamson and Sen. Keith Perry, ABC successfully landed House Bill 599 (Public Works Projects), which will promote a more open, honest and competitive bid process for public construction projects where state dollars represent 50 percent or more of the funding. With the support of Rep. Tom Leek and Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, ABC also brought home House Bill 377 (Limitations on Actions other than for the Recovery of Real Property), which helps clarify when and how Florida’s 10-year statute of repose begins to run on a completed project.


“Florida Bar holds annual convention this week” via Florida PoliticsThe Bar‘s Annual Convention begins Wednesday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, with “a focus on the future of the legal profession and the challenges lawyers face,” the organization said in a press release. On Friday, Miami attorney Michael J. Higer will be sworn in as the Bar’s 69th president, and West Palm Beach attorney Michelle Suskauer will be become the Bar’s president-elect. She’ll assume the presidency next June. The Bar is charged with regulating the state’s 104,000 licensed attorneys.

“Pam Bondi’s net worth rises to $1.7 million, report shows” via Florida PoliticsAttorney General Bondi has reported her latest net worth at nearly $1.7 million, according to her 2016 financial disclosure filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics. Her net worth now has risen from the $1.4 million reported in 2015 and from the almost $781,000 she reported for 2012, the earliest disclosure still publicly available on the commission’s website. Bondi’s reported worth was a little over $472,000 in 2010 when she first ran for office. Her net worth jumped significantly in 2013 after she inherited from the estate of her father, Joseph Bondi, an author, educator and former Temple Terrace mayor. He died that January.

“Personnel note: Karl Rasmussen leaving Governor’s Office” via Florida PoliticsRasmussen, Gov. Scott’s deputy chief of staff, is departing the Governor’s Office for a lobbying job at the Meenan Law Firm, name partner Tim Meenan confirmed Friday … Rasmussen, a deputy chief of staff since late 2014, will focus his lobbying efforts in some of the same subject areas he now covers for the governor, including environment and health care, according to Meenan … “What clients look for are effective solutions to their problems,” (he) said. “I think Karl bolsters our ability to really reach into a large number of state agencies and the Legislature.” Rasmussen begins as a government consultant for the firm on June 28.

Personnel note: Ryan Duffy joining U.S. Sugar” via Florida Politics – Ryan Duffy, who joined Hill+Knowlton Strategies after serving as former House Speaker Will Weatherford‘s spokesman, now will be heading to U.S. Sugar as its Director of Corporate Communications, the company announced Friday.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Fred Dickinson, Erik Kirk, Will McKinley, PooleMcKinley: Gigamon, Inc.

— ALOE —

What Laura Jolly is reading –Former Delaware TV sports journalist, ex-Clearwater mayor Brian Aungst recognized by Phillies” via Meghan Montemurro of the Delaware News Journal – A John Dickinson High School grad and former Wilmington University baseball player, Aungst‘s journey took him from Delaware to Florida. It was there, as Clearwater’s mayor for six years (1999-05), Aungst was instrumental in the city’s economical development and facilitating the partnership between Clearwater, Pinellas County and the Phillies in the building of what is now known as Spectrum Field. Aungst and his wife of 41 years, Karen, were recognized before Friday’s Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park as Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater for 2017. Aungst, 63, fired a strike to the Phillie Phanatic as Karen, who is battling brain cancer, looked on. They were chosen by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce for their highest honor.

Greyhound races are a thing of the past. Here’s why Florida still hasn’t learned that.” via Duncan Strauss of The Washington Post – Florida is an outlier. The state is home to 12 of those greyhound tracks, which keep hosting races even as crowds and profits dwindle. When Atascocita Laden crossed the finish line, only about 20 spectators were trackside. The Palm Beach Kennel Club and its peers collectively lose about $30 million each year on dog racing … This confounding situation is the result of a weird wrinkle in Florida law that requires the tracks to offer dog racing to operate their highly lucrative card rooms. The Florida legislature, seeking to limit the number of card rooms statewide, passed a statute in 1997 that stipulated licenses would go only to existing “pari-mutuel” betting facilities — horse tracks, jai alai courts and, yes, dog tracks. The result is that the 7,000 or so racing greyhounds in Florida are running merely to keep the poker tables full. These days, the Palm Beach Kennel Club — a sprawling compound that also features simulcasts of horse racing held elsewhere, an enormous poker room, two restaurants and multiple concession stands — offers 15 dog races daily, with an additional 15 Friday and Saturday nights. On that Sunday, the grandstand above Atascocita Laden was a vast sea of empty seats, but the poker-room tables were packed.

Old Florida never gets old” via Vereen Bell Jr. of Garden & Gun – The high point of a day of fishing out of Shell Island Fish Camp … has always been the going out, past the convergence of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers, both icy cold and spring fed, past the no-wake zone into the open spread of the river between the marshes where the guide kicks the big Yamaha into high gear and you are planing across dark silken water, the sun rising to the left behind the St. Marks lighthouse, flights of brown pelicans headed for work ahead of you, ospreys already out looping and circling and searching, a bald eagle hunched on an oyster bar, at once insouciant and wary as you pass. The smell of salt air abruptly becomes richer as you approach the open water and then peel off into the east or west flats of Apalachee Bay … Shell Island — the heart and soul of it — exists pretty much as it has since the early 1950s … Shell Island is and always has been a family business, so naturally they say that when you come there, you become family, too. It’s a place where you feel thousands and thousands of people’s memories to be floating around in the air visiting each other. But it’s also a place where memory can be suspended, and you are just there, free of anxiety and attachment for the time being. And you start thinking about those cabins under the live oaks, and of porch swings and Adirondack chairs.

The Shell Island Fish Camp. Photo credit: Alicia Osborne.

Happy birthday belatedly to Brett Doster, Toby Philpot and Donna Main. Celebrating today is the great Lyndsey Brzozowski of Bascom Communications and Consulting and our man in Jacksonville, A.G. Gancarski.

Sunburn for 6.16.17 – POTUS to MIA; Donkey gathering; Landmark education bill signed; Tim Canova’s back; Happy Dad’s Day

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Stopping short of a complete turnabout, President Donald Trump is expected to announce a revised Cuba policy aimed at stopping the flow of U.S. cash to the country’s military and security services while maintaining diplomatic relations and allowing U.S. airlines and cruise ships to continue service to the island, reports the Associated Press.

In a speech Friday at a Miami theater associated with Cuban exiles, Trump will cast the policy moves as fulfillment of a promise he made during last year’s presidential campaign to reverse then-President Barack Obama’s diplomatic re-engagement with the island after decades of estrangement.

Senior White House officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the coming announcement said Obama’s overtures had enriched Cuba’s military while repression increased on the island. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the policy before Trump announces it, despite the president’s regular criticism of the use of anonymous sources.

President Trump traveling on Air Force One this week. Photo credit: AP.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen backs Donald trump Cuba policy but won’t attend Miami announcement” via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami HeraldRos-Lehtinen, who is retiring next year, has been critical of Trump. But the White House invited her to attend Trump’s policy event in Miami’s Manuel Artime Theater. Ros-Lehtinen, however, said she has family plans that will keep her in Washington. Marco Rubio and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, will join Trump, along with Florida Gov. Scott. Vice President Mike Pence, who was in town for a conference at Florida International University, might also attend. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is out of town, but the county will have the representation of Chairman Esteban “Steve” Bovo and Commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Joe Martinez and Javier Souto.

Wait for Donald Trump’s decisions is personal for south Florida’s Cuban, Haitian immigrants” via Alexandra Glorioso of the Naples Daily News Trump is scheduled to announce new policies toward Cuba during a visit … returning to the city where he promised Cuban-Americans during the campaign that he would reverse President Barack Obama‘s actions. Trump is expected to tighten restrictions on travel and trade with the communist country, although many younger Cubans celebrated Obama’s move to open relations. Trump also is considering changes that could affect another significant immigrant group in South Florida. His administration has extended temporary protective status for Haitian refugees until January, although he has signaled a likely end to the policy is coming. Both South Florida groups are watching Trump closely, believing that the actions he takes affecting their communities will offer insight into his administration’s approach to broader issues affecting immigrants across the country.

Cuba power play with Colombia draws Marco Rubio’s ire” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – In a final effort to stall a new U.S. trade and travel crackdown, Cuba pressured its ally Colombia to suggest it might boycott a Latin American security summit called by U.S. officials if Trump went forward with announcing his new policy targeting the Raul Castro government. The complicated international power play started to unfold following a national security principals meeting, according to congressional and senior government sources. Colombia began to express misgivings about how Trump’s Cuba announcement in Miami would coincide with the two-day U.S.-led Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, also in Miami, and suggested it might just skip out on the conference if Trump didn’t delay his announcement by a week, said an aide to Sen. Rubio. Rubio, who has spent months quietly helping Trump craft his plans to restrict trade and travel with Cuba, was “appalled” at the news — although he knew the White House wouldn’t succumb to any threats for a delay, his aide said.

Inside Marco Rubio’s campaign to shape Trump’s Cuba crackdown” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida – Any effort by Trump to make good on his campaign promise to roll back former President Obama’s historic accord with Raul Castro would be delayed, Rubio cautioned—not just from the Castro government and from outside business interests, but from within. It would be studied to death by government analysts who favor more engagement with Cuba, not less. It would be leaked to the news media. Stillborn with a thousand excuses by the bureaucrats. So go it alone, Rubio told the president during their May 3 meeting. “What you’ve committed to do on Cuba, what you want to do on Cuba, is never going to come from career staff. It’s going to have to come from the top down. You’re going to have to tell them what to do,” Rubio recalled telling the president as his fellow Miami Republican member of Congress, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, nodded in agreement.

“Central America more important than Cuba – despite Trump’s Miami visit” via Tim Padgett of WLRN – “I don’t usually feel sorry for Central American heads of state. Too many of them, right-wing or left-wing, have done their damnedest to perpetuate the image of the corrupt, tin-pot strongman. If you needed any reminding: U.S. marshals arrested Panama’s former President Ricardo Martinelli in Coral Gables this week. The wealthy, authoritarian right-winger is wanted back in Panama for pilfering millions of dollars intended for the poor and using it to spy on opponents. (At his extradition hearing in Miami federal court, Martinelli denied the charge.) But I gotta admit I feel sympathy for the presidents who are in Miami for the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.”

Assignment editors – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and representatives of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, University of Tampa, Florida Aquarium, Florida Orchestra and Cuba One to talk about United States/Cuba relations. Event begins 3 p.m. At Tampa International Airport, Main Terminal, between Airsides A and C.

Meanwhile – “Trump taps Broward GOP leader for Costa Rica ambassadorship” via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale, was re-elected as a Broward state Republican committeewoman in the party primary in August. Day has previously served three terms as co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, where she worked with Trump’s current Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Day first was elected to that role in 2011 and then re-elected in 2013 and 2015. She has also served as national party secretary.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


This weekend the Florida Democratic Party hosts its fourth annual Leadership Blue Gala (formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson dinner) from the ultra swanky Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, with over 1,200 Democrats expected to event the event.

Saturday night’s speaking schedule kicks-off with comments from the new FDP regime: Chair Stephen Bittel and President Sally Boynton Brown. Party officials are touting the $800,000 they’ve raised this year for the event though ticket sales and sponsorships to fund the FDP’s new community engagement program, aimed at growing the party’s grassroots infrastructure in advance of the 2018 election cycle.

While Bittel has been traversing the state in getting himself acquainted with grassroots party members since his election in January, this will be the first time for many Dems to hear from Brown, the former Idaho Democratic Party executive director who elicited charges of elitism and being too focused on identity politics after a controversial speech she gave in Broward County last month.

Senator Bill Nelson, DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake and a handful of state legislators are on the agenda scheduled to speak, leading into the keynote address by former Joe Biden.

Some analysts say the former Vice President’s speech has taken on greater relevance after it was reported late last month that he has launched a new PAC called American Possibilities, a vehicle to provide him a way to support Democrats running for office while keeping his own options open for a potential 2020 presidential run.

Not listed as scheduled to speak is DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. A rumor that the she would address the Democrats on Saturday night led to her once and future congressional challenger, Tim Canova, to use the opportunity to attack her and the pasty, saying they were giving a platform “the most divisive Democrat in the country.”

As usual, there will be meetings by the various party caucuses throughout Saturday, as well as a panel featuring the three announced gubernatorial candidates, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King.


Miramar mayor backs Andrew Gillum for Governor — Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam has thrown his support behind Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his race to replace Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. “As a Mayor who has fought hard to bring high-paying jobs, innovation, access to healthcare and a clean environment to my city, I have a full appreciation and respect for what Mayor Andrew Gillum brings as a candidate for governor,” said Messam in a statement. “I stood by Andrew when he fought the gun lobby and we stand together in support of the Paris Agreement to protect our environment. I ask every Floridian to join me and stand with Mayor Gillum for Governor.” 

In mulling gubernatorial run, Gwen Graham deleted two years of Twitter messages” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – At the end of her term in Congress and before launching her 2018 gubernatorial campaign, Graham took down her congressional Twitter account, which included more than two years of content. Though no longer publicly available, the tweets have now been archived by her campaign staff … She closed her Twitter account in January after leaving Congress. Past social media posts often serve as a treasure trove of opposition research for political rivals, but the campaign says that’s not the reason the tweets were taken down, which is not at odds with any congressional rules. “We took it down to avoid confusion between Gwen’s congressional account and her non-congressional account, which happened frequently — because she’s no longer a member of Congress,” said Matt Harringer, the campaign’s communications director.

Assignment editors: Chris King will speak to a meeting of the Florida Education Association at 9:30 a.m. at the Sawgrass Marriott, 1000 PGA Tour Blvd in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Hillsborough County Sheriff backs Ashley Moody for AG — Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee announced Thursday he was endorsing Ashley Moody in the race to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Ashley Moody’s career is one of service to her community and the rule of law,” said Gee in a statement. “Her experience as a federal prosecutor and a circuit court judge have demonstrated an unyielding passion to keep our community safe and strengthen our criminal justice system. As our next Attorney General, I have no doubt she will serve with distinction and honor and be an Attorney General that keeps our state safe.” Gee joins Bondi and five Hillsborough County commissioners in endorsing Moody, a former federal prosecutor and circuit court judge, in the Attorney General’s race. “I’ve had the pleasure to work with the men and women of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for many years,” she said in a statement. “Their professionalism and commitment to public safety is embodied in their Sheriff who has made a career out of keeping our community safe. I am thankful for his endorsement of my campaign and for his friendship.”

Matt Caldwell kicks off #2LaneTravels Work Days Tour — The North Fort Myers is launching his #2LaneTravels Work Days Tour at Key Largo Fisheries on Friday, where he’ll spend the day working in their processing facilities. The tour, according to Caldwell’s campaign, is meant to highlight the industries Caldwell would oversee as Agriculture Commissioner, and will give him a chance to spend the day working at a Florida business that is vital to the state’s economy. “I am going to be highlighting the jobs across our state that may not be glamorous but are critical to moving Florida’s economy,” said Caldwell. “While processing seafood isn’t easy, and you’re certainly going to get yourself dirty, our great state wouldn’t be what it is today without the hard working men and women that are responsible for the wholesome and delicious food that is served on tables across America.”

Tim Canova announces rematch against Wasserman Schultz” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – “A year ago the eyes of the nation were on this race and the stakes were very high,” Canova said at a Broward Democratic progressive caucus meeting in Plantation Thursday night. “I say the stakes are still very high. We’ve got a president right now and a Congress, Republican dominated, that are pushing the most rabid inhumane radical type of agenda that I could have ever imagined.” In 2016, Canova tapped into Bernie Sanders’ small donors and anger at the political establishment to raise about $3.8 million in the race for South Florida’s 23rd congressional district. A Nova Southeastern University law professor, Canova ran to the left of Wasserman Schultz by bashing her for taking money from corporate donors and big Sugar.

Republican Chris Anderson, deputy sheriff, Army veteran, enters HD 28 race” via Scott Powers of Orlando-Rising — Anderson, 35, enters the race professing an unusual background for a house candidate in Seminole. As a child raised by a single father who abused drugs and died of AIDS, Anderson graduated high school, joined the U.S. Army, served in Afghanistan, and then came home to start a family and serve in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. “There’s every reason why I should have been in the back seat of a police car, rather than as a deputy sheriff in the front seat today,” Anderson stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “I attribute the difference to faith, hard work and the belief that we live in a country where anyone can achieve the American Dream if we set our minds to it and never give up.” He’s facing Winter Springs businessman David Smith for the Republican nomination. Lee Mangold, chief executive officer and co-founder of GoldSky Security, is running for the Democrats, for a seat being vacated by term-limited Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur.

Bobby Olszewski talks West Orange, future speaker’s race, teamwork, education” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising – “This community is my home as everywhere I look I see a friend, memory, or story as I have already invested decades to serving my community. I was blessed to have been elected to two-terms as a Winter Garden Commissioner where I have been tested as a public servant. I worked with my constituents to ensure all voices were heard. I have walked and visited with every community within District 44 and know what makes each neighborhood uniquely special. I am running to serve a community that I have invested my blood, sweat and tears, as I have no other interests or motivations in becoming a state representative except to serve our hometown.”


Rick Scott signs HB 7069, shifting education from ‘traditional public schools’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – While the education omnibus bill offers changes for all kinds of schools in Florida, from requiring recess to reducing mandatory testing, it accelerates state tax dollar funding for-profit and nonprofit charter and private schools, expands parents’ abilities to choose schools, and tightens Tallahassee’s controls over what local school boards can and cannot do. Democrats almost universally opposed HB 7069, to the point of declaring it to be sabotage of Florida’s public-school system. Joined by public school teachers, parents, PTAs, administrators and many school board members, they had urged for weeks that Scott veto the bill. “What this legislation does today is it helps all students, which is important,” Scott declared … ending weeks of speculation of whether he would sign or veto the controversial measure since Corcoran and his team pushed through a dramatic rewrite on the last day of the Legislation Session.

Gov. Rick Scott signs HB 7069 which provides nearly $419 million to Florida’s K-12 education system, expands teacher bonuses, increases funding for the Gardiner Scholarship for students with unique abilities and ensures Florida’s students can get a great education at the school of their choice.

Was Gardiner scholarship a pawn or a principle in passage of HB 7069?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The setting chosen by Gov. Scott and House Speaker Corcoran to sign the controversial HB 7069 school reform bill is a telling example of how it doesn’t matter how you get there in Tallahassee if in the end you can claim credit. The media advisory announcing the event highlighted the fact that the bill will be signed at 3:45 p.m., at “Morning Star Catholic School in Orlando, which serves many children who recieve the Gardiner Scholarship.” (We assume the misspelling of “receive” was a mistake.) But while Corcoran and Rep. Manny Diaz will be in attendance to take credit for including the program in the bill, expansion of the Gardiner Scholarship was not included in the House’s original version of HB 7069 or in its original budget. The Senate did include $100 million in its budget for the program. Opponents blasted the strategy as an attempt to use vulnerable children as “pawns” to gain support for the controversial legislation.

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott will announce jobs numbers at 9:45 a.m. at Dusobox Corporation, 2501 Investors Row, #900 in Orlando.

“Hearing set in lawsuit against Pam Bondi over unregistered charities” via Florida PoliticsA Leon County judge has set a hearing in a lawsuit against Attorney General Bondi that says she forces businesses to pony up millions of dollars to unregistered charities as part of settlements in consumer protection cases. Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ordered the hearing for July 10 in Tallahassee, court records show. The plaintiff, Orlando entrepreneur John D. Smith, was investigated on a consumer fraud allegation by Bondi’s office in 2015. He invented Storm Stoppers plastic panels as a “plywood alternative” to protect windows during storms. Smith argues that some of the unregistered charities Bondi makes settling parties give money to is her own “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” award and various “scholarship funds designated by the Attorney General.”

Jimmy Patronis to be named CFO” via Florida Politics – Public Service Commissioner and former state Rep. Patronis will be named state Chief Financial Officer to replace the outgoing Jeff Atwater, sources close to the Governor’s Office tell FloridaPolitics.com. An announcement is likely the week of June 26. “CFO successor has been identified and known since Atwater originally resigned,” a source familiar with the workings of the EOG told FloridaPolitics.com. “Has only been one name the entire time, regardless what others have said, reported or assumed.”

– “Gov. Rick Scott said to consider Jimmy Patronis to be next CFO” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

Cabinet votes to buy springs that were saved by love affair” via Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s Cabinet voted to acquire 407-acre Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County, a jewel of a spring that’s been privately owned since 1958 — thanks to a long-ago love affair involving a St. Petersburg business mogul and his faithful assistant. The Cabinet approved the purchase for $5.25 million … 10 percent below the owners’ asking price … The parcel includes a set of six springs and a mile of land along the Santa Fe River. In the 1950s, Blue Springs belonged to a St. Petersburg business mogul named Ed C. Wright, who owned some 20,000 acres in 20 counties. Wright made a fortune investing in municipal bonds, railroad stock and radio stations. Wright’s longtime secretary was a petite, reserved woman named Ruth Kirby … Kirby’s duties included listening in on all those calls and taking notes. Soon she was trading bonds and buying land too, and she proved to be as savvy an investor as her boss. When he died, unmarried and childless at age 77, his will named her executor of his $50 million estate. became one of the most powerful wheeler-dealers in the state, negotiating with U.S. Steel over land for condos on Sand Key and flying to Tallahassee to pressure the governor into buying Weedon Island.

“Don’t estoppel believing: Now it’s a law” via Florida PoliticsAfter years of unsuccessfully fighting its way through the Legislature, the estoppel bill is now law. Gov. Scott Tuesday signed the measure (SB 398), which overhauls the legal process of estoppel letters. It goes into effect July 1 … Estoppel letters, or estoppel certificates, are an obscure part of some real estate closings … Title agents and Realtors have wanted to shift the cost of preparing such letters from themselves back to (homeowners) associations … The measure allows an association “to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association (and) an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association.”

Assignment editors – House Speaker Corcoran is the featured guest at Café con Tampa’s breakfast meeting starting 8 a.m. upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd.

Assignment editors – Tampa Tiger Bay Club presents “Legislative Session Wrap Up” at noon at the Ferguson Law Center, 1610 N. Tampa St. Speakers include Sens. Tom Lee and Darryl Rouson and Reps. Shawn Harrison, Wengay “Newt” Newton and Dan Raulerson.


As the Speaker’s race speeds toward a June 30 vote, the five announced candidates — Byron Donalds, Randy Fine, Erin Grall, Jamie Grant and Paul Renner — are trying to make the case why they are the best person for the job.

While three of those Speaker hopefuls have been in the running for a while now, two Speaker hopefuls — Grall and Donalds — are relatively recent entrants into the leadership race. In interviews this week with Florida Politics, both said they had been thinking about trying their hand at leadership, and credited the changes to the GOP conference rules as what spurred them to seriously give it a try.

“When the rules changed, I saw it as an opportunity to work really hard … and get to know my classmates and let them get to know me,” said Grall in an interview Wednesday.  “I feel like that’s the best approach to servant leadership.”

If elected, Grall would be the first female to serve in the position. That isn’t the only reason why she’s running, but she acknowledged that she would offer a “new and different perspective.”

“I very much believe that role models are important. To the extent that I could get other women involved in the process, I think it’s important (they are involved,)” said the 39-year-old Vero Beach attorney. “Our perspective is a little different. I think that it is lost in the process. It is important. I believe I was successful, but I think some women don’t feel there is going to be support.”

Neither Grall nor Donalds, a 38-year-old Naples resident, were eager to handicap their chances. But both indicated the move to a secret ballot, instead of the traditional method of collecting pledge cards, would allow their classmates to vote for who they feel is best for the job.

Donalds said he thinks he has been warmly received, and plans to keep talking to his classmates about his vision for the House. Like Grall, he said he thinks he can offer a different perspective on some of the issues facing Florida’s future.

“In our political world, the messenger matters, it just does,” he said. “I’m a little different. I’m not the prototypical Republican. It shows the depth of our party and it shows the depth of our Legislature.”

— “Could Erin Grall become ‘Madam Speaker?’” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “Rules changes sparked Byron Donalds to seek Speakership” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics


USF’s path to ‘preeminence’ is restored after Rick Scott vetoes higher education bill” via Claire McNeill, Kristen Clark and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – The University of South Florida’s quest to become “pre-eminent,” an official status that could elevate the school’s prestige and send millions of extra dollars its way, received a positive jolt as Gov. Scott lifted a key barrier. Scott vetoed a sweeping higher education reform bill that was one of Senate President Joe Negron‘s top priorities … saying that the measure “impedes” the ability of state colleges to provide access to low-cost, quality education. USF had been focused on other language buried deep within the bill’s text that dramatically affected its fortunes. Becoming a pre-eminent university requires that a school meet several requirements, and SB 374 had moved the goalposts on one of them — the graduation rate.

FSU Zika expert awarded $1.8 million as part of NIH study” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat – Leading some of that research is Florida State University professor Hengli Tang, who is in line to receive $1.8 million to conduct further study. The money is part of a $7.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to conduct Zika and West Nile research in conjunction with University of Pennsylvania, Georgia State and Emory University, FSU announced … The grant money will be used to determine how fast the Zika and West Nile viruses target human brain cells and how the brain reacts to infection at different stages of development. “This work will provide a direct impact on the mission to understand Zika disease mechanisms and to develop effective countermeasures to curb Zika virus infection,” said Tang, a professor of biological science.

“Commentary: As Disney reports drop in guests, is Orlando’s post-Pulse embrace of LGBT too tight?” via C. Britt Beemer in the Orlando Sentinel – Reports say that attendance at Disney World is down. Well, as the late Paul Harvey used to intone on his radio broadcasts, here’s ‘the rest of the story’: For 30 years, as a consumer trends and research expert, I have surveyed more than 12 million Americans. I’ve helped more than a thousand businesses achieve their goals and overcome financial challenges. … Since the Pulse nightclub shootings a year ago in Orlando, I’ve observed a significant number of evangelical Christians shift their vacations plans: They will see the Ark instead of visiting Disney in their own backyard. After the Pulse tragedy, some in the news media speculated that Orlando could see a drop in tourists because of personal-safety concerns. Nothing in my research uncovers any concerns. As I survey these future visitors to the Ark, however, what I do find is genuine concern about how children might be influenced by the pro-gay/lesbian movement in Orlando.


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James’ topic is “Congressman Steve Scalis, Congresswoman Gabby Gilford – Are you a Republican or Democrat? Your answer might get you killed,” with political analyst Dr Lawrence Miller.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include attorney Jessica Ehrlich, political consultant/columnist Chris Ingram, Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Contorno and freelance journalist Brendan McLaughlin.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: The topic — “Where do we stand right now when it comes to cyber security?” Guests include St. Cloud Republican State Rep. Mike La Rosa and professor Gary Leavens from the University of Central Florida Computer Science, Cyber Security and Privacy Department.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Al Ruechel talks with Chris King, Democratic candidate for Governor. Caitlyn Jones talks with Orlando trial attorney John Morgan, backer of the 2016 medical marijuana Amendment 2, about the current state of medical marijuana legislation in Florida and how he is moving forward with that, as well as his thoughts on considering a run for governor in 2018. PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim about voter registration and whether the Department of Homeland Security compared data with voter registration information.

Political Connections’ Al Ruechel talks with Chris King, Democratic candidate for Governor and newcomer to statewide politics.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with attorney and lobbyist Sean Pittman and Dr. Ed Moore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week Justice will speak with State Rep. Travis Cummings on budget, working with leadership and Gov. Scott, HB 7069 protests and more. Other guests include Rick Mullaney, Director, Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute; St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa Rinaman talking dredging/expansion at JAXPORT and environmental concerns and Nancy Rubin, Senior Director of Communications for JAXPORT on new plans to shorten distance of dredging, reduce costs and increase volume, business and jobs.

— ALOE —

Florida retailers expect record Father’s Day spending” via Florida Politics – The Florida Retail Federation … predicts consumers will spend an average $134.75 for the holiday, up almost $10 from last year’s $125.92. Spending nationwide is also expected to reach $15.5 billion, the highest in the survey’s 15-year history – nearly a billion more than 2016. In the annual survey from the National Retail Federation … consumers will spend $3.3 billion in 2017; 48 percent say they will take dads to outings such as dinner, brunch or other “fun activity/experiences,” clothing (46 percent) and gift cards (43 percent), making up $2.2 billion. Next most popular is consumer electronics (21 percent) at $1.8 billion.

SeaWorld unveils virtual reality version of Kraken Unleashed” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – SeaWorld Orlando launches a new version of its 17-year-old roller coaster with a new name and the option to use virtual reality headgear or ride old school. Kraken Unleashed begins at a mythological seabase and rises up 149 feet as riders experience near misses with giant sea creatures. Orlando’s only floorless roller coaster is themed after a massive, mythological underwater beast unleashed from the depths of the sea. Riders strap on headsets that cover their eyes and ears to see and hear the bioluminescent-colored creatures with tentacles that seem to reach out and grab them.

SeaWorld Orlando introduces an updated version of its 17-year-old Kraken roller coaster, which gives riders an option to use virtual reality headgear.

Twitter unveils new look, which users quickly mock” via The Associated Press – The San Francisco company says the new design emphasizes simplicity, making it faster and easier to use, with bolder headlines and more intuitive icons. It also changed users’ profile images from square-shaped to round. Twitter users immediately responded by tweeting jokes and memes critical of the changes. There were almost 30,000 tweets about the new user interface, or UI, within hours of the change, the vast majority of them either complaining about the new look or mocking it. A popular image was a suddenly round SpongeBob SquarePants.

Happy birthday to Omar Khan, campaign manager to Chris King and the voice-over talent for Christian Bale in “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.”

Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – 6.15.17

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.

While seemingly half of the Legislature and lobbying corps was rocking to a U2 concert in Tampa, Gov. Rick Scott lowered the boom on Senate President Joe Negron’s priority higher ed. legislation.

The question is now, what will the Governor do with Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s education reform legislative package. We’ve predicted the Governor will sign it today and in Orlando, but it remains to be seen if we are right.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is coming to Miami tomorrow and the race to be Speaker of the Florida House in 2022 is speeding towards a conclusion.


Push to bolster college aid vetoed” via Gary Fineout of the Associated Press – Scott vetoed a far-reaching bill that would have boosted financial aid for high school students heading to college while attempting to lift Sunshine State schools into the ranks of elite counterparts. The legislation required the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a state university or college. Florida used to pay 100 percent of tuition for those eligible for the top level of the state’s Bright Futures scholarship, but that was scaled back when the economy soured.

— Scott in his veto letter pointed out that students heading to school this fall will still be eligible for a higher Bright Futures award since that was included in the state budget he signed. But the change is only a one year fix and isn’t permanent because of Scott’s veto.

— Negron disagreed with Scott’s position and contended the bill would have required colleges to focus on their core missions. He also said that the governor’s veto would make it harder for families to save for college.

Governor approves pay raise bill for state workers” via the Associated Press – State employees will get a pay raise this October under a bill signed into law by Gov. Scott. Rank-and-file employees who currently earn $40,000 a year or less will get a $1,400 pay raise, and those earning more than $40,000 will receive a $1,000 raise. The legislation also authorizes 5 percent pay raises to state law-enforcement officers that will kick in on July 1. Judges, state attorneys and public defenders will get a 10 percent raise in October.

Tweet, tweet:

Scott signs tough new mandatory minimums for fentanyl into law” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – The measure (HB 477), which passed in the final days of the legislative session, is meant to target drug traffickers and curb the opioid epidemic that is sweeping through parts of the state. … Beginning this October, judges will be bound to sentence people posessing 4 grams of fentanyl to three years in prison, 14 grams to 15 years in prison and 28 grams to 25 years in prison. These minimum sentences are meant to criminalize traffickers of fentanyl, which in recent years has grown to be one of the most prominent opioid killers in Florida.

— “This legislation was my top priority this session — because it gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools we need to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and save lives,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a statement.

“Scott: No hard feelings between him and Richard Corcoran” via Florida Politics – Gov. Scott, speaking to reporters after a bill signing, explained away the open tension between him and House Speaker Corcoran after the House this year tried to gut VISIT FLORIDA and do away with economic development organization Enterprise Florida, his two favored state agencies. By the end of the recent Special Session, however, lawmakers agreed to the creation of an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to be controlled by Scott, full funding for tourism marketing, and $50 million to help kick-start repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee. That deal is said to be in return for Scott’s approval of a controversial education funding policy bill (HB 7069) … “What’s great is that people have passion for what they believe in,” he said. “I know the Speaker has passion for what he believes in; I have passion for what I believe in. Both of us went out there and tried to explain to others (our positions) … but we came together for what is a win for our state.”

— “The lobbyist who got Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran talking” (a great read about Bill Rubin) via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

“Gary Farmer to Scott: Veto ‘dreadful’ HB 7069” via Florida Politics – A new state senator who is also a prominent trial attorney is telling Gov. Scott to veto a contentious education policy bill, saying it’s a brew of “bad policy” and “a textbook example of a failure in government transparency.” Sen. Gary Farmer, a Parkland Democrat, wrote a 2-page letter to Scott on HB 7069, which critics have said will benefit charter schools to the detriment of traditional public schools. “This dreadful piece of legislation, if signed into law, would dramatically reduce the ability of school districts across the state to devote resources toward improving our public education,” Farmer wrote.

“Scott signs pollution notification bill into law” via Florida Politics — The so-called spill bill (SB 1018) requires companies to submit a notice of a reportable pollution release to the Department of Environmental Protection within 24 hours of the release. That notice must contain a detailed description of the installation, substance and circumstance of the spill. “I am proud to sign this legislation today to strengthen Florida’s pollution notification laws. The sewage spill in Pinellas County and pollution incident at Mosaic last year demonstrated the importance of a 24-hour public notification requirement following pollution incidents,” said Scott in a statement. “Floridians deserve to know about these types of events and every Florida resident should enjoy clean water and a healthy environment. I appreciate the Florida Legislature and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their work on this legislation.” The state agency is then required to publish the notification to the Internet within 24 hours of receiving it. It must also create a system that allows parties to subscribe and receive emails of notices received by the DEP.

Bill watch – Gov. Scott was presented with the final 63 bills that were passed during the 2017 regular legislative session. All are House measures. He has until June 29, to sign them, veto them or let them become law without his action. They include HB 689, a wide-ranging alcohol bill that would ease regulations on “caterers licensed to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits,” cuts the “annual license fee for a craft distillery from $4,000 to $1,000,” defines the Japanese fermented-rice beverage known as sake as “wine” under state law, and expressly allows minors to work in stores selling beer, wine or liquor so long as someone over 18 is supervising them. As of Wednesday afternoon, 114 bills were on the governor’s desk.

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Florida newborn screening bill signed into Law: What does it mean for babies?” via Jocelyn Beever of WFSU – Florida pediatricians will be able to test babies for more diseases under a new law signed by Governor Scott. Senator Lauren Book sponsored the legislation, and says this law will improve family health. “Newborns and newborn families will have an opportunity to be healthy and safe, which is wonderful,” she says. Following birth, Florida pediatricians will take a blood sample with a simple heel prick and test for several diseases.

Fresh off special session, state reps now competing for social media ‘likes’” via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – House Speaker Corcoran, debuted a new “friendly competition” between state lawmakers to see which one was the most popular on social media. “The FL HOUSE believes in competition,” Corcoran wrote. State representatives were ranked based on the number of likes on their Facebook pages and the number of Twitter followers each one had. Some legislators, like state Rep. Kimberly Daniels, boast over 35,000 likes on their Facebook pages. Other state lawmakers, like Rep. Jim Boyd, who has nearly 20,000 Facebook likes, simply ask constituents to like posts related to President Donald Trump, welcoming discussion on important issues through Facebook.


Andrew Gillum‘s nascent campaign grossly overstated the number of donors who have contributed to the Tallahassee mayor’s bid to be Florida governor, a review of campaign finance documents by Florida Politics found.

On Friday, Gillum’s campaign bragged that it was “excited to have more than 7,000 contributors,” according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

However, after Florida Politics reviewed the most recent campaign finance reports and asked the Gillum campaign why its numbers showed a significantly different number than what it was touting, Geoff Burgan, a spokesman for Gillum, admitted that the campaign had “slightly misstated the total in our press release.”

Slightly, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.

Both Florida Politics’ review and Gillum’s campaign agree that the campaign and his “Forward Florida” committee has received a combined 6,933 total contributions, according to the most campaign finance reports.

However, when duplicates are removed from the list of contributions, Gillum received donations from approximately 5,300 people. Florida Politics’ count has Gillum with 5,586 donors.

The claim of 7,000 donors was also rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact Florida, a fact-checking website. PolitiFact noted it found “5,383 unique names on individual contributions and 70 on Florida Forward PAC for a combined total of 5,453 donors.” The total number includes a few donors who gave “in-kind contributions as well for food and beverage.”

— “Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum overcounts campaign donors” via Amy Sherman of PolitiFact Florida


Alcee Hastings backs Gillum — The South Florida Democrat announced Wednesday he was backing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Democratic primary to replace Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. “Mayor Gillum is an innovative pragmatic progressive leader that Florida desperately needs to confront our biggest challenges: attacking climate change, rebuilding our economy, protecting access to healthcare, and revitalizing public education,” said Hastings in a statement. “He has shown the courage to stand up for what he believes in, and he has never hesitated to give a voice to those who need one most. Floridians can trust Andrew Gillum to rebuild our state into one that works for everyone.” Hastings said his support for Gillum should not be “construed as being against others.” His endorsement marks Gillum’s first congressional endorsement. 

Assignment editors: Gillum and Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam will hold a press conference about the state of gubernatorial race at 3 p.m. at 3Z Telecom, 31500 SW 145th Street in Miramar.

Assignment editors: Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign will co-sponsor a phone bank for Jon Ossoff, a Democrat running in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at SEIU 32BJ 14 NE 1st Ave. Suite 905 in Miami. The phone bank will be held in conjunction with the Miami Downtown Dems.

Happening tonight – “John Morgan to raise funds for Richard Corcoran as both consider run for governor” via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – At the Orlando home of one of his firm’s lawyers, Morgan will be on hand to raise money for Watchdog PAC, a new committee that Corcoran founded last month. The men are friends, as they’ve reminded people in the past. Still, the fundraiser is unusual on two counts. For one thing, Morgan has threatened to sue the state — including Corcoran — over a ban on smoking marijuana, which lawmakers wrote into their legislation. There’s a second wrinkle: Both Morgan and Corcoran are considering running for governor in 2018. Corcoran is a steadfast Republican, and Morgan hasn’t yet said whether he would run as a Democrat or without a party affiliation.


Florida Blue will sell Obamacare plans statewide in 2018” via Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald – The future of the Affordable Care Act may be uncertain, but Florida’s largest health insurer, Florida Blue, announced this week that the company intends to stay in the individual market and sell coverage in all 67 counties next year. Florida Blue executives said they expect the Trump Administration will continue to fund cost sharing reduction subsidies that help low-income consumers pay for out-of-pocket expenses, such as copayments and deductibles. But the insurer will raise premiums about 20 percent on average if those subsidies are discontinued, said Penny Shaffer, market president for South Florida.

“Progressive groups sue over Scott’s judicial appointment power” via Florida Politics – The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause sued Scott, saying he doesn’t have power to name three new Supreme Court justices on his last day in office — only the governor elected after Scott does. Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy A. Quince and R. Fred Lewis are all set to retire the same day his term ends. “A prompt, final decision on this pure question of constitutional law … would pre-empt cynical complaints by anyone dissatisfied with the decision that the case was contaminated by political considerations,” the writ says. To sum up: “The Florida Constitution prohibits a governor from making a prospective appointment of an appellate judge to an existing seat before that seat becomes vacant.”

Audit finds understaffing and lax control of medication at state mental hospitals” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida’s state-run mental hospitals are understaffed, some are unlicensed and they are failing to keep track of pharmaceuticals and seized contraband, according to a new state audit. At one North Florida hospital, more than 2,800 antipsychotic drugs and 350 HIV antiviral drugs were misplaced, the report states. Hospital directors were not always told about suicide attempts or, in one case, that a patient had escaped, auditors found.

Conservative group forms to oppose Florida’s death penalty” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – … yet tried hard to distance themselves from controversial and progressive anti-death penalty State Attorney Aramis Ayala. The group Florida Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty is an offshoot of a national group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty which is seeking to get death penalty laws repealed state-by-state. “We believe the death penalty is inconsistent with our core conservative values,” said Marc Hyden, national advocacy coordinator with the group. They argued that Florida’s death penalty law is on the verge of being overwhelmed as the Florida Supreme Court is remanding as many as 200 cases back for new sentencing phases, after the laws were struck down twice in the past two years.

Medical marijuana advisory board may be formed in Broward” via Larry Barszewski of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel  – As Florida increases access to medical marijuana, Broward County commissioners plan to create their own advisory board on the subject. The board approved Commissioner Mark Bogen‘s request to start the process of creating an 11-member committee that would follow the impact of medical marijuana in the county and make policy recommendations to commissioners.

Pulse gunman’s wife asks for count to be dropped” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – Noor Salman is arguing that an obstruction charge against her was filed in the wrong venue. The motion requesting the charge to be dropped was filed as people in Florida and beyond honored the 49 victims at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, exactly one year after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Salman’s husband, Omar Mateen, declared his allegiance to the Islamic State group during a three-hour standoff with police before SWAT team members killed him in a shootout. Salman was charged with aiding her husband, and obstruction for allegedly misleading investigators. The obstruction charge was filed in a federal district that covers Orlando, but she’s accused of misleading investigators during an interview in Fort Pierce, which is in the Southern District of Florida.

What Richard Corcoran is reading –Ruling against Indian River School District could mean $2 million windfall for charters” via Andrew Atterbury of TCPalm – The School District must pay a group of five charter schools for withholding their fair share of a local tax for education, a Circuit Court judge ruled … The amount each school would receive is yet to be determined, but the ruling could cost the district more than $2 million. Judge Paul Kanarek‘s ruling is a major milestone in a two-year battle between the district and charter schools — Indian River Charter High School, Imagine Schools at South Vero, North County Charter School, Sebastian Charter Junior High and St. Peter’s Academy.

Tampa Electric may join state power pool” via John Chambliss of the Lakeland Ledger – Tampa Electric, which has about 75,000 customers in south and eastern Polk County, may join the state’s power pool. Mark McCain, a spokesman with the Florida Municipal Power Agency, said the utility that serves about 670,000 customers in Central Florida may join a pilot project in the coming months. Tampa Electric would be the 16th utility to join the Florida Municipal Power Pool. Cherie Jacobs, a spokeswoman with Tampa Electric, confirmed the utility is exploring the option. She said it could help save customers money. Tampa Electric would add an additional 4,800 megawatts from 17 generators.


Spotted: Senate President Joe Negron, Sen. Bill Galvano, Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Sen. Anitere Flores, Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Sen. Rob Bradley at the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee golf getaway at Torrey Pines. Also in attendance were Chris Clark, Chris Flack, John Holley, Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Frank and Tracy Mayernick, and Kyle Ulrich.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Eli Nortelus, Nortelus Roberts Group: Florida Air Conditioning Contractors Association, Inc. d/b/a  FACCPA

Happy birthday to my old friend, Travis Moore.

Sunburn for 6.14.17 – Don Gaetz for the win; Bruce Ritchie is everywhere; Ron DeSantis’ big check; Disney pushes back

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


In a column in the Pensacola News-Journal recently, former Senate President Don Gaetz took on the issue of civics education, calling on Floridians to help teach the next generation about civics and calling out Gov. Rick Scott for vetoing funding for the Graham-Frey initiative.

The column highlights the work former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, a Democrat, has done to make sure children don’t graduate from high school without knowing how their government works and their obligations and rights as citizens.

“He thinks our children shouldn’t graduate from high school without knowing the basics of how their government works and their obligations and rights as citizens. He believes that can’t happen unless their teachers know enough, themselves, to teach civics,” he writes. “Graham knows citizenship is not passed along genetically, it has to be acquired and practiced to be real.

Former Senate President Don Gaetz, who in a recent op-ed asks, ‘Why don’t these damn kids know anything?’

Gaetz writes that several years ago Graham and Republican Congressman Lou Frey teamed up to create a way to teach teachers how to teach “rudiments of citizenship, not just the memorization of factoids but how to get kids engaged, excited and skilled in affecting what happens in their home communities and then their state and nation.”

They were able to get some money together and distribute an interactive curriculum The program was housed at the University of Central Florida, but the impact, Gaetz wrote “is felt in every part of the state, including Northwest Florida, where teachers explained to me how useful the instruction is and the difference it makes for students.”

Every year, the Legislature sets aside about $40,000 for the Graham-Frey initiative, but this year Scott, Gaetz writes, “line-item vetoed the funds for civics instruction, diverting the money to one of his own projects.”

“Governor Graham won’t get this job done during one of his famous workdays, or even in a thousand workdays,” wrote Gaetz. “Teaching, preaching and promoting the education of good citizens is a lifetime mission for a life already highly distinguished. But he could use some help.”

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


Truce: Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran take ‘victory tour’ ripe with political meaning” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times – The two Republicans fought bitterly for months, but became fast friends in recent days as their political agendas finally converged. Each man traded support for the other’s priorities and both declared victory after a round of dealing in private. Scott‘s “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory Tour” began at Miami’s Jungle Island tourist attraction and included stops in West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa and Jacksonville, as the governor took full advantage of his ability to cover lots of ground quickly on his personal jet, at his own expense.

“None of this would have happened without the support of the Speaker who worked hard all session,” Scott said of Corcoran, the same person he spent months calling a career politician and a job killer for his relentless criticism of Enterprise Florida. Scott’s vocal criticism of Corcoran’s secret dealing has vanished, now that Scott himself is a beneficiary of Corcoran’s compromises.

Governor Rick Scott, with state rep. Manny Diaz standing behind him, appears in Miami as part of his “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory” Tour.

Scott’s $1M investment impacted by ‘water wars’ lawsuit he oversees” via Matt Dixon and Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO FloridaScott invested more than $1 million in Atlanta municipal bonds at the same time his administration was waging a costly “water wars” legal fight with Georgia … Scott ultimately made just $6,000 from the bonds, which he held for six months in 2012, but the investment underscores the ways in which Scott’s vast wealth sometimes overlaps with state business. And questions of conflict-of-interest have repeatedly arisen during his two terms in office because of the secrecy of his blind trust and the fact that longtime friend — New York-based Alan Bazaar — is the trustee who oversees the portfolio.

With the Governor’s signature of HB 7069 expected, is a legal challenge coming?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – In a letter to the governor, Sen. Gary Farmer urged the Governor to veto the bill because it would “dramatically reduce the ability of school districts across the state to devote resources toward improving our public education” as well as allowing private management companies to profit off taxpayer dollars, and local communities to be cut out of zoning decisions relating to schools. But Farmer, a lawyer, also outlined his case — for why he believes it could be challenged on the grounds that it passed illegally — and in violation of the Senate rules and may be ripe for a legal challenge. “I do intend to look into it,” Farmer told the Herald/Times. “Process is supposed to matter. There are supposed to be boundaries and limitations so everybody is on equal footing. When we don’t follow the rules, it erodes and denigrates the process.”

“Coalition urges Governor to approve solar amendment implementation” via Florida Politics – In a letter released Tuesday, a group of business and environmental interests asked the Governor to sign SB 90, which implements a solar-power amendment approved by voters in 2016. The amendment, among other things, gives tax breaks to companies that buy and install solar devices and equipment. It also removes the state’s tangible personal property tax, which taxes solar equipment installed. The ballot initiative passed with 73 percent support. Among the groups signing on to the letter are Florida Conservation Voters, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Floridians for Solar Choice, Sierra Club Florida and The Nature Conservancy.

Scott has till Wednesday to sign drug trafficking measure” via Florida Politics – That’s the Governor’s deadline to act on a bill (HB 477) passed this year that would create minimum mandatory sentences for dealing in fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug. People convicted with a minimum of four grams of fentanyl or other opioids would face three years in prison; 14 grams or more, 14 years; and 28 grams or more, 25 years. Greg Newburn, state policy director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, has criticized the measure, saying being in possession with as few as seven pills could make someone a “trafficker.” “The premise that underlies the case for mandatory minimum drug laws—that they deter drug trafficking—is demonstrably, irrefutably false,” he has tweeted. Lawmakers behind the measure counter that it’s needed to help prevent the state’s thousands of opioid deaths.

Bill watch – Gov. Scott was sent another six bills on Tuesday morning, including the controversial HB 7069 that benefits charter schools. He has until June 27 to sign them, veto them or let them become law without his action. As of Tuesday morning, 52 bills were on the Governor’s desk.

Legislative staffing merry-go-round via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools

Off: Parker Aziz is no longer Special Master and attorney for the House Civil Justice & Claims Subcommittee.

Off: Nikolas Pascual has stepped down as legislative assistant for the vacant House District 116 seat.

Off: Garrett Mann has stopped being the district secretary for Jacksonville Republican State Rep. Jason Fischer.

Off: Zachary McCulley is no longer legislative assistant for Pensacola Republican State Rep. Clay Ingram.

Off: Juanita Olvera is the new district secretary for Miami Democratic State Rep. Kionne McGhee.


Amid gubernatorial buzz, Ron DeSantis donor gives $500K to new political committee” via Matt Dixon of Politico Florida — The check was given to Fund for Florida’s Future by Frederick Sontag, who founded the Spring Bay Companies, a Ponte Vedra Beach private equity firm that focuses on technology-based investments. When DeSantis ran for U.S. Senate in 2016, Fighting for Florida Fund — a super PAC backing the Ponte Vedra Beach Republican — received a $500,000 contribution from Spring Bay Capital, also owned by Sontag and associated with Spring Bay Companies. Because DeSantis is a current federal office-holder, he cannot be officially associated with or raise money for a state political committee.

— DeSantis consultant Brad Herold declined to comment when asked about the new committee, which was founded in April and started raising money the same month. It has so far raised a total of $535,000.

“Andrew Gillum takes a swipe at Scott’s ‘victory tour’ ” via Florida PoliticsTallahassee Mayor Gillum is slamming Gov. Scott’s and House Speaker Corcoran’s “victory tour.” Saying he’s standing up for public schools, Gillum released a statement Tuesday in the wake of Scott’s announcement of a five-city “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory” tour to “celebrate the major wins for Florida families and students during last week’s legislative Special Session” … “The only person less deserving of a ‘victory tour’ than Gov. Scott and Speaker Corcoran is Donald Trump’s lawyer,” he said. Scott’s and Corcoran’s “backroom deals will destroy our public schools’ futures, and they ought to be ashamed of what they’ve done to our state over the past week.”

If elected governor, Gwen Graham says Florida would stick with Paris climate accord” via Bruce Ritchie of Poltico Florida — Graham announced her climate plan on Tuesday following President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord on climate change. If elected, she said she will have Florida would join other states upholding the accord. Graham said Florida already is suffering the threats of climate change, including rising sea levels, droughts and forest fires. “Yet, despite all the science and even plain old common sense, President Donald Trump is embracing disaster by withdrawing our country from the Paris agreement,” Graham said. “Let me be blunt: Ignoring climate change will drown Florida’s future.” … Graham said she will implement a renewable energy standard for utilities but didn’t say whether she would do so without authorization from the Legislature. 

Least surprising news of the day – “Former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin endorses Chris King for Governor” via Frank Torres of the Orlando Political ObserverChapin is featured in a new web video … discussing issues like education, a living wage and the environment, along with rolling shots of Orlando and the Florida coast, as King meets with supporters to discuss his vision. “It’s time to have someone who can inspire a whole new generation to think about public service” says Chapin.

Jack Latvala courting gay Republicans” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay TimesLatvala, exploring a run for Governor, will headline a reception in Orlando next week with gay Republicans. ” This is a meet and greet opportunity for Republicans in the LGBT community to hear from the Senator, ask questions and get to know him. This is not a fundraiser,” says the invite for the June 21 Citrus Club event hosted by Rusty Roberts, a longtime Latvala friend, former Pinellas resident and former chief of staff to U.S. Rep John Mica; Republican consultant and former Christian Coalition leader John Dowless; and business consultant Nayte Carrick. Latvala said he did not draft the invite, but he and Roberts go back nearly four decades.

Jay Fant tops $79K raised for Attorney General bid” via Florida Politics — Fant emerged with $79,575 of new money; of that sum, $8,000 came from Fant, and $3,000 came from his political committee, “Pledge This Day,” which raised $9,000 in May. A number of familiar names in Northeast Florida showed up on the contributor list: Tom Petway, John Rood, J.B. Coxwell, and the Fiorentino Group were among them. Fant also enjoyed PAC support, with the Beer Distributors Committee, PETROPAC, and the Florida Bankers Association contributing. Contributions mostly came from Northeast Florida.

All 5 Republican members of Hillsborough Commission are backing Ashley Moody for AG” via Florida Politics — Former Hillsborough County judge Ashley Moody announced that all five Republican members of the Hillsborough County Commission – Stacy White, Sandy Murman, Al Higginbotham, Ken Hagan and Victor Crist – are backing her campaign. “As a native of Hillsborough County it is incredibly humbling to have such overwhelming support from our County Commissioners,” Moody said of the joint endorsement. “These County Commissioners have spent their time in public service advancing fiscally conservative principles that prioritize spending on local government priorities, including public safety and our Sheriffs Office – giving our men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to keep us safe and crackdown on crime.”

Tim Canova to announce 2018 political plans Thursday” via Amy Sherman of the Miami Herald – Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor and Hollywood resident, confirmed that he will announce his plans at a progressive caucus event at the Broward AFL-CIO office in Plantation at 6:30 p.m. Thursday: Canova wrote on Facebook  that he will speak at the event where he will be “making a big announcement on our plans for 2018, which will be live streamed on this page. You won’t want to miss out!” In September, Canova filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission so he could start fundraising in case he decided to run against Debbie Wasserman Schultz who represents a Broward/Miami-Dade district. But through April he hasn’t fundraised.

Democrat Bernie Fensterwald taking second shot at going to Tallahassee” via Florida PoliticsFensterwald, a Dunedin retiree who lost a challenge to Chris Sprowls in the House District 65 race in North Pinellas County last November by more than 30 percentage points, has filed once again to run for the Legislature. This time Fensterwald is gunning for the state Senate District 16 seat in north Pinellas being vacated by a term-limited Jack Latvala. The only other candidate to file so far for the open seat is former GOP state representative and Clearwater City Commissioner Ed Hooper.

John Newstreet raises $30,000 in early days of HD 44 special election race” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — Republican candidate John Newstreet‘s campaign is reporting that it has raised more than $30,000 in the first 11 days since he announced his run for the open seat in Florida House District 44.

— Newstreet is reporting a total of $30,576 through the end of May in a news release, though neither he nor the other candidates in that race have to file anything with the state until July 6, more than a week after ballots are sent to military and overseas voters, because of the timetables assigned to the special election. 

Save the date – House Majority 2018, Speaker Corcoran, and Speakers-to-be José Oliva and Chris Sprowls host a fundraiser for Rep. Erin Grall in her House District 54 re-election bid. Event begins 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 26, at the Quail Valley River Club, 2345 Highway A1A in Vero Beach.

Shawn Harrison kicks off HD 63 re-election bid at Tampa Theater June 29” via Florida Politics – The event, hosted by House Majority 2016 and featuring special guest Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, is Thursday, June 29, beginning 5 p.m. at the historic Tampa Theater, 711 N. Franklin St. Included on the extensive list of local GOP leaders making the host committee are House Speaker Corcoran, and Speakers-to-be Jose Oliva and Chris Sprowls … state Sens. Dana Young and Tom Lee; state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia; former House Speakers Will Weatherford and Dean Cannon; former state Rep. Seth McKeel; former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco and Hillsborough County Commissioners Victor Crist, Stacy White and Sandy Murman; and Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick, among others.

David Rivera floats another $50K to Florida House campaign” – Former one-term Congressman Rivera gave his campaign another $50,000 in May, making $250,000 in loans for his bid to return to the Florida Legislature. Raising $10,550, Rivera gave $150,000 in loans and dropped another $100,000 check into his war chest. According to Florida Division of Elections records, the Miami Republican received $271,300 in contributions and loans for the House District 105 race. His primary opponent, Doral Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez also raised $46,875 in May, for $98,300 total. Rivera, a former state House budget chair, it is looking to succeed term-limited Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Trujillo.

More legislative hopefuls announce 2018 bids — LobbyTools’ Legislative IQ reports several candidates have filed to run in 2018. Jeff Cynamon has become the first Democrat to file to run in House District 113 after Rep. David Richardson announced he was running for Congress in 2018 instead of running for re-election. Cynamon is a private property rights attorney in Miami Beach. He received his engineering degree from the University of Florida and his law degree from St. Thomas University. He previously worked as a senior attorney for the Florida Department of Transportation. Rhonda Rebman-Lopez becomes the fourth Republican to file to run in House District 115. Rebman-Lopez is a University of Alabama graduate and works as a legislative liasion for KinderVision, a foundation aimed at preventing the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of youths.


Democrats Trash ‘broke’ FDP for picking scandal-ridden Debbie Wasserman Schultz to open Leadership Blue Gala” via Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News – FDP staffers recently announced Wasserman Schultz would be opening up the annual gathering of party faithful, which is scheduled to take place Saturday in Hollywood. By Tuesday, Wasserman Schultz was out of the program entirely. Not everybody was happy about Wasserman Schultz rolling through the gala after bulldozing the party’s reputation last summer. Wasserman Schultz’s former congressional primary opponent and Democratic activist Tim Canova took to Facebook to criticize the FDP for its “huge problem” in selecting the South Florida congresswoman to give the opening remarks. … Canova took a no-holds-barred approach in criticizing party leadership for its “grave mistake” …“This at a time when the party is reportedly broke, having trouble meeting its payroll, begging for a loan, just months after Bittel promised to raise millions and millions of dirty corporate dollars for the party,” he said.

Democrats seek ties between Brian Mast and businessman accused of scam” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Florida Democrats filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records that, they hope, show a link between Mast and the owner of a marketing company under federal investigation for fraud. “The depth of Congressman Mast’s involvement in the alleged fraud is currently unknown by Mast’s voters,” the Florida Democratic Party said in a release. “Despite being named as a member of World Patent Marketing’s board, being featured in World Patent Marketing’s promotional materials, and appearing in multiple photographs with World Patent Marketing’s embattled founder, Congressman Mast has denied any knowledge of or involvement with World Patent Marketing.” The FOIA seeks any emails between Mast and World Patent Marketing owner Scott Cooper, financial records and details about a $5,400 political contribution Mast received from Cooper. (Mast has returned the donation.)

Florida counties, still vulnerable to storms, scramble to match state dollars” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – What’s happening along North Florida’s Atlantic coast is part of a larger statewide issue: Year after year, the Florida Legislature has allocated less funding than is requested by coastal areas, which struggle to come up with required matching dollars that still do not cover the high cost of beach erosion. The state has 825 miles of sandy coastline, and about half of it is rated by the state as critically eroded. But funding for beach projects has averaged $28.6 million per year since 2007, even as local governments have requested $87.2 million. Local governments say closing the funding gap is critical to paying for beach sand replacement projects called beach “renourishment.” And legislative analysts in 2015 reported that the economic return from spending on beach restoration is more than five times the investment. The funding for coastal communities was one of several sticking points between legislators in the Florida Senate and House this year.

Disney sues over property assessments for Magic Kingdom, other properties” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel –Disney filed nearly a dozen lawsuits at the end of last month in Orange Circuit Court, arguing the assessments by Orange County Appraiser Rick Singh exceeded their properties’ fair market value and incorrectly “included the value of certain intangible property in the assessments.” … “The increases in the assessments of our property are unreasonable and unjustified,” a Disney spokesperson said … “Similar to other property owners in Orange County, we have no choice but to take action to dispute these errors by the property appraiser. We look forward to presenting our case in court.” It’s not the first time the theme parks have sought to reduce their land values. In October, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and Disney sued Singh, arguing their properties’ taxes were too high. Singh vowed to fight them in court At   the time, saying, “We hold their feet to the fire.”

“State files misdemeanor charges against Lisa Edgar” via Florida PoliticsProsecutors are moving forward with a criminal case against Edgar, a former Public Service Commissioner and state parks director, who was arrested in Tallahassee after an alleged drunk-driving hit and run. Earlier this month, State Attorney Jack Campbell’s office filed an information, or formal criminal charges, against Edgar for the April 15 incident … She is charged with one count of driving under the influence causing damage to person or property, a first-degree misdemeanor, and one count of leaving the scene of a crash with damage, a second-degree misdemeanor, court records show.


Scoop – “Personnel note: Kent Perez departing Attorney General’s Office” via Florida PoliticsPerez, acting chief of staff to Attorney General Pam Bondi and a veteran of the office, Tuesday said he’s accepted an offer to become the State Board of Administration’s deputy executive director. Perez told FloridaPolitics.com he expects to start the new job by the end of the month. He’ll report to SBA chief Ash Williams. Perez said he and Williams are still “working out” his precise job responsibilities. The agency acts as the state’s investment manager.

Personnel note: “Max Goodman headed back to work for Vern Buchanan” via Mitch Perry of Florida PoliticsGoodman, the well-regarded communications pro who worked for Buchanan for nearly a decade before helping David Jolly’s campaign(s) in 2015 and 2016, is returning to work for Buchanan as Chief Communications Adviser. Goodman will be based out of Washington D.C. Goodman joined Jolly’s campaign for the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2015 as his political director and was later named his campaign manager. After Buchanan narrowly defeated Democrat Christine Jennings in 2006, Goodman began working for Buchanan, ultimately becoming his full-time communications director in 2010, and was later promoted to senior aide in 2012.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Darrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: South Swell Development Group, LLC.; Thomas Panza, Panza Mauer Maynard: Shands Teaching Hospitals and Clinics Inc.

– “Lobbying, Donald trump and what Jacksonville needs to do to succeed” via Timothy Gibbons of the Jacksonville Business Journal

— ALOE —

AAA: Gas prices falling fast in Florida, U.S.” via Ron Hurtibise of the Orlando Sentinel – The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in Florida Monday was $2.33 — four cents less than a week ago. Nationally, gas was $2.34, also down four cents. AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said motorists “could very easily see prices fall another five cents” over the next couple of weeks, barring a sudden increase in crude oil prices. Gasoline prices were also driven lower by increased production by Gulf Coast refineries — 3 percent above a year ago — and a 5.4 percent drop in consumer demand from the record high set the previous week. Average gasoline prices fell in South Florida as well, but not by as much as the overall state and nation.

Disney plans to remember toddler killed by alligator one year ago with lighthouse sculpture” via Christal Hayes and Dewayne of the Orlando Sentinel – It was one year ago Wednesday that a 2-year-old boy playing near a shoreline at a Disney resort was killed by an alligator. Now, Walt Disney World is planning to honor Lane Graves, who was visiting with his family from Nebraska June 14, 2016. The company will add a sculpture of a lighthouse — the symbol of the Lane Thomas Foundation — at an undisclosed site on its property. “To provide continued awareness of the foundation and its mission, we’ve commissioned an original sculpture of the lighthouse the foundation uses as a symbol of love and hope, to be installed on our property this summer,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement. No ceremony is planned for Wednesday, a Disney World spokeswoman said.

“Hard Rock coming to Daytona Beach” via Florida PoliticsSeminole Tribe of Florida-controlled Hard Rock International says it’s opening a fourth location in Florida later this year with the addition of the 200-room Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach … The new beachfront hotel also will feature “all-day dining, 24-hour in-room dining, a grab-and-go coffee shop and a poolside bar and grill.” Gambling will not be offered. Tuesday’s news follows Hard Rock’s recent purchase of the former Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, and a deal to open a Hard Rock Casino in Ottawa, Canada … Hard Rock-themed properties [in Florida] are now in Tampa, Hollywood (both include casinos) and Orlando.

Insiders speculate on Epcot’s upcoming transformation” via Terry Roen of Orlando Rising – Back in November, Disney officials hinted at a major transformation for Epcot … Now the rumor mill is filled with what the makeover will mean to the park that opened in 1982 as an acronym for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. “It will be even more relevant than it is today. …” Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts announced. “And, at the same time, it will stay true to our original vision. Disney, of course, remains mum on its plans but local bloggers speculate the renovation will include new infrastructure, an updated entrance and new rides and attractions. Robert Niles, author of the Theme Park Insider blog, reported that Disney has plans for new franchise-themed attractions to both Future World and World Showcase. The Universe of Energy is up for major renovations. At World Showcase, Niles’ reports that insiders claim Disney’s plans call for the installation of a Ratatouille-themed ride in the France pavilion.

Happy birthday to Josh AubuchonFoyt Ralston, and Drew Piers.

Sunburn for 6.13.17 – AFP targets Bill Nelson; Rick Scott goes Johnny Drama; Jeff Atwater leaving June 30; Greg Black heads to Gunster

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Americans for Prosperity-Florida is launching a digital ad campaign urging Floridians to contact Sen. Nelson and ask him to support efforts to fix the country’s broken and intrusive tax code. The campaign is part of a nationwide effort to tap into taxpayers’ frustrations with tax laws into a grassroots movement supporting broad, pro-growth tax reform. 

“Floridians deserve a tax system that treats everyone fairly and helps grow the economy,” said Chris Hudson, the state director of AFP-FL, in a statement. “The last thing Americans want is a system that continues to raise taxes. Senator Nelson has spoken out in favor of tax reform, but he has also advocated for raising taxes. Now is the time for him to use his leadership position on the Senate Finance Committee to un-rig the system for Florida taxpayers.”


Gov. Rick Scott is kicking off what his office is calling his “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory Tour” this morning. The five-city swing has been billed as a way to “celebrate the major wins for Florida families and students” during the three-day special session, which ended last Friday.

The day-long tour, according to Scott’s office, will increased K-12 per-student funding, the creation of the $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, full funding for Visit Florida, and $50 million to help kick-start repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Expect it to be significantly different than the “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour the Governor embarked on one month ago. Scott used that three-day, 10-city swing to slam “politicians in Tallahassee” for not backing his priorities, hint at vetoes and bristle about the lack transparency in the budget process.

This swing will have a much more “kumbaya” tone. He’ll be joined by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who played his foil during the regular session, on several stops throughout the trip. And don’t be surprised if Corcoran, who led the charge to end funding for Enterprise Florida, talks about the benefits of the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which he has called a “model for economic development moving forward.”

“My hat’s off to the Governor and the Senate for all that they have accomplished for the people of the state,” said Corcoran during a press conference Friday. “I think what we’re doing is going home and telling parents, we’re telling business owners, we’re telling the state that we’re going to continue on that great road of prosperity, that great road, and that great road of excellent education.”

Assignment editors: Gov. Scott kicks off his five-city “Fighting for Florida’s Future Victory Tour” at 9 a.m. at Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail in Miami. From there, he’ll head to the South Florida Water Management District, 3301 Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach for an event at 11 a.m. He’ll then head to Fort Myers for an event at Sun Harvest Citrus, 14601 Six Mile Cypress Parkway at 1:15 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., Scott is scheduled to attend an event at Creative Sign Designs, 12801 Commodity Place in Tampa. The governor will end his day at 6 p.m. at Angie’s Subs, 1436 Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville Beach.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


Gary Fineout, the always in-the-know Associated Press reporter, took a look at what appears to be a post-session truce between Gov. Scott, Senate President Negron, and House Speaker  Corcoran and what it could mean for the Republican Party on his blog, The Fine Print, this week.

In the post, Fineout wonders whether “the simmering feud that exploded dramatically into public view the last few months finally end.” As Fineout notes, the three-day special session ended after a deal was crafted that boosted per-student funding, fully funded for Visit Florida, set aside money for a new economic development program and money for repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike. The deal also included money for university projects that were vetoed by Scott days earlier, a priority for Negron.

As for Corcoran, many have speculated that Scott and the Land O’Lakes Republican struck a deal that included Scott signing a wide-sweeping and contentious education bill (HB 7069) in return for getting his priorities passed.

Fineout writes if Scott “does in fact sign the education bill and the governor does in fact sign another high profile bill, SB 374 that is a top priority for Negron, it would theoretically put the relationship between all sides on a better foundation than it has been.”

“Remember, this GOP feud has been going on _ and building in intensity _ essentially since Scott got re-elected. Shortly after he was sworn into office for a second term Republicans blocked his pick to lead the Republican Party of Florida. Since then Scott for the most part stopped raising money for the party – which is controlled by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, an ally of Corcoran,” writes Fineout.

“The House and Senate had several meltdowns in 2015 as they bickered over Medicaid expansion and a way to end redistricting battles that were being fought in the courts. In 2016, led by Corcoran, the Legislature shredded much of Scott’s agenda for that year,” he continued. “They rejected his ambitious deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Flash forward and Scott got a much better outcome during the special session than it appeared he was going to get this year. The governor talked about how he couldn’t wait to go out across the state and “brag” about what happened. But is there any longevity to it?”

But Fineout points out there are several things that could cause relations to “fall apart.” Those include Scott deciding to veto the higher education overhaul pushed by Negron, or if Corcoran pursues items that Scott doesn’t want to be involved with during an election year.”

Taking a page from Corcoran, who over the weekend took a page from Taylor Swift in explaining the House’s relationship with the Senate to his children, Fineout asks this in closing: “Are we out of the woods yet, are we out of the woods, are we in the clear yet?”

>>>An informed legislative source tells FloridaPolitics that Gov. Scott will sign HB 7069 Thursday in Orlando.


“Scott’s office ‘no comment’s on abandonment of ‘docs vs. glocks’ appeal” via Florida Politics – The Governor’s Office wouldn’t say why it let pass a recent deadline to challenge the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on the 2011 law. The legislation—the only one of its kind in the nation—sought to prevent doctors from asking patients whether they own guns, on pain of professional discipline including possible loss of their licenses to practice. The appellate court in February said Florida doctors can talk to patients about gun safety, declaring the state law a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The law was supported by the National Rifle Association. “As a strong supporter of (the) Second Amendment, Gov. Scott is glad that a vast majority of this law was never challenged and upheld in court,” Scott spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said.  

Jeff Atwater says he will leave June 30” via The Associated Press – CFO Atwater turned in his formal resignation letter to Gov. Scott. Atwater announced back in February that he planned to step down from his elected post to take a position at Florida Atlantic University. Scott will be responsible for picking someone to replace Atwater for the next 18 months. Voters in 2018 will pick a new chief financial officer.

– “Jack Latvala doesn’t want to be appointed CFO, isn’t running for CFO; thinks Joe Gruters is right for the job” via Florida Politics

>>>Even with Latvala’s endorsement, we believe former Rep. Jimmy Patronis is the favorite for the CFO job. 


Democracy for America backs Andrew Gillum — Democracy for America, a national progressive organization, has endorsed Gillum in his 2018 gubernatorial bid. “Now more than ever, Floridians need a Governor who is committed to making the state a place where success is not limited to the most wealthy or well-connected, and where all people can fairly pursue opportunities without fear,” said Jim Dean, the chairman of Democracy for America, in a statement. “As the Mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum has stood up to the NRA and made it clear that he will protect immigrants against the Trump administration. He has a vision for the state that includes progressive policies like a $15 minimum wage and ending discrimination against those who have been incarcerated.” Since 2004, Democracy for America members have raised and contributed more than $40 million and more than 11.1 million volunteer calls to help elect 917 progressive candidates across the nation. 

“Adam Putnam’s political committee racks up another cool million in May” via Florida Politics – Florida Grown hadn’t posted its information with the state as of Monday morning, but has rolling contribution and expenditure information on its website. May contributions totaled more than $1.01 million, while monthly expenditures were just over $244,000. Big contributors early in the month included the A. Duda & Sons agricultural and land development company of Oviedo at $100,000, and Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association Mutual of Maitland at listed at $60,000.

Baxter Troutman files to run for Agriculture Commissioner via Florida Politics — As Florida Politics first forecast, the Winter Haven Republican filed to run for Agriculture Commissioner on Monday, joining an already crowded field vying to replace Putnam in 2018. Troutman filed the necessary paperwork Monday, and opened his campaign account with a personal contribution of $2.5 million, according to his campaign. “For two decades, I’ve been building a business and continuing my work in Florida agriculture. Real experience and success in the private sector is what we need more than ever,” said Troutman in a statement. “Working side by side with folks who send their hard earned money to Tallahassee, I know why it is so important to keep taxes low, balance our budgets and grow Florida’s economy.”

Alex Diaz de la Portilla labeled ‘not a conservative’ in new mailer via Florida Politics — A new mailer landing in South Florida mailboxes has labeled Alex Diaz de la Portilla “not a conservative.” The mailer is the second from Making a Better Tomorrow, a Venice-based political committee, targeting Diaz de la Portilla in the special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “Alex Diax de la Portilla claims to be a conservative, but his record tells a different story,” reads the mailer. Much like an earlier mailer from Making a Better Tomorrow, the mailer says the Miami Republican raised taxes, increased the size of government, and hurt business and job growth. The ad also slams Diaz de la Portilla for having a “disregard for the law” and “living recklessly.” Here is a look at the second mailer:

Jose Felix Diaz raises about $450K for SD 40 race” via Florida Politics — The Miami Republican said his campaign raised about $450,000 — about $280,000 for his official campaign and another $167,000 for Rebuild Florida, his political committee — between May 10 and June 8. “Our goal was to talk to as many people as possible, to reach out to old friends, to see what the momentum was like,” said Diaz. “I was amazed to get as much support as I did.” Records show top donors to his political committee include the Conservative and Principled Leadership Committee, a political committee affiliated with Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican and the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; Free Markets Florida, a political committee associated with Rep. Travis Cummings, Rep. Manny Diaz, and House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues; and Friends of Matt Caldwell, the political committee associated with Rep. Matt Caldwell, who recently announced he was running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018. Diaz de la Portilla raised $22,500 during the fundraising period. Records show he loaned his campaign $50,000 during the same time period. State records show Palomares reported raising $9,000 during the fundraising period. Palomares, according to state records, also loaned his campaign $15,000.

“Jose Oliva’s political committee spreads the (financial) love” via Florida PoliticsIn advance of his 2018-20 House Speakership, state Rep. Oliva‘s political committee this year has been sharing the wealth with his friends and allies, campaign finance records accessed Monday show. Most recently, the Miami Lakes Republican’s committee, called Conservative Principles for Florida, gave $1,000 on May 19 to fellow House Republican Jose Felix Diaz’s state Senate run. 

“Northeast Florida delivers $260K in May to Paul Renner committee” via Florida Politics — State records show Florida Foundation for Liberty, the political committee associated with Rep. Paul Renner, raised $261,500 in May. Top donors during the fundraising period were local gambling concern Best Bet at $25,000; Working for Florida’s Families, the political committee associated with Sen. Rob Bradley, at $10,000; and Sunshine State Conservatives, a political committee associated with Sen. Travis Hutson, at $10,000. Other top donors included Summit Contracting, Vestcor, Florida Blue, Rayonier, Gate Petroleum, and Florida East Coast Industries. Renner is one of several candidates vying to be Speaker of the House beginning in 2022.  

Ray Blacklidge becomes first to file to run in battleground House District 69” via Florida Politics – The race to replace Kathleen Peters is officially underway. Blacklidge, a Madeira Beach resident and self-described entrepreneur and consumer advocate, became the first candidate to file for the seat since Peters announced she would not seek re-election to run for the Pinellas County Commission. In a press release Blacklidge put the word “conservative” front-and-center and said that he has a strong belief in the rule of law. “Whether it’s banning sanctuary cities or fighting fraud, elected officials have a duty to uphold the rule of law, and voters should expect no less.” In 2016, Blacklidge was one of four finalists for state Insurance Commissioner, but saw his bid stymied when it was disclosed that he filed for personal bankruptcy in 2005 with $6 cash on hand.

Money moves in HD 116 GOP special primary” – In the past month, Republicans Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez took in thousands of dollars in the Miami-Dade House District 116 special primary. Florida Division of Elections records show Mallea raked in $50,640 from May 1 through Thursday for $140,156, with almost $88,500 on hand. At the same time, Perez picked up another $33,660 for $83,450, with $35,000 on hand. Winner of the July 25primary faces Democrat Gabriela Mayaudon in the special election Sept. 26. Entering the race June 5, Mayaudon raised only $1,800 as of Thursday. The HD 116 seat opened when Miami-Dade Republican Jose Felix Diaz stepped down to mount a campaign for an open Senate seat.


After Rick Scott vetoes funding, Florida Health Choices insurance exchange may close” via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – The Florida Health Choices insurance exchange never quite lived up to [then-Speaker Marco] Rubio’s vision as it competed with a rival marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act. Now, the state-based exchange may fold after Gov. Scott vetoed funding intended to keep it afloat another year. Without the $250,000 allocation, there is little money to pay Chief Executive Officer Rose Naff and keep the website maintained. “We will have to close our doors and go to some sort of virtual office or contract it out to another entity,” Naff said. The Florida Health Choices board of directors has to decide what to do with the three-year-old exchange that has about 712 existing customers, far fewer than the 3,000 to 4,000 customers needed for the exchange to be self-sufficient.

“Lottery gets more time to file brief in appeal” via Florida Politics – The 1st District Court of Appeal last week OK’d the Florida Lottery’s request for more time to file its initial brief in the case. The agency now has till “on or before July 7,” according to an online docket. The Lottery appealed after Tallahassee-based Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in March invalidated its $700 million contract for new equipment. She essentially agreed with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the deal last year. Because then-Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT (International Game Technology) contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers said.

“Pre-reveal game makers bemoan state’s ‘heavy-handed tactics’ ” via Florida PoliticsThe companies behind what are known as “pre-reveal” games say they’re “losing money every day” even after a Tallahassee judge ruled the stand-alone consoles aren’t illegal slot machines. Gator Coin II and Blue Sky Games are asking Circuit Judge John Cooper to lift an automatic stay of his March decision. Cooper, however, already has agreed to reconsider the ruling, setting a hearing next Monday in the Leon County Courthouse. The devices—offered mostly at bars and taverns—look and play like a slot machine, Cooper had reasoned, but don’t fit the legal definition of gambling because the player always knows whether he or she is a winner or loser. Still, the companies say the continuing insistence of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) that the games are illegal is killing their bottom line.

Trulieve opens The Villages dispensary” via Florida Politics – The Villages Trulieve will be at 13940 US Highway 441, #601 in the Oakland Hills Professional Center. “We’re excited to have a location in The Villages. Many of our patients are seniors, which makes this location key,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “Our goal is to serve as many patients as we can and we will continue to open more locations throughout the rest of the year.” In addition to The Villages, Trulieve now delivers medical marijuana products statewide and through dispensaries in Clearwater, Edgewater, Miami, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Tampa.


“Personnel note: Greg Black joins Gunster” via Florida Politics – Greg Black is joining Gunster’s statewide government affairs law and lobbying practice, the firm announced in a press release. Black joins the firm with an extensive background advocating for a wide range of clients in the financial services, insurance, health care, biomedical research, pharmaceutical, and technology industries. He previously represented the Florida Bankers Association where he advised financial institutions of all sizes. Black’s experience also includes procurement matters at the state and local levels.

Happy birthday to Sen. David Simmons and to one of my favorites, Allison Carvajal.

Sunburn for 6.12.17 – One year later

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica. Scott Powers and Terry Roen of Orlando-Rising.com wrote today’s topper.


On Monday, a city still in deep mourning will reckon itself to the first anniversary of one of the darkest days any city has ever had to endure, as Orlandoans pay their respects to those killed, wounded, or forever changed in the June 12, 2016, Pulse nightclub massacre.

Huge crowds are expected at a multitude of events, highlighted by an opening of a memorabilia display at the Orange County Regional History Center, a memorial ceremony at the Pulse nightclub itself, and a community cry from the city’s heart, Lake Eola Park.

Just counting journalists – more than 750 have been credentialed – this no doubt will be a worldwide-watched moment.

Landscaping pebbles outside Pulse are turned into tiny memorials as community members leave thoughts written on them.

Yet while victims, survivors, their families and friends, and thousands of ordinary citizens will deal with the very strong emotions and seek to celebrate the bonds that have made Orlando United very real, there may be a critical lack of such bonding among many key politicians.

Most of the locals, starting with Orlando’s Democratic Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County’s Republican Mayor Teresa Jacobs, and including most of its lawmakers, will have no problems embracing and being embraced by an Orlando Family in need of their leadership. Starting in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, almost all they’ve said and done regarding Pulse has resonated with strength, love and togetherness.

It gets more complicated with those from outside of Orlando. That’s particularly true now that Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith has thrown down a gauntlet to Republican Gov. Rick Scott: accusing him of turning his back on an LGBTQ community devastated by the Pulse shooting, and hinting that he might not be welcomed back.

Smith, a leader in both Orlando’s and Florida’s LGBTQ community, pointed out an obvious but not widely-discussed situation: that there has been, from the start, a stark difference in how Democrats and Republicans typically have characterized Pulse, and how they’ve acted since.

In this Tuesday, May 30, 2017, photo,  Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith talks about the Pulse Nightclub shooting at his office in Winter Park “There’s no question that the tragedy at Pulse has created an entire new generation of grassroots leaders who are young, who are queer, people of color, who want to make a difference and affect change,” said Smith, who was elected to the Legislature last fall. Photo credit: John Raoux.

Was the Pulse tragedy an unthinkably-heinous hate crime against the LGBTQ community by a madman who professed hatred toward gays? Was it a terrorism act carried out by an ISIS-pledging Islamic radical? Was it both? And how should the guns issues be addressed, if at all?

Scott and other key Republicans, notably U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Attorney General Pam Bondi, on up to President Donald Trump, all have said or done things seen by too many in Orlando as insensitive or off the mark in addressing those questions, particularly by not consistently acknowledging the LGBTQ community’s principal role.

Who among them will come Monday? Who among them will speak? Might they find the words to assert that they stand with Orlando and can embrace the communities grieving the most?

A city’s proud unity might begin to fray along political hems, or might be bound tighter, depending upon what happens.

Pulse reads:

– “Orlando after Pulse: Who we are, how we’ve changed” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

– “A year after Pulse nightclub shooting, a legacy of healing” via Amy Bennett Williams and Ryan Mills of News-Press.com

– “Pulse: Blood donors were ‘first, first responders’” via Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel

– “Pulse victim Deonka Drayton left behind complicated story” via Kayla O’Brien of the Orlando Sentinel

– “Pulse hit the LGBTQ community of color hardest. One year later, it’s a struggle to heal” via Alex Harris and Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald

– “Shooting survivor revisits Pulse: “I got out … but Eddie didn’t” via Barbara Marshall of the Palm Beach Post

– “Year After Pulse massacre, blessings and frustrations abound” via Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times

Rick Scott declares June 12 as “Pulse Remembrance Day” — Gov. Scott on Friday issued a proclamation declaring Monday “Pulse Remembrance Day,” directed flags be flown at half-staff in the state from sunrise until sunset, and called for a moment of silence to honor and remember the victims. “I encourage all Floridians to pause this Monday at 9 a.m. to share in a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Pulse Terror attack,” he said in a statement. “This was an attack on Orlando, our state, the Hispanic community and on the LGBTQ community. It left a solemn impact on our state that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.”

Services to mark one year since 49 killed” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press – Starting in the early hours … and continuing almost 24 hours later, survivors, victims’ families, city officials and central Florida residents will remember the victims with four services. The first service is closed to the public, and it’s being held at the nightclub for survivors, local officials and club employees. It will overlap with the exact time that gunman Omar Mateen began firing shots — a little after 2 a.m. June 12, 2016. It is followed by another midday service at the nightclub, and an evening gathering in the heart of downtown Orlando. A final, music-filled late-night service is being held at the nightclub … local churches throughout Orlando have arranged for church bells to ring simultaneously, 49 times at noon. Local officials also have declared the one-year mark as a day of “love and kindness,” and they are encouraging residents to volunteer or perform acts of compassion.

Outside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, on Wednesday, September 14, 2016, just three months after a mass shooting that killed 49 people, the deadliest in this country’s history.
Photo credit: Preston Gannaway.

Assignment editors: The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence will hold a candlelight vigil to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting in Orlando at 7 p.m. in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. Jason Lindsay, the executive director of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence; D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Rev. Kara Scroggins are all expected to speak. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. is scheduled to perform.

Assignment editors: Rep. Kathy Castor will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. at Centennial Park, 1800 E. Eighth Avenue in Tampa to discuss the work that continues to honor the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting. She will be joined by Nadine Smith with Equality Florida and Carrie West with Tampa Pride.

Assignment editors – In commemoration of the lives lost at the Pulse Nightclub shooting, state Sen. Linda Stewart will be volunteering to take a stand against bullying on Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness – at the Zebra Coalition Drop-in Center which is open from 12-5 p.m., 911 N Mills Avenue in Orlando.

Blood drives in honor of Pulse — OneBlood is holding blood drives throughout the state to remember the victims and honor the injured. In the days following the tragedy, thousands of people lined up for hours to give blood, but the group said it was the donors who donated in the “days before who made the vital difference.” OneBlood is urging Floridians to “make it a tradition” to give blood to commemorate the anniversary to ensure there are no blood shortages. There are blood drives at the Greater Orlando Area Donor Centers and select mobile drives through Wednesday, and all other OneBlood donor centers through Monday. Donors who give blood as part of the Pulse blood drive will receive a free commemorative T-shirt, as well as a free wellness checkup. To find a location near you, click here.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you by Spectrum Reach, the marketing platform of choice, connecting you to your target audience on TV, digital and mobile. With access to our powerful data and insights, solutions for every screen, and the best programming content on the top 50+ networks, we’ll help you reach the right customers for your business. SpectrumReach.com #NeverStopReaching***


Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald conducts an autopsy of the Special Session, concluding that it ended “by delivering more of the same: backroom deal-making that resolved differences over a trade.” Klas’ reporting relies heavily on the perspective of the Senate and quotes from Democratic members, but her conclusion is right: the big winner was Scott. Here are 5 interesting nuggets from Klas’ reporting:

Scott made a midnight phone call to Joe Negron to ask him to attend a press conference in Miami the next morning where the ‘Big 3’ would announce a special session

Scott (had) refrained from making a commitment about whether he would sign or veto HB 7069. That gave him leverage over the priority legislation and a rare negotiating advantage to demand fixes to the budget.

Great imagery here: “Sitting at his conference table in the Speaker’s office early Friday afternoon, wolfing down a lunch of meat loaf and red velvet cake …”

Anyone who thinks the Senate was a bigger winner than the House needs to re-read these two paragraphs: “Scott wanted to continue incentive programs that benefit specific companies. Corcoran said no. The Senate wanted to use local property tax money for schools, override Scott’s vetoes of higher education construction projects and dip into cash reserves to give more money to hospitals but Corcoran said no. Scott expected the Senate to deliver, and when they didn’t his loyalty to them quickly shifted. In the end, Corcoran delivered more to Scott than the Senate and the speaker seized the opportunity filled the void to make his own trade.”

— Meanwhile, Jack Latvala complains that rocks weigh more today: “We’ve got three fiefdoms in Tallahassee — the House, Senate and the governor — and they are unchallenged within their own body. They get carried away.”

>>>Gary Fineout also has a must-read epilogue piece, “Short-lived truce or an end to the simmering GOP feud in Florida


Governor signs ‘religious expression’ bill into law” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – The new law, which takes effect July 1, makes clear that students in Florida’s public schools cannot be punished for including religious materials in their course work, and that they may pray at school during non-course time. It further states that school employees also may participate voluntarily in religious activities that are initiated by students before or after the school day. Complaints that some schools in north Florida did not allow such participation have prompted lawmakers to push for such provisions over several years. Representatives from many Christian organizations lobbied for the bill in committees, saying they were being discriminated against in schools.

Florida shifts burden of proof in ‘Stand Your Ground’ cases” via Allison Nielsen of the Sunshine State News – The new law would give defendants more protection from prosecution in “Stand Your Ground” cases by requiring prosecutors to prove whether a defendant is entitled to immunity at a pretrial hearing in order to disprove a claim of self-defense immunity. The legislation would flip the responsibility onto the prosecutor to prove why a defendant shouldn’t be allowed to use the Stand Your Ground defense in court. Republicans pushed the burden of proof bill for years but didn’t have much success until this year’s regular legislative session, when lawmakers finally passed the bill along party lines. The proposal came on the heels of a Florida Supreme Court last summer which ruled defendants would be responsible for the burden of proof showing they shouldn’t be prosecuted in “Stand Your Ground” cases.

“John Morgan to host Richard Corcoran fundraiser – even as he promises to sue lawmakers over medical marijuana” via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – So not only could Morgan face Corcoran in a courtroom, he may also take him on as a candidate in next year’s governor’s race. Both men are exploring entering the contest. Morgan is a Democrat; Corcoran is a Republican. … News of the fundraiser was first reported in a tweet by Associated Press reporter Joe Reedy, and quickly confirmed in a tweet by Morgan himself. Morgan thanked Corcoran for the passage of Friday’s medical marijuana bill during the final day of a three-day special session. “We’ll show you our deep thanks for A2,” he tweeted. “You made it happen. Plain & simple! I’ll bring Makers Mark & Caymus.” … The fundraiser for Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC will be held next Thursday at the Orlando home of Zander and Carmen Clem, according to the invitation.


Today is the deadline for state candidates and political committees to file campaign finance reports for activity through May 31.

Good read: – “2018 Senate preview: Hurricane Scott about to make landfall on Bill Nelson’s face” via Brian Burgess of the Capitolist

Andrew Gillum’s campaign touting more than 7,000 donors” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s campaign is reporting Friday it has topped the 7,000 donor mark for $1.2 million in total contributions. That means Gillum’s official campaign and his unofficial political committee Forward Florida brought in about $150,000 from roughly 1,400 donors in May.

Save the date:

Firefighters back Jeremy Ring in Democratic primary for CFO — The Florida Professional Firefighters unanimously endorsed Ring, a Margate Democrat, in his bid to replace CFO Jeff Atwater in 2018. The decision came after Ring delivered a speech to the annual conference, where he reaffirmed his support to the state’s firefighters and pledged to give them the resources they need to fight and prevent fires. “These guys put their lives on the line for us every day and we need to make sure we have their backs not only by outfitting them with modern equipment, but also by giving them the peace of mind that their families will be provided for in the tragic event that they fall in the line of duty,” said Ring.

J.D. Alexander may run for Senate again” via John Chambliss of the Lakeland LedgerAlexander, who was the Senate budget chair in 2012, said it would be hard to continue to “just sit by” and do nothing. “I’ve enjoyed my private life, but with that said, it would be important to engage more effectively,” said Alexander If he runs in 2018, it would be for the Senate District 26 seat now held by Denise Grimsley of Sebring … he would face Rep. Ben Albritton in the GOP primar

Mailer in SD 40 race calls Alex Diaz de la Portilla a ‘tax & spend liberal’” via Florida Politics — A new mailer calling Diaz de la Portilla a “tax & spend liberal” is hitting the mailboxes of voters living in Senate District 40. The mailer, paid for Making a Better Tomorrow, highlights Diaz de la Portilla’s time in the Legislature, and urges voters to call the Miami-Dade Republican and tell him “he doesn’t deserve another chance.” … The mail piece says Diaz de la Portilla increased taxes on garbage, hunting permits, and driver’s licenses by $2.2 billion; imposed “a 300 percent job-killing tax increase on small businesses;” and grew the size of government by $20 billion since 1995. “Career politician Alex Diaz de la Portilla’s higher taxes have killed jobs and hurt seniors,” it reads. “Alex Diaz de la Portilla isn’t really a conservative. His 16-year voting record proves he is just another tax & spend liberal.”

Builders and contractors back Jose Mallea in HD 116 — The construction industry trade association has thrown its support behind Mallea in the special election to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116. “We are very pleased to endorse Jose Mallea,” said Peter M. Dyga, president and CEO of the ABC Florida East Coast Chapter. “His commitment to the principles of free enterprise and free markets lines up very well with our values. We believe we can count on him to be the kind of advocate for economic growth and increased opportunity we need in Tallahassee.” ABC of Florida is part of a national construction industry trade association that represents nearly 21,000 corporate members. The Florida East Chapter represents more than 450 member companies between Key West and the Space Coast, making it the largest commercial construction association in Florida. “I am honored to have the support of ABC,” said Mallea. “I appreciate their commitment to the principles of freedom and hard work that built this nation. I look forward to working with them to keep Florida’s economy strong and growing.”


Donald Trump to unveil new U.S.-Cuba policy Friday in Miami” via Marc Caputo and Sergio Bustos of POLITICO – The specifics of Trump’s executive action aren’t yet clear … But it’s expected to bear the stamp of two pro-embargo anti-Castro Miami Republican hardliners, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who helped advise the White House and national security officials. Many expect that Trump will not reverse Obama’s decision to open a U.S. embassy in Havana or reinstate the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy that allowed Cuban immigrants who touched U.S. shores to become legal residents.

“Marco Rubio defends his question of James Comey” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO  – Rubio fired back at criticism that he was protecting President Donald Trump or had struck a deal over Cuba policy with him in return for his line of questioning during former FBI director James Comey’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Rubio told POLITICO that he instead sought to point out that the president did not interfere with the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections — the prime focus of the committee’s hearings.

As Marco Rubio questioned James Comey on Thursday, he was roundly criticized on social media by Democrats, liberals and Trump critics. Photo credit: AP.

Court says marijuana investor information public” via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times – A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected arguments by Surterra Florida, LLC, Alpha Foliage, Inc. and Redland Nursery, Inc. that information identifying investors and partners — submitted as part of license applications to the Florida Department of Health — should be shielded from release because it is a trade secret. Alpha Foliage and Redland Nursery submitted applications, while Surterra Florida is the “contractual agent” for the nurseries, according to Friday’s ruling. Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled that the information about investors and partners, along with information about the firms’ consultants, should be available. The appeals court agreed on the issue of investors and partners, though it sent the case back to circuit court for more specific findings of the consultant issue.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa doesn’t pay taxes. So why do its customers?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times – The Hard Rock is on sovereign tribal land free from all state and local taxes. Yet the Seminoles choose to impose a tax on its customers, anyway, at the same rate required of other Hillsborough County hotels. State Sen. Dana Young calls the tribe’s hotel tax a “guise” to charge customers more while making it seem like Florida governments are getting a share. Santiago Corrada, Hillsborough County’s top tourism promoter, said he didn’t know about it and questioned if it was fair. But Gary Bitner, a spokesman for the Seminoles, said the tax, in part, is charged to help other local hotels. Otherwise, the Hard Rock would have “an unfair competitive advantage over other area hotels” by undercutting their prices, he said. And the money collected goes toward government functions for the tribe, such as police and fire rescue.

What Shannon Shepp is reading –Florida orange crop estimate increases slightly in June” via The Associated Press – Federal agricultural officials said that the June forecast showed the state’s orange crop growing by 500,000 boxes to 68.5 million boxes for the 2016-2017 growing season. The grapefruit crop forecast remained unchanged from the previous month at 7.8 million boxes.


Another sign Florida’s economy is running on all cylinders: Ford Motor Company announced May sales of its F-Series trucks were up 12.8 percent. That is the highest for the month in 13 years.

In the Miami market, Ford sales numbers show South Florida customers want power and comfort in their vehicles, based on an uptick in sales of Super Duty trucks offering stronger towing capacity, crew cabs with four doors and two rows of seats.

Among Miami’s Super Duty truck buyers, more than four in five choose diesel, and nine in 10 are picking crew cabs. Crew cabs are also popular among F-150 customers in Miami, where sales of F-150 crew cabs doubled over the last five years.

Ford’s F-series trucks have been America’s top-selling trucks for 40 consecutive years.

All this points to stronger consumer and business confidence. As the state’s unemployment rate continues to fall, consumers are feeling more secure about the future and seeking out vehicles that serve both work and personal needs.

“For many of our Florida customers, the Ford F-Series is the right truck at the right time,’’ said Ford regional sales manager Rick Brisson. “As the job market continues to strengthen, people are looking for vehicles that fit their lifestyle, whether on the job or at home. May’s sales prove that.’’

Ford’s sales figures follow Gov. Rick Scott’s statewide jobs tour announcing gains and a declining unemployment rate. Statewide, Florida businesses created 15,000 new jobs in April, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent, the lowest since November 2007.

The Miami area added 16,500 new private-sector jobs over the year in April, with unemployment falling to 5.0 percent, down a 0.4 percentage point from a year ago. Many of those jobs were in trade, transportation and utilities, industries that benefit from truck ownership.


Commission clears Cary Pigman in state ethics case” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – The Florida Ethics Commission cleared Rep. Pigman of charges that he misused his position to retaliate against a school principal in his district. The approved a recommendation by Judge June C. McKinney to dismiss the case against Pigman. At least one member of the commission abstained from the vote, while another member voted against the recommendation. Pigman, a doctor of emergency medicine and Army Reserve physician, was accused of “linking his efforts to obtain legislative funding for the Okeechobee School District … to retaliate or attempt to retaliate against an employee of the School District.”

New and renewed lobby registrations

Slater Bayliss, Christopher Chaney, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: Citrus Home Health

Laura Boehmer, Sydney Ridley, Southern Strategy Group: American Craftsman Museum

Jim Boxold, Capital City Consulting: H.H. Holdings, Inc.

Jorge Chamizo, Floridian Partners: DentaQuest

Scott Dick, SKD Consulting Group: DFMMJ Investments

Happy birthday to Rep. Neil Combee, local bookstore owner Sally Bradshaw, new FDOT Sec’y Mike Dew, Matt Lettelleir, Margie Menzel, Rick Minor, and St. Pete City Councilmember Darden Rice.

Sunburn for 6.9.17 – Session collapsing; Pot bill rolling; Supreme Court dishing; Grimsley raising coin; Airbnb booming; Shark biting

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature, which has been wracked by feuds among its top leaders for the last several years, is in danger of ending a three-day special session without restoring billions in money that public schools use to pay for day-to-day operations, reports Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy of the Associated Press.

A few days ago it appeared that Scott had worked out an agreement with GOP leaders, but Senate President Joe Negron insisted he never signed off on the deal.

“We’re not just going to rubber stamp an agreement that two parties made without our priorities being taken into account,” Negron said.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has so far refused to go along with an override of Scott’s vetoes or set aside more money for hospitals.

House Speaker Rep. Richard Corcoran listens to Rep. Ralph Massullo on the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

“We would be the first Republican Legislature that overrode a Republican governor on pork-barrel spending. Find me that example. I don’t think it exists,” Corcoran said.

If legislators don’t act then public schools will lose out on more than $11.4 billion in state funding that it supposed to start trickling down later this summer.

“Negron teed off on ‘fake narrative’ that Senate signed off on Scott-Corcoran budget deal” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – In a stunning departure from his calm demeanor, an irritated Negron on Thursday denounced the “fake narrative” that he struck a deal over the now-imploding special session to fix school funding. Negron didn’t name names, but those close to him say he started to grow irate once Corcoran suggested that the Senate leader wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain …

— Part of Negron’s frustration is rooted in the way he runs the Senate. He doesn’t apply too much pressure to members and often lets them vote their will. As a result, it’s hard to promise votes for any deal — especially one involving Corcoran, whom many senators have begun to despise because they think he has ridden roughshod over the upper chamber.

— In uncharacteristic fashion, Negron pulled back the curtain on how the Senate works internally. He mentioned, for instance, that his office did not approve Senate quotes for the Scott’s press release last Friday announcing the key issues of the special session. More remarkably, he said he wanted to keep the Senate’s name off the special session proclamation.

— “The mood of the [Senate] is that we want to do what we think is right for the people we represent, and we are not going to be told what to do,” Senate budget chief Jack Latvala said Wednesday.

Sen. Jack Latvala reacts as Sen. Gary Farmer tries to make a point in a back corner on the floor of the Senate Thursday. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

Was there a strategy behind the Senate vetoes of $75 million in higher education overrides?” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald – Sen. Bill Galvano, the head of the Senate higher education budget, said that the governor’s vetoes seemed to be “an inordinate amount of vetoes” to universities and colleges that betray the Senate’s goal of shoring up universities and colleges this session. The move appears destined to be essentially ignored by the House at this point. So, was there a rhyme or reason for which projects were chosen? Were they targeted projects, intended to put pressure on the House to persuade Speaker Corcoran to reconsider his opposition to overriding vetoes? The answer is “not really,” according to Senate sources. The selection of projects was handled by Senate President Negron‘s office and appear to be based on “whoever had juice.” “We’re feeling left out in Jacksonville,” said Sen. Aaron Bean, whose district was left off the override list.

Funding for HB 7069 left alone after Senate backs off” via The Miami Herald – Florida senators wanting a second crack at stopping a contentious $419 million education reform bill that narrowly passed the Legislature last month were unsuccessful on Thursday in defunding it to redirect the dollars to general K-12 public school spending. Broward County Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer led the charge to undo HB 7069, after Senate Pre-K-12 education budget chairman David Simmons — earlier passionately defiant — backed off his plans to force lawmakers to revisit the legislation during a three-day special session, even though it’s not on the Legislature’s restricted agenda.

– “Deal or no deal? Senate fundraiser makes session extension—complicated” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald


The Special Session’s medical marijuana legislation is speeding toward passage.

For example, the Senate has managed to keep the bill clear of all but technical amendments.

It rejected, on a 15-21 vote, a proposal by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes to take a more laissez-faire approach, abandoning the vertical integration required under the proposed legislation, and allowing people to smoke their medicine.

“This bill allows specialization. This bill allows the market to work. It works in everything else,” Brandes said.

Bill sponsor Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, opposed the amendment, arguing patients are more concerned with safety and efficacy than free-market principles.

In addition, it could blow up the legislative effort.

“If we were to accept this amendment, we would be throwing dynamite into the middle of the entire process,” Bradley said.

Another amendment by Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, to allow patients to smoke failed on a 14-20 vote.

Sen. Jeff Clemens questions Sen. Rob Bradley about his medical marijuana implementation bill on the floor of the Senate. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

Clemens said he’s never gotten a good explanation from county sheriffs who oppose allowing patients to smoke.

“Their response in public was, ‘We just think it’s unhealthy’ ” — an “absurd” response, he said.

The real reason?

“All I can surmise is that, when you see somebody walking down the street, and they’re smoking marijuana, you don’t want to determine whether they have a (ID) card. It’s just easier to bust them for it,” Clemens said.

Both chambers should vote out their respective bills today (Friday).

“Senate sets up its medical marijuana bill for a vote” via Florida Politics – Sen. Bradley returned to the floor to explain the bill and take questions from fellow senators. The legislation allows “edibles,” “vaping,” drops and pills but not smoking. The issue of whether to allow smoking continues to pit Republicans, who oppose it, against Democrats, who support it. Bradley said he was unmoved by arguments that the constitutional amendment passed by voters last year allows smoking. The amendment’s language refers to smoking but does not explicitly permit it. “If the drafters (of the amendment) wanted smoking to be a constitutional right, they should have said ‘smoking is a constitutional right,’” Bradley told colleagues. He added that medical professionals agree “the taking of smoke into your lungs is an inherently unhealthy act.” For now, the Special Session is still scheduled to end Friday.

“House beats back effort to allow smoking of medical marijuana” via Florida Politics A change to the Special Session’s medical marijuana legislation that would have allowed patients to smoke it was handily defeated Thursday. The amendment offered by Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat, was killed on the House floor by a vote of 37-71. “If a doctor and a patient determine that (smoking) is the best way to alleviate pain, or whatever it might be, then that should be left up to them,” he told reporters after the House’s daily session. “In any doctor-patient relationship, there is no one-size-fits-all.”

At left, Rep. Ray Rodrigues confers with Rep. Brad Drake before introducing his medical marijuana implementing bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. Photo credit: Phil Sears.

Former lawmaker’s connections raise questions about marijuana bill” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune – Critics worry that the Legislature is on track to lock in place a system composed of a small number of politically connected companies, so it’s noteworthy that the bill includes a provision awarding one of those new licenses to a grower tied to lobbyist and former Sarasota lawmaker Doug Holder. Sources say Holder has told them that he is trying to position himself – or an entity he controls – to have an ownership interest in a company that would profit off the medical marijuana industry. A company Holder has been consulting for, Sun Bulb, would obtain a medical marijuana license under the bill before the Legislature right now. Holder asked to have any questions submitted in writing. Responding through text message, he said that, “I do not have an ownership interest with any nursery that has or is seeking a license to grow medical marijuana” and added that “my relationship with SunBulb is in the area of business development seeking interested investors or partners.”

“Whodunit? or, How did citrus get into Special Session medical marijuana bill?” via Florida PoliticsEveryone loves a mystery, so how did a provision to help concerns with underused or shuttered citrus factories get into this year’s medical marijuana legislation? Language in both bills (SB 8-A, HB 5A) would give preferential treatment for up to two growing licenses to applicants who can show “they own one or more facilities that are, or were, used for the canning, concentrating, or otherwise processing of citrus fruit or citrus molasses, and will use or convert the facility or facilities for the processing of marijuana.” Most recently, the Senate bill was approved by the Health Policy Committee on Thursday morning. Bill sponsor Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, said he didn’t know where the verbiage came from. “I’m not aware of any specific companies,” he told reporters after the meeting.

Sen. Perry Thurston and Sen. Darryl Rouson confer during a Senate Health Policy Committee meeting to take up a medical marijuana implementing bill Thursday in the Knott Building in Tallahassee. The senators are concerned that none of the original seven licensees are black farmers. Photo credit: Phil Sears

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Supreme Court sends Bessman Okafor sentence back, Scott reassigns it from Aramis Ayala” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – The move came with swift intervention from state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs, who asked the governor to keep the case from going back to Ayala, who has vowed to not prosecute death penalties. The governor concurred, reassigning it to neighboring State Attorney Brad King in the 5th Judicial Circuit, as he has done with 23 previous first-degree murder cases in the past three months. “I am grateful,” said Cortes, a Republican who has been a stern critic of Ayala’s declaration and how she arrived at her decision. Okafor’s murder conviction stands, according to the Supreme Court. The court threw out his death penalty and ordered another penalty phase trial.

“Supreme Court strikes down limit on medical malpractice awards” via Florida PoliticsIn a 4-3 decision, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday agreed with a lower court and said limiting certain damages in personal-injury medical malpractice lawsuits is unconstitutional. The ruling split along the usual lines, with the progressive-leaning justices concurring, and the conservatives—now including new Justice C. Alan Lawson—in dissent. The Legislature established $500,000 limits, or caps, on what are called “non­-economic” damages for such cases. The Supreme Court previously ruled they don’t apply in medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death. The 4th District Court of Appeal had extended that decision to personal injury cases.

The Florida Medical Association is disappointed with the ruling, says FMA president David Becker, “but given past decisions, it was not unexpected. The FMA will continue to do all it can to ensure that the costs of the medical liability system do not unfairly impact physicians ability to practice medicine.”

Corrine Brown’s attorney files motion for new trial” via Lynnsey Gardner of News 4 JaxJames Smith had also talked about filing a motion to interview Juror No. 3, the juror who told the I-TEAM that the verdicts might not have been reached if one of the jurors hadn’t told Judge Timothy Corrigan something that got juror No. 13 removed from the panel. But Smith said after reviewing case law, nothing juror No. 3 could tell his team would be admissible in court to invalidate the verdict, but he continued to call the comments from juror No. 3 “disturbing.” “It just doesn’t look like we have a legal avenue to be able to get it in,” Smith said. “So rather than filing a motion where we know we have no chance of winning, we’ll simply move on and pursue the motions that we have that are viable.” Brown is having financial difficulties and hasn’t paid a chunk of her legal bills, sources tell the I-TEAM. Those bills will continue to climb as Brown goes through the appeals process.

“State athletics panel wins case over football field prayer” via Florida Politics – A federal judge ruled this week for the Florida High School Athletic Association, which was sued by Cambridge Christian School in Tampa. Association officials didn’t allow a spoken prayer over the public address system before a 2015 game at an Orlando stadium. The judge disagreed with the school that its constitutional free-speech rights had been violated. To have allowed the prayer would have amounted to a state endorsement, since the Association controlled the loudspeakers, of a religious message. Noting that players gathered on the field for unbroadcast praying, the ruling added that the school was “not denied alternate means of engaging in communal prayer.”

State year-end test results show small fluctuations, with strongest growth in math” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times – The percentages of students passing the tests remained overall stable in language arts, math and science. But there was notable improvement among high school students passing the Algebra I end-of-course exam, which is a graduation requirement, and the Algebra II end-of course exam, which lawmakers have slated to eliminate beginning next year. The Algebra I exam has always had high success rates in middle schools, where the students who take the course are advanced. This year, 89 percent of younger children taking the test passed it, up from 88 percent a year ago. The students who remain to take Algebra I in high school have always lagged behind, and this year proved no different. Just 42 percent of high schoolers passed the exam this year. However, that’s up from 36 percent a year earlier, indicating that high schools are working to overcome that gap and improve the course.

Miami Beach voters will decide whether to limit alcohol sales on Ocean Drive” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald – Following shootings during Memorial Day weekend, Miami Beach commissioners unanimously agreed to let voters decide whether to limit alcohol sales at outdoor venues along Ocean Drive. A question will appear on the November ballot asking voters if the city should adopt an ordinance ending alcohol sales in outdoor venues at 2 a.m.instead of 5 a.m. Indoor establishments that are completely enclosed and located entirely within hotels would be exempt. The vote came after last week’s shootings in South Beach, including the fatal shooting of Miami-Dade resident Ladarian T. Phillips during an argument over a parking space. The violence reignited a debate about the state of the South Beach’s entertainment district.

Zika concerns arise after heavy rainstorms” via Caitlin Randle of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – … leading to more mosquito spraying in four Broward cities. The county’s mosquito control division will spray portions of Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise and Lauderhill for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is the variety known to carry and transmit the Zika virus. The spraying is a preventative measure as there are no active cases of Zika in Broward County. One local case of Zika was reported in August of last year.


As South Florida experienced torrential rain this week, with more to come, many communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee watched the big lake rise. From drought conditions Last week, the lake was down to 10 feet. Rains pushed that number up to 11.2 feet. That leaves what Nancy Smith of the Sunshine State News calls “breathing room” in Lake O.

It’s unlikely the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is will open lock gates before lake level reaches 15-foot-6.

“But something else has begun to happen,” Smith writes. “In some easily flooded areas, canals have risen farther above sea level than the lake.”

What the water table shows are inflows to Lake O from the Martin County side — the St. Lucie Canal — because the lake level is lower than the canal water flowing in the from the east.

During periods of discharges, the number would be positive, but because water is actually flowing INTO Lake O, it’s negative.

The point is, many in the media got it wrong. They followed the Sierra Club’s lead, claiming – as they did in an NBC2 story – farmers were back pumping polluted stormwater into the lake to save flooded crops.

As Smith notes: Farmers have no say in the decision to back pump; they have no authority to turn on the pumps themselves and the South Florida Water Management District, which is in charge of flood control, isn’t concerned with keeping agricultural fields dry — they back pump when communities south of Lake Okeechobee — and the people in them — are flooded.


Sen. Denise Grimsley has more than $800,000 for her bid to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Grimsley’s campaign announced it raised a total of $71,000 in the days following the end of the regular 2017 Legislative Session through May 31. That brings her total raised to $875,000 — $386,600 for her official campaign and $488,500 for Saving Florida’s Heartland, her political committee.

“I am honored by the support our campaign has received from Floridians all over the state. We are working hard every day talking to voters about the vital importance of agriculture to our state’s economic health and the need for continued conservative leadership from our next Commissioner,” she said in a statement.

“With over two million Florida agriculture-related jobs, we need a proven fighter to carry the Republican banner next November and hold this seat,” she continued. “With over 600 donors and more joining our campaign every day, our message of supporting farmers and ranchers, defending our Second Amendment rights, and fighting to protect families and seniors is resonating with Floridians from the Panhandle to the Keys.”

Grimsley faces Rep. Matt Caldwell and Paul Paulson in the Republican race to replace Putnam, who can’t run again because of term limits.


Gwen Graham calls for gun safety measures in advance of Pulse anniversary” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Graham proposed new gun safety measures in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting outside Orlando and the approaching one-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting. “A year after the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history — after the murder of 49 young people — Governor Rick Scott and the Legislature haven’t done a thing to curb gun violence in our state,” she said in a statement. Graham called for comprehensive universal background checks on all gun sales “to stop criminals and terrorists from purchasing guns.” She also proposed: a ban on large-capacity magazines; a requirement that abusers surrender firearms when a protective order is issued against them; and giving law enforcement “the tools they need to prevent those with serious mental illness from purchasing or keeping firearms.”

First on #FlaPol – “Baxter Troutman entering competitive Ag. Commissioner race” via Bill Rufty of SaintPetersBlogThe grandson of the late citrus baron and one-time gubernatorial candidate, Ben Hill Griffin Jr., Troutman will enter the competitive race to succeed Putnam. “I will file either Friday or Monday at the latest,” Troutman said. “This isn’t a decision I came to lightly and it isn’t a step to advance to a higher position up the career ladder.” 

Assignment editors: Jeremy Ring is scheduled to address annual convention of the Florida Professional Firefighters at 11:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota.

Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell weighing bid for Carlos Curbelo’s seat” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami HeraldDebbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores in 2016, was in Washington on Thursday to meet with party leaders and members of Congress. “I met with various members of Congress who are extremely concerned about the direction our country is in, they are encouraging me to take a serious look at it,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “One of the reasons I’m considering it is that I’m fully committed to the people in the district. The horrible healthcare vote that Curbelo took a few weeks ago shows that they don’t have a member in Congress. He doesn’t represent the district.” Mucarsel-Powell met with Florida Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel along with Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell and Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark.

Equality Florida backs Annette Taddeo in SD 40 — Equality Florida Action PAC announced Thursday it was throwing its support behind Taddeo, a Miami-Dade Democrat, in the race to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40. “We are proud to endorse a true champion for equality in Senate District 40, replacing one of the most anti-LGBTQ legislators in Florida’s history,” said Hannah Willard, public policy director for Equality Florida. “We are eager to work with our ally and friend Annette Taddeo in Tallahassee, and we know she will tirelessly advocate for the best interest of all her constituents, including LGBTQ Floridians.” Taddeo said she was honored by the early support of Equality Florida Action PAC. “I am a longtime Ally of the LGBTQ community, not only because it’s the right thing to be, but because it’s personal to me,” she said in a statement. “As a teenager, I witnessed the injustices my sister confronted as she came out, and saw some in the family I love be ashamed, more worried about appearances than my sister’s happiness or love. I stood up for her then and will continue fighting for equality until everyone understands that love is love. I look forward to taking this fight to the Florida Senate.”

Republican attacking opponent for Cuba travel has himself worked with Cuban exporter” via Jerry Iannelli of the Miami New TimesJose Mallea once worked as a lobbyist for (Ariel) Pereda and later chaired a fundraising group founded by the businessman who regularly deals with Havana. Mallea’s work for Pereda was perfectly legal, but it raises a serious question of just how strongly Mallea believes that traveling to Cuba or spending money on the island “feeds the dictatorship.” After all, Pereda’s work has a much bigger impact on the Cuban economy than a 29-year-old who took some engagement photos there.

Rick Baker raises more than half-a-million dollars in May for mayoral bid” via Florida Politics – After just three weeks on the campaign trail, Baker‘s campaign is reporting that it raised an eye-opening $553,174 in contributions to his campaign and Seamless Florida, an affiliated political committee. Baker’s haul is a record-breaking amount for any campaign during the six elections the city of St. Petersburg has conducted under its current strong-mayor form of government. Baker’s campaign says it received money from 651 contributors, of which nearly half gave $25 of less.


How Brian Ballard is turning close ties to Trump into big business” via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – Trump pledged to “drain the swamp,” but Ballard is flourishing in a city where access is the ultimate commodity. “It’s luck,” he said in an interview from his new office on a recent afternoon, a Diet Coke before him and the TV tuned to Fox News. … Having already opened offices across Florida, including Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Ballard now is has formed partnerships with firms in New York and Chicago and is exploring Austin and Los Angeles.

Personnel note: Jennifer Hinson joins Rutledge Ecenia – Most recently, Hinson served as Senior Director of Hospital Contracting for WellCare Health Plans, where she had overall responsibility for WellCare’s Florida hospital network. She brings extensive knowledge in health care law and policy through private and public-sector experience. Throughout her career, Hinson has worked on a wide range of issues in health care law, and policy and litigation.

Personnel note: Zoe Linafelt joins Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers Linafelt leaves Sachs Media Group to become the statewide organization’s communications manager, reporting to Chief Communications Officer Molly Kellogg-Schmauch. Linafelt has over seven years of experience in communications. “We are thrilled to have someone of Zoe’s skill and background join us at FCCC,” Kellogg-Schmauch said. “She brings a wealth of experience in strategic planning, writing and campaign measurement, and will be a strong addition to the team.” Linafelt received her undergraduate degree in English from Florida State University. She is an active member of the Capital Chapter of FPRA, currently serving as the director of membership.

New and renewed lobby registrations: Rebecca Roman, Adams St. Advocates: Unisys Corporation


Black Almanac with Dr. Ed James on WWSB, ABC 7 in Sarasota: James will discuss “1967 Tampa Race Riots & The Taking of The Central Ave. Community” with documentary filmmaker Travis R. Bell, professor at the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Mass Communications & Marketing.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues that affect the area’s citizens.

Florida This Week  on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Panelists this week include Dr. Susan MacManus, USF professor of Government and International Affairs; reporter Joe Henderson; Democratic National Committee Member Alan Clendenin and Republican Party activist Leonard Mead.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion on current and proposed gun legislation with Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando, Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood and Pulse nightclub shooting survivor Angel Santiago, Jr.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto talks proposed gun legislation and reform introduced in Congress. PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter rates a claim about mass shootings and current gun legislation.

Orlando Democrat Darren Soto talks guns and gun control bills in Congress on Spectrum’s Sunday talker Political Connections.

Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO: Friday night guests include author and activist Michael Eric Dyson; performer Ice Cube; former NBC’s Meet the Press host David Gregory; former Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly, and Symone Sanders, who served as national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Hosts Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore will be speaking with Feeding Florida director Robin Safley.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week, Justice speaks with Jacksonville City Council member Danny Becton, Duval County Public School Chair Paula Wright and School Board member Becki Couch. Also appearing is Teri Chenot, associate professor at the Keigwin School of Nursing /Brooks Rehabilitation College of Health Care Sciences at Jacksonville University.


Floridians traveling for the college graduation took advantage of vacation rental options in a big way, according to new data from Airbnb.

The data showed local Airbnb host communities expanded lodging capacities and offered affordable rental rates for visiting families. The report found guests booking rooms in Airbnb-marketed vacation rental homes more than doubled the Gainesville and Tallahassee around University of Florida and Florida A&M graduations.

“Home sharing provides significant economic value by expanding lodging capacity during commencement weekends for Florida communities that are home to large universities,” Tom Martinelli, policy director of Airbnb Florida, stated in a news release.

“As a Gator alumnus, I can certainly relate to my family having to book Gainesville hotel rooms a year in advance of my graduation, as is the case in college communities throughout the state,” he recalled. “We’re very encouraged to see how our platform has been utilized to provide affordable lodging accommodations for college families during stretches when hotels traditionally reach peak occupancy.”

The report noted 290 Airbnb-marketed vacation rental homes hosted 752 guests during the week of UF’s late April commencement. That’s 136 percent more than rental activity than the previous week.

In Tallahassee, 290 Airbnb vacation rental homes hosted 444 guests during FAMU’s graduation week, a 138 percent increase. The following week they hosted 637 guests for FSU’s commencement week, but since the previous week was FAMU’s graduation, the increase was just 35 percent. Tallahassee also was hosting the last two weeks of the Florida Legislative Session during those weeks.

Jacksonville’s 350 vacation rental home hosts saw 759 guests during the University of North Florida’s graduation in late April, a 59 percent increase over the previous week.

In Pensacola, 230 hosts had 433 guests during University of West Florida’s commencement week in early May, a 43 percent increase over the previous week; while 230 hosts had 433 guests during UWF’s commencement week in early May, a 43 percent increase over the previous week.

— ALOE —

Man attacked by shark while spearfishing” via Timothy O’Hara of the Florida Keys News – Despite being bit by a shark and treated at the hospital, Key West resident Parker Simpson will return to spearfishing off the Florida Keys as soon as possible. Simpson was spearfishing some 6 miles off Stock Island when he was bit in the leg by a reef shark, Simpson said. Simpson and friends were freediving and shooting fish in roughly 50 feet of water. Simpson lost more than two pints of blood. He later said he spent four hours at a hospital.

 Happy birthday to the Ambassador of Tallahassee, Jay Revell. Celebrating this weekend are Nick Iarossi, Amy Farrington, and Mike Fasano.

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